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.
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! Namaste!
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!
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. Namaste!
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.