I haven’t blogged much since the first two days of my trip, and I’m already flying to Barcelona now after 2.5 weeks in india, but I’ve been keeping so many things in mind about my journey that I want to share. I’ve barely had the time or energy to sit down and type out full blog posts, but I’m going to be sharing these blogs in time lapse, using the notes I’ve kept in my phone, notebook, and the emails I’ve written to loved ones over the last two weeks.
I realized many people don’t know that two years ago, I shaved my head and spent roughly 2.5 months in India (my first time in my home country for a while) (shaving my head is also slightly irrelevant but I looked funny).
Roughly two months of that time was spent in a village called Mankaiya, which is about 30km out of Varanasi City. I learned incredible things about rural life in India during this time, adjusted to living in fields of 115 degree weather with no electricity or running water, and gained something of an understanding of Mankaiya’s problems. I started growing attached to the village, and I was lucky to have the opportunity to start a program there to support the education, nourishment, and social growth and development of a handful of children of an untouchable caste - known as the Mushaher tribe, named after their habit of eating rats (if that offers any sense of who they’re starting from).
Having family and relatives in India of all sorts of means, experiencing what I did in Mankaiya, trekking in the Himalayans and interacting with mountain villagers and the greener side of the country, among so many other things, made me fall in love with this country and it’s uncountable facets.
So I came back. To see more of this magical place, to view some of the same with lenses I’ve developed over the two years since I was last here, to see how I might be able to effect better change in Mankaiya, to remember how big this world is.
On a whim (and with a sweet airfare deal :), I chose to include in my itinerary a very different part of the world which would naturally face me with entirely distinct experiences: Western Europe. I’ve found myself there twice in my life, on a tour with my family in 2003 and on a school trip to Spain in 2009, but both were guided and constrained. This trip is more freeflowing, albeit short. I don’t know what I’ll find in Barcelona, Sevilla, Paris, or Dublin, but I’m looking forward to smiling at it all.
So this month, I’m sure I’ll see a lot, think a lot, feel a lot. Where will I be? Here’s a breakdown of the itinerary with a brief on my intentions:
May 15 to May 18: Mumbai
Staying with my mama (mom’s brother)
May 18 to 19: Varanasi City
Staying with Raj uncle, a friend and past business partner of my dad, to
May 20 to 24: some mixture of Mankaiya, Kaithi - a village where Vallabh Bhai, the man that made my first journey in rural India possible two years ago, lives - and Lucknow (to visit another project I’ve been supporting)
This is to monitor the program we have worked on there, spend time with my village family, and get back in touch with the lifestyle there. Far too brief.
May 25 to 26: Calcutta
Lodging arrangements not set. Don’t know anyone that lives there, and don’t know much about the city besides the fact that it’s the second biggest in India.
May 27 to 29: Darjeeling
Lodging arrangements not set. I like tea (and apparently this is where the world’s best black tea is grown), and I loved being in the mountains of India two years ago. Although there is no trek planned for this visit, I’m sure the visit will be special.
May 30 to 31: Back to Mumbai
Winding down at my mama’s house with family. No plans but to explore Mumbai by foot.
June 1 to 2: Barcelona
No plans, but hoping to have a chance to feel out the architecture and the rich artistic history of the area. The nightlife scene here should be stellar.
June 3 to 4: Sevilla
Visiting my friend Julia who has been studying abroad there all semester. She’s planning the itinerary. I’m planning on surprise.
June 5: another day in Barcelona
June 6 to 8: Paris
My friend Sajeeb is more familiar with France than I am. Very little clue on what to expect, but I hear the cafes and food are lovely.
June 9 to 12: Dublin
I’m really looking forward to the bar scene here, and I’m hoping to have time for a day hike or two in the hills. It’ll be a nice contrast with a lot of the urban life we will be eating up.
June 12th night: one last go at Barcelona before a morning flight to New York.