Monday, October 15, 2012

Musings from a Hindu Temple

Waking up at 6:30 in the morning to climb a hill and watch the sunrise from a small
Hindu temple at the top is something one must try at least in one’s life. The sheer bliss of being alone atop a hill with just the sun on your face and the sound of early morning cannot be matched. Especially in a place like India, which is a country not know for its quiet, lonely spots for there is always so loud racket to rattle your nerves or people all around you asking questions. Greetings from Mussoorie dear readers. Considered the “Queen of the Hills,” Mussoorie is one of the many hill stations that developed and flourished during the British times and nowadays is a mecca for vacationers wanting a break from the stifling, smoggy cities down below. I have come here for a week of R&R after a hectic month of my YSEL camp in the Punjab with 40 Afghans and a staff of 14 to manage. The camp was extremely successful, we had a great group of kids and my staff was super as usual. I always love to see the progress of our kids from when they arrive to when they leave. If I can get them to be open minded, use their critical
thinking skills, and have boys and girls work together successfully, then I am happy. And guess what? I am happy. You may wonder why I haven’t blogged in so long, mainly because I have been traveling and had literally no time to sit down and jot a few lines. I did start an entry on September 10th, my 48th birthday, to note my feelings of the day, but it concided with the first day of my camp so there was little time to write. Getting 40 Afghans on my birthday was quite a lovely gift and reaffirmed all the important work that means so much to me. August was very busy with most of it spent in Washington DC
running orientation programs for arriving students on the YES program, beginning their one-year exchange in the US. At the end of August I was off to Afghanistan for a week to run a follow up workshop for my students from the last camp, and then on to India for YSEL4. That should bring us up to date. Seems the last month has gone by in a blur and flurry of activity as camp always does. Now I get a week’s reprieve before heading off to Ethiopia to start working on a new YSEL program for Ethiopia. After that I get 5 glorious days in Paris and Brussels with good old friends from my Russia days. Seeing each other after so many years will be stupendous, I can’t wait!
One of the highlights I’m looking forward to will be seeing Versailles. I’ve been to Paris numerous times and never did make it to Versailles. Finally I get to, and in autumn, which is the time I’ve always wanted to visit. The solitude and serenity of the morning is gone with trucks roaring past my hotel, blaring horns, dogs barking and people talking as they make their way to school, work or wherever they may be going. In between the horns and engines, I can hear the gentle sound of the street sweepers branch broom as it sweeps the leaves and litter from the road. Quiet doesn’t last long here, but I embraced the small sliver of time I had it.