Friday, July 31, 2009

"In India, we are using our hands."

People always say that India will change you. I never really thought it was true until this morning.

There are things I would never put up with in the West that i have learned to brush off here as if it were nothing. In the West I would never wash sewage off my feet in a river with 37 sewage outlets pouring into it. Here, it is the norm and regarded as holy.

In the west, if I found bed bugs crawling on me in the night, I would probably freak out. Here, who do you tell? What can be done?

Its a whole other world here and I don't think I know many people who would love it the way I do. I find it just as disgusting as anyone else but here I think its easier to keep life in perspective. I know that when I leave, i leave the bugs behind. I know that the sewage pouring over my feet can be washed away with soap and clean water. I can live with it because I know that its not my life.

My life is, and always will be, ever changing. I left Bundi a few days ago and after 36 hours on trains I have finally arrived in Varanasi.

It was difficult to leave Mama and Bobbi. They cried and it made me cry too. I hate that.

We played dress up before I went and that was a lot of fun. I got to wear two different saris, one of them being the one Mama gave me.

My heat exhaustion is finally getting better. Not that it lasted too long but it sucks so it feels like an eternity. Yesterday, after getting off the train and having a rickshaw driver refuse to take us further, I had to walk all over the ghats to find the hotel Jake wanted to stay in. Bundi had cooled down a lot and my body had adjusted. Its hot here. Like really hot. Like back in the 40s hot (100+F). I threw up when we finally arrived and could hardly stand on my own. I ate and slept the rest of the day.

Heat exhaustion's symptoms usually include weakness, irritability, nausea or vomiting, slow pulse, headache. I had all of them. Fun. My strength is beginning to come back and I feel much better but its still really fucking hot here.

Varanasi seems nice enough. Its SUPER touristy. I dont like that much but what can I do. The river here is SO polluted! I think it just might be the most polluted river in the world. Its so nasty! But the people here bathe in it and drink the water because its considered holy. There are parts of corpses floating around in the water near the burning ghats and there are sewage outlets all over the river. Eww.

Jake will be leaving on the third to catch his flight back to Thailand and after that Ill be on my own! So exciting! I may be going up to Nepal for a few days but it depends on if I can get in or not. Apparently you have to pay for the visa with USDs not in Rupees. I have no American money. I have some pounds and Euros but why on earth would I have USDs? So stupid.

And then its back to the good ole US of A for me. Feels strange and ever since I booked the ticket I cant sleep. Im really nervous and excited and feeling weird about it all at once.

I get to fly through Moscow. That should be neat.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Ribs Hurt And Its Hard To Breath...

So I don't think I ever really got over being sick. Ive been feeling nasty all day which is a shame because tomorrow Ill be leaving Mama and Bobbi and Rashu. There are worse things in the world though so I shouldn't complain. I hope Ill be feeling better by tomorrow.

Its going to be crazy getting from here to Varanasi! Eight hours from here to Delhi by train, then a ten hour layover and then another 13 to Varanasi. Oh boy!

From there Ill be headed to Nepal! I'm pretty excited about it since I wanted to go before and thought I wouldn't make it this time. Ill be alone since Jake is flying to Thailand on the 5th. Very exciting. Funny how I find being alone much more thrilling than having people to share it with. Is there something wrong with me?

In other news, Mama gave me my first sari as a going away gift. Its beautiful! It will be back from the tailor in the morning, just in time to leave. I'm going to try to get some photos in it before I go to show you.

And what your all waiting for.... Pictures!

This is where I live. Well, sort of... Jake wanted to take some pictures with his old fashioned camera and this is what came out.

I really like this one and Im sure my mother will as well. I think its funny that it looks like I dont have any tattoos. Its kind of like a time warp. Hahaha.

Sometimes in India, there are strange things in the sky. Its not really a rainbow or a storm cloud. The pictures doesnt do it justice but maybe you can get the idea.

Since my camera quit working there I havent been able to share my favorite spot with you. The waterfall is about 18km away. I just love it. You can hike up to the top and wander around. The day I went up I say lots of monkeys of course but also some kind of strange lizard thing. It looked like a small Kimono Dragon. Rad.

These are from the Palace. Well worth the wait I think.

More pictures of me with Rashika. Its still strange to like a baby so much. I think we get along well, even though she likes to pee on me. Those times I like her much less but what can you do. It will never be cute but Ill let it slide for now.

This is the "working woman's" grandson. He was cute for a hot second but then he got all comfortable around me. I dont like him anymore. He likes to follow me around and talk my ear off in Hindi. Some things may have changed but my love of children, or lack there of, hasnt. Sorry to burst that bubble.

And of course more pictures of me doing nothing in particular.

And one of Mama for the road.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Where to start? As always, I have waited far too long to update. Sorry about that. I was hoping to have some pictures to show you but I don't think India has scanners yet. Bummer Summer.

I had only two real goal while here and one is no longer obtainable. I was hoping to make it two months without a sunburn or getting sick. The other day, I finally got sick.

As far as I can tell, it wasn't the water because I drink it and Jake doesn't. He was sick too. Nor could it be the food because I pretty much only eat what is made at the house and no one else was sick. It was nasty enough that I was all cry-y and called my mom. I haven't been that sick in a really long time. Fortunately it only lasted a day and I'm back on my feet! Not quite 100% but getting there!

As for good news: My mother has given me the money to fly home for a few weeks! After looking up tickets, Ive decided to fly to NYC on August 18th. Its only $1300 The ticket is cheaper than flying to SFO and Id have to find a way to PDX anyway. I get to fly through Moscow! Since I wanted to visit the East Coast anyway, Ill take the ticket and buy a separate ticket to Portland from New York! It works out perfectly! Its also cheaper for me to fly out West this way!

Im getting very excited to see my family and all my friends. I miss everyone so much! Its going to be a little difficult to get everything done that I want to do and to see everyone I want to see but Im going to try! AAAaaahhhhhh! I can hardly contain myself!

Brooklyn is going to be coming to Portland just to see me too! We will only have one day to hang out but we plan to shoot a few sets (Im hoping one can be in Veloshop!) And Cherry in Vancouver wants to shoot too! This is great because I can hopefully get paid for the sets as well and continue my tour.

As for my life here in Bundi, I think my time is coming to an end. Its time to move on from here. There isn't enough work to keep me busy anymore and I cant bring myself to just sit around all the time. The problem is that I don't know how to break it to Mama and Bobbi. I know they will cry and that they wont understand why. I have to do it tonight if I want to take the Monday train to Varanasi....
Its not going to be easy but I suppose my life needs a little stress now and then.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Change of Heart

I had so many things I wanted to write about but now Im just drawing a blank. I hate when I do that.

Life hasn't been too exciting the past few days or weeks or however long its been since I last wrote. Mostly it consists of waking up to either monkeys on the roof or Jake forcing me out of bed with Lady Gaga blasting in my ears! Both are great ways to wake up in my opinion. Ive been learning to cook more and actually made chapati the other day with the "kitchen boy." He has a name and its Baldram (I'm not really sure how to spell it but I think you get it) and Im a jerk for always calling him the "kitchen boy." Mama is finally feeling better and back in the kitchen with the rest of us! Yay!

Ive been watching Rashika a lot the past few days and I think she is finally getting really comfortable with me. She fell asleep today while I was holding her instead of screaming for her mother. I keep thinking about everyone who knows me and how they would all be shocked and horrified to know that I am looking after a baby and playing with small children.

Today I had a nice little adventure with Bobbi out into the market. She took me to the textiles market to buy fabric for a new dress. Its not a sari, its a salwar kameez. Its a combination of pants, a long top and a sash. I bought two and I'm excited to be dressing in more traditional clothing. I should have them by Saturday! Not exactly my style for home, we all know I like my clothes tight and skinny! But they will do me well here.

I finished the first draft for my zine, now I just need it edited by a few people and revised for a second draft. I'm a little worried that the writing is too dry but there just isn't a way for me to explain medical procedures in a colorful manner. Ive asked my friend Tina to illustrate it and I'm hoping that having some fun pictures will help. We will just have to wait and see though.


Oh yes, I have been very excited about all the fat that is melting off my body! A combination of the heat, the food and a daily dose of yoga has me in really good shape (lets just say that I have hip bones again). I had gained a lot of weight while I was in Morocco and couldn't shed it until now. It feels good to be healthy.

Ive also started to learn Hindi. I had my first lesson yesterday and Ill have another today! Its not nearly as difficult as it seems but still not easy. The kids like to help me a lot and Im trying to think of ways for me to learn Hindi and for them to learn English at the same time.

I cant really think of anything else to talk about that is positive. I could tell you about how my camera is broken (cool), or how there is a creepy guy who watches me a lot but that's no fun! I did drink unfiltered local water recently. I think Ill be OK since the water here seems fine. I'm so over iodine or bottled water.... And if I'm staying or coming back in the fall, I may as well get used to it.

I'm still looking into volunteer opportunities. Mama wants me to stay and Id like to but I just cant bring myself to commit that much of my life to one thing. She is old and wants someone who will take care of things and be around for a while. I'm just not that person. Ill stay either until the 1st or just after, or I will stay until its time to fly home to Portland. Id like to come back to India in October and if I can have my visa extended Ill stick around for a few months longer, otherwise its off to Thailand in November. Its a darn shame I hate commitment so much but at the same time its good to know I wont get backed into anything I dont really want.

So thats life. Its not very exciting but Im happy and at ease. Jake will leave soon and Ill move down stairs and live as part of the family.

Im getting really excited about going back to Portland. It will be a lot of fun to see everyone again and to ride a bike! Its been to long. Far, far too long!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Unique Opportunity

I have been offered the unique opportunity to stay in Bundi. I like it here. The family that has invited me is wonderful. It seems to be a once in a lifetime opportunity that I shouldn't pass up and I don't want to.

The invitation is to stay to learn and work in exchange for a room and food. I couldn't really ask for more. The women here work very hard and I would be no exception. Long days of cooking, cleaning and caring for children. Some how this doesn't bother me.

I would need to learn some Hindi which should be no problem and find some more traditional clothing to wear. Other than that, I can still just be me in India! When I get back to the states in August, Id need to renew my visa and figure out a new plan but thats nothing new for me.

Im not sure what this means for Jake. We both agree that him just hanging out for the next few weeks would be not only awkward and boring for him but also very stressful for me. We will wait to see what happens.

Funny how things work. I wasn't even going to visit Bundi and now it looks like Im going to stay!

As for what I have been doing.... Yesterday we went out of the city to the most beautiful waterfall. Actually, it was more like a trickle but still gorgeous. There was a temple there in the side of a cliff with people singing and chanting while they prayed. It is the start of another celebration here. For one month the people make offerings to Shiva, the god of destruction and chaos, and fast and clean their homes. Its all very exciting and really wonderful to see all together in the temples. I could have stayed all day. We will be going back tomorrow for a pick nick and possibly swimming, although Im not sure how that would work for me, being a woman and all....

There are monkeys everywhere here and I was almost attacked last night. It was my own fault. I tried to shoo it away from the water tank and it felt threatened. Oops. I'm just glad it was an evening monkey and therefore much less aggressive!

Hope everyone is enjoying the pictures, finally. It took me three hours to upload all of them!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Anything Else? What About A Cock With Ice Cream?

So I know its been a while and your all dying to know what Ive been doing....just kidding.

I finally have my pictures! Its taken what feels like a year to get them off of the card and onto the internet but it seems that it is finally happening!

The title of this blog, however inappropriate, is funny. There are misspellings everywhere here and I get a kick out of it. I think this is the best one so far. The menu actually offers "Cock with Ice Cream." I was a little disappointed to find that it wasn't actually what it said....

I will start with what happened first and move from there, trying to remember all the little details and stories that go along with the pictures. Forgive me if its terribly boring or my stories have holes.

As far as pictures go, I believe I left you in Agra. The city its self doesn't have much to offer other than the best Aloo Parantha Ive ever had and the Taj Mahal.

Check out my Jesus sandals, yes I have stopped wearing them, it was a momentary lapse in judgment.

I have a pet peeve when it comes to crooked pictures so Im a little pissed I paid Rs 20 for the picture of Jake and I in front of the Taj.

Check it out, its Flynn.

I love saris! If I didnt feel like a total douche wearing one Id have myself wrapped in floral prints in a heart beat.

After Agra, we made our way to Jaipur. I am a terrible tourist as you all know and didnt see the famous forts and building in the city but instead spent a day outside of the city at the Amber Fort (pronounced like "amer"). It was a beautiful place and well worth the sweat soaked bus ride out there and the hike up. There were some crappy white tourists paying to take an elephant to the top. It pissed me off and I wanted to yell at the guy but I know that the keeper is just trying to feed his family and I guess this is one of the few ways to do that.

Im in love with the pants Ive been wearing. Ill never wear them out in the west but they are super comfortable!!

I didn't stay very long in Jaipur but kind of wish I had. Jake and I had a great adventure with a local man there. He tried to lure us down an ally to his 'shop' to tell my fortune. I had had tea with milk in it and was so sick. We used it as an excuse to turn around. Haha. I love things like this. Once again almost being robbed in a dark ally with chickens and cows running around and the smell of the sewer wafting up. Yummy.

Next stop: Ajmer! I really wish I had stayed longer in Ajmer! Our arrival happened to land on the first day of a Muslim pilgrimage to the mosque there and so it was a strange experience. For what ever reason, I had no idea that this was about to start. Waling around town was, well, kind of intimidating. There were so many people out in the streets and armed officers patrolling. Some woman pushed her small child out in front of us to get a better view while hundreds of camera phones snapped shots of us walking down the street. One night there was enough at the time but in retrospect I wish I had stayed. I have a strange fascination with Muslim culture and that week there ended up being over 2 million pilgrims in the small city! Oh well, Ill come back again!

Again, I just love saris!

This is just one of the processions of Muslim pilgrims to the mosque. Pilgrims toss coins on top of the cloth they are carrying for offering.

This would be my sexiest face ever....

Since Ajmer proved to be too much, Pushkar looked like a better idea.

Pushkar is the holy city I wrote about before where there is no alcohol or meat or eggs in the entire town. The lake there had been drained due to too much pollution but it was still a beautiful and peaceful place.

This is the painting that was on the wall of the room I stayed in! So epic!!

The view from the room. I liked it. Just below was a patch of flowers for offerings. They smelled great!

I made a lot of animal friends while there. They make me smile! Most of the dogs are gross and scary but there were a few I really liked.

Cow kisses! My fav!

And then there are random pictures of me. And some of Jake too.

And this is Pushkar.

Doing laundry the old fashioned way sucks. Just in case you didnt already know.

Its hot here so Im in my underwear a lot...

Another random picture of me making a face.

So this is Bundi. Its where I am now and I dont really want to leave.

Ive been learning to cook traditional Indian dishes from this old woman who goes by Mama. I just love her! Her household is so warm and welcoming I feel like I could stay forever. Her and her daughter, Bobbi, are always smiling and the baby in the house is actually cute. To be honest I really like her!

I also wake up to monkeys banging on the roof of the shack I sleep in every morning. I sleep like the dead though so they only bother Jake. Apparently, he chased one out of the room the other morning!

There is a palace and fort above the city that I visited the other day. There are tons of monkeys everywhere. They are kind of scary because they can be really aggressive but thats just the 'morning monkeys.' The evening monkeys are much nicer although still scary because they are huge! I only have pictures of the morning variety as of right now.

Jake let me pain his toenails the other night while I was painting mine! It was fun and silly. I really like my toes painted.... I had no idea.

In other news, I beat Jake at a game of chess the other day. Neither one of us is very good but it was fun. I also beat him at checkers. :)

The only other news is that my set went live on SG! I cant remember if I mentioned that before but it did and Im happy! Its doing better than the two before it! Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a trend! Naked on the internet is fun....

Im still waiting to buy my ticket home for September. I should have it in a few weeks. Once Im there I want to try all these recipes I have on everyone. Im thinking about an Indian dinner party! All vegan Palak Paneer, Aloo, Channa Masala, Chipati, Parantha, Kheer... oh yes!