LAND
OF THE
GODS

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Countdown to India

Namaste! It's hard to believe that in less than a week from today, I'll begin the first leg of my month-long journey to Kerala, India. ...


Off to Dubai

Before I left the house this morning, I posted a note above my stove. "Welcome home! What did you learn in India?" I posted the ...


From Dubai to Trivandrum

After 30 hours of continual traveling, we’ve made it to Trivandrum in Kerala. It’s also Wednesday here since we’re 11.5 hours ahead of Texas time. ...


Kerala gods are plenty

I now know why Kerala is thought to be the land of the gods. In Trivandrum, God and spirituality are everywhere. In every direction on ...


Ambassador of India, Texas

Yesterday, it hit me. I'm in India — as a Texas ambassador. We've been here three days now, and each day has challenged me physically, ...


Noisy India

I never noticed how quiet Victoria is until traveling to India. At all hours of the day and night, birds crow, cars honk, Asian wind ...


Bridging the cultural gap

While staying in Kerala, each member of the Group Study Exchange is hosted by a family. I’m staying with two attorneys, Leena and KG Baiju, ...


Did I really interview a guru?

Swami Brahma Sree Prakasananda I walked slowly down the dirt roads of the Sivagiri Temple compound, and my eyes began to water. “Did I just ...


Goodbye, Kollam

Saying goodbye is hard. But what do you say to a 12-year-old girl who greets you in the morning with a tearful, "Jenny, I'm leaving ...


Third stop: Kottayam

The sun is rising over Kottayam and I'm sitting on a rooftop terrace looking out into the gray. Hindu temples are singing songs of morning ...


His Holiness

Much preparation occurs when a group of American Rotarians are about to meet the supreme head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kottayam. Just ...


Orthodoxy and priests-to-be

Orthodox Christianity has always fascinated me. For Westerners, Christian orthodoxy – whether Greek, Indian or another branch – may not be as familiar as Roman ...


Almost halfway there

It's our last night in Kottaym and we'll be departing for Allepy tomorrow morning. We've been in Kerala about two weeks; we're halfway through the ...


We could learn a thing or two

In the past several weeks, we’ve visited many schools and made presentations before the students. Beyond the architecture and the lack of air conditioning, they ...


'Where at least I know I'm free'

The more time I spend in India, the more I notice the strong cultural differences between the United States and India. The food and environmental ...


14 days of kankles

There's nothing worse than being sick in a foreign country, especially when there's a language barrier. You don't know how to get to a doctor, ...


Falling off the wellness wagon

Yesterday was a bad day. I went to sleep the night before feeling healthy and on the path to recovery. I woke up in the ...


Prayers and healing

Since arriving in Kerala nearly three weeks ago, I’ve spent most of my mornings waking up to the sounds of temple prayers and chanting. It’s ...


Sleeping at the temples

After a family-style breakfast yesterday morning in Alleppey (of which I was restricted to two hard-boiled eggs and a piece of toast) we “made a ...


Riding elephants

I wasn't sure I wanted to do it again. Riding an elephant the first time was terrifying enough. And this time, I would have someone ...


Terrorism and juice boxes

We visited our first mosque today. Well, I should say that we visited the outside of a mosque today. When we arrived at the Old ...


Learning about leprosy

ADOOR — We arrived in Adoor yesterday, our last stop before heading back to Kerala’s capital, Trivandrum. Since we only had one day and night ...


Back where we started

TRIVANDRUM — Yesterday was one of the longest and busiest days we've experienced so far in Kerala. Our first program started about 9 a.m., and ...


Christians do yoga, too

I had an interesting conversation today regarding Christianity and yoga. I met an Indian Catholic who was formally an avid yoga participant. Until a few ...


I feel pretty

Indian women are beautiful. They’re sassy and blunt, and they love to tell you what to do. I find myself giving in to whatever they ...


Technical difficulties

TRIVANDRUM — I’ve always thought of India as the land where technology problems are solved. With so much American outsourcing to India, it’s common to ...


A thousand faces staring back at me

Yesterday was an important day for the Rotary Group Exchange Team. It was presentation day at the Kerala District 3211 state conference. We’ve been preparing ...


Back in the hospital, but at least there's HBO

Last night, after much discussion with my American doctor and members of Rotary, I was admitted to the hospital for further testing. Since arriving in ...


This patient will self-destruct in 30 seconds

TRIVANDRUM — I was supposed to be discharged from the hospital yesterday afternoon, but at the last minute doctors decided to move forward with additional ...


A message from Maharajah

I was finally released from the hospital yesterday, and it was nice to spend the day with my team again. We were scheduled to meet ...


This one time, in India, I met a king

When the birds crowed Wednesday morning and I was preparing for the day, there was no indication that my evening would be spent at a ...


Don't want to say goodbye

Today is my last full day in Trivandrum before traveling back to the United States. It's hard to believe that I'll be home Sunday, and ...


A few more hours of India

TRIVANDRUM — After three hours of shuffling luggage, paying baggage overage fees and watching security thoroughly pick through our carry-on luggage, my Rotary Group Study ...


God bless Texas

HOUSTON — I'm home. An hour ago, after 30 hours of traveling, the Rotary Group Study Exchange to Kerala, India, ended when our plane touched ...