Archive for the ‘Pre-Trip Prep’ Category


And I’m off…

February 9, 2007

Time is running short, but before I leave for India, I wanted to be sure to thank youcontinental.jpg all so much for all of your incredible enthusiasm and support for my plans. Thank you for seeming genuinely excited for me, for being truly interested in what I’m doing, and for helping me feel ready to fulfill this big dream so much sooner than I thought I would, after last year.

This has always felt like an intensely personal goal that was hard for me to explain and for others to relate to. Yet today, I feel like I’m leaving with this huge team behind me and the feeling is awesome. (Like, in the old skool way of ‘awesome,’ as opposed to ‘awwwwesomme.’) This is happening because my amazing family, incredible guy and wonderful friends helped me make it so, and I won’t forget it for a moment. I’ll work hard every day to be worthy of your support.

salwar-kameez.jpgOkay, that’s it for me…. off to the airport in a couple of hours for a long, long flight. I should arrive in Delhi late Saturday/early Sunday and spend the day in orientation with a trip to a quickie tailor to have several salwar kameez made to wear while I’m in-country. And then the work begins. I expect have access to an internet connection a couple of times a week, but service is intermittent, and time is limited, so I’ll be sticking to blog posts, rather than individual eMails. I’d love it if you would keep in touch with me here: let me know what’s going on with you and at home. You can leave comments or notes on any post by just clicking on the “Comments” link beneath each one. Be well, and take care… Love, Kara


Four more days…

February 5, 2007

I know that every week I seem to have an “it finally feels real” moment, but today’s was the kicker. This morning, I received official word of my assignment in India: I’ll be working at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying and Destitute in Delhi. This was the placement I had hoped for, but was never guaranteed. Now that I’m sure, my mind is finally starting to rush forward and rehearse/imagine/envision. Before today, I stared blankly at everyone who has asked “Are you so excited! Are you nervous? Can you believe it? Is it all you can think about?” I’ve been so busy with trying to order my life such that this time away is possible, and that everything will be in place when I return, that I’ve barely had time to consider the reality of the thing.

Knowing where I’m going, and what I’ll be doing has my mind racing. I need to pack comfortable, lightweighthindilessons.JPG shoes for the constant motion. I should look for my foam knee pads because I remember how the sisters love to put ‘young’ volunteers to work at cleaning the facilty. I need to bring my own box of surgical gloves, as they’re often in short supply when assisting residents with HIV and/or in need of wound care. I’ll pick up a new nail care kit and extra lotion, as personal care needs are plenty. (A generous friend dropped by with a CVS gift card last night — how great and what timing!) Read the rest of this entry ?



February 1, 2007

visa1.JPG visa2.JPG

I am a tourist with visa. Score.


Another litre of still water, please?

January 31, 2007

So, I’m crammed into a tiny, packed coffee shop on 65th and 5th trying to tuck my elbows in enough to be able to type withoutpass1.gif assaulting the women on my left and right, while smiling sympathetically at Ivana Trump who is struggling to find room to remove her coat and scarf at a table across from me. (Upon reflection, the sympathetic smile is probably more that she was married to that, well, challenging man. Though, by the looks of things, she’s doing quite well. God love ya, girl.) Today is the fourth time I’ve planned to spend the day in NY applying for a visa at the Indian consulate, with each prior attempt failing for weather, a stomach bug, or an Indian holiday. This one is still clearly up for grabs.

I made it halfway to the city today, all the while forgetting that the dog was in the back of the Jeep; she was scheduled to spend the day playing at the vet while I’m out of town. I was on the phone making, cancelling and rescheduling appointments and plans for the next 9 days and working on wedding stuff with my friend and hit the highways, unthinking. I simply forgot RileyJane was on board. Eek. I’m just so scattered these days. Turning back around meant I reached the tunnel a full hour later than I expected to, and between police barrier redirects, an accident, and construction, it took me another hour to get the 25 blocks to the consulate — 10 minutes before the door is locked against new applicants. Parking garage hell meant beginning the sprint with four minutes to spare. It’s freezing and windy today in New York, and the running set off asthma symptoms that I haven’t had in years. I tore up the marble steps of my destination and wrenched the door open, noting in passing the small brass plaque above the doorbell: Consulate General of Serbia and Montenegro. Shit. Read the rest of this entry ?


Oh, fun!

January 20, 2007

Received a lovely eMail from an Irishman yesterday, saying his first hellos before heading off to India to begin volunteering with CCS the same day as me. A collection ofsteps1.jpg folk were copied — all scheduled for the February 11th start date, and the exchanges have begun. Lately, I’ve been so caught up with the fundraising, the paperwork, just the piles of administration that go along with leaving your whole world for a month’s time and journeying far, far away. So bogged down in it all, that I almost lost sight of the thing itself– the work, living in India, bunking with 15 or so others, and squeezing in extraordinary bits of travel when time permits.

Today, it’s just a list of names and eMail addresses– in a few weeks, these unfamiliar ganges1.jpgnames will be my flatmates, my colleagues, and hopefully my new friends. We’ll be sharing bunks and baths, meals and malaria talk. Americans, Canadians, Brits, & Irishmen — looking forward to meeting these mystery peeps and learning their stories. So many of them are staying in India for so much longer than I am, but hopefully we’ll still have time to get to know each other and fill up our bits of free time with all the amazing stuff within train-reach from Delhi before I have to leave. Okay. I’m officially excited. /squee



December 27, 2006

This morning was my first of several pre-trip travel clinic appointments and I’m a bit grumpy. Dishearteningly uninformed staff, painful shots, and an even more painful bill. Eek.

The doc came in insisting that I didn’t need any of the immunizations that I had requested, and instead needed (a really expensive and somewhat risky) one that wasn’t on my list. I balked, repeating that what I read on the CDC site — which went against her recos. She countered, repeating her initial assertions. Finally, I asked her to print out the info, which I then used to point out her error. Her response? “Oh. Then there’s nothing you need, since you are up-to-date on your Hep A & Hep B shots.” “What about typhoid? Japanese encephalitis?” I asked. “No, you don’t need those. Well, wait. No. Maybe. Maybe those.” Oh, God.

After some more back and forth, I finally got what I came for: the recommended typhoid vaccine, the first of three JE shots, and a prescription for anti-malaria treatment. Can’t believe that even after asking the right questions, I still almost received a yellow fever vaccine I didn’t need, and none of the ones I did. Yuck. Lessons of the day: 1) Do the research, and say what you know. 2) Ow. Flu shot has nothing on these babies. 3) This stuff is a fortune: $170/per shot and not covered by insurance. Worth it, of course — but a nasty reminder of what it would be like to pay for healthcare out-of-pocket every day. Healthcare reform, please, new Congress.


To Do List

December 11, 2006

Task #1: Schedule early January doc appointment to get immunizations and anti-malaria Rx. Though this local doc’s tiny Lville office probably stocks hepatitis-a, hepatitis-b, measles and tetnus boosters, I’m guessing she’s plum out of japanese encephalitis & typhoid immunizations. (There’s always a run on them for the holidays, what with all those hard-to-please relatives to shop for.)

Task #2: (And way scarier than all those shots) Get serious about fundraising. What’s worse than asking family and friends for a contribution? Trying to do so around the holidays. Eek. Finally accepted that fundraising is a necessary and legitimate part of this journey and trying to think of creative ways to tackle it that won’t be quite so uncomfortable for me. Buffet dinner at an Indian restaurant with a donation for entry, slightly higher than the restaurant’s charge? Raffle of some sort? Nervously getting to work on those. Crazy that the most intimidating part of heading off to India on my own for this sort of work is not the thing itself, but rather the simple act of asking for something, anything, from anyone. From the comforts of my home, even. Huh. And the learning begins…