My Indian Name

I wanted to write this post when I had the time to introduce the topic organically. However, it has

come to my intention through the most upsetting of ways, that I have to talk about this now.

 

Long, long ago, when I was still only dreaming of travel, I planned to travel Asia using a code

name. My traveller’s name would be Kai. It’s a beautiful name… And the idea behind it, was to

protect my identity as much as possible while travelling. There’s nothing wrong with people

knowing my real name, and I’m not ashamed of my name. I love my name! My father chose my

name well, when naming me.

 

Fast forward to these last few pre­marriage months.

 

After DN’s family accepted us and begin to plan our marriage, it came to my attention that many

family members could not pronounce my name. It didn’t bother me. I actually thought it was cute

when people pronounced my name as “Krish­tel”. And for the record, my family completely

butchered DN’s name. In fact, for a long time, I had been pronouncing it wrong myself. Eventually

I provided my family with DN’s nickname, to relieve the pressure to say it right and the

embarrassment when they didn’t.

 

As our wedding approached, I came to DN and said, “I was thinking about picking an Indian

name, so your family won’t struggle in pronouncing my name.” He said, “I was thinking the same

thing. If you think of a name, let me know.”

 

And so, I searched through name indexes every night. It became frustrating, and nothing seemed

right. I couldn’t pick a name too different than mine. I told DN I wanted it to start with the same

“Cr” sound, but I couldn’t find anything that felt right.

 

One day, DN sent me a message to let me know that his sister had thought of a name. He told me

it meant “creation” and everything seemed to stop. It seemed like a sign from God, as I named my

year (a tradition I do every New Year) “2015: The Year of Creation”. I asked him to tell me the

name, and when he did, it sounded like music to my ears. It was meant to be!

 

In some parts of India, the grooms family “renames” the bride. She receives a new first and last

name. In some cases, she inherits the first name of her husband as her name.

DN’s family does not participate in this tradition. No bride is made to change her name; they don’t

believe in that.

 

So what does it mean to have an Indian name? It means that those family members who cannot

pronounce my name, call me by my Indian name. I love it. It’s like an affectionate nickname.

 

So let’s be real: DN loves my name, he would never ask me to change it.

My legal name remains the same ­ I haven’t even legally changed my last name yet!

And let’s be clear: I will never change my first name ­ but there is nothing wrong in having an

Indian name. 😉

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." -- William Shakespeare -- Romeo & Juliet
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” — William Shakespeare — Romeo & Juliet

 

Letter in a Bottle: Missing An Old Friend

When you make big decisions in your life, and when you start to grow, you sometimes lose people along the way. Friends, acquaintances, and anyone that can no longer relate to you, support your growth, or understand you. Sometimes people naturally drift apart… But it doesn’t mean they aren’t friends. When people drift apart, they can still call each other from time to time, when life allows, and check in. It’s just… Those people that choose to end a friendship when they don’t understand you anymore, or because you can’t be everything they need you to be.

I’d like to tell you very honestly about my best friend. Yes, I still call her that… I guess it’s part habit, and part hope. Regardless of our odds, I’ve continued to call her my best friend… I digress…

We were friends for about 10 years. In middle school, I noticed her first, but was always too afraid to introduce myself. One day, my old friend introduced me to his new “girlfriend”, my soon-to-be best friend. The two ended up at odds themselves, and I stuck to her from then on. She was my partner in crime. She was the highlight of every dreadful day, for me.
Middle school was a bad time for me. There were a lot of complicated family problems going on, and bullies were brutal with their judgment and cruel words. Before her, I had no reason to stand out, or speak out. The more time I spent with her, the more I opened her up. She was quiet and reserved, also having no reason to stand up or stand out. When we met each other, we formed a bond stronger than any other friendship I’ve ever had (to this day).
We stood up for each other, protected each other. We found ways to cope with our personal problems… Humor. We made fun of our circumstances, and in turn, we made the other laugh. She was my ultimate joy.
As friends do, we rejected the rest of the world when we were with each other. We never followed the crowd, but we always stayed close to each other. We even became aggressive when our parents tried to keep us separated to keep our attitudes in check.

During high school, I left my school, for very personal reasons, and we were separated for a long time. I missed her so much. She became unwell without me, as I recall her telling me. She missed me, and she was really hurting because of it. She had many other things going on in her life after that. She fought for independence from her family, she followed her heart until it was broken… And I had my own life to manage, as well. When we met up again, she was in a committed relationship with the man she would later marry. I always liked him, because I knew he would take good care of her.
We reconnected, and at a pivotal time in my life, our friendship blossomed into something more than a friendship. More than sisterhood. More than love. We both realized how much we were meant to be in each other’s lives, despite being busy with our own lives. I tried my best to see her as often as I could, but I was also balancing my own drama, and doing my best to stay above water. I wanted to spend all my time with her, but I had to work, I didn’t have much money for gas to go anywhere (when I had a car) and I was also busy following my own heart. We settled for seeing each other as often as we could, which may have been once or twice every month.

She did most of the work. I don’t want to give any excuses, but it’s because I didn’t have the means to give more and do more at that time in my life. She had a lot more privilege than me, though at that time, neither of us had any concept of “privilege”. Her parents gave her their old car, I had to buy my first car from my parents. Her dad landed her the first job she ever had, I had to find my own work. She had her future husband to help support their means of living, and I had trouble even paying my bills. Not to mention the drama weaving in and out of my life – both things within my control, and outside of my control. She had the means, and so, she always met me. She always picked me up, fed me, let me stay with her from time-to-time. She footed the bill when I was too broke to go out with her. She was there for me.

I wasn’t always fair to her. I got frustrated with life. Cold, and distant. Maybe I had been mean to her. I don’t like to think about it.
Did she ever get tired of supporting me? Did she ever get frustrated that I couldn’t meet her half way, most of the time? Let alone go above and beyond for her..?

We had ups and downs. Ins and outs.
There were times she was angry with me. Times I was frustrated with her. Times we couldn’t talk because I was so absorbed in my personal life, that I didn’t make time for her. She had gone off on me, stopped speaking to me a few times. We had a few fights…

When I started piecing my life back together, after losing my job and leaving my ugly peach house, she was there to support me. Her arms were wide open. A fallout with family left me with no place to stay, and she opened her doors to me. She gave me a place to stay while I went to school and worked for my family’s business. At that time, I was in a dark place. Despite having done everything she could to distract me and keep me happy, the happiness faded quickly, and I was soon lost in my own darkness.

One time, she must have heard me crying.
I was staying on a couch in her attic. I cried almost every night, because I was truly at a loss with life. Nothing made sense. I couldn’t see my path.
She must have heard me crying… because she came up the stairs. In a panic, I quickly wiped away my tears… But I knew she knew. She offered to go somewhere the next morning, and I was happy she did. I loved doing anything with her. She left, after asking me if I was okay. (I didn’t want to make her feel hopeless, as if she couldn’t make me happy. I told her I was okay.)

That night I had a dream of Lord Ganesha, and the next day, it was revealed to me that I would have the chance to go to India. I was so excited! But I was scared to tell her…

She never took shocking news well, and the idea of her best friend being that far away from her would be… crushing. Just days before, we had several conversations about our plans in life, and how we always wanted to stay close to each other. She told me she wanted to have kids, but she wasn’t sure if she was ready, and she was scared. She knew her husband would help her, but she wanted me to help her as well. This was our way of making plans to stay together, in her settled life.

Though we had always both dreamed of travelling… It meant more to me, than it did to her.

She was a successful woman. She had a good job, her husband had a good job. They married early in her life, they bought a house. They were frugal, and preferred nights in the home, watching their favorite shows together. They were settling down… Just as I learned my destiny was far away from home.

I had to tell her. I was scared, because I knew she would be hurt. But the last time I had kept something from her, it really hurt her. I took the  responsibility and told her I was leaving for India.

She was shocked. I could physically see the hurt and disappointment in her body language. At this time, the trip was supposed to last for six months, then I would return home. Even the thought of being apart for six months hurt her…
Our conversations became sparse, as we both suffered her agony. I was miserable not because I would be away from her. I mean, I was sad, but I knew everything would be okay… No… I was miserable because she was extremely hurt. I reacted to her pain with wallowing, and an argument took place.

I left her home, and stayed with my sister until it was time to leave for India.

Just before I left, I made peace with her. I reassured her. I thought… To this day, I guess I really don’t know if I ever made her feel better, or if she recovered from that.
I understand her pain. Our connection, our plans, and suddenly I shook her world up to follow my heart – a habit that has landed me in some pretty dark places in life.

I couldn’t help it.. I had to follow my heart. I knew it was my destiny.

When I was in India, we talked, but I was very busy exploring India and culture. Internet speed was incredibly slow. I talked to her when I could.
Then I entered into my relationship with DN. I was excited to tell her about it…
When I went to Delhi, me and DN spent our days working (night time in the US), and our nights we mostly spent together exploring a new place. A temple, a restaurant, or a historic site. I was dizzy trying to understand culture, and exhausted from my adventures and the heat. I also became incredibly sick in Delhi, due to a gallstone (I later learned). The next time I messaged her, she never replied. I spent the next few days, and maybe weeks writing to her. And while she saw my messages, but never replied.

It sank in, that maybe she was upset we didn’t talk much. She could clearly see I was online and replying to a few other people, but not her. At the time, I replied when I could, to my sister, my mom, and to her. I knew deep down that she was hurt at my lack of response, and maybe even scared of and hurt by my relationship with DN. Maybe she thought I was crazy to become involved with someone I just met not long ago? Maybe she didn’t trust my judgment anymore, or she didn’t understand me? Maybe my reality threatened hers? Maybe she realized that if DN and I stayed together, I’d be half way across the world, and our dreams of staying together would never come to fruition.

After a few weeks, I unfriended her on facebook. I was also hurt by her lack of response. Maybe it seems petty, but my life was swirling with positive change. I was busy, but I wasn’t trying to ignore her. Her lack of response seemed very intentional.  I was swimming in culture, embracing my fate, dealing with my own frustrations, falling more and more in love with DN, and trying to figure out my next step. I thought we would work it out, eventually, but after I unfriended her, she blocked me immediately.

I haven’t spoken to her since.
It’s been over a year.

I constantly think about finding a way to message her, but then I think… Maybe it’s not time yet. Maybe we both need to grow a little more. Or maybe it won’t be time for a long time. Or maybe she never wants to be friends again. I can’t ignore that possibility.
And if we enter each other’s lives again, will I be able to be there for her? Will I be a good enough friend to her? Will she understand my life, what I want, and my new dreams? Could I give to her the way she has given to me? And the answer is… No

The truth is, I can’t be a good friend to anyone right now. I’m still trying my best to work hard for my dreams, be a good wife, and maintain my own personal happiness in the process. I’m trying to manage the present and build the future at the same time.

I’ve changed and grown so much, it’s really incredible. But would she like me now? Relate to me now? Probably not… Could I give her the attention she wants, needs, and deserves from a friend? No… I have a hard time even getting back with my mom, when she messages.

And maybe it’s best that way. It seems selfish to want someone in your life when you know you can’t make time for them. Part of me doesn’t want to even try, until I’m more successful in accomplishing my dreams. I’m very focused on being a wife as well as working. It’s time consuming. Maybe one day, when the hard work pays off, the time will be right. When I can give as much as she has given. I don’t know…

But she is part of my soul family. There won’t be a day that passes, that I don’t think about her. There won’t be a day where I love her less – even if we never speak again. I mourn my loss… But I hope she’s happy, whatever she is doing. I’ll always think of her as my best friend, even if that title is currently inactive. She’s my Laotong… And it’s such a shame we had to go our separate ways.

But here’s to hoping for the best futures for us both, and hoping we’re in each other’s.

The Itinerary – Part 2

I’ve thought about writing this post for a long time now but it’s been a struggle. It seemed like such an easy task to write about our adventures to India, and to report all that I saw and experienced while I was there. As simple as it seemed, I got lost along the way. Everything started moving along quickly, the words didn’t just get misplaced, they became complicated and extremely personal. Then I got sick. I have a lot to catch you up on, so let me get started. Hopefully by the end of ‘The Itinerary’, both to and from India, you will understand why it’s taken me so long. I hope you enjoy the read. — Mom

We left off at our arrival in Munich, Germany, correct? Yes. Once exiting the plane, we both immediately noticed how large, clean, and quiet this airport was. I mean really, really quiet. For a long while there weren’t even any announcements over the intercom. I think the entire time we were there we heard two, and the voice of the individual speaking was really mellow and calm. Despite it being quiet though, this airport felt more like a mall than an airport because of all of the fancy shops and eateries. To me, fancy shops are the likes of these: Gucci, Hugo Boss, Emporio Armani, Victoria’s Secret, M.A.C. Cosmetics, and Burberry/Ralph Lauren. Food places like Bistro Organic, Pano, and Weiner’s – Der Kaffe. The little eateries were cute because they were decorated so nicely. One place, Selmans Restaurant & Bar, was all pink and purple – the lighting, the chairs the miniature walls. I was taken back to a memory of Crystal’s sister, Mehgan, when she was a little girl. This would have been how she would have loved to have her room decorated – all pink and purple. Anyway, as we were walking, I was paying attention to what each one had to offer because I knew a sandwich would be in order. My brother encouraged me to find some brats. He said brats in Germany were an absolute must! To be honest, water was my number one priority, coffee #2, and then I would love to try a German brat.

Selmans
Selmans Restaurant & Bar at the Munich, Germany Airport
Weiners
Weiner’s – Der Kaffe at the Munich, Germany Airport

The walking seemed to never end, but everything we saw was so interesting. I really did feel like a bonafide tourist. We came across an overhead sign for a prayer and meditation room. We both were wowed. It seemed to fit right in with the peaceful vibe the whole place had going on. Passing it by and not going in to look, meditate or pray became one of my regrets. I should have looked, but my feet were sore and I was running out of energy. I just wanted to get to where we were going. Next, we came across a red piano sitting alone in the middle of the airport, right by the place I would later go back to buy our food and water from. Next to the piano was a sign that simply read: “Play Me”. No one was on it at the time we walked by, but during our stay, a few people got on and played some very beautiful music. People all around would stop and listen and take pictures. I know that if I could play, I would have loved to have played for the people. We both fell in love with the concept. Venturing further down to find our gate, we happened upon an interesting little green area. There were signs on the outer wall of this little oasis that read, “sleep” and “relax”. Along those same walls with words were bar stools, a counter, and outlets for charging your items. Much to our surprise, inside this little place, they had sleeping pods – tiny, little quiet rooms for some sleep or alone time. Interesting. On the other side, but still inside of this area, was green, shag carpet, live plants, recliners, and a bookshelf full of books. It was just this whole little zen area right in the middle of the airport. It was awesome! We definitely wanted to partake in the relaxation process, but there were no recliners left. We found some chairs nearby in the direct and hot sunlight to rest our bones and charge our phones. I took some pictures out the windows on the other side of the airport. Where we are looks clean and green outside, at least what we can see of it. Ahhh Germany, we like you so far! What an amazing feeling I had! I was in another country! Finally!

Meditation and Prayer
Meditation and Prayer Room Sign at the Munich, Germany Airport
Red Piano
Just play a Steinway. The Red Piano at the Munich, Germany Airport. Also the Gucci Store.
Green Oasis
Sleep pods at the Munich, Germany Airport.
Green Area Bookshelf
The Relaxation Oasis at the Munich, Germany Airport
Outside the airport
Outside the Munich, Germany Airport

It didn’t take long for that sun to kick in and bring to our attention that we were dehydrated. One of us had to go back to the eateries and find some food and water. A bathroom, and a place to exchange currency had to be the priority though. I wanted Crystal to go, as she is much faster than I, but she wanted me to. As nervous and I was, I bit the bullet and set out on this adventure alone.

Dolls in window
German Dolls in a store window.

I found the restroom and currency exchange station right next to one another. Perfect. I was nervous and felt like such a foreigner. I didn’t know how much to exchange… So I just told the guy that. He asked what I was looking to purchase. I told him just water, coffee, and a sandwich – for two. He told me $50 USD, would do. I was taken aback. Did he just say $50 for two people to have their basic needs met? I said, “Fifty dollars?” I just had to make sure I heard him right. He said, “Yes.” WOW. Surprise #2 – So I don’t know where I have been but I thought Franks were used in Germany. Apparently it is the Euro. Haha. I laughed at myself inside because I really had no idea and I wondered how long it had been that way. So with this fifty dollars in euros, I was off to find some lunch. The first place I ran across that carried water, coffee and sandwiches was the winner. Pano was the name of the little joint. It didn’t have brats but it had “hot franks” on the menu. I thought, well, that will be close, right? It was definitely interesting, to say the least. You must see the picture. It was a linked frank. It came with a semi-hard piece of brown bread. I really wasn’t exactly sure what to do with that… So I did the best I could. I got Crystal a veggie sandwich and we each got water and coffee. Out of $50, I had 5 euros left. That’s $5.50 USD. On this whole trip there were only two places that didn’t seem overly expensive even though they were in the airport. That was Starbucks in Chicago, because their prices were the same as at home, and a little smoothie shop in the Newark airport that I found on my way home. Everything else, CRAZY prices! Someone told me that Germany was just expensive period, but Australia is worse – their words, not mine.

Pano
PANO Brot & Kaffee in Munich, Germany Airport. There is a story behind that pinwheel!
Pano bag
Cute little Pano bags.
The hot frank
A perplexing frank.
Eating Franks
German franks do not come with instructions. Am I doing this right?

 

Water container
This water is packaged differently than what I’m used to.
Euro
All of the euros we have left after lunch.

We ate our little lunch and enjoyed our little coffees and then discovered our gate had been changed. Time to hustle to another part of the airport. My poor feet and knees. They were mad at me. Once we got to the right location, there was a huge, long line. We found out that the flight had been delayed because the computer system for United was down completely. We had to wait it out. Crystal volunteered to stand in the line while I sat down. Because of disabilities, I usually get to board first. I need extra time. Being that Crystal is my travel companion, she goes with me, because it just makes sense. They didn’t quite understand this in Germany. It was interesting to say the least, but they did let her through. Finally, after a delay at every airport, we were on our way to India!

 

 

My Indian Wedding

My mom kinda dropped the ball on writing for you guys. It was hard for her to do in India, I’ll give her that….

I want to tell you the story in full, and in chronological order… But that’s not always possible. Forgive me for not telling the stories as they happen. I get caught up between these monumental events. In fact… I never finished the story about Nepal, or returning to the US. I got busy with life and my wedding. So that’s the thing – we’re married! ♥ And it all happened so fast…

A few days before leaving the US, I was designing my wedding invitations. When I arrived, those designs were being printed. And the day and a half before my wedding, they were distributed.

It was all a blur of going shopping for suits, being measured for my saree – twice, choosing my earrings, selecting my choori (bridal bangles), having my mehndi (henna) done, being dolled up and just sitting and waiting to be picked up and taken to my wedding. WOW.

I didn’t even get to select the gifts for his family from my side due to a series of delays in my flight (part of the story you don’t know yet) and the gifts I had already brought from the US were in my luggage that was lost by the airline we traveled with. It was embarrassing for me, though everyone was very understanding, and felt sad that I lost my things.

Eventually, I was picked up and taken to my Indian family’s home. On the way, I saw DN dressed up in the front seat. He looked incredibly handsome in his wedding sherwani and sehra (wedding suit and decorative turban, also known as pagdi).

Long story short, this family gave me away at a ceremony called Kanyadaan, in my wedding, and in DN’s words they “more than adopted” me. Now they treat me as their daughter, and I treat them as my parents. It’s all very beautiful.

My Indian mom applying turmeric to my hands. This signifies that I am no longer single, and that I am not being entering my groom's family empty handed.
My Indian mom applying turmeric to my hands. This signifies that I am no longer single, and that I am not entering my groom’s family empty handed.

I stayed at their home with my mom as I waited to go to my wedding, and could hear the music playing from the wedding garden nearby. That was going to be my wedding, but guests were still arriving, and everything was being set up.

When it was time, they whisked me away. I entered the garden just after dark and was instructed to walk slowly so the cameras could properly take pictures and video. I  walked until I reached a room where I was then assembled. They applied bridal jewelry and kajal (eyeliner) as my mom watched, misty eyed.

American girl marry Indian boy

Before I knew what was happening, I was instructed to get up, leave the room, and was handed a handful of rice. I had no idea what to do, but they instructed me to throw it at my husband. Because I couldn’t understand them, I messed that up. We all had a good laugh.

I then waited in that room until it was time to walk to the stage to sit with my husband. After some time, we exchanged garlands – part of the process of marrying each other. The crowd of hundreds cheered. We were then interviewed by several news stations, and then sat on stage while everyone joined us to take pictures.

When it was time, I left the stage to sit with my mom and prepare for the Kanyadaan ceremony. We drank juice and talked a bit while we waited. My mom was overwhelmed and exhausted.

The Kanyadaan ceremony was quite beautiful, but that, and every ceremony following was long and confusing.

Touch the idol, touch the tree, sprinkle water, chant a phrase, offer money, and repeat three times. This is what each ceremony was like, and DN also had no idea what was going on, or what to expect. His cousin-brother (male cousin) was translating everything in English, but sometimes the panditji (Hindu priest) was speaking too quickly to keep up with.

He applied sindoor (a red powder also called kum kum) on my maang (hairline, center part), tied the mangalsutra (sacred wedding necklace, symbolizes marriage like a wedding ring) around my neck, and the panditji lit the mangal phere (the sacred fire) some time after that.

As we started walking around the fire, symbolizing uniting before God and the five elements, it started pouring rain.

All of the surrounding family jumped up. Some fled, and led my mom to the room to take shelter, and some stayed to help protect us and the fire from the rain. Like pillars in the Pantheon, each person held the top of the tent tightly, high above their heads. And it was successful! The rain never came in, and we finished walking around the fire with no problems. It was very symbolic, and we considered it a gift from God.

I said goodbye to my mom by the end of the night, and returned to my husband’s home as a new bride.

Upon entering his home, I kicked over a jar of rice, and then stepped in a basin of mahawar (a stain created with water, turmeric, and kum kum) and walked across the house.

alta north Indian bride traditions

I sat on a rug, my husband sat in a chair nearby. I struggled to learn the art of ghoonghat – covering my head and eyes with the pallu (loose end of the saree). I sat there as many women, young and old, piled in and sat around me. They sang throaty symbolic wedding songs and played the drums. I sat until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, and I informed my new cousin-sister (female cousin) that I was ready to sleep.

I was led to a room where I slept on the same bed as two children. Two other women were sleeping on the floor.

The following days were filled with ceremony after ceremony, and several more news interviews.

Read our story published in Bhaskar.com here. Warning, it’s in Hindi.

The Itinerary – Part 1

I’m going to India, despite my fear of flying. I mean, I just flew to California in December… but I was not excited by it, and had anxiety nearly the entire time. Landing was my favorite part because it meant we were finally on the ground. I am very partial to the ground. The things we do for our children, right? In December it was for my son whose band was one of only eight bands selected outside of California to march in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Being a senior in high school, it was his final big band trip. I couldn’t miss it. I wouldn’t miss it. I decided to bite the bullet and go even though a fear of flying has haunted me for over 20 years. As a matter of fact, the last time I had flown, I was coming back to Missouri from California with a 1 year old little girl, and very pregnant with Crystal.

Here I was again, facing a flight but this time it wasn’t quite as simple as a jump to Texas, then a little jump to California – no. It was half way around the world – the earth – the big blue ball – to a country I had never imagined visiting. My daughter is so very happy, so very in love, she is getting married. I found myself having discussions internally about how this was going to happen and I need to just find a way to be okay with flying – for her, for love. I got on the plane.

The first flight was about as scary as it could be. There was a lot of turbulence, the weather was unkind. Crystal got to see firsthand just how scared it really made me to fly. I think she was surprised, I don’t think she has ever seen my genuinely afraid of anything. She did her best to calm me, I was so proud of the brave woman she had become, and watching her comfort me made me see her more as a woman, and less as a little girl – although she will always be my little girl. I was thankful when we landed safely on the ground.

View from the window Chicago

The next flight was delayed upon departure due to weather. We sat on the tarmac for a couple of hours until finally the captain was told to taxi us back to the gate and deplane all of the passengers. The weather somewhere between Chicago and Newark was just too bad and they were grounding the flights going that direction. Some people were very angry, I, on the other hand, am very thankful that they care enough about people to not put them, their equipment, or their staff in a bad situation. What do you do when you are stuck and waiting is mandatory? You find a coffee shop, of course, and unwind with some smooth coffee and chocolate flavors. Even though this delay would lead to us missing our connecting flight out of the country and was possibly the beginning of a horrible downside to flying, we knew none of that in this moment. This moment was just for us, in a crowded airport, we being happy as larks to be on this epic adventure together. A few hours later, the weather lifted and we flew to Newark. The captain made the movie watching option free to all of his passengers for compensation for the delay. That was nice. I tried to invest in a movie but felt uncomfortable watching my initial selection with the people around me. It was a bit intense and I wasn’t sure if others would be uncomfortable with the content. I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. I was concerned about the possibility of turbulence. This flight ended up being perfectly smooth the entire way. I was beginning to feel better about flying.

starbucks in chicago

When we got to Newark, we had to find out what time we could get another flight out. We gathered our things and headed to a long line of people who were angry about missed flights. These people were being very rude and ugly to the customer service reps. They were demanding things and not getting what they were asking for like free hotel, etc. Again, we were upset to have missed our flight but we also appreciate not being put in a plane in an unsafe sky. We approached the customer service reps very differently and just asked when we could catch another flight. Their demeanor was very different to us, they apologized, let us know that our next flight wasn’t until 5pm the next day, and they gave us a free room at a nice hotel, and free food vouchers to eat there. We didn’t demand anything. Our family believes in grace and dignity, along with scruples, and let us not forget kindness. These customer service reps did not make the weather that caused the ATC to ground the flights which lead to missed connections.

Off to the hotel where we enjoyed late night pizza, hot showers, and soft beds. We slept for about 8 blissful, much needed hours, and then awoke to pack up and experience brunch at the restaurant. From there we called an Uber and ventured off the see that Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan Bridge, Ellis Island, and the New York City skyline. It was a great impromptu trip to Liberty Park. We aren’t the kind of people that just sit around and fret, worry or complain, no, we make the most of our given situation, and when you are 15 minutes from New York City, how can you not go see it? (Best idea ever, Crystal!!) So although we were delayed, it seemed like the Universe was giving us some very special mother/daughter bonding time.

Statue of Liberty

New York City Skyline

Newark at night

Low and behold, our flight at 5pm was delayed due to waiting for paperwork so we passed the time with conversation. This flight we were sitting across the aisle from one another. We flipped through the movies and finally found one that we would watch simultaneously once the plane leveled out from takeoff. I am not fond of takeoff and until the plane levels out, I am really uncomfortable. So after the awaited leveling, we began our movie. Once the movie was done, we napped… well, she napped while I listened to music and played games. It’s hard for me to relax in a moving vehicle. I made friends with a Russian lady sitting next to me who didn’t speak a lick of English. Before takeoff, she had shown me a piece of paper and a question in English on it – “May I use your cell phone to call my daughter?” The number was a U.S. number, so I dialed it and handed her the phone. She spoke briefly and then hung up, handing me the phone back with a smile and sincere “thank you”. During the six hours of flight I found out her name was Vera and she was going back to her home in Russia after visiting with her daughter and two granddaughters who live in the States. She showed me several pictures on her tablet. They were all beautiful, of course. I found a language learning game on the plane and chose Russian, of course. She giggled and helped while I fumbled through language learning games. The six hour flight seemed to go pretty fast. I think it would have gone faster if I could have slept, but it just wouldn’t happen. To me, the best part of flying is landing. We have arrived in Germany!

 

 

Taking a break from blogging… For my wedding!

Many of you did not know this… But not only am I preparing to return to India, I’m also preparing for my wedding! Everything is finally coming together, and I couldn’t be happier!

That being said, I won’t be online and writing for a few weeks, but I am going to have a special guest blogger… My mom! My mom will write for my blog, telling my story from her point of view, while I’m busy preparing to marry my true love.

Take care, and keep stopping by to see what my mom has to say about wedding preparations, her first experience in another country, and what she thinks of India!

Crystal

photo credit: IMG_5655-1 via photopin (license)

Lemon Face Scrub: Remove Blackheads – Get Glowing Skin

This is my favorite face scrub! It’s a gentle exfoliant, it dries out blemishes, reduces redness, and gives skin a beautiful glow!

What you need:

  • A Lemon
  • Baking Soda

Procedure

Put a spoon full of baking soda into a glass or ceramic bowl. Cut the lemon, and squeeze a little juice into the baking soda. Stir and squeeze more juice into the mixture if needed. You are going for a paste consistency.

When the paste is well mixed, scrub the mixture onto your face in a circular motion. Avoid your eyes – if this gets in your eyes, it’s going to hurt! You can leave it on for up to thirty minutes, as it may start to sting. Scrub a little harder in areas with pesky blackheads.

When you are ready to rinse, use warm water and circular motions to gently remove the face scrub. When you have rinsed the scrub off, splash your face with cool water to close your pores and pat your face dry with a clean towel.

If you love the results, let me know! I do this face scrub for myself, my mom, and my two brothers!

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photo credit: Lemon slices via photopin (license)

From India to Nepal – Part 7

This post is a continuation to a story. To read the last segment, click here.
To start from the beginning, click here.

Our next rest stop was a mountain-top, banquet-style restaurant serving traditional Nepali thaalis (A large plate of a variety of traditional Nepal food). The air was cold and crisp, and we were close enough to touch the stars. Our bus parked next to other Kathmandu-bound busses and we went inside. DN waited in line, and I found us a table. No tables were free, so we sat with a middle aged woman who sat alone and finished her food quickly.

At this point, we noticed a particular change in the style of food: Less spice and flavor, and almost no salt – an extreme contrast to Indian food, North or South. DN seemed to have a bit of a hard time with that, but once again, I enjoyed the spinach, and feasted on spinach and rice.

The rest of the drive had an “old familiar” feel to it. Like driving through your old hometown for the first time in years. The scent in the air had changed. Again, the smell was familiar and comforting…
After about two more hours of driving, we stopped in a parking lot, and people began to exit the bus. DN confirmed that we were (in fact) in Kathmandu, and we were in the exact neighborhood we needed to be in! The problem was: it was 2 a.m. and almost impossible to find a taxi.

After everyone left, I waited quietly with the bus driver and his assistant, while DN tried to find a taxi, with no luck. The bus driver was extremely helpful, and after a short time, the two of them had finally arranged a taxi. We rode with two other girls on our way to our hotel, the Shree Tibet Family Guest House

We drove up and down gravel hills in narrow alleyways until we reached our hotel. It was night time, so DN had to yell into the gate and try calling the hotel to let us in. We could have been better prepared in that way… But none the less, a boy came to the gate and let us in.
The entrance hall had a row of Tibetan prayer wheels leading to the main room and front desk. The hotel was quaint, colorful, and taking it all in filled me to the brim with excitement. We climbed the stairs to our no-frills rooms. The assistant gave me the room with the view, and stuck DN with the room that had a view of the stairway.

When the hotel assistant left, DN inspected my room, and we said goodnight to each other. DN left and I collapsed on my bed.

From India to Nepal – Part 6

This is a continuation of a story. To read the last part, click here.
To start at the beginning, click here.

On our way out of Sunauli, a group of military men stopped our bus again. I wasn’t frustrated, though some were, because our journey was finally making progress. Our bus was stopped on a dirt road, surrounded by luscious green fields sprinkled with huts. Farmers were busy, in the distance, finishing their day’s work.

Like a scene from a movie, the sun was setting, casting a golden-orange glow over everything. I gazed out the dirty bus window at a woman making her way through a field, towards the setting sun. Her daughter racing to catch up to her. Their hair swayed with the gentle breeze that made the tall grass surrounding them dance.

I was unable to snap a picture of the moment, as my camera could not see through the dirty window, and it was impossible to leave the bus at that time.
Moments later, we were on our way again.
A gentle fog began to settle over the farm fields, just before we made our way up the mountains. Our driver boasted about his driving abilities in good fun, as we navigated the curvy, winding roads.

He carried on talking, with an eager crowd listening, but I checked out and fell asleep.

When I woke up, everyone else was asleep, or close to it. The driver and his assistant were having a quiet conversation as the bus driver dodged cars and oncoming busses on the path up the mountain. I looked out the window and was both horrified and amazed at how close to the sky we were, and how far from the earth we were. I could see glistening lights of tiny villages, and a sparkling body of water below.

Looking in front of the bus was a mistake, because with the headlights, I could see that we were driving a rocky, narrow path, near the edge of the road, with no railing. I looked at DN who was resting peacefully, and felt suddenly calm.

From India to Nepal – Part 5

This post is a continuation to a story. To read the last segment, click here.
To start from the beginning, click here.

When we arrived in Sunauli, near the border between India and Nepal, our bus stopped, and military men came to the side of the bus to do a customs check.
Next, I was singled out and had to get off of the bus to get my stamp out of India and into Nepal. DN accompanied me, and we walked through Sunauli, across the India-Nepal border together.

It felt so symbolic. My heart filled as we walked across the border together. The Nepal flag was painted on a pillar near the other side, and every step closer felt like an accomplishment.
And there we were. ♥ Nepal.

Crossing Nepal Border

We exchanged some of our Indian rupees for Nepali rupees continued to the office to get my entry stamp. The bus met us on the other side of the border, in Nepal. We climbed back on, though we only traveled for two minutes before stopping again, at an old, tired rest top.

Nepal rest stop nawalaxmi

Our driver and his assistant left the bus to have a meeting with a few Nepali military men, and an official in a black turtle neck. I rested a while, as the meetings continued, before we finally found out we weren’t going anywhere for awhile. Riots were breaking out in Kathmandu, and the police were too busy with that to ensure our safety.

They decided we’d wait it out at the rest stop. We arrived at 7 a.m. and waited until nearly 5 p.m. By that time, I was exhausted but unable to rest comfortably in the seat of the bus. Until our departure, I did my best to pass the time. I stayed mostly outside, soaked up the sun, and cooed at a local street puppy.

Nepali Street Puppy

While waiting, we discovered a restaurant, had a conversation with a local Nepali man near a straw hut, discovered a small shrine, and DN snuck away from me to enjoy chai alone. 😉

Nepal Street Dog

shrine in nepal