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Adventures from Here and There

India Days continued July 9, 2012

Filed under: Travel,Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 9:42 am

Written a couple of weeks back….and continuing….

Delhi is hot as hell. I guess I am here during the monsoon season. Weird, almost each visit to India has been during these months. A colleague from Geneva was in town last weekend. We went to Chandni Chowk, the Red Fort and the Pacific Mall on Saturday afternoon after sleeping at The Taj. Wearing sleeveless today. No one else on the metro seems to be. Girls do not walk around with wet hair…like me! Maybe they think it looks too oily….the days can be tiring with the heat. Right from the am it’s bloody hot. I walk 5 minutes to the metro, then have to go through security. The great thing is I can be in the ladies only car. However, it is packed. Transfer onto another train after 30 mins of riding and pushing my way through the crazy crowd. Always get shoved as there is no concept of waiting for people to get off the train first. At some of the stations you see men run to get a seat. I’m not kidding. My colleague who was visiting from Geneva thought I was joking, until she saw it herself. It’s such a hoot. I want to film it but no cameras are allowed. Though I’d love to do a flash mob on the metro and see what happens. Maybe wear a saree….that easily comes off…and then underneath I’m wearing the shortest shorts and a tank top. Of course i have to wear a few janjhars on my ankles…and maybe a bhindi too. So ya, back to my journey. Then i get off and have to try to run across the road to the middle without getting hit. Then i usually have to wait on the island until traffic is not so bad and then run again to get to the other side! Then i walk about 12 mins to the office. By the time i get there, im soaked in sweat. It sounds like the stories some of our parents used to tell us…’I used to walk miles to get to school’.

I’m sitting at a place in Hauz Khas village called diva piccolo. Going to have dinner here tonight. It looks like I will have to head out to Bihar and Gujarat again to do some documentation. And I will be here for a week more than planned. So basically ill be here for another month…more. It definitely is not easy here.

I haven’t  picked up any more Hindi than I already knew. today I saw men fighting on the bus. The bus driver was getting a beat down. It was not nice. My arm hairs stood up. Yes, I’m in India and I have not waxed my arms. Girls here hate hair on their body. I don’t feel full at all. That meal was not satisfying, which is unusual for India. I am usually satisfied with the portions and the quality of food in India. There is too much good food here…most of the time overly spicy though.

It’s the following day now and I’m on the metro. Feeling tired. Not sure when I’ll sleep like normal again. Insomnia has overcome me this past half a year. There’s always something to do. 1am, lets read. 2am lets watch tv. 3am, lets post pics on Facebook, 4am, maybe I should get 3 hours of sleep at least. After I leave India I’ll head back to Geneva. Figure I should go home for a bit. Then the states for a weekend. Then back to Geneva. I’d like to see some more of Europe while it’s summer.

On Saturday, I ended up going to the national art gallery, khan market, then INA market. I definitely cannot buy my chicken and fish from there, even if it’s more fresh and less expensive than in the shops. I don’t want to see live chickens being slaughtered, heads of animals and the flies, my goodness! Not my scene. Later that evening I went out for dinner with a few friends. We went to a restaurant called the yum yum tree. I met a girl there from the states and ended up going to a German diplomats residence with her. Wow, to see how the other people live. The house was massive, on a lot of land and had a fabulous pool. Him and his wife throw parties there often. The crowd was mixed. And the dj preferred playing African music for most of the night. Some songs reminded me of Kenya. the unplanned nights always turn out to be the best. Yesterday, I went to the park hotel for an all you can eat and drink brunch. 4 hours of both. We then hit the pool, where there was a private party with about a hundred Indian kids. The average age mus’tve been 22.
It is now Tuesday morning and I’m on the first leg of my journey to the office. It doesn’t seem as brutally hot today…well at least not this morning. Last couple of days have been long, trying to get a report done on our end in India, so that we can pull together 3 countries and do a final report in Geneva. I miss that I’m not in Geneva for the summer. My handbag smells like chicken. Probably cus there’s chicken in it. Not a live chicken or a head of one. Just cooked chicken breast.

 

A Fabulous West USA Tour June 10, 2012

Filed under: Travel,Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 7:44 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

It has been a while since I’ve blogged. I arrived back in Delhi at the beginning of May. Most of my time went to working on 2 proposals – to get funding for programmes in India. I headed to Patna, Bihar for a few days for an inception meeting. Did not get to see anything other than the hotel and conference rooms, as days were long.

On the 15th, I left for my long awaited trip to the West side of USA. I flew from Delhi to Phoenix. I have to say here that I tried No Jet Lag, a herbal medicine that is supposed to eliminate the feeling of jet lag. I landed in Phoenix 26 hours later and i have to say that I did not feel any jet lag that day or in the days thereafter. I hadn’t even slept in the 26 hours! I got to spend some time in Scottsdale, drinking and eating as the late afternoon turned in evening. Went to Crudo for more eats and drinks, then ended up at Roxy lounge. Pizza, mozeralla sticks and salad, late night! Good food. Good drinks. Good company. The next day, Zahra, who flew in from Toronto, and I began our afternoon with some yummy cocktails at the Biltmore Fashion Mall, which we realized later was not the mall we really wanted to go to- Scottsdsle Fashion Mall.

We had a long journey ahead of us the following day, so we just hopped over to a restaurant next to our hotel for dinner. Very Jersey Shore. We ended up in Phoenix because the original plan was to hang with Natasha Kassam in Youngstown and then do the drive to Vegas. However, Youngstown seemed too far from all the action and Natasha’s work got in the way of our plans. Zahra and I headed to Sedona the next day, after having the best pancakes in old town. Thelma and Louise picked up their red convertible and set off on their journey. Of course, on the way we had to stop at an American Walmart and Best Buy to get Norah Jones’ new cd. Walmart was the best! We stocked up on goodies like red velvet ice cream, turkey and cheese! The drive was amazing as we saw lots of cacti and enjoyed the hot air, roof open. Sedona itself was beautiful. Spiritual. Earthy. We had a fantastic view of the sunset from the hotel terrace, which was near the airport.

The following day, we left for the Grand Canyon. We got to the south rim, walked around, took some pictures, and then hopped back in our sweet ride, as Vegas awaited us! I had the most wicked driving experience. I felt like I was in a game. At some point, I was in Fast and the Furious, racing with 3 other cars. Zahra was a real good sport about everything. We made it to Vegas in only 3 hours and 15 mins, rather than 4. The Cosmopolitan Hotel. This would be our home for the next 4 days. Great location, right on the strip. Beautiful hotel. Super packed. The other girls that we were meeting up with were already there and were eating dinner at STK restaurant in the hotel. It was Zahra Hemraj’s birthday. Shazeen had also come down with her friends to hang out for those 4 days. 15 girls in Vegas! I must say that I found Vegas too overwhelming at first. I had a small panic attack after leaving STK, leaving Zahra to calm me down on her own. Perhaps it was too much after being in India, in not such glitz and glamour. The dressing was obviously very different too! I felt a lot better after I molested the red velvet cupcake that was in our loot bag, left in our room by Raheema, the birthday girls’ sister. What a thoughtful and amazing idea! After our quick showers, Zahra and I met the other girls at Club Marquee, which was in our hotel. It was quite big with different rooms and a huge outdoor partying area near the pool. Cabanas, tons of people and good music led us through the night. It was a fun night, nothing too crazy.

The next morning, we walked along the strip and had some breakfast at the mall across the street. We wandered through the different hotels and malls, taking in all that Vegas had to offer. The partying continued that night at white oak and XS. Wow, what a night! The next day was spent wandering on the strip, seeing the other hotels, and window shopping. The final day was spent sunbathing by the pool. By this point, I had gotten used to Vegas and wanted to stay longer.

Next, San Francisco. Got to Rahim and Raheema’s in Santa Clara. Rahim had bbcued and dinner was great. My birthday was spent in Napa Valley. A limo ride and visits to the wineries had been organized by Raheema, who I must say was so awesome. The company was great and everyone made sure that I had an amazing time. Have I mentioned yet that I got a ton of cupcakes too?! We went out for dinner in San Fran. Zahra and I did the hop on and off bus and went to a painting party in the hood! She was so worried at first…but very quickly felt at ease. We met biggie small. San Fran was quaint. Cute.

The last stop, LA. Loved it! Stayed with Buck, who was a great host. Hung out with Hafeez, Kiran and Sonal. It was so nice to hang with them. Huntley was swanky and we danced the night away. More cupcakes and red velvet truffle! The beaches were insane. I felt like I was in a movie while at Venice Beach. Hermosa, not Mimosa beach had a street fair going on. Really nice. Rahim had flown down for the night to hang with us. We all had a great time. Went to Hollywood of course and Beverly Hills. The last day, went to a bbcue. Good food again. And then back to Delhi….another 26 hours! The trip overall was fabulous.

Being back in Delhi was a bit difficult the first day, as I missed my good friends. I really realized on this trip how much I miss them. It was nice to catch up with Shazeen and meet my new friend, Ayesha, aka Junglee bheli. Seeing Rahim was good as always. And I finally got to spend qt with Raheema. Zahra and I had great fun together and it was nice to be feeling and wanting to do the same things almost throughout the entire trip! We had a lot of McDonald’s and Starbucks during our drives. It was nice to see the other girls in Vegas after so long. Buck has not changed. I love California! Thank you.

 

Insomnia February 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 11:21 pm

Has taken over…

 

Living in a Winter Wonderland January 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 8:45 am

oh my goodness! the excitement i feel today…i cannot contain myself! i have finally seen a real snowfall after 2 years and it is the most magnificent sight ever! fine, the cold is not very welcoming, but who cares! it is super beautiful! i am living in my own snow globe…

how does one scrape snow off their bicycle?

 

Opera Night January 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 9:11 pm

Going to an opera tomorrow evening. Double performance actually. My first time watching a musical/theatrical performance in Geneva. Being positive!

Friday after the opera – it was alright. the outside architecture of the Geneva Grand Theatre was beautiful. Cannot say much for the inside. Have seen an opera now in Geneva. Perhaps opera is not quite my thing.

 

Where am I? January 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 10:46 am

seriously…where am i?

 

Just There November 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 10:18 am

Nothing new really to post. But it has been awhile. My trip to Portugal was fantastic. I spent Friday and Saturday night in the Algarves. Ate good food, had great chat and listened to wicked 80s music! The drive to Lisbon on Sunday was fine. I was there for a week for our PLG – programme learning group. Participants from about 17 of our countries were present at the workshop – a great way for me to meet more people within the network and to learn about the different programmes on the ground in the other countries. Did a little bit of shopping…of course. Had a great night at the delegation offices, where we listened to Fado music. Beautiful. My body does not know whether it is coming or going. I cannot sleep before 2am now each night. But I a  not tired, which is great. This week is pretty busy here with CEO meetings all week. I leave for London and Oxford on Saturday. Yay!

 

Kwaheri Kenya October 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 11:00 am

today is the last day…tomorrow i head for uganda. many thoughts and feelings coming together right now –  some happy, some sad, some empty, some thankful, some overwhelming, some of satisfaction, some of excitment. who knows when i shall be back here. i will miss the sunshine. the water. the sand. i will miss the good people i met along the way during these 3 weeks. i will miss some of you. this time, it is really hard saying goodbye. KWAHERI my second home. I shall return.

 

Shoes and More October 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 6:52 pm

today was the last day of my work in kenya. the drive to kwale was long and bumpy, as always, when going out to the field. the sun was out early, blasting rays.  i suppose it is better than being caught in the rains , like the week before. the last 2.5 weeks in kenya have been fruitful. it is always nice coming back to mombasa, where i spent 2.5 years. nairobi meetings were intense. seeing friends that i made in the 3.5 years of living there was great.

there is a lot of good stuff happening on the ground in kenya. we still have a lot to do to get the reading and continuous assessment programme to where it should be. the 2 day training/workshop that i did with the teachers and programme officers was hopefully informative – and something that they can apply in their classrooms and schools. 

last week, as we drove from mombasa to the rural areas in kinango, about 3 hours away, i noticed that more than half the people i saw walking, were shoeless. how can one walk miles without shoes? jiggers, a disease which can be found in the foot, is a result for many. a few days ago i thought i would buy some shoes for the people of kinango and kwale. however, more than ‘some’ was required in order to help the  many shoeless people. i sent out a facebook message to friends and the response was great. several people have donated funds and more are intending to do so. i picked up a ton of shoes from bata and some local vendors, both. i picked up a range of shoes, from closed toed, flip flops, to ‘fancier’ and more supportive ones. today on the way to my ‘work’ programme areas, we distributed shoes to random men, women and children that we saw on the roads. we looked out for people who were walking around barefoot, stopped them, asked them why they were not wearing shoes, and if they did not have any, went through the process of helping them find a pair that fit. some individuals told us that they had shoes but left them at home today. for example, the man who had to climb the coconut tree, felt no need to bring his shoes along with him today. so we really were looking for those most in need.

we had some interesting responses from people.   a lot were too scared at first to stop and talk to the 3 men and myself in a pick up truck. what did we want? why were we asking them where their shoes were?! as they warmed up to us, we engaged in more conversation, soon finding out if a pair of shoes were needed. people were happy, thankful and confused. a couple of individuals asked what they had to give us in return. i guess getting new shoes from strangers is not common practice. i am happy to say that  most of them are going to pray for everyone who assisted in this project. there were some wonderful smiles and happy faces – giggles and laughter from 2 women that were walking miles to get to the main road. there was one woman who wanted a specific pair of shoes but we did not have her size. we offered her another pair but she did not want it. she wanted the small pair that didn’t fit her. we tried to explain that we could not give her a pair that was too small, as it would result in other physical problems. she ended up leaving without a pair. we met another older man who did not want to speak to us at first. then he became nice when he found out we had shoes. upon asking if i could take a picture of him, he said that it would cost me another pair of shoes! incredible. it was so nice to see so many people happy because of of individuals who were kind and big-hearted – so thank you to all that donated and to those that are still planning on it. we still have a lot more people to equip!

the final pair of flip flops went to….?? i left them on a long, dirt, windy road. someone lucky will find them!

this has been a great trip overall. it was an ‘eat’, ‘pray’ ‘love’ session. i ate well for the most part. i did pray as i made it to khane (mosque) often. it was kind of nice to be part of the ‘community’ for a short while. i do not have the opportunity to do that on my other work travels. and being in geneva, well the sense of community is non-existent for me there.  love; well, i guess if you count loving the work that i do with the foundation, well then that must count!

i am taking the weekend off to recuperate. i  head to uganda on monday for more field visits and trainings. the visits in uganda are always a bit more tough. i will take the idea of the ‘shoe project’ to that part of east africa with me.

2 men sporting their new shoes

 

Last Days October 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — travelchokri @ 12:34 pm

I have been in Nairobi since Tuesday night. I was not sure how I was going to feel about being back here, after my history and connection to this place. I must admit, it has been hard. I have hidden from the world for the most part, staying in my hotel in the evenings and going to work in the days. I did get out on Wednesday  for dinner and on Friday night, met with a few good friends and that was nice. I am looking forward to heading back to Mombasa, where the continuous pit in my throat or stomach feeling, will hopefully disintegrate. I find it peaceful there. And let’s hope that there will be sunshine, rather than the monsoons that I had been experiencing while I was there.