Friday, November 25, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I have been meaning to blog about my final days in India and trip to Delhi and Amritsar for like, 2 years - ever since I got back from India. And it'd really be pushing it if I put it off until after my mission.
After spending the night in the little piggy-pen outside the airport in Port Blair, we (me, Meghan, Courtney, Kristin) flew back to Chennai and then to Delhi. Once in Delhi, our taxi driver precariously piled our luggage on top of his taxi and drove us to a woman named Barbara's house, who we would be couch surfing with for a few days. At Barbara's house, a young bearded German man answered the door. We were hoping he was Barbara's young lover, but he was actually just a fellow couch surfer, named Moritz, who had just barely arrived in India from Germany. (Just another awesome benefit of couch surfing - meeting awesome people you never would have met otherwise.)
On my favorite day in Delhi, we spent a day with the goal of making it to the Red Fort, but purposefully took all day to get there. (One reason I love traveling with these girls/Moritz. The lack of agenda lends for super fun and interesting detours.) Along the way, we stopped to buy spices, chunky grandpa sweaters and gloves (no more Bay of Bengal, tell you what!), and tried all the street food and fruit we hadn't tried before. We especially wanted to introduce all our India favorites to Moritz. (Side note: sometimes the men in India wear the greatest sweaters and sweater vests I have ever seen – shimmery, fuzzy sweater vests in pink, lavender and bright orange. It’s great. Also, a lot of the women wear sweaters underneath their saris when it is cold. Which is funny, because the women – especially when they wear traditional clothes – are so classy and matchy and put together, but with the sweaters underneath, their saris become clashy and disheveled. It’s charming and endearing.) We also stopped at a peaceful, beautiful mosque we happened across along the way. Except maybe not so peaceful for Meghan, who had to deal with a weird guy tailing her all around saying in his low, raspy voice, "I love you. I love you. Love kiss? Love kiss?" over and over. We finally made it to the Red Fort later that afternoon.
After the Red Fort, we walked across the street to the Jain temple. Upstairs there were tons of sick or injured birds in cages (the temple doubled as a hospital for birds), and a man summoned me over to a little office and let me feed a little bird three drops of medicine. Oh, you bet that was a highlight of India!
A poster illustrating the ways man can cause injury and death to birds.
The India Gate at night.
After a few days in Delhi, we took a train further north to Amritsar. It was the absolute worst train ride I have ever been on in my life. It was soooo cold, and the later and darker it got, the more freeeezing it got. The train ride was about 8 hours long and since we were in the low-class part of the train, there was no glass over the windows, just open bars. And the doors were never shut – always flapping open in the wind. The train was also really loud and so every time another train went past, it was so loud and abrasive. And because of how cold it was, I could feel myself getting progressively sicker as the night wore on. I told Meg and Courtney and Kristin that I hated this train ride so much that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to laugh about it. (Sure enough, it was already funny the next day.)
Finally, finally, finally we arrived in Amritsar and a man who we were going to couch surf with named Mr. Singh picked us up. Mr. Singh is a Sikh and he owns this beautiful old restored farmhouse in a village outside of Amritsar. He breeds white stallions for a living. He is one of the most hospitable people I have ever met and he loves the couch surfing program because there is a scripture he believes that says “a houseguest is a gift from God.”
When we got to the house, I was shocked to discover how spacious it was and that our bedroom had a huge, delicious bed, with tons of blankets and a shower with hot water. (I was expecting mats, cement floors, and freezing water.) I thought I was going to die from the divinity of it all. We slept so well that night and were awakened in the morning by a random woman in our room. Her name was Rayshma and she couldn’t speak English very well, but somehow communicated to us that she wanted us to go to her village with her to get food. We followed her. She introduced us to charming people, including some of her baby grandchildren and a young woman who did our henna.
We got back to the farmhouse and ate some of the most delicious food I have ever had in my life. I think a lot of the ingredients came from the farm’s garden. Fresh vegetables, creamy paneer.
Part of the farmhouse. Isn't it so great?! I loved the tile and skinny bricks.
The swimming pool at the farmhouse.
One of Mr. Singh's workers, tending the white stallions.
After eating, we left for the Golden Temple. We began walking towards the main road so we could catch an auto into the city, but Rayshma ran up to us and told us to get in the car with Mr. Singh's brother, who could drive us to the temple. We tried to resist and told her we didn't want to make him do that, but she said one of Indian people's favorite English phrases, "Nooo proooblem!!" So we hopped in and he drove us to the temple. We bought scarves to cover our heads and went into the temple complex.
We sat right here for a long time, looking at the temple as it changed colors as it got darker.
Courtney, Meghan, Kristin.
And we had to document our ultimately disheveled outfits. Grandpa sweaters over maxi dresses, socks with Chacos, fingerless gloves, head scarves, etc.
Waiting at a train station.
We were only in Amritsar for one day, and then took a train back to Delhi. The second the train stopped in the Delhi station, everyone waiting for the train began shoving their way onto the train before anyone could get off. People were even chucking their luggage in through the windows and climbing onto the train via the windows. It was a (hilarious) madhouse.
Once we were back in Delhi, we couch surfed with the coolest person ever. His name was Adam and he lived in Noida (a subcity of Delhi that smelled like rotten eggs/the grossest word ever). He was hilarious, had a "pet" spider who lived behind his toilet, and had the nicest roommate named Raj.
We took a day trip (3-4 hour train ride) to the Taj Mahal. It was for real dreamy. And since you've never seen the Taj Mahal, let me post a million pictures of it:
We spent all day there, minus a lunch break, where we dined looking out towards the Taj, Aladdin-style.
The train back to Delhi took about 5 or 6 hours instead of the 3 or 4. It included being stopped on the tracks in the middle of nowhere for a really long time, and no one knew what was going on. (Per usual.) It also included a middle-aged man sitting on the bench next to me blatantly passing gas in my direction. I'm talking - lifting up a bum cheek and pointing towards me, if you will. It was so great. But, really, India. Always funny.
One of our shopping excursions in Delhi. Wait, seriously, have you ever seen more people in your life?
We spent a little more time in Delhi, flew back to Vizag (where we had been all semester), picked up our luggage, bought sweets and noodles, and flew home the next day. When our director was accompanying us to the airport, some guy got in the way of the car and our driver had to slam on his brakes. Super common occurrence, no biggie. But Krishnayya (our director) exclaimed, "Oh, crap man! That guy is a nerd!" It was a good way to end my time in India.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
A. My old next door neighbor, Brother Murdock, (who I adore), emailed me and told me he thinks I'll be a wonderful missionary and then went on to say, "I know you have rough edges. I've heard you get angry and swear at your brothers. (They deserved it, by the way.)" Haha, funny slash embarrassing. Also, made me self-conscious. I bet he heard sooo much embarrassing stuff while we were growing up. We're so loud.
B. My mission president looks like Skinner (from X-Files). Meant To Be.
C. The Faj Mahal thinks my missionary clothes are way too un-conservative. When I showed him a floral skirt I bought, he exclaimed, "You think you can just run wild!" So great.
Some non-missionary related things:
Went to the Relief Society broadcast with Ariel. While we were walking with the hoards of women to the conference center, I kept getting really stressed because the lining of my skirt was hiking up so high that I couldn't pull it down and I could tell it was making my underclothing show a little bit in the back. I kept trying to tug my skirt down, but it wasn't really working. Then while standing on the street corner, a woman really nicely told me that I needed to pull my skirt down. I explained why I couldn't and she said to the girls around her, "All right, surround her!" So all the cute women around her (I think they were part of her family) surrounded me so I could lift my skirt up and pull the slip down, and they were definitely all helping pull the slip down, too. (Is this story tmi for a blog? Gah, hope not.) It was so funny and so cute of them. Made me love Mormon women even more.
Wait, have you guys been to that waffle/fries place in Salt Lake? I forgot how good it is. It is sooo good. Seriously some of the best food ever. Ariel and I went before the broadcast. And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't take pictures of delicious food? Not the cute/fun kind, tell you what!
Dining with these awesome people (my summer camp besties). Taylor, Nic, KC. Some favorites. I have so many favorites.
I don't know why I am standing like that.
Park City art stroll with Brittany and Emily, MOA besties.
Niels ran his first marathon! The Faj Mahal ran his, like, 70th.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
All right, we're just going to combine the last days into one blog, because this is getting a little old.
So, on Thursday morning, we woke up and biked about 19 miles, from Panguitch Lake up to Cedar Breaks. Again, it was a little rough because there was so much uphill, but it was a way shorter distance, so it was really manageable and so, so beautiful. Also, the weather was much cooler because we were gaining a lot of elevation. (Aka steep hills.) When we got to the campsite there, we ate, showered, read and listened to ipods for about 4 hours.
Breakfasting on prepackaged muffins from Panguitch Lake general store before biking.
The road we took up to Cedar Breaks.
Celebratory lunch. Prepackaged fruit pies, tapioca pudding, and pringles never looked so good. Am I right!
Just being the cutest sibs ever.
And we took portraits to document tan lines and sweaty faces.
Thighs n' tan line. I won for least significant tan lines, but they're still totally there! Win.
The Faj Mahal.
Hands-down tan line winner.
On Friday morning, we rode from Cedar Breaks down to Cedar City. It was a totally fun ride, because it was fast downhill the entire way. We got all the way down (about 26 miles) in about an hour. Brobros! So fast.
At the top of Cedar Breaks.
At the bottom of the canyon, after coming down from Cedar Breaks.
Once in Cedar City, we took a celebratory picture, act breakfast, and waited to meet up with my mom, Lars, and my aunt Bonnie. We spent the afternoon swimming in our motel pool, eating delicious food and desserts, and going to Romeo and Juliet at the Shakespeare Festival.
All in all, such a fun trip. Biking trip - best trip ever. Whenever we got off our bikes, and had to get back on again, we would always (jokingly) be like, "Oh, man, just can't wait to get back on that bike! Can't wait to get that seat in between my legs again!" because we would be so sore and getting on a bike again sounded like the worst thing ever. But, seriously, still so fun. Loved it. Want to do it again. And the hardness of it was obviously way rewarding. It's a really great sense of accomplishment.
So, about that. The Faj Mahal Lars originally didn't have tickets, but then decided last minute that they wanted to come, so they had seats separate from ours. Well, this play had a more sexual interpretation than usual (like a make-out scene at the very beginning of the play, before any lines were even spoken). And we all know how Lars feels about sex. So I was secretly way entertained, imagining Lars' reaction to the whole thing (aka, couldn't stop cracking up during a make-out scene because I was picturing Lars' reaction - everyone for sure thought I was way immature.) So, after the play, I innocently asked, "Lars, did you like the play?"
Lars: "Uh, no. Not at all!"
Lars: I just didn't.
Me: Tell me why.
Lars: Okay, well, for one thing: way too much kissing! It's disgusting. Also, they talk to themselves way too much!
Hah, oh Lars. At least he knows what breastfeeding is.
Make up just doing wonders for my face - at the Shakespeare Festival.
Final biking stats:
Day 5—Panguitch Lake to Cedar Breaks Point Supreme Campground
Aug 19, 2011
Ave. speed = 6.8 mph
Max speed = 35.2 mph
Time in saddle = 2:50
Total time = ~4 hours
Day 6—Cedar Breaks to Cedar City
Aug. 20, 2011
Ave. speed = 20.1 mph
Max speed = 40.2 mph
Time in saddle = 1:07
Total time = ~ 1.5 hours