Category Archives: Travel

A Post from my Niece, Audrey

Hmmmm. (tee-hee) Hmmmm. I am having lots of fun with my Aunt Heidi. I’m going on two trips: to the Golden Temple (in Amritsar) and to Kerala. We are going to have lots of fun in Kerala. We are gong to buy clothes and bangles. I really LOVE Fab India. In Amritsar, we are going to stay at a fancy hotel; we’ll get a view of the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine.

The people at ATS never clean the pool. It was green as a pond yesterday. Ew. We got pedicures the other day, and I was the hit of the saloon. They all said my feet were too small for a pedicure, but I proved them wrong! I look fabulous. We also got henna at the US Embassy at the fourth of July festival. My henna and my Aunt Heidi’s henna is fading now. I got a hair clip that was 15 rupees. That equals about 30 cents US. If you bargain with the people on the street and you’re a kid, you always get a good price. Take it from me, I know.

We are having a good time!

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Exploring with a Traveling Companion

Before I came here, my sister posted on a message board to see if she could find me a traveling companion. This was a lovely idea — someone with whom I could sight see in Delhi and/or travel to Varanasi and Agra.

My companion was eager to meet me. She called Lesa several times, and I finally spoke to her yesterday. We met at the

Lodi Gardens and strolled around. There were various tombs:

I love the arches of the tombs. The gardens were nice, but it is rather dry here, so the gardens were dry. (Speaking of which, it has not rained since I have been here, which is why it is getting very hot.) There was this lovely pond with a stork (?). I loved the lily pads with blooming flowers. These tombs were not well kept up, but then we went to Humayun’s Tomb. This is a world Heritage site, and the tomb was very beautiful — the mix of Islamic and Hindu architecture.

Finally, we went to Khan Market and had a drink at Cafe Turtle. I had a yummy mango lassi, my first of the trip.

This was a trial day for my new travel companion. I don’t know that we are aptly suited. We seem to have different traveling styles, but we had a nice day together today.

Sorry about the confusing nature of how these pictures are laid out — but I am having trouble figuring out how to navigate my own blog! The first nine are of Humayun’s Tomb and surrounding buildings. The next three are of the pond (obviously). The final are three pictures are of tombs at the Lodi Gardens.


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Day 3 — the Wall of Tiredness

Today at about 1:30 PM I hit the wall of jet lag tiredness. We were in a restaurant, Bamboo Shoots. The kids had school today, and Lesa had work. After taking care of some things around the house, Jon and I launched on some errands. We stopped in sector 110 to stop at some market stalls to get a shower head — a replacement for the one I broke. Chauhan, the driver, got the shower head.

Having a driver is obviously a new experience for me. Driving here in Delhi and Noida is a very different experience. (Sadly, I cannot find the blog I was reading when I was in the states — but an expat did a post about the traffic in Delhi — how all of the horns are simply a buzz of communication between cars — so I do NOT claim this observaton as my own.) Horns are a constant. While one might be driving on a two lane road, people drive as if there were five lanes. Bicycles, auto rickshaws, bicycle rickshaws, cars, trucks, scooters, and pedestrians all vie for spaces in the road. They travel at different speeds, so cars may shoots past the slower vehicles, yet the bicycles, scooters, and rickshaws sneak though narrow passages between stopped or slowed larger vehicles. Horns seem to be a way of saying, “Hey, I’m behind you, so don’t swerve out.” It actually seems like it is a kind gesture, not malicious. It looks to me like there are constant near crashes, yet the drivers are clearly very skilled!

Lesa and Jon’s driver is Chauhan. He is Rajput, and he speaks very good English. When I got in the car after arriving at the airport, I conceptualized him like a taxi driver. But Lesa and the family treat him like one of the family. We all chat with him as we drive. He is great with the kids, and he has a great sense of humor. He is also like a constant tour guide. When we went to the market to buy some groceries, Chauhan took me to get the paneer, which was at a tiny stall consisting of a small chest fridge. Then we bought some fruit.

Which reminds me — the mango is amazing! It is the sweetest and juiciest mango ever — so refreshing.

Anyway, today I bought one outfit at Fab India. Lesa suggested I try buying there before the adventurous markets. Tomorrow, I meet Ramona, a fellow traveller Lesa found on some message board. Dinner time: paneer and veggies.

Update: Here is the outfit I got at Fab India. I thought the colors went well together, but when my cousin saw it, she said, “oh, mismatched is in!”

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Adventures from Day 2

I had a rough beginning to my morning. I woke up very early and felt like hell. I was hot and crabby. I finally went for a walk around my sister’s complex, ATS Greens Village. When I got back, I decided to take a shower, and I took a long, refreshing shower. I had my eyes closed through most of it, but right at the end, I turned to face the showerhead, and I looked up. Water was spraying down at me, as one usually expects in a shower, but water was also spraying straight up into the air and hitting the wall, floor, geyser (pronounced “geezer” like an old man — basically an electric water heater) — everywhere. All of my clothes were soaked, as was my towel. We had to clean it all up, and as it turns out, it was a cracked shower head.

Update: Here is Jonathan’s version of the shower head repair story — very funny!

We later went to the Red Fort in Old Delhi.

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This was a fort that Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who had the Taj Mahal built, erected as his fortress in Delhi. It was a cool historic site with iconic Mughal architecture.

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We had a tour guide, likely a random guy, who gave us a Disney-esque version of the fort, but it was at least entertaining.

Afterward, we went to a Jain temple across the street, a beautiful old temple. They ever ran a bird hospital. This bird hospital was for sick or injured birds (and rabbits). They had rows and rows of 1 ft by 1 ft cages with sick (and dying) birds. It was a sad thing to see, yet it was good that they had a place to be comforted. As a major tenet of the Jain faith, they believe in not harming any living creatures.

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After that we went to Haldiram’s for lunch. I had yummy dosa. I went to get a chai for after, and they were all out! The we came back home and Lesa, Audrey, and I got pedicures, my first one ever. It’s been a good second day. Now I need to get to bed.

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First 24 Hours in India

Man, I was so homesick in India that I had to go back to the US within my first 24 hours in India:
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We went to the US Embassy for an Independence Day celebration. The celebration included lots of American food — hot dogs, hamburgers, BBQ, quesadillas, popcorn, fries, beer, etc. They also had a big flag cake. There was a band, and we danced. They even had games, such as tug-of-war, and one heat pitted all of the children against about 10-12 marines. The kids won! But in a follow-up victory, a marine won the watermelon eating contest.

On our way there, we stopped and saw the India Gate, a memorial built by the British to honor fallen Indian soldiers in WWI:
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It was a good day. It is very warm here, of course, but I am slowly adapting. Speaking of which, I should get to bed to try to get over jet lag, though it has not been too bad.

Oh — and we went to INA, a market in Delhi. There I had the best peda I have ever had! Yum!!!

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Departure Imminent

Yipes! In less than 24 hours I will be on a plane to begin my adventures in India. I am all packed up finally, and boy am I tired. I’m looking forward to a nice day with my husband tomorrow. I’m really going to miss him.

Gearing Up for my Trip to India

Yowza! I leave for India in two days! I am a mix of nervous and excited. Oddly, I am a bit nervous about the fourteen hour plane ride — that’s a long time! I have plenty-o-reading material (all the new books I am teaching next year) and some audiobooks. I love audiobooks. Right now I am listening to Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie, and I am really enjoying it. It makes me want to visit Kashmir, but I probably will not.

The cats are getting hungry and knocking shit off tables, so I better go feed them…

Two Weeks Before I Head to India

Since school has been done, I have slowly begun preparations for my trip to India. For those of you who don’t know, my sister moved to Noida, which is just outside New Delhi, in December. She will be there for two years. I am going to visit for six weeks — Yes, you heard me — six weeks. I’m very excited and a little nervous — nervous mainly because Sujal will not be coming with me. He can’t get any time off of work. Initially, we thought he’d come for two weeks in the middle of my trip, but he can’t.

So far, I am planning to see the Golden Temple in Amritsar (figures in Bharati Mukherjee’s writing and is the setting of Bride and Prejudice), Kerala (setting of The God of Small Things), Agra (the Taj Mahal — can’t miss that), and Jaipur (my sis raved about her visit to Rajasthan).

After my own travels (some with sis and family), I am meeting up with my sister-in-law, and we are visiting family in Mumbai, Amedhabad, and Delhi. I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of family I have not yet met, and I’ll be seeing one auntie whom I met at our wedding.

And yesterday I got my ten year visa! Sujal and I hope to perhaps come back in March to see relatives, because he has not been back to India since he was in high school.

If anyone has any good advice — I’m open to it!

Camping on the Cape

Last week, Lara and I went camping on Cape Cod. It had been years (almost 10?) since I’d been out there, and I forgot how great it is! We went on this monster long bike ride, a beautiful ride along the dunes in Wellfleet. It reminded me of the amazing bike ride I took on Inis Mor in Ireland — so beautiful! I really wanted to do this hike — the Great Island Trail. Amy and I did it when we were last on the cape together. I remember all the little crabs, dunes, waves — it was a long, but lovely hike!

Lara and I camped at The Atlantic Oaks campground, which I might recommend with some reservations. We were tent camping, and we were far too close to the road. But on the plus side we were right on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which was a big plus. It’s also very close to the Salt Pond Bay NP Visitor’s Center. After the long bike ride, we were both pretty spent, so the next day we just hung out in P-Town. It was grey and rainy, too. At some point, I’d love to take hubby there.

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Sural In Pisco

My sister-in-law, Sural, is in Peru doing a fellowship for ten months. She was in Lima when the recent earthquake shook Pisco and surrounding areas. We were quite worried about her, but she is fine. She felt the quake, and we later talked to her via Skype, and she described the situation in Lima. Shortly after, she and some fellow students went down to Pisco to help out. She normally has a blog on her travels, but the recent posts about being in Pisco are particularly powerful. Check out the rest of her blog, too. It is called Sirens and Lights. Not only does she provide a detailed description, but she uses vivid writing to do so. The opening of “Earth, Wind, Water, Fire” provides a visceral description of the dust, giving us not only sensual description of the place, but also a literal and figurative atmospheric description. Just read it and see for yourself.