30 June 2008

India... WOW

Well I made it. my flight landed at about 5:30am local time Tuesday (which is 6pm CST on Monday). I am so happy to be on the ground and no longer squeezed into an airplane seat.

My luggage, unfortunately, has not made it :(. The good new is that it isn’t lost, so that makes me really relieved. In all the switching craziness, I guess I got ahead of it and it was scheduled to come in on the 10:30pm flight. I’ve never prayed about luggage before, so I guess that’s one more thing to chalk up to this new adventure.

It hit me while I was waiting in line at the British Airways counter to sort out my luggage stuff the absurdity of what I have undertaken. I’ve jumped into new and unfamiliar things before (North Park, Mission Year, Gulf Coast), but somehow that’s a little different this time around. I am highly dependent on others for everything from finding water that is safe to drink, to working with money, to just getting around. I know that in time, I will gain a familiarity with what is going on and how to function, but for now it’s pretty crazy.

That’s just a quick hit for now, there’s plenty more to share, but really I just wanted people to know that I made it :)

India Lesson #1

I have little control over most things in life.

New revelation? Nope. Spend a few months working in the wake of a natural disaster and one learns very quickly just how dependent we are on external factors. That said, this is still India Lesson #1 and theme of travel day numero uno.

Today I made it to the airport right on time this morning. Had a whole two hours to breeze on through security and check-in. Got to the gate with just enough time. Flight delayed. Apparently there was too much congestion on the East Coast and we would be delayed on our landing time, so our take-off time was moved back an hour. Even better. Go get some coffee and people watch (totally the best way to pass the time at airports).

2:00 rolls around and we go through the usual boarding fun time, and then we’re off. Around Cleveland, we get the announcement that we have been put in a holding pattern because there is a bit of storm activity up ahead that is slowing things down over there even more. Horray for second round of Mountain Dews :).

About an hour later (do we get credit for airline miles based on circles added to the trip or just straight as the crow flies?), the announcement is made that we have been cleared to proceed to the Rochester, NY area and then to hold there. Still on pace to make it in without having to stop and refuel anywhere. Small consolation at this point in the game and passenger comments clearly separate the optimists and the pessimists.

So we proceed forward, and keep practicing our best Nascar impersonation. They’ve switched to water now since they’ve run out of soda :(. Next thing I know, the sun is staying on the right side and the pilot is telling us that they’ve closed down all New York airports due to weather and with the already over-trafficed day, we’re being sent back to Minnesota.

Yup, that’s right, Right back to where we started. After four hours of flying in circles, I am now no closer to India then when we started (well unless you wanna get technical and count the fact that I made it from the G part of the terminal to F).

Let’s face it, at this point, I’m pretty flexible. The orphanage has me for eight weeks, I’m sure they won’t mind me a day or two late. But I feel pretty sorry for everybody just trying to get home after a weekend away or back to their families after a business trip or having some big meeting that they are now gonna miss tomorrow morning. Yup, still not having much say in how things are turning out. They all get a night at the hotel, I get to run across the terminal (I so go the better deal).

...Small aside... there was an elderly couple from Spain on the flight trying to return home and since they missed their international connection, they were rerouted to the same flight I am on. The only problem was that they do not understand English very well at all and apparently most interpreters for Northwest Airlines speak French and not Spanish. The poor couple could not understand that we had landed back in Minnesota and were convinced that we were in New York since the plane took off and landed four hours later. I tried to help with what little Spanish I still have sloshing around in the brain (with many gestures, of which, there is none sufficient to convey Minnesota) and fortunately both the translator and I were saved by a flight attendant passing by who just happened to be fluent in Spanish. There were many laughs to go around once everybody was on the same page. Maybe next time I’ll try going the pictorial route...

Currently, I’m on my way to Amsterdam (I hear it’s nice there this time of year). From there I catch a connecting flight to London and then head on down to New Delhi. Instead of arriving at 10pm local time Monday night (9:30am CST), I should get in around 6:30am Tuesday morning (7pm Monday CST). Good thing I’m on vacation :).

Now if only my luggage catches up with me... I’m not up for that much adventure in one day...

26 June 2008

So Why India?

A lot of people have been asking me why I’m going to India. I guess this really is a fair question all things considered and I kinda had it coming by telling a million people that I was going... So here it is, the Top 10 reasons why I’m going to India (in no particular order)...

  1. Curry. I’ve had a secret addiction for several years now (surprise!). Actually, it’s gonna be pretty interesting for this Minnesota farm boy to spend two months not eating cows. In light of rising food costs and the high cost of resources and time that it takes to keep meat on our plates, I am really curious as to how something as simple as diet can minimize our impact on what is becoming very limited resources.

  2. Price. After working for peanuts the last two years, I found a group that I can still afford to go with and not have to use my change to make it work. Volunteering India is a native, Indian non-profit organization that seeks to better their native land by making it affordable for individuals to come and make a difference throughout India. They are cheap on purpose and I’m definitely a fan.

  3. Multi-Cultural. India can trace its history well into the year 2,000 BC. New Delhi, the capital city which I will be living and working in and around, is built on the site of 7 historical cities. Couple all those rich traditions with a predominantly Hindu population that is far more open and inclusive to outside influences and you have, not the melting pot that America claims to desire, but a real stew of histories, ideas, and religions.

  4. English. Finally Colonialism pays off for the West. Oh, Err, wait... As part of what used to be the empire of Great Britain, English and many other little intricacies are decisively British. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that India was set free from British rule, yet a small part of the vast history of that region. While most would not agree that British influence was a high point in the region, we do have them to thank for some modern day realities such as the separate nations of India and Pakistan, the vast railroad system connecting the major Indian cities...

  5. Eastern. I live in the West. We like to think that we have the best understanding of what this world is all about and how we should function, but the vast majority of the human population and the origins of most of the major world religions today lie in the East. I know very little about what life in the East is like and what exactly sets the East apart from the West. Time to take on some ignorance hands on style.

  6. Desire to Travel. I like to be on the move discovering and embracing new places and new things. My time on the coast was the longest I’ve spent in one place since graduating from high school. And my time there was spent at 9 different volunteer hosting facilities. I like to think of India as scratching an itch in that department. Really, I think its gonna be great to dive into the big, wide world for a bit and use that as yet another lens with which to view life as it could be in the years to come.

  7. Iran wouldn’t take me. Something about being an American. Actually, I literally had a million possibilities of places to go and things to do. I guess when you start with the premise that you have 8 weeks to burn, a little bit of money to spend on the trip and a desire to go somewhere, it really doesn’t disqualify too many opportunities out there. I looked into several other opportunities (Ethiopia, Philippines to name a few), but this one just seemed to be the best fit, and the way things have come together, I can’t really object.

  8. Why not India? For all the posh and glitz of Bollywood, the massive skyscrapers rising all over the country and being one of the few nations advanced enough to manufacture nuclear bombs, the truth is that the vast majority of Indian people live in situations that are far from glamourous and comfortable. The majority of my time will be spent working with boys who have been orphaned and abandoned by their parents for many different reasons and my role will simply be to show up and help out and hang out with them. Who wouldn’t wanna do that?

  9. I have Obsessive - Compulsive Volunteering Disorder (OCVD). I think I may have a problem. The places and work keeps on changing, but the lifestyle seems eerily the same. Some days I feel like I’m ignoring the real world and others I guess I feel like I better enjoy the ability to be mobile and travel while I can. Unfortunately, this means leaving my cats behind to enjoy farm life for a bit, but I guess I shall have to deal...

  10. Good Question! Honestly, I feel like I can plot and plan and try and anticipate everything that is to come and I do believe that I have a few valid reasons for taking this trip, but I really have no clue what is in store for the next few weeks. I do know that the way things have fallen together means that this trip is meant to be, but I really have nothing more to hold fast to at this point than hope that my luggage show up when I do and my time and energy can leave things better than I found them...

09 June 2008


I am “home” again. Not so much home really as what has become a rest stop in the craziness that has been my life the past few years. This month will be the longest that I have spent here in Glencoe since my parents moved here 7 years ago. This place has always been a stopover between that which has ended and that which is next. For now I am content to rest and plan and enjoy family for the little time that I have here. Maybe one of the things that I’m most excited about this fall is finally having a place that can truly be home...