Thursday, June 30, 2011

holland summers

i miss waking up to a summer morning in holland, with the promise of a trip to the farmer's market, good friends a walk away down the street, the knowledge that i am only eight miles away from the lakeshore, and plans to watch the sun set over the water to top off the day.

take me back.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


the day after my college graduation, i jumped in a van headed to chicago, where i got on a plane headed towards delhi, india. i spent five weeks in india with my professor, who we affectionately called chacha, and twelve other students. over the course of these five weeks, i traveled to twelve different cities in india, each of which was a world of its own. i willdedicate a blog entry to each city that i visited.



we arrived late tuesday night. as soon as we stepped out of the airport, we were greeted by rows of ambassador taxis and the constant blasting of their horns. westood on the curb, waiting for chacha's friend ajay to find our bus to take us to our hotel. we eventually discovered that our bus was a little ways away, so we carried our luggage across busy lanes of traffic and down a small airport road to get to our bus. the whole walk, ajay held hands with chacha while they shared the duty of carrying his suitcase. men holding hands is a natural sign of affection between friends in india. our bus driver semi-carefully loaded our luggage onto the roof of the bus, which he secured haphazardly with a rope while ajay handed us each a litre of water. commence bus ride number one. we sped down the highway, swerving around rickshaws, bicycles, taxis, and large tractors pulling HUGE loads of cotton on wagons. we arrived at our hotel, the YWCA on ashoka road, and went to bed shortly after.

day one in delhi:
my roommates, laura and grace, and i woke up early, so we got dressed and walked around outside for a bit. we didn't want to go too far, so we went back to our room until breakfast, which consisted of a hard-boiled egg, a veg cutlet, porridge, and toast with jam. not too bad. we then headed into new delhi, where we visited a sikh gurdwara, saw hanuman square and the south-indian-style temple there;visited varun's shop, where his grandfather gave us all free sodas; went to the underground shopping center in connaught place, where i bought saree fabric and a punjabi. we then headed back to the hotel for lunch and to change into our punjabis.

head coverings for inside the gurdwara

sikh gurdwara

temple in hanuman square

chacha and varun

our first punjabis! (and stiff dupattas, aka the scarf)

after lunch, we headed into old delhi, and BAM! india hit me full force. as soon as we stepped out of the metro station at chandni chowk, i could tell that the atmosphere in this part of the city was completely different. first of all, it was much louder: horns blasting, shopowners calling out for customers, women calling out to us from blankets on the curbside, and music. second, the smells were much more potent in this part of the city (and not necessarily all in bad ways): more fried street food, fresh mangoes, and the smell of an unclean bathroom following you everywhere you go. third, the sights: SO MANY COLORS! fresh fruit stands, goods hanging and resting on stands, cows in the streets, congested streets--so full with cars and bicycle rickshaws and animals and people that i don't understand how anyone moves, people everywhere, and streets lined with shops--shops set up in places you would never think a shop could fit or sustain itself (such as in a small nook between two walls, or in an indentation in the side of a wall). we walked the streets, chacha paused to buy us all water, and we continued walking to the bird hospitpal, which is part of the jain temple. unfortunately, both the temple and the bird hospital were closed for the afternoon when we arrived, so we were only able to look through the gates. we then headed the jama masjid mosque, the largest mosque in india. the mosque is built of red sandstone, so after sitting in the indian sun all day, the walking surface was extremely hot. we had to remove our shoes to enter the mosque, so we basically took off at a sprint to get to the rugs that were a refuge to our feet. tina was still in her western clothes, so she was required to wear an "indian dress," which looked more like a child's oversized hospital gown. after the mosque, we headed into the bazaar to see one of chacha's old acquaintances who owns a brass shop. we hit a few more stores before heading to the kwality restaurant to celebrate kyle's birthday! we enjoyed chocolate cake and kingfisher beer, a staple of india. after this celebration, we headed back to the ywca for dinner and an early bedtime.
old delhi

jain bird hospital

jama masjid mosque

birthday celebration at kwality

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 4 2007

Upon my return home to canton, my mother greeted me with a pile of mail. At the top of this pile, there sat a letter that I wrote to myself just before my high school graduation. My twelfth grade humanities teacher mailed it to me recently. In the letter, my eighteen-year-old self gave me better advice than I ever think I could give myself now. In so many ways, and from all the experiences I have had, I know I have grown up in the last four years. After reading this letter, though, I feel as if I have grown down in certain ways as well. I will not go into details for the world to read here, but let me share one part of my letter that struck me as important:

My letter began,
"Dear Amanda,
This is yourself writing to you from four years ago. You are probably getting ready to graduate from college, or you have already done so. Maybe you have switched majors and still have another year to go. You might even be traveling the world like you've always wanted to do. Whatever you are doing with your life, I hope all is going well for you."

"You might even be traveling the world like you've always wanted to do." I find it interesting that this letter was delivered while I was traveling in India. I am amazed at the experiences I have had over the past four years; amazed at the fact that I have been able to travel to so many new and exciting and life-changing places.


As I sit here at home in Michigan, I feel uncomfortable about how quiet everything feels. The chaos of India drove me crazy, but now I'm longing for the amount of people that surrounded me there; for the constant human touch, even if that did mean beggars and small shopkeepers pinching at the backs of my arms. I flew into Chicago on Monday, and even Chicago felt like a small town to me after India. What a shock that was! The streets felt so empty and organized--I almost forgot that I had to wait to cross the street; that I had to cross at designated places. Not everyone says hello here in the USA. This is one thing I am okay with. While I loved the people of India, my introverted-self grew weary from having to interact with people constantly. Everyone wants to talk to you and take your photo all the time, and I was always with other members from my group. While I loved everyone, my soul longed for some quality alone-time. Although I miss the chaos and noise of India, I realize now that I am even more thankful for the quiet and comfort of home.

As I begin to sort through the 2,000 photos I have from India and France, I will begin to post updates for you all to read.