Wednesday, May 31, 2006

picture this.

Pictures of china and the last 2 weeks of india are finally on the photo website. (see the link on the sidebar)
Thanks for sticking around to see them.
 I'm preparing for the big lennard family trip to New Hampshire. I heard a rumor about sea kayaking, but i'm trying to not get too excited until i see the sea.  Blayne and i went fossil collecting here in cincinnati the other day. Blayne had never been fossil hunting and  i haven't been to french park creek in a very long time, despite the fact that approximately 1/4 of my child/teenhood was spent running through the surrounding woods. It was pretty great to realize that the numberous field trips to find fossils were not in vain. I was able to call up names of Brachyopods and Trilobytes and other ancient creatures i haven't talked about in years. Sitting on a rock looking up the creek produced a strong case of deja vu. I saw the tiny waterfalls made by flat tables of slate, the glacial silt and the jackpot loads of grey clay. I've made facemasks, warpaint, pots and animal figurines out of this clay. Finding a store of this clay is a bit like running into an old friend. The leaves on the trees around here are a pretty incredible green, this fresh new may green. A color entirely unreplicatable in pantone booklets or with a whole store of paints. It has too much depth. It's a green that doesn't seem to be just a green. I dont know how to describe it any better. If think i'm full of crap, head on over to French park, off section road in cincinnati. Walk down the creek aways and you'll have to agree.

I should be back in chicago on june 19th or 20th. I can't wait to see all of you folks up there.

Monday, May 29, 2006

overdue blog

Some might say that i've been neglectful of my blog in recent weeks,
some could be right. i would probably use the phrase blatantly
ignoring, rather than neglectful, but what is a word choice between
friends. Let's just say that if this blog were a soon to be born baby,
it would be at least 3 weeks late. I am awake this memorial day
morning at about 11am in cincinnati. i just got word from lindsay that
Africa is big and amazing and that she is on her way home. Since i
have written last, my brother michael (the second to youngest) has
graduated from highschool. That was pretty big and amazing. We had a
party for him yesterday that started at 1pm and ended at midnight. His
friends have figured out the most important part of graduation party
attendance, arrive early when the food is still good. Luckily for them
i think we put out quite a spread. Strawberry Rhubarb pies and goat
cheese and aunt fran's fab. texas caviar. (beans as caviar. duh) i'll
admit that i have the stomach this morning of someone who spent 12
hours grazing on overly rich but amazing food. perhaps someday i'll
get used to this food in america thing. perhaps i should have changed
the title of this blog. i think in the end 2/3 of my entries have
spent at least a couple sentances on food. Perhaps it should have been
something erudite like "culinary adventures with katie" or maybe the
more accurate "sneaking into people's kitchens and eating a lot, with
katie." Nonetheless, thanks for sticking with me.
Coming home, it's kind of amazing to realize how many people have been
reading this. It seems like everyone i talk to has at least read
something of my blog, which is pretty incredible. This is primarily
thanks to mom and dad's outstanding campaign to let everyone they've
ever met know what i am doing and telling them to read my blog. It
seems to be working suprisingly well. as i've told, probably all of
you, having people read this makes coming home so much easier. it has
almost completely negated the "so, how was india" question, the
question that is well meaning but entirely impossible to answer
without about 10 kgs of hyperbole. If people ask THAT question, my
recent answer has been "great.' india was great. I dont know if i've
ever made such an understatement in my life.

I'm paging through the september 1993 national geographic about
Rabaris. It's making me nostalgaic. I do miss india. Apparently i seem
to be adjusting well to life in america. Life is certainly easier
here, but. but but.....At michael's party last night i got to pull out
my bits of embroidery and all sorts of fabric bits to show off to my
aunts. It was great to really look at everything again. Opening the
boxes of things we had sent home was a pretty great experience, I'm
looking forward to diving into the boxes that we had sent ahead to
blayne's house in chicago. India seems very close and yet very far
away all at the same time. Here in cincinnati i am mostly in a sort of
hibernation. I have a rediculous stack of books sitting next to the
futon in the basement where i am sleeping, they include chinese
cookbooks, fat indian novels, pulitzer prize winning nonfiction about
genocide and the cia, depressing books about africa, some dave eggers,
a lonely planet book of south america and the fantastic new sarah
vowell book about presidential assasinations. I keep drifting onto the
library website to order more books, but i have to remember that i am
not actually here forever and that these should keep me busy for some
Next week the lennards go hiking in new hampshire and maine. Two new
states for me, a pretty exciting prospect, seeing as i only have a few
left. I'm also looking forward to some qualiity time with trees.
Unfortuately, Mount Washington has some of the worst weather in the
country. Dad sent me a cheerful email two days ago showing the 6
inches of snow waiting for us when we get there..ugh. i thought i
left all that in the Himalayas.
i still have photos of china to post. i promise i'll get around to
that this week.
if you get bored, check out victoria's blog. She just got to syria for
a summer of Arabic intensive. It's pretty fascinating to say the
big love

Saturday, May 13, 2006

in america

it's true.
i'm in la.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

over and out.

 lindsay and i have safely reached beijing. it's cold and raining outside which is not terribly inviting. It definately makes me a little excited about sunny southern california. I'll be there saturday morning, which is pretty comedic, considering that i am leaving china tomorow morning, which is also saturday morning. woohoo international date line!!! i have a short layover in Tokyo and then jessica will meet me in LA. i can't even tell how long my flights actually are because i will be crossing so many time zones.
I know i haven't posted in a while. The irony of the fact that we have been staying in an apartment with wireless internet, and we still have not posted on our blogs, is not lost on us. Nonetheless, we have been tremendously busy, doing important things like eating far far too much, watching movies in english(!) and getting down to the very serious buisness of relaxing. Since my last posting we have done the following:
-Stayed in a tiny, pretty traditional village
-Taken a drive to a "small village" "80" km away, that turned out to be a drive over unpaved roads to a pretty big town 160km away. Never trust the distances listed in the rough guide. We had just enough time to eat dinner and turn around.
-eaten endless plates of fried goat cheese
-walked through an amazing market where they sold huge live toads by the basket and eels by the bucket, all for eating
- bought a million chopsticks
-ate hot-pot 3 times, including bamboo and lots of baby sheep
-taken a 35 hour train to wuhan
- kate lindsay and i have all made almost 1 sock. a crazy lady on the train ripped out kate's knitting and made her start a scarf and then left a chinese girl to "watch" kate and make sure she was doing it right.
- been bowling, on my first game i bowled a 28. i think that takes serious skill. not 28 for the frame. 28 for the whole game
-listened to screachy chinese classical music under a bridge near the yangtzee.
-lindsay and i taught english, twice, to two of kate and duff's oral english classes- we taught them the "i love the mountains, i love the rolling hills song" they sang it excellently in a round. and then we discussed india.
-found 2000 rupees we had hidden in a tampon box for safe keeping
-stolen tremendous amounts of candy corn from kate and duff's easter candy stash
- had our hair washed in an all-boy teenasian beauty salon
- locked kate and duff out of their apartment
- freaked out aprox. 374.9 times

last night, kate and duff made us amazing spaghetti and meatballs and we drank wine from macau and ate great great food before running like mad to catch the train we almost missed. luckily we made it, all was well. i just have to get myself to the airport tomorow morning and we'll be fine.
lindsay has a bit more to do. she has a train and then a bus on monday to get to macau, then a lot of airplanes before she arrives in africa. unbelievable.
i'll be back in cincinnati in about a week. we'll both be back in chicago mid june.
i can't wait to see all of you.
i cant believe we are leaving asia. how rediculous.
big big love

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

freezing in china.

so we've been in mainland china for a couple of days now. Our last night in macau we had a rediculous/amazing portugese/chinese dinner. i had steak. it was almost too much to handle for a girl who has been in a country with sacred cows for a couple months.
From macau we took a very long, but really beautiful trainride to Yunan province. We cut through some amazing countryside, lots of rice paddy fields, dotted with tiny villages and farmers wearing wide brimmed straw hats working their fields. We also managed to see a lot of the overgrown skyscraper collectives that the chinese like to call cities. I don't think i appreciated macau nearly as much until i had spent time in a "real" chinese city. i think the cities in china are pretty much everything i hate about a city, with none of the benefits of beautiful old architecture or any sense of an "old" city. macau is ancient compared to the other cities we passed through.
luckily the countryside is beautiful, lacking a lot of the pollution haze that is omnipresent in the cities. As duff pointed out, in india, cities can spread into villages which continue on for ages, in china there is sprawl, but at some point the city just stops, and that is that. no nonsense.
This provides for a lot of really great views from the immaculate sleeper trains here. we saw mountains, gorges, rivers, fields, rock formations, and all sorts of lovely things. It was far better than flying ever could have been.
We are traveling in the northwest of Yunan. Our train went to a city called kunming, which is a pretty gorgeous city by chinese standards. For some reason, which we have been unable to determine, but is nonetheless the reason we are in Yunan, culture has been allowed to flourish here. There are buildings here that date before the cultural revolution which is unheard of. Kunming boasts a shiny new downtown with a bustling shopping district featuring high fashion shops and state of the art outdoors goods. (arcteryx jackets?) But, luckily enough for us, there is an older district featuring old houses and a wild market. I've never been in a pet market before. We all picked out puppies.
i have pictures of mine, dont worry.
This morning we landed in Lijang, a high profile tourist destination, due to the amazing collection of old buildings contained here. It is the ancestral home of the Naxi people, an ethnic group who's older members are still easily identifyable by their distinctive capes. It's pretty fantastic. Unfortunately, like most "cultural" sites in china, this one is highly government sanctioned. The chinese government has decided that this is a good site to develop, which is good for us, because if they had not decided this, we wouldnt be able to see it at all.  What it does mean is that the few cultural sites are highly crowded and overdeveloped. There is a touch of Rajasthan in all of this, shop clerks dressed in bad sateen facsimilies of traditional dress. It makes my soul ache a little, but i guess i would rather see it to some degree than not at all.
Tomorow we go off into the wilds of the northwest, getting closer to the tibetan border. not too close i hope, because my clothes are not all that warm...i guess i can always wear my sleeping bag as a dress. our plan is to get on a bus and hop off when it looks good.  it should be exciting to say the least.

Katie Lennard
somewhere on the subcontinent

Friday, April 28, 2006

namaste china

after a very very long day of sitting all night in the bombay airport, flying through thunderstorms and running through customs in bangkok, we are safely in china. Kate and Duff's lovely faces were waiting at macau's tiny airport to greet us. Whie we have not yet been in china for 24 hours, and kate and duff assure us that macau isn't really like china anyway, seeing as they were a portugese colony up until 1999, but we have already noticed several important differences between india and china.
like the fact that it is raining outside. (curses for sending home my rain jacket)
like everything being written in cantonese, for example. There are incredible neon signs with huge cantonese letters everywhere. The streets in macau are winding and show definate portugese influence, yet little shrines with pots of inscense are lodged in the foundations of all the buidings. It's pretty fascinating.
People here are also dressed in western, dare i say "hip"styles. I feel a  bit uncool in my traveler garb next to all these people with angular haircuts and snazzy glasses.
 Another immediate difference is the scents. the streets smell incredible, the cuisine here is a blend of portugese and chinese food, so there is a riot of food scent very very different from the masalas that we are used to.  It's pretty exciting to be in a completely new place, and really super great because kate and duff are such great tourguides. Their mandarin is apparently decent enough that we should be able to hop on and off buses when we see something cool, rather than being stuck in the main tourist areas like most western tourists in china.
Unfortunately, some things are not different, like the fact that kate, lindsay and i all were eaten alive by mosquitos last night, and my guts are still a little rumbly  but that's probably just residual india. 
itching and rumbling aside, i think that this will be a pretty interesting forray into central asia. And the food will be very very very good. (really what matters much more than that. ) Kate and duff said the magic words of "sweet potato noodles"and peanut sauce, and of course there is hot pot. But besides all that, they've promised to take us bowling. clearly we are in the right place.
love in cantonese.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

: countdown

We're back in bombay. There's about a dozen things we want/need to do before blayne leaves tomorow night(!) and lindsay and i leave on wednesday night (!!). Things like go to the post office and mail yet another package of things we've managed to aquire, buy something else for my good for nothing little brothers, eat lots of indian food, hang out with blayne, pack decently. you know, all that stuff you  have to do before you leave a country that you've been living in, even in a transitory manner, for the last 8 months. Somehow, as you can probably guess, a lot of that stuff is really hard to do.  We're finding it remarkably difficult to wrap our minds around the fact that we are indeed leaving india.
Everyone asked in kutch " you will return yes? 2008?"
i'll take the kutchis at their word that i will indeed return in 2008, but still we've already done all sorts of last things untill 2008. like last rickshaw ride until 2008 (they arent allowed in bombay city center) last divine gujarati curd or millet rotla (until 2008 of course). All the things that are really amazing about india, the stuff that makes us sigh with big grins on our faces. Like entire families on a scooter, or better yet, those families doing a u-turn in traffic just to drive back to say hello and wish us a good day.i'm going to feel a lot less popular when i get home. granted, there will be some really great things about being able to walk down the street in annonymity. But i'll miss people saying hello, and the amazing comradship that exists here. People on a bus or a train sitting together can appear to the random observer to be lifelong friends, even though they've just met. Perfect strangers iin neighboring cars can have extensive conversations at traffic lights. As a whole, people here are interested in other people, which is perhaps why india agrees with me so much.
i really can't believe that we're leaving, i cant believe that i'm not going straight home, i can't believe i'll be home so soon, or that blayne will be eating a burrito in chicago on thursday, or that lindsay and i will be in china on thurdsay. That's a little rediculous.
We picked up our passports, complete with shiny new chinese visas from the consulate today. Kate and duff, through some miracle of chinese red tape cutting, managed to get train tickets that seemed impossible, so we will be off to Yunan province to hang out with some ethnic minorities. yippie. i hear chinese trains are even nicer than indian trains and i am excited to sample the wares. i can't wait to be in america where i can ride my bike instead of  a bus. my neck is still crooked from the sleeper bus we took last night.
okay i know i'm saying very little. probably because i am thinking too much.
big big love
general addendum. this blog didn't go through when i wrote it two days ago. so i'll just post it now. we put blayne on an airplane last night, lindsay and i left our ackpacks in storage at the airport. once we mail a couple of large(!) packages today we'll be footloose and fancy free until we go to the airport around midnight. we fly to delhi, then bangkok, then macau where we met kate. aii. my bank account balance just scared the crap out of me because the atm displayed the amount in dollars rather than in rupees. tomorow. whew.
the lennard family recieved 3 packages from all over india yesterday. one that i posted 5 months ago, one from 3 months ago and another from 2 weeks ago. the greiners recieved some bookpost that we sent two weeks ago and hopefully another package will be on their doorstep any minute.  ahh the indian postal service. fitting that these things are arriving just as we are leaving.
 just as we are leaving.
entirely unbelievable.
next you hear from me will be in china.