June 29, 2010

Bon Voyage

Tomorrow morning my fellow Fulbright-Hays scholars will leave the University of Wisconsin and fly to Delhi.
I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a 
Bon Voyage!!!

June 24, 2010

My Journey Has Ended

Mom has always been very supportive and proud of my work.
She has been very excited by my upcoming journey to India.

But these past two days have been nothing less than a nightmare:

My mother has suddenly fallen gravely ill to a cancer that went undetected for too long.

Today, as Mom lies in her hospital bed, I've decided I can not make my journey to India.
Instead, it's now my turn to support my mother, and help her along with her sad and scary journey with cancer.

If you want to follow my Fulbright-Hays colleagues on their trip, you can view their blog here. I fully intend to learn from them, and feel their thrill, at least vicariously, by reading their upcoming blog posts. I hope you will too.

June 17, 2010

Candid Camera

Since 1983 I've traveled everywhere with my beloved Canon AE1. I could use that camera with my eyes shut, that's how comfortable I was with it.
It's with great regret my old Canon is now retired, stowed away in my top drawer (why can't I be the one to retire??) 
The Canon still works, but the lure of digital photography has finally won me over.
Upon good advice from my BFF Crone and Bear It, I purchased a Nikon 3000D. It's a bit bigger than the Canon, yet weighs less.
The Nikon is Idiot-Proof. This means I should be able to handle it.
Thank you for visiting my blog, and Namaste!
The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.
- Elliott Erwitt 

June 16, 2010


Food is an important part of a balanced diet.
~Fran Lebowitz

Let's admit it: One of the joys of traveling is eating.
I'm an out-of-the-closet Foodie, so India will be one very exciting place for me to graze through visit.
One of my favorite Indian foods is paneer. It's a fresh cheese that looks and feels a lot like firm tofu. The flavor is refreshingly mild and yummy. It's found in many Indian dishes.
I especially love it served in curry.
Come to think of it, I love just about anything curried.
Bon appetit!

June 10, 2010

Money money money

Everybody has their own opinions about how to travel with money.
My opinion (and everybody is entitled to my opinion) is to bring a combination of Travelers' Cheques, a good amount of cash, and different credit cards.
Traveler's Cheques: American Express.
Credit cards: Bring both Master Card/Visa and American Express. Remember to alert your banks of your travel plans. Ofen they block your account if they suspect fraudulent purchases. I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me.
Cash: Bring both large bills and a lot of one-dollar bills. You can use the large bills for large purchases. The one-dollar bills come in real handy when you want to tip someone. Keep the small money in your pocket. Tuck away the large bills in a secret pouch. When carrying a lot of cash, it's so important to keep it ON you. Not in a shoulder bag, not in your pockets.  I always travel with a hidden money pouch. Something like this from TravelSmith.com works well:

This money pouch is pretty ugly, but that's okay. You wear it under your clothes. Thanks for visiting my blog. Namaste!

Money often costs too much.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

June 8, 2010

Toilet Training 101

Have you ever seen a squat-toilet? It's literally a hole-in-the-ground toilet.
The very first squat-toilet I saw was somewhere in northern Italy, in the mid 1980s. I recall the tour guide loudly informing us that there was no such thing as constipation in that town.
When I looked inside (I couldn't help myself), all I saw was a dark bottomless pit. No ceramic tiles. Just wooden planks.
It was downright, umm, Medieval.
In 2007 I saw one in India. It was a hole in the ground, in a stall, lined with porcelain and tile. It was not scary at all. I regret not taking a picture of it...I was too embarrassed. I promise to upload a photo next month! For now, here is a photo I got from pics4Learning.com:

So did I use that squat-toilet? Well, that's for me to know and you to find out :)

In India, travelers will find western-style toilets alongside the traditional squat-toilet. If you are adventurous and are game enough to step out of your Comfort Zone, here are a few tips as you prepare to do Squat Duty(pun intended)
1. Bring your own toilet paper and/or wet wipes.
2. Remove all contents from your pants pockets.
3. Put said contents in your knapsack, not on the floor.
4. Pull down your pants and underwear below your knees so you can squat and relieve yourself without "raining" on your clothes. If you're wearing a skirt, just hike it up. Better yet, throw it over your head. Nobody will see you anyways.
5. While in the squat position, try to lean FORWARD a bit, so you won't topple backward!
6. Do not throw your paper in the toilet. Throw it in the nearby bucket. If you don't have any paper, use the little water hose thing and rinse yourself.
7. When you handle the door knob, remember that too is dirty, as in ANY country. Heed your mother's advice: Always wash your hands.
Hmmmm. I think tonight I will go to the gym and practice my squat thrust exercises to strengthen my glutes, hamstrings and quads. Just in case. You never know...
Thank you for visiting my blog.

June 5, 2010

Reading and Thinking Outside the Box

I'm almost finished reading Wanderlust and lipstick for women traveling in India, by Beth Whitman.
It's a must-read for anyone traveling to India. It's a fun and fast read, yet packed with practical advice.

My copy of In spite of the Gods: the rise of modern India, by Edward Luce, has finally arrived from the public library. Finally! I had to wait two weeks for this! I can't wait to start this. First, I absolutely must brew up some iced tea and then fluff up the pillows.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

May 28, 2010

Shoes shoes shoes

How many pairs of shoes do you own? Don't even ask me. I'm just a fool for shoes. The DSW up in Yonkers is my place of worship.

For my impending trip to India, I'm just going to have to use the biggest suitcase I own.
But have you ever noticed how a lot of shoes can make a BIG suitcase look, well, SMALL? 
Consider Exhibit A:
Exhibit A

No. This is ridiculous. I'm not schlepping 10 pounds of footwear. 
After considerable hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing, I eliminated some of my beloved shoes. 
Now look at Exhibit B:

Exhibit B
Tada! I think this will work. My brand new Teva sandals are very comfortable, and I won't freak out if they get wet. My blue slippers are cute, and those little brown leather slides are pretty versatile.
Thank you for visiting my blog.

May 27, 2010

I'm a Foodie (sigh)

As I contemplate my impending journey through India, there are certain culinary delights that I will definitely miss.
(Don't get me wrong. I love Indian food, and am going to eat everything that doesn't move.  Mmmm. nom nom) .

What will I miss? 
Consider Exhibit A- Coffee. Made just right. Dark. No sugar.
Exhibit B- Dark M&Ms, aka Power Pellets. A necessity at 3:00 in the afternoon. All you teachers out there know just what I'm talking about.
Exhibit C- Bronx style pizza. It's so big you have to fold it in half just to shove it in your mouth.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B  
Exhibit C    

May 19, 2010

Theme Thursday: Teacher's Pet

When I go to India this summer, I'm going to miss my family.
I'm also going to miss my very old dog.
Her name is Pretty.

She is a Chihuahua, mixed with something else.
My Partner rescued her as a young pup at the animal shelter almost 20 years ago. I've had the pleasure of living with him and her for the past 12 years now.
There's something painfully poignant about elderly pets.
We care for them as babies. 
If you want to see more Theme Thursday blog posts, visit ThemeThursday.
Thank you for visiting my blog!

May 17, 2010

Water is the elixir of life

How much water do you drink during the day? Do you drink your 8 glasses, like you know you should?  Drinking 8 glasses of water each day is no small task. It feels more like an assignment.

In India, it is super HOT and HUMID. Your required 8 glasses of H2O will be a mere drop in the bucket. You WILL drink a lot more water. 
Here are a few common-sense safety-tips:
  • Be sure to drink only bottled water. 
  • Make sure the safety seal is intact. If the seal is broken, ask for another bottle.
  • Insist that you open your own bottled water.
  • Avoid drinking anything with ice-cubes.
  • Save some bottled water for the hotel room. You want to use it when brushing your teeth.
One final caveat: As you busily drink all that water, keep in mind when and where you can use the bathroom! Timing is everything, if you get my drift...
In my next post, I will discuss (ahem) bathroom duty.
Thanks for visiting my blog.

May 6, 2010

Jaipur: The Pink City

Jaipur Palace of the Winds
Jaipur, popularly known as the "Pink City", and "Paris of India", is the capital of Rajasthan state, India.  The city was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, asawai jai singh 2 - founder of jaipur Kachawaha Rajput, who ruled from 1699-1744. Initially his capital was Amber (now pronounced as Amer).

In 1853, when the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted pink to welcome him.  Jaipur got the name "Pink City"  at that time.  The old city (known as four-wall city) is still painted and maintained in pink.
Thanks for visiting my blog.

May 2, 2010

Who Wears Short Shorts?

When it comes to wearing makeup and/or jewelry, "less is more". A single strand of pearls says a lot more than doing the whole neacklace+earrings+ bracelets+rings combo. 

Here in the States, women enjoy a lot of freedom in attire. We can wear just about anything we fancy.
But for female travelers in India, less is definitely not more. We really need to cover up.

It's a good idea to leave your favorite skimpy tank tops and short pants at home.  People in India get offended when they see women parade around in shorts and tank tops. Scantily-clad women will attract stares and unwelcomed comments from men in India.
For those of you who are offended by my views, well tough cookies. It's not going to kill you to dress modestly. 
Better yet, consider buying a couple items to wear while in India. A sari is very comforatble, and they come in many different colors. I'm looking forward to wearing one when I'm there. I already know I'm going to get really tired of my LLBean shirts and pants. 
Thanks for visiting my blog.

April 13, 2010

Roti for Lunch!

source: chakali.blogspot.com

When in Rome, do as the Romans. The same rule applies when traveling in India.

And since I am a serious Foodie, I will try just about everything. One staple in India is Roti.
Rotli or Roti is a type of unleavened Indian bread that can be enjoyed with any vegetable or curry. Rotli, as they are known in Gujarat, India, are rolled very thin making them light and soft. They are cooked in two different steps — first on a tawa (or skillet) and then finished off on the open flame making them balloon up.
I really love munching on these wonderfully soft and fluffy rotlis, or rotis.
Bon apetit!
Thank you for stopping by. Namaste!

April 6, 2010

Theme Thursday: Thinking Outside the Box

Let's get one thing straight:  I am a creature of habit. I hate change.  Change makes me nervous. If I had my way, I would blissfully live my life inside my Comfort Zone 24/7.
But that won't ever happen.

My job obligates me to constantly Think Outside the BOX
It's not easy.  
This summer I'm slated to go to India on a research seminar.  While in India, I'm certain I will live out of my comfort zone (and out of a suitcase)...and thinking out of the BOX.  In order to research and learn, I have to go there with an open mind...and to identify and challenge all of my assumptions, my old ways of thinking and old ways of doing things.
Thanks for stopping by.

April 3, 2010

To sun or not to sun?

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I worshiped the sun. I soaked up as much sun as I could, forever chasing that Golden Tan.
Well those days are over. I'm older and wiser now (no wise cracks please), and I've been slathering SPF 30+ sunscreen for the past 15 years. I just hate that gooey smelly stuff, but I don't want to look like a raisin.

Okay. Can we all agree that SPF is a requirement?  
Now it's time to talk about  head gear. 

Here in the States, a woman can wear just about anything on her head.  I like to wear fun baseball caps to keep that hot sun off my face. Here is my current favorite:
It's one of those cute caps from  Life is Good

But in India, women generally don't wear hats. They instead wear gorgeous scarves. I plan to buy some scarves there. But in the meantime, I will pack TWO caps. Why two? Because in 2007 when I went to India, I brought only ONE cap which I promptly lost at the airport here in New York. When I arrived in India, it was impossible to find a baseball cap to purchase. My brains FRIED SIZZLED in that sun. 

When traveling, I think it's a good idea to not stand out too much. So when it comes to headgear, I suggest moderation. Consider the following:


For heaven's sake, no.

Um, okay. This Yankee baseball cap has some potential value. You know why? You can barter it for something else, especially when you are short on cash. 

Oh, by the way. When traveling to India, I advise women to be prepared to cover the head, as it's required when entering some temples. 
In my next post, I will discuss further the importance of modesty in your attire.
Thanks for stopping by.

March 27, 2010

A Crash Course on Heat and Humidity

India in July is all about some serious heat and humidity. July also marks the beginning of the monsoon. The monsoon rains bring  sudden, heavy downpours. 

When it comes to monsoon rains, there are only two ways to deal with them. You can either welcome the rains as a brief respite from the sweltering heat, or you can grumble and still get wet.

To keep cool and comfortable in the heat, I highly recommend you wear moisture-wicking fabrics. I'm referring to the array of synthetic fabrics that athletes wear to stay cool and dry. Avoid cotton because cotton stays wet as you perspire (think wet diaper)...ewwww. 

I love tropic-weight pants and shirts from LLBean. I can wear these pants and shirts (pictured below) all day and feel comfortable. Then at night, I can hand wash them, hang them to dry, and presto! The clothing will be completely dry by morning. You can't do that with cotton. 
There's nothing glamorous about these pants and shirts. Come to think of it, I can look downright frumpy. Frumpy, but cool.

In my next post, I will discuss how to cover your head without looking more frumpy. 

Thanks for visiting.

March 23, 2010

Destination India

Hello and welcome to my travel blog!
Back in 2007 I traveled to India for 9 days. It was an unforgettable experience.

In July 2010 I will have the privilege to  travel through India once again,  this time as an educator, on a Fulbright-Hays scholarship.  

As I prepare for my 5-week trip odyssey through India, I will share with you my thoughts and discoveries. 

Thank you for stopping by!