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Reflections on India

India has been full of surprises. I didn’t really know what to expect, but if I had expectations, India has exceeded them and then some.

At times it seems like pure chaos. I watched men launching themselves onto (and off of) a moving train, tuk tuks squeezing into impossibly tight spaces on the road, and sacred cows and monkey running amok. Motorized vehicles would rather get into an accident than accidentally hit a cow.

Other times, it’s incredibly peaceful. We walked along the ghats of Varanasi in the rain, stopping to quietly contemplate the cremations happening along the bank of the Ganges, listened to Sufis since Qawwali at a dargah, seeing a Muslim and a Sikh laugh toghether, walking along Chowpatty Beach at sunset, and the tranquility of the Taj Mahal lost in the mist.

I’ve been disappointed. By touts and scammers who tell us our train tickets aren’t valid or that we have to go to a “tourist office” to fix it and by knock-off restaurants that mimic a charitable organization.

But I’ve also been pleasantly surprised. Mostly by the kindness of strangers. I can in blinders up and ready to play hardball but, most of the time, it’s been unnecessary. The kindness shown here to two fareng who don’t speak any Hindi has helped humble me and restore my faith in humanity a little.

And so far, I have loved it. It’s been trying at times and desperately in need of some quite time, but it’s been incredible.

Chowpatty Beach

Chowpatty Beach Mumbai
Hijab Bathers Chowpatty Beach Mumbai

We spent a relaxing afternoon on Chowpatty Beach in Mumbai. I loved watching these two women in full hijab playing in the ocean.

2015: The Year Ahead

Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.

– Anne of Green Gables

I love the New Year. It’s a perfect chance to reflect on the past and create a fresh future. 2014 is a wrap and 2015 is spread wide open with infinite possibilities.

Two of my favorite resources for reviewing and planning are Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review and Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year Ahead. Last month I also took Susannah Conway’s Find Your Word mini-course since I had a lot of trouble coming up with a word!

I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to reflect on my chosen word and how I’ll bring that into the new year and all the changes this year will bring, but I did manage to decide on one.

My word for 2015 is Nourish.

What’s your word?

Happy New Year!

 

Wishing everyone a very happy New Year!!

India-3827 Lora Kathleen Taj Mahal

2014: Year in Review

I called 2014 the Year of Foundation since I believed I would laying the groundwork for the future. Check, check and check. Things didn’t always go 100% according to plan, but overall I am happy with how the year unfolded.

Big moments of 2014:
  1. I got engaged to the love of my life!
  2. I visited five new countries: India, Morocco, Qatar, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.
  3. Ryan and I planned our big, RTW trip, and now are making it happen!
  4. I finished out my service working with an amazing NGO in Bahir Dar.
  5. I became a RETURNED Peace Corps Volunteer.

What were a few of your top moments of 2014?