Monday, November 26, 2007


Ian and I have been in Varanasi for the last two weeks. For those of you who may not be familiar with the city, it is right on the Ganges River and is considered a sacred pilgrimage site for Hindus, especially at the time of death. Our guide here has been a man named Rana Singh, and he has been taking us all over the place...The first night we went on a evening boat ride to see evening aarti (worship) along the river.It was beautiful to see the lamps lit on the banks and hear Sanskrit devotionals being sung. Along the river there are a series of steps, called ghats, that go down to the river. Each ghat is known for something particular, so the second day we went by boat to see all of the different ghats. We started very early in the morning, but ended up still being on the water in the heat of the day, so everyone ended up exhausted and dehydrated from the sun. Rana-ji has also shown us a number of Hindu temples in the area, and the day before last we went to Sarnath which is an important pilgrimage place for Buddhists. Needless to say we have been busy!! Though seeing all the temples has been interesting, I must say that Varanasi hasn't been as nice as I thought it would be; it isn't all that different from other places we have visited. But the students seem to like it, and when they are happy, I am happy. :)

As some of you may have heard, there were bomb blasts in the city of Varanasi a couple of days ago. It was far away from where we were staying and seemed to be an isolated incident, but we still had to take it very seriously. After many calls and emails to the States, the Consortium board decided that it was safe for us to continue the program...

We leave on Friday evening for Delhi which is another 20 hour journey by train. Our time in Delhi will be more free, and Ian and I hope to get some work done while we are there. Our students will also be giving presentations as well as finishing up some coursework. After the end of the semester, Ian and I will be taking care of some official paperwork business and then will be going home for 10 days. I can't wait!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Survived the Syracuse Students

Ian and I are back in Jaipur after parting ways with the Syracuse/Emory students. They were possibly the worst group of students I have EVER interacted with. They were whiny, selfish, and rude. They weren't even nice to each other!! Poor Ian got the brunt of their attitude, which made me even madder. It all started because we placed restrictions on where they could eat (for health reasons) and how much they could spend (budget reasons). They told us that we were not treating them like adults (read: not letting them get their way). So they just decided to make our lives hell which displayed their absolute immaturity. When we went to Bharatpur, they were extremely rude to people Ian knows from the previous times he has stayed there. Fortunately, the manager of the hotel realized that it was the students who were the problem so it won't reflect badly on Ian and I in the long run.

That being said, it was nice to be back in Bharatpur. We went to the bird sanctuary, and it is in pretty rough shape--very litte water, and very few birds. But people seemed to be talking about it which will be good for me when I get back there.

Ian and I are leaving on Monday for Varanasi (Banaras) and will be staying their with the New York students for about three weeks. I am excited to see the city though I have heard that it is very overwhelming. I am not sure about internet availablity there but I will try to write when I can...