Three visitors, two weeks, too much to say!

Yikes, I just looked at that little calendar over there to the right of this post. See it? Whenever I post something, the date changes to brown. Until today, April had no brown dates. I haven’t written a single post this month!

Sometimes a dry spell stems from ennui. Work, home, sleep, work, home, sleep … my usual schedule often lacks substance worthy of a blog post. The last few weeks, however, blurred with activity and left little time to capture it all in writing. Faced with a few free hours for the first time this month, I am ready to make up for my excessive blog neglect.

In the weeks preceding our spring break, we made arrangements for three visitors:
* Tony’s sister Liz,
* Theresa, a friend from my old journalism days, and
* Flat William, a paper version of a friend’s son.

Liz had never traveled outside the U.S., and I worried that India might make her climb under the covers and refuse to leave the house. Theresa was a seasoned traveler, but her emails suggested an overbooked itinerary and I stressed that we would run ourselves ragged. But, surprisingly, Flat William was the most high-maintenance guest of all.

He never made any demands or complained about getting squashed in my backpack, but I felt a codependent, obsessive need to photograph him everywhere I went. Unfortunately, because of his reticence, he would sometimes stay buried in my bag while we toured an Indian hotspot, making me smack my forehead with frustration later when the realization hit. I entrusted him to Theresa’s care on her Rajasthan side trip, but I experienced three days of anxiety that she would lose him or forget to take pictures with him. (I had nightmares of the time my mom fed a Flat Friend through the paper shredder on accident.) Theresa did forget to snap him in front of the Taj Mahal, but at least he got to see it. I sent him home with Liz, who informed me yesterday that he was returned safely to his family. Whew!

Flat William hanging out with Ganesh at the American Embassy School, New Delhi.

For years, Tony has dreamed of his family visiting us overseas. Finally, he convinced his sister Liz to make the trip to India. When I told people this would be her first international journey, the incredulous responses often sounded something like this: “She lives in KANSAS? And she’s never been out of AMERICA? And she’s coming to INDIA?” I began to panic. I carefully crafted a list of “Delhi Light” sight-seeing excursions. In the weeks leading up to her visit, Tony and I often found ourselves in the midst of an oppressive Delhi crowd, glancing at each other nervously and saying, “OK, we won’t bring Liz HERE.” However, from the moment she stepped off the plane, Liz amazed and inspired me with her willingness to take risks, move far out of her comfort zone and reflect on the sensory overload of India. She barely rested during her week here, dragging Tony all over town to see the sights, making observations that were acute and full of compassion. Tony and I both feel deeply grateful for this time with Liz, and we’ll never underestimate her again!

Tony and Liz at the Taj Mahal.

Theresa and I worked at the American Academy of Family Physicians in Kansas City way back before I made the career switch to teaching. We hadn’t kept in touch much over the years, except through occasional emails, Face Book updates, and links to online photo albums. When she turned 40, she emailed and said she wanted to celebrate with an international vacation. We were living in Laos at the time, and although I do love that country, I felt compelled to say, “If you’re only going to take one big trip every 40 years, maybe you should pick a country with more on offer…” When Tony and I moved to India, she quickly proposed a visit. There’s no denying Incredible India has more on offer … maybe too much! As Theresa and I planned her trip via email, the biggest challenge was picking the places to go. Knowing Theresa was eager to see the Himalyas, I met with our travel agent at school, who pointed out certain destinations would still be blanketed with snow and unprepared for tourists in April. We finally settled on Dharamsala, home of the exiled Dalai Lama. Theresa packed a crazy amount of sight-seeing into her two-week visit and took about 47 million fabulous photos. Although whacked with a mysterious illness on the flight back to the States, she certainly made good use of her time here!

Theresa on the rooftop of Ashoka restaurant in McLeod Ganj with the Himalayas in the background.

It’s going to take me awhile to post everything we did during the last few weeks! But stay tuned…

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