Thankful for My Travels in India

Thanksgiving will be here in a couple of days. At this time of year I like to reflect on what I am thankful for. When it comes to my international experiences, I am grateful for the various opportunities that I have had over the years to visit India for academic conferences and travel. Of all of the places I have been, India is one of the few places that still affects all of my senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. Why? Because India is an amazing land of adventure, architecture, and artistry.

mariecamel

When experiencing adventure, probably one of the greatest adventures that my husband and I embarked upon was our camel safari in the Great Thar Desert in northwestern India. For 5 days we traveled through the parts of the desert in the Indian state of Rajasthan. We visited the ancient cities of Bikaner, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, and Jodhpur. We camped out in the desert as well. My camel and I became fast friends. I nicknamed him “Pokey” because he plodded along slowly while my husband’s camel thought he was running a race to the finish line every day. Riding a camel is not for the faint of heart. It takes some skill to get in the saddle and stay on it as your camel gets up on four legs. They also do not have a uniform gate like a horse. And…they like to spit at you when they are upset.

color negative: KODAK GOLD 200 Gen 4. SBA settings neutral SBA on, color SBA on

India has amazing architecture as well. The most iconic building is, of course, the Taj Mahal. This white marble mausoleum was built in Agra from 1632-1648 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is decorated with flowers and leaves made of inlaid precious and semiprecious stones. When viewed in just the right sunlight, they look almost like live plants. There is also an outer courtyard with gardens and reflection pools. (You’ve probably seen the famous photo of Princess
Diana sitting on a bench in this area.) The Taj Mahal is a UNESCO Heritage Site as it is considered the best architectural achievement in Indo-Islamic culture.

color negative: KODAK GOLD 200 Gen 4. SBA settings neutral SBA on, color SBA on

And then there is the artistry of the people of India. Their artistic works have stood the test of time. Amazing paintings and carvings are everywhere you look. Exquisite fabrics and beautiful pottery can all be found. Of course there are traditional dance schools and music venues as well. One of my favorite things to do is go to recitals at these schools when the students graduate. India has a long history in the arts that stretches back to the third millennium BC. It is a multicultural mélange of the various groups that have inhabited the country for thousands of years.

In conclusion, I challenge you my dear readers, to reflect on your own experiences this Thanksgiving. Which ones are you the most grateful to have had?

Football (aka Soccer) IS the World’s Sport

All right, ya’ll I am chuffed (British informal English for delighted or pleased) about the US women winning the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada this weekend.  What an exciting final game with Japan!  The US team won in a decisive 5-2 score.  And Houston Dash’s own Carli Lloyd got the earliest hat trick in Women’s World Cup soccer history. She also won the Golden Ball trophy as the most valuable player.

Embed from Getty Images

I have to tell you that earlier in the tournament, I was also cheering for Japan.  Those women are also an exceptional team.  How could I root for Japan?  Well…you see, football (soccer to Americans) is a truly global sport.  It is estimated that 265 million people on the planet play it.  The World Cup finals are also the most watched sporting event around the globe…bar none.

It is an intercultural phenomenon.  Continue reading

Nepal: Tragedy in the Himalayas

Gentleman in Durbar Square, Nepal

Gentleman in Durbar Square, Nepal

My…heart…is…broken.  The devastation to the Himalayan nation of Nepal due to the 7.8 earthquake is just gut-wrenching.  As you know, my husband and I traveled there in the early 1990s.

This is one of the poorest countries in the world…but they live in one of the richest environments of any people on earth.

Kathmandu (aka Kasthamandap Mahanagar), the capital city, is an ancient metropolis.  Established nearly 2000 years ago, it is nestled in a valley in the Himalayas.  It stands at approximately 4,600 feet.  It also lies in the shadow of the world’s best known mountain, Mount Everest.

At this point, we do not know the exact number of dead and injured.  It is estimated to be in the thousands.  Continue reading

In “Debate Mode”

NDT 2015

Announcement of 7th Round Pairings at the 2015 National Debate Tournament

OK. I am officially in “debate mode”.

I last wrote about being a member of the A. Craig Baird Debate Forum at the University of Iowa and getting ready to travel to the 69th Annual National Debate Tournament (NDT) that was being held there for the first time.

I have also just finished judging at the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA) regional qualifier here in Texas. Additionally, my students are getting ready to start their own Lincoln Douglas debates in the final weeks of my “Argumentation and Advocacy” class.

Whew!

Yes, it is that time of year…when the debate community really gets into high gear. Continue reading