5,370 Miles (or How to Make Someone Else's Revolution All about Me)

Photo of praying hands superimposed on a Ukrainian flag.

I usually enjoy the sidelines. This is never as clear as during this week when Union College hosts our annual basketball tournament. I stand, sit and occasionally lay on the sidelines to get “the shot.”.

And yet, right now, I feel powerless and alone watching from sidelines 5,370 miles away from a revolution in Ukraine. I’ve cried several times today. Small things trigger these teary, bleary sessions. I didn’t meet a deadline at work today, and got choked up thinking, “That’s a great problem to have. At least no one is shooting at me.”

Prairie dogs: Chris and Kylie

We had a very quick photo shoot with friends this morning. Kylie wanted to get a good photo of her and Chris together before she goes back to Nepal. It was chilly. It was fun. And this happened.

Things to love about Nepal

Marigolds at the Peace Pagoda in Pokhara.

It's a rainy day here in Kathmandu, and unfortunately, there aren't a lot of sites to see indoors. In the West, Romans invented the concept of interior space. Before them, lives were largely lived out-of-doors with small shelters just for sleeping. You can see the difference by comparing a Greek temple with a Roman basilica (which were often converted pagan temples). The Greeks expected the people to stand outside, with only priests and some statues sheltered by a roof.

Here, that Roman innovation never caught on in religious architecture. There is very little room inside of pagodas and temples, and Buddhist stupas have no interior at all. That is my long-winded way of saying the interesting things to see here aren't terribly fun on a rainy day.

Fun fact about Nepal.

Photo of traffic at night in Thamel, Kathmandu.

At the Kathmandu airport, signs line the walkway from the international gates to customs with interesting tidbits about Nepal. They include things like, “Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha” and “Eight of the 14 8,000+ meter peaks in the world are in Nepal.” One of them stood out as being a bit different from the others. It read, “Nepali drivers love their horns.” It's quite true. The chaos of Kathmandu wouldn't be complete without constant, ubiquitous honking.

Nepal and India: Getting there (Oct. 8-9)

Nepal and India: Getting there (Oct. 8-9)

--- October 8, 2013---

This has been more stressful than most of my trans-Atlantic flights, and that includes the time I had to help translate the customs declaration form for Polish passengers since the British flight attendants spoke no Polish. The flight itself was fine—pleasant even—it was the stress of nearly missing it that I could have done without.

Eurotripping days 10 and 11: the beach and "popular struggles"

I'd seen on a website that a small town near Burgas would be having some kind of festival this weekend, featuring something that Google Translate told me meant, “popular struggles.” I knew the first word from Russian, and guessed it actually meant “folk,” and a folk festival sounded like fun. After all, I did skip Czech Days this year. The website said it started on Friday at 11:00 a.m. So I got up, figured out how to get there (hint: it's not from the convenient bus station), and headed out to Sredets.

Eurotripping days 8 and 9: Sofia-Plovdiv-Burgas

Sept. 26

I "checked out" of my apartment at 7:00 this morning, by which I mean I took my stuff and left the key. I'd already paid, so there was nothing left to say, except, perhaps, "What happened to the water?" When I got up this morning, no water was working in the apartment. I'm not sure if it's a building thing or if they really take checkout seriously. I was lucky I still had bottled water from yesterday, but I'm not feeling particularly clean at the moment. I'm sure I'll fit in better this way on the bus, but that's not one of the ways in which I want to blend in.

Eurotripping day 7: Koprivshtitsa

I still haven't written about day six, but since I typed on my phone today, I will be posting a little out of order.

Sept. 25

Eurotripping day 5: a Sunday stroll

The last two days have been slow, which I keep reminding myself is what vacation is for. And yet, I keep feeling like I'm not achieving enough with my time. How do people who go on vacations and just sit on a beach do it?

Sept. 23

On Sunday, I spent most of the day exploring the city's parks. It was kind of a Zen navigation thing. For those of you unfamiliar with the relevant works by Douglas Adams, here it is in a nutshell:

Eurotripping day 4: the monastic cleanse

Sept. 22

(If we're friends on Facebook, you've no doubt already seen the photos from Rila Monastery already, along with the captions that explain a lot of what I know about the monastery's history. If you haven't, go check them out in my Sofia album.)

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