Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Take heart.

Life is overwhelming.  The ups and downs, the happiness and sadness, the hard work and the emotions we all feel each day...

it's a lot.

I was reminded today of the fragility of life while reading some updates on Daisy Merrick, the little girl with cancer who has become well known through the amazing power of the internet and the willingness of God's people to pray.

I was also reminded of the strength of the spirit and the ways in which we were created to overcome, to conquer, and to redeem so much of the hard stuff...but not alone.

Every single day I find a portion of my thoughts falling to India and the time I was able to spend there serving, learning, growing, and being challenged.  I sometimes have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that I was chosen to go, me of all broken and emotionally scattered...yet I was blessed with an experience of a lifetime.  It doesn't make sense, but it's beautiful and for that I am thankful.

While learning to live again in a place labeled "home," I feel the weight of adjustment every day.  I feel the anxiety set in each morning taunting me to feel unsettled and unsatisfied.  But I have to fight against what the world pushes upon me because I know I serve a God bigger than any pressure, real or imagined.

Take heart, weary servants, knowing that we are not alone in our pain and our anxiety.  Remember to let go of the complexities that make our heads spin and simplify life into one thing: loving God so we can love others.  There is immense joy to be found in the journey but you have to remember to allow yourself to find it...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Street Sweeping.

This morning was one of those mornings in which I kept waking up afraid I was going to over sleep...and I over slept.  Rather than my alarm waking me, I awoke to the intrusive sound of the street sweeper...and remembered with a sharp pang that my car was still parked on the street and it was a few minutes after 8...

Sure enough I started my day late and with a parking ticket.

Though this is generally not a worthy topic to blog about on its own, I have been meaning to blog a  lot more often and it bums me out that I've already let myself become too busy to do the things I want to do, even the little things.

I miss India and the slow simplicity of life there.  Sure, sometimes I got bored but nothing was ever really that stressful.  I had time to just sit and think, time to contemplate, time to just be.  For whatever reason, I don't allow myself that time here and during moments where I have nothing else to do, I feel anxious about figuring out the next thing I'm supposed to be doing.  I have always thought that it was just me but now that I have seen myself outside of my culture, I realize so much of it is just my environment.  It feels like a terribly difficult up-hill battle to fight against busyness...but I realize it's perhaps what I have to do to maintain my overall health.

Why do we keep ourselves so busy?  What are we afraid of?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dot. Dot. Dot.

Do you ever have a moment where suddenly you seem to come to the full realization of yourself?  A moment above the storm where you can see clearly for miles ahead?  A moment in which you feel defined, determined, and delineated from the crowd? A single drop in time where you actually know that you were created for something beyond human contemplation?

I hope you have those moments...

and that you let them change you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Rain Down.

Ok, I can't wait to get my day started (and I slept in a bit later than I had planned on...) but before I jump into it I had to take a few moments to share the overflow of blessings in my life.

Brief background on the last 6-ish years: College was a crazy time in my life.  I had a difficult time deciding exactly what I wanted to do, or at least deciding to make that happen.  Once I finally settled on a school and a degree, I felt the entire experience was an up-hill challenge. Academically I didn't feel like always rising to the occasion and personally I was a huge wreck. My life was flanked with failed relationships and vain pursuits to fill voids, depression, medication, and countless tears and days hiding out in bed. I had some great things come out of those 5 years, mainly some incredible friendships and a whole lot of tough lessons learned. Right after graduation I took a corporate admin job and for the most part hated it...loved the people (most of them anyway) but did not fit into the environment whatsoever.  When the opportunity to potentially go to India showed its face, I dove in completely and, well, the rest is history.  In a nutshell, the several years leading up to my India adventure were hard and wrought with a lot of challenges, fighting within myself, and days of wandering in the desert. I often asked, "where are you, God?"

Low and behold the Promised Land.  Coming home from India started some incredible things happening for me.  Before I knew it, I had gone from having nothing to a having car to use and a house to stay in for almost no cost while I was looking for a new job. And then, with literally very little effort, I had a job a week after I moved back into Orange County. A WEEK!

Beyond having all my physical and logistical needs met and exceeded, a "garden" of friendships has begun to explode with new growth in my life.  Hardly a day goes by in which I don't receive a text, phone call, or email from someone reaching out or responding to me and wanting to get together.  I have this laundry list of amazing people to spend time with and not enough time to do it!  I suppose that's a pretty good "problem" to have...

I have encountered a couple of people who, upon hearing my story of blessing, chalked my life up to something as simple as, good people who do good things (referring to India) get rewarded, much like a sort of karma mentality.  With all due respect, that is SO not it.  I suppose for all intents and purposes you can state that I am a "good" other words, I haven't murdered anyone or tortured any cats (to be debated, heh heh...).  In the eyes of the God I serve, I'm just as sinful and screwed up as the people who do murder others.  That concept, understandably, is really difficult for people to understand, especially in the world of secular humanism.  In terms of what's fair in the eyes of the world, those who murder and act out evil should be considered not as inherently good as those who feed starving children in Africa.  I do not wish to debate theologically on any of this, I merely want to remind everyone reading that I have my fair share of crap inside and out and am only considered anything good and worthwhile because I am FORGIVEN.

Let's not preach, shall we?  I merely want to remember to be humble and to give the glory to the Big Guy upstairs for the outpouring of blessings in my life.  Even if it looks technically "good" that I moved over to India to help those "less fortunate," truth be told, I had a load of very ugly and selfish moments during my time there...ask one of my absolute best friends who witnessed it, Cory.

May my season of blessings serve to encourage others to see the goodness of God and that in the world we live in, we need to call on that far more often than we do.  God is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving...and wants to take each one of us into a life of incredible fulfillment.  And for those of you doubting that this is possible or true, get in touch with me and I will share with you the nuts and bolts of who I was when I was trying to do life on my own strength...and compare that with the way I am blessed and taken care of in this season (only through submitting my life to the Lord)...and tell me God isn't real.  Sure, not every season will bear such comfort and greatness (um, hello, the least six months in India were HARD and PAINFUL!) but the Lord is faithful to bring us to places of rest when we need to feel His covering and love the most.  So, after an indescribably challenging time in India, God has granted me incredible solace and has freed me up to share His blessings with those around me.

He gives and takes away.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Deep Breath.

Take a deep breath.



Today is a day in which I feel I am spinning outside my own universe, looking in on my life and desperately reaching out to grasp at it...but I'm too far away.  I am at a disconnect.  This is one of those moments in which I am paralyzed by the reality of who I am and where I am...and wondering what to make of all of it.  Truth: I usually do well at loving my character and the stuff I have inside me to offer the world.  Another truth: if I'm not using those traits and gifts for a purpose I find worthy, I immediately feel...disconnected.

I realize life is full of ebbs and flows, ups and downs, rights and wrongs...but what I want and what I've always wanted is consistency in doing the things I'm passionate about and doing them well.  I can't blame the rest of the world or the hand of cards I find myself staring at when I don't have that's not just the situation I was was dealt, it's ME.

Mediocrity pisses me off more than anything, especially when incredible people with incredible potential give into it...yet all too often I look in the mirror and see a person who settles exactly for that.  Settling.  Ugh.  I can see it so clearly in the lives of those around me and can even speak encouragement and love to the people I care most about who are bearing the weight of mediocrity...but when it comes to myself, I tend to ignore and allow the complacency to fester, all the while growing increasingly unsatisfied yet doing little about it.  What is wrong with me that I would allow my passion to fizzle so easily?

Tomorrow is NOT the day.  TODAY is the day.  Anything worth doing "tomorrow" is worth doing today, right now.  Otherwise, what the hell are we doing if we are living constantly for tomorrow?

I would say, not living at all.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Wave of the Sea.

The older I get the more I realize just how volatile and fickle the heart really is.  When I say "heart" I am referring to the part of us that allows us to feel, the part that often takes over and pushes the head/logical/thinking part out of the way. One of the most blaring ways in which I find myself adjusting to life as it is now, is in my sensitivity or barometer to the measure of depth around me. I feel I need to explain that better:  what I mean to say is that each day is filled with moments that are varying in depth; some moments are touching, sweet, difficult, contemplative, meaningful, and deep, and other moments are superficial, fun, filled with laughter and, ultimately, not as deep.  Though I enjoy the latter, I find that I am measuring the depth of each of my moments and feeling that I don't relate as easily to the moments that are supposed to be "fun" and easy to take in. Part of me feels exposed and even guilty in those moments, like I shouldn't be feeling them and I should instead be feeling something more imposing, something more substantial.

I fear I'm not making sense but I have to try and express what I mean. In layman's terms, I'm having a tough time easily having fun right now. There are certain triggers surrounding India and my experiences there that come up from time to time and leave me feeling paralyzed within them. The mere thought of India is filled with such emotion, happy and sad...and everything in between...that often I feel like I can't even think about it at all if I have any hope of reaching the place where I can let loose and have fun.

I have felt really blessed this last week as I have spent a lot of time with people I haven't seen in a while and that really makes me happy...and I have actually had a good deal of fun. But somewhere deep inside, I feel the emptiness that India has left in emptiness that is not filled by anything else right now. I know that's part of this process, letting myself come to terms with the emptiness in hopes of seeing it in a positive light eventually. For the time being, I sort of just feel this nondescript void that I'm not sure how to deal with. It's like the elephant in the room...I can't get around it and I can't get rid of it...but I don't know how to face it head on because it's bigger than me and heavier than anything I could ever lift on my own.

Slowly I progress through this mess that is me, realizing that there is plenty of goodness to revel in along the long as I'm looking for it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Joy In the Journey.

I've been back in the States for 3 weeks now, though it feels like a lot longer than that. The first week I was home felt nearly many ways. I was hit hard with my need for time for adjustment, patience, grace...things I wasn't easily granting myself. Week two was a bit easier. I found myself settling into just being and not always doing, something that was instantly a challenge for me upon my return. My feeling is that more than anything else I want to know I'm being used and have a specific purpose I'm working toward in life, something I knew was happening in India, but I wasn't so sure was happening here at home.

I have since come to feel extremely blessed and joyful in my life. I may not have everything figured out but I am surrounded by incredible people that love me for who I am. I have only been back in Orange County for five days and I have spent every day with different people that care about me. Even though I don't have a job just yet, I see that as a blessing. I have an abundance of free time and am filling it with things that are good for my soul, things I really need to do as I'm jumping back into real life.

Nothing really profound or super snazzy will come out of this blog post, but I want to write down how I feel each step of the way as I'm learning to process the past 6 months of insanity that was my life. I am beyond grateful for friends and family and more than ever really feel that they are what makes life sweet. Not every day is a complete walk in the park, as I still feel myself recoil a little in large groups and tend to keep certain things to myself as I'm processing, but I'm ok with that. I am learning to sort out a heaping pile of experiences, emotions, and lessons and I know it will take a lot of time so I'm unwilling to rush myself. In the meantime I am finding joy each and every day in the little things that make up my sunshine, sushi, library books, running in a beautiful area, and sharing laughs with people I really appreciate. Regardless of all the tough stuff I am facing internally, I am pleased that I've finally found the joy in my journey.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To Love.

I know of only one duty, and that is to love.
-Albert Camus

It's incredible, the healing power of love...sometimes more for the lover than the loved.  When we choose to deeply, intentionally, and wholly love someone else, the effects are truly life-giving.

That is all.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Post About Home.

I am home from India.  Actually, I have been home for nearly 9 days and this seemed to be the soonest I was ready to post something real about just that, being home.

Spending 6 months in a foreign country as a volunteer/missionary was hard.  Hard probably is the understatement of the year and doesn't really begin to cover the depth of the experience.  Though I say "hard" I don't mean to leave a negative connotation hanging in the air to be misinterpreted.  It was also very good.

And, now I'm home.  Though depending on the timing of my life I have used many different factors to determine what "home" actually is, at this point it is where my family is.  I don't feel I have any other home at the moment, I suppose that is the nature of residing within a season of transition.  It's good to be home...and it's also vulnerable.  Home isn't only where your heart is, it's also where your heart is laid bare and suddenly you are the truest form of yourself.  And that can be scary.

When I was in India, I had many moments in which I wanted nothing more than to be home...meaning back in the States, near my family, and surrounded by all the things I deemed as comfortable.  Now I am here and feel more than a little disillusioned by it all.  I am working hard to give myself extra grace during my time of reverse culture shock but I can't help but feel at moments that I wish I were back.  This is probably a textbook case of the Grass is Always Greener mentality, as I was relieved and ready to leave India when I did.  It's just that I wish I had done more, been more, seen more, stretched myself even further.  I'm not one to sit long in the cesspool of regret so I won't allow myself to live behind today.  I will however, continue to live becoming better equipped by what I have gone through.

It's bizarre how much I am willing to stay inside my head and process what's just taken place in my life...considering I have had a difficult time doing the simplest of tasks lately like choosing clothes to wear or grocery shopping.  Having to make any decision at all feels a little unnatural and overwhelming.  I have only to give myself time to readjust and relearn what I already know so's just getting my heart and emotions to follow suit that is the challenge.

In less words, I am happy to be home.  Every day is presenting me with something new to test my patience and my resistance.  I am glad to have a close source of hope and a loving family by my side.  Thank you to all who supported me during my time away.  This life is nothing without people to share your trials and happiness with.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Today, I am thankful.

Today, I am scared.

Today, my insides ache.

Today, I am appreciating old friends while yearning to strengthen relationships with new ones.

Today, I am missing India, even though I didn't think I would.

Today, I am grappling with making an old life new and placing a new life behind me...yet I can't make sense of anything, old or new.

Today, I am overwhelmed at the familiar and underwhelmed at the expected.

Today, I seem to know what I want yet can't figure out how to get there.

Today, I feel a little lost, a little tired, a little disoriented, a little hopeful.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dear India...

Dear India,

It is 5:20 am and I have been faced with the choice to either sleep for an hour or blog...that's right, I have not yet slept tonight as the craziness of preparing to leave has forced me awake. As deliciously tempting as an hour nap sounds before I have to embark on 24 straight hours of travel, I feel I owe you more than a fleeting thought. So, blog it is.

You and I have gotten to know each other well these past 5 1/2 months. We are more than contemporaries or acquaintances and more like...soul mates, kindred spirits even. As surprisingly different as we are (diametric opposites perhaps), we have found a way into each other's hearts, the good mingled intimately with the bad.

When I first met you I had no idea what to expect. I was scared, excited, thrilled, and on sensory overload. There you were in all your complex beauty; raw, real, and not even trying to hide your flaws. You were intimidating. You were inspiring. You were so foreign from everything I had ever known, yet somehow I felt drawn to you. The more I got to know you, the more I realized how many layers you had...sometimes you withheld yourself in ways that frustrated me and sometimes you revealed yourself in ways that left me in awe. You are a bizarre conundrum, the best part being that you make no qualms about it.

I have to admit, somewhat bashfully, that you have seen every side of me...sides I thought were forever dormant. You saw my tears and my triumphs, heard my laughs and my screams. You broke me down into the tiniest fragments of myself while simultaneously bestowing on me many treasures that will change the course of my life forever.

As much as I wanted to hit and kick you in my moments of turmoil, I admit that your trials presented me a view into the world that I had never seen. Like using alcohol to treat a wound, you burned like hell yet somehow made me better, cleaner, and sent me down the road to healing. You amazed me, surprised me, infuriated me, made me feel on top of the world, made me feel worthless, challenged me, slapped me around, and even made me physically ill...but the most valuable thing you ever did for me was teach me.

I can't say for sure why you chose me to come here, but it's undeniable that you did. I'm sure in due time I will gain more understanding of everything I have seen and done with you, even the parts I don't like remembering much.

As I now prepare to leave you, it is with a bitter-sweet spring in my step. I am ready to leave your certain oppressions and sufferings yet I am afraid to fly ahead for fear I may have missed something you wished to show me. I take great comfort in knowing that you will always be a part of me, no matter where this life may lead, and will therefore never cease to affect my very being. You are curious and unique and though I will never understand you completely, I will never stop appreciating you. Thank you for touching parts of my heart that I almost forgot existed.

You have been life's greatest challenge in my quarter century of existence, yet somewhere inside I know you have also been life's greatest gift.

With the deepest of sincerity and gratitude,


Friday, May 14, 2010

Milk was a bad choice.

I should be sleeping instead of blogging...but the last several nights I haven't been able to fall asleep until well after 2 or 3am. My goal was to be in bed and asleep by's almost 1am. I guess next time I should adjust for a more attainable goal?

I have been thinking a lot about leaving India and what that means for me in the way of closing this chapter, beginning a new one, and figuring out all the pages in between. I couldn't begin to describe my emotions at my current situation but I do know I'm feeling restless and ready for some of the old familiar. Since no detectible levels of processing seem to be occurring in my cerebral real estate, I will move on to more trivial matters.

A few nights ago I went out to see Iron Man 2. I know this might sound so ridiculous, but I wasn't even aware they had movies playing here that are in English without subtitles. In nearly five months, this is the first movie I have gone to (why didn't I know about this phenomenon earlier?!). We went with a new friend who is Indian-American and is studying at a medical college next door to where we live. Being that she is an American transplant, she understands so much of what we have gone through during our time here. It was refreshing to share some discussions and laughs with someone who gets our cultural nuances.

Seeing a movie here is like crossing the border of a militarized country; they search you and the contents of your bag more thoroughly than a high security airport. I was totally busted when they discovered a bag of gummi bears hiding in my purse; they take their food crimes here very seriously. I watched as they temporarily confiscated my snacks and my digital camera battery...yet made no mention of the relatively large pocket knife keeping company with the always perilous gummi samurais and the radioactive battery laser gun. Go figure. They were lucky I wasn't there to stab the employees and make off with all the rupees I could carry.

The only draw backs to my movie going experience (minus the search and seizure bit) were two wholly obnoxious, loud, and crude guys sitting a couple of rows back from us. They were the only ones in the entire theater who thought they had riotous senses of humor...and trust me, they DIDN'T. If I would have heard ONE more comment about Scarlett Johannson's butt mingling in a sentence with the phrase, "your mom...," "last night...," or "*&$%#"...things might have gotten even uglier than their foul sailor mouths. They were Indian-American, also come back to the motherland to study medicine; God help me if I ever wake up in the ER peering into one of their faces. I shudder at the thought.

It's really no wonder why the world hates Americans, producing such upstanding citizens and all.

With that, it is bedtime. Goodnight, India. Goodnight, America. Goodnight, American dudes living in India studying medicine at a nearby college working so hard at your school assignments that you have zero intellectual activity available for use by the end of the night when you are at the should have stayed at home.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Re-entering the Atmosphere.

Living in India has been hard.

Very hard.

But, today, a taste of "real life" hit me and I was reminded of the world I am about to step back into. I received an email from my student loan company reminding me of a payment due...and suddenly, to my dismay, I was reconciling, adding, subtracting, calculating, planning, calendaring, and spreadsheet-ing.

It's been over four months since I have paid a single bill.

Until today.

And suddenly my life is once again on the verge of the mayhem I couldn't wait to leave behind last winter. This is a prime example of why the Grass is Always Greener Theory is bologna: while I was in the States last year I was working a job I hated in the corporate world and struggling to get on my feet as a new college grad. The idea of coming to India was romantic in it's anticipated simplicity, yet once I arrived and was faced with the realities of this foreign environment, I began to pine for those comforts I left behind. I have since adjusted as best as possible to this parallel universe but this ultimate truth prevails: every situation has its downside and its silver matter where I go and what I do, I will always struggle under varying degrees of discontent.

Simultaneously ending this chapter and beginning a new one in "familiar" life is already starting to present challenges. I am out of mainstream American culture; I am clueless on current events, newly released movies and music, and all other things typical-pop-culture. Where do I begin to reintegrate after becoming so separate and how much do I actually desire to seamlessly fall into the cushy consumeristic lifestyle I once knew? I am disconnected yet longing for my roots; I have yet to find the ideal balance between the two. I desire to stay aware, alert, and sensitive to the world but part of me also looks forward to shutting everything out and sleeping for a week straight to rebuild myself upon returning home. I am stuck somewhere between responsible world-citizenship and feeling superficiality beginning to suck me back into certain aspects of life. How can I live the way I did knowing what I now know?


As I figure it out, in the meantime I want to appreciate everything about India that I like and love while it's still at my fingertips. I am also anticipating many things about the States that I haven't seen/tasted/smelled/experienced for the last 4 1/2 months (it will be nearly 6 by the time I return home...)

-cake (cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberries included)
-CHEESEBURGERS (namely those of the In 'n Out and TK Burger variety)
-mom's home cooking
-endless amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables (except cauliflower and potatoes, had my fill of those here)

Beyond food items, I am also looking forward to going to the beach, my friends being only a phone call away, comfy couches, and summer BBQs.

For everything I have learned here and am still learning, the lesson of appreciating all I have been blessed with is a frontrunner at the moment. I am looking forward to feeling embraced and comfortable for a time so that I can restore myself and really begin to absorb all I have collected from this endlessly difficult, beautiful, and complicated culture.

I can't think of anything else thoughtful to say, I fear I am too overwhelmed with thoughts to birth anything more that's even remotely cohesive. Adding insult to injury, I am very hungry and completely exhausted. Once again, I have stayed up too late and am allowing myself to be distracted by what's to come. Even if my blog post doesn't reveal my desire to finish strong here in India, I'm truly wanting to make sure I leave a bit of something useful and meaningful behind; I have put in too much to not go out with a bang (for lack of a better descriptive). I have a lot of work to do in the next 14 days.

See you all in 5 1/2 weeks...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Elana & Cory Battle the Spider Mafia.

Watch and be filled simultaneously with terror, sympathy, and hilarity...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Purple Mountain's Majesty...Indian Style.

Palampur, Himachal Pradesh. View from the home where we stayed.

I am finally back in Ludhiana with semi-reliable internet and some time on my hands to post the promised pictures. My trip to Himachal Pradesh was busy and tiring but ultimately granted me with a great big helping of nature, clean air, and wide open spaces to explore. We were fortunate to be able to experience many a thunder storm during our stay which made me endlessly giddy. The weather was perfect and beautiful and only served to set me up to be less content with the triple digit weather I am once again enduring everyday. At least I have AC...

Today I attended my first Indian wedding. Since the couple getting married are Christians, the ceremony was a blend of some Christian traditions and some Sikh traditions. The groom's relatives are Sikh and vied for a traditional Punjabi wedding but a compromise was struck instead. Considering most of the wedding was conducted in Hindi, I didn't understand much of what took place anyway, not at all taking away from the fun of the experience. Plus, I was able to wear a saree...which caused a big commotion (white girl in saree = a once in a lifetime novelty around here); I think I accidentally upstaged the bride, oops. Nonetheless it was a good time.

Today's attire.

While in Himachal Pradesh we got a chance to travel to a city called Dharamsala. Though most of the main city is located in a valley overshadowed by the Himalayas, a portion of it is located up in the mountains (this place has a different name but I can't remember it...). This particular area is highly populated by Nepali people and has a strong Buddhist influence rather than the usual Hindu one. We visited a huge Buddhist temple, a first for me. It was a really neat place, visited by many tourists and Buddhist monks. The temple is very famous within Buddhism and is one of the homes of the Dali Lama. Though you can't always be sure that he is in residence or not (for security reasons), he does make appearances from time to time at the temple itself. We found out later that evening that the Dali Lama had indeed been in residence at the temple that day; he was on the news offering some words to the players of a huge professional cricket match that had also taken place that day in the city. I apparently was in the same place as the Dali Lama and had no idea!

The main bazaar in Dharamsala.

More of the bazaar.

Buddhist monk.

Buddhist monk at the temple in Dharamsala.

Buddhist prayer wheels.

Also at the temple.

Wheat growing under the Himalayan peaks.

Sunset in Palampur.

The peaks in the background towered to 15,000 feet, nothing compared to the Himalaya's Mt. Everest (which was not near where we were, unfortunately).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I want to shake hands with a Sherpa.

Sometimes throughout my days here in India I dwell on the many thoughts, debates, and marinations that I want to blog about...but when I finally get access to the internet and a chance to blog out the mishmash of "ish" in my brain, I can't seem to hack it.

At the moment I am too tired to think much but I wanted to offer a bit of a simple update post since I have all but dropped off the face of the internet planet of late. I have been traveling a lot and staying in places with very unreliable internet (if I even have it). I went back to Kachhwa for another nine days over Easter. It was not quite as enjoyable the second round, it was so ridiculously hot and humid that I wasn't sure what to do with myself; just sitting still was so sweat-inducing that I was completely and utterly uncomfortable the entire time.

After leaving Kachhwa, I headed back to "home base" in Ludhiana for a mere 6 days to work work work before getting to finally take a glorious break and mini vacation for 5 days. We ventured up into the Himalayas to a quaint (if you can call anything in India "quaint"...) little city called Mussoorie in the state of Uttaranchal. We were basically given a free place to stay in a lovely little house owned by some people we have met here in India...they don't live there full time, it's more of a vacation get away. Luckily, there are some guys living in part of the house who are from the states and are doing some engineering ministry in India, so we had some company and people to give us the low down on the local secrets. Basically I spent 5 days reading, watching movies, hiking, and napping...just what I needed.

Currently I am in the incredible state of Himachal Pradesh, it's also in the Himalayas, even more so than Uttaranchal. It is endlessly beautiful here and it even rained today and was cold...heaven!!! We have been traveling a lot through remote mountain towns which has been fun and a great change of scenery. We are due to stay here another week and a couple days before heading back once again to Ludhiana. I have pictures to upload but no easy way to upload them at the moment so a google image of where I am will have to suffice...

Finally to bed...more to come soon. Kisses!

P.S. To my utter disgust it was just brought to my attention that I haven't blogged in 6 weeks. Holy bad blogger, Batman. I referenced Kachhwa in this post thinking that I had told everyone about Kachhwa...but I realized that I had instead sent out an update email about it rather than blogging. I am too sleepy to remedy this problem now...but if you have not yet been informed and would like to be, I will happily forward my latest update email to you, let me know if you wish to partake. In other news, I had a birthday a month ago...I have now lived a quarter of a century...cheers.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Biz.

Unrelated to anything else in the universe, can we please for a moment appreciate the facial hair in this photo?

To my complete dismay, I have done a terrible job of blogging about what my daily life is like here in India. I somehow think I should only blog when I have something profound or deep to say (stupid), but I would like to take more opportunities just to describe what it is I actually do here.

During the week I follow a basic schedule that consists of waking up around 8:30am, going to a prayer meeting at 9:00am (which I haven’t been very good at doing lately), and starting work around 10:00am. I use the term “around” because nothing in India is ever on time, I have mentioned the phenomena of Indian Time before; the only thing predictable is that everything is unpredictable. Based on my distaste of anything curry before noon, I usually skip breakfast or satisfy myself with a banana or care-package-sent granola bar (thanks, Mom!!). I live and work in the same big building. The basement is where the offices are and where I sit and work much of the time. The ground floor is a large multi-use room where events and church services are held. The first floor (or second floor to those of you who don’t speak UKisms) has a few sleeping rooms, a prayer meeting room, and the kitchen and the dining room, where I take most of my meals (save for the McDonalds runs…we get desperate around here). The second floor is where my room is, it also has a couple other rooms and the apartment where my boss and his wife live. Finally, the top floor above my room opens onto a huge rooftop terrace (my favorite architectural feature of Indian buildings). I am sitting on this wonderful terrace as I write this and I can see the city on nearly all sides of me. It’s a great place to watch the smoggy sunsets and catch some “fresh” air. Each day around 5:30pm I stop working and go about my evening which usually consists of either going out into the city to walk, get food, or run errands, or reading, writing, watching TV shows on iTunes, or sitting on the terrace.

A noteworthy thing about Ludhiana (the city where I live much of the time), it is NEVER quiet here. At this moment (roughly 30 minutes before sunset) I can hear tons of birds, cars, tuk tuks (auto rickshaws), people, hundreds of mangy dogs, children, and Muslim prayers being blasted over the mosque’s loud speakers. I can see buildings for miles, or at least as far as the pollution allows. The land here is very flat and lacks any especially tall buildings (minus the one very tall and large Hindu temple due west of me)…I am in fact on top of one of the tallest buildings I can see, making the view the best around. Truthfully, beyond the piles of trash and rubble everywhere, there is something wonderfully enticing about India and its many diversions from my familiar life in the US.

Beyond the physicality of the place where I am living, my job here is equally challenging, diverse, and unpredictable. When you are working for a passionate, opinionated, quirky, strong-willed Indian boss, anything can happen...and I mean anything. It definitely keeps me flexible and on my toes, good things for me. Basically my job here places me as 50% of the communications team for OA. My main task is to create communications geared toward North American supporters and granting organizations. Recently my wonderful partner-in-crime and I rejuvenated an already quarterly-generated newsletter with a more Western feel and tone. I am essentially the go-to girl for all things English...writing, editing, story telling; I guess you could call me the Grammar Guru, if you will (and I hope you will because who doesn't love cheesy Indian jokes?). I have also edited some books, training manuals, and other materials written by people here who don't speak English as their first language and appreciate my ever-present gift of gab (at least someone does!). 

My next task is to help OA organize and collect information on some of the hundreds of people groups that are represented in India. They are working on making information profiles and short videos for each one in order to help keep track of which people groups have active ministries/social projects within them and to help get grant funding for each specific group. Tomorrow, said partner-in-crime and I will travel 23 hours by train to the state of Uttar Pradesh, to a city called Kachhwa, to spend two weeks working with another branch of OA. We will be responsible for taking pictures (cue photographer), video, and digital voice recordings of a smattering of people from each people group represented in the area. It should be awesome to get out and about and see a whole different part of India...but I will let you know for sure just how awesome it is sometime post the 23 hour train trip from H-E-double hockey sticks.

Side note and personal plug: I will also be celebrating my 25th birthday while in Kachhwa, please pray that I can find myself a pool, go-kart track, miniature golf course, trampoline or some other form of fun to appropriately celebrate a quarter of a century of mayhem that is my life.

Promise: pictures of where I live to come soon-ish, though it will have to wait until after my 2 week trip to know how I just love to keep you all on the edge of your seats...

Friday, March 5, 2010

I am Woman. Hear me...meow?

I have now been living out of the United States for ten weeks. Ten weeks seems like a tiny blip on the timeline of an entire life, yet I feel as if I have learned a lifetime’s worth of lessons already. For all the adjusting I’ve done and the grace I’ve been shown in learning to live in a foreign culture, there are still some aspects of this life that will never sit well with me. One of my largest stumbling blocks is facing the way women are viewed in Indian culture.

Right out of the starting gate let me preface what I am about to say as my personal, albeit strong, opinion and experience. I will not make the claim that I fully understand what it is like to be an oppressed woman in today’s world and I will also refrain from making this a feminist bash on all things male; that is not my style. This is merely a snippet of my current struggle for understanding in my ever trial-filled time of adjusting to life in India.

From what I have been told and what I have seen, women here are regarded in many ways as second-class citizens. I do however hear many Indian Christian men convey their respect for female leaders in ministry, so I will stick to vast generalizations that don’t necessarily account for the other end of the spectrum. Please know that I acknowledge there are no absolutes, not everyone is the same or thinks the same…obviously.

When I was first in India, I had a discussion with an Indian man about how women are openly treated as inferior to men within their culture. My initial experience was quite the opposite; I was merely one woman in a mix of many people who were all treated like royalty--it was sometimes even difficult to accept; everyone seemed to love us and almost be in awe of our…whiteness, maybe? Forgive me if that sounds ethnocentric, I realize it does but I couldn’t get past the fact that people seemed to think we deserved a greater level of respect and every explanation I ever received about it had to do with the color of my skin (it’s related to the Hindu caste system and how the shade of skin is directly relevant to one’s caste level…it’s complex and not worth getting into, I don’t even understand it completely). Anyway, post mission trip royal bliss, I began to understand more of the realities of Indian culture for a woman (sort of), after all I have been living these realities out (sort of). Even from my sheltered and protected circumstances, I noticed immediately that men and women are not on equal planes, even if solely for the reason that it’s inappropriate for people of the opposite sex to have prolonged interaction when they are not married. Suddenly I was thrown into a world of men that wouldn’t address me directly, invite me places, or shake my hand…yet they would extend all these polite formalities to my male teammate and friend. I was able to get past certain aspects of these social norms, it was just a bit of an adjustment to my thinking. I mistakenly thought, “no big deal, I can totally do this!” Before I knew it though, I seemed to be excluded from things merely because I am a woman and not a man.

The toughest thing is feeling like my freedom is impinged because I am a woman. I have been told that I am not allowed to live alone and it is ill advised that I go anywhere alone as well. I admit that I don’t know all of the cultural nuances regarding Indian men and that many of these restrictions are in place to perhaps keep me “safe,” even if the Indians around me do resort to the most conservative meaning of the word. I suppose this is where my pride jumps in and kicks and screams while proclaiming, “I am a strong, independent woman who can take care of herself!!!” Frustration ensues.

For all the ways Christian Indian men go out of their way to avoid being alone with me, addressing me, or even sitting next to me in a vehicle, the whole of the culture outside my sheltered walls seems to digress from feeling the overwhelming need to always be appropriate. Case in point: whenever I walk outside I am constantly stared at by men AND women; they don’t see a lot of white people here. Ok, I could handle it if that’s all there was to it but when it comes down to men actually following me around a store just to smile, stare, and make comments under their breath, it’s really quite tiring. Even when I am out with another male (who, because his skin is also white, is inevitably assumed to be my husband), it doesn’t seem to stop them from giving me their attention…though when I am out alone it is exponentially worse. Men start to actually make their in-poor-taste comments directly to my face, even from across the street. I have even had a group of guys on a motorcycle follow me down the street while I was walking, leave briefly to rally more of their “bros,” then carry on following me like a pack of salivating dogs. Forgive me if I sound insensitive, I don’t hold this view of Indian men because they are Indian, many Indian men are extremely respectful and fun…so let’s not throw the “R” word around, that is not what this is about.

Moving on. All my circumstances here are forcing me into a constant state of varying amounts of discomfort. I say this more as fact than in a negative sense, being consistently challenged is what’s creating learning and growth in my life, for which I am very thankful. In the meantime, my very strong-willed character is being broken down and redefined as I learn and relearn what it means to be submissive to people and situations which are beyond my control. As much as I feel frustrated by the fact that people here seem to think I am limited because I am a woman, I know that I am learning a great deal of patience and grace, both things I normally lack.

I am still formulating my thoughts and opinions of Indian culture; that is something that in our humanness we will inevitably do. I can offer peace of mind that there are many things about India and the people here that I love and appreciate; I don’t want to paint the picture that Indian culture is all bad when it’s quite the opposite. This woman-ness issue is much more about my personal ego than anything else…I apparently have a lot larger ego to deflate than I thought. The more I think and write the more I feel I am just a prissy white girl whose first experience in the Eastern world is getting her panties all in a twist...which is probably true. Even though coming from Orange Country I KNOW what a prissy white girl is...and it's not me...but the truth is, I am white-bred, raised and cultivated to be comfortable and "safe" (there's that dang word again). In any case, regardless of my ignorancies (is that a word?) and shortcomings based on my limited environment growing up, I am glad to be here and facing challenges that I wouldn't otherwise face in the States. Most decidedly, widening my worldview and understanding of culture is worth the pain.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Coming Clean.

Hello blogging world, family, friends, complete strangers...I am glad you stopped by today, it was not an accident that you did.

It's time I shared more of my vulnerability with you. Not the sneakily guarded, contemplative, what-is-the-meaning-of-life complexities of my usual "vulnerability," but the kind that's humbling to verbalize...the kind that we so often try to keep inside because it's terrifying to put it out into the universe. Once it's there, out there, unguarded in the ether, it's anyone's for the taking...which means anyone has a chance of finding out about my fears and failures...the things that ironically make me human but that I spend my life vehemently denying.

I have very much messed up many things in my life, I suppose that's what we humans do best. Living in India has brought me to a place in myself that I don't wholly understand, I am even scared to investigate it. As much as I came here for what I deemed the "right reasons," I have found a dark struggle inside me that has made it hard for me to move forward here, to break free of the things that hold me back, that stack up between me and God. So, I find myself in a rut, in a foreign country, undoubtedly ostracizing and burdening my best friend (and only real human support here...) because I can't so much as humble myself and admit that I can't do this on my own. Of course I cognitively understand that I can't do this on my own...but still it has been weeks and my pride has held strong. It's built what feels like an impenetrable fortress around my heart and is fighting with all the nuclear weapons and gusto in the world to keep everything else out.

The part of me that seems to get the most frustrated is the part of me that expected that I would do this right. Moving to a foreign country to become a Christ-serving missionary means you have everything together, right? Well, here is my mightily humble proclamation: I don't have it all together and I'm not where I want to be spiritually. Why does it feel like a dirty Christian stigma to admit that as a missionary I'm really struggling, hurting, fighting to remain centered and focused on God? I have to let go of all the things I "think" I should be...and just be myself in all my broken pieces. I am once again in need of a savior...not that I ever wasn't, I just feel it again in every fiber of my being.

This morning I woke up on a quest for true humility and understanding. I am thoroughly sick of my dark and depressive nature and I'm ready to tear down that fortress around my heart, even if it's only one brick at a time. I know being refined is a process, a painful one. But if it took me having to come to India to truly learn to let God lead and control my life, then it's worth it. I know it's no coincidence that God is tugging at me today, my heart felt primed for change the moment I opened my eyes this morning. Today's Daily Bread devotional talks all about failure and how God USES His children who are failures, liars,'s all throughout the bible. I then happened to check a friend's blog only to find that she had posted lyrics to a song all about breaking the chains that keep us from the freedom that is in Christ.

Ok God, I'm listening.

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age..."
-Matthew 28:20

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rickshaws and Monkeys and Pink, Oh My!

I must admit, today my tiny universe was filled with many frustrations. Mostly it's that I am fighting off yet ANOTHER bout of sickness (sore throat, cough, swollen tonsils, chills, aches, blah blah blah) which renders me fairly unable to cope with anything even remotely out of the ordinary. Case in point: the internet felt the need to suck all day, making it impossible to upload all my new pictures to Facebook...should I whine some more? Anyway, I am sick and a tad annoyed...although still reeling (in a good way) from an incredible five day adventure...first to Agra, Uttar Pradesh to see the Taj Mahal and then to Jaipur, Rajasthan to experience everything about "The Pink City."

First, we begin our journey in Delhi where we hopped on a 6am train to Agra this past Monday morning. We arrived in Agra around 9:30am without hitch and were fast on our way to see the Taj via auto-rickshaw. I would try to explain the Taj but there are no words...literally, there are NO words. It was more than I imagined, a jewel of perfection as far as man-made structures go. It's rather mind blowing, breath taking, and one of the most incredible things I have ever laid eyes on. I had very real chills the first moment I saw it. We spent hours there exploring, taking a tour, taking hundreds of pictures, and sitting in the shade basking it the Taj's glory. It was the most relaxed I have felt in a very long time...and every bit worth coming to India to do it.

That same evening we boarded another train to Jaipur, running only 90 minutes late, a great feat of success for the Indian Railway system. I was surprised to find that Jaipur was one of the cleanest big cities I have been in so far in India...which isn't to say it's clean, just cleaner than most. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this city, there is a large portion of it that is walled in and everything inside the walls is painted pink, thus it's nickname, "The Pink City." It is very well situated for the Western tourist, in other words there were Western bathrooms, toilet paper, and restaurants with "continental" cuisine nearly everywhere. It was a welcome change after nearly 6 weeks of real Indian living. I won't lie, I had my share of milk shakes, french fries, and pasta.

We were able to hit all the major tourist spots in the city including a huge old fort/palace called Amber Fort and (my personal favorite) a place called Monkey Temple, aptly named for it's thousands of monkey inhabitants. After spending a whole 10 rupees on a bag of peanuts (about 20 cents USD), we were able to feed the monkeys while they grabbed our hands and held onto our was one of the most fun and exciting things I have ever done...and I'd like to think I have lived a fairly exciting life thus far...maybe?

Anyway, on to the piece de resistance, the pictures! I'm not much in a storytelling mood, at least with my words, so I will allow my pictures to do the talking. Bon appetit...

Monkey at the Taj Mahal.

First sneaky teaser view of the Taj.

The typical image of the Taj.

Yes, I am a shameless tourist.

Possibly THE most amazing picture ever taken. Ever.

One of the Taj minarets.

Detail of the amazing semi-precious stone inlays covering the Taj.

One of the cool nooks at the Red Fort in Agra.

Red Fort, Agra.

Amber Fort, Jaipur.

Snake charmers at Amber Fort in Jaipur. We ended up getting to each hold the cobra...I'm guessing it had no teeth...either that or we pretty much almost died.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

India Through My Eyes.

Many people have been asking to see pictures I have taken since I have been in India. I have taken tons and am working on creating an online album so you can view them all at once...but until I make the time to complete that task, I decided to at least tantalize your senses with a few shots that will allow you to see a small glimpse of the India I have so far experienced; pictures honestly don't do it justice.

I have to admit, I have a hard time even looking at these images as I have seen so much more behind them that will stay with me forever. Since most of you may not ever have the chance to see these hidden treasures and tragedies with your own eyes, I have attempted to capture bits and pieces of this intoxicating nation, whether it be beauty, filth, joy, or sorrow. I hope you will be impacted by these tiny slivers of my experience.

Young girl with her baby brother in a small village outside Ludhiana.

Women carrying water jugs in a poor village outside of Tenali.

Young Hindu girl with her proud mother on a ferry ride to an island village outside of Tenali.

A slum in Tenali; people gathered to receive handouts of food.

A beautiful woman in a small village outside Tenali that begged me to take her picture then show it to her on my camera.

A roadside food stand where we stopped to eat.

Hindi words painted on the inside of an abandoned stable outside the city of Ludhiana.

Doors into an Indian home, Ludhiana.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

[Insert Clever Title Here]

Current Soundtrack: Death Cab for Cutie

It's Saturday and I am supposed to be working...but I can't concentrate at the moment. For the first time in a couple of weeks I am sitting comfortably in just a long-sleeved shirt indoors...rather than having to bundle up in a coat and scarf to be warm. For this small thing, I am grateful.

I have been doing some reading on culture shock and adjusting to a foreign lifestyle. The simplest way to overcome the trials of this major adjustment is to focus on the things about the new culture that you really love and appreciate. I have spent a good amount of time mulling over the things about Indian culture that I dislike, detest, despise. The last couple of days I have tried a different approach as I have sought out to dwell on the things about this place that I love.

I love my space heater. Yes, it sounds mocking and sarcastic, but I mean it in the most genuine of ways, I would be miserable without it. In fact, I may not even still be in India if it weren't for my trusty little heater sidekick. Heat is something I have never stopped to think about as a blessing. Let me tell you, when you live in 40-60 degree weather in an uninsulated, concrete building, you learn to appreciate things like heaters.

I love the many rich visuals of India. Sometimes it is impossibly hard to SEE some of the things here but more often than not my visual senses are overwhelmed with beautiful colors, textures, and people. Despite all the ugly parts of humanity, there is much beauty to be appreciated in this country.

I love the pace of life here. But, to be completely frank, I also hate the pace of life here. Time in India is completely loose and flows at its own speed. Nothing moves quickly or with precise intentions; things seem to almost skip and trip forward and randomly, by complete chance, end up in a somewhat recognizable state. Everything about my driven, type-A way of living is being challenged here. If I don't have something to DO or focus on at every moment, I immediately feel bored, unused, unfulfilled. In reality, I believe the Lord is trying to teach me to slow down and just be. Sure, we all talk at times about learning this cliche lesson...but never has it truly been put into effect as it is here in India. I aspire to learning and mastering the discipline of being; many great people have chased this goal in their lives. I hope to be able to soon report back that I am content with being still, being alive, and just simply being.

I love that I have the opportunity to appreciate the small things in life, the things you always long to appreciate but you never really have the capacity to. Things like a warm blanket, a close friend, a long hug, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Thank you, India, for all the things you are teaching me and the ways in which you are challenging every fiber of my being. May I learn to bless you as much as you are blessing me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Butte If All Must Ash?

This is why we should not share a desk.

Stubbornness, Ice Cream, and Brass Tacks.

Today is a good day to blog...mostly because I don't feel like doing it.

I do my best work when I am being stubborn and subsequently broken of my stubbornness.

Two mornings ago I threw a fit made for a cranky 3-year-old. It was embarrassing...and though in the moment I was glad only Cory was there to witness it, I am now defeating my shroud of privacy by sharing it here. I feel the best way for me to grow and bear fruit from my efforts is to be transparent. So, I had a toddler-sized fit complete with crying and dumping things out of suitcases...merely because I felt the deep need to control something...yet everything about India and being here means giving up that control.

And for us controlling types, this will just not do.

I am now forced to place one foot in front of the other even when all I want to do is whine in the corner that things are too difficult. Of course this is difficult, Elana, this is full-time missions...

Anyway, on to things more important than (though not as substantial as) my pride and my constant struggle for humility in this foreign environment...

For a more positive reporting, I have literally been healed. Over the past few years I have developed a serious sensitivity to certain types of dairy, mainly milk and ice cream. When it finally resulted in violent vomiting every time I drank milk or had ice cream, I was forced to give them up. It has been nearly 2 years since I have had any milk or ice cream at all...until a couple of days ago. I decided to pray to ask the Lord to heal me of whatever it is that makes me sick with dairy...and I wholly believed He would do it. Since I can't get soy milk here in India like I could in the States, I figured it would just be easier to be able to drink cow's's in everything here, including the tea which is given to us all the time as a gift of hospitality. So, I decided to have some tea with milk in it earlier this week...and presto, I felt fine. I then moved on to a little milk in my cereal and abracadabra, no problemo. To REALLY test the validity of the God-healing theory, I had an ice cream cone with Cory...and, success!! The existence of ice cream and my ability to eat it = there really is a God.
Please note photographic evidence.

Now, down to brass tacks. India is a difficult place with many cultural obstacles for little ol' Western-minded me to overcome. I admit, the last week has been scarred with many moments of weakness in which I considered throwing in the towel and running away back to the States. BUT, I know that I am in the middle of God's will for my life, I have a peace about this being the right thing for me. And come on, what growth and good ever came out of something easy? Growth takes perseverance which comes from the testing of one's faith (James chapter 1)...which, let's face it, just plain hurts sometimes.

So, for all those who have been asking how they can specifically pray for me, today I need prayer to experience the joy of the Lord in the trials I'm facing. We serve a faithful God, whom I know will never leave me or forsake me and I need to cling to that promise in this moment.

Thanks to all of you who are loving and supporting me...your encouragement and prayers go a very long way.

Infinite x's and o's from India...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Welcome to India. Ok, so I have possibly already worn my welcome slightly...I have now been here for 15 days, if you don't count the time it took me to travel from the States. I feel as if I have already lived a legitimately lengthy lifetime since I have arrived in this mysterious place that is India. If you sense an air of sarcasm in my tone, you would be correct in assuming that adjusting to life here isn't all sitars, incense, and maharajahs. However, dear India, I must admit you have captured my heart in a way that surprised me, the result of a complex intertwining of ugly and beautiful, elegant and hideous, intoxicating and gag-worthy.

I would like to start from the beginning but alas, trying to completely describe my experiences here thus far would take days...if it's even a possibility at all. Suffice it to say that the last 2 weeks were filled with many wonderful moments and intense ministry as I built great relationships with 31 amazing individuals...while simultaneously overwhelming my senses with some of the most gruesome, stomach-churning, and gut-wrenching things I have ever laid eyes on.

India is so poor. "Poor" is a rather pathetic adjective in this case, it perhaps even wins the understatement of the year award. The living situations of the people I have encountered recently are more than mind-blowing, they are inconceivable...and I have even SEEN them. Spending two weeks in Tenali, India was merely embarking on the tip of the world's largest iceberg in the middle of the Arctic ocean wearing only a skimpy bikini. Translation: it would be completely impossible to solve every problem, clothe every child, and feed every empty tummy that exists in that city...and coming to that realization was a hard knock to my ever-lofty savior complex. What great humility I faced seeing the realities of the Third World. It was so heartbreaking that I initially shut off entirely, feeling nothing but...nothing. After a few days stuck in the abyss of nothingness, I had a total breakdown, finally feeling the overwhelming heaviness that is India itself. I figured all I could do was to love the few people I came in contact with, meet a few needs, and encourage a few souls toward the freedom found in the Lord...and then come to terms with the fact that change comes slowly but one soul touched is still a step in the right direction.

Fast-forward to today...I am now in Ludhiana, India, a city north of Delhi. How far north depends on the type of vehicle you take to get here...6 hours by car, 4 hours by express train, and 10 hours by cockroach infested slower-than-molasses-train, our personal favorite and preferred method of transportation. Cory and I arrived in Delhi this past Saturday. I ended up very ill from dehydration for the night but was well enough to travel by said bug-train on Sunday afternoon and evening. Let's just say I was NOT prepared for all that is India train travel and it's less than comfortable accommodations. It IS true what they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

I promise to start to blog more from here on out, I am finally settling in and starting to actually work. Until then let's take a moment to appreciate some new-found India-isms:

-Ludhiana. Population: 3.5 million. Stoplights: 1. You do the math.
-Indians eat ketchup on their pizza. Before you scoff, TRY IT.
-In India, speed bumps = speed breakers...this phenomenon not only takes the place of stoplights on the road, but in homes and buildings you will find that doorways are raised about 3/4 of an inch from room to room...and do dandy at breaking your speed via tripping you. Every time.
- Indians refer to surge protectors as spike busters. It's true. And for the last few days when an Indian person would refer to a spike buster, I was sure they were saying "spy buster" and wondered what fabulous video game, stun-gun shenanigans I was missing out on. Clever Indians.
- There is no such thing as trash day here. When your trash builds up to an impassible pile in front of your residence, you merely throw a lit match towards the general direction of the vile skyscraper...and the trash is officially taken out. Best chore in the world.
-Fact: your bathroom is where your behind is.
-Fact: it IS possible to get sick of Indian food.
-Fact: Indian people are incredibly hospitable.
-Fact: riding in an auto rickshaw in India is one of the great milestones in one's life.

More to come soon.

P.S. I am going to attempt to learn Hindi. I already know 3 words.