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2008 – A Year in Review, Chapter 5: It’s a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door

5 January 2009

Sorry I’m a bit late today. The door of my DeLorean froze shut, and it took me this long to get it open. But here I am, ready to speed away from the clock tower and into …

– The Summer of 2008 –

(And by “summer” I am referring to the American grade school summer, which I still use to mark the passing of the year. Just like how the new year actually starts in September.)

I spent a ridiculous amount of time in June to August of last year traveling and saw heaps of South and Southeast Asia as a result. However, since I started this blog at the end of May, I have already written a lot about what happened during these months. To lessen the risk of repeating myself ad nauseam, I’m going to liberally use pingbacks for those of you just tuning in, rather than rehashing too much old material here.

So, my first summer trip took place in mid-June. My friend Amy and I went to Bangalore, a strangely Westernized version of India that reminded me a bit of Devon Avenue in Chicago but without all the Orthodox Jews to the west. (Seriously. Drive down Devon on a Saturday afternoon, and you’ll see what I mean. I seriously adore Devon and its peaceful mixing of cultures.) This trip took me on my first Indian train ride, let me see two people I adore get engaged, and gave me a whole new meaning of what a safari can be. Hint = The animals were not so much “wild” as corralled behind fences and satiated by meat obviously delivered on silver platters by coolies.

A shot of our safari ride in Bangalore. While on our safari, the tour guide kept imploring us to be quiet so as not to scare the animals. He had to yell the warning over the rumbling of the pollution-spewing engine.

A shot of our safari ride in Bangalore. While on our safari, the tour guide kept imploring us to be quiet so as not to scare the animals. He had to yell the warning over the rumbling of the pollution-spewing engine.

Also in June, Amy, who was my first real friend in India, left for a six-week job in the Netherlands. Amy had been my companion both at work and at play, forcing me out of the house during those first two months, taking me shopping for my snazzy Indian garb so that the melting reduced, teaching me how to use autos and buses, and generally just showing me the city in her wonderful, quirky way. Thankfully, God had deposited a new friend for me in the form of Ana, making the loss of Amy’s proximity a little bit easier.

Speaking of Ana, I am a tad surprised she decided to become my friend in the first place, since she was one of the subjects of a huge cultural gaffe I made in June soon after she arrived. While walking down the hall at work, I happened to notice a male intern talking to Ana alone in an office. Hopped up on over-sugared Indian insta-coffee, I obviously forgot where I was and told a few of my co-workers that this intern was flirting with the new girl, thereby embarrassing myself and ruining Ana’s reputation at the same time. (Well, not really, but it was fun to be all dramatic about it for Ana’s benefit.) My co-worker M. would not let the matter drop and forced me to apologize to the non-flirting intern, though she did not want me to repeat what I had said lest I corrupt anyone else with filthy talk, so he was just confused and a bit embarrassed himself. Honestly, I think that coffee is laced with filter-eliminating crack. Or I will say anything for a laugh. Whichever.

In looking back through my pictures, I seem to have spent July 2008 engaged in the following three activities: attending a wedding, recovering from the wedding by riding public transportation in Singapore, and being really dramatic about my health. All of which have been blogged before.

More pictures of friends at the wedding. In case you can't tell which person I am, I'm the one hiding on the right there. I had to use that pic because it could quite possibly be the only one I have anywhere of H. (middle) with her eyes open. I swear she has camera-induced narcolepsy.

More pictures of friends at the wedding. In case you can't tell which person I am, I'm the one hiding on the right there. I had to use that pic because it could quite possibly be the only one I have anywhere of H. (middle) with her eyes open. I swear she has camera-induced narcolepsy.

August saw the Return of Mike and our trip to hunt panthers in the hill country. Yeah, we’re the sh**. Plus, we’re vampires.

I also attended an Indian engagement for an arranged marriage of a co-worker. (I have some thoughts on the whole arranged marriage thing, but I’m saving that for later. I know, the suspense is killing you!). This engagement was a rather fancy affair, where the families traded gifts and we got to eat a large Indian meal afterward. Yum.

Most of the ceremony was in Tamil, so I wasn’t terribly sure what was going on. Thankfully, my sari guru, P., interpreted for us with her own wonderfully snarky spin. Just another reason P. is the height of awesomeness. The most interesting bit for me involved the parents of the groom giving the parents of the bride a fancy-shmancy sari, which the bride’s mother would take with her as she left the room with the bride and some other female relatives. Apparently, if the bride returns wearing the sari, her family has officially accepted the marriage proposal. I asked P. what would happen if the bride refused to wear the sari, and she looked at me like I had grown a third eye (and not a yogic third eye, but a real third eye with a creepy staring habit). I guess that just doesn’t happen. Needless to say, the bride did return wearing the sari – and I learned later that she actually picked it out and put it on hold at the shop for the groom’s family to swoop in and buy it. Sneaky.

Finally, at the end of August, I left India on my own to see Thailand. On this trip, I witnessed the beginning of those protests and airport closings that affected friends’ travels only a couple months later.

Also in August, I went sari shopping with friends in T. Nagar (a neighborhood in Chennai). As soon as we stepped off the train, the crowds surrounded us and swept us toward the shops. I wanted to include this picture because this is what I think many Westerners expect India to be, as did I before I went there, all crowded streets and colors. Honestly, this day overwhelmed me because this may have been the first time I experienced the India I always expected.

Also in August, I went sari shopping with friends in T. Nagar (a neighborhood in Chennai). As soon as we stepped off the train, the crowds surrounded us and swept us toward the shops. I wanted to include this picture because this is what I think many Westerners expect India to be, as did I before I went there, all crowded streets and colors. Honestly, this day overwhelmed me because this may have been the first time I experienced the India I always expected.

Tomorrow: Chapter 6: All Things Must Come to an End

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One Comment leave one →
  1. definitely not ana permalink
    7 January 2009 3:30 am

    Wow, you’re friend ana must be REALLY forgiving. Though with her infernal perkiness she sounds pretty hot and sassy so it wouldn’t surprise me if boys did want to flirt with her.

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