Bye Bye Bangalore, Bangalore Goodbye…


I’m leaving early. I’m leaving early, after one session instead of two, and it’s so bittersweet, because there are things I love about this country — the food, the constant respect I receive, the way everything lights up and twinkles at night — and things I truly despise — the sheer number of people and cars, the heat and dust, the fact that I can’t even drink the purified water without feeling sick. I’m leaving in 4 days, because it’s hard to exist far from home when your intestines are screaming and E. coli seems to have taken over your body. I’m leaving because it’s time to leave.

I’m leaving the wonderful friends I’ve made through my program, leaving the office aide Saraswati who has become my surrogate mother during this trip, leaving the temples and villages and mango carts. I’m leaving aloo gobi from my favorite “fast food” restaurant, the market on the corner that sells ice cream. The nights when we stay in and watch Bollywood music videos and laugh until we feel sick. The trips out of the city to feed elephants and see Tibetan monks and buy spices. Leaving rickshaw rides in monsoons, calls to prayer, sari fabric that must’ve come straight from god, and the most handsome boys at the cake shop down the street.

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But I’m returning, too. Returning home, where I’ll hopefully rid myself of E. coli and get to hug my mother, breathe in her scent, sleep with my cat, take care of my father after his knee replacement, and drink tap water. With ice. Home, where I can actually eat fresh vegetables without worrying. Home, where people move too fast and worry too much and live with so much fear even when there’s no danger around the corner. There are downsides to every place you go.

Sometimes we forget that India isn’t some mystical land of wisdom and perfection. It’s seriously flawed; overpopulated, often undereducated, and still developing. That’s not a criticism. It’s a fact. And if I stayed here simply because I thought India was somehow going to heal me from within, to thoroughly cleanse me spiritually so I would come home a different person…well that would just be a dangerous illusion. To stay because I’m afraid to quit, because I’m “supposed” to stay, because I’m afraid of judgment…I won’t do that. I need to take care of myself, just as I would at home, and right now that means I need to be home. India has a spirit and mind of it’s own, that’s for sure, and right now our spirits are at odds.

I’ll miss this beautiful, terrible place. Truly I will. But I’ll be back, India. Tujh mein rab dikhtah hai. I see my god in you.

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Home


No feeling matches this
stirring in my bed, expecting to be at school
then opening my eyes and…home.
Where every moment feels slowed down
a bubbled sanctuary from the world
as nothing touches me but softness —
the hugs of my mother
the quilt of my youth
the cat sitting on my face.

Goodbye


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The view from Haylie’s apartment. Spectacular.

I’m leaving Seattle and I want to cry. This has never happened.

The Ice is Getting Thinner by Death Cab for Cutie came on my iPod, which doesn’t help since it’s full of tragedy and sadness and practically pulls the tears out of your eyeballs anyway.

I’ve never had a great experience in Seattle. I typically get shouted at by at least 3 people, or a cab driver tries to kidnap my suitcase, or the weather is depressing. This weekend, though, was my island. I visited my beautiful friend Haylie who is my spirit animal, and…the weekend was a dream.

We went to a cat show, y’all. There were so many Maine Coons I practically peed, and I watched a cat judging thing (weird–they’re all number one in my heart) and got stamped with a cat stamp. Every time a cat got loose they’d yell “CAT OUT, CLOSE THE DOORS, DO NOT TRY TO CATCH THE CAT” and it was weird and wonderful, just like the entire show.

Ate the best curry I’ve ever had. Bamboo shoots? Yes.

Pike Place Market: homemade latte flavored Greek yogurt? YES.

Got slightly accosted by a man who pretended to take a bite out of the pastry I was holding. He got way too close to my head and I screamed and jumped, and he laughed and said “I didn’t mean to scare you!” Really? Then he had the audacity to try to hit on me, so that’s apparently a thing that happens.

Saw Tegan and Sara live, which was actually incredible. I don’t know why I was kinda surprised, but I wasn’t really sure that I still liked them. My dad had randomly bought their album So Jealous at a record shop in Seattle and I might’ve fallen in love with them freshman year of high school, but it’s been at least 4 years since I actually listened to them much. They’re really good live, though, and even though Haylie and I sat basically behind the stage, it was still pretty brilliant.

Ra Ra Riot, however, sucks. A lot. They were technically a good band, and the singer has a nice voice, but he’s much too “oh-whoa-ho!”-y for my taste. I don’t particularly enjoy bands with no energy, and even though the violinist and cellist were both sassy and awesome, there wasn’t much that could save the lead singer from being incredibly lackluster. Also, I’m pretty sure the drummer was a wizard and possessed the crowd at one point. Nobody was really into it, and then suddenly everyone was screaming and twirling around in the stands and on the floor, and Haylie and I could only wonder what is this black magic? (I’m pretty sure that’s actually a thing, though, that everyone in the crowd knew about; when the singer sang a certain line, everyone knew to twirl. I definitely prefer to think that it’s black magic.)

And of course Death Cab was brilliant, but I wouldn’t have expected anything less. I saw them 5 years ago in my hometown, then saw The Postal Service over the summer (amazingamazingamazing) and now all I have to do is see Ben Gibbard solo before I can die happy (I mean, I’d love to see The Strokes, but that might never happen so I just have to dream).

I miss Haylie. I miss Seattle. I miss feeling free. Coming home was weird — I was in a coma for the entire flight, and came home and wanted to cry. I think this weekend sparked a bit of an existential crisis, so look forward to some moody “who am I, what am I doing, blah” posts in the future.

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Baby flower children frolic in fields and rainbows. Meow.

Long Time Ago When We Was Fab


Once upon a time, there was me. I was pretty cute, little, and very (shockingly) blonde, in a 4-year-old model sort of way. I still look like that. Incredibly attractive, blonde…did I mention incredibly attractive? I don’t look 4 anymore though…

Anyway, I had this great friend, Jenny. We were pretty tight until she got married to Mark (it was customary in ImaginaryLand for people to get married at the age of 6). She had to move away, but I became President of ImaginaryLand in her absence. My new best friend (sent by the palace to replace Jenny) was named Annie and was my second in command.

We were on top of the world. Literally, as ImaginaryLand exists in the troposphere. I would make my daily speech (broadcast from my driveway), then Annie and I would go out into the wilderness and search for criminals to defeat. One day, on a family trip to California, the evil Cup Hand (so named because he had a cup on one of his hands – it had been placed there by Jenny years earlier when he’d tried to kill her with his bare hands) surfaced. Literally. We met him in a pool.

The point is, Cup Hand surfaced and Annie and I tried to defeat him, employing our mermaid army. But Cup Hand escaped in the crowd of small children wading through the water and wasn’t seen for a few weeks. Finally, he found my fortress (house/palace) and challenged Annie and I to a duel (he was pretty cocky and thought he could take both of us on at once). A battle ensued, ending in the death of Cup Hand (I shot him with a soda bottle) as Annie and I emerged with minor injuries that were quickly healed with root potion.

That was, in the words of George Harrison, a “long time ago when we was fab.” I like to think we still are.

Annie and I went on many more adventures. Boys tried to infiltrate our ranks, but we never let them lest we become weak with love. Jenny and Mark visited a few times, but the bond Jenny and I once had could never compare to the one Annie and I still do. And you’ll be pleased to know that the ImaginaryLand government defeated Sadam Hussein long, long ago with love and compassion (and maybe a few mermaids) and there is still peace throughout the land.

Lentil Chili Soup


I cannot say that this post will make you laugh, but it will (hopefully) make your tummy grumble.

My family has made lentil soup for a while, ever since my sister’s second visit to Spain two years ago. But it wasn’t until I visited Bellingham’s Avenue Bread that I discovered that lentils could also be used in chili.
It doesn’t seem like that novel a concept, to be honest, but I’d never thought of it before. So when I returned home, I looked up about ten recipes on the internet, changed them a bunch and…voila! Lentil chili.

Ingredients: (keep in mind that the veggies don’t need to be chopped perfectly – a rough chop will add to the texture)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium white/yellow onions, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 bell peppers, diced
6 large cloves garlic, minced/chopped/crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2-3 tbsp chili powder (I find that dark chili powder works really well, but regular is totally fine)
5 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp cornstarch
28 oz can diced tomatoes, squished (use the extra juice, too)
16 oz lentils

1. Heat oil in a large pot. You could totally use a dutch oven too, but I haven’t tried it yet.
2. Add onions and carrots. Cook for 5-10 minutes until soft.
3. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, and bell pepper. Cook 5 more minutes.
4. While that’s cooking, heat vegetable broth in a separate small pot until boiling.
5. Remove one cup vegetable broth into a bowl and mix the corn starch into it with a whisk. This step is important, as it allows the cornstarch to mix with the broth without clumping. Add the mixture, along with the rest of the broth, to the large pot of veggies.
6. Add the tomatoes and lentils.
7. Lower heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until lentils are tender. If you need to let them simmer longer (because the rest of dinner isn’t ready, someone isn’t home, whatever) just add a little more vegetable broth or tomato juice so it doesn’t get too thick. This stuff can turn into oatmeal real quick!

In the words of Julia Child (and a whole bunch of French people), Bon Appetit!
Feel free to give feedback – it’s much appreciated.