It has been quite a while since I last posted and preparations for my trip to India are well underway. I am scheduled to leave in three and a half weeks and my excitement is definitely building. My only remaining stress is that my visa is still being processed in the Indian Consulate in Houston. Obviously that needs to be completed before I can make my trip - but I must trust that everything will be finalized on schedule so it does not impede my plans.
The most exciting shift in my preparations since the last post was that I attended the Diwali celebration at the university and was reacquainted with Veeraraghavan, a young man who was in one of my classes Spring 2009. As luck would have it, he is from Tamil Nadu, the region I am heading to. Veera has generously offered to assist me by introducing me to wonderful information related to the culture, mores, and standards of the area. His time spent with me and my family have given us all more assurance that I'm making a wise decision in heading to work at ODAM and his input has greatly aided productive preparations. Watching the hit film "Enthiran" on Rajnikanth's birthday was certainly an experience I owe to Veera's generous sharing.
One of the most exciting prospects of my upcoming trip has been the opportunity to speak at the TedX-Salem Conference to be held on January 29th. I am honored to have been invited to make a presentation at this event and hope I can do justice as a Ted speaker. If you are unfamiliar with Ted.com and the concept behind this idea-sharing forum, I would encourage you to check out some of the online presentations - there is a world of inspiration available there and I feel privileged to be a part of the Ted community in whatever way I am able.
Probably the most surprising thing about my trip preparations, at least to me, is how I have been whittling away at the lengthy list I prepared of items to take - realizing now how few of my "necessities" are really important. At this point I hope to take just as little as I can so that I can more fully live the experience - participating in the local environment by dragging along less of my present life/belongings. My son Bradon tries to live a minimalist existence and often accuses me of being a hoarder. While I don't believe I exhibit all tendencies of hoarding, I have accumulated far more possessions than I can conceivably use in this lifetime and am almost willing to concede that it could be time to lessen the burden of these things which actually possess me. Perhaps my time in India will provide me with the impetus to make such a lifestyle change.