fun with cousins at the county fair in rhinebeck

•August 28, 2010 • 1 Comment

on tuesday i went with cousins nathan, ben, and alexandra rippy to the dutchess county fair in rhinebeck ny (where i was born and raised and yes, of recent chelsea clinton wedding fame).  we went on rides, watched antique farm machines, ate corn dogs, drank milkshakes from the 4-H stand, saw show-dogs run an obstacle course, saw a sheep get shorn, walked among some dairy cows, and pet some very furry rabbits.  brought back memories.

Advertisements

happy 60th anniversary booma and grampa!

•August 27, 2010 • 1 Comment

last weekend the wolcott clan (all except luke) convened on the shores of lake craine in upstate new york for some singing dancing swimming boating cooking and eating.  a warm round of applause and special thanks to the hospitality and culinary skills of stacy mike wes and trav tomaselli.

to see the singing click here.

we also took a brief excursion into town to explore the local farmer’s market.  considering how many pictures i’ve taken of markets around the world, i thought this one deserved to be included.  for those of my foreign friends wondering what american markets (at least the outdoor ones) look like, here you go.

stateside

•August 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

after an uneventful 24 hours in transit, i am back in brooklyn safe and sound and mightily exhausted.  through the haze, a few impressions of culture shock on re-entry:

1) it’s quiet. the roads are so quiet and orderly and devoid of pedestrians animals and refuse. the cars here don’t honk at each other to signal changing lanes. the garbage truck actually came to my front door this morning and picked up my trash for me and took it to a place where i’ll never have to see it or smell it again and no cows or dogs will eat it.

2) it smells nice here. yes, even in brooklyn.

3) things are spacious. the sidewalks are vast and smooth. my apartment is enormous. i actually have to walk to get to the bathroom. my bedroom is the size of the entire 4-room flat i lived in in bangalore. my bed is so wide that i can turn over in my sleep and not fall off the side.

4) people here wear short shorts. i saw one girl’s thigh-fat. gross.

in the next few weeks before classes start again i plan to relax, drink tap water on ice, wash my laundry in a machine, and enjoy the cool weather.  also take-out sushi i think.

last days in india

•August 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

so delhi and i are not friends.  a series of inauspicious events have conspired during my time in this city such that i feel someone somewhere very much wants me on a plane back to new york.  (which is fine by me – i’m ready to go home.)

first, after boarding the overnight train from varanasi i accidentally knocked a bed-hanger (heavy metal hanger used to suspend the middle bunk on sleeper cars) out of its holder and smashed it into my temple.  it didn’t bleed much, but a huge welt immediately popped up the size of a golf ball.  thinking on my feet, i swabbed the wound with my handy alcohol swabs (so glad i brought you), then hurried a few cars down to the pantry and commandeered a hunk of ice from the drinks cooler to put on it.  the guy tried to ask for money for the ice, if you can believe it, as i stood there bleeding from the head.  i’m lucky i didn’t have a concussion (very lucky, i’m well aware, since no one of my fellow passengers seemed at all interested in my well-being).

once in delhi, bruised but not yet broken, hoping to save money i walked an hour to the national museum in the sweltering heat only to find that foreigners pay 300 rupees to enter (indians pay only 10).  not having brought that much with me, i skipped the museum and walked another half hour to a nearby mughal tomb.  which was fine, except the bus i got back wasn’t going where i was going (even though the driver assured me it was, twice) and instead kicked me out with a 15 minute walk back to the hotel.  at which point it began to rain.

i’m a hardy traveler, these things happen, not the end of the world and all that.  today i woke up with a head cold.  i got up early to go to the red fort and jama mosque before the heat kicked in.  first, the hotel clerk sent me on a wild goose chase for the metro.  when i found myself in the middle of nowhere and tried to get directions, people had conflicting answers (yes it’s just over there, no that line isn’t running, there’s a tourist info office just that way, rickshaws can’t go to the red fort, the red fort is closed, the metro is closed, best take the metro).  this is a bit of fun delhi-ites have with lost tourists, making up stories and giving false directions.  fine, i bit the bullet and found a cycle rickshaw (who was great actually).  however, the red fort really was closed.  so was gandhi’s memorial site (i went through the museum instead).  the jama mosque was beautiful, but i wasn’t allowed in the tower because i was an “unaccompanied female”.  and i had to wear an orange smock.

it started to rain again on my way out of the spice market, so i coughed up money again for a cycle rickshaw.  this guy turned out to be a real low-life.  he drove me way out of the way so as to avoid a bridge over the train tracks.  then when he got tired he pulled over and let me out, saying that the train station was just around the corner and the traffic was so bad i’d be faster walking.  he promised it was just one minute’s walk (the last time i heard this one was in varanasi and after making a big deal out of it felt very dumb when i discovered it was indeed one minute’s walk).  so i stupidly believed this guy, paid his fare, ended up in a dodgy part of town traipsing through a lot of garbage and cow dung and traffic in the sweltering sun (it had stopped raining) for a least 20 minutes, wishing him all the bad karma i could, and refusing to pay for another rickshaw because i was so miffed at the last one.

deep breaths.  things are not going my way the last two days.  the computer i’m on just froze for ten minutes and wouldn’t let me upload any pictures.

tomorrow i get on a plane home and despite the frustrations and hassles, i have enjoyed my time in india.  the moments of peace i found with the taj at sunrise, or on auntie’s balcony at night, or watching the river go by in hampi have been all the more cherished because of the daily chaos of sights and smells and sounds that is india.  the self-serving touts and obnoxious men make my friendships with my indian colleagues and auntie’s family all the more precious.  i have not fallen in love with india in the way that i did africa, but that’s ok.  i’ve learned much here.

puja ceremony at sunset, varanasi

•August 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

varanasi

•August 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

as a gift to myself, i’ve decided to spend some extra time in varanasi and take a five-day yoga course.  this city is rich with tradition – the spiritual heart of the hindu religion.  the sacred river ganga runs along its eastern flank and pilgrims come from across the country to cleanse themselves in its holy water.  yesterday morning i went on a boat ride at sunrise to witness the washing ceremonies.  this evening i’ll go again at sunset to watch the puja offerings.

the days are so hot that i haven’t been doing much, but i’ve taken some sweaty strolls along the ghats (steps leading into the river).  in addition to the ceremonial cleansing in the river, folks have a bath (with soap), have their morning shave, do laundry, meditate, go swimming, and collect some of the holy water for pilgrimages home.  the dead are also burned here, their ashes scattered in the river.

fatehpur sikri

•August 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

land of quiet red sandstone palaces roasting in the sun, a mughal king’s harem castle, abandoned hundreds of years ago when the water ran out.

land of hungry touts, buzzing around me like mosquitoes – madam do you need a guide, madam what country, madam this way i’ll give you a good price, madam why are you angry i am not a guide but can you visit my shop.

land of mosques and mausoleums where childless women come to tie a ribbon around delicately carved marble screens in hopes a child will come.  i have to admit i tied my own ribbon for the future.  i seem to be growing superstitious in my old age.

back in agra before my overnight train to varanasi, i watched kite fights in a sunset sky with the taj mahal as a backdrop.  magical.