A Year of Dreams

Jumping for the joy of it? Or simply returning from a flight?

Cynicism is easy; dreams are hard.  Stephen Colbert once said cynicism is self-imposed blindness.

It’s effortless to sit in an armchair and lob stinging barbs at the world, call oneself satisfied, cloak fear and hurt in the folds of wisdom.

We suffocate inklings of faraway adventures or new selves, leaving such idleness to children, holding our adult ideals in a death grip.

And that makes me sad.  Because dreams form the fabric of our lives, can be discovered in the doodles of our notebooks, our computer wallpaper or what we tune into on television.  Literally, imaginings of who we should be are everywhere.

You just have to look.

As I gaze forward after launching Nomadic Chick a year ago, this site may be new, but my dreams were germinating seeds in my mother’s womb.  As old as the wind.

Next year rests on swampland, could sink downward any second, but I float above untouched, because no matter what transpires I am encased in gold.  A Fort Knox of memories, that were realities, that were tossed away as once unreachable make me a helium balloon.  Weightless and uninhibited.

Clocking the steady lines of the prairies on the Greyhound from Calgary to Moosejaw. The night I hobbled with sore feet through Manhattan and witnessed Times Square come alive under an electrician’s wand. Riding an elegantly designed train from Copenhagen Airport and disembarking into a Carl Nielsen concerto. København stilled my breath. Giddy with

By |December 31st, 2010 |Categories: Life |31 Comments

Christmas at Child Haven

After Santa made an exclusive, VIP appearance, the festivities got started on the evening of December 24th.  Child Haven’s tradition is to decorate the towering “evergreen” tree and place candles underneath it at midnight.

This year we did it a little earlier.

Prakesh handing out candles

Waiting with our candles

Kids excited (and cold)!

Placing candles

Burning dreams of Christmas

Kavita telling a story in Marathi

Then little Santa dropped by to delight the children.

Bhimrao all decked out

Distributing sweets

Christmas Day began with dancing.  I tell you, Indians know how to set up a killer sound system with floor speakers and an audio mixer.

Showing their moves

Dancing with verve seems to be a cultural stamp. Enthusiasm is not the only piece, but a penchant for storytelling, a flavor for drama that is

By |December 29th, 2010 |Categories: Savarsai |16 Comments

Find a Hotel with Hotel Calculator

I usually book accommodations through CouchSurfing or Hostel Bookers, so when I was asked to review a site called Hotel Calculator I was delighted.

See, my plan is to book a semi-swanky hotel after volunteering, treat myself to a few nights of pampering and an intense body scrubbing.  Trust, I will need it.

Hotel Calculator is hotel comparison website that grabs hotel prices from various reservation sites and merges them into a single source.

Instead of checking 15 different reservation sites, you can check one.  Not bad, I thought.  Let’s give this a twirl.

Layout

When I’m under the gun at an Internet café, I prefer simplicity when it comes to web surfing.  Hotel Calculator has a clear, white background and it’s easy to identify anything from the hotel search widget to their social networking icons.

Navigation

Once you’re ready to search, just type in the city you’re interested in or use the drop down menu to select by alphabetical order.

A neat option I liked is being able to visually see how many countries Hotel Calculator covers.  Scroll till you get here:

Then click “see all”.  A new window opens and a list appears with flag icons. For some stupid reason that delighted me.  The world at my fingertips?  Super cool.

Normally I type

By |December 27th, 2010 |Categories: Travel Tips |4 Comments
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Christmas Came Early to India!

With so many religions swimming around India like Hinduism, Muslim and Buddhism one could assume Christianity is a small percentage.  Wrong!  In fact, there are 24 million Christians in India and it is the third largest religion here.

At Child Haven, all the children’s religions are respected and Christmas Day is celebrated with fanfare.

Thanks to a Mumbai based epilepsy centre Santa made an early appearance!  The kids were over the moon.

Santa resting his sore North Pole feet

He adapts to the environment

Getting ready to hand out gifts

And a gift goes to Saraswati

Mahesh, from the epilepsy centre assisted Santa

Christmas loot, snacks!

Chocolate and a plastic Santa. Does this guy know how to brand or what?

Priya checking out her booty

Merry Christmas, everyone!

That includes from me.  Have a great holiday!

Welcome, Auntie Jeannie

You might have a singular vision of volunteer work overseas.

Some sanctimonious fantasy that you are going to swoop in with your Western ideals of equality and love for all God’s children. And gosh darnit, I’m going to be the one who will affect change, bring hope.

That’s what I believed.  At first.

In truth, I hated the first two weeks.

Don’t pat me on the head and chalk it up to culture shock.  I dived into eating with my right hand with gusto, relearned squat toilet etiquette from my first foray into Asia, and even adjusted to my bare feet touching where others have walked before.

It seemed I wasn’t so much fighting culture, but the elements.  Or purpose.

On my first official day all the kids gathered in front of me. I sat in a plastic patio chair as 42 pairs of eyes stared at me.  I stared back.

Then Suraj jumped up with a ukulele, launching into a song.  All the children joined in.

“We welcome you, we welcome you, you are welcome to Chiild Haaaven!!’

I clapped in delight, so charmed with my third world charges.

Garishma, very pretty, with chocolate skin and shining eyes approached with a silver tray.  A small candle burned on the tray alongside a pile of red powder and a finger bowl with a liquid resembling oil.  She dipped the end of her index finger in the bowl first to wet it, then dabbed a bit of red powder to create a paste.  I flinched with excitement as she bent down to press the substance to my forehead.

I just received my first tikka.  Blessings.

Secret Photos of India Police Station!

Strange as it may seem, I had to pay for a 1 year employment visa to volunteer with Child Haven.

Any foreigner with said visa must register at a designated office within 14 days of arrival or you could be detained when leaving India.

Most major cities have special registration offices, but since my location is rural, I had to do mine at the district police office in Alibag.

I risked life and limb to snap these photos, some were taken in a hurried state as my palms sweat not knowing what would happen if an officer noticed me clicking away.  On top of that, they had to pry my passport from my hands and held it for several hours.

In truth, they probably would have happily posed with me and offered me chai in the process!

Outside view of police compound:

A police scooter (?) with horse in background:

Close-up of horse.  Notice it’s not fenced in.  I kept wondering, do they ride it RCMP style?

Bit blurry, but you get the idea.  Out of all the rooms we were in I saw 2 women in uniform.  The clerical staff wear saris.  You can see they share one computer between them in the main reception area:

Prakesh at left in white shirt (assistant manager of Savarsai home) talking to a plain clothes policeman about my registration.  In total, we

By |December 13th, 2010 |Categories: Savarsai |30 Comments