Monthly Archives: February 2012

In my window

Other than my bed, there is probably one place where I have spent more time than any other single place in the past 13 months.  My very favorite spot in Shanghai, my favorite spot in my apartment, is sitting on the wide window sill of my bedroom window.  Made comfortable with blankets and pillows from Ikea, the small desk with my laptop next to me, or sitting with my laptop on my lap.  On the 28th floor, looking at the Shanghai skyline, lit up in gorgeous colors on clear nights, looking down the river to Nanpu Bridge, or sometimes just looking at smog.  I could check to see when people were walking up towards my apartment if I gave them directions from the subway stop, I can look down and see if my fruit guy is selling fruit from the back of his van.

The apartment gate, my fruit guy and a man selling DVD's, my typical view

I watched lightening storms here, I spent hours on skype with family and friends here, I wrote almost all of my blogs sitting here, I watched fireworks on Chinese New Year here, I watched giant snowflakes floating through the air here, I watched the progress of the (soon to be) second tallest building in the world being built here. I cried here, I watched movies and TV on my laptop here, I read here, I drank my morning coffee and ate dinner here.  It is my little spot. I love my little spot.

Snowing in Shanghai, watching giant snowflakes from my window

Today, I sit in my little spot for the last time.  I look out over the Shanghai on a cloudy day for the last time.  I close my eyes and envision the lights for the last time.  I look down and see my fruit guy for the last time.  I see taxis, buses, cars, bikes, scooters and people on the main road just half a block away for the last time.  Today I’m leaving my apartment, my wonderful roommate, and my sweet kitten.

My last day view...

In 45 minutes, I have to be at work.  When I come home I’m grabbing my stuff and heading to a friends house.  I will be bouncing from house to house for the next 19 days until I leave China. I’m moving back to the States, my Life in China is, for now at least, coming to an end.

Cloudy and smoggy, but always pretty...

When I think back, I have many memories, may adventures, many stories.  But honestly, it is this spot right here, sitting in my window, looking out over the 26 million people in my city of Shanghai, where I spent so much of my time.  It is such a perfect spot.  I will miss it.

My spot


India: Animals

India is a different world.  I was told that before I left, and after being there I certainly believe it.  One of the characteristics of India that makes it unlike any other place I have ever visited, the animals. Yes, you are correct, there are animals everywhere; and none of the animals I saw in India are specific to or unique of India.  However, in most of my experiences, animals don’t just wander the streets in the middle of cities, or towns.  There are dogs on the streets in Thailand, Mexico and many other places, we have street cats in China, and I’m sure in villages in much of the third world farm animals are more prevalent than I am accustom.  But I was blown away by the abundance of animals roaming around India.

In India, walk down any street and there are animals, all sorts of animals, and they are everywhere.  Hinduism – which is prevalent in India – says that cows are sacred which means they aren’t killed, they aren’t eaten for beef and they pretty much are free to roam and live as they please.  Walking down the street nearby our hotel we ran in to many cows.  I will never forget how odd it was to be approached by a calf in the middle of the street.

No fear in this cow, as she walked right up to me!

Yet, cows aren’t the only ones roaming around.  There are goats and sheep in front yards, store fronts filled with cages upon cages of chickens, water buffalo pulling loads down the street, and even a horse pulling a cart in the middle of the city of Bangalore – right down the middle of a busy, popular shopping street.

Nothing out of the ordinary here, for India...

I watched a women using her entire weight, pulling on a calf trying to get it to move.  I watched a man walking a goat on a rope down the road.  While sitting in house church services in villages, the sounds of sheep and goats outside the door were common.  In fact, one evening, someone had to get up and shoo away the couple of sheep that were attempting to walk in the wide open front door and join our service.  Just another day in the life when you are living in India, I guess.

Boy and goat

While the orphanage and the church both owned dogs, most dogs seemed to be strays, eating trash and looking pretty grungy.  I used my foot move a teeny, filthy puppy out of the middle of the road one day.  It was just laying there half asleep, and I watched it almost get run over twice in about a two minute time frame.

Scroungin' for lunch

This guy's not roaming far....

I even, by a stroke of luck, managed to spot a bright green parrot-looking bird chilling in a palm tree one day.  Unfortunately, it was too far away to get a good shot of on my camera.  I heard it’s cry, turned and looked in the precise direction, at exactly the right moment to spot it’s bright green feathers amongst the darker green palm leaves while we were walking down the street.

India: Faces

I have been home from India for four days and I have yet to post.  Honestly, I’m a bit overwhelmed by thinking about what to even say about India.  It was an amazing trip, it was spiritual, moving, uplifting, eye-opening, and, surprisingly, even relaxing.  I have been really stressed and confused in life the past couple months, but after a minor break down at the beginning of the trip, I was given this peace, a stillness in my mind, in my heart that allowed me to just BE.  It allowed me to be present in India, to relax and take in the moments.

Taking in the beauty! On the road leaving the orphanage. Not a bad shot considering it was taken while reaching my camera around someone else to take a snap out the window of a moving vehicle!

There was a bit of a cultural adjustment while we were there, the eight American adults all with a love and a drive to go-go-go were not always keen on the relaxed, we will get there when we get there, I know we said 4pm, but it will probably be more like 6pm or maybe 7pm culture.  There was a lot of waiting, a lot of sitting around being served tea and coffee when we wanted to go DO SOMETHING.  But through it all, I was relaxed, I was less impatient than I think I have ever been in my life (okay, with one or two exceptions).  I was soaking up being there!  And soaking up a bit of the sunshine.  I was enjoying the company I was in, conversations, laughs, and just getting to know the group I was traveling with.

India is full of color.

From the first day, one of the things I loved about India was the people.  Not only are they amazingly friendly, hospitable and kind, but they are beautiful.  The dark skin, dark big eyes and brightly colored clothing make them incredibly photogenic.  But it goes deeper, their lives are written on their faces.  The hard lives they live, their stories, their struggles and their burdens.  They appear older than they are, even the children sometimes look like they have so much history, so much experience and maturity but they are stuck in a child’s frame.  They are full of character, of life, of stories and of beauty.  I was in awe of the radiance I saw in each face, I longed to take a picture of every person just to capture the unique features, wrinkles, colors, and emotions distinctive to each individual.

I would love to hear all the stories behind their faces.

It wasn’t always appropriate to take a picture and sometimes I didn’t when I wished I could have.  But luckily the children were always more than willing to have their photo’s taken, at the orphanage they would beg and beg, pleading with me to take just one more shot!  With a lot of my people pictures I made a quick video to share. I have uploaded this video to Facebook, but you can access it from the link below. Please check it out to see some of the beautiful people I met in India.

Boys at the orphanage

A typical scene: sheep, a child and mom in front of their house.

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