Much Travel, Many Blessings
Greetings, my faithful blog audience. It has been much too long since my last post. I have been quite a busy bee since the beginning of December, willingly embarking on six weeks of travel (though I was less enthusiastic about the inevitable toll it took on my carbon footprint, sorry Mother Earth). I hope that since I last wrote you have all enjoyed a joyful Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, Eid, Festivus, and/or other and New Years celebration! I am looking forward to this year with hopeful anticipation. I expect a dramatic year on a global scale and hope to live an intentional year on a personal level. Here are brief summaries of my recent travels – more detailed entries to come in the next weeks.
My semester ended at the beginning of December – a couple exams and farewells to friends. On December 4th I left New Delhi with my friend and fellow Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Emrys McMahon for a couple Rotary Club visits and travel in Sikkim and Darjeeling. Sikkim is a small state in the Northeast of India – nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas between Bhutan, Tibet, and Nepal. The culture in Sikkim is distinct from the rest of India (which is diverse to begin with), being heavily influenced by the culture and populations of Tibet and Nepal. We were warmly hosted by the Gangtok South Rotary Club and enjoyed telling them about our experiences as students in New Delhi. We visited a few Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, a zoo, and caught a glimpse of the peak of Kachenjunga, the 3rd highest mountain in the world. From there we traveled to Darjeeling, home of darjeeling tea, aptly named “the champagne of teas”. We enjoyed many hot cups of that as well as the fellowship of the Darjeeling Rotary Club.
On December 10th I flew back to New Delhi and after one night’s rest my roommate Lesly and I flew down to Bangalore to meet my friend Nakita (see previous post) and travel to Kerala. Lesly and I spent two days in Bangalore. Though it is a green city – many parks – I was not impressed by Bangalore’s congested traffic and was very grateful when we got on our way to Kerala by overnight train on the 13th. On the morning of the 14th we woke up in paradise. Kerala deserves a much longer entry but for now I will say that it is beautiful, peaceful, rich in history, culture, and tradition, and an overall fabulous place to spend awhile – I wish I had many more days there. We stayed in Allepey, Nakita and I did a homestay in the backwaters, and then the three of us made our way to the quaint and quiet town of Fort Kochi.
I was sad to leave Kerala on the 18th to fly back to Delhi, but happy because at 2am on the 19th I boarded a plane from Delhi bound for Amsterdam and then another to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Yes, I went home for Christmas! I realize now that I never announced this on my blog. I will write more later about my decision-making process, but in late October I decided I really didn’t want to miss Christmas at home – not so much Christmas itself as the opportunity to reconnect with the many friends and family members who would be in town for the holidays. I can say now that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I enjoyed a fabulous – if brown – Christmas in my hometown of St. Paul. It was incredibly refreshing, despite being a hectic and short visit, and I am so glad I did it.
So now I am back in India. I arrived around midnight on the 29th with my father in tow! It has been a dream of his for many many years to visit India. I am currently writing from an internet cafe inside the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar while my caring and watchful dad reads a book nearby. Kevin, thank you for the recommendation, this place is truly beautiful.
We spent three days in Delhi, a whirlwind of sightseeing and visits to homes of the Rotarians who have so warmly and kindly welcomed me and taken care of me during my time here in India. They have been eagerly awaiting his visit and looking forward to meet him. It is very special to introduce him to them finally. Dad is overwhelmed by the generosity and warmth of these families and very grateful that they have taken such good care of his daughter. I know my mom and many other friends and relatives share the same sentiment.
I feel very blessed to begin this new year and the second half of my time in India with the energy and love of a recent visit home and the continued connection provided by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel with my dad! I send warmth and love to all of you and your families as you embark on another year. Thank you for continuing to follow my adventure and for all of your support.
With love and light,