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brigdh: (I need things on a grander scale)
I was in DC over the weekend, and didn't particularly do much – I've been there enough times before that I've done most of the museums and memorials and other big tourist spots. But I did go to the zoo!

Lots of animal photos beneath the cut )
brigdh: (archaeology)
So, once again, I'm back! This time after a much briefer LJ break. I temporarily returned to the small village of my archaeological site to do some work, but while I had expected to be there for only one, maybe two, nights, it turned into a week-long trip.

The site I worked on this year is quite large- the largest site for its time period in the country- so the work we were doing was less actual excavation and more preparation for a long-term, multi-year project. One of the things we wanted to do was have geologists come to gather data and do some analyses of the area; that's all well and good, but the team of geologists we arranged this with had trouble with the dates when we were available, we had trouble with their dates, and the whole thing kept getting pushed back later and later until everyone else had finished work on the site for the year. Finally last week, the geologists were able to arrive, and so I and a few other of the archaeologists headed back to the site with them; we planned to only point out a few things we wanted done, and had assumed we could then head straight back to Delhi. This turned out not to be the case. The geologists had never worked on an archaeological site before, and didn't quite understand the sort of things we were looking for; also, despite being Indian, they apparently had never spent much time in a small village before, and were disgruntled with every aspect of it: there are too many flies! electricity is not available 24/7! the only way to get hot water is to light a fire and boil it! the tap water is salty and tastes weird*! Etc.

Additionally, the team of geologists- which was only four people large!- had a serious 'too many cooks in the kitchen' problem. They could bicker over anything. They once spent half an hour arguing over whether a direction was North-North East or merely North East, a debate that brought in the location of the sun and two different compasses, one of which was broken and the other of which was a digital compass that no one seemed to know how to work. All this despite that the fact that it didn't really matter what the direction was, since the only reason they wanted to know was to help remember which location was which. Another debate spent nearly as long on whether or not my handheld GPS (which I was using to mark where their work was, so we could add it to our map of the site later- another reason why it didn't matter if it was NNE or NE) could tell temperature. It does not, but apparently I am not an authority on my own GPS, and this debate would not be settled until they themselves had each taking a turn poking at it and trying out all the various functions.

So, it was irritating and hot and mosquito-filled, but it was nice to be back in the village, nonetheless. The end of April is wheat-harvesting time in rural Haryana, it seems, and I got to see various methods, from hand-held sickles to large tractor-combines.

Do you know the scene at the end of 'Charlotte's Web', where she has babies and then they all fly away on little strings of cobweb? Apparently this also occurs in Haryana in late April. The air was full of flying baby spiders: it was not unusual to get one in your face; to look down and notice three or four of them on you at once; to take off your hat and notice one making a web between the brim and the top. Luckily, they were incredibly tiny, and so my normal screaming terror at spiders did not engage.

We finally left to come back to Delhi on Thursday. Normally, I and the other archaeologists leave early in the morning and take the bus, as it's an annoying trip involving two or three bus changes and about five hours, though the worst part is getting through the Delhi traffic, an ordeal that gets considerably worse the closer one gets to rush hour. This involved a lot of debate, of course. Why not hire a car instead? Why not leave later? Why not wait a couple more hours? Why not leave after lunch, in fact?

We managed to compromise by leaving around noon, and- after a random stop in a random small town to buy souvenir jalebis, because I guess Delhi doesn't have sweets- we were finally on the way, and even making good time. Until the combination of a rainstorm, a driver going too fast, another driver going the wrong way on the highway, and brakes that hydroplaned created a car accident. I've never been in a real accident before, but this wasn't bad, as they go: the car didn't flip or spin or anything, and it was still drivable afterwards, if missing its headlights. Unfortunately, one of the other archaeologists got thrown into a metal bar running across the back of the seats, striking his arm. Despite the fact that the geologists were more interested in arguing with the driver and the other car over whose fault the accident was, I eventually managed to convince them to leave for a hospital now, as the injured party had gone into shock (thankfully, he got over it pretty quickly) and had a potentially broken arm. Of course, we were in the middle of nowhere, and no one was local, meaning no one knew where a nearby hospital was. We decided to head for a specific hospital in Delhi that the injured party had insurance at. This seemed like a good plan, until our driver refused to enter the city limits (Delhi is a 'National Capital Territory' and thus entering it was the equivalent of crossing state lines from where the accident had happened), requiring us to find a new driver and car on the road, and transfer the now not-in-shock man from one to the other. All in all, it took about three hours from the time of the accident until we reached the hospital. I herded away the geologists to where they were staying, and somehow managed to not yell at anyone, despite the many arguments about how to get around Delhi (note: none of them was from Delhi or had spent any significant time there), and how one guy's foot hurt (though considering he didn't want my Tylenol, I'm thinking he could have waited on the complaining until no one was in the hospital).

It all worked out in the end, as the arm turned out, luckily, to be not broken, though my friend is now on pain-killers and anti-inflammatories for a few days more, and there may be some tendon damage. Now I am enjoying the decadence of internet, hot water showers, and AC once again.

As an extra note, it turns out that X-rays in India cost the equivalent of $8, making the American medical establishment look even more corrupt and money-hungry than they already did.

* My compliant about the tap water would be that it contains hepatitis, among other things, but whenever I say that they assume I'm being a delicate flower of a foreigner, even though I know people who have gotten hepatitis from this exact tap water, I am not counting on random beliefs about 'Delhi belly', but whatever.

Yo!

Apr. 11th, 2012 07:29 am
brigdh: (<3)
So, I'm not dead! Nor have I abandoned LJ. I just, uh, went to rural India for three months and forgot to mention to LJ that I was doing so.

As a side note, I don't want to give the impression that India doesn't have internet access. I am still in India at the moment, in fact, and the internet is here and easily accessible. More so than in the US, perhaps, since India has these amazing things called 3G tabs, which appear indistinguishable from a regular thumb drive. But 3G tabs allow you to plug them into a laptop and thus connect to broadband internet anywhere, anytime (well, okay, not anywhere. You've got to be in a large enough city that it has a good 3G network). Why do we not have this technology in the West? Between this and the invention of cold coffee with ice cream, India is the new superpower of my heart.

But archaeology tends to happen in extremely remote areas, and rural India is much like rural anywhere: not known for its wifi hotspots.

As for how I managed to forget to post about something like that, let's just say that it turns out that Seasonal Affective Disorder is not just a one-time thing. Who knew! I am now morally obligated to start acquiring drugs as soon as October starts. (Still, another thing India has: sunlight!)

But I've missed you, LJ! How are you all? What's been happening? I hear American politics and the media has gone a little crazy, re: birth control/Santorum/Republican nomination/basically everything. Here the major scandals involve a General's birthday (don't even google it; it is the most boring news story ever and yet somehow people have been writing thousand-word articles about it every week for months) and cellphone networks (also boring).

Also, I've succumbed and finally signed up for twitter. I'm not going to be doing the thing where I post my tweets to LJ, so if you're interested, you can follow me at @brigdhs or click this link. I think? I'm not sure how this works yet. And let me know if you have a twitter, so I can follow you!

NYC

Apr. 13th, 2011 07:05 pm
brigdh: (the city)
People keep asking me if I have culture shock since I've gotten back. No, not that I've noticed, but I think I might have something like climate shock. In India it was the middle of summer; here in New York there's not even leaves on the trees yet! Though some of them have flowers, mostly little white ones that might be cherry blossoms, though I'm certain these trees don't produce cherries, so maybe not. Small white flowers that cover the entire tree, so that from a distance the whole thing looks like a child's drawing of a cloud, and that freckle the sidewalks beneath, tiny circular petals marking the gray pavement like drops of milk. And there are my favorites, the magnolias: such big, heavy flowers, one petal the size and weight of an orange peel.

The farmers' markets are small, still, offering only the last dregs of winter vegetables: potatoes, parsnips, turnips. Even ramps- which I think of as the very first sign of spring- aren't here yet. But the sky is blue, bluer than it was in Gujarat, which had a high sky, distant and pale as old denim. New York's sky is a vivid blue, and lower, so that it often seems just a little way above the buildings.

But today it's raining, so there is no blue in the sky of any shade. Instead it's a cloudy gray, so low that it does touch the buildings, overlaps with the tallest ones, in fact, erasing their upper stories. The rain washes the petals from the trees, plasters them to the ground like tissue paper. The branches of the trees without flowers are dark with water, stark black lines against a sky which is somehow bright and colorless at the same time, the light coming from everywhere with no sun for a source. At night the streetlights turn the bare branches to glass or silver, some shining, reflective substance that seems more than wood and water.

And it's cold, of course, much colder than India, though not enough to really bother me. It's the sort of brisk, damp cold that comes with rain, enough to chill your face and turn your breath visible, but not enough to reach under your skin and effect your inner warmth. I walk around and I think New York, New York, a feeling that has no more words than that, just love for this city and so very much joy to be home again.
brigdh: (heart of light)
So, I am currently in Delhi, sitting on (faux marble) stairs just outside my hotel's lobby, as that is the only place that offers wi-fi. I have been here (in Delhi, not on the stairs), for two days, and will continue to be here for another two. Before that I was in Haryana, visiting various archaeological sites; before that, I was in Baroda, a city in Gujarat; before that, I spent two months living in a tent in Kutch, a semi-desert area, to excavate yet another site.

It's much colder here in Delhi than it was in Gujarat, and much damper too, which seems to make the cold worse, and I'm very glad I brought my hoodie along. Today was cloudy, and seems as though it might rain tonight, which is quite the change from the infinitely clear blue sky of Kutch. I've been spending my time here so far shuttling from one meeting to another; networking, basically, with all the important people so that I can ask them for help on my project. Soon I'm going to dinner with a Hungarian woman I never heard of before today, but who apparently I should know. Tomorrow I should have time to do some actual tourist things.

My impressions of Delhi are of a wide, sprawling city; low, with few skyscrapers, but extensive. When the sun is out, it's almost warm, and things shine. There's many trees and wide, green lawns; water fountains; new wide highways. But most of the short time I've spent here has been cloudy, with thick layers of haze or smog, and then the city has more of a gray look, and the cold gets into your bones. Though, of course, I can complain about being too cold in all sorts of perfectly fine weather, and it's certainly nothing like what's currently the weather back in New York.

My Hindi is very slowly increasing. I can do a few basic conversations, though I quickly stop understanding after a few sentences. I can read, but only if given plenty of time to sound out each letter. So far in India, I have seen camels, water buffalo, monkeys (which tried to steal one of my flip-flops), parrots, peacocks, and many wild dogs (which did steal one of my boots, but luckily someone found it for me), but no elephants. My internet connections continue to be come and go, particularly as I continue to travel every few days, but I thought I'd write up a post, even if I don't know when I'll find the time to respond to comments. But I miss you all!
brigdh: (and such a long journey)
I have been so busy this month! I am sorry for not posting more, because I miss all of you. But today I am leaving for India for three months (I'll be back in mid-late March), and so I will not be posting much in the future either.

Just to let you know why I may be quite slow to respond to emails, comments and posts. But hey, at least I'm getting away from the cold weather! Have a good winter, everybody.

Things!

Dec. 13th, 2010 10:59 pm
brigdh: (MWAAAAAAH!)
1. Tomorrow I head home to NYC. I did not see anywhere near as much of England and Wales as I wanted to, which is my own fault for continually procrastinating on figuring out train schedules and such, but is still sad. Someday I will be back! Until then, wish me luck with flights and trains and such, because apparently it is snowing enormous amounts in the US?

2. Evidence of enormous amounts of snow: the Metrodome roof collapsed! This video seriously seems more like special effects than reality.

3. Speaking of returning to New York, Ellen Kushner is doing a reading of a new Riverside story tomorrow night, but I think there's no way I could make it from the airport in time (even if the enormous snow does not cause flight delays), so I am sad. But other NYC people should go! Details here.

4. AHHHH PACKING. I hate all these limits; there's no way I'm sneaking in under 50 pounds. I have to hope I can have two carry-ons, although the instructions are very confusing (the airline tells me to check Heathrow's regulations; Heathrow tells me to check the airline's regulations).

5. There's a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie coming out! The trailer looks fantastic! THERE ARE MERMAIDS. I am so excited! I'm less into whatever this romance is between Jack and some new character, although Penelope Cruz as sword-fighting lady seems potentially awesome.

6. I posted a story this morning! I'm quite proud of it, actually, so you should read it: Marks (Swordspoint, Richard/Alec, PG-13).
brigdh: (and such a long journey)
I spent the weekend in Switzerland! I even managed to see three whole cities which, considering that I was only in the country for about 72 hours, is quite the accomplishment. I'm not used to being so quick- most of my travels involve staying in one place for months- so that feels like a special accomplishment to me.

Have photos!
Zurich
Rapperswil
Lucerne

I really liked Switzerland, though to be honest I didn't expect to. I am currently feeling sullen and annoyed at existence in Cardiff, and so I didn't exactly head to Switzerland with an open mind. But it proved me wrong; it is full of shining lakes and narrow, medieval streets and very blue skies and snow-covered pine trees. And very aggressive swans. Who knew they bit each other? Also, the Alps are fucking huge. I had the impression that they were not so big- like the Appalachians, but smaller- but it was utterly wrong. We are talking massive, snow-covered peaks. However, Switzerland is terribly, shockingly expensive. I spent about $200 in the time I was there, and I didn't buy anything except for food and train tickets (and okay, one pair of tights. BUT LOOK AT THEM THEY ARE AWESOME). It was nice, and made me happy, and now I am back in Cardiff which is not less dismal. But I returned at about 2am, when the city was deserted, to find that Christmas decorations had gone up, all blue and white and bright, and the streets were wet from an earlier rain so that they gleamed reflected silver, and I will admit it was lovely in that moment.
brigdh: (Hisoka will kick your ass)
WHAT THE HELL, UK. WHAT IS SO GODDAMN FUCKING HARD ABOUT PUTTING UP STREET SIGNS AND PUTTING ADDRESSES ON BUILDINGS?

ALSO YOUR CROSSWALKS MAKE NO SENSE.
brigdh: (She scythes names like herbs)
I don't think I've yet mentioned this here, but this year I will not be traveling to the nice warm deserts of the Middle East, but instead will be spending the fall in cold, rainy Britain, specifically Wales, specifically Cardiff. Um, at least it's an English-speaking country?

Okay, so, mostly I'm kidding and I'm sure it will be quite awesome to live for a while in the U.K. I'll be working with some people from the University of Cardiff to do stuff with microscopes and various technologies, so at least I don't have to trudge around digging in fields while it is cold and rainy. But because of that, I'm on my own to find accommodations and deal with money/culture shock/traveling arrangements. So I come to you for help, o LJ! Where am I supposed to find sublets in Cardiff? I've been searching Gumtree (since apparently craigslist isn't very popular, wtf wales), but let me know if there's a different way I should be going about this. Also, what is reasonably cheap rent? And why do you charge by the week, that's so confusing.

Also tell me what books I should read set in Cardiff and/or Wales and/or England (why not), and other random facts I should know. I did get to spend a day in Cardiff when I was in London in April, but I didn't really pick up that much in such a short time. I will be there from late September to late December, if it matters.
brigdh: (Old School BtVS)
I have escaped from under the volcano's ash and have returned home! I was unconvinced that we would actually be leaving until a few hours before the flight, so it all seems rather surprising to me. We had the random luck of being one of the first flights out of Heathrow (seriously, the flight number was 2), but alas, that did not mean we got to be interviewed by the BBC, as was my secret hope. However, neither did the whole "really, the ash is safe now! We promise!" thing turn out to be fake, since the plane did not crash, for which I am grateful.

London is, on the whole, a nice city, and it certainly has a much better architectural variety than New York. However, having woken to a brilliantly sunny, warm day, with streets full of vividly green trees and garden-plots of overblown crimson and yellow tulips, after a night with rain-slicked streets and the smell of the ocean in the air, and a twilight full of just-turned-on electric lights which, from the air, looked exactly like the sparks of a bonfire, I have to conclude that NYC is still the best city in the world, no contest.

Anyway, I did not have much internet access while in London, so I am way behind on LJ news. Tell me what's been happening with you!
brigdh: (She scythes names like herbs)
Thank you for all your advice on London sight-seeing! But now I have another question: if you were going to do a one-day trip from London to somewhere else, where would you go?

Stipulations:
It's going to be this weekend (ie, the 10th and/or 11th of April), so it can't be anything that requires a booking far in advance
It has to be one-day, back in London for sleeping
We're already going to Cardiff in Wales, so don't recommend that (I have to visit the university there for business, so if you know things I should see while in Cardiff, let me know!)
Hopefully not crazy-expensive
Is it better to travel on Saturday or Sunday? I have this impression that more stuff might be closed on Sundays, but I don't know if that's true.

Where else should I visit, LJ?

Travel!

Apr. 5th, 2010 12:46 pm
brigdh: (and such a long journey)
So, I am going to London next week! I will arrive this Friday morning, and will be there until 9 days later, leaving on the 18th. I will be spending most of my time at the academic conference which is my reason for going, alas, but I'm going to try to do some traveling and tourist-y things; I'm even planning on going to Wales one day!

Which is why I come to you, o flist: recommend me things to do and see in London! I've been there once before, when I did some of the typical things: Tower of London, the Globe, Westminster Abbey (though it was closed when I was there), Jack the Ripper walking tours, etc. Also, my conference is actually in the British Museum, so I will probably see plenty of that. But everything else that you have heard is cool: tell me about it, please!

Also, if there is anyone in London or environs who would like to meet for coffee/tea/food/whatever, I am totally up for that!
brigdh: (anywhere but here)
I'm going on a cruise! Wheeee! This is all very exciting; I've been on a cruise before, but only once. It's going to the Caribbean, which is just perfect for right now because it is currently all kinds of cold and nasty in New York.

But the main part of this post is to say: alas, no internet on the high seas. I'm leaving tomorrow and will be back on the 14th; until then, don't expect any emails or replies from me.

See you all later!

Book recs!

Nov. 3rd, 2009 02:36 pm
brigdh: (anywhere but here)
I'm going on a cruise in January! Wheeeeeee! It's for ten days in the Caribbean. I find this to be pretty totally exciting; I've been on one cruise before, but this time I get to go in winter (escaping the cold!), with [livejournal.com profile] rm, for longer, and it's all just pretty awesome. But what I am coming to you for, O LJ, is book recs. Because, hey, it's a cruise! I need appropriate lounge-type books to read while lying in the sun. I'm looking for any kind of book (novel, short story, non-fiction, travel, poetry, whatever), as long as it makes for interesting, easy reading. Rec me cruise-type books! However, bonus points if:

- the book is set in or about the Caribbean, especially: the Bahamas, Grand Turks, Dominican Republic, Bonaire, Curacao, or Aruba.

- the author is from the Caribbean.
brigdh: (look how I got you bitches rockin' to it)
I'm going to Dragoncon this weekend! Well, actually, this afternoon. Is anyone else going to be there?

Whales!

Jul. 22nd, 2009 02:39 pm
brigdh: (days we live as if death were nowhere)
I went to Boston over the weekend! It was quite fun. But, most importantly, we went on a whale-watching trip and saw lots of whales. There were baby whales and teenage whales and girl whales and boy whales, humpback whales, and they blew water and rolled around and showed their fins and slapped their tales and jumped out of the water. They were very close to the boat. It was all tremendously exciting and awesome. And I took photos!

Whales! )
brigdh: (and such a long journey)
I'm back from Oman! Oh my. And now I have time to check LJ and the internet and it is all kind of new and strange.

Uh, so. How have you all been?
brigdh: (the memory of a million vanished stars)
So, originally I was supposed to be back home by now. However, there's been a little change of plans. A few weeks ago, we heard that a construction company was planning on building a resort on a beach near Muscat; unfortunately, this beach had multiple archaeological sites on it. In Oman, as in many countries, major construction projects are required by law to investigate and document archaeological sites before they are destroyed in the process of building. There was a slight scandal around this project, as the company may or may not have attempted to get out of this requirement; whether or not they are actually guilty of doing so, the onus was on them to prove their good faith by doing an unusually good job of it. These types of projects are usually done by contract firm archaeologists, but because of the circumstances, the company hired us, an academic team. And now I'll be in Oman for another couple of weeks, until early April. The benefit is that we're being paid to do this- and quite a lot of money, especially compared to my regular grad student stipend. They're also putting us up in a hotel, which is pretty neat, but the really cool part is that we're working literally right on an absolutely gorgeous beach. You can see why someone would want to build a resort there.

Photos beneath the cut )
brigdh: (and such a long journey)
I'm out of the hospital- for a while now, though they ended up keeping me there six days, mostly a result of the weekend (which is Thursday and Friday here, as in most Islamic countries, and not Saturday and Sunday, which is endlessly confusing and I can never remember what day of the week it is). On Wednesday the regular doctor said I could go home as soon as a culture was finished growing, which should have happened in a few hours. On Thursday the first weekend doctor said they would take another chest x-ray tomorrow, and then, depending what it would show, I could go home that day. On Friday the second weekend doctor said I could not go home until I finished the course of antibiotics, which- depending on who you asked- would happen in either two days or another week. On Saturday the regular doctor returned, and finally sent me away. But by then I had missed the trip to the beach to see sea turtles, though in truth I'm not sure I would have had the health for it, even if the hospital had released me earlier.

I'm still not allowed back in the field to dig, so I've been doing indoor work- filling out forms for other people, doing paperwork, filling endless sheets with pottery drawings (one of the most boring, numbing activities known to man, and which has made me tremendously glad that I packed my ipod with audiobooks before arriving in Oman). Also, luckily, I have a specialty that one can do without placing any stress on the lungs, so there's that to fill the time.

Despite all that, I'm feeling pretty healthy, though I still have a bit of a cough. Just a bit bored which, really, is why I'm writing this- there's internet available, and there's nothing I have to do which I can't do this afternoon instead, or tomorrow, or so on. It is generally very quiet here in the mornings; there's not much to make noise, except the occasional car going by on the road, a brief roar of engine, as the road here is a long, straight stretch without turn-offs or stop lights, and so the cars are going fast. The light is bright, golden, and the sky is high and vivid blue, streaked with long, thin clouds that seem somehow much further up than those I'm used to. The land here is flat, marked with abrupt ridges that run mostly east to west. They're bare and rocky, high enough to cut off the horizons. There's no grass, just gravel and pale brown dust coating the ground, and a scattering of trees or low bushes. The trees have small leaves, and strangely flat tops, and, when you're close to one, you see the long, white thorns all the branches are covered with. I think they're acacias, though I don't know enough to say for sure. Shaggy goats with small curled horns wander around, sometimes standing on hind legs to nibble the lowest branches of the trees. I suppose someone must own them, but they don't seem to be restricted or controlled in any way, so I perhaps they're feral. Camels, a bit more rarely, do the same, though they tend to be more obviously owned, standing inside of a fence, or wearing hobbles.

In the mornings, the sun comes up as we're driving to the site, appearing from behind one of the largest ridges in the area. The sky has lightened before the sun itself appears, turning orange or purple, and or often pink. Golden spears of light angle up from behind the ridge, like bad special effects in a religious movie, and then finally the sun appears, and everything begins to warm up quickly.

A few days ago, we had a barbecue for fun. We drove out to a terribly isolated site we knew of, far out in the desert and hidden from most wanderers, and preserved well enough for the foundations of houses and tombs to be visible right on the surface, after five thousand years. Driving back in the dark, through the mountains of Oman, we were blasting music, a new song that has quickly become everyone's favorite. It's in Serbian, which I don't speak at all, but have listened to the song enough times to shout the chorus, disco disco patazanya along with the others. The song was introduced to us by a Polish woman, and other people in the car were from India, Portugal, Bangladesh, America. I had one of those moments where you realize, as though from the outside, what it is you're doing, and I thought: my life is really cool.

I have just enough connection to the internet to realize there's a huge cultural appropriation/racism debate going on, but not enough connection to actually follow it. This makes me sad, because I know there's so many things being written and discussed that I want to read, I want to have new things to think about, new ways to look at the issue, new people's perspectives. I want to participate, maybe, but at the least just know more. Which is probably terribly selfish, but since I can't actual think about helpful things without knowing more of the discussion, this is what I think about.

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