UW Alumni Tours Blog

Archive for February, 2009

Which Temple Today?

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Pauline is blogging while hosting a UW alumni tour to South India.

After the longest flight itinerary imaginable, I finally arrived in Chennai. My memories ofimg_1995India were instantly invoked as I exited the airplane and smelled the smokey air that was so prevalent in North India. As I tried to exit the baggage area, my small suitcase carrying the group’s audio guide sets raised the suspicions of one of the security officials. I was asked to open the suitcase and tried to explain what the gadgets were. Finally, he understood the concept of a hearing aid, but then he wanted to know about the supply of chapsticks I had brought along for the group. Next, he was perplexed when he saw the small tins of dog bone-shaped mints. I pantomimed eating the mints, so the official had me open one of the tins, he popped a mint in his mouth, the rest of the tin went into his pocket and I was moved along on my way.

109We’re now a few days into the trip and have spent quite a few hours visiting some incredible, intricately carved granite temples. The temple names are long and unpronounceable but that hasn’t affected the awe we feel as we try to imagine how they were completed 1,000 years ago. As expected, the sun is hot and the air is humid so we all move along very slowly. We feel blessed to be traveling in a small group of 12 because even though we are slow, we still able to complete each day’s itinerary.

Our tour group consists of not only graduates of UW, but also of Georgetown, USC, CAL, and Oregon. I plan to turn them all into honorary Huskies by the end of the trip! Our tour director/guide Sandhya is fabulous and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the various ancient cultures that created the historical sites of South India.

This afternoon, we were treated to a demonstration of the art of traditional bronze casting bronze-artistand tonight, we’re looking forward to a poolside performance of a ‘Bharatnatyam’ dance. Tomorrow, we hit the road again for a drive to Karaikudi  and another exciting experience of the Indian roads. This is one trip where no one in the group arrives at the bus early to claim the front seats!

On My Way to South India

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

In about 20 minutes, I’ll be hopping in a taxi to head to SeaTac and the first leg of my journey to India. This past week, colleagues, family and friends have all been asking me if I was excited about my upcoming trip. Frankly, work has been so hectic with 2010 planning and budgets and finally packing, that I haven’t had much time to think about the adventure ahead. It should sink in once I’m on the plane – then the anticipation and excitement will kick in.

In 2006, I traveled with a group of UW alumni and friends to North India, mostly visiting the state of Rajasthan. I still consider it one of my most favorite trips. Brightly colored saris, crazy driving and traffic, cows in the road, friendly locals, a wonderful tour group and refreshing local beer – what a trip! I wonder how South India will be different and how it will be the same. I’m looking forward to these discoveries and hope to share the experience with you as we go along. 

Pauline Ranieri

Welcome to the UW Alumni Tours Blog!

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Thanks for visiting the brand new UW Alumni Tours Blog. Our tours program offers an amazing variety of travel opportunities and we want to have another way to share the latest news with you–whether you’re just beginning to think about travelling with us or have flown around the world on a tour hosted by a UW professor and are looking for a new adventure!

See the About the Blog page for more details–we hope to use the blog for announcements about our tours, trip reports and sharing special deals. Stay tuned for posts from Pauline’s current trip to India.