Archive | February 2009

A Few Random Things Before Leaving Varanasi

Varanasi, IndiaI had my shoes stolen outside a temple this morning. We were only there such a short while, and some of the guys in our group were joking about shoes getting stolen before we went in. I guess it’s just something I’ve got to roll with, but it’s definitely disappointing. They were great shoes, totally equipped for our upcoming Himalayan trek, waterproof and sturdy, and I’m feeling a little naked without them, but what can ya do?

We also saw an elephant walking through a street today, which almost made it all worthwhile. It was pretty cool to see.

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On the Other Side of the Ganga

Varanasi, IndiaThis post will probably be a bit shorter than usual, but there isn’t too terribly much to report, I don’t suppose. Got another ravaging of bug bites, grrr, and feeling a little run down, but overall, no complaints.

Of course after writing the last blog I thought of things I forgot to mention, like that I took a bike rickshaw ride with one of my leaders the other day, which is a lot rougher than the auto rickshaw, but cool to experience. I also wanted to say there is almost no waste system here whatsoever. I mean there is garbage all over the streets, and it gets swept up every day, and I am not even sure where it goes after that, pretty sure everything goes into the Ganga, I know the sewage does. Also, the power goes out a few times a day, like clockwork, it’s scheduled, I think if I understood correctly, it has to do with the city not being able to pay for full electricity, something like that. So it goes off for a few hours in midday, and a few hours in the evening, and there might be another time too.

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On the Banks of the Ganga (Ganges)

Varanasi PanormaDays are starting to run into each other. It’s very hard to keep track of what’s what day of the week and date. So I suppose it was a few days ago that our group took an overnight train to Varanasi. As mentioned in the previous post, the idea of taking the train made me want to pretty much just shit my pants. I am still alive and that is good.

The train ride was pretty hard for me. I mean, we got locks and chains for our stuff, and the people in our section were fine, and I felt like my group was a big protective unit, but with all those horror stories, I was still pretty freakin’ freaked. It was okay though. There were people just sitting on the ground in the train. A few of our group members awoke (it was an overnight train) to opened pockets, but no one had anything stolen. We were all really careful about where to put our valuables.

So then we arrived in Varanasi and spent the first day just getting oriented. It was not the same level of chaos as Delhi, but still very crazy and there are a LOT more animals here. it seems there are always cows and with that lots of cow shit, right outside the guest house where we are staying. Down by the ghats, which is like the riverbank, there are goats (including a goat that we saw in a t-shirt!), lots and lots of dogs, cats, monkeys, and so on. In fact the other day, a monkey jumped onto the roof of the guest house, which shook the whole building. Earlier today, I saw a water buffalo just cruising down the street with a cow. Animal central.

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Delhi, Delhi, Delhi

Delhi, India

Lodi Gardens

It hasn’t even been 48 hours since my last post, and it has been a whirlwind. This is so unlike anything I’ve ever experienced that it’s hard to find a way to put it into words.

It is total chaos for one thing, I mean just insanity, but it also sort of works. The streets are just nuts. I mean I am afraid for my life every time I walk into the streets for any reason, which is almost all the time, as there aren’t sidewalks like in the states, it’s just mad chaos with motorcycles, rickshaws (of the bike and auto variety), cars, cabs, horses, dogs, COWS, people, bikes, etc going every which way, honking constantly, with pretty much no traffic rules whatsoever.

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Arrival Day in Delhi

Delhi, India

View from room at The Shelton, a hostel in Delhi

So, got in a few hours ago, after almost 24 hours of flying and airports. It’s been a long few days. My group seems really, really cool, which is awesome. Flights were long and uneventful. First time really flying over the entire Pacific, which was weird.

Anyway, it is nuts here! The roads are like NOTHING you would ever see in America, I mean there is no comparison – just chaos, all kinds of vehicles, cows in the road, people everywhere, nonstop honking, and it’s almost like there’s no real traffic rules, just everyone driving every which way, on bikes, rickshaws, buses, cabs, cars, motorcycles, in a mass of just chaos. Actually the cab ride from the airport to where we’re staying was pretty exhilarating. Crossing the street though, that’s terrifying!

I am a bit freaked out and overwhelmed, but all in all, it’s going okay. We all got here in one piece, got to where we were going, had some good Indian food for dinner and wandered to find this internet cafe.

So, that’s all for now. More later.


And now from San Francisco

Eastside Portland Esplanade

On the Esplanade, Portland, OR

Hell yeah, so much has happened in the last week, I don’t even know where to start.

My visit to Evergreen left me feeling mixed about the school. It’s a definite possibility, but not a first choice. As with just about every school, there are pluses and minuses. I’m trying to take all of that into account with each school. And I’m still not sure I’m crazy about Olympia, but I did eat some of the best thai food ever there, a green curry dish with avocado, which was so delicious, but not enough to totally make me want to move there, I mean, there are other factors, lol.

The next stop was Portland, which was OMG, a nonstop blast from the moment I got there to the moment I left. One of my best best friends from Orcas, Elynn, just moved there, and it was so great to see her, as well as my friend Kelly who I haven’t seen since I went to Coachella in 2006. It was cool to bring friends together from different places. We went out to this totally cool place called The Sapphire Hotel (which used to be a brothel) for dinner, and had a blast. The next night I went to happy hour with Kelly and one of her friends and had another blast of an evening. The next night I met with the people who run the India program. We’ve been in email communication since about July, so it was great to meet them. We went out to Thai food (second time in one week, god I love Thai food), and again, it was a total blast. On the way to drop me off back at Elynn’s, they stopped at the training place so I could meet my trip leaders.

And here’s where things get trippy. I have two trip leaders for India. The trip leaders and participants are from all over the place, and somehow in a completely mind-blowing “small world” moment, one of my trip leaders already knows me. He used to work at camp, and for anyone from Orkila who follows my blog, his name is Andrew Bruck, and he worked with a bunc of people I know. I don’t remember ever meeting him before, but it often happens that people I don’t know, know me. I’m pretty recognizable. That was a cool moment. I really enjoyed meeting my trip leaders.

My school visits were great. Well, one was so-so and one was so mindblowingly awesome I think I will cry myself into oblivion if I don’t get in. Really like dream college, like love at first sight. Being the happy and shiny optimist that I am, (sarcasm), I kept waiting for something to go wrong. Or something to not be so awesome, but it never happened. I sat in on three classes. First was a humanities lecture, which was cool (and really reminded me that I am lacking in background on the subjects of the classics, and greek/roman stuff, which is what the class was about). It was cool b/c it was obvious that the prof giving the lecture was just so knowledgeable and excited about her topic. Then I went to a conference class based on the lecture, which was a great experience where everyone in the class spoke up and debated and argued and discussed. Then I actually went to a Latin class, which I had no background in – they set me up with a student host and I just went w/her to her morning classes – but it was cool. In the class I ran into a girl who had given me directions earlier that morning, and she was super friendly and helpful. Another girl sitting next to me was also super welcoming, as was the prof. The girl sitting next to me, before the class started, told the class that she was having an intellectual identity crisis, b/c before college, she was always the smart one, and now that she’s there, everyone is the smart one and it’s kicking her ass and it’s hard. I thought it was really brave of someone to stand up and admit that to their peers like that. And someone else in the class got up and went over and gave her a hug. It was very sweet. All around, the students were awesome, and all around in Portland in general, I think I got more hugs in those few days than the rest of the year combined!

The classes were great. The classrooms were great, very conference style, interactive, with big windows. And the campus is fucking gorgeous. So is Evergreen’s, maybe moreso. Anyway I met some students for lunch, and this school had the best food so far, also a plus, I ate with another student host and her punk rocker friend, and it was awesome. They were soooo psyched about the school, loved being students there, just couldn’t stop talking about how much they loved it. They gave me heads up on what profs to take and not take. One of them had just taken an English class in which she’d read The God of Small Things, which anyone who reads this blog knows is one of my favorite books ever, total desert island book, probably the best book I’ve ever read. So, another plus. The other thing I noticed was that with every student I interacted with, I didn’t feel like I was talking to 18 year olds, if you know w hat I mean, and no one seemed like freshman, I forgot about the age difference entirely. One of the students hugged me efore we parted ways and I left for my info session, tour and interview, all of which were just fantastic. God that campus is gorgeous, and could easily satisfy my nature needs, maybe not quite as much as Evergreen’s campus, but close.

I’m a little rushed, and overflowing with things to say, so, anyway, after that and some other cool activities, and after that I had some time so decided to visit the office for students with disabilities, and again sort of thinking okay, here is where the other shoe might fall, but no. I got lost trying to find the building, then ran into a guy who works in admissions, and he walked me all the way over to the building, which was cool, and then I met with the director of disabled student services, and it honestly sounded better than most places I’ve looked at, which just blew me away. Everyone was just amazingly awesome. Think good thoughts for me to get in – it’s a tough school, and if I go it’ll kick my ass intellectually, but I’m sort of looking for that. I want to be challenged, and to really have to rise to my potential.

I so want to go there. I so loved Portland. I had nonstop fun there, including the day after my visits, just chilling w/Elynn. We got desk chairs from this Habitat for Humanities store and went over to the esplanade and the planetarium, and we both agreed we had more fun in that day than we did in all our time on Orcas. I already feel like I don’t even live on Orcas anymore, though I did keep my apartment. It’s just like that world is behind me. One of the leaders of this program, actually the director, told me this morning that he thinks it’s like I’ve been living in a cocoon for the last six years on Orcas, and now I’m coming out of the cocoon, it was really cool.

San Franscisco, ocean

California Coast

After Portland, I took the Greyhound to San Francisco and got to hang out with my friend Maryam from Camp. We had great talks and deep discussions and got caught up and hung out in the city and at the beach. I spent a few days at her house, and now I’m about to leave for my first trip ever out of North America.

Anyway, I am about to leave to go eat dinner with my India group, then go to the airport to catch my flight. So peace out, I guess. I’ll be writing from the road I’m sure. There is also a group blog anyone can read to see updates from all kinds of members of my group. I have met three of them already and am having a great time. Went out to Ethiopian food last night with the group, and they were playing TOOL and Alice in Chains in the restaurant, which just made my night.

Midnight tonight, I’ll be headed to Hong Kong, then Delhi. I can’t believe this is really real!

Check ya later, America!


Greetings from Olympia

Evergreen State College, Olympia, WashingtonI left Orcas yesterday morning, had a real nice ride w/my friend Trish to Mt. Vernon, (we watched Grey’s on the ferry ride, the episode where Meredith has her mom’s ashes at the hospital). Then I caught the Greyhound (oh the hours upon hours of my life I have spent on Greyhound buses) and got into Olympia yesterday evening. I’m sitting in the computer lab at Evergreen, waiting for my campus visit to start in an hour.

The cool thing is, on Saturday, my last day to get mail on Orcas, I got a package from Evergreen that I thought was going to be a guidebook or catalog, and it was, but it also was an acceptance letter! And I got a small scholarship for academic achievement to help offset tuition. So, that is good news so far! That makes two colleges that have admitted me so far (the other being Portland State, and my India program is through them, and I had to apply to get in in order to get credit/financial aid for India, so I’ve been accepted there since August). Two yeses, four to go. I guess I’m off to a good start, and it was really nice to see some payoff from all that work I put in, before I left.

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