Travel: Varanasi

Given how hectic and crazy the past few days have been, I’m happy that today was just a “kick back and relax” transit day. With an early afternoon flight out of Khajaraho en route to Jaipur, we savored the luxury of sleeping in. ­čÖé Unfortunately, I’ve gotten into the habit of waking up at 8 am of my own accord, this happens pretty consistently for me regardless of how late I went to bed the previous night.

imageThe downside of visiting a smaller town is the limited amount of conveniences that we have grown accustomed to as Americans. This is not to say that neither of us were adaptable. Contrary to that, both Nick and I have the prior experience of traveling through Asia, and we were prepared for the likelihood of the squatting toilets, limited hot water, lack of heat, and taking sponge baths from a bucket. Still, warmth would have been nice given how cold it was in the room last night and this morning.

imageOur flight to Jaipur included both a stop in Varanasi and a layover in Delhi. Varanasi, is recognized as the Holy City for Hinduism, and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is set along the Ganges River. You may recall that the Ganges is the Holy River. It is considered sacred and is personified as the goddess Ganga.

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Credit: Babasteve

The common belief is that bathing in the river, results in remission of sins and facilitates Moksha – liberation from the cycle of life and death. Many Hindu’s pilgrimage to the Ganges to immerse the ashes of their dead. The river is also a water lifeline for millions of Indians across the country, as it is the largest body of water in India. Unfortunately, the cumulative purpose of the Ganges has resulted in it being named the 5th most polluted river in the world.

At Varanasi, I picked up an interesting row-mate named Wayne. It turns out that he was also born and raised in New Jersey! (Jersey City to be precise). He also happened to spend a few years living in Houston.

imageSometimes I think the world is so large, that I can’t even begin to explore all of it, and then coincidences such as these happen that remind me how small the world can actually be. We had a very thorough conversation and I quickly became envious of him. Wayne is a General Orthopedist that works in contracted positions. This has somehow allowed him to work in Europe, Africa, and now Asia! He also happens to own some great sports cars (although they are in storage) such as the Lotus, Ferrari, and Maserati. Still, my jealousy had its limits. Averaging 18-hr days for continuous weeks with a brief reprieve of a week here and there takes its toll.

We parted ways at Delhi and Nick and I caught our connection to Jaipur, “The Pink City.” After arriving at our hotel, we were both happy to settle into our rooms and savor a long, relaxing hot shower. I also had time to Skype with ┬áfriends from back home ^_^.

Travel: India

So, I apologize for disappearing this past year. Unfortunately, certain responsibilities come with being an adult. This includes things such as acquiring a job, paying my own bills, and being thrust out of my mother’s nest into the real world.,

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I’ve gone from growing up in New Jersey, to attending Graduate School in California, and finally settling in Texas. And yet, I feel discontent. During school, hard work paid off by manifesting itself in the form of grades, but a career, and subsequently long hours, is only gratifying in the form of wealth.

 

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Its fact that wealth doesn’t buy happiness, but savoring the little moments, and cherishing time spent with family and friends does. I can’t deny that I am grateful for the niche I have built in Houston. I do enjoy what I do, and there’s a certain thrill I feel whenever I drive past a building I worked on, or when I finished modeling a complex building. Yet, I feel incomplete. There’s a certain yen I have to explore and discover all the beauty and history that our planet has to offer, and it’s not something I can do with my career while chained to a desk.

imageAnd so, with some strategic planning and the benefit of not having to use my vacation days to visit family, I have managed to scrounge up a sufficient amount of days for my next big travel venture. This year, it is India.

imageDespite a 36-hour total travel time to New Delhi, and an overwhelming sense of unspoken questions that I have left behind in Houston, I’m excited to explore this diverse nation with one of my best friends from high school.Because, for me, travel allows me to keep things in perspective.

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I think that as Americans we can become blinded within the bubble that is patriotic egoism. Exploring different cultures and countries allows one to understand what simple freedoms we enjoy and to really appreciate our place in life.