December 29, 2018 – Khuda Hafiz and Bonjour (OOTD #431)

Translation: goodbye (Urdu) and hello (French)

Traveling is weird because it completely destroys your sense of time, especially when you’re traveling across time zones.

Granted, I shouldn’t have had much of a time zone change to worry about when going from Qatar to France, as there was only a two hour difference between the two countries, but it felt like so much more.

I left from my hotel in Qatar at about 11PM at night, after saying goodbye to all of my Indian and Pakistani friends who’d been a part of the conference. This time, I really do question whether I’ll be able to see them again — there will be one more conference this summer in the same series, and I suppose there’s a chance that Notre Dame could give me funding again, but I doubt it. Perhaps I’ll get to see them if I ever make it to India or Pakistan, but I don’t know when that will be.

The moment I got into the cab for the airport, I was out like a light. I guess five days straight of staying up until 1 or 2AM in the morning and getting up at 6AM for class really takes a toll on you — especially if those five days of sleep deprivation follow about four months of less extreme but more prolonged sleep deprivation during the regular school year.

I wish I had been awake to see the city pass as I left, but I was just too exhausted. In fact, I was so tired that I completely forgot to check in for my flight online before I got to the airport. It’s not that that’s such a big deal, since I was able to just get in line to check in when I got there, but I feel a lot more comfortable when I travel internationally if I can cut the amount of time waiting in line by as much as possible. I get nervous about missing flights, especially when I’m in a foreign country and an unfamiliar airport. I’ve yet to miss a flight when I’m on my own, and I want to keep it that way.

In the end though, I managed to navigate my way to the gate and get there on time. From there, it was a six hour flight to Istanbul — the majority of those six hours which I spent passed out in my chair.

My travel debacle began when I landed in Istanbul. I had only an hour to make it from one gate to another, and apparently, that was not nearly enough. The security lines were terrible, and it seemed like there was hardly anyone working. I was lucky; I found a group of French people behind me in line who were headed to Paris as well, and so I followed them as they pushed their way past people in line. We probably didn’t make any friends, but we made it to our gate on time (just as they are doing last call!) and so I guess making some Turkish people mad was worth it.

The travel debacle continued, however. After a fairly simple (which is not to say stress-free) transfer in Paris to Clermont-Ferrand, I was on my way to my final destination at about noon. I arrived in Clermont-Ferrand, a very small airport, where I was to meet with my host family who’d transport me back to their home in Vichy.

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That part went smoothly — my host mother was standing there with a sign with my name, and she was very friendly. What didn’t go smoothly was the acquisition of my bags, because apparently, they never made it from the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

And so, instead of a second, clean outfit after I arrived in Vichy, I had to keep the same one on that I had worn all day on my last day in Qatar. And then I had to sleep in it. And then I had to wear it the next day.

How will the story end? Will I get my bags? How will I survive in France with my limited French, and my semi-competent social skills? Tune in next time for the thrilling continuation of my French adventures.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my travels. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: The LOFT (thrifted, Goodwill)

Pants: The closet of a friend of mine

 

 

 

December 28, 2018 – Group Tours (OOTD #430)

Traveling in a large group is hard.img_1340

Over my last several experiences traveling, I’ve come to the conclusion that the more people you’re with, the more complicated it gets. Trying to coordinate schedules, preferences, budgets: it’s all so much, and in the end, passive aggressive arguments and frustrations always break out.

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Being alone is also not ideal either, though — who are you going to get to take your photos? The best travel situation has to be just one other partner.And so for today’s Doha adventures, I gave up on trying to hang out with the group if it didn’t suit me. The previous few days, I had been trying so hard to hang out with as many people as possible, to give everyone my attention who wanted it. But that was exhausting, and in the end, I wasn’t having as much fun as I think I could have been. So I decided to go off and do what I wanted, and if people decided to join me, then I wasn’t going to stop them.

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small person, large city

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Our first stop was the Corniche, which I had seen lit up at night the previous day. I was expecting to be uninterested, as I had already seen it before, but seeing it in the day time really made a difference. Nighttime, with the bright colorful lights, was a little cooler, but I have to say that daytime was a spectacular sight as well — it looked like something out of a futuristic sci-fi film. Plus, I got some cool photos, which is usually my measure for if I  had a good time at a tourist site.

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State Grand Mosque was next. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually get to go in. We, the American students, were supposed to have been allowed in — but, without hair coverings, the woman at security wouldn’t allow us in as non-Muslims. Instead, we sat outside with a few other Muslim women who decided to keep us company, either in solidarity or disinterest in going in to pray.

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let’s talk mosques

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After that slight disappointment, we moved on to a collection of museums. I don’t really have any photos from here, since in my opinion, there wasn’t much to photograph. One of the museums we saw, the slavery museum, was actually quite fascinating and very well done, but it wasn’t a place for fashion pics, you know?

Then, we went back to the Souq Waqif marketplace for shopping and dinner, making it my third time in three days that I had been there. By now, the Souq’s uniqueness had worn off, and its twisting alleyways and street vendors were no longer novel to me. I devoted myself to a single task — finding a scarf to buy — and avoided distractions as much as possible. With only an hour before we had to meet for dinner, I had to stay focused, or else risk leaving Qatar having withdrawn $40 in Qatari Riyals and having spent none.

The last stop for the night was the Corniche once again, so that those who hadn’t seen it lit up at night before could see it for the first time. For me, having seen the Corniche three times now (once in the day and now twice at night), I was basically a seasoned Dohan (Dohian? Doher?) local. The skyscrapers, with their bright pink and orange and  purple lights, still left me in awe.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my travels. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Sweater: Forever21

Dress: American Eagle

December 27, 2018 – I Want To Go on a Night Boat to Doha? (OOTD #429)

Once again, I’m going to skip ahead to the part of the trip after classes ended, because that’s really what’s fun and interesting for me to write about here. If you’d like a summary of my thoughts on the conference itself and what I felt my role was, I’d suggest you have a read over this blog here.

Unlike my sand dunes adventure, which was spent completely with the Madrasa Discourses students, this trip was spent completely with the other Notre Dame kids. There were pros and cons of both groups: for example, the madrasa students liked the slip into Urdu a lot, which was a little awkward for me. On the other hand, the Notre Dame kids liked to talk about American culture and politics — which, you know, I could do whenever I’m at home in the US.

They also approached things with a very American perspective. I’m not critical of that because that’s exactly what I did as well — however, when I’m in foreign countries and cultures, it’s nice to get to speak with people who don’t think the same way I necessarily do. Ideally, of course, I’d have a native Qatari to hang out with and show me around — but in the absence of one of those, there were plenty of Indian and Pakistanis in our group who could have also made for some interesting cross-cultural conversations.

That’s all to say I kind-of regret spending so much time with the other Americans on this trip. It wasn’t that I disliked them, but I think I probably should not have devoted so much time to them when, in theory, I could see them around campus whenever I want. I can’t so much do that with my Indian and Pakistani friends.

That’s not to say, however, that I regretted what I did when I spent time with the other Notre Dame students. We went on some pretty exciting adventures together — for example, this day, when we went to the Souq Waqif market and then took a boat across the Doha Bay to the Corniche.

Like many days during my time in Qatar, this ended up being a very long, exhausting day. After a full day of lectures and classroom discussions, we took an Uber together to the old market with the intent of seeing the Pearl, an artificial island attached to the city that’s supposed to be very pretty at night.  Unfortunately, the girl who called the Uber put in the wrong address, and we instead wound up at a different “pearl” — which was just a statue of a pearl.

I’d already been to the Souq the previous night after my desert safari, so the effect of the historical, busy, market with a mix of people in Western-styles and more traditional Islamic fashions,  had kind of worn off on me. It’s funny how that happens sometimes — I’ve never seen a century-old Qatari market that sells traditional goods and is one of the last remaining testaments to native Qatari culture before cosmopolitanism took over. And yet, once I saw it once, it wasn’t quite as exciting the second time around.

From there, we decided to walk along the Doha Bay for a good view of the skyline. If you haven’t seen the Doha skyline in person, I highly recommend that you try to see it one day. Skylines are very important to me; if a city doesn’t have a beautiful skyline, my ability to appreciate the city diminishes. London, for example, didn’t have an impressive skyline, even though it was a very impressive city. I of course still loved London, but I was disappointed by the lack of a jaw-dropping skyline view.

Doha was kind of the opposite. It’s got one of the most beautiful skylines I’ve ever seen, especially lit up at night. New York is gorgeous too, but it’s not colorful — not like Doha is. Doha is a rainbow of bright colors and sparkling lights; it’s unlike anything I’d ever seen. We took a boat across the harbor, which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I was able to sit back and retreat into myself a little (something I really needed after a long day of social interaction), and watch the skyline glow on the horizon as it grew closer.

However, Doha’s modern sector was less impressive. We hopped off our boat, and there was nearly no one out. Granted, we were there on a Thursday night, so perhaps not the most bumping of nights, but for a bright, impressive city like Doha, with all those flashing lights in the skyline and the colorful skyscrapers, there seemed to be very few people who lived there.

I like a city to feel alive, and while Doha looked alive, it didn’t feel like it. We did go into a mall for a few hours, and that had more people it seemed than downtown.  By the time we hit the mall, though, I was too exhausted to do much. By then, I was tired of being around for people for so long, and I had basically completely stopped attempting to participate in conversation.

By the time we called the Uber to go back to our hotel, my feet hurt, I had lost one of my false eyelashes, and I was pretty sick of being around that particular crowd. Like I said though, I’m really appreciative of all I got to see and do. My goal was to go out and explore every night that I could; I wasn’t about to go on a trip halfway around the world to the Middle East and rest every night in the hotel. I think my body (and maybe my brain too) might have preferred the more leisurely path, but I think my soul preferred the adventure.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my travels. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Stolen from the lost-and-found bin of my dorm’s laundry room

Pants: The LOFT

December 26, 2018 – Sand Dunes in the Dark (OOTD #428)

I’m gonna skip ahead to the part of the day where I wound up on a camel.

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made a friend

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Okay, I’ll give a little context: after day two of the conference, I was getting ready to go on a tour of Education City with the other ND kids. It wasn’t something I necessarily really wanted to do, but I had no other plans. Our hotel was in the middle of nowhere in the desert, so getting around was a little difficult unless you were in a group. There was a group going to do something, and since I like doing things, I thought I’d tag along.

But as we were leaving the university to go on our tour, I caught wind of another plan, one that seemed a lot more exciting. A group of Indian and Pakistani students were planning on going to seeing Qatar’s sand dunes, but they needed one more person in order to secure a certain price point for the tour group. They asked me, and, despite hardly knowing the plans and hardly knowing some of people (I’d met them before in Nepal, but I only knew one or two of them well), I figured it would be more fun than seeing some school buildings with Americans who I’ll get to see back at ND whenever I want.

So without knowing where I was going or what I was doing other than the very vague plan of “see the sand dunes,” I hopped in a Jeep with a random Saudi Arabian driver and five other people who decided they’d rather speak in Urdu than English.

The car ride took about an hour, and for the whole hour, there were very few English words spoken. That’s not because these people couldn’t speak English — I know for a fact that their English is very good because I’ve had good conversations with many of them before — but they just preferred Urdu. I mean…they had no obligation to speak English just because I was there. But it was kind of awkward sitting there for an hour, hardly able to participate in the conversation — though that’s normally what happens when I go to parties, so I guess it wasn’t that unique of a situation.

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just deserts

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After an hour in the car, the Saudi Arabian driver took us to a little camp site in the middle of the desert and kicked us out. I was still a little confused about what was going on, owing to the whole not speaking Urdu thing, and the fact that the camp site had camels was not helping me to understand things better. All I knew was that I was going to see the sand dunes; camels were not a part of my expectations.

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desert sunsets 🐪

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But I have nothing against camels — I’ve only ever seen them at zoos, but they seem like cool animals. Given the chance to ride one, I would do it. And that’s what I did.

It’s a shame it was so dark by the time we went because in all of my photos, I kind of look like an amorphous ghostly blob of flash. Sometimes photos taken with flash look cool because they make you look adventurous and fun, but that’s not so much the case when your photographer is sitting on a bumpy camel and so all of your photos turn out blurry. I don’t know, maybe it gives it a grungy dark teenager aesthetic?

I wish I could tell you my camel ride was magical and exotic, but really, it was a little boring. We basically went in a circle in a small lit area and took pictures.

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a bad photo but a good time

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What was magical and exotic, though, was our drive through the sand dunes afterwards. I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t know what people were saying. I didn’t know if our driver was licensed, or if he was following a particular path through the dunes, or if he was going to drive us into the desert and put bullets through all of our heads. I had no data by the time we made it out into the middle of nowhere, and no means of communicating with the world if I got lost or kidnapped. In hindsight, maybe I should have been a little more more cautious, but the risk was what made it exciting and adventurous.

After driving around for a while, our driver stopped and kicked us out again. Some of my friends pulled out…some substance to smoke (that’s not a euphemism, I really don’t know what it was — they offered to let me join, but they would only tell me it was “an Indian speciality,” and in a brief moment of prudence, I figured maybe I shouldn’t get stoned in the Middle Eastern desert), and a few of us decided to go for a walk down to the water.

In my limited knowledge of deserts, I don’t think water is something they’re used to have. I’m pretty sure the lack of water is kind of how deserts are defined. But somehow, I wound up walking down a giant hill of sand with my stoned friends behind me towards a lake (?) in the Qatari desert. Like I said, it was a weird experience.

Perhaps the stupidest thing I did this whole night was walking around the desert with no flashlight, no sense of direction, and no idea what I was doing. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it occurred to me that I could get lost and die of dehydration out there in the Qatari desert. But apparently, that voice wasn’t very loud because by the time I realized that what I was doing was stupid, I was already too far away from the car to see it. Of course, the Saudi Arabian driver couldn’t be bothered to turn on his lights so we could find where he parked, so our group was literally just wandering around the desert in the dark. Not to mention of course, that half of our group had just smoked “an Indian speciality.”

As you can tell, though, I’m here writing this blog now, so I didn’t die. We made it back to the car safely (the white of the Saudi Arabian driver’s Jeep was just barely visible in the darkness), and he drove us back to civilization without murdering us.

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see ya 2018, t’was fun

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This blog is going on way too long and I’m tired of writing so I won’t keep going, but the night didn’t end there. No, of course not — after our desert exploits, we had to hit the town and get dinner in the busiest part of the city. And of course, we had to wander around for an hour before we could pick a place to eat. And then we had to sit there and chat for an hour in Urdu — regardless of the fact there was a confused, jet-lagged American girl with wet sand in her shoes sitting there, just wanting to go home and sleep.

We made it back to the hotel, but not until 11PM. I guess that’s not super late, but after being jet-lagged, waking up at 6:00AM so I could sit in class all day to listen to discussions about Islamic theology, and then hiking around the desert for hours, I was pretty exhausted.

Anyway, that’s my Qatari desert adventure story. Hope you had fun reading it — I sure had fun living it.

December 25, 2018 – School Is Cool (OOTD #427)

Merry Christmas!

Okay, don’t worry — even though this blog post features the outfit from Christmas Day 2018, I won’t be talking about Christmas too much, notably because I barely did anything Christmas related on my first full day in Doha, Qatar.

It barely even felt like Christmas, but I was okay with that. My family and I celebrated Christmas the day before I departed on my two-week journey, and I got to see the Christmas Market in Munich on Christmas Eve, so I felt like I got a pretty comprehensive Christmas experience, even though I wasn’t home for the actual holiday. I was surprised — I thought I was going to be upset being away from my family, and I suppose I was a little bit, but there were so many things on my mind for that day that I forgot all about Christmas.

What was on my mind? Well, the perhaps most pressing was fact that I was in the Middle East for a conference on the conciliation of traditional Islamic scholarship and modernity. It was my first day, so I was nervous, but I had an advantage — I had participated in the same conference before in the summer with the same students.

My time in Qatar was essentially a continuation of my time in Nepal, which meant it came with some of the same struggles and same joys of Nepal’s conference. The biggest struggle with this project is that I didn’t actually know much about Islamic theology and modernity. The conference wasn’t really meant for me — it was meant for a cohort of about 40 Masters and PhD-level scholars from India and Pakistan. I was there along with the Notre Dame professor who organized the project in order to participate in the peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue aspect of the project — in essence, to offer an American Christian’s perspective on some of the topics discussed.

It’s hard though to offer your perspective when you don’t have a clear perspective. Some of the presentations could get kind of complex — like, historical analyses of concepts of human dignity or women’s rights in Islamic law. I don’t know much about Islamic law — and while I have some general stances on human dignity and women’s rights, I’m still no expert. It makes trying to participate in the discussions difficult because I’m not the intended audience.

And so, as was the case in Nepal, I believed my role in this project took place outside of the classroom, especially interacting with my old friends and trying to make new ones. I don’t like formal discussions — I much prefer informal ones where I don’t feel the pressure of a professor watching me and expecting me to contribute in one way or another. I don’t know how the conference organizers felt about my preference for extracurricular conversations, but they decided to bring me along again regardless. I guess they didn’t hate me in Nepal too much.

It was really cool to see some of my old friends from Nepal again, especially considering when I left them last summer, I thought I would probably never get to see them again. I hadn’t known I would have a chance to meet them again for another conference, and I doubted I would ever visit their home countries of India or Pakistan for a visit.

But then again, I doubted I’d ever get to see Doha, Qatar, and yet there I was, attending a conference at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Education City. That’s where these photos were taken.

Life is full of surprises — like how beautiful the HBK campus was. Seriously, Notre Dame is lovely, and the collegiate gothic style is neat and all, but HBK was really something else. It was modern, clean, and high-tech — the opposite of Notre Dame’s traditional Catholic aesthetic. Some parts of Notre Dame, like the crappy dorms, make it hard to tell how much money the school really has. HBK was the opposite — everything, from the modern architecture to the water feature incorporated throughout the building to the rooftop terrace with verses of the Quran onto the windowpanes — oozed money.

To close off the day, the other American students and I traveled out to a local church for a Christmas mass. I’ve never been to Christmas mass before, given how I’m not Catholic and all, and I’ve definitely never been to Christmas mass in an Islamic country. Interestingly, it wasn’t all that different from a regular mass service in the US. Just like in mass at Notre Dame, there was a lot of singing, and kneeling, and repeating verses, and I fell asleep during the homily. I guess some things don’t get more exciting, even when they’re in a foreign culture.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my travels. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: The LOFT

Pants: J. Crew

July 16, 2018 – Swayambhunath Squared (OOTD #332)

Every single time I reference Swayambhunath in one of these blogs I have to Google to spelling. Can you really blame me though?

Anyway, we wound up back at Swayambhunath again, out of a lack of basically anything else to do. Allie hadn’t been before, on account of falling ill the day we went as a group, and I was happy to go again, since I felt a little rushed the first time I was there. The activity we had been planning on doing — a sky lift up to the highest mountain in the Kathmandu area — didn’t pan out due to some poor weather, and we just couldn’t think of anything else to do.

Look, Kathmandu is a really fascinating city, and there’s a lot of fun and interesting things to do — for a few days. After a few days, I feel like I kind of exhausted the tourist things to do. Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Patan Durbar Square, the Garden of Dreams, and Thamel are fun for a few hours/a whole day, but once you’ve seen those, I feel like there wasn’t a whole lot else, especially for such a large city. There’s no shortage of restaurants and shops, but you can only eat and shop so much.

I’ve enjoyed these last few days in Kathmandu with Allie, but I think we both agreed that we wished we had chosen to stay somewhere outside of Kathmandu instead. Pokhara would have been neat. Expensive to travel to, sure, but perhaps worth the cost.

Forgive me if I sound too negative about my last full day in Nepal — it was nonetheless a fun experience seeing Swayambhunath again. I got to take my time and explore a little more, which I didn’t really get to do the first time when I was with a larger group. There was a monastery that I hadn’t seen before, as well as a few overlooks and shops. And afterwards, we decided to walk back to our BnB instead of taking a cab, which was about a three mile trek — so great exercise, and a more intimate view of the city than I had gotten to see before from a bus window.

In the evening, we went to a yoga class. Now I get what you must be thinking — yoga in Nepal, that must be a fascinating cultural experience, right? A predominantly Hindu country with a deep, ancient history, a place where namaste is actually said instead of just printed on t-shirts at fast fashion stores like Forever21?

It was like, the whitest thing ever.

The studio looked like it was straight out of Southern California, and the instructor was wearing Lululemon leggings. I was one of I think two non-white individuals in the room — which I haven’t been able to say since I was in Chicago three weeks ago getting ready to depart.

Still, it was an enjoyable enough yoga class, even if it wasn’t particularly cultural. I don’t know if I would bothered to do it in Nepal if Allie hadn’t wanted to, as I feel like I could have had the exact same experience in 9/10 yoga studios in the United States, but whatever. It was a nice sampler of western culture before I’m thrust right back into it in a day.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Some boutique in Kathmandu

Pants: Also a boutique in Kathmandu

July 15, 2018 – Dans le jardin des rêves (OOTD #331)

I sure hope that French is correct.

Welp, the conference is now over, and I’m on my own in Kathmandu. Or rather, not entirely on my own — I’m with another Notre Dame student who had attended the conference — but we’re relatively alone.

I did London by myself last summer, which was no problem at all. It’s London, it’s not terribly different from the US, and in some ways, it’s even easier to navigate. The Underground is truly a marvel. Kathmandu, on the other hand, is nothing like the US, and quite impossible to navigate.

There are practically no street names. There are no addresses. There are no signs, or traffic lights, or subway systems. You can go on TripAdvisor and look up the biggest tourist attractions, and then ask a taxi to take you there, but it’s not a very good city for independent exploration — you may never be able to make it make back to your hotel!

Anyway, after a long, stiflingly hot taxi ride from Dhulikhel to Kathmandu, dropping off people at the airport and at their various hotels on the way, Allie (the other ND student with me) and I went to our BnB.

Allow me, really quickly, to say, that if you’re in Kathmandu and looking for a relatively inexpensive BnB within walking distance of the tourist district Thamel, Cocina Mitho Chha is an excellent choice. As a social enterprise, it uses its funds to maximize improvements in the social sphere — in this case, by educating underprivileged young people in hospitality skills that will allow them to get jobs in the hotel industry. The food was great, the service was great, its mission is admirable — overall, a lovely experience.

After getting settled in, we decided to go check out something called the Garden of Dreams, which was about a twenty minute walk away from our BnB. That’s where these photos are from. It was a really beautiful, and quiet spot, a nice respite from the chaos of Kathmandu.

Otherwise, we allowed ourselves to have a pretty relaxing day, not rushing around and not pushing ourselves. We did some shopping, had dinner at a bar where they showed the World Cup, and basically just tried to recover, mentally and physically, from the intensity of the conference we’d just spent the last two weeks devoting ourselves to. Or rather, we tried to relax, as much as we could, in an insane and hectic city like Kathmandu.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Forever21

Pants: American Eagle

July 13, 2018 – Big Day in the Big City (OOTD #330)

Namaste!

It’s hard to believe, but this was almost my last day with the Madrasa Discourses summer intensive.

The official last day is July 14, but that’s going to be devoted to discussion and reflection (so basically, classroom stuff), and I don’t really expect that there will be much in the way of blog-worthy material. July 13, on the other hand, was very much blog worthy.

The day began early with what else but filming for an NBC documentary short about what we’ve been doing these last two weeks in Nepal, and the mission of the Madrasa Discourses founder, Professor Moosa. Filming mostly just involved sitting there and pretending to be attentive while Professor Moosa pretended to lecture us, as well as a few shots of us sitting around and pretending to talk to each other.

Hopefully though, some of the footage of me — even if it’s only an elbow —  will be used for the actual television spot, which will be aired during the commercial break of one of ND’s upcoming football games this September. It’ll be my elbow/shoulder/half an eyebrow’s fifteen minutes of fame!

For the filming, we went up to the rooftop of the lodge, which, for whatever reason, I’d never actually been to before. And what a shame too, because it was quite a spectacular sight from above. I know I’ve talked extensively about the beautiful mountain views in Nepal — so much so that I’m probably beginning to sound like a broken record — but it’s honestly one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen.

With such beautiful views, and with the end of the program drawing so near, everyone decided it was a great opportunity for group photos.

It’s something of a sad thought, but I guess I’ll probably never see some of these people again. They live in Pakistan, or India, or South Africa, and being realistic, when am I ever going to be able to visit those countries? Or if I ever can, would we even remember each other enough to get together? I made some really fantastic friends over these last two weeks though. If ever there was a group with whom I would want to share two weeks in a foreign country with, it was these guys — even if we’re likely to never meet again.

After filming, it was time for a final group field trip into Kathmandu. This time, we went into Pashupati, a Hindu spiritual site, and Boudhanath, another Buddhist stupa.

Pashupatinath was cool, even if it did suffer a little from “Just Another Ancient Temple” Syndrome, which I’ve mentioned a little before on this blog to describe the rapid exhaustion of the novelty surrounding the old religious buildings in Nepal. It’s fabulous and fascinating and completely different from anything in the US — but it’s pretty similar to a lot of what’s in Nepal. At some point, an ancient temple is just another ancient temple.

Pashupatinath had cremations though, so that was very different. And some naked little boys swimming in the river next to the cremation site. No photos, don’t worry.

While we were at Pashupatinath, one of the Indian guys saw me eyeing one of the marigold flower chains, and he offered to buy me one. I was a little hesitant, since I thought the marigold chains were meant for the Hindus visiting the temple, but he seemed to think it was okay. Maybe I acted a little inappropriately but…they were flower necklaces. I love plants. How was I supposed to refuse wearable plants?

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🏵🏵🏵

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mari! golds!

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After Pashupatinath, we went to Boudhanath, which, next to Swayambhunath (lots of        -aths, huh?), is probably the most recognizable tourist site in Kathmandu. It was also, to my untrained eye, really similar to Swayambhunath (Seriously though — it was another big round structure with a pointy golden Buddha at the top).

Boudhanath was probably the most spectacular of the manmade features I saw in Nepal, simply because it was so massive. Like I said, it was pretty similar to Swayambhunath in terms of architecture, but it felt so much bigger. You could probably jog circles around Boudhanath and get a pretty good workout.

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almost done posting nepal pics, i promise

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I didn’t do that though — instead, I went into a coffee shop and chilled for a while. It had been a long day, and I was anxious to get off my feet. And I think most people in my group were too, because the coffee shop was a very popular place to go.

Normally, I hate tour groups, but this one hasn’t been so bad. I guess for one, it’s not really a tour group — not in the sense my senior year New York trip was — but also, since literally everyone here is an adult, we’ve been given a lot of freedom to kind of just do whatever we want. Still, that doesn’t mean the schedule didn’t get absolutely overwhelming at times, and even if there was an opportunity to rest, it was usually at the expense of doing something fun. I can’t imagine trying to travel to Kathmandu alone though, without anyone from the area and without being able to speak the language.  Honestly, I feel like going with the group of adult male and female South Asians, who were at least slightly familiar with the language and culture of the area, was the best way to go short of actually having a local Nepali friend to show me around.

I have a few more days in Kathmandu still before it’s time to fly home, but it’s just another girl and me traveling alone. Boudhanath was a nice way to close out my time with the whole group, though. Nothing like a massive Buddhist stupa to serve as a backdrop for parting ways with your new Muslim friends.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Hollister

Skirt: Some market in New York City

July 12, 2018 – Rained Out (OOTD #329)

I guess I should be grateful that it took this long until the rain got in the way of our plans.

It’s monsoon season in Nepal, meaning of course that rain is a constant threat. Up until this point, though, the rain’s been no trouble — it comes while we’re in class, or while we’re still getting up in the morning, and then it goes. It always returns the next day, but that’s not really a problem as long as it doesn’t come in the afternoon when we want to go out.

Today though, it turned out to be a problem. It came at night, and it came hard. Two major roads that connect Dhulikhel to Kathmandu flooded, leaving us stuck at our hotel for the morning.

And part of the afternoon, actually — we ended up lazing around the lodge until quite late in the day. The roads ended up clearing though around mid-afternoon, and we finally made it into the city.

We went to a shopping district which specialized in fair trade stores and…really expensive saris? We went with the intent of checking out the fair trade stuff (some of which was made in the factory we’d toured the day before), but as it turned out, there were a ton of sari shops in the area too. I wish I could have bought something, but it was all way too expensive for my poor wallet.

From there, we wandered around the town  little bit — saw some monkeys, saw a river, choked on pollution — you know, local things. It was probably one of the most relaxed days I had in Kathmandu, or as relaxed as a day in Kathmandu could be. I was almost hit by a car like five separate times, rather than ten.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Skirt: The LOFT

top: some boutique in Kathmandu

July 11, 2018 – Monkeying Around (OOTD #328)

I’m back in Kathmandu again!

Yep, after about two straight weeks of intense classes and discussion, we’re finally off the hook. The last lecturer of the Madrasa Discourses summer intensive will be teaching exclusively in Urdu, which none of us Notre Dame students can understand, so we were allowed to go off on a little field trip on our own for the day.

The first stop for us (well, the second stop — we got pizza at a mall beforehand) was a design house where some other Notre Dame students were interning for the summer. They gave us a tour of the facilities, introduced us to the workers there, and showed us the prototypes they were working for for sale in fair trade shops.

It was neat, but a little slow. I’m totally here for the mission of fair trade — ensuring fair wages for workers, providing jobs for women who need them, etc. — but a tour of a factory is still just a tour of a factory.

Besides, I was pretty excited for what we’d be seeing next — the Swayambhunath Monkey Temple.

And yes, I did just have to Google the spelling of that.

Swayambhunath is arguably the most famous tourist site in Kathmandu, up there with Boudhanath, another Buddhist stupa. It’s 365 steps to the top (though we just drove up most of them), and along the way, as the name suggests, you get to meet some wild monkeys.

Wild monkeys are kind of scary! I guess that should be kind of obvious, based on the “wild” bit. And it’s not that I was expecting them to act like puppies and be all cute and ask for petting, but I figured, you know, since they’re in a tourist area, they’d be pretty used to tourists walking up and taking photos.

I guess not.

There are no terrifying stories of monkeys that attempted to attack me or anything like that, but I did get hissed at a few times from a distance. Key here is “from a distance.” After my first experience getting hissed at, I decided to keep far away from the monkeys.

But what about the stupa at the top of the steps? How did that stack up?

Pretty well! You know how I’d been complaining a bit over the last few days that seeing all of the temples and shrines was beginning to grow old? Not this one. Swayambhunath was decidedly spectacular — a big gold pillar into the sky surrounded by billowing prayer flags and spinning prayer wheels. There’s nothing boring about that.

It also helps that I got some of the best views of Kathmandu that I had seen ever from the top of the Swayambhunath stupa. I know I’ve spoken extensively about all the spectacular mountain views I saw in Nepal, but this cityscape could give all of them a run for their money in the “best Nepal views” competition.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Pitaya

Skirt: vintage (thrifted)