Saturday, December 30, 2006


Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas (even though I wasn't there). The internet has been really shoddy here so excuse me for my lack of communication. I've been having a great time here at Railay beach (I think the picture just about sums it up). It's one of the most beautiful places that I've ever had to privelidge to visit. Today I went scuba diving for the first time, it was amazing. Apparently I swam right next to a shark, but I didn't notice. I hear it wasn't too big anyway, though. We're going again tomorrow and I'm super excited. The rock climbing here is also amazing. Just a short walk from our bungalow is Phra Nang beach which has some really nice bouldering. It's too bad that God chose the one winter I'm away from home to make a ton of snow, but since I can't ski here, you all should ski twice as much. I'll be here in the South for a couple days after new years and then I'm heading up to Chieng Mai to go try and be a monk. Happy New Years.
P.S. I hope all you fellow G-LABers our now adjusted well and enjoying being home drinking tap water and eating beef and all that cool stuff you get to do at home. Love you all and I miss you all.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gil Shohat

Here's that video I was talking about.


So far this city has been great. All the old British taxis and architecture create a feel different than any other Indian city. Today I went with Rosalie and her friend to a hospital that she works with. It's a children's hospital for kids who need orthopedic surgery. It was really fun, all the kids were so happy to see us. We read them a Christmas childrens story (in English, Hindi and Bangali). Then they all dressed up as raindeer, elfs etc. They all got presents from a donor in Holland. It was pretty fun. In Delhi I didn't see a single Christmas decoration, but here it seems as though it is a fairly popular holiday. There are fake trees and snowmen for sale on the street. It's going to be great volunteering at these places, after about a week of shadowing a teacher I'll start taking lessons of my own. Right now I'm just killing time until I have to leave for the airport in about three hours. I've already checked out of my hotel so I'll probably just go find a nice place to read.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Just a Quick Update

I had a great last day in Delhi. Tracy and Namgial (our Ladakhi friend) and I went to a musical show and dinner. The show was of this Israeli composer (I think his name was Gil Shohat) and an Indian tabla player together. Two of my favorite instruments! And two that you don't usually see played together, the result was great. I took a short video that I can hopefully put up was I settle down. I just got off my long train ride this morn and am now with Rosalie, who leads the organisation I will be volunteering with when I return from Thailand (Empower the Children). It looks like it's going to be great fun volunteering here teaching the kids for a month. Tommorow night I get on the plane for Bangkok and arrive very early the next morning. I'm going to spend one day roaming around and then the next day get on a night bus down to Krabi to meat with the McKenzies (23rd)! I'm really excited and it will be fun to spend Christmas with some friends. Love you all and enjoy being together for the season (wish I could be there)!
P.S. I can't believe we had 17 people over for Christmas dinner and no power! That's sounds like it was a really good time. Hello to all the people who were there, I hope to see you all soon!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

End of The Program

Last night the Global Learning program came to an end. We had a little going away party at Amit's (our Delhi coordinator) house. There was great food and we celebrated Tracy's (one of the group leaders) birthday a few days early with an impromptu cake fight. Galen seems to have lost. We went to the airport twice last night to drop everyone off, once at 10:30 PM and again at 3:00 AM. So today I slept in and am having a nice relaxing last day in Delhi before I hop on the train for Kolkata tommorow morning. Right now Tracy is the only one left here as Galen left this morning for Nepal.
I should arrive in Kolkata on the morning of the 19th and go to meet Rosalie Giffonielo at Empower the Children.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Camel trekking was great. I felt like some old british chap traveling through the desert. And turbans in the desert are totally the way to go, they keap you cool in the day and warm at night. We spent a night out under the stars, it was really nice, but cold. I could have maybe gone a little farther, but these things are pretty uncomfortable, I don't know how you could do a long journey on them. It was amazing to see the little villages out in the middle of nowhere; all the people in colorful clothing carrying jars of water on their head. I don't have much time right now, though, so I'll update more later. We leave tonight for Jaipur and then the next day for Delhi to conclude this program.

Monday, December 11, 2006

What You Find In Rajasthan

We just rolled into the Western Rajasthan city of Jodhpur last night. It's been a lot of moving around considering we left Varanasi on the eight and this is our first full day in one city. Bodh Gaya was great, though Bihar (the state it is in) was not so nice. It's known as the "lawless land" of India. It's noisy, busy, polluted, and has horrible roads which are honestly more pot-hole than actual road. But despite all that, Bodh Gaya is amazing. Because it's the place where the Buddha gained enlightenment it's a huge pilgramige site. It's amazing to see monks from all different countries there together.
After that we had a long car ride and then a 26 hour train ride to Rajasthan. This morning Galen, Jordan, Andrew and I went out shopping for turbans. As I was trying to use the broken ATM machine Jordan ran in and told me to get outside. He ws possitive he had seen Adrien Brody go by in an auto with a film crew went out and walked down the street for a while and then to my surprise saw not only Adrien Brody, but Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman as well. Then I turned around and saw the director Wes Anderson. He's made some awesome movies like The Royal Tenenbaums and Life Aquatic. It was crazy and not at all what I expected to find in a small back street in Jodhpur. The guys were all nice and we talked to them briefly. Jason Schwartzman asked how long we've been in India and when Galen said three months, he replied: doing what, walking around? They were surprised to find we were a student group. Then we spoke to Wes Anderson about the movie briefly. It's called Darjeeling Limited (but is filmed mostly in Rajasthan?). Anyway they seemed like pretty nice guys. They're staying at the Palace where the Maharaja of Jodhpur lives as it is now partly converted into a super pricey hotel. Thankfully Jordan Gaurd had his camera with him. That made for a crazy morning.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's All Coming To An End

We're currently wrapping up our stay here in Varanasi and getting ready to move on. Everyone we met said that this was by far the most intense Indian city and maybe not too enjoyable. I really had a great time, though, and didn't find it too hard. I'd love to make it back sometime.
Tommorow we will be leaving for Bodh Gaya, the place of Buddha's enlightenment. After a day there we will be off to Rajasthan. This should be cool, because I haven't been to a desert with full on sand dunes before. We're going to go camel trekking for a couple days and explore the cities in the area. Then it's back to Delhi and the end of the program. It all went by soo fast, but it was a great time. As good as it was, though, I also can't wait to be on my own. I imagine that at home everyone is shopping or buying a Christmas tree or something. Have fun with that. It's too bad I won't be able to see everyone this holiday season, but I will see you all soon enough!


This is a super old photo, but I just saw it and decided it needed to be on the internet. It's of me and my homestay grandfather in Ladakh.


Your Average traffic in Varanasi. Every ride is crazy...


This is a photo from just after when I bathed in the Ganga. It was a beautiful sunrise, great to just to watch and enjoy a cup of chai.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Yesterday we went to this village right outside of Varanasi. We left by boat at about 6 AM and arrived in Ramnagar about half an hour later. Ramnagar is famous for its clay cups. In India, when you order a cup of chai on the street, it comes in a little clay cup that you when you're finished you just toss on the ground. So naturally many of these cups need to be made every day. We visited the house of one such potter. He said that he can make up to one thousand cups a day. I took a video of him with my camera. In the video he is spinning a large disc that rests simply on a spike. It continues to spin by sheer momentum. These Clay cups are a great idea because, unlike plastic, they just turn back into mud after use.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Hey All,
Life here in Varanasi is great, but busy. We've all been taking Hindi lessons and North Indian cooking. In addition to this I've been studying Tabla from my new teacher Kailash Nishad. He great, a super nice guy and an amazing musician. He's played classical Indian concerts all over the world and also at festivals such as the Rainbow gathering and Bonnaroo. We've also been going on day trips to surrounding areas and to musical concerts galore. Yesterday, we went to Sarnath, the sight of the Buddha's first teaching. Tomorrow we are going on a 5:30 boat ride in the Ganga. A couple of days ago I bathed in the Ganga. Two other friends and I went down before sunrise and enjoyed a nice dip. It's probably really polluted, but it doesn't seem so bad here. Anyway, I've also been learning
a lot about Hinduism. It has to be the most confusing, complex religion in existance. I was told in school that it could be considered monotheistic because all the gods are really just emanations of one supreme god, but I asked this question to a professor at Benaris Hindu
University and he simply replied that Hinduism is every-istic. That's probably the best description I've heard.