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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

freakout, phase 1

It's just hit me that in, let's see, 27 days, I'll be flying to Chicago to begin orientation for my trip. Which means I will have to have finished making all my decisions about packing, purchasing wee gifties for unknown hosts and teachers, creating my Very Special Present for My Lovely Penfriends, paying bills ahead, leaving appropriate information with appropriate people in appropriate places, figuring out exactly who will be in my house when and making sure they have keys, etc. And somehow this all came out sideways at 11:45 this morning. I was unpacking my lunch at work, happy to be settling in for a few minutes of chatting with John, and realized I had forgotten a piece of leftover birthday cake - and I flipped out. I really wanted that piece of cake. It was really good - Suzanne made it for me, and it was lemon with strawberries and candied lemon peel on top, with cream cheese frosting - and I had been counting on it for emotional momentum for the rest of the day, even though it is just cake and shouldn't be accorded those kinds of powers. And when it wasn't there, I felt so sad and overwhelmed.

But somehow I collected myself and went back to my office and scheduled work on my house that has made itself known as not being able to be put off any longer, dealt with the credit card people to tell them to expect charges from India in July and switched types so I can get air miles with it (these staff were incredibly friendly and not pushy at all, I should add, thank you citi bank), cleared off a bunch of correspondence, and grabbed my bag to head out the door for some iced coffee. And even though it's really hot today, it's windy, and it felt good to be smacked in the face by nature instead of by my own stupid worries.

And as though she knew, a lovely birthday present from Tamara was waiting for me at home - a set of packing cubes for my suitcase! She is wise, our Tamara.

Friday, May 26, 2006

recommended websites

I hope I'm not violating any agreement by posting this publicly. I just wanted to put all my websites in the same place. Which I guess is what is for, but still. This is easier for me for now.

U.S. Websites
Department of State
Information on travel tips and travel advisories
DOS’s temporary registration for U.S. citizens outside the United States
Department of Education
U.S. customs
U.S. income tax
Embassy of U.S. in India
U.S. Consulate, Mumbai
U.S. Consulate, Chennai
U.S. Consulate, Kolkata
Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES)
Institute of International Education (IIE)
Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB)
Center for Disease Control
The Library of Congress has a page
called “India – A Country Study.”

University of California, Berkeley

B. Indian Websites
Ministry of Human Resource Development
Ministry of Home Affairs
Embassy of India in Washington, D.C
Consulate General of India, New York
Consulate General of India, San Francisco
Consulate General of India, Houston
Immigration issues in India and here
Directory of Indian Government websites
University Grants Commission
Association of Indian Universities
Ministry of Tourism and Culture and here

Some Indian newspapers and magazines-
Hindustan Times
India Today
Times of India
The Hindu
The Indian Express
The Telegraph (Calcutta)
India's National Magazine by the publishers of The Telegraph
Outlook India
Asian Age (warning, you have to have IE to access this. yay, corporate!)

Teaching About South Asia: Internet Resources
American Forum for Global Education
Teaching Contemporary South Asia
Asia Society ‘Ask-Asia’
The Choices Program
Education About Asia
FirstGov for Kids Global Village
Future State: U.S. State Department for Youth
National Geographic Education Guide
New York Times Student Connection
Peace Corps Kids World
Peace Corps World Wise Schools
Smithsonian Education
Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education
Teaching South Asia, an Internet Journal on Pedagogy
University of California-Berkeley Office
of Resources for International and Area Studies

various cultural resources
Father of the Nation: Mahatma Gandhi
Rock Paintings in India
Indus Valley Civilization
Vedic Mathematics

Indian cuisine and recipes
Indian Food and Cuisine Guide
Ruchi's Kitchen
Indian recipes
Ultimate Indian Food Guide
South Indian Cooking Lessons
All India Food & Drink Page
Indian Dairy Revolution (this is a food product company's website)
Green Revolution in India and here

about the Ramayana
The Sikh Way of Life by Ranbir Singh (ebook)
Jainism and here
Hinduisim and here
children’s books online
children's audio books
children's stories
PCM Children's Magazine

I'm going to swerve off from the recommended list here and just point towards the resources I've put on the sidebar of my blog, Beth Loves Bollywood. I've used all of these sites a lot and I think they're high quality and useful.


Well, we now know that the travel phase of our trip "will include travel to Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, Mysore, Thiruvananthpuram, Kolkata, Varanasi and Agra." Sniff! No AFJ!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

point and click

Where would we be without the web? Stuck in the middle of a 5-person row on a 15-hour flight, is where. I just went online and picked out aisle seats on my transatlantic flights. Remembering my experience on my LA-Auckland flight five years ago, I decided not to sit at the front of one of the long sections of seats, near the little crew areas, because on that flight, that's where they put the people with babies in carrier thingies. As long as I can see the screen for filums, I'm happy.

Anyway, I've spent a lot of time lately feeling agog over all that the web has enabled me to do - and more importantly all the people it has enabled me to meet. I have friends - in India! Wow! So choosing your seat on a flight is really not so exciting, compared to knowing lovely people far away. But I certainly do not knock getting to choose your seat. Leg room is good.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I have three pairs of linen pants for this trip. And now someone has just told me that linen is too wrinkly to bother with. Sigh. I know linen is wrinkly - it's famously wrinkly. But it's lightweight and a natural fiber, and those were my major concerns. The lightweight cotton pants I have found are...jammies. I love my pink and green striped pajama pants, but I'm pretty sure only Rani Mukherjee

can pull those off. And hers don't look like cotton anyway. But if I can find pajamas that can pass as streetwear, believe me, I'll get them.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Can anyone tell me what to do with these?

When I first found out I got the Fulbright, Suzanne got me a little bundle of Indian treats from an international grocery store. In addition to these, there were some masala ramen noodles, which I ate right away. But to be honest, I don't know what these are. Spice/flavoring? If so, to what do I add them? I read the ingredient lists, but that didn't really give me any practical ideas. I am of course very pleased to be able to point out to my friends here that I know what "badshah" means. They are duly impressed, and I just smile sagely, not telling them about the movie.

(For those who are curious, the other items in this still life include my toaster oven; an espresso machine I got for $5 at a rummage sale and can't figure out how to use; my teapot, which was given to me by Wendy in college, hence its mid-1990s color; and the coffee mug I take to work every day. What you can't see, unfortunately, is that my countertop is printed with little blue and brown stars. My kitchen is strangely 1962.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I want to go here

Nek Chand Rock Garden, which I stumbled across via PBS. This is what life is all about - dreaming of making a better place and using trash to do so. Love it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

pragmatics - but sparkly ones!

Last weekend I blitzed through town for stuff I might need on my trip. I've held off on sunscreen and other things whose chemicals should be at their freshest and instead lucked into sales at the camping store and various mall-type places. Among my purchases:

a waterproof stuff sack and ultra-absorbent, microfiber towel (this might be a completely useless purchase, but I have no idea what monsoons are like and it seems like being able to dry something off might be handy at some point)

a very lightweight cotton skirt - conveniently designed to be a bit wrinkly! - that is trendy enough that if I lose it in transit I won't care

shower shoes - please note their Bolly-appropriate beaded, sequined flowers. And yes, I am wearing flannel sheepy pajamas in this picture. It's 6:03 pm but I am exhausted and ready for bed, which means tonight was the wrong night to try my new bread machine to make pizza crust.

So far I have spent $601.12 on this trip. Yikes.

if Betty Boop were a Hindu bronze...

My friend Trivialmatters just sent me this fantastic link to animated episodes from the Ramayana. Granted I am new to this epic, but from all I've read (Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God; research for work on Balinese Hinduism), this really made me laugh - it strikes me as pretty cheeky but not way off for such short versions of some of the stories. Does anyone else think Hanuman looks like Homer Simpson?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

throwing in the towel but picking up books

I'm giving up on learning Hindi for now. With only fifty-odd days left before I leave, even if I learned one letter a day I could hardly spell anything. Hindi will be here when I get back. Reading up on history and religion and architecture and all that to provide a more informed context for travel, however, will not.