Friday, December 31, 2010

About this last year...

So, being as it's New Year's Eve and all, I'm a thinking, kind of stunned here, about this last year. I mean last year New Years I was all settled in my cottage, on break from working in my Seattle office. I had the best bunch of friends, never a moment that I couldn't pick up the phone to call someone to do something. I loved entertaining in my cottage. My house still decorated for Christmas with the swag spiraling down my spiral staircase. My new 12 days of Christmas dishes on the table. My lover puppy snuggled up beside me. My sister just a simple phone call away. Looking forward to my weekly rendezvous with the kids and fabulously fun volunteers at Jubilee Reach Center.

No clue, no hint or anything of where i'd be today, in a year. It's getting a little hard to be in denial about it. It's almost a full six months. With a few really amazing breaks. But still, many, many days of waking up to the call to prayer at 4:30 AM way over here where you all are just finishing up your days at work over there.
Life was moving along just fine. Well company work was starting to slow down a little. And maybe under the surface a litle restlessness. A little too often having that unspoken question "can I continue doing this everyday thing for another fifteen years?" Am I getting a littlc complaicent. Settling too much?

Flash forward 365 days. I am here. In the Middle East. In a country where most women are covered up, figuratively and literally. Living in the middle of a big City where I walk to get my groceries and take a cab to get places. Talking to my family and dear friends takes intentional planning or sheer good luck with timing. Nothing comes easy. And still, after seeing the poverty of India, after speaking with the drivers and cleaning women and people who have come from countries much rougher than the US, I chide myself for complaining. But being as it's New Year's Eve and all, I'll give myself license to long for how things were a year ago.

On a night like tonight it's easy to get into that longing for what was funk. It's too easy to overlook what this last year has given to me. It's taken me down to a pretty low bottom where I had to find things inside me I didn't know i had. I think when I return to my real home, in a year or so, I will not take for granted all the things that make life there so easy. I have met some really incredible people, rixen above some pretty difficult situations, worked on some really interesting projects, seen some unbelievable things. I have travelled to some places I never envisioned going.

The travel has been the highlight. There is nothing like arriving in a new country, especially those where the primary language is one I don't know, to really make me present. The sounds. The smells. The having to figure out where to go and how to get there. When I get to share that with family and friends then it is especially life giving. So, for the places I've gone and the people I've gone there with, it's been a really fantastic journey.

This next year I have Italy and Lebanon to look forward to. And who knows what else. I mean you never know what the coming year will bring or where it will find you. As I started this out, I had no clue I'd be taking up residence in the UAE. It's definately a journey.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Owe You...

Walking transporting all kinds of things up the hill town street of Mussoorie, the hill town above which Woodstock Boarding school is located.

Those are the Himalayas in the distance. The air here is so clean and cool. A welcome change from the UAE

Homes nestled in among the foothills. From one of our hikes above Mussoorie.

The cows own the streets. This one settled for my banana peel when I wouldn't give it the fruit.

Hiking past some shops along the road up to the school.

Just a sunset from somewhere up north.

Two little boys who helped serve us pancakes at the Tip Top Tea Shop. Indians of all ages are very industrious. They were working hard helping the shop owner.

Travel companions outside an ornately ornamented Hindi temple.

A typical scene from the car. Welcome back to the '60's.

Sunset prayer ceremony along the River Ganges. After chanting and beautiful music send a gift to the gods of bright flowers and scent and flame floating down the River.

Our Bride under the wedding tent. Isn't she stunning?

The wedding couple as the make their way through the five plus hour ceremony under the tent.

A very involved ceremony.

The groom's family looks on.

Our only elephant spotting.

So I know I have promised a blog entry or two or twenty on India. And I really, really intend to do a few. It was an amzaing trip. A country that would be a blessing to return to some day. All my senses were assaulted: alive with new smells and sounds and sights. Many "pinch me" moments. I thought many times "I will have to blog about this." I took many pictures. I am not happy with most. My original camera pooped out after the first few days. The replacement I was able to buy was a different model and many of the pictures are a blur. But then again the experience was a blur. Actually some of the blurry ones are interesting as you see the bright colors in motion which is what India is all about. Also, I wanted more pictures of the people but I am a little shy about taking people pictures. So I don't have as many as I wanted to have.
So the above shots are just a sampling. And tomorrow I leave for Spain. So mostly I will have to try to remember things and some day write my own version of Eat Pray Love.
Day after tomorrow I am reunited with my boy. So excited. I will share a few pictures and hope to write up more about some of what we saw and did.