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Varanasi is a strange mixture of haunting beauty and desperate aggravation. It's a holy city, sprawled out along a sacred river. A river people use to both wash their dirty laundry and wash away their sins. People bathe there. Cows bathe there. The dead are burned there. Daily, we'd witness the cremation rituals held at one of the ghats. They were hard to ignore. Dead bodies wrapped in white cloth, wrapped again in colorful fabrics with sparkling gold trim, were paraded through town on a wooden ladder accompanied by chanting and sometimes drums. Once at the river the bodies would...

I still don't quite get India. There are cows everywhere and no one who lives here seems to notice. Like, hey, there's a cow standing in the entrance to my restaurant and I'm just going to walk right by like that's normal. That's not normal. And people just pee anywhere. ...

My name is Valerie. I am 31 years old. My favorite color is green. My favorite fruit is bananas. My favorite vegetable is eggplant. My favorite animal is a dog. Today my feeling is worried. Every day we sat in a circle with our Sambhali Trust butterfly class and one by one we would each introduce ourselves, say what our favorite things are, let everyone know how we're feeling that day. Some of the kids were pros, could rattle off lists with little worry. Some often forgot the word favorite, telling us "my animal is" or "my fruit is." Some needed a lot of coaxing, a lot...

Jaime and I spent two weeks in Setrawa while we volunteered at the empowerment center. It sometimes felt like we were on some kind of Wizard of Oz meets Truman Show movie set. Everything perfectly placed to remind you that you're in rural India. The sand, the cows, the peacocks, the goats, the trash, the locals all saying hello as we walked by. The power went out for at least an hour a day. There was a mouse in our room that we nicknamed "Mighty." The kids would come in and be fascinated by our computers and cameras and always wanted...

Chapati has may uses. It is food, of course, an Indian bread. But it also serves as a utensil, a fork or spoon, to scoop up whatever the vegetable of the day may be. Or as a spatula, placing one on top of another on the frying pan to spin and press and turn the uncooked dough. Or as even a potholder, folded in half to not burn your hand as you pick up a hot dish....