Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Day in the D.C.

Today was a layover day in the D.C. We all broke up into groups. Lee and I headed out to the folk life exhibit on the mall, escorted by Brent, Donna and Megan. We saw how soy is made, a honey exhibit, etc. Lee and I stayed on to perform a native dance, see how Omani instruments are played, and to drink a WONDERFUL fruit smoothie. Eventually, we headed over to meet everyone at the national museum of art. We viewed some Monets, some Picassos, etc., then took a tour of the sculpture garden and sat by the fountain. Then we headed back and took a little rest.

Eventually, we headed out to get a bite to eat. I ended up at "California tortilla" with Christy C, Megan, and Mary. Afterward, the four of us headed to Starbucks (where I didn't drink caffeine, as usual). When we finished, we headed back to the hotel. A bunch of us piled into my hotel room, where we watched Cats and Dogs, then Hitch. Then it was lights out.

This morning, we're going to hear back about flights. Wish us luck...
(Fingers crossed, middle finger pointed toward Northwest airlines.)

An expression of my distaste for Northwest Airlines

I see blogs as having many uses, but the most commonly referenced always seems to be personal rants. I think this stereotype is off-base, but I will justify it to some extent with this post, mainly because the issue at hand warrants a little bitching.

Northwest Airlines will be receiving a letter from me. I am upset with their organization. Firstly, they canceled our flight to Detroit due to weather, thereby ensuring that we missed our connecting flight to Dehli. I was thoroughly displeased to see that another airline's plane left from the directly adjacent terminal headed to Detroit only 40 minutes later. Not a concrete complaint, but aggravating, to be sure.

Further, though Northwest canceled our flight, they do not feel any burden of responsibility for our extended stay in D.C. rests on their shoulders. Thus, the fudge room in CAORC's budget was absorbed by our additional transport and hotel costs, as opposed to going toward our activities and the personnel facilitating them. I find this especially troubling, because Northwest is irrefutably responsible for our prolonged stay, and seemingly unwilling to man up to their responsibility. I suppose this bothers me because I think, if I were a private consumer, my lodging would have been covered. Because, instead, I am participating in a governmental program, my concerns are of lesser importance to the private industry. Certainly, at some point, Northwest lobbied the government to mandate that all governmental programs fly on a domestically based airlines. This isn't an absurd idea in and of itself, but if this governmental handout serves to detriment those governmental institutions financially and temporally, something has gone awry. I see Northwest as the instigator.

Lastly, I was accosted by the Northwest respresentative at Washington Dulles airport. Jay, a woman seemingly of Indian heritage, asked why I was traveling to India. I informed her that I was traveling to Dehli, Agra, Ajmer and Lucknow to visit the religious, political, and cultural sites of India. She responded "we don't like evangelists in our country." I was amazed, but responded that I was not an evangelist, and not even Christian. She told me that we were not wanted in her country. I told her that I was sorry to hear that. She explained that our nations had nothing to talk about. I said that I disagreed, and wished her a good day.
This woman should be fired.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Step forward to step back...

We headed to the airport with the knowledge that our flight would be delayed due to weather. Inevitably, it was canceled, thereby assuring that we missed our connecting flight to Dehli. We'll spend two more days in D.C., and rearrange our schedule in India to accomodate our late departure.

I'd like to note that AIIS has gone to some impressive efforts to accomodate what is absolutely not their fault. They extended our food stipend and put us back in our hotel, rescheduled our flights and made new travel arrangements, and made the calls to make sure that none of our learning experience is lost in the transition. I feel so fortunate not only to have been selected, but to have been selected by some real winners. AIIS, you rock!

So tonight we ate Thai food, and it was muy delish. We're headed back to the hotel next, and tomorrow I'll probably take a nice walk and do some logic puzzles. If anyone in the D.C. area wants to help me occupy my time, feel free to call the Red Roof Inn on H street and ask for us - we've got some time to smother!

Activities of the workshop on India and Islam

Organizers and Workshop Leaders:
Catherine Asher, Associate Professor from the University of Minnesota, and Narayani Gupta, Professor Emeritus from Jamia Milia University in Delhi, were the main organizers. Narayani Gupta assisted in locating appropriate lecturers, while Cathy was with the group of 12 students throughout the workshop. They were assisted by Frederick (Rick) Asher, University of Minnesota, who helped with many of the logistical arrangements in India. Also helping was Professor Nikky Singh of Colby College in Watertown, Main who accompanied Catherine Asher throughout the program. Manaji was there for us always and a huge support.

The Program:
The workshop got off to a late start in India due to the cancellation of the students’ flight, causing considerable delay in their arrival in India. Originally you were schedule to land in Delhi on July lst. Four students were able to reach Delhi by July 4th but the other eight were delayed until the 5th. While the loss of so many days at first was a blow to both organizers and students, we were able to compensate by providing a rich packed program.


Thursday, June 30, 2005


Today was pretty sweet! We had lectures all day in the Smithsonian about the history of India and the Muslim culture within India. Last night 5 of us walked around the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial, which was awesome. Tomorrow we leave.


Bridling the excitement

It was a day in wait. We went to the National Museum of Natural History and met with CAORC staffers, a State Dept. Official, two professors, and a SITA traveler. The wealth of information bestowed upon us was large but digestible, and all in all it was a worthwhile experience. Later this evening we headed to the Cosmos Club to meet with more State Dept. Officials and mingle. It was a thrilling time. I have 50 cents left, so I'll have to expound later...=)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

In the D.C.

I arrived in D.C. around 4pm yesterday. My Honors College Advisor/best friend Jonnel and her Poli Sci Prof husband Joey picked me up, and I checked out their new casa. Muy bonita!

I'm now at the University of Maryland to check email. I'll head over to the Red Roof later today, where I look forward to meeting all of you!

We leave in two days!

India is upon us!

I will be leaving my house in 12 hours for the airport. I cannot believe this trip is here. I have so much to pack before I go.

Jon, I am giving this site address to all my friends and family so they can track our blogging. Thanks for getting this site up.