This one cuts off Lindsay Kearns on the left, but includes the two who were in the rest room when the last picture I posted was taken! Just want parents to know all were accounted for!
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Here am I standing at the window and waving to the Lufthansa plane as it pulls out without me.
We were near the end of loading the flight (I was the last of our group) and we had shown our boarding passes when they told us that there was no more overhead storage space so we had to gate check larger bags. I decided to to just that. Went down the very long corridors to the door of the plane and they asked for my passport. That is when I realized that it was in the bag I just gate checked.
So they had to offload all of the luggage looking for my two bags, along with bags of 8 others who arrived after the doors had been shut. That delayed everyone.
My flight was cancelled, even though I had my passport a half hour prior to their leaving--so frustrating. A $300 mistake!
So I am overnighting in a hotel by the airport, doing this blog entry and notifying my family and then I am going to have a bite to eat and plan to sleep 12 or more hours before heading back to my new plane.
WIth all that we have been through, this was surely the least disasterous disaster we could have had. Mostly glad that everyone is one their way safely.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
SItting with some of the students this morning talking about the status of women in India. We have experienced annoyance as women from the west with our privilege and the shelter of very nice hotels. We have met up with Chapman grad, Sarah Fiske-Phillips who is studying here in Varanasi and hearing her stories have helped us process our experiences.
Last night we had our final dinner all together. We talked about some of the meaningful moments of this trip and how we imagine that that trip will influence us into the future. It will be good to gather again in a few months, after we have had time to consider all that we have seen and experienced.
I will add some final pictures. The first is the Shiva Temple on the campus of Benares Hindu University (where Sarah is studying).
The second is a typical street scene. A few cars, rickshaws and bikes, motorcycles, hand carts and pedestrians--all competing for space on the streets. I didn't see one accident in 15 days--a miracle!
Monday, January 21, 2013
Have I mentioned that these students can SHOP? We saw a textile shop this afternoon and two of the students got saris. Then Shatha asked to see a wedding sari. The one she bought (LOVELY) was $40 but the wedding sari that they put on her was made with silk and 24 carat gold thread--and it was $2,800!
Take a look. She is stunning in it!
So, this is just to say that friends and family should expect loot from the returning travelers!
We took a group of 8 students (yes, colds and upset tummies are starting to plague the group) to Sarnath this morning, home of the Deer Park where the Buddha preached his first sermon. This historic site is another Buddhist pilgrimage site, though I noted that there are far, far less here than at Bodh Gaya--his place of enlightenment. THis is a cautionary tale for preachers--nirvana will always be more popular than sermons! The stuppa and ruins of ancient monasteries were beautiful. Will post a picture of the stuppa. There was a large group of women from Japan and they sang songs there, quite lovely. We also saw a small Jain temple next door.
We are having an interesting visit to Varanasi, our last major stop. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and left for the river Ganges soon after. Varanasi is one of the holiest Hindu sites--it is said to die here is to be released from the wheel of rebirth, to obtain moksha. We boarded a large, low rowboat at sunset. Several of us purchased small leaves filled with gold marigolds and a tiny candle. I had brought along rose petals from the memorial service for Dr. Marv Meyer. Marv was a beloved professor of religion at Chapman and it was he who was to accompany me and the students to India. When he lost his battle with melanoma last August, we were so blest that Nancy Martin knew of Dr. Phyllis Herman to travel with us.
We floated the rose petals on the water as we remembered
--Marv's beloved family
--all of the students that were blessed to have him as their teacher and mentor
--all of his colleagues at Chapman and around the world that were blessed by his scholarship, his insight, and his incredible joy and warmth.
Then we lit a candle and let it float with the petals. We give Marv's spirit to the other side of the river and pray to one day follow him with similar grace and integrity. Namaste.
Friday, January 18, 2013
How strange that the internet has been the best in the smallest place--and it is free. This was the one place I was told not to expect the ability to communicate.
There is a joyous harmony in Bodh Gaya. There are very few Indians beyond the locals. And there are few tourists, either. It is a place that is full of chanting and incense, prayer flags and prayer wheels. You can get all kinds of prayer beads, singing bowls and Buddhas, as well as hundreds of little road side shops selling everything from suitcases, kitchen ware, hardware, and clothing. The girls are buying so many wonderful scarves and tops and pants. I think that they keep buying in order to avoid doing their laundry!
I am not yet tired of Indian food. Except for one meal when I had a bit of chicken, I have been completely and happily vegetarian. Even the students with the most restrictive diets have managed well.
SIgning off for this evening. So happy that I could finally send along some pictures!
The day in Bodh Gaya has been thrilling. Buddhists from so many places gather here--Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka. In addition to the main Maha Bodhi temple, each of the Buddhist countries has at least one temple and monastery. .
We learned that we missed the Dalai Lama by one week. He was here to address a huge Buddhist conclave.
We are much more rural now. Outside of the pilgrims, the town is about 20,000 people. Very fertile agricultural area. We walked through vegetable farms this afternoon as we visited two sites important to the life of the Buddha. All the lovely vegetables we have been eating--onions, potatoes, cabbage, okra, spinich, peas--were growing. We also saw people threshing rice that has dried.
The conversation about home is starting. We are all getting pretty tired.by the end of the day.
Friday, January 11, 2013
Several memorable events--meeting a snake charmer up close and personal for two of the students--Peri and Hanna. A tour of the Swaminarayan Temple (finished 2005) that felt more like Disneyland than Hinduism (google it). Our favorite place so far was the Sikh temple; a thrilling rickshaw ride.
I hope every time that I can add pictures. Will try again now, but I have little hope that it will work. The internet is just too slow. Thanks for sending us good energy!
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
I will not be blogging every day--wifi is relatively expensive. And I have not been successful downloading any photographs--tried to do that in LAX and just now. The internet is just too slow. Luckily I am with students who may be able to help with that. But for now imagine a happy group shot with a pile of luggage at LAX!
Texting too has been somewhat unpredictable--it worked at the Delhi airport this am, but not at the hotel. So for parents who might have been expecting to hear more, fret not--we are simply in a very different technological landscape. Namaste