Tuesday, January 31, 2006


On our way from Jaipur to Agra, we stopped at the fort of Fatehpur Sikri. In addition to enjoying this gorgeous fort for its own innate beauty, the experience was memorable because I got a chance to talk politics with several ten year old Indian boys.

They were bouncing around us, trying to be helpful (and therefore earn a few rupees), and chattering away in remarkably good English. They asked me where I was from and I replied America. Immediately the response came back – “Oh…George Bush!”

My instinctive reaction was to pull a face and give the universally-understood “thumbs down” gesture of dislike. I wrinkled my nose and said “ewww...George Bush.”

One boy pondered this for a moment and then –without any prompting, I swear—came back with “George Bush bad. Americans good!”

I was delighted with this astute assessment of the situation and we all practiced chanting “George Bush bad. Americans good!” for several minutes as the boys frolicked around us. In my mind, this definitely earned them their 10 rupees.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Meditations On My Bladder

One of the interesting side effects to traveling in a country of bumpy roads where clean bathrooms are few and far between is that you spend a truly inordinate amount of time contemplating your bladder. The inner monologue on a typical day might run something like this:

[8 am, at breakfast]

Should I have another cup of tea? No. Peeing is bad. Okay, no tea. Good plan.

[Three hours later while bouncing through the jungle in a jeep]

Hmmm….do I have to pee? Nah.


Correction. I definitely DO have to pee. Now what? Hmmmm…maybe I can just have the jeep stop and squat behind it. I’ll be shielded from view. That might work.

Uh oh, here comes two other jeeps filled with Indian families. Abort! Abort!

Okay, how about that tree? Will I be visible if I do my business behind that tree? Yes? Damn.

Well then how about that one? That looks large enough for privacy. Good…but there could be poison ivy. Or I might pee on a pit viper. He’s sure to take offense. Or what if a passing tiger mistakes my exposed rear for a deer haunch and decides to have a nibble?

Maybe I don’t have to go all that badly, afterall.

Home Sweet Mountains

Well I am safely returned from my expedition to the States and my whirlwind tour around India. The rats do not appear to have taken over the house, which is good. Someone broke into my apartment and stole my blow heater, which is bad. But all in all, the semester is off to a good start.

I have many things to write about--adventures abounded in the two weeks I spent bopping around India with my parents. Posts will be coming over the next few days. Not necessarily in chronological order; just as the spirit moves me. So prepare yourself for tales of wildlife, monuments, and bodily functions. :-)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Things that make you go...ewwww

We are four days into our two week tour of Northern India and I can say with complete confidence that I have now seen enough men nonchalantly peeing in various public locations to last me a lifetime.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Is Batman Jesus?

I will be the first to admit that I am not particularly adept at seeing theological underpinnings in pop culture. Take the Matrix movies. After the first movie, everyone was talking about all the Christian imagery and how Keanu Reaves was Jesus but I just nodded politely, while thinking quietly to myself –“Huh??” I finally caught on by the third movie (the whole dying with arms outstretched while a deep voice intoned “It is finished” was hard to miss) but it has to be pretty blatant for me to catch on. And I never really understood all the pleasure people derive from discussing the theology of Star Wars. Good versus Evil. Got it. Need we say more?

And then I watched “Batman Begins” and I suddenly understood the obsession. I was totally captivated by Liam Neeson’s character and the theology of the entire League of Shadows. It’s so interesting because their approach to injustice is portrayed as the “wrong” way, the path that Batman must not be tempted to follow. And yet, anyone familiar with the Old Testament will recognize the smite-them-all mentality. The League of Shadows steps in and destroys a civilization when the corruption, greed, and injustice get out of hand. Anyone remember the story of Noah? Massive flooding to destroy a corrupt nation? Or how about the offer God makes to Moses in Exodus, suggesting that perhaps Moses would like to just leave the Israelites behind to face God's wrath and strike out on his own after their destruction? The League would be so proud.

I particularly liked the scene when Liam Neeson confronts Christian Bale in the Wayne Mansion, just before it burns to the ground. Neeson is making his case for the destruction of Gotham City due to its unending corruption and Bale is pleading for more time, because there are still “good people” in the city. Sound familiar? Check Genesis 18-19 for the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

I have no idea if this imagery was intentional. Maybe not. But I have discovered how easy it is to let your mind run away with the possibilities. I found myself contemplating: If Leam Neeson and his group represent the Old Testament, then is Bruce Wayne the New Testament? Is Batman Jesus? Good Heavens. I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Wedding Planning

Wow, this whole Getting Married Thing is complicated. Of course, I suppose a lot of the stress probably stems from the fact that I’m spending the year prior to my marriage several thousand miles away from my fiancé and the location of the wedding. Good plan Kate. So, my time in Pittsburgh has been a whirlwind of wedding adventures, also known as “how many meetings can I fit into a 10 day period?” We talked to the florist, the cake people, the reception people (caterer and wedding coordinator), and still need to chat with two different pastors and check out hotel options for our guests, not to mention tweaking the budget and picking envelopes for the invitations. Anyone else tired?

Our florist is fun. My mom picked him out on a visit to Pittsburgh in September so despite the fact that he’s been busily plotting flower arrangements and determining how best to disguise several 25 foot tent poles (the plan involves wrapping them in tall grasses), I’d never met him. He’s a hoot! Middle-aged guy, loves his job, and is very funny and expressive. I would make suggestions about flowers and he would cringe and pull faces, clearly being caused pain by my complete lack of expertise on the subject. Apparently sunflowers on their own are too “country” to be carried by bridesmaids wearing Indian salwar kameez. BUT if you pair those sunflowers with freesia, they suddenly become “funky” rather than “country.” Who knew?

And I’m pleased to report that I actually found a wedding cake that I like. Allow me to say upfront that I hate most wedding cakes. They’re frilly and/or super girly and/or gaudy. For the most part. I must have looked at about a zillion pictures of cakes online, seeking inspiration, and found that the shocking majority of them were just monstrous. I saw one that was about 7 layers high, with a riot of flowers bursting from between each layer, little dots and lacy things on the cake itself and then—the crowning achievement—a huge long veil attached to the back of the cake, cascading down the sides. Yikes. But we selected a nice simple one and we’ll just throw a few fresh flower blossoms on it. No veils. No ribbon. No little people smooching on top of the cake. I wanted carrot cake but apparently it won’t survive sitting out for several hours. Alas.

We only got to nibble on one flavor of cake b/c we hadn’t put down a deposit yet. But now that we have, we’re allowed to try other “sample cakes” so I’m planning a night with my honey and the wedding party where dinner will consist entirely of wedding cake. It may cause all of us to collapse into sugar-induced comas, but I think it’ll be worth it.

We also have our first session of pre-marital counseling tomorrow. I’m a little nervous, because you just never know what someone will consider a good exercise for a soon-to-be married couple. For example, one of my friends, at her counseling session, was forced to build identical structures out of tinker toys with her betrothed, while not looking at each other—communication by verbal means alone. Now, I’m all for communication, but tinker toys? Is this necessary?