Welcome to India

This blog is intended to make a country that most Westerners find to be otherworldly not so much so. We enjoy sharing our experiences, noting our observations, highlighting our impressions and otherwise recounting our adventures in India while helping our blogwatchers to be vicariously closer to this grand country. Welcome to India.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

TOMS Shoes for Covenant Children's Homes

How cool is this? Many of you are aware of the TOMS shoes "One-for-One" business philosophy where customers in the developed world buy a trendy, cool pair of TOMS shoes, then the company sends one pair to children in the developing world. We've worked so hard to raise funds for our kids to have school shoes, but after-school shoes just hasn't been in the budget.

Until TOMS stepped in.

Last Saturday we had a TOMS distribution for our CCH children and they obviously loved it. Shoes are not only a health and safety necessity for children everywhere and especially in this part of the world, but even more than that, shoes are a dignifying addition to children's sense of themselves and their growth as people.

You can see the fun that was had and how stylin' our orphans and abandoned children are with their slick, black TOMS. Thank you, TOMS and thanks to all of you for your interest and support in these children.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Paris - A C'est Magnifique Finish to Our Trip

After getting to know Paris a bit on my own, then taking my bride there for part of our honeymoon, the City of Light is now one of our favorites throughout the world. The culture and romance really is unbeatable and when our travel agent said this was the most inexpensive location to fly through from New York to India, we said "Oui, oui, Par-eee!"

Though only able to indulge in cafe au lait, crepes and croissants for a couple days, our city-wide stroll (probably 10 miles in two days) in the wonderful spring-like weather was a great conclusion to our 85-day journey 'round-the-globe. Soon we were back to the airport and back to India where we temporarily belong and where there is so much good to be done.

Our plan is for a lifetime of involvement with these kids, but one more calendar year here on the ground. Thanks for continuing your ride on the Rickshaw Writer. Many more stories, reflections, pictures and Indian excitement to come.

A Quick Trip North, Back to Sweden

After living there for two-plus years, I will always be strategizing and considering how to get back to Sweden for occasional visits and a reacquaintance with friends and life in this very special part of the world. Upon our realization that it's actually more efficient to continue east to India after arriving to America's east coast, we thought it would be nice to visit some family and friends in Europe for a short time on our way through.

Paige's parents, who currently reside in this general part of the world, were able to spend a few days with us to make this Sweden trip all the more memorable. As you can see, the snow on the ground and the chill of winter immediately reminded us that we aren't in India, but we kept in mind that this will be the coldest weather we're in for probably another year-and-a-half.

Andreas and Sara Vinsander were kind enough to host all four of us for this unique weekend near the Arctic. It was great friends like these, who did so much, paid so much and did so with such grace and kindness that made this journey possible and quite remarkable. An approximately 85 days that we will always treasure.

One more day in the "seven pictures in seven days" blogging extravaganza!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kansas City with a Dash of New York

Two-and-a-half years ago, I chose to spend my bachelor party weekend in Kansas City hosted by close friends from college, Dan Deeble and Matt Gazaway, and they collaborated with my best man and younger, smaller, brother, Todd Whiting who lives in New York City. What came of this weekend was stuff of legend, but suffice to say that we're still talking about it and Kansas City will always be synonymous with the Whity Waggle Weekend, of which I believe there might still be a website out there somewhere.

This trip through "KC" was not as eventful as that weekend in 2009, thankfully, but the boys always seem to pull of the miraculous when it comes to knowing just how to host and entertain Paige and I for a few days in their city. The above picture captures the evening when Todd himself made an appearance in spirit at a dessert and wine bar, collaborating once again with Dan and Matt to rekindle memories and pull another one over on yours truly. Todd sent a presentation, read by our waitress, who also happened to be wearing the tribute T-shirt from that fateful weekend. Todd also picked up the check from afar...

Nice touch by "TBBM...F" - The Best Best Man...Forever, and another memorable evening in and trip to Kansas City with the closest and most treasured of friends.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kids, Kids, Kids Everywhere: India to America and Back

For any of you who thought we were leaving children when we took off from India in December, you were mistaken. We may have left 200 children in India, but we were met by nearly (it seemed) 200 children on our journey home and back.

Most of our friends these days are a few steps ahead of us on the whole offspring experience. We gladly come in and play Uncle and Auntie for a few days, then continue on to the next home-turned-playground for some more Cars or Cars 2 or indoor sports or "racing" or "On your marks, get set, go!" or any other of the numerous games we played, DVDs we watched or wrestling/tickle matches we were fond of.

The above pictures include Sean enthusiastically taking in the metro ride in D.C. with nephews Samuel and Zachariah, Sean and Jett Haun in Texas discovering Lightning McQueen for the umpteenth time and Paige and Asher (striking a similar pose) in Orange County while also watching the current childhood phenomena known as Cars.

It's a joy to watch these little guys and girls grow up and, whether from near or far, Uncle Sean and Auntie Paige will always love all these kids we saw during this most unique and kid-oriented trip.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rose Bowl - Pasadena

The highlight of our time at home was definitely the people with whom we have such rich and strong and long-lasting relationships. Family and friends on both sides of our marriage are so missed when we are so far away. Our trip was ALL about the people.

Except for this one day.

That day was January 2nd.

We were VIPs during the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl festivities thanks to wonderful friends of our Mom, Rich and Sharon Jackson, who just happened to be this year's President and First Lady of the Rose celebration.

This picture, captured towards the end of the game, shows President Rick in the foreground preparing his post-game congratulatory speech to the winning coach, Paige and I in the mid-ground (?) casually enjoying our Presidential Suite location and finally, the background gives witness to the ESPN broadcast booth with Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger calling what was one of the most high scoring and memorable Rose Bowl games in a long time.

Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38.

The irony of us in the VIP suite at the Rose Bowl compared with our normal everyday existence in rural India with cows and buffalo was not lossed on us. This was a great, great day on our trip.

And I just had to include it in this week's trip summary.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pizza - Santa Barbara

Our trip had two very consistent themes throughout: people and food. Everywhere we went we ate the best of, the most of, the highest quality of, the greatest of, that this family or that city had to offer. It was just what we wanted (but not necessarily needed) after a year of living on the food margins in the margins of India.

Pizza, you might say, was a consistent theme-within-a-theme! As much as possible, as often as possible. Here we are in Santa Barbara at our favorite local pizza joint, Rusty's. This specific location is where I first called Paige to set-up our blind date in the summer of '08 and this city is where we lived our first year of marriage.

After Bangkok for a few days, home in Southern California for about a month, Santa Barbara kickstarted our trek across the country. More to come tomorrow.

Around the World in (About) 80 Days

On December 3rd, we embarked on a trip that was three parts in the making: 1) returning home for the holidays as previously planned, after one year in India, 2) a trip across the U.S. visiting closest friends and family and, 3) the return trip to India via Europe where we reunite with more family and friends from France to Sweden. We just returned from this "Around the World in (About) 80 Days" trip on February 23rd. The ride on the Rickshaw Writer had to take a pause for a little while during this journey, but we're back. Oh yeah, we're back.

This week I'll be capturing our trip in seven pictures, one-per-day, with a small vignette to illuminate this once-in-a-lifetime, circumstantially-driven-but-thoroughly-embraced adventure around the world in "about" 80 days and in actuality 85.

The above picture was taken at the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Museum in Durango, Colorado where we found a nostalgic look at all things Old West and included old movie posters like this one, which gave illustration to our ongoing trip theme..

Check back here this week for more pictures that speak to the wonders of this just-completed trip, and then we'll be back in India for over one year.