Visa application: DONE. It's a tedious process, but the applications were shipped out and we should get our visas back in a couple of weeks. Likely after Thanksgiving. Gratefully only ten year visa are issued now, so IF I plan to go again (and I do) I don't have to go through this process again. India is making it easier for tourist to come to India. I think they particularly are happy to see those of Indian descent return to Mother India. While never having been an Indian citizen I kind of fall in the category since I have a parent, grandparent and great grandparent born in India.
International Air Flight: DONE So apparently people are still spending more than $1000 on round trip tickets between India and the USA. So maybe I can help out anyone interested in going to India. There are cheaper ways to go! My second cousin just bought a ticket from California for $650, our tickets from Chicago were in the $800-$850 range. In the past six months since I started looking into this, I saw tickets as low as $500. There are so many people traveling to India that prices for tickets are getting cheaper and cheaper! Still for most people this is a hefty investment. I highly recommend www.onetravel.com They always seem to offer good rates. You can always go to the airline and see if they have even a cheaper deal for the flights you find on onetravel website.
Domestic Flights in India: It seems that India has invested more in its air travel than rail. I hope to get a train trip in somewhere along the way. But mostly we will be flying around India. I haven't purchased the tickets yet. It is amazing to me that to fly across India it can cost between $35 - $75.I plan to purchase them in December. Here again, it's made very easy, or so it seems, with websites such as makemytrip.com or easemytrip.com. The proverbial saying is the taste is in the pudding....so we shall see how it is in the end.
Guest Houses: In all the place we are visiting we have found very reasonable (for US rates) guest houses. In most of them the rate is Rupees 2500/day or $37/day. You'll be hearing more about what I experience at each accommodation. Actually in one place our guest house is only $15/day. How I found these various guest houses is through recommendations from friends.o Still not too confident about finding something on line, though hotels are posted on line.
So what else is on the check list?
Learning Hindi: Progress is being made!
मैं हिंदी बोलना सीख रहा हूँ। यह हर दिन बेहतर होते जाता है|
Research Preparation: Now here lies my greatest challenge. I don't know what I don't know. I'm making a list of places and peoples to visit. My research so far has been very serendipitous,following leads that have brought me to some very interesting discoveries (primarily on line). I truly cannot imagine my self ever breaking out of this mold of the accidental researcher. However, when it comes to visiting places and people I may need to be more intentional and systematic.
Spiritual Preparation: perhaps more than any other time in my life I believe that I have been lead to this very time, by a power much greater than myself, for a purpose that reaches beyond just writing a book. This does not mean that I anticipate anything dramatic. What I anticipate is that every encounter, every location, every experience be full of meaning. I am preparing myself and quieting myself in hopes of enhancing my perceptions so that I won't miss out on the full experience. Honestly, it is a challenge. It is challenging to be attentive when there is sensory over load in a cross cultural environment. It's a challenge to keep attentive when one is perpetually on the move. On the other hand the senses can be made alive by the newness of experience. But beyond my personal receptivity, I also believe, it is necessary to be spiritually prepared to be generous with one's self. Can I leave every place or person better than when we met? I don't want to be guilty of being the consumate consumerist tourist. I hope that I am able to share any part of myself and enhance the lives of those I meet on this journey. Partly, I do this, with a clear sense of reciprocity. We all have something to share with each other.
In everything there is love, faith and hope, may the greatest always be love. With God this is possible.