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Archive for August, 2010

I have never been a fan of the Lonely Planet. I’ve always sort of been repulsed by the tourists that walk around clutching it to their chests like a life line to sanity. I think it came to a point when we were sitting in a cute cafe on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi and there was a Lonely Planet on every single table. Every table.

I never understood the intrigue, what they offered, but now, now I know. They offer the world. I hugged my Lonely Planet like a child as we flew to Sikkim last week. After 3 horribly unproductive days in Delhi, I was finished. I wanted to know where to stay, where to eat, what to see, how much it should cost to get there, and all the other things I didn’t know to ask. Basically, I wanted a Lonely Planet and didn’t know it. That purchase was the best one I’ve made in months. (I swear I’m not getting paid to say that) We’re in Nepal at the moment and I feel lost. Where do we eat? Where do we stay? How do we get around? It’s really not that bad because it’s honestly much easier here, but I’m just saying. Consider taking a gander at a Lonely Planet before your next trip.

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missing steps

I like how predictably unpredictable life is here. How every day could really go any number of different directions. How sitting down to get a SIM card would take maybe 5 minutes in other parts of the world but resembles the application process for a gun license here. How the guy working at the store offering to help set your phone up is really just taking your number and plans to text and call multiple times in the coming days. How somehow a proof of residency is mandatory for an internet connection, but for just Rs. 500, their lawyers can write one up for you. (sorry, how is that proof?) How no matter how many times I climb up the steps I can still miss one.

I was going to a coffee meeting with a colleague and good friend, Priyanka, (crazy how normal life can be here). I had switched up my foot gear because monsoon had started to settle in and my birks fall apart if they get soaked (you can only apply super glue so many times). Apparently, my chacos are noticeably heavier than my usual foot wear because as we climbed onto the bus to go to a nearby Barista, I simply sat on the step. It was less like falling and more like my body said, “Oops, sorry, we don’t feel like doing that right now.” Everyone on the bus sat up and cried out together, “Oh madam, madam, watch your step, go slowly, go slowly.” Priyanka and I walked on, sat down and then just started laughing. I think she felt bad, so she waited until I did and then couldn’t stop. Throughout the rest of the day one or both of us would start laughing just thinking about it. I don’t know how well I’m explaining it, but it was just odd. I sat on the bus step.

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Adventurers

My siblings and I are epic planners of nothing successful. I guess that could be partly us and partly trying to get around in this country. We bought the necessary train and plane tickets to go to Ladakh (a northwestern region that has been tragically flooded recently) and ended up fiddling around in Delhi for a few days without even seeing the Taj Mahal. We bought the train tickets and then forgot to set our alarms. We are those people. Those people who are within reasonable distance of something incredible and famous and sleep in.

We did manage to get ourselves to Sikkim and even ventured out of our guest house a few different times. Caleb got a pretty bad cold in Delhi (could be the walk in the pouring rain), so we didn’t get very far. But honestly, even though traveling for a month with my siblings came with dreams of camel rides and mountain treks, it was fine with me that we sat with cup after cup of milk tea while playing Settlers of Catan with the owner’s son. I needed rest and just being fits us better than a bunch of crazy activities.

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on talking them into bungee jumping and paragliding in Nepal. If you’re going to do something crazy, you might as well do something that if it goes wrong, it goes really, really wrong.

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Sweaty White Guy

My family is here visiting. Colleen, my older sister by three years even though everyone that meets her thinks she is younger, and Caleb, my little brother that is at least a foot and half taller than I am, arrived a week and a half ago. I’m realizing that we aren’t planners. We also aren’t city people. We are sit in the quiet people. We are rural, the more space between you and the next person the better people. Over Christmas, the whole family met in London for two weeks. I think we successfully discovered every Starbucks in the city and played Scrabble in at least half of them. Life in my city here has been a treat. Optional side walks, loose interpretations of traffic lanes and signals, and crowded markets all mixed with monsoon weather.

On Wednesday, a week after they arrived, I decided it was time for a little greenery. A park near where I work has two beautiful tree-lined lakes. We went for a stroll after enjoying my daily ritual of a mango shake (I like to think of it as a smoothie). I could tell something was different as the park was conspicuously lacking the typical umbrella shielded couples which fill all the benches on an average morning, rain or shine. In their place were large professional grade lights and cameras. In short, my destiny was waiting for me.

We walked past the Bollywood crew, trying, with little success, to prevent our star quality from oozing out of our pores. We didn’t try hard enough. We (I use that term loosely, you can read “I”) were approached by the director to see if we’d be willing to star in the next big blockbuster Bollywood movie coming out next spring. Since we were leaving on Sunday, we had to say no. The man was heartbroken, but we managed to assuage his disappointment by volunteering  to walk through the background of several key scenes. Try to contain your jealousy. We were awesome. Look for us (two girls and a sweaty white guy) in the back of the lake scene of “Michael”. It’s going to be huge.

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