E-mail From India...
I can’t believe that it is already time for me to leave India.

I will have to say that it is no secret that this country intimidated me prior to arriving. I had
heard the worst of stories. I had heard the best of stories. That alone pretty much sums this
country up – the land of complete contrasts…

I experienced some horrible hotel rooms. I experienced some fabulous hotel rooms.

I experienced seeing the extremely poor (mostly when driving en route from one city to
another). I experienced seeing the extremely rich (especially when I stayed at the JW
Marriott in Mumbai).

I experienced some horrible modes of transportation. I experienced some good modes of
transportation (let's face it…unless you're on the 'Palace on Wheels', I don't think there
really is a 'fabulous' mode of transportation out here).

I experienced some rude people (One kid started off very nice, wanting to shake hands, and
then not only expect rupees for this solicited opportunity, but asked for
dollars for it. When
I basically laughed at this request, he yelled at me that I was a bad person.). I experienced
some of the kindest, most gracious people.

I experienced times that challenged my patience. I experienced times that taught me

I experienced intense heat. I experienced torrential downpours (monsoons, to be
exact…which then lead to the floods in Rajasthan that I was caught in).

I experienced main roads filled with people, rickshaws, cows and every other animal
imaginable. I experienced roads with views of nothing but lush scenery for as far as the eye
could see.

I experienced at least five different types of horns blaring simultaneously in the towns and
cities. I experienced extreme silence in the mountains and backwaters.

I could go on and on but I will spare you. There are just so many things to be done out here
– and they don't all have to do with actual 'sightseeing'. I took an art class and drew my very
own elephant (though my lack of caring about perfection was driving my teacher a bit
nutso). I took a cooking class (where I got inspired to do an Indian-themed dinner party
when I get home). I took some yoga classes (where I learned some breathing techniques
that got me through some of the more trying times out here). I saw a Bollywood movie (I
became so obsessed with the soundtrack that I bought the CD
and downloaded the entire
thing on my itunes).

And, surprisingly, things went well for me this time around at the Russian Embassy.
Luckily, I dealt with the right person when I was there because the person I was
corresponding with over email from the that exact embassy sent me a message stating that
it was be impossible to obtain the visa with the information I had (printouts of the
attachments from my email vs. actual original documents). There was just one small snag
that sent me to the Aeroflot offices in Mumbai to change the dates of my Russia airline
tickets. Otherwise, I would have had to risk a Tom Hanks moment (in the movie 'The
Terminal') where I would be living in an airport for a little while.

Another thing that happened since my last email that I sent out was that I have officially
entered the ranks of being 'in my 30s'. I celebrated this milestone-birthday in the Maldives
at the Hilton resort. The only thing I regret was that I didn't plan a longer vacation out
there. I was silly and thought I was going to be bored if I spent more than just a few nights
there – I have never been so wrong. My actual birthday consisted of sunrise snorkeling
(where I saw a spotted eagle ray amongst many other big, colorful fish in bright blue waters
and dolphins), an afternoon cocktail in the underwater restaurant, a spa treatment, more
snorkeling right outside of my villa, afternoon tea, a cheese and wine pairing and then more
drinking (thanks again Kyla, Marc, Hayley and Owen!) and then some dancing. I was in a
deep funk when I had to board my flight to leave the island the next day but I am happy to
report that I have rebounded quite nicely.

After having a great time down in Southern India, it was time for me to go back to Delhi. I
was between a few options of where I would go but I knew that ten days of traveling around
in the intense heat was probably going to break me. Instead, on my last day in Southern
India, I booked a ticket to Nepal for the next day. I ended up spending a week out there and
could not have been happier about my decision. I did a mini-trek while I was out there that
began and ended in Pokhara. Sadly, the weather sucked so I never really got to see the
Himalayas. But the scenery was beautiful so I was not feeling sorry for myself at all.
Because I had to see
some mountains while I was out there, I booked a mountain flight that
went around Mt. Everest. Though it was very cloudy, that wouldn't stop a 29,000 foot
mountain from breaking through the surface. It was an excellent flight and I can at least
now say that I saw one of the things that makes Nepal 'Nepal '.  

Now I am getting ready to head into yet another completely foreign land. I am already
expecting things to not go as planned…as most people say is the case in Russia. My main
goal is to make someone out there crack a smile as they always seem to look so stern and

Whether I have known you all of my life or whether I have just recently met you on my
travels, I always enjoy hearing from those of you that send emails my way from time to
time. Even if I only have time to just respond with a few words, know that the emails always
bring a smile to my face. 