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Thursday, May 14, 2009

kayaking and thinking

My kayaking trip was amazing. I finally figured out how to roll in a kayak, so when I capsize (in white water or flat...let's be honest) I can roll back up instead of pulling myself out and swimming to shore. I was so happy. Unfortunately, no pain, no gain and the backrest in the kayak kept sliding down. I didn't want to complain (I tend to be a big baby) but I was leaning on the metal clamp when I rolled, which, after a day, felt like I might have a little cut there. When we got out to camp that night I checked my right hip, only to find a fist-sized bruise there. Ouch! The guys fixed my kayak (duct tape truly can fix anything) and aside from not being exactly bikini-ready with this massive hematoma, I'm fine.
It was wonderful to spend so much time outdoors in Nepal. I think I had forgotten how much I need that.
Coming back to India was intense. After serene Nepal, I had almost forgotten the chaos that is India. We headed for Varanassi, the holy city on the Ganges. You can easily identify the tourists who are taking pictures while carefully not touching the water and the Indians who are bathing, washing, and even having swimming lessons in it. All within meters of some of the burning ghats where the cremations are happening.
And now we are on a train, back to Mumbai. Currently we are 21 hours in with hopefully 7 hours to go. We are in the ac car, which is nice and we have sleeper seats, middle bunks and have been laying down the whole way because the seats are too shallow to sit up on. On some level I have an entirely new appreciation for the middle passage. The good news is, I've been able to catch up on a lot of sleep.

Tomorrow we will leave India and head to Thailand. I don't know what to expect from SE Asia because it is a part of the world I've not yet explored at all. I'm excited (and my brother and David are coming...yipee!) but am still trying to process so much about India in particular. You just can't come to India without really pondering the tragedies and injustices of life, and especially as a westerner, how privileged you are. I have seen so many things and somehow I am often paralyzed by not knowing how to truly help people and especially children. Somedays I feel like I have so little (and by western standards I probably do). A depleted bank account, an upside down condo, a mortgage I can't escape from, no car, blah blah blah. But here, in comparison, I have so much. I'm not wondering if I can afford food, water, or clothes. I have a job to go home to. I choose which of my 3 pairs of shoes I want to wear depending on the purpose of my day, and which will be most functional. I guess I just am scared to forget, not just what I have seen, but what I have felt in these past months. When you are comfortable, it is easy to not remember those things that make you uncomfortable.

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