India, Day 1 (plus 730)

2014-12-21-12-24-41-1Two years ago today, I set off on the trip that would become the one to which I compare most others. After a whirlwind stopover in London, I was officially en route to Delhi, which was start and end to an almost 3-week adventure in Rajasthan.

I didn’t climb K2 or bathe in the Ganges; nor did I do yoga or a meditative retreat in an ashram in Rishikesh. Instead, I did sun salutations on the marble floor of a renovated haveli in Jodhpur on Christmas morning, to the sounds of a goat bleating to be let into the hotel’s lobby. I drank hand-brewed chai from a terra cotta cup on a dirt road in a dusty village market in Jojawar. I drank Kingfishers and danced to Bollywood music wearing a kurta (and a bindi) on New Year’s Eve in Jaipur. I walked the market streets of Pushkar before the bustling day began, to be blessed by a Brahmin priest by the magical Pushkar Lake. I got lost coming home from a mind-bending trip the Swaminarayan Akshardam in Delhi. I rode a camel; haggled for deals in markets; visited forts built in the middle ages; saw new puppies and starving dogs; smiled and shared tea with strangers; travelled on an overnight train; inhaled the aromas of amazing street food as well as those of the human condition; saw Delhi’s famed smog as well as its blue skies; tasted the best jalebi and samosas and aubergine curry and lassi and dosas I’ve ever had…and, yes, I saw the Taj Mahal. The toilet story was the best of that day, tho.

India was an experience for every physical sense, plus some senses I didn’t know how to tap into until I came home and began reflecting.

As I think about the coming year and begin to plan the shells of future wanders and adventures I wanted to share India Day 1, my first blog post and in it, the words that fail to adequately depict the shell shock that is one’s first contact with the entity that is India. [I hope you enjoy reading that post as much as I did writing it.]

Here is a full list of the India blog posts:

India, Day 1

Street Walking in Delhi

Night Train to Jodhpur

Christmas Eve 7000 Miles from Home

The Hidden Fortress at Kumbhalgarh

Falling in Love…AKA I (heart) Udaipur

Travelling Back in Time: Jojawar

Pushkar: Holy City By The Lake

New Year’s in Jaipur: Now is What Matters

Outskirts of Agra: More Time Travel and Amber That Shines Like Gold

Agra, Part 1: Where Mughal Emperors Reign(ed)

Agra, Part II: The Taj, and a Word About Public Toilets in India

Solo in Delhi: Day 1

Solo in Delhi, Day 2: Wherein I Find My Temple and Learn the Gods’ Days

Delhi: Grand Hearts, Shining Brightly

Where do you stay: on Impermanence and making an impact…

 

5 Things I’ve Learnt: A Retrospective on 5 of the Most Change-Filled Years of my Life

I wrote this a few days before the horrific US election this week, and I think it applies to dealing with all manner of change in these unprecedented times.

[originially posted on Medium in The Coffeelicious]

This week marks 5 years since I sold my house and moved to my own flat, to officially begin what would be the next chapter in my story.

During these intervening years, I completed a master’s degree; finalized my divorce; learnt a new meaning of love; added a few significant friends; drifted from others that didn’t quite fit anymore; travelled on three continents, to myriad countries and experienced new worlds; got laid off; found a new job in a company that uses technology to improve peoples’ lives; climbed mountains; saw a ghost pipefish; paid 60 mortgage payments myself; spent holidays alone; ran three road races; experienced the best birthday of my adult life; screamed and cried and spoke from my heart; had great sex; had mediocre sex; been abstinent; started a blog; took thousands of photos. I wrote a book.

[CLICK TO CONTINUE]

 

 

Dear dad: a letter 20 years after our last father’s day…

This is the 20th anniversary of my last father’s day with my dad. He died of lung cancer when I was in my late 20’s. I was trying to think of a way to remember him this year, where flowers on a tombstone fail miserably. I wrote him this letter last night:

Dear Dad,

Sunday is the 20th anniversary of our last father’s day. It marks 20 years since we looked at pictures together; 20 years since you laughed and told stories I’d never heard of our family’s history.

It marks the end of sushi dinners. And boat trips to Montauk or Nantucket. And Sunday bagels and lox with the Times spread all over the table (I still read the paper that way, you should know). And the day after Thanksgiving at Macy’s. And outrageous Christmas Eves because you didn’t want to be the center of attention on your birthday.

It marks the months before you’d not meet the man I’d eventually marry (the one you’d probably tell me wasn’t good enough. None of them ever were).

This father’s day marks the anniversary of a quiet celebration before your hospital bed would arrive, just as it marks the beginning of the hole that would remain in my heart.

It marks the beginning of the wouldn’t be there’s:

You wouldn’t be there to see me turn 30

Or to see my first underwater photos

Or to help me make a decision on which career path to follow (The first time. Or the second.)

You wouldn’t be there to listen to my stories from the trips I’d make to the jungle and other far-flung places

Or to read what I was writing and finally comfortable sharing

…to see me buy my first house in the suburbs (or to tell me it wasn’t good enough)

…to meet my dog

Or to help me through job loss and love lost and the angst of meeting 40

And you wouldn’t see me blow up and then piece back together everything in my world

You wouldn’t see me get my Master’s degree

And you wouldn’t see me doing a job that on most days fulfills both my head and my heart.

And you wouldn’t be there to see the greatest individual work of my life come to fruition, whether or not it makes the NYT bestseller list.

I would have liked to travel with you, to see some of the world as an adult with you, to go on photo walks and get ice cream and talk about books and play Spite & Malice and go window shopping in seaside towns. In not necessarily that order. I miss the New York City people-watching lunches where we’d make up stories about the characters sitting at the other tables. We did that at Trump Tower one day…do you remember?

You know what? I think I could probably beat you at scrabble today. I want to scream sometimes at that silly little thing; the knowing something so simple can simply not ever be.

There isn’t a day I don’t miss you, dad. And there isn’t a day I don’t wish I’d talked to you more, and listened better, through the years. I didn’t get enough time to ask you the things I didn’t know I needed to find out when I had the opportunity. There isn’t a day I don’t wish you’d been there to see me turn out ok. The world is a bumpy place right now, and though life’s not perfect it’s pretty good. And I think you’d be proud of me today, dad.

Happy father’s day.