26 July 2012


Nothing I have done, no where I have been, has been more adventurous than going to India.

I've just returned from a 2-week trip with some high school students from Wheaton. We visited 3 American workers in India, each living in different cities, but who came together to welcome us and give us this introduction to an amazing country and culture.

James was our primary host. He works in Varanasi, hosting a website that connects western tourists with city businesses. He showed us around the city, introduced us to businesses and people and the customs/religion. He arranged for us to meet with a language and culture teacher. Through him we had the chance to do some teaching at a local school. James's friend Rahul was our guide, go-to guy, and often our rescuer.

Philip was our Delhi host. He helps westerners learn Hindi and navigate the culture. He has "gone native" in the best possible sense of that term, and when we were with him people assumed we had a local guide and friend. Philip took some of us to old Delhi, and there I bought the only souvenir I wanted of this trip: a drum.

Through James and Philip we met actual, real Indians whose lives are closely entwined with theirs. They both have excellent fluency in Hindi, which was a constant source of confidence for us, and always seemed to surprise Indians who did not already know them.

Jane works in Jaipur, helping women gain financial security through development and sales of local crafts. She traveled to Delhi to meet us, and spent most of our Varanasi days with us. She is the most recent arrival to India, of our three hosts. Her Hindi is very good, which was obvious by the conversations she engaged in on our behalf or just with curious Indians. Imagine their surprise to find a tall, white, blonde woman speaking not words and phrases, but actual conversational Hindi. It was fun to see the delight when local people figured that out.

Our trip was a total of 15 days, 13 in country and 2 in transit. It's a long flight to Delhi, and if you go don't let yourself try to do it too quickly. It took us 3 days just to get used to the vast, strange, wonderful differences between our countries and cultures.

This languished blog is usually about sport and family travel. A truly "Awesome Adventure" inspires my return to it now. I'll try to process this trip here. Stay tuned!

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