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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013


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Hello Friends and Family, 

 

All of the India students have boarded their internatinoal flight and are on their way home!

 

Best,

 

Administration 

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

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Student in-route home

Administration,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello Friends and Family,    All of the India students have boarded their internatinoal flight and are on their way home!   Best,   Administration 

Posted On

05/11/13

Author

Administration

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Dear Families,

It is hard to believe that the kids are almost home! In a few days you will be reuniting at airports and hearing stories around the dinner table. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival.

So that you can have it handy for the big day, below are the details of the group flight back to the U.S. 

Cheers,
 
Boulder Admin

Returning Flight:

May 12th, 2013

American Airlines #AA 922

Depart: La Paz (LPB) 6:50am

Arrive: Miami (MIA) 3:55pm 


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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

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Return Flight Information

Boulder Admin,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Dear Families, It is hard to believe that the kids are almost home! In a few days you will be reuniting at airports and hearing stories around the dinner table. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival. So that you can have it handy for the big day, below are the details of […]

Posted On

05/9/13

Author

Boulder Admin

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The turquoise glacial waters of the Indus River were ever present as we trekked and explored the river's valley over the last ten days. The stark, arid peaks rising to the north and south of the river, offered stunning textures and colors. In one direction an entire mountain's flank appeared as if a giant millefeuille pastry had been upended, the flaky rock tenuously compressed over eons and now exposed to the weathering of dry high altitude winds or our inquisitive fingers marveling at how easily the layers peal away. In another direction another mountain's face is but a sheet of blond sand. On other slopes swaths of magenta and the green patina of aged copper stain the earth. We marveled at the otherworldliness of the landscape. And yet it is of this world.

Listening to the conversations among the group as we walked and explored this stunning landscape provoked memories, the stories and recollections, of family, of friends, of places explored and, of course, of food missed! Is this not a trope of human experience? Of how unfamiliar places engage the familiar within us? Of how home is, in the end, always with us, no matter the distance?

Such a fitting place Ladakh is, then, to embark on the final aspect of our Visions of India program, in Dragon's parlance, transference. For our time on the trek has stimulated our profound curiosity of the here and now, of how our Buddhist teachings at Bodhgaya and the Buddhist life lived here in Ladakh, be one a lama, a nun or a commoner illuminate our own spirituality. Be here now. The challenge we all face is to embrace this daily, never losing sight of our memories or our aspirations. We move into the last week of the program to reflect on all that Varanasi and Ladakh has revealed to, and in, us.

Chuck left us Saturday, the 4th of May. He joins Mac and Rob who each have made their difficult, yet wise decisions to leave us early. Chuck, Mac, Rob…. your respective spirits and dynamism pervade our collective experience. We deeply appreciate the openness and grace you have brought to our Vision of India.

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

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Exploring the Indus River Valley

Keith Goyden,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

Description

The turquoise glacial waters of the Indus River were ever present as we trekked and explored the river’s valley over the last ten days. The stark, arid peaks rising to the north and south of the river, offered stunning textures and colors. In one direction an entire mountain’s flank appeared as if a giant millefeuille […]

Posted On

05/4/13

Author

Keith Goyden

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While living in Benares, I would often find myself commenting on the friendliness and generosity of those Indians living with and around us. The motorcyclist who saved me from what might have been a very unfortunate situation involving a cow and a narrow back alley, my host mother who would constantly ply me with cookies and chai (god forbid I would ever experience hunger for even a fraction of a second), or the little girl selling candles on the ghats who, upon learning that it was my birthday in a month, gave me a free candle to keep in my room. It was this spirit that so contributed to the uneasiness I felt when leaving the city, not sure what I would do when I could no longer count on seeing a friendly face around every corner.  Lucky for me, Ladakh is no drought of generosity, in fact it's more like an abundant well that springs from every mountain village and monastery you might venture to. We recently went on a trip to visit the village of Nam Gyal, our guide here in Ladakh. We were graciously ushered into his parents beautiful and spacious home, and immediately plied with chai, dried apricots from the family's trees, cookies, traditional Tibetan yak butter barley tea, and then given a five course lunch meal to rival any four star restaurant you might find Manhattan. After leaving the house to chorus' of "julley! Julley! Ye julley!!!", we decided to walk towards the next village rather than get back on the bus right away. Margaret, Marjorie, Anya and I were walking together when we picked up a little follower, an old woman from a house on the road who must have been in her late seventies or early eighties. The woman was remarkably spry, catching up to us in no time, her long yarn braided hair flapping behind her as she hurried along the road. Once she reached us, she proceeded to start talking very loudly and quickly in Ladakhi, none of us understanding a word but just nodding anyway. She then reached into a woolen pocket and started pulling out handfuls of dried apricots (a staple in this part of the world where apricot trees are as abundant, if not more so, than the generosity), handing them to us with such fervor that it was all we could do not to take them with as much enthusiasm. When our bus finally caught up to us, we were still walking wih the woman, and offered her a seat with us until wherever she was heading, which turned out to be the next village. She was given a seat in the front, and as each student was picked up along the road they were given a handful of apricots upon embarking the bus. I swear this lady had a bottomless pocket, the likes of Mary Poppins. Or maybe it was just her heart, the extreme wealth of her generosity and spirit, that seemed to go on forever. 

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

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To Feed a Dragons Group

Adira Baum,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

Description

While living in Benares, I would often find myself commenting on the friendliness and generosity of those Indians living with and around us. The motorcyclist who saved me from what might have been a very unfortunate situation involving a cow and a narrow back alley, my host mother who would constantly ply me with cookies […]

Posted On

05/4/13

Author

Adira Baum

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Three months in India. Three months - two in Varanasi, one in Ladakh. Go to India, learn something new, light a fire, get excited. Meet people, make friends, probably feel lonely, have some sleepless nights, eat great Indian food. Send emails, sit in dirty internet cafes. Walk along the Ganga, try street food for the first time on the steps of Assi Ghat. Walk away healthy, get over confident and eat more street food. Go to the doctor. As the doctor tells you not to worry, worry anyway. Stop worrying as he tells you that you are one of his daughters, just call if anything hurts.

 

Sit on the floor of your host family's kitchen, beg your host Mom to let you help. When she finally lets you wash the dishes, don't come back down an hour later - you will see her rewashing them. Bow your head as you see a dead body being carried on a bamboo stretcher toward the Ganga. Sit on the floor of the kitchen, try and comprehend the funeral rites here as mice dart from under the refrigerator to the shaky cabinet behind you, as you hear your host Mom's bangles jingle and ring as she rolls chapati into flawless circles (how does she do that?) for dinner. Try and find space to think among the ceaselessly honking horns, try to find space to breath in the air heavy with heat, with smells too indecent to write about. Try to listen to your thoughts while prayers call out and seem to sit in the hot air, surrounding you on all sides. 

Find that you can. Find that amid the craziness and noise, you have no choice but to find stillness in yourself. Find that you have a family of fourteen, ready to listen, to laugh, to say nothing if that is what you need. 
Find yourself packing up your backpack, carrying it down to the bottom floor before leaving your host family. Find them in the prayer room, chanting mantras to celebrate the new year. Allow your host sister to put vermilion and red powder on your third eye. Wipe the tears from your face as you say goodbye. 
Find an unexpected night of restful sleep on the overnight train. Find your favorite hotel in the world, Wongdhen Guest House. Find yourself staring into the massive white face of the Taj Mahal, and then find yourself sitting in a restaurant that seems to specialize in green velvet upholstery, and be pleasantly surprised by how good the food is. 
Find yourself stepping off the plane in Leh, looking up at the Himalayas. Find no words to express how they make you feel, but know that you will leave with a feeling that contaains it all.
Find Hinduism, find the Bodhi tree, find the sun rising over the Ganga. Find warm apple pie at Vaatika, find Lamayuru restaurant and people who don't mind eating every meal there, find the full moon over the Himalayas, find two massive blisters on your heels. Find your hat so the sun, so much closer up here, does not burn you. Find your headlamp before it gets dark, find your sacred socks. Find your patience, find your willingness to try. Find your ability to stand on the thin edge of your comfort zone, watch yourself fall off that wall, and feel gratitude toward the people who hold your hand as you find new ground.
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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

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Go to India

Marjorie Isaacs,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Three months in India. Three months – two in Varanasi, one in Ladakh. Go to India, learn something new, light a fire, get excited. Meet people, make friends, probably feel lonely, have some sleepless nights, eat great Indian food. Send emails, sit in dirty internet cafes. Walk along the Ganga, try street food for the […]

Posted On

05/3/13

Author

Marjorie Isaacs

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If our visit to Domkhar and Da could be represented by a person, it would be in the wrinkle-eyes and braided hair of the woman with the endless pocket of apricots. 

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

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A day in a face

Margaret Whittier-Ferguson,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

Description

If our visit to Domkhar and Da could be represented by a person, it would be in the wrinkle-eyes and braided hair of the woman with the endless pocket of apricots. 

Posted On

05/3/13

Author

Margaret Whittier-Ferguson

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We returned to Leh yesterday tired and happy. We've been out on a trek and exploring remote villages for the past week or so. The group was positive and fun loving, even in tough moments on the trail. We trekked through small villages and camped along the way. When I say 'camp' I mean nice tents and what is basically full catering with fantastic food. They even came around to our tents in the morning with breakfast tea! Gavin assured us this was standard Himalayan trekking fair, but I still felt like a queen! Some of us took a day hike to a monastery tucked away in the hills while others rested at camp or scrambled up a peak to further appreciate the stunning views.

 

At the end of our fourth day we arrived in the village of Tamisgam (which can be spelled in a million ways so I've no idea if that's right or not). There we washed our clothes and nursed our aching feet and reveled in the success of our group trekking effort. From our base camp in Tamisgam we explored the local hilltop monastery and surrounding villages. We drove out to a large, grand monastery called Lamayuru where our local guide Namgyal explained some of the history of Buddhism in Ladakh. 

 

We piled into a bus on Wednesday morning and drove out toward the Line of Control at the Pakistani boarder (fear not, the closest we got to the LOC was 40 plus kilometers). Our destination was a little village called Dah. It lies at the end of the long and winding road and felt a bit like the end of the earth. It was as though we'd stepped back in time. The customs were old and the village itself seemed to have sprung up organically with no human planning at all. The people of Dah were kind and welcoming. I'm sure they found us as strange as we found them. There was an old world magic about the place that left us bewildered as we drove back to base camp in Tamisgam.

 

On the whole our trek was not what we had initially expected it to be, but there was plenty of adventure and fun had by all!  

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

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Trekking and Photos

Cassidy Schultz,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

Description

We returned to Leh yesterday tired and happy. We’ve been out on a trek and exploring remote villages for the past week or so. The group was positive and fun loving, even in tough moments on the trail. We trekked through small villages and camped along the way. When I say ‘camp’ I mean nice […]

Posted On

05/3/13

Author

Cassidy Schultz

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The past few weeks since we left Varanasi have been a total trip. It really feels like each new place we visit is a new world... Delhi brought the shock of civilization... Leh initially brought a chill and a change of perspective. Since our ascent to Ladakh I have learned to observe "mountain time", which I got to put into practice on the trek. It still shocks me how quiet it is here, but I guess anything would feel calm compared to Varanasi! I have been incredibly grateful for this time to slow down- especially to the team for making the decision to stick together with a shorter trek.
 
When we started the trek I learned how cool it is to get to pass through these tiny villages, and felt the joy of emerging from the hills to see the little piece of heaven where we'll set up camp for the night. These villages are all nestled in the hills, built into the mountains in a way that is both cozy and spacious. In Yang Thang, after our first (and for me, hardest) day of trekking, I got the opportunity to simply sit and soak up the  sight of the village. I wondered over the wandering zhoe and terraced fields, and each new village brought equal wonder and quiet intrigue. I loved each one we passed.
 
I will admit, we haven't exactly been roughing it. The crew that followed us from Likir to Timasgam was so great: I will never forget waking up to quiet murmurings of "bed teeaaaa", and the full moon pizza they made us!! They were amazing, and kept us camping in style (although I still wore the same thing for about a week).
 
I think the most frequent words out of my mouth for the past week have been "oh my god" and "wow, it's so beautiful here". I probably sound like a broken record, but it's so true. We got to Timasgam in time for the fleeting apricot flowers, so our final day of hiking ended with a descent into the most lush and spring-y valley you can imagine, like walking into a fairytale, with the river flowing all emerald green and the little stone houses along the road with their apricot trees full of delicate pinkish white flowers. I loved it, just being out there was such a gift. And it's been a great way to bring our time in India to a close. Just some peaceful time to get grounded with these people who have truly become brothers and sisters to me.
 
Missing those who have had to leave us for sure. We bet Mac would have been a beast at our dinner tent chess games, and fooling myself into thinking maybe Rob didn't shave his beard too quick. It's sad not to have the whole fam together, but I have faith we'll make this reunion party happen and I still have mad love for the whole team!!!
 
Feeling grateful for the mountains and for our collective strength- we did a big thing!
Love,
milea 

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

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The places we’ve been

Milea Stauber,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

Description

The past few weeks since we left Varanasi have been a total trip. It really feels like each new place we visit is a new world… Delhi brought the shock of civilization… Leh initially brought a chill and a change of perspective. Since our ascent to Ladakh I have learned to observe "mountain time", which […]

Posted On

05/3/13

Author

Milea Stauber

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As most of you all already know my Visa expires in a few days.  This will probably be the last Yak I write while I am in India.  My overall experience has been remarkable, the journey that has taken me to this place for the past three months has been unforgettable.  The endless number of people I have met along the way will always stay with me. The smiles and laughs we all shared are timeless.  I love this group which has now become a strong family.  We really came together when we needed it most especially with the leaving of Mac and Rob.  We miss you guys and still share our fondest moments when you were with us.  I am a little torn to be leaving early but, at the same time very excited to share all that I have learned and seen with my friends and family back home.  This trip has taken me further than I ever imagined to go when finding myself.  I am so glad to have gotten to know you all as my brothers and sisters and can't wait to see you all again in the near future.  Peace and Love from your bro Chuck Hill

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

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Another man down

Chuck Hill,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

Description

As most of you all already know my Visa expires in a few days.  This will probably be the last Yak I write while I am in India.  My overall experience has been remarkable, the journey that has taken me to this place for the past three months has been unforgettable.  The endless number of […]

Posted On

05/2/13

Author

Chuck Hill

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When you look at a map, Ladukh is clearly a part of India and an important part at that: nestled between China and Pakistan, this section of the disputed state of Kashmir plays a vital role in India's continued conflict with Pakistan and provides the perfect location for India to keep an eye on China occupied Tibet. But, Ladukh does not feel like India at all. For when you are surrounded by jagged mountains whose peaks are hidden by the clouds and people who smile at you when you pass, their Tibetan faces wrinkling around the eyes, how can this be the same country? 

Most of you who are reading this have been following our Yaks throughout our entire trip, including our time in Banares so, I know these cultural differences will resonate with you as much as they do us.

  1. It is really cold. As in sleeping-with-a-down-jacket cold. 
  2. The people here are culturally Buddhist so we spend our days walking around prayer wheels rather than going to puja.
  3. They do not speak Hindi here. Not even as a second language to their regional Ladukhi. Instead they speak some Urdu, the official language of Kashmir. 
  4. The people look Tibetan rather than what we would think of as Indian. Our guide even said that he would consider himself Tibetan before Indian.
  5. The vegetables here are not cooked into a green-ish grey mush. The other day we had cauliflower that was actually white. It was incredible. 
  6. The water of the Indus river is actually the color of water. (opposed to the spetically murky color of the Ganges.)
  7. There are women walking by themselves on the street. Most even smile at you. This is unheard of. 
  8. There is no shouting. Actually, I'm still not sure if the shouting in Varanasi was actual shouting or just a Hindi conversation. Regardless, in comparison, people here whisper. 
  9. You don't have to use up most of your brain power attempting to avoid cow poop on the street. I mean there is still some (or maybe its Yak or Zou poop) but compared to Banares, this is Singapore. 
  10. We can see more of the stars at night. But, instead of being obscured by smog, they are partially hidden by the beautiful Himalayas. Which is better than okay. 

I cannot believe that this trip is coming to a close are that we are loosing both Rob and Chuck in the same week. We miss you Mac!
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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

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Why We Are No Longer In India

Allie Kelly,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2013

Description

When you look at a map, Ladukh is clearly a part of India and an important part at that: nestled between China and Pakistan, this section of the disputed state of Kashmir plays a vital role in India’s continued conflict with Pakistan and provides the perfect location for India to keep an eye on China […]

Posted On

05/2/13

Author

Allie Kelly

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