Thursday, August 19, 2010

on the road to agra

Originally uploaded by heathre
we left the craziness of Delhi early in the morning, headed for the Taj Mahal (in Agra). we decided to use our driver from the day before - mun - since he seemed pretty good and trust-worthy.

One of the moments i will always remember from this trip was when i had to take one of those 'leaps' of faith/trust. we hired mun through the hotel to take us to one of the markets in delhi, realizing that we were a bit too overwhelmed to deal with public transit first thing. on the way there, he talked us in to letting him drive us for the day for a ridiculously cheap amount. so we agreed. kendal read about the Mughal Gardens and we decided we should go. turns out they were at the president's palace and only open a couple weeks a year to the public - and we were there at the right time! So we went to the gardens and had to go through this huge security search before entering the grounds. of course, i had my camera. which was not allowed. which meant either not go to the gardens or leave my camera with some random guy we just met. so i took a deep breath and handed over the camera to mun. the gardens were amazing and such an interesting experience since we were the only foreigners there - at least that we could tell. lots of school groups too. at this point on the trip - day 2 - we weren't used to the constant staring and it was a little unnerving. but entertaining too. as we came out of the gardens, i started looking for mun, half-wondering if he would still be there. and he was.

by the end of the day, mun had convinced us that we should let him drive us to the taj mahal the next day instead of taking the train or bus. i don't regret that decision, but i will say five straight hours of mun on the road to the Taj Mahal tested all of our nerves. he chatted the whole time, 95% of the time trying to convince us that we should hire him as a driver for our entire time traveling. when we said we wanted to go by train, he regaled us with stories of how we would be attacked and people were crazy, etc. he also had the most manaical laugh - i don't think i will ever forget that! the other 5% was spent asking all of us about our boyfriends and particularly was interested in kendal (katie's girlfried) so that was amusing.

but back to this image - i distracted myself from mun's craziness by taking pics out the window. most of the drive was very rural and the fog (or smog?) that morning was so beautiful over the fields.

and we did eventually arrive at the taj mahal in one piece, sanity somewhat intact....and our adventures continued...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

morning at laxmi villas

morning at laxmi villas
Originally uploaded by heathre
this is one of my favorite photos from my trip.

laxmi villas in bharatpur ~ we ended up staying two nights here due to the holi festival (which wreaked havoc on travel plans). gorgeous pool, wonderful food, chats with the maharajah's son about bribes and 'black money' in india, celebrating holi, recovering from our 'holi attack' on the way to the bird sanctuary....not to mention nanz, our travel guy at laxmi villas. he went above and beyond to help us out, including taking kendall on a crazed late night motorbike ride to the train station to get our train tickets. truly a gem of a guy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

i love books

Originally uploaded by heathre
i'm not sure when this wall was plastered with these awesome gigantic library books, but i love it. it's about 2 blocks from work on campus. i think i need to return and take more pics.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

four months

Originally uploaded by heathre
and I still miss india.
this book is pretty amazing - not sure if you have to be india obsessed to love it, but it helps.

Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts

trying to get back in the blogging habit...more to come...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

three weeks

I've been back for three whole weeks - and I've still barely begun to sort through pics and write down all the stories and missing gaps in my journal. I'm going to post a few of my favorite pics so I don't get completely out of the blog habit!

Carmen asked me the other day "what the most moving or impressive experience?" It's truly hard to pick just one. So here are a couple :)

1) In terms of sightseeing, I would have to say its a toss-up being the Taj Mahal (which truly is as spectacular as everyone says - I wish I could have seen it at sunset or sunrise) or the Kumbhalgarh Fort near Udaipur. Visiting the fort was a total afterthought - suggested by our wonderful hostel guy in Jodhpur - since we were getting a driver to get to Udaipur, he said we should stop and see the Jain temple and the Kumbhalgarh Fort. Sure, why not? Both were incredible - I'll write about the Jain temple later. We barely made it to the Fort before it closed (our driver definitely broke some speed records on those back rounds). We raced up to the top to see if we could get in and made it just in time. Then we were able to climb all the way to the very top of the fort - and you could see for MILES. An absolutely amazing view of the wilderness surrounding the fort - which by the way, has the second longest wall after the great wall of China! Breath-taking with a 'top of the world' feeling. I don't think I will ever forget it.

2) There were alot of moving moments during the build. We were able to attend a 'door blessing' ceremony at one of the houses with a Hindu family. Our last day at our house was also very moving. We didn't get to spend much time with our homeowner Sheela, since she was at work most of the time. But she was there the final day, made chai for us and then we exchanged prayers. Mel spoke for our group, thanking Sheela and Natrayan for allowing us to help build their home - it was really incredible to realize that our one week of hard work will provide a home for them. One where their daughter will have space (and electricity!) so she can study. All the families we met in the community were very focused on their children's education and a huge issue was children not having a place to study or do their homework.

It's still so hard for me to express what the trip meant to me. Life-changing, inspiring, heart-breaking - I want to keep those feelings with me and not let it fade away.

Here's a great little summary produced by Habitat for Humanity India on the build. Our homeowner family is featured, along with a picture of my team setting some of the concrete blocks.

And now for some of my favorite pics (so far :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

one week

9 is the best number
Originally uploaded by heathre
I've been back a full week now from India - and it still feels weird. I have 4000 pics to sort through but wanted to do a quick blog update. This is a picture of our team at house 9 - and our homeowners Sheela and Natarayan.

I have a few pics posted on flickr and a LOT from the women build site on facebook, so be sure to check those out.

Also, here's a great article on the build with an interview with Sheela and Natrayan.

More to come!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

50 billllllliiiion!

6:52 50 billllllliiiion
Originally uploaded by heathre
My acupuncturist recommended taking probiotics to help stay healthy in India.

Is it just me or is it a little creepy to think about drinking 50 billion fresh, live and active bacteria??

And diet coke free for almost a month, can you believe it?

13 days until I leave for India!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More India Fundraising!

I'm putting together a small online auction for more India trip fundraising. We had a couple items that didn't make it into the Bollywood dance party silent auction, so I thought I'd try the online route.

Here's the link:

Please spread the word!

I'll be adding a few more items, including Nan's awesome handmade clay beads. Here are a couple sneak preview pics:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

No typhoid for me!

typhoid mary
Originally uploaded by heathre
I'm near the end of my pre-trip vaccines. I received shots for polio, hep A (1 dose), and hep B (2 doses). The typoid vaccine is oral - for some reason. One every other day for four doses. I was being a wimp about starting it because the pharmacist said it made most people nauseous. But no side effects for me!

The trip is coming up so fast - we leave February 25th. This week, we are holding our big "Bollywood, Building and Bhangra" fundraiser at Lola's Room in the Crystal Ballroom. It should be lots of fun - bhangra and ghidda dance lessons, an awesome dj, bollywood movies/projections and a silent auction. So fingers crossed lots of people come!

I've also been doing some reading up:
Delhi Noir - a collection of mystery and moody tales set in Delhi
White Tiger - Arvind Adiga (very powerful - hilarious and heartbreaking)
Dreaming in Hindi - Katherine Russell Rich

Currently reading:
A Girl from Foreign - Sadia Shepherd
Really interesting memoir of a woman exploring her jewish roots in India.