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Kerala Blog Express, pt 2 - Away She Goes

Where we last left off, I had finished the contest in 30th place (only 25 would be selected) out of over 600 registered participants from over 80 countries. But somehow I had been selected to be a finalist, so I started lining up my logistics, like applying for an Indian visa and going to the travel clinic. I opted to apply for the 10 year, multiple-entry tourist visa. I figured even if the trip didn’t work out, I now have a good excuse to go to India for up to six months at one sometime over the next decade. There have been worse downsides.

The Kerala Tourism folks were urging me to buy a plane ticket (one of the only financial commitments I had to make, for which they will reimburse me half the cost) but I wasn’t completely sold yet. For one thing, they haven’t been the most forthcoming or clear with logistical information, owing in part to English not being the first language of my liaison. Beyond that, things got a bit more complicated on the way to making the financial commitment to join the trip. I had two different job offers at different stages of the planning process. The first was during the voting. When it became clear I was going to receive an offer, I felt deceptive for continuing to solicit (or even passively receive) votes. But I was reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In at the time and remembered an axiom of hers: don’t leave before you leave. She was referring to ramping down work in anticipation of one day becoming pregnant, but in its own way the saying still applied to me. I didn’t know for sure whether I was going to be offered the job, and while it sounded perfect I didn’t know what the offer details would be, so I couldn’t really know if I would accept. Until I had a solid job offer in place, what would be the benefit of slowing down my campaign?  Besides, wouldn’t it be a pity to lose out on India for a job I didn’t end up getting?

I’m glad I stayed in, because it turned out the job wasn’t the best fit in spite of my high hopes.  In the wake of that disappointment I was happy to have something to look forward to.  The second job was a much longer process, starting in October and culminating in an offer a couple of weeks ago. The process was slow, but the more I learned about the position the fewer reservations I had, until it became clear to anyone who I spoke to that it would be an amazing opportunity.  My only worry was that I would have to give up India in order to go. Of course if it came down to a job or this trip I knew I would have to pick the job, but again there was no guarantee that I would receive an offer, or that it would even have an effect on India.  In the end, time forced my hand and I bought a plane ticket, running the risk of having to eat the cost.

Luckily, I not only got the job, but they were incredibly understanding and were flexible on the start date, allowing me to go to India and start work when I’m back.  Though it was painful to keep my plans quiet, I had to wait until both my start date for the job was solidified and I had absolute confirmation from Kerala Tourism.  I’ll start work April 1, and I couldn’t be more excited about the position!  I’ll be at the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School, working as a Program Assistant.  My main focus will be event planning their symposia, workshops and two major conferences for international scholars (particularly from the developing world.)

I leave for Kerala on March 7th (not arriving in Trivandrum /Thiruvananthapuram until the 9th), and come home March 26th. In between we’ll be road tripping throughout the state, stopping to spend time on beaches, stay over on a house boat, see a tiger reserve, and visit an area renowned for training elephants. The itinerary that’s been shown to us bloggers is still pretty sparse, but I think that’s more a reflection of Kerala Tourism’s communication skills than what they have planned.  I will be expected to blog, photograph, and post to instagram, twitter and facebook while away. Kerala Tourism will be paying for the vast majority of my expenses, including a data plan for my phone and wifi in all hotels.

I have kept it somewhat quiet, but this comes at the end of a long couple of years, which included a year of various levels of unemployment, a job so bad my doctor recommended I leave for health reasons, the sudden, violent death of a young friend, and a variety of other life pressures including applying to hundreds of jobs and sifting through the legal aftermath of working at a job that went sideways.

There have of course been highlights, among them two trips to Cuba, all my coworkers (temporary and permanent), getting more involved with activism at Hollaback! and BARCC (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center), spending more time with my cousins, a family trip to Ireland (expect posts when I return from India!), my brother’s engagement, and other family successes like the birth of my cousin’s awesome baby.  It’s not all bad by any means and I’ve been lucky to have a good, though not the most centrally located, support system, but it has certainly been a long couple of years. I am more than happy to be moving forward and saying suck it to 2012 and 2013.  2014 feels like the payoff for a 2012 spent in a tailspin and a 2013 spent with my nose to the grindstone, and so far I’m enjoying the heck out of it.

I leave you with my itinerary and the promise of a third post tomorrow.

Day 1: Guests arrive at Kovalam -Overnight stay at Kovalam

Day 2: Proceed to Varkala -Overnight stay at Kovalam / Varkala

Day 3: Proceed to Alleppey -Overnight stay at House Boat

Day 4: Full Day at Kumarakom-Overnight stay at Kumarakom

Day 5: Proceed to Thekkady -Overnight stay at Thekkady

Day 6: Full Day at Thekkady -Overnight stay at Thekkady

Day 7: Proceed to Munnar -Overnight stay at Munnar

Day 8: Proceed to Athirappilly -Overnight stay at Cheruthuruthy

Day 9: Full Day at Kalamandalam -Overnight stay at Cheruthuruthy

Day 10: Proceed to Punnathur Ana Kotta -Overnight stay at Wayanad

Day 11:Full Day at Wayanad -Overnight stay at Wayanad

Day 12 : Full Day at Wayanad-Overnight stay at Wayanad

Day 13: Proceed to Bekal -Overnight stay at Bekal

Day 14: Full Day at Bekal -Overnight stay at Bekal

Day 15: Proceed to Cochin by Train -Overnight stay at Cochin

Day 16: Full Day at Cochin-Overnight Stay at Cochin

Day 17: Departures

You can read part 3 here!

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