Thursday, June 18, 2009


It's incredible how long a week can seem. It's been just over a week since we've all been back, and the adjustments have come slowly and steadily. Amazing how quickly you become attached to people, and how different it is to not be around them every day like you once were. I miss all of you to death, and I've no idea how long it'll take before I'm used to not waking up and seeing everyone in the morning. I can honestly say India was a life-changing experience. Somewhere in between the screeching streets of Delhi, the serene and abandoned Mughal temples in Agra, and the incredible natural beauty of Rishikesh, you find something in India that stays and comes back home with you. I really felt like we were moving up in levels of consciousness every step of our trip, from the crowded mess of Delhi where it's hard to hear yourself think, to the almost complete quiet of places like Dharamsala. I was surprised to find Delhi was far calmer, far quieter than I remembered when we returned at the end of the trip, but I assume that had more to do with my mindset than Delhi itself. Everyone's demeanor and attitude was entirely different our second round through Delhi, compared to our first. It was amazing seeing that transformation firsthand as we came full-circle. While I'm happy to be home (and around tap water I can drink without panic attacks), I can't help but regret that we didn't have more time in that wonderful country. This is a journey I know I'll take with me for the rest of my life, and has provided me with enough stories to fill an entire book (or two).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

so weirrrrrd...

it's so strange being back in the good ol' u.s. of a.  i never really experienced the "culture shock" when first arriving in india, but now that i'm back in the states i think i am experiencing it.  it's funny... the silly things you take for granted.  like regular sized rolls of toilet paper, normal straws, "western" toilets, shorts and tank tops being acceptable almost anywhere anytime, ice, other things that are cold, etc etc.  i loved india, and i plan on going back fo sho, but right now, it's so good to be home.  it was a wild and crazy adventure and i'm so lucky i got to be a part of it, and get to meet a bunch of really cool, different kinds of people.  looooooved iiiiiit!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


हेललो, I'll try to make this my last blog entry. I've uploaded some pictures of our trek up Triund. वे हद अ (I'm sorry it keeps typing in hindi). umm, as we hiked up the trail a Golden Eagle launched off of it's nest a few feet from our heads and then floated around us for the rest of the day, sometimes with a couple of others. At the "top" (there really isn't a top it all seems to keep going up and up and up into space) we were greeted by a some huts serving dal and rice and chai. We chilled up there for a while, literally, as it got right cold and we were all sweaty and wet. Just as we were sipping our hot Chai a thunder storm upon us and hailed like I've never seen before. We huddled under the awning of the shack, Tibetans, Indians, Brits, and us. I got this cool picture of the pack mule eating the hail with Monsignor Seth in the background. We started to head down the other side of the mountian and this way we gazed upon all of Dharamsala, we could see the new cricket stadium close to where the Rajastani Slums were, and we could see the Dalai Lama's home in exile.
Then we got hailed on with no where to hide. Hail doesn't really hurt all that bad. Hail no.
Now that I'm back to Greenville everything seems so slow and empty. I guess because everyone's away for summer. I got real sick my first day back from something I ate at the Dehli airport and had a high fever. It sucked.
Seeing India is essential to any world traveler. I think I may have to put new people I meet into two categories: been to india or not been to india.
Namaskar, g.

India, you've changed my view on life, permanantly and for the better.

All I can say is thank God/Buddha/Vishnu/Ganesh/His Holiness the XIVth, etc for good ol' American wifi! India has definitely changed my views of the world in general. It's amazing to realize the beauty of the things we take for granted, yet at the same time how useless it is that we take them for granted in the first place. I'd give up wifi for a view of the beautiful Himalayas and the clean fresh air each morning as I wake up. I've been to Canada briefly, but never really outside of the states in my life (definitely not this far!) The world is incredible. India is part of the proof for that claim. The people in this world are incredible. The people on this trip also apply to that. I had some great fun with you guys and really enjoyed the trip. Delhi has made the smell of a bowel movement almost reminiscent of good times. Agra has made me realize that I can get ripped off by an 8 year old and not even realize it for weeks. Rishikesh has made me realize that a prepubescent teen could row a raft better than I and green Indian peppers are something that should be avoided if one likes his or her own taste buds. Dharmsala has made me realize a variety of things; one that we take so much for granted, two that we have so much more that we could do for others less fortunate, and three the uselessness of the things that we actually take for granted. All in all, this trip has changed my life. I love everyone on the trip (the plane post might have been a little over the top and I apologize; sleep deprivation and utter confusion can do that, I just didn't expect such vulgar replies) and I've found all of you to be completely unique and interesting individuals. Just the fact that you were all willing to pack up a few bags and head off to India to explore in itself assures me that you all have the mentality and gusto to go and do anything you want. It's people that venture out to see things like that that end up going along and pursuing big dreams. I hope to hear from most of you in the future, and I wish you all the best of luck. P.S. Sorry if my jokes weren't of your taste; just trying to lighten the mood while we were in such an insane environment, I didn't realize it was taken as badly as it was.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Thank you for all the deep breaths and feelings of freedom. Thank you for all your amazing colors painted on the building walls and womens clothes. Thank you for breakfest, lunch and dinner with incredible people that have now become more like family. Thank you for letting your rooftops be our "living" room and the stars and moon our light. Thank you for being my place of wonder and adventure. I've truly enjoyed exploring and figuring you out. Unveiling and rediscovering myself in the process, thank you for the beautiful dance. Thank you for challenging me mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Thank you for really showing me what's important. And most of all thank you India for letting me fall in love with you...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

So what was actually learned?

I'm editing this post out, since it's only caused controversy and I really didn't intend to. I really like you guys and I enjoyed every second of the trip. I'm sorry to have caused any problems and really didn't mean to attack anyone in any sort of way. - Blair

Warning: Our Final Leave

So, I need an extra two blog entries as I’m told, and I’ll go ahead and use this one as a warning for the next one. If you can’t handle having your issues in group membership and compassion for others (which if ANYTHING, this trip should have had some effect on that) then avoid the next blog entry; because as much as I enjoyed the trip with you people and the close bond I got with everyone during the trip, something really disappointed me today and I’m going to rail hard on it. I mean no offense to anyone, and no personal insults will be made, but the mentality of the group needs to finally take it’s toll and be reviewed in a blunt matter, and that is what I’ll be doing. I sit on the plane to Raleigh right now typing this blog, just prepping for the correct thing to say without trying to offend anyone, but to call out faults that I believe need to be brought up to everyone’s attention. I am not the perfect person; I do not claim to be anywhere near even what I would consider a good person. There are people in the Peace Corps and non-profit organizations trying to make the world a better place that are good people; I’m not one of them at this stage in my life, and I don’t know if I ever will be. Honestly, I believe I’m a pretty crappy person, when I consider myself in general; but I do hold ethical standards to benefit human beings in general, and when it comes to putting people in a bad/terrifying situation by themselves without any remorse for the action of it crosses the line for me. So if you don’t want to hear these statements, then keep your distance from the next post by myself.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Trekking up the Triund Mt. with 6 others through rain, hail, and God knows how many partial slip-ups, was an incredible experience. When it hurts just to walk up a flight of stairs the next day, you know you did something your body wont soon forget. Our stay in Dharamsala was very eventful, and while I wish we had been able to spend more time in Rishikesh (my favorite place in India by far), being able to experience the Tibetan community in-exile is something I don't think I can easily gloss over. It is incredible to see a people that have been cast out of their homeland by an oppressive foreign government, who then moved as refugees to foreign land, and yet still throughout that have remained not only vibrant, but absolutely charitable in their actions and intentions. India took in these people and yet the Tibetans have looked after not only themselves but have become very active in the slums and poorer areas in India that have often gone overlooked. Such a selfless attitude in the face of losing not only their homeland but spiritual leaders (the Pachen Lama, etc) as well should serve as an example to be emulated, if nothing else. It really is amazing, having moved through the burning humid climates of Delhi and Agra, to the milder climates of Varanasi and Rishikesh, on to cold and rainy Dharamsala, and then back to Delhi again. Not only that, but it is amazing to see how much all of us have changed, how less intimidating Delhi is now, how easy it is to spot westerners who are new here (newer than us at least) and spot the same mistakes in them that we made when we first arrived. It's hard to quantify all of it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

back in dehli [WHAT WHAT]

so after a lengthy, twisty, descending car ride down a mountain, and numerous vomitous explosions of the mouth, we finally arrived back in dehli. it's strange being back here and thinking about our first day in india. we walked around like we owned da skreets, and didn't take nuffin from nobody. we went to this delicious restaurant called united coffee house, which was beautifully adorned with crystals and gold and fancy shmancy paint and table cloths. we all ate a delicious meal and said goodbye to j.t. i was very sad to see him go, i think he is a very cool mang and i plan on visiting him in l.a... fo sho. i'm sad to leave india, but excited to see my family, unwind, lay on the beach, and tell them all about my adventures. we have one final group activity tomorrow and then the rest of the day is free until we leave for the airport. this has been a crazy journey.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

2 more days...

After staying in Dharamsala for 9 days, I feel like I have lived here for months. When we first walked into our 2 dollar a night hotel room, I was nervous that I would be scared about what was to come. Bugs in the bathroom, paper thin walls, watching out for monkeys stealing things, be inside the gates by 11:30 pm, and having to turn the water heater on 30 minutes before it was needed was not what I was use to. But, one week later, I find that I really love that little hotel room and all those problems have turned into an amazing journey. Just after one week I've changed my living standards and have found that people adapt to their surroundings a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. Twice we have visited the slums in Dharamsala and it has been one of the roughest and dirtiest looking places I have ever seen. No one should ever have to live under such circumstances and it's appalling that this compassionate city, home of the Dalai Lama, would allow such slums to exist. With that being said, upon entering the slums, the children's faces still light up with the biggest smiles ever. They run up to hug us and ask us our names, then we walk hand in hand full of happiness. Their surroundings are rocks and tarp tents for houses, but they don't know it any other way. They arn't consumed with material things but rather find fun in the simple things in life. You would have already made their day if you had only given them a little bit of attention and a hug. Their simple, pure love has helped me know how to better live and love in return. I've realized how lucky I am to live in a country where the basic immenties that I take for granted are what these people live day to day searching for. For example, in this slum of 700 people, there is only one water well that is available for only one hour a day. This is only possible with connections through Tong Len, or no water would ever be accessible. Even if the government is not taking steps to help, the directors of Tong Len are showing compassion to the less fortunate. India has opportunities knocking everywhere and I have stories to share for the rest of my life. Yay India! P.S.-I never thought I would say this, but I'm excited about going back and spending a day in Delhi. :)

the india effect

Over the past few days, I've been trying to recognize the ways in which India has affected me. This trip has been filled with crazy transportation situations, amazing religious and historical sites, great friendships, and tons of other experiences that go along with traveling abroad. Going through all of this has made me want to explore more. Not necessarily overseas, but even just within the US or NC. I've lived there my whole life, yet I could give you list after list of major locations I have never visited. I think I am finally at an age where I can truly appreciate different places and/or ways of life, and I can't wait to begin even more trips in the future. More importantly, visiting India has forced me to appreciate the opportunities I've been given while growing up. I've always thought of myself as someone who goes after their goals, but now I realize that the reason I am where I am today has a lot to do with luck. I am so lucky to be a US citizen, to have an education basically handed to me, to know that I have the potential to do whatever I want to do with my life. A lot of the people I've met here, especially those in Charan Ghat, have worked a million times harder than I have, yet they will probably never have a life as easy as mine. It's a difficult realization, but one that has absolutely made me appreciative for what I have. So, though I am sad to be leaving India soon, I look forward to the wonderful life I have waiting for me back home. Namaste!

Friday, June 5, 2009

See you later India..

This is probably one of the cutest girls ever. She was so sweet, energetic, and that adorable smile never left her face. She is one of the many kids where the slum is called home. We visited the slum two days during our visit in Dharmasala. The first day we put on a picnic and the second day we repaired some of the tents that got destroyed during a recent storm. Despite all of the families and childrens conditions they were all so excited to see us and were so polite. It broke my heart to leave all of the children. The other picture is one of the many views we have from our hotel of the Himalayas. We are surrounded by them and every view is breath taking. It is unfortunate and hard to believe that our journey only has three days left :( I have learned so much on our trip. The friends that I've made, bonds I've shared and knowledge I've gained along the way will never be forgotten. I know I will be back to India one day, hopefully it will be sooner than later. Namaste.

late blogger

so... i know i am a late blogger. i've been trying to avoid the interweb as much as possible. needless to say, India is quite amazing, and our trip has almost come to an end. we are currently in Dharamshala, and i think this town is my favurite of the ones we've been to. today, we were able to help out a slum with repairs and whatnot. i learned this really cool way to sew and really enjoyed it. the children there are so adorable, sweet, polite and happy dispite their surroundings. i wanted to take so many home with me. i'm going to try and convinve my family to become a host family. we've been eating so much delicious food here, it's ridiculous. i've had some fried momos tonight, along with cheese macaronni and some fig ice cream. i will miss the fig ice cream fo sho. i think i probably ate it about 12 times a day whilst in Varanasi. one of my favurite places we've eaten is called KarnaNirvana, this lovely vegan restaurant. i sang at an open mic night there a couple nights ago, and it was really cool to watch all the people perform. i really love Dharmshala and India, and hope to return with my family sometime soon.

Final Thoughts. . .

As we near the end of our trip I'd figure I would make one last post summerizeing my past thoughts on India. After visiting the slums the other day and putting on a pic-nic for them it really helps to put life in perspective. These kids and families have next to nothing but still find ways to stay positive and up beat. Just when you think you have the worst situation in life you don't have to worry about your home being torn down or whether you are going to beg or collect bottles for less than an American dollar for the day. These kids are amazing and it feels amazing to put smiles on their faces and do all I can to brighten their day. As far as India the country goes this places is crazy and booming. The developements that are going on here and slowing starting to creep up on the west, but they still find ways to keep their culture and religious values in tact. The people here are also amazing, besides being bugged by people trying to sell you stuff I have never felt unsafe or in danger the whole time I've been here. I've been led down some back allies and into some random persons apartment, but never felt like any one wanted to hurt me. Granted there are exceptions but this is my perception. Also being here in Dharmsala has opened my eyes to the Tibetan cause. I always knew a little bit about it but this places puts it right in your face. It's completely messed up what China has done to these people and their land. The touture that still goes on in Tibet is unbelieveable, and it's unfortunate that the US is too tied up with business and debt to China to do anything about it. I hope one day the Tibetan people get their land and culture back from the ugly hand of China. Anyway off the soap box, India is an awesome place to visit, but it's not for everyone. You have to be able to be patient and deal with alot. From poverty extremes to the unbelieveable spice of the food, its way different than anything you will experience back home. If you do come here bring an open mind and heart and be ready for an adventure, don't stay locked up in your hotel fearing the crazyness thats around you jump right in and be apart of it because thats how you are going to get the most out of it. I have had an amazing time here and can't wait to get back and share all my stories, until then have compassion for all beings.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


As Andy described in his post, today we visited Charan Ghat which is home to numerous
displaced families primarily from Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The conditions we witness are difficult to describe in the sense that any description I could render would not do it justice. The work Tong-Len does quite literally saves lives and provides hope for these people. For example, Guru-ji, the founder of Tong-Len has worked for four years trying to establish a reliable water source for the people of Charan Ghat. In those four years he has traveled to Delhi, navigated bureaucracy, and paid bribes to get one pump to be supplied with water for one hour a day. Did I mention that the sole water pump serves the entire Charan Ghat community, which is comprised of over 700 people? Adding to the absurdity of the situation is that the people of Charan Ghat are essentially disenfranchised due to their status as citizens of other states and therefore the local government has little political incentive to provide such basic needs. In light of these hurdles the people of Charan Ghat can find glimmers of hope in the services Tong-Len provides. I spoke to a father from Rajasthan who described himself as a lucky man because his nine-year-old daughter, Pinkie, is able to attend Tong-Len's youth hostel. Such a strark admission regarding accessiblity to education, something that seems so universal back home, has since left me speechless.
Thanks to Brittany for the picture.

The Rajastani Refugees.

Our group visited the slums today. About 700 some diplaced people are living in this dried-up river bed with no running water. The living conditions in that famous movie Slum-dog Millionare were better then these. Tong-len is a Buddhist NGO that is helping these folks with education, medicines, and being advocates for them. It's was pretty tremendous to hang out with these malnourished kids and brighten their days smiles, toys, fingernail paint, picking them up and letting them kiss you, feeding them, flying kites, soccer. Wow. I was feeling weak all day do to a fever in the night and bathroom trips, but I managed to stay strong enought to play with these impoverished peoples. They were fed on these really neat indigenous plates made of leaves sewn together. The food was really good. On the way out of the slums I ran into this really cool old guy, but really I began to see how they could live like this at least on some level. I mean as strange of a life it is to live in plastic sheet-tents in total begging poverty with no running water I could almost picture myself in their shoes. I guess that's the first step in understanding people and helping them.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rotten Eggs

So, I feel like a total Debbie Downer for writing about this after Nicole's really awesome post, but I just couldn't let this interesting story of India go untold. Anyways, here it goes. Yesterday was a pretty busy day, so I was definitely tired last night and ready to get some good sleep before we met the Karmapa Lama this morning (which was really cool, by the way). So, my roommate Kristen and I are just laying in bed a little before 1am, talking over the day's events. All of a sudden, we catch a whiff of the strongest and most awful smell of sulfur (rotten eggs). By the time we rule out the presence of a dead animal/stink bomb/exploding water heater as the source of the stench, the smell has completely filled our room. Kristen and I both run outside to get some fresh air, where we see Andy, Mac, and Becca. Even though they had already gotten a taste of the smell, they still confirmed that our room was the culprit. The possibility of Kristen and I actually sleeping in our room wasn't looking so good (unless we preferred to suffocate), so we ran around for a good 10 minutes debating on whether or not to wake up the hotel owners at 1 in the morning. Along the way, we happen to see Chelsea talking to this white dude dressed as a monk. As we tell her about the horrible odor in our room, the monk says he knows a few things about plumbing (go figure), so we let him check out our room. I honestly didn't want him to go in there because I just knew he would pass out from the smell, and putting a monk in that sort of danger didn't seem to be the best way to gain good karma. Anyways, he spends maybe two minutes messing around our bathroom, waves a bunch of incense everywhere, and the rotten egg smell was completely gone. Just like that. It was a miracle. By the way, the "monk" turned out to actually not be a monk. However, the long red robes he was wearing definitely gave me and Kristen the impression he was a holy man, and to be honest, it made the effect of the disappearing odor that much more impressive.