Monday, December 29, 2008

Outward Bound

Of all songs, I can't seem to get Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" out of my head- the lyrics of the chorus are all too fitting! "Here I go again on my own...(guitar riff), going down the only road I've ever known, like a drifter I was born to walk alone.."
I feel like that song needs to be playing in the JFK airport as I board the plane tomorrow, and needs to be playing once again when I arrive in Chennai a couple days from now. I've always wanted to create a soundtrack to my life: who knew that Whitesnake would be a part of that CD?
I'm writing from a hotel near the JFK airport right now. It's Sunday night, and Mom and I are resting up here before the early morning drop-off tomorrow. My flight leaves at 10:00 am, but have to arrive 3 hours early to meet the demands of international terminal logistics, etc.
Can't believe it's already been three weeks since I've been home! I suppose in some ways, the time flew by. On the other hand, it feels like months since I was last in Bali. The tan has faded, my sleep cycle has returned to almost-normal East coast time, and I was just starting to appreciate breaths of fresh, cold air. Alas, I knew that my brief stint in the states was just that: brief and temporary. I had such a good time seeing everyone (and I mean, EVERYONE!) I could have possibly seen from home. Being with the family over the holidays was great, and running into old high school friends was rather enjoyable (you never know what KHS reunions will entail). While it's hard to believe that tomorrow is "the day," I feel good and ready to get this show on the road, and see what India, Chennai, and my internship are all about!
Please read up while I'm gone, and find out how I survive my first couple days in the big city! Will I be able to navigate myself around without getting ripped off... manage to order a meal without having to look at some nice folks to celebrate the New Year with?
Wish me luck!!!
"In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors." - William Blake

Much love- K

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Live with Intention

It's cold and the snow is coming down hard right now in New Hampshire. The power is still out here at home, this marking the 8th day without it. Almost right after I arrived in the states a huge ice storm hit New England, forcing over a million people to lose their power. News reporters are saying it's the worst storm in New Hampshire's history. Things are slowly improving, with crews working round the clock to restore power to people's homes- but still not here! The latest report is that there are only 16 homes in West Chesterfield now that still have no power...and guess who's one of them! That's right, 295 Streeter Hill Rd. As much of an inconvenience as it is this time of year to not have power, I feel incredibly fortunate to have a generator. Loud and exhausting as it is to keep refilling with gas (thanks Dad!), we haven't actually had to move out to a shelter like so many other New England residents in search of heat and food.
Admittedly, I must confess that I initially found the situation to be quite ironic. Leaving the jungle in Bali, where power shortages are common (but rarely last more than a night), with the thought that I'd come home to a quaint, "same ol, same ol" life in NH. Just goes to show you that these things can happen anytime, anywhere, and do! All over the world.
It's ten days now and counting until I leave for India! Almost thankful to be completely snowed in today as it leaves me with time for thinking, planning, and preparing. I'm trying to immerse myself in all the research I can before I leave by frequenting India chat forums online, checking weather updates, and reading famous Indian novels. Currently I'm reading The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, a famous, award-winning novel set in Northern India. I know that, ultimately, I can only prepare myself so much for what I will find in Chennai before I leave. Still, though, it feels like the smart thing to do (and also satisfies my incessant curiosity) to do some preliminary research. - First thing on the agenda: find a place to stay for New Years! I'll be arriving the day before New Years Eve and won't be able to move into the dorms until January 1st. That means two days of wandering, exploring, and hopefully meeting some people to celebrate the new year with.
Ideas are always welcome!
Lastly, a huge THANK YOU to all of you supporting me and sending positive thoughts my way. No matter the solo travel, I never feel alone.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


It's the time of the season for SURPRISES. :)

Spontaneously, and somewhat impulsively, I purchased a one-way ticket back to the states just two weeks ago. Alas, I'm writing from home right now in frigid and dry New Hampshire! I can barely believe how much traveling I've done since Wednesday when I left Bali. I left a beautiful and sunny Bali for a bitter cold New England, but weather isn't the only thing that's different around here. Here's a list of some changes that I've noticed right off the bat...
1) Speed limits! I can't believe how slow everyone drives around here. I've gotten so used to cruising through the back roads of Bali, weaving in and out of cars on the motorbike. There's not a speed limit sign to be found in Bali, so there's a kind of go at your own risk attitude. Not to say this is the safest way to drive, but the 50 mph regulations on Rt. 9 for example (open, paved road where you can see hundreds of yards ahead of you) feel a little extreme.

2) Driving in general. I've been driving on the left-hand side of the road for the past few months- it's been a little confusing to turn right with such ease!

3) Big, Big, and BIGGER! Everything's bigger in the states! And I mean, everything. From the over-sized SUVs to the super-sized croissants, it all feels a little unnecessary. I mean honestly, road conditions throughout most of the states are far, far better than anything you'll come across throughout the back roads in Bali. So why all the extra horsepower and size? Seems like we could get by with much smaller, more manageable vehicles.
And about the croissants: that initial observation was one I discovered at the airport in Washington D.C. In search of a snack to consume during my layover to Hartford, I found a bakery that served all sorts of delicious pastry items. But the sizes were so enormous! The croissants were nearly 3x the size of any I had seen at bakeries in Ubud.

4)Paper products. I got used to carrying around a pack of tissues wherever I would go in preparation of none available at restaurants and bathrooms. In the U.S., though, there seems to be no shortage of paper products everywhere I go! And there's a particular paper product for each different thing: paper towels for wiping counters, toilet paper (for the obvious), paper napkins for wiping your mouth after dinner...the list goes on! I wonder if one paper product could be used for all of these things?

So yeah, while I could go on and on about the changes from Bali to life here in New England, I've chosen to select just a few.

Overall, it's been really nice relaxing the past couple days at home, building fires to keep myself warm and thinking my dogs look so healthy and clean! The number of stray dogs in Bali has gotten pretty out of control, far outnumbering the amount of dogs as domesticated "pets." The dogs left abandoned on the streets are about as gangly (word?) as they get, and absolutely filthy. Don't suppose they can help it though, their diet consists of what they find in the trash cans and leftover food scraps. - The dog situation is attempting to improve, though, with organizations like Bali Dogs established to encourage people to adopt strays.

These three weeks in New England are going to fly by- I can tell already. I leave just after Christmas on December 29th. I'll be flying out of JFK airport in NYC to Chennai on Etihad Airlines. Don't know much about the airline, but if any of you who read this have flown this Middle Eastern airline carrier before, let me know! They offered a much cheaper ticket than any other airline I saw so I had to choose it...just hoping the economy cabin is pleasant enough for a 15 or so hour flight.

I'll try to put more pics up soon from Thanksgiving, and more of final travels through Bali.

Take it easy :)