Tour of a Township


Reading about other non-violent protests in history

Humanity sometimes does cruel things to itself. Apartheid is no exception. For anyone who doesn’t know what Apartheid was, it was basically an oppressive system to divide the races in South Africa. The hierarchical structure goes like this: whites at the top, then Indians, then coloreds (a mix of races), and, at the bottom, the blacks, who, ironically, happened to be the natives, the people that were there first. Yes, it was a very racist society. All races, excluding whites, had their own, separate townships outside of cities. These townships were not their homes. These were designated neighborhoods, the only places they were allowed to live. However, different races in the hierarchical structures had different townships, and the states of them were different, too. The Indian township didn’t look so bad, but the black township just across the road was looking pretty bad. Of course, this was the state of things during Apartheid, and many things have gotten better since the end of Apartheid.

quoteWe already knew that Gandhi had started his work in South Africa, after an incident on a train. He had bought a first-class ticket, and sat down in the first-class car. However, the first-class car was reserved for whites. Then again, Gandhi had bought a first-class ticket! He refused to move, so he was beaten and kicked off the train in Pietermaritzburg.

You would never expect Gandhi to be prejudiced, right? However, we learned one thing that shocked us about Gandhi: he was racist, but only in the beginning. It completely blew my mind. How could he? Well, he couldn’t for long. Being the target of racism, he lost his own racism, which was kind of necessary if he was going to unify all of India against the Empire of Great Britain!

I also read about protests around the world. The one I remember best was in the Prague Spring, when a lot of people sat on Wenceslas Square in what was then Czechoslovakia, in protest of the Soviets taking over their country. Unfortunately, this protest did not work. However, many protests did work. For example, Gandhi’s salt march in India. That, along with dozens of other protests, ended up in the British leaving India!

Dube and family gravesite

One of the key founders of the civil rights movement was Reverend John Langalibalele Dube, the founder and first president of the ANC. Originally, it was called the SANNC, or South African Native National Congress. However, no matter the name, the ANC’s goal was always to get rights for non-whites. He also founded the Ohlange Institute, a high school that taught not only academic skills, but also vocational skills. He got the idea for it from the Union Missionary Seminary in Brooklyn.  John Dube was the first black man to ever found such an institute in South Africa

Where Mandela ave his first vote.

At first, the institute was so popular, that there were too many students to buy beds for all of them! It would later become one of the most important places in all of South African history. The reason? Here, decades later, Nelson Mandela cast his historic vote.

Well, we learned that times can be tough, but humanity is like a phoenix, rising up… from its own ashes.

Christmas in Kochi

Christmas in Kerala10

I was woken up. The mass was about to start. A little grumpy, I was surprised that the mass was in English. I was told that it was going to be in Malayalam. The Malayalam songs were cool. I liked them.

Christmas in Kerala13
I got gifts!

The next morning, I woke up, and unwrapped our presents from Santa. I got a book and some Uno cards. There was candy all over the table, and our socks with different sizes, which we were using as stockings, were all filled with the same amount of candy. I gave our extra candy to the people working at the hotel. I felt so good! It was an action that filled me with joy. I also felt relieved that I had been freed of longing for things.

Christmas in Kerala6
Ready for Star Wars!

Then we tried to get to the mall. It took a while to get there, but we did. We booked our seats for the Star Wars movie. We had a little time, so we went to Sparky’s family fun park upstairs. It was very interesting. One side was an indoor amusement park! The other was an arcade. I spent my time in the arcade. Then we had lunch at the KFC nearby. Afterwards, we spent time walking around the mall. I was bored to death. Then we went to the movie theater. We had to wait 45 minutes for the movie to start, but I’m glad we did. The movie was really good. So was the Christmas!

Gandhi the Great


Gandhi was a fascinating character in world history that used non-violence to give his country, India, independence from the British Empire. His struggles started in South Africa, in 1893. This happened when he was seated in the first class section of a train. The conductor ordered him to move to the third class section, because he wasn’t white. Gandhi refused, because he had bought a first class ticket. At the next stop, Gandhi was kicked off the train. Later, Gandhi led a protest to burn the Indian’s identity passes. His rich Muslim trader friend was sent to prison, and Gandhi was beaten. In a march in South Africa, Gandhi was met by men on horses. Gandhi told his marchers to lie down. The men tried to make their horses step on the marchers, but the horses wouldn’t do it. Gandhi did a lot of work in India, too. One of his biggest marches was the march to the sea to make salt, which the British had a monopoly on. Then he had some men try to take a salt mill. Police stood in front of the gate. The marchers came up to the police in rows. When the marchers came up to the police, the police caned them, some more than others. Then their wives or mothers carried them to safety, where they were treated. Gandhi eventually succeed in freeing India, but there was one thing that was uncalled for: the Partition. Gandhi was completely against the Partition, because he saw Hindus and Muslims as equal Indians. In Calcutta, it looked like a civil war. Gandhi nearly fasted to death. He only ate again when the chaos completely stopped. As he was making his way to Pakistan, Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist, who believed that Gandhi was too sympathetic towards Muslims. Not long afterwards, Gandhi’s practices traveled to the U.S., when MLK started studying him. Gandhi fascinates me.

I love how he said “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”.

The Backwaters of Kerala

Backwaters - James

Can you get any fresher than live? The truth is no. So I guess you could say that on the backwaters of Kerala, we got fish, prawns, and crab as fresh as possible. The backwaters of Kerala are rivers and lakes stretching throughout the coastal region of Kerala. They are a large group of villages reached only by narrow passages, so narrow that the main mode of transportation is a canoe. It is in area where the land is rice as far as the eye can see. It is an area where you tour on a houseboat. It is an area where everything is fresh and local. It is an area where you look around for a while, then disappointingly turn back the next day. It is a place where I wrote a lot, because it is so quiet and an amazing place to be a writer. It is a place where nature meets man, and reality mixes with surrealism.

Many Temples and One Taj


“Service is prayer,” said the guide.

He had been telling us of the Sikh religion. It is a very pragmatic religion. They believe in equality of all people concerning gender, race, religion, culture, beliefs and more. They believe that everyone is equal. In every gurdwaras (*0), they serve food 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for free. They do this because they believe that even the rich and poor are equal, and that service is prayer. When you sit down to eat, you notice that everyone is sitting down like you, and it’s the most magical feeling ever.

After the gurdwaras, we saw what would be(*1) an amazing view of Old Delhi from a minaret above Jama Masjid, a big mosque in Old Delhi.

Afterwards we saw Hayuman’s tomb, which highly resembled the Taj Mahal. After all, Shah Jahan had gotten his inspiration for the Taj from this tomb. When we turned around to leave, there was a dog on top of the grand gate. He had probably got up there by grabbing a pigeon, who flew up there.

The next thing we did in Delhi was see the Lotus Temple. We learned about how widespread the Baha’í religion is. Queen Anne Marie of Romania and the king of Samoa became Baha’í. There are Baha’í temples all over the world, including Turkmenistan, Uganda, America, Australia, Panama, Samoa, and other countries. They even had a Baha’í conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

Before I knew it, I was staring at the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of my world (*2). I got a magnificent photo of the Taj with its reflection. The problem is that either it is very hazy or super crowded. Either way, it is still amazing. I had already read a Magic Treehouse book about it, so I knew that it had been built by the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan in dedication to his 14th wife. He took food out of the mouths of his people to do so, but it was built anyway. He was going to build a Black Taj across the river for himself, but then his son imprisoned him.

*0 = a sikh temple or holy place
*1 = without the pollution
*2 = which could change

Terrifying Tigers

Isn't she beautiful?!
Isn’t she beautiful?!

The tiger jumped below the hill and it just kept walking. We went somewhere we thought the tiger would go. We lost the tiger, so our jeep rushed over to another tiger that we had missed earlier. The tiger woke up and its tail flicked. Some female peacocks flew up and away loudly. The tiger had caught a peacock. We couldn’t track it down anymore, but our driver got news of another tiger not too far away on the bank of the lake. We rushed over there. Everyone soon followed us. The tiger had jeeps in front of it and to one side with the lake behind it. One side was a free escape. It looked like it felt trapped. Then it saw the escape. As it walked along, it looked at us with hunger in its eyes.

Rajasthan for Real

Jodhpur - My Art Teacher Vijay
Jodhpur – My Art Teacher Vijay

We arrived in Jodhpur. We were tired, so we didn’t do much. One day, we saw the clock tower, Umaid Bhawan Palace, and did an art class. We spent hours at the art class, which was a huge relief from the commotion of the clock tower area. I painted a part of a weapon to go along with one of my stories, while my mom painted a blue elephant.

Jodhpur - Music Teacher
Jodhpur – Music Teacher

Another day, we saw Mehrangarh Fort. We later learned that the fort was one of the most well preserved forts in all of India and that it had been built by Rao Jodha around 1460. We learned that it was never conquered. My dad zip lined a zip course. It took a lot of courage. There was a lot of musicians, one whose music I danced to, and another whose instrument I tried to learn to play. We also saw a performance of mellow music and toured the museum in the fort. It got boring for me. Afterward, we rested from the long day in their hotel. As we headed for the dunes (visit Down in the Dunes) with our new Australian friends, the honking and fumes of Jodhpur started to stray away from our ears and noses.

Jaipur - Elephant Painting!
Jaipur – Elephant Painting!

Jaipur was pretty cool for me. On the first day, we saw the monkey temple, which was full of pigs, cows, monkeys, and dogs. We also painted and fed elephants. I painted a couple of flags and a smiley face. We all fed the elephants bananas. The bananas were like a treat to the elephants. That was my favorite part. I really liked it. When I said goodbye and hugged the elephant, I noticed that the beasts had very wiry hair. The next day we saw the amber fort, which I liked because of all the passages. We also saw some other tourist attractions, such as the Water Palace and the Hawa Mahal.

Down in the Dunes


When we arrived in the village, a couple of boys hit their ball toward the camel I was riding with my mom. The camel sped up, but when mom told the kids to stop, the camel slowed down. Soon we got off. We hung out for a bit, then I wanted to play with the kids. There was another group of three Australians with us, too, named Paul, Megan, and Glen.

Backyard Batting
Backyard Batting

Later we played Cricket. I played with the kids and my dad, and occasionally Glenn bowled. My dad and I played like champs (not really). Once one of boys bowled from on top of his camel. Then we went on camel rides.

Silly me getting sandy!
Silly me getting sandy!

Our Australian friends headed out, on their way back to Jodhpur in order to catch a bus to Jaipur. We went to a dune for sunset. I had so much fun getting sandy. We spent about 15 – 30 minutes there. Then we came back to our hosts’ house and slept on their roof very comfortably.

Indian breakfast...yum!
Indian breakfast…yum!

The next morning I woke up at the peak of dawn, wanting to write down another one of my crazy dreams. Our hosts gave us breakfast, while their kids caught the school bus, which was actually a little white pickup truck. Breakfast was delicious. It was chapati and something else that was sweet. Before breakfast, my mom and I gave the camels, cows, and buffalo breakfast. There was a newborn calf and buffalo that were both 20 days old. We didn’t do much else that day, but as we road out on camels, the village started to get smaller and smaller.

The village
The village


Amazing Amritsar

Amritsar - Making Friends

During our time in Amritsar, we saw many amazing things. I had three favorites.

Crazy Temple - coming out of the crocodile mouth...why not?
Crazy Temple – coming out of the crocodile mouth…why not?

My most favorite was the “Crazy Temple”, which is actually very convenient because it told about every Hindu temple in India. In one part you have to climb inside a lion’s mouth. Later you come out of a crocodile’s mouth. I also learned a lot about the religion. I was told many things by our guide and companions, whom we had met in McLeod Ganj. We learned about why Ganesh, the elephant god, has an elephant as a head and why Hanuman, the monkey god, has puffed out cheeks and why cows are holy.

Ganesh has an elephant head because he was very good at guarding his mother. He had been born while his father was gone, so they did not know their relationship. One day Ganesh’s father (Shiva, the most important Hindu god) came home while Ganesh’s mother (Parvati) was taking a bath. Ganesh didn’t let Shiva see Parvati, so Shiva cut off Ganesh’s head. When Shiva realized that Ganesh was his son, he grabbed an elephant head, which was the closest animal head around, and put it on Ganesh’s neck. Fortunately, Ganesh was alright.

The reason that Hanuman has puffed out cheeks is because one time when he was a kid, he thought the sun was a ripe fruit. He put the sun in his mouth. The sun couldn’t fully fit in Hanuman’s mouth, so eventually he spit it out.

The reason why cows are holy is because Shiva rode a cow as his special riding animal.

Wagah Border dance party. Can you spot me?
Wagah Border dance party. Can you spot me?

I also liked the Wagah Border Ceremony. It is a ceremony at the border town of Wagah to take down the flags and close the borders for the night.  It is the border between India and Pakistan. Before, there was a party, which I danced in. That was my favorite part.

We also went to the Golden Temple, which is a Sikh temple covered in gold leaf. It has a large complex all to itself. That was boring, except for the food. We ate there. The significance of eating there is that everyone was sitting down, completely equal. They feed tens of thousands of people a day for free!  The food was very intense…just like the city itself.

Himachal Pradesh

The view from Triund (outer Himalayas)
The view from Triund (outer Himalayas)
Lots of monkies!
Lots of monkies!

Shimla was nice. We walked through the mall, which is a big open plaza. We had delicious Indian street food. We saw crowds like never before and got honked at on the way there, which made me mad. We also experienced Diwali. It was full of fireworks. We saw a few things, too. My favorite was the Monkey Temple, which is dedicated to the Hindu god Hanuman, the monkey god. The statue was awesome. It was full monkeys, which are super cool. That was my favorite part.

Soccer with Monks
Soccer with Monks

After Shimla, we went to Rewalsar on the way to Mcleod Ganj. Relwasar is a cute tiny village surrounding a lake that is holy to Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs. We stayed in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. For two nights in a row, I would play soccer with the younger Tibetan Buddhists, then go play Minecraft with our new Dutch friends who live in Ahmedabad. That was so fun. Their names were Izerd, who was 12, Fanka, who was 10, and Freya, who was 8.

Hiking with friends near Rewalsar
Hiking with friends near Rewalsar

The second day was very different. We went to the caves and hiked up a steep hill. Then we walked into the forest and found a scary abandoned house. There was a big rock with sheets of metal near it. Inside the rock was the abandoned house, which was filthy. The door was broken down and in pieces, there were dirty sleeping bags all over the room, and bowls half submerged in dirt. Then we hiked back down to Rewalsar. The next day it was just me and my family. We fed the fish in the lake puffed rice. There were thousands of fish in that lake. Holy … fish? Yes, those fish were holy. Rewalsar was amazing. I recommend you to go there.

Playing Carrom
Playing Carrom

On our first day in McLeod Ganj, we saw a documentary about the modern Tibetans in China. The film used a small section to describe them being tortured, beaten, imprisoned, and executed because they deserved independence and knew it. That is not right. This made me mad. It was mainly about a small group of about 15 Tibetans’ adventure across Nepal into India to Delhi and finally to Dharmsala to meet the Dalai Lama. While we were waiting, I played a fun Indian board game called Carrom. It is a board game were there are some chips and one chip that was flatter and wider then the rest called the cue, which is white. The rest of the chips were black and white. One was red. I didn’t quite understand the goal of the game, so you can google it. Another day, we got a taxi and went to Norbulingka Institute, where they preserve Tibetan culture and crafts. We also went to Gyuto Monestary, which is known for the monks chanting. The sound was hypnotizing. Next we went to the cricket stadium, which is known for its mountain views, but the next day, we found even better mountain views at Triund. The views were awesome. You could see Paramount Mountain (which is actually called Mount Moon). We took a 4 1/2 hour hike to get there. The hike was tiring, but I liked it. McLeod Ganj was awesome.



Diwali 2015

Diwali Sparklers!

Recently was the Hindu holiday of Diwali. It is a holiday to celebrate the return of one of their gods after being in Sri Lanka for more than a decade. His brother left his shoes on the throne so that no one could take the throne. Our experience with Diwali went well. First the Hindus gave offerings to their gods, such as flowers, cashew pastries, and money. After that, they gave me some of the cashew pastries. They were good. Next we went out back to light fireworks. We lit sparklers, bottle rockets, and special firecrackers that our hosts called “The Bomb”, because it sounded like a bomb from far away. We had a great time. I liked Diwali.

The Big Trip

USA –} East Africa –} Europe –} India –} Southeast Asia –} South America –} Panama

We are going around the world for 10 months starting in the USA and ending in Panama. That is the main part of this blog.

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