It’s count down to my big IVHQ (International Volunteer Headquarters) Indian/Vietnam adventure.
In nine days I climb aboard my flight to Mumbai, and hope to catch the connecting Kingfisher flight to Delhi a few hours after my arrival. That’s not looking too hopeful at the moment. Kingfisher pilots are striking because they haven’t been paid for a while.
Oh well, that’s travelling for you. But there’s always the Mumbai Rajdhani Express from Mumbai Central station to New Delhi. It takes a good eighteen hours but I love the magic and mayhem of Indian rail journeys and the food is always sensational – although the loos can be interesting.
I am not sure what to expect from my placement to teach English in Dharamsala. The IVHQ booklet asks for flexibility and the willingness to smile in the face of adversity. So that’s what I intend to do. I will be staying with a Tibetan family in McLeod Ganj (Upper Dharamsala – named after David McLeod, a British Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab) and will be teaching about four hours a day. Quite to whom at this stage, I have no idea. It could be at one of the Tibetan schools in the area or with local teachers or even to groups of monks. More on that when I get there, although I hope I am as prepared as I can be. Yesterday I went to the local Pound Shop and stocked up on pens, bubbles, sticky numbers and letters and a bunch of balloons sporting the Union Jack logo.
But first I spend time in Delhi on an orientation week learning basic Hindi and getting to know a little about the rich complexity of Indian culture. This includes trips to the fabulous Locus Baha’i Temple, India Gate, The Red Fort and a Bollywood film. A must for anyone who is serious about India.
The biggest challenge (apart from dealing with the dread of flying – back to that in a moment) is what to take. I dragged out a super-large suitcase from the cupboard into which I threw my entire wardrobe. Following a few heated words with my husband (‘You’re insane to take that much’), it’s been replaced with a much smaller case, and I can see the sense. It’s daft to lug around stuff you’re never going to use, and anyway, how much do you actually need? In hot climates, very little.
As mentioned above, I have an overwhelming fear of flying. And, I am fed up with it. That’s a good thing because in the coming four and half months I will be taking at least twelve flights, most of them long haul.
So today I spent several hours sweating over websites that claim to help people deal with their fear of flying, or in my case, turbulence.
And, Glory Be, I think it might, possibly, perhaps, maybe have worked. I’ve learnt that turbulence is caused by changing air currents, isn’t dangerous at all, and that the plane rarely rises and falls more than a few inches, even in the most severe turbulence. Hmm. Not my experience when coming into land at Beijing a few years ago. But I do take on board how turbulence is caused by the speed of the plane hitting a kind of road-bump in the sky. I just don’t, don’t, don’t like it.
After watching a host of self-help YouTube videos, I found Eva Marthan to be the best. She teaches a simple EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) method that actually seemed to help. If it really has worked, I shall leave my beloved cat for her!
I plan to blog regularly about what I encounter, particularly how Indian and Vietnamese cultures treat older women (I fly to Vietnam at the end of June to work for five weeks with an eco-tourism NGO before my husband joins me for a couple of months travelling through South East Asia, New Zealand and the US). I hope to come back with a much broader understanding of my own aging process and how I can put this to good use.
Please do get in contact via my website site if you want to. I will be delighted to hear from you, and to share my experiences with you.
For anyone suffering from the fear of flying, Miami Helicopters website is a great resource.