The India To-do List

I’m trying to keep straight what I need to get done and I have it written down in another document, but I think I’ll write it down here, too.  I’ll update this post frequently.  If anyone else thinks of something I need to do, let me know.

  • Get prescriptions filled
  • Make travel medicine kit, according to Dr. Olmstead’s advice.
  • Call my bank and credit card companies to a) let them know I’ll be using my cards out of the country and b) determine which one is going to be the best choice for India
  • Call Bank of America 48 hours before leaving (for whatever reason, that’s when they said they want to be notified.
  • Get traveler’s checks
  • Get new cell phone service (although I might just pick up a prepaid cell once I’m there; I’m still looking into this)
  • Organize documents that my family might need in my absence (Savannah’s health insurance info, bank info, where I’ll be staying and how they might contact me, passwords for some of my accounts, etc)
  • Send in application for traveler’s medical insurance (I already have it picked out, just have to apply and pay for it)  Bonus:  It’s super cheap! (ok, at least I think it is; I have no basis for comparison)
  • Buy a new camera and memory card
  • Buy Hindi phrasebook and possibly a guide book, too (anyone have one lying around?  I’ll take it) Got this done 6/21/10.  Also bought Lonely Planet’s India since I had a 40% off coupon for Borders.  The more I read, the more excited I am!
  • Get 2 more sets of passport photos
  • Pack once well in advance of leaving so I know it all fits
  • Get a Skype account
  • Buy a lot of little things I need

  1. Sleep sack
  2. Mosquito netting?
  3. Small quick-dry towel
  4. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap
  5. Shaving oil
  6. Hiking boots?
  7. aLokSak
  8. Sunscreen
  9. Tampons
  10. Power adapter
  11. Travel size toiletries and 3oz plastic bottles
  12. Travel Ziplock bag
  13. Toilet paper (Funny, right?  It was recommended in one of the books I have about India.  Apparently, it’s not necessarily readily available.  So what are you to wipe with?  Your left hand.  I do want to try a lot of the things that India has to offer, but some I can definitely do without.)
  14. Ear plugs and eye shade
  15. Rick Stevens bag and messenger bag?
  16. Something for water purification, but only if it’s not too big and expensive
  17. Hair ties
  18. Notebook
  19. Headlamp and batteries, once again if not too big and expensive

1 Month to a New World

I’m leaving for India in 4 weeks.  I almost can’t believe I’m making that statement, but it’s true.  The flight is booked.  I have approval for the time off from work.  And I’ve been trying to get all the little details settled, though it seemed like many things had to wait till this month to be dealt with.  The pressure is on now.  There’s so much to do, and really, considering everything else I have going on, there’s little time to do it in.  But I’ll get it done.  I’m rockin’ under pressure.  😀

Why India?

If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me that…  I keep trying to put into words why I want to go there.  It’s hard to say.  I’ve felt drawn there for some time now, probably ever since my first yoga class at UNM.  However, the exact reason for India’s appeal escapes me.

I do like a lot of what India is about; it seems to me it’s a very spiritual place and we’re lacking that here.  Oh sure, we have churches and all, but it seems to me that spirituality is lacking in day-to-day life.  From what I’ve read so far, spirituality is very tied into life in India.  I’m sure not everyone is like that there, but probably more so than here in this country.

I remember an interview I did with Dr. Vasant Lad when I did my internship at The Ayurvedic Institute.  I’m paraphrasing here, but basically he said he would go to India a few times a year to energize himself.  He told me how the people there, despite many of them being so poor, were happy.  Now you have to understand, back then I was 22 years young.  I hadn’t wrapped my head around the idea that stuff doesn’t make you happy.  So I just couldn’t understand why people would be happy if they were living in poverty.  I think I get it now though.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want to live in poverty, but I’ve come to realize that in buying things to try to make yourself happy, you’re really just trying to fill up this bottomless void in your life.  I spent many years trying to do that.  I would always feel like if I just bought this one more thing (whatever it was that week), I’d be happy.  I had the credit card debt to prove the depth of my conviction, too.

So here I am now, becoming a minimalist, happier than I’ve ever been.  Go figure.  And yet I still feel like something is missing.  Is it a spiritual lacking?  Possibly, and to tell you the truth, that’s what I’m thinking.  But it might be something else.  Maybe it’s simply a desire to be on my own (I’m 3 hours from my place of birth and my parents are a 5-minute drive from here; not a bad thing, but I’m definitely not on my own), to try something new and outside my comfort zone (doesn’t get much further outside my comfort zone than the other side of the planet), or maybe something else I haven’t yet considered.  Whatever it is, I’m hoping to get some clue of it in India.  And not to say I couldn’t figure it out here (it’s probably some internal thing going on), but figuring it out in India sounds a lot more intriguing to me.  Besides, how many times do I get to take off and explore the world?  For all I know, I only get this one life, so it’s time to starting living it.

Missin’ my baby…

The second question I’ve been getting asked – am I taking Savannah, my 3-year-old daughter, with me?  I considered it at one point.  Even though I’ve been apart from her for a month before, it wasn’t like we were on different continents.  It’s really hard to leave her for this long.  I already give her up for 3 days every week, and though I won’t lie and say it isn’t a nice break (as awesome as that kid is, she’s still a 3-year-old and a strong-willed one at that, and I’m still a single mom working 40 hours a week; it’s an exhausting combination some days), I also miss her like crazy.  She’s my angel!  And it was difficult last year when she came back from being on the road with her dad for a month.  He’s a good father, but we have some fundamental differences in how we raise Savannah, so when she comes home each week, I start all over again in getting her back on my schedule, on my way of doing things.  So you can imagine how amplified that will be after a month.  Luckily for us, I built in almost 2 weeks off work once I come back just so she and I can hang out.  Hopefully, that’ll be enough to get us both settled again.

So with all that, why don’t I just take her?  Two things: money and physical safety risks.  While it’s cheap once you’re in India, getting there is a different story.  My plane ticket was over $1300 (although it would have been cheaper if I had learned a few things from Chris Guillebeau sooner; I have 3 free domestic round-trip tickets coming my way when I get home).  That would have doubled with Savannah in tow.  As for physical safety, I was concerned both with the logistics of being a single woman alone in a foreign country and the risk of disease.  As incredible as I’m hoping India will be, it’s still a third world country and sanitation is not a top priority there.  Not exactly a good thing for a 3-year-old who can’t be trusted to keep her hands out of her mouth.  I’m hoping in a few more years, maybe when she’s 10, I can go back (if I like it this time, that is) and take her with me.  She’ll appreciate it more then anyway.  For now, she’ll be staying with her dad and having her own little adventure till I get back.

The Fear…

I’ve had  a lot of fear to contend with during the whole process of planning this trip.  I’ve been pretty proud of my reactions to it.  I’ll talk about that more in my next post.  For now, suffice it to say, there’s been a lot of stumbling blocks to get over and it’s been a huge learning curve for me.  I’m getting there, though.  And soon, in less than 28 days, I’ll be there.  I’m starting to believe it.  I’m going to India!  India, baby!  Whoo hoo!