Rules of the Road

Rules of the road:
1. There are no rules. NONE.
2. Rickshaws are not allowed on the expressway. Remember, there are no rules.
3. Rickshaws don’t have to pay tolls. EVER.
4. Buses want to kill you. They are highest on the totem pole.
5. Lane lines don’t mean a thing
6. There is no right of way. Every man for himself.
7. Horns are necessary. Every. Single. Minute.
8. There is no blind spot. Just look straight ahead.
9. No need for mirrors. Period.
10. Indicators/Blinks are a luxury. Hands waving work just as well.
11. Anything goes…cars, trucks, motor bikes, bicycles, rickshaws, camels, carts, cows, etc.
12. There are no rules. NONE.

Driving Lessons

We’ve made it through days of “training” with the help of our Rickshaw Guru, Dadhi. It’s been a whirlwind of lessons: how to put the right mix of gasoline and oil in the tank, where the spark plugs are, where the gear cables go, how to shift, accelerate and break, the “right” side of the road and the proper use of the horn among many, many others. We’ve gotten our horn upgraded to one that has 8 options. We’ve had a lesson on how to fix anything that goes wrong. We’ve been stared at, laughed at and applauded. And, I think we are ready.

I didn’t think so at the start of day one. I sat in the back while Kristine jumped in first. She drove, stalled, ran out of gas and then drove some more. She got the hang of it. I watched from the sidelines when Sacha stalled about 6 times and then I decided to jump in. She took us on a wild ride around the grounds and Kristine was convinced we were going to tip over( see Facebook video.) When it was my turn, I refused to get in the drivers seat. I was scared to death. Literally frozen with fear. It took a few minutes of cajoling, encouragement and sweet talking from Kristine and Sacha to finally convince me to try. I jumped in and all of the things I learned in my trike class came back to me. I didn’t stall straight off and I actually made it outside the front gate. We made it through the first day and we we’re actually ready and excited to do it again today!

All 3 of us were so much more comfortable today. Dadhi took us out in traffic right away. We got experience with pedestrians, cars, carts, cows, other rickshaws, dogs and motorbikes. We drove along the highway to get experience with trucks and cars coming at us (don’t worry mom, it was a very controlled environment). We drove around multiple round a bouts and down small streets. Not too many close calls, lots of curious and confused faces from our bystanders and some kilometers later, Dadhi thinks we are ready. So do I.

To get a good idea of what we are actually doing and for a few laughs, check out our Facebook page for many videos of the last 2 days.

Welocome to Varanasi

I’m currently sitting on the rooftop terrace of my hostel watching people relaxing, monkey’s climbing buildings and kites flying (there will be no less than 50 in my current lie of sight).  Facing the other direction is the Ganges, the undisputable epicentre of Varanasi.  As I’m writing this, its Christmas eve, and faced with the reality of once again seeing in another Christmas away from home, its refreshing to have to hustle and bustle of the Hostel staff busy arranging a Christmas party around me.  I actually might be in the way, but they are too polite to ask me to move!  From up here, Varanasi is magical.  I feel the serenity and chaotic peacefulness I expected to have in such a spiritual city.  Hindu Temples and Mosques sit side by side here, in a display of religious acceptance.  The call to prayer is happening from the Mosque by the river as I write this.  From the rooftop it is magical………then you hit the streets!

As a experienced female traveller, I’m well aware of scams and touts to which Varanasi has its fair share!  Its especially noticeable down by the river, where you cant walk, or even just stand to soak in the sights, without being approached in one way or another.  A guy walked up to me and quickly put a tika (which is the dot on the forehead) on me, then started doing a prayer.  He then expected a large payment for this and was very unhappy when I didn’t (and couldn’t) give him what he wanted.  This was actually a lovely thing to experience, but unfortunately leaving a slight sour taste as both of us left the interaction slightly irritated.

Call me a little silly, but I knowingly (and willingly) took up the service of a unlicensed guide to show me around.  I wanted to go to local places, places I wouldn’t have had a chance to go to otherwise.  In doing this, I did managed to visit mosques and temples I wouldn’t have otherwise.  I also saw parts of town where I was definitely the only tourist, and I revel in seeing people in their own environment.  This did actually work out for me, but definitely don’t quote me on recommending this way to go!!!  You need to know how to deal with them, how much to pay and what you want to see.  Even then, its not guaranteed.  My tout got me very close to the cremations at the Ganges, but he was then arrested.  Yes, arrested.  He was taken to the police station by the river for not being a licenced guide.  A little bit under the table negotiations and he got released.

They have a fantastic ceremony by the Ganges here every evening, with tourists, locals and pilgrims alike, going along and appreciating the ceremony or worshipping.  I was sitting next to a teenage boy who told me that they come every weekend from Delhi to it – at least I think that what he was telling me.  He asked if I was still going to be there next weekend and if we would see each other then.  He seemed genuinely disappointed that I wouldn’t be and I appreciated having a interaction with someone who didn’t appear to want anything other than my company.

Varanasi is a place like no other.  Magical, spiritual, captivating.  It is also touristic, poverty stricken and money hungry.  Not a trip for the first time traveller, but definitely a experience for those up to the challenge!

From the heart of the old town, Varanasi

Sacha

 

 

Books

A week from tonight, Kristine and I will be on our way to Delhi to meet up with Sacha. As I run last minute errands and agonize over what to actually pack and take with me, I’m trying to decide which book I want to take. It’s a tough decision. The book you choose to start on the plane has to be good. It has to keep your attention, but it can’t be too easy of a read. You want it to last the whole flight plus some. And it’s got to be one that your traveling companions want to read so you can trade books. It’s a tough choice!

I love to read, I always have. One of my favorite things about reading is that books can take you to places you’ve never been or back to places you loved. As with music, the title of a book can bring me back to the place I was when I read it. So, as I try to decide which book to read on the plane, I’ll share some of my favorites having to do with India, travel or something in between. I love to read, but I am by no means a critic so I’ll keep this simple, in no particular order:

1. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

I loved this book. I enjoyed reading about the stuggle between the son, born in America and his immigrant parents, from India. It was a struggle that I will never fully understand, but it being a struggle between a child and his parents is something everyone can identify with. She is a lovely writer and I would recommend her other books as well, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth.

2. Honeymoon with My Brother: A Memoir by Franz Wisner

This guy’s fiance calls off the wedding a few days before it’s supposed to take place so he and his brother go on his “honeymoon,” which turns into a new life for both of them. They quit their jobs and travel around the world for 2 years. It’s a great story of the relationship between him and his brother, what he learns about himself and what he learns about the world.

3. The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

I read this book after I visited the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) so it was so fun to be able to imagine what these women went through during WWII. The main character was a tour guide at the museum and ended up living there for a while during the war.

4. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I read this book after I had visited Vietnam. Having visited Ho Chi Minh City and crawling through the Chi Chi Tunnels, I was able to imagine a little bit of what these men went through during the war.

5. The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

This book gave me an insight into what life could be like for women and girls in India. The author did a great job of weaving two stories together, one of an American couple and one of an Indian couple.

6. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

This book weaves the history of Vlad the Impaler, Count Dracula and the story of 1970s professor and his 16 year old daughter in the quest for Vlad’s tomb. I read this book when I was traveling for 6 months after I had visited Dracula’s castle in Romania. It was fun reading the history, both factual and fictional, of some of the places I visited.

7. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

I read this book because I wanted to know where the happiest place on earth was and why. He writes about India and the yoga gurus, about Bhutan and the King making Gross National Happiness a national priority, about Qatar and the relationship between happiness and money, and several other places. I enjoyed the author’s stories and observations. The book is about, in the author’s words, “How place- in every aspect of the word -shapes us, defines us. Change your place, I believe, and you can change your life.”

There are so many more books I could tell you about. I hope you travel soon, by plane or by book. Either way, travel.

Jen

The Countdown is on…and Other Musings

When we started discussing the idea of doing the Rickshaw Run in late January and early February it couldn’t come fast enough. It felt like it was so far in the distance that we had all the time in the world to prepare. Now I wish we had a little more time. In 2 weeks I’ll fly to LA to meet Jen before we leave on Christmas Eve bound for Delhi. In that 2 week period I still have to work 8 12hr shifts, squeeze in last minute packing and an early Christmas celebration with my family. Time, it feels, is no longer a luxury.

The Rickshaw Run and fundraising events have sucked a lot of our time, but in between that time, life and its associated stresses have carried right along. I’ve had 2 big moves in the time we’ve been planning this trip. The last of those moves I’m still struggling to adjust to the benefit of being closer to my family and the loss of not being in close proximity to my important peeps south of the border. I’m struggling to adjust to a job which I find hugely satisfiying, but a flip-flopping schedule that is draining and a general annoyance of my life outside of work. I’m struggling to find a balance between the losses I feel about moving away from Seattle ie, my booming social life, the freshest bestest sushi, all the bars a city girl could dream of, Indie films out the ying yang, and the comfort of returning to my country of origin. Cumulatively, we’ve thrown 3 very successful fundraising events spanning our 3 countries and have raised some $4700 US for New Light India between our Crowdrise site and private donations to Village Volunteers. We’ve also raised nearly $1000 US for Cool Earth. This is so far beyond what we originally set out to do, and we are so very thankful to all of you who helped us and made donations.

We have managed to appear in a bunch of local papers in BC, and both Sacha and I had the fun and nerve-racking opportunity of appearing on our local radio stations. Jen had an article that she wrote appear in an online travel magazine and I had the pleasure of writing for them in an issue that will come out later this week. This same online magazine has asked us to write 2 more articles in their January and February issues. We half-assedly figured out twitter. Well at least we think we have, and we get new people following our adventure every day!! We also have had a mysterious journalist from an Indian paper write a few articles about us. While not exactly capturing our point of view, they prove to be quite a good/entertaining read none-the-less.

So what’s left for us to do you ask? Well…where to start really? We’ve got this huge task called “route planning” that I’m quite sure will be more of a minute by minute decision than an actual well laid plan. Jen has bought some maps, and cracked open an India Lonely Planet. I have looked up the start and end point on a map and that sums up my personal route planning. We have a first aid kit, and I plan on reviewing a bit of emergency first aid prior to leaving. We have looked into GPS and are confident that Jen’s phone should make this a possibility.

Then there’s the dreaded packing, which I like to leave until the very last minute so as to be forced to make quick decisions instead of more practical ones. A few years back when Jen and I went to Costa Rica for my 30th birthday we left packing until that night about an hour before our ride to the airport was scheduled to come get us. Its a wonder we had any matching outfits on that trip!! For this trip I’m hoping to be a little more organized!!

We are deciding about outfits for the kick-off party and for the start of the race. With very little convincing, Jen and Sacha agreed to hot-pink wigs. I guess if we’re driving a bright pink rickshaw already, whats a wig really?! We attempted to have T-shirts made, but apparently this is a complicated endeavor and our team logo has too many colours- so many colours in fact that we were likely going to be looking at $70 t-shirts a piece. Thankfully Jen has channeled her inner Martha Stewart and we’re making crafty iron on ones instead.

So that’s where we’re at. 2 weeks and counting down. Lengthy to-do lists. And I’m getting insanely excited for this adventure. I’m looking forward to my last shift at work before we leave just so I can say out loud that I won’t be back there for at least 11 weeks!!! India we’ll be seeing you very, very soon!!

Over and out.

Kristine

Change

I have 1 week left in Seattle, 2 weeks in Long Beach then I’m off to Delhi. These last few months have been a whirlwind of planning, buying supplies, organizing fundraisers, writing letters while still living my normal daily life of work, buying groceries, working out and hanging out with friends. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t really started to process what this leaving actually looks like, that I actually have to say goodbye to people. As I was packing up my house last weekend and as I spent time with family and friends this holiday weekend, I actually started to feel sad. I knew it would come sooner or later and now it is upon me.

I’ve never been very good with change. For a good portion of my life, I avoided it as much as I could or didn’t think about it until the last possible minute. The older I get and the more changes I go through, I acknowledge that that wasn’t the best approach. Being slammed with overwhelming sadness and emotion was awful! I think putting off dealing with change actually made it harder. It didn’t stop things from changing. Putting off dealing with the changes emotionally just made me an unfeeling zombie for the few weeks or months before the change and then an angry emotional wreck the minute things actually did change. These last few months I’ve been trying to be more intentional about thinking and processing the changes that are about to come. I have wanted to enjoy these last few months, to enjoy the anticipation of the trip, the preparation. This last month or so, I’ve been slowing processing the changes in my mind, but not really talking about it. I think it’s time to talk about it. The talking makes it real and what I need right now is for it to be real.

Change was pretty real as I walked out of my place for the last time (for a while anyway) last Sunday morning. I know it’s in good hands, but it’s still hard to just let it go. I had to take a deep breath as I walked out and remember that things can be replaced. I shouldn’t hold on so tight to them. And as I anticipate saying goodbye to my people, I realize that they are what I should be holding tight.

I’m feeling excited and so joyful to be going on this trip. The planning, the amount of support I’ve received, the places I’m going…I can’t wait! But at the same time I’m sad to be leaving my work friends, my workout partner, my Wednesday night Chocolati date, my volleyball people, my walking partner/thai food loving friend, my pregnant cousins and many more. It will be hard not to be able to call anyone in my family any time I want or to not be able to FaceTime my nephew every week.

As I anticipate leaving Seattle next weekend and Long Beach in 3 weeks, I guess the thing that I’m trying to accept is this dichotomy of sadness and excitement. This mourning of leaving people precious to me and the looking forward to meeting new people. I guess I’ve always believed that you can only really feel one thing at a time. You can’t be both happy and sad in the exact same moment. But I’ve been fooling myself. If I’m honest, I feel so many different things at the exact same moment all the time. And that is OK. That is life.

Jen

The Taj Mahal

So, everyone should have heard of the Taj Mahal before. It is one of the most famous structures in the world and a must see for those lucky enough to have a chance to visit India. As our website pictures show, each of us has already been to visit the Taj Mahal before and, from my perspective, it really is an amazing place.

The Taj Mahal is located in the city of Agra in the province of Utter Pradesh, which is around 200 kms (or 125 miles) from Delhi. The Taj Mahal was built as a testament of love. It was commissioned by Shah Jahan, who, after a bitter power struggle with his brothers, crowned himself the emperor of Agra. He was 14 when he met Arjumand Banu Begum, a Persian princess, and they married five years later in 1612. When she married, her name became Mumtaz Mahal. She was the third, and the most loved of the emperors wives. It is said that she was an inseparable companion of Shah Jahan, until her death while giving birth to their fourteenth child on June 17th 1631.

The grieving Shah, who had already had some impressive structures built during his reign, then commissioned the building of a spectacular mausoleum for his wife. The build started around 1632 and took nearly the next two decades. The use of over 20,000 labourers and around 1,000 elephants were needed to complete the build. The mausoleum was built with white marble that was sourced from Rajasthan in Inida, as well as more than 40 types of gems from many locations including Tibet, Baghdad, and Turkestan. The white marble that was used takes on a different colour with the different times of the day; from a pinkish colour in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden when lit by the moonlight.

The Taj Mahal is thought to be a high example of Mughal arcitecture, which combines Indian, Persian, and Islamic styles. Although at a distance it appears to be smooth, it is actually covered with intricate carvings and motifs. There are motifs of vegetative designs and other abstract patterns, as well as calligraphy from the Quran and Persian poetry.

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The architectural design of the Taj Mahal has the four sides being perfectly identical, creating a mirror image on each side. The central dome reaches a height of 240 feet (73 meters) and is surrounded be four smaller domes. There are four towers in each corner. The rest of the complex has a main gateway made of red sandstone and a large garden, divided into quarters by long pools of water. There is also a red sandstone mosque to the side of the Taj Mahal, and with that there is a mirror image of this on the other side. According to traditional Mughal building practices, there are no allowances for any alterations to be made to the complex in the future.

It is also alleged that Shah Jahan had the intention to build a mirror image of the Taj Mahal, but in black marble. This was going to be located on the other side of the Yamuna river, connecting the two by a bridge to be used as his own tomb.

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Whether or not this was his intention, Shah Jahan did not have the chance to do this. He was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb (his third son with Mumtaz Mahal) and lived out his days under house arrest in a tower at the red fort in Agra. From that tower he had a majestic view of the Taj Mahal. He died in 1666, and was buried next to his greatest love at the Taj Mahal.

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An amazing story of love, that developed a stunning and lasting structure.

Sacha

Safety Concerns for Women Travelers

By and far, the most popular response we hear in regards to our upcoming adventure is concerns for our safety. I have been told we are “crazy” or have a “death wish” numerous times, and been asked “what do your parents think?” more times than a 34 year old woman really should.  I’d like to dispel a few myths related to a woman’s safety in general, how it compares when traveling abroad and to calm members of our nervous audience!

Jen, Sacha and I have all been fortunate enough to rack up a fair bit of travel, and a good bulk of that has been in the developing world. All 3 of us have lived abroad, dealt with culture shock and lived in a culture that is vastly different than our home cultures. We are not naive to the issues we will be facing regarding language, poverty, or gender issues.

Some may call it naive, but I really feel our odds of being physically assaulted as 3 women traveling together through India are less than the odds I face of being a victim of violence in my regular non-traveling life. Here’s why:

Currently I live alone in the top floor of a relatively isolated house. There is a tenant that lives downstairs who would surely sleep through a bombing, much less me being attacked in the event that this were to happen. There are neighbours on either side, but they are too far away to likely hear something that might happen to me inside the house. There is an empty field across the street, and no street lights. There are motion detector lights outside of the house that only go off when you are directly under them. This means that when I leave the house to head to work I step outside into basically pitch darkness and wave my hands around like a lunatic until the motion light turns on so I can see enough to lock the door. As a woman, this scenario does not make me feel safe on many levels, and yet many women are presented with endless scenarios that ruffle their level of safety on a daily basis and they haven’t even left the comfort of their home country.Call me paranoid but when I come home I do a little “security sweep” of the house to make sure I have no unwanted visitors. In the past I have lived in apartments where I would wedge a chair under my bedroom door knob in the event of a break-in. I have an exit plan always. I also carry a rape whistle which I have only ever really needed to use once- thankfully against a pack of stray dogs in Burma, but hey, at least I know it works.

Men often given little regard to where they park, what times are safe to be walking alone, getting into a cab alone, or answering the door when you’re not expecting a visitor. Most women make decisions, daily, by taking their personal safety into consideration. Out of the 3 of us, one of us has been a victim of violence in her own home, in her home country. I have traveled to nearly 30 countries and felt that my safety was threatened the most while living in North America, and not while traveling abroad.

In Canada it is believed that 1 in 17 women is raped in her lifetime. 80% of these assaults happen in the victim’s home. In the US (where I spent a decade living) these statistics where even higher. In the US it is believed that 1 in 6 women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. These statistics are alarming, and anyone who thinks a woman’s safety is endangered more when she is traveling outside of western countries is clearly naive. It is also important to note that statistics regarding rape and sexual assaults are often under-reported so, in fact, they may be higher than this.

There are very few stats on tourists being assaulted while traveling in India. In the last year there has been significant media attention given to the gang-rape of a Swiss woman bicycling in rural India, a British tourist who jumped out of her hotel window to avoid being attacked and an American woman who was gang-raped while hitch-hiking alone. These are horrific stories and yet they are by no means isolated to India or traveling abroad. These events also happen in our own backyards. The more alarming issue facing India and specifically, women in India, is the issue of violence and rape for Indian women. These events are by far under-reported and it is believed that every 20 minutes a woman in India is raped. That’s 5 women in the time its taken me to write and edit this post (The treatment and issues facing Indian women is something I will touch on in another blog, at a later point).

So here’s what the US state department has to say on the matter: “Sexual Assault in India: Travelers should be aware that there have been reported cases of sexual assault, including rape, of U.S. citizens traveling throughout India. U.S. citizens, particularly women, are cautioned not to travel alone in India. Western women, especially those of African descent, continue to report incidents of verbal and physical harassment by groups of men. Known locally as “Eve-teasing,” these incidents of sexual harassment can be quite frightening. Sexual harassment can occur anytime or anywhere, but most frequently has happened in crowded areas such as in market places, train stations, buses, and public streets. The harassment can range from sexually suggestive or lewd comments to catcalls to outright groping. If you are a woman traveling in India, you are advised to respect local dress and customs. While reported incidences of sexual assault have been isolated, Indian authorities report rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India. Among large cities, Delhi experienced the highest number of crimes against women. Although most victims have been local residents, recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas underline the fact that foreign women are at risk and should exercise vigilance.”

“Eve-teasing?” Ever walked past a construction site and experienced “Cat-Calling?” Ever been to a concert where people were packed in and felt unwanted groping? Ever been out to a bar with friends and had your ass grabbed by a stranger? I’ve had the unfortunate displeasure of having all of these things happen numerous times on my own soil. Sadly, it appears than many of the issues facing western women traveling abroad are, in fact, the same issues western women face living in western countries.

So here is what we’re going to do to stay safe and be smart. We will be traveling together the entire time we are doing the Rickshaw Run. We won’t be parting ways and will essentially be tied to each other at the waist. We are intending not to drive at night, if we can at all help it. We will be scouting out safe places to stay and listening to our guts. I am well versed in the art of rape whistling, and we will have a practice session before we start the race. We have looked into taking pepper spray, but this is frowned on by airport security, and I think the chances of us using it on each other accidentally outweigh the benefit of smuggling it in our backpacks. We are going to pack a small police baton which I very much look forward to watching training videos of how best to use this (Click here to watch an Ah-mazing one!). We will likely limit our alcohol related shenanigans to stay as alert as possible. Lastly, and this is going to sound naive….we will focus on the fact that we believe that the majority of the world’s population is good.

Here’s to Safe Travels!!

Kristine

What I’ve Learned About Media and Fundraising…

The last couple weeks were super jam packed as I geared up to host a Kelowna area fundraiser this past weekend. The weeks leading up to the event were filled with media briefs, sending invitations to the various local area women’s groups, inviting friends, interviewing with local papers, being interviewed by am1150, a local radio station and securing donations for a silent auction at the fundraiser.

So here’s what I learned…hosting a fundraiser is A LOT of work. People are generally only interested in what they are interested in. If your cause or you personally aren’t important to them then they aren’t going to show. In my case my parents were able to extend invites to their neighbours and friends who made a great effort to come. I also was lucky enough to have a great group of local friends who made time to come to the event and support me and raise money for New Light India.

I approached local area businesses for donations to be used in a silent auction where all proceeds would go directly to New Light charity. In the Kelowna area there are many businesses ranging from wineries to restaurants that are owned by people of East Indian decent. I had just assumed that they would be on board with our fundraiser and donate to our cause. This was not the case. It brought up a lot of questions for me regarding why this might be, and the role of the caste system outside of India. I also emailed several women’s groups locally who had involvement with charities similar to New Light, or had been involved with events in the past involving the Half the Sky Movement. None replied to my formal invite to the fundraiser, but boy did I try!!!

While trying to secure more media attention I had an interesting interaction with an editor from a local online news agency who boldly informed me that 3 girls driving a rickshaw in India raising money for charity was, in fact, not a great story. He believed that since our sole purpose for doing the Rickshaw Run was not for charity then it really wasn’t much of a story, and then suggested that we support the Kelowna food bank instead of a charity based in India. Then they might cover it. This was super helpful information and I had to bite my tongue not to reply that “Sir, you are missing the point. We are 3 girls driving a rickshaw in India to support a Indian based charity that supports women. THAT, is the story.” But I didn’t. Instead I channeled my energy into bitching about it weeks later, and joking that I’m going to call this guy before I make any life decisions just to see if he thinks I’m on the right track.

So now to the fundraiser details…It was this past Saturday at Little Straw Vineyards from 4-7. Little Straw had arranged for attendees to have a wine tasting, a glass of wine and some Indian inspired appetizers. My side-kick Jen had flown up from Seattle and we ransacked my closet to find Indian appropriate attire. A few years ago in Delhi I bought an Indian printed tunic top that I had never worn up until this past weekend. Who knew that tunic top would make its debut at a charity fundraiser in support of Indian women?! We had just under 30 people attend: some old friends I’ve had for evs, some family, some friends and neighbours of my parents, some art contacts of my moms, and a lovely couple that had read about it online. I was really happy with how the event went off, and we couldn’t have done it any better!! When the event was over we ended up raising $835 for New Light!!! My original goal was to raise $500 and we far exceeded that!!

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So here are the numerous thanks yous to the hard working people that helped pull this off!! To my Mom- thank you for the numerous hours you put into getting media attention for the event. Thank you for emailing every contact you’ve ever had since the time email was invented. Thank you for your unwavering support and excitement for the event. And thank you for donating your artwork to the silent auction. To Pops- thanks for going door to door to all your neighbours even when Jehovah’s witness were competing on the street with you. Thanks for being my personal assistant and photo copying or scanning whatever I needed. Your computer skills are definitely coming along! Thanks for being the informal bouncer/ Walmart greeter/cashier for the fundraiser. You did a great job!

Thank you to Tina and Trevor at Little Straw for helping us pull off a very successful event, and donating a gift certificate to the winery for the silent auction! The food was great and the wine was superb!! I’m quite sure I could drink a couple bottles of “Tapestry” wine very easily. Thanks to Louise Adams who kindly donated art work and her beautiful art cards for the silent auction. Thanks again to Rollingdale Winery and La Cucina restaurant who donated gift certificates to the silent auction. Rest assured that they found good homes! Thanks to my dear friend Kelly’s husband Grant who was able to rally the troops and made sure people came to the event. I appreciated this immensely as I know what an obstacle crossing the bridge can be!! Thanks to my long time friend who has earned himself the nickname “No-show” over the years. “No-show,” thanks for showing!! Many thanks to Jen for flying up from Seattle to help with the event. And lastly, to Kirsten for taking photos of the event for Westside Weekly!!

For any of you who didn’t make it to the event but have a burning deep in your soul to help women and children in India….well good news, you still can by getting your credit card out and clicking here!!!

I’m looking very much forward to resuming my pre-fundraising life!!

Kristine (India bound in 6 weeks and counting….)

Kochi

Kochi, aka Cochin, is a seaside town, which is located around 10 degrees north of the equator. With a climate that is going to be slightly cooler, a high of around 25°C (77°F), it is going to be a great place to cross the finish line of the Rickshaw Run!!!

With the start coming ever closer, my mind starts to wander to the inevitably to-soon-to-arrive end of the Run.

Kochi has an extensive history, having been a major spice trading centre of the Arabian Sea from the 14th Century, it was occupied by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British before becoming a princely state.

With such a diverse history, it is probably not a surprise that a lot of the main things to visit in Kochi are Temples, Synagogues and Churches. The Pardesi Synagogue was built in 1568, but destroyed in 1662 by the Portuguese, only to be rebuilt again a couple of years later by the Dutch. This synagogue is apparently the only one of seven in the area that is still in use today. The Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple is around 25kms outside of the city and is a very old Hindu Temple dedicated to the Bhagavati form of the feminine Divine. A visit to the temple is said to “bring relief to them from the overburdening anguish and agonies of material life”. With apparently bad traffic and roads, and not a huge amount of non-Indians, this could be a great Temple to visit.

St Francis Church was built in 1503 and is believed to be India’s oldest European-built church. The history of the church reflects the colonial changes over the centuries. The church is located in the fort Kochi, which is a hive of things to see and do, like Chinese fishing nets, the only place outside of China they are found. Believed to have been introduced by the Chinese (from most of what I have read!) though there is some information stating they were introduced by the Portuguese…to me it seems a no-brainer, but stranger things have happened at sea! The fort Kochi beach – where the fishing nets are located – is apparently worth a stroll especially at sunset. With Vasco house, believed to be one of the oldest Portuguese houses in India and the Santa Cruz Basilica, built by the Portuguese in 1505, the Kochi Fort has plenty to fill in some time in Kochi.

For those who, like me, are in touch with their inner child, there is also the Wonderla Amusement Park! Always a fun way to pass a day. If I have a chance, I will definitely spend a day here!

Kochi has a lot more to see and do and if we end the run within a decent time, I will hopefully have a chance to see everything that Kochi has to offer before boarding the big bird in the sky and heading back to the real world!!!

It’s getting closer by the day,

Sacha