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On the Road

Note: I am typing this update from my mobile phone so please excuse typos/sentences that don’t make sense. Also in the three minutes that I’ve been using it, I’m not too ‘gung ho’ on the WordPress iPhone app (it’s terrible – they basically put the website, as it is, into the app store) so don’t expect any pictures. I’m terribly sorry about this. I know most of you were looking forward to seeing photos of me – I promise to remedy this in a week when I’m home.

Great, lets begin.

My last weekend in Mumbeezy was incredible (I do have one more weekend in Mumbai but that will consist entirely of eating food that I will miss and packing). Things we did – day trip to Nashik the wine capital of India, celebrate Katie’s 30th birthday with flare and finally see a play at the Prithvi in Juhu.

First Nashik, which is about a three to four hour drive northeast of Mumbai – ok so Nashik is pretty (but growing up in California spoils a person). It’s has the optimal climate for growing grapes in India. There are a few popular vineyards in Nashik, two of which we visited. Sula is the most well known of the two, and in recent years has built a resort on their property. They also apparently host a music festival. Honestly where isn’t there a music fest these days? For 250INR you are able to get a tasting of six wines + a lovely tour. First comes the tour which lasted about five minutes and couldn’t have been more pathetic in terms of content. We basically looked at some tanks and were given a high level summary of the wine making process. Most of the vineyard was off limits for ‘hygenic reasons.’ Well, when Indians feel like they are being taken for a ride, you can be sure they will ask for their money back. What followed the tour then was what I like to call ‘Sula vs. the people.’ Basically a yelling match between a group of men and two Sula employees. Actually it was mostly one-sided yelling about how the tour was a waste of time and not worth a single rupee. I ended up backing away as it looked and felt as crowded and commotional as the trading floor at the NYSE. I can’t be sure but I would bet ‘the people’ won. Once the animation subsided it was tasting time. The wines weren’t bad actually but most of the wines were sweeter than average to adjust for the Indian palette. With each wine that was presented came a new lesson on how to taste wine, swirl your glass, etc. usually accompanied with a silly Hindi drinking joke. Random, hilarious and all around good times in Nashik.

Katie’s birthday was a hoot! – it included delicious dinner, a cake fight and retro night at Shiros.

The play I saw the next night at the Prithvi was entitled “Hamlet the Clown Prince.” Hilarious. It was basically about a clown troupe that was putting on a production of Hamlet and including their commentary. I wouldn’t have thought it possible but they really made Hamlet funny. I was thoroughly entertained and the space was as cute and cozy as advertised. Not a bad seat in the house. OH and Kalki Koechlin (sp?) was in it (the friend who got married in the movie YJHD) so that was a fun bonus.

Now I’m in Nepal and have spent the last three days exploring the Kathmandu Valley. Unfortunately because of monsoon it’s hard to get a clear view of the Himalayas but, also because of monsoon, the valleys are that much more green and lush. It’s idyllic. The temple and palace squares are really peaceful and the surroundings define beautiful.

I’m going to share a more detailed account of my Nepalese adventure when I have a keyboard and can add pictures. For now I’m off to Pokhara! Toodles.

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Do the (Kathman)DU

I have left a two week buffer at the end of my scheduled fellowship to travel. This has proven to be a tad difficult to properly plan for. In hindsight I should have planned a trip on my own, and invited others to join if they felt so inclined. Instead I focused more on finding a fun group of people who would want to travel in India, and then just figured I’d go with the flow. It seemed like the right strategy. India is seriously a fabulous country for travel – full of natural beauty, history and culture – that I really wasn’t too picky about where I went.

Initially it was easy (too easy) to find people to travel with. Many of the people that I’ve befriended in India are entrepreneurs or headed to business school (or both) thus there is some flexibility in schedules and a desire to travel. The initial plan was to do a two week trek in the Himalayan foothills in Uttarkhand starting with a drive from Rishikesh to Joshimath. The area is known for its stunning beauty (especially the Valley of Flowers which is especially striking during monsoon) and temples (these treks are frequented by many Hindu pilgrims). In a twist of fate, that exact region has been tragically affected by the monsoon rains and subsequent landslides. Below is a powerful photo (taken from a Reuters article) of the famous Lord Shiva statue in Rishikesh submerged in the flood waters:

Shiva

The casualty count, three weeks after the occurrence, is hovering around 15,000 and thousands more were stranded and moved to safer areas. Relief planning is still underway – sidenote: a good friend of mine will be helping with the relief and rebuilding effort in August once the rains subside (it turns out that a number of folks in the bschool/entrepreneur scene are working in social impact/development and are incredibly inspirational).

At this point however, our travel plans and group had fallen apart. Everyone has competing priorities, a different schedule, and we’ve all just met each other so no one is terribly accountable to one another. Ultimately I’ve opted to continue traveling in the Himalayan foothills, with my current roommate Katie, but in Nepal instead of India. Booked my tickets yesterday so it’s a real thing. Yay! Kathmandu Kitchen was my second favorite restaurant in Davis so this must be the right decision. I’m actually really excited about the way things ended up working out.

The past two weeks have otherwise been a bit of a whirlwind. Last week was actually my last week of work so I’ve had to cope with saying good-bye to a lot of people that I’m going to miss (I’m not great at this). I’ve also been checking a few last minute things off of my Mumbai to-do list; namely Jahangir Art Gallery and Cafe Madras (honestly Cafe Madras is on another level of deliciousness – BEST South Indian food in Mumbai). I’ll be turning in my laptop today (thus commences part 2 of my tech cleanse), and visiting with some family before heading to Nepal this weekend.

The adventure begins JULY 7th…