The first post


August 31, 2012 by Louis Ritzinger

The author in his natural habitat

The author in his natural habitat

First, the facts: My name is Louis.  I’m a 24 year old graduate student at Georgetown University.  A few months ago I was awarded a Boren Fellowship to spend a year studying Urdu in India.  So, for the next nine months I will be living in Lucknow (September-January) and New Delhi (January-June) studying Urdu and learning as much as I can about the subcontinent, its people, their languages and vibrant culture.  I will use this blog to document my experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

The name of this blog is derived from the sage advice of my mother, which is ignored at the traveler’s peril.

Now, the feely-stuff: I’m currently sitting in my room at my family’s house in Connecticut for what will be the last few hours in what feels like a very long time.  “Last” has been the general theme for the past few weeks:  the last day in my house in DC, the last time I’ll see certain relatives and friends, etc.  Not forever, of course, but when something is unknown it tends to appear much larger (or, in this case, longer) than it may actually be – and there are certainly a lot of unknowns in this case:  where, exactly, will I be living?  What will my classes be like? Will I be able to find an apartment when I move to New Delhi and no longer have my housing arranged?

Perhaps the most daunting unknown, however, is the more general sense of unfamiliarity and foreignness.  I have no reference points, no clear image in my head of what my life will be like in India, only a mishmash of anticipated sights and sounds picked up from the many articles and books I’ve read about the region over the years.  My life for the next nine months consists mostly of shapeless blurs – things I know will be, but haven’t the slightest idea of how, exactly.  The feeling of increasing disconnectedness with each (temporary) goodbye I say, as if with every hug and handshake I’m cutting another tether, is both liberating and unnerving.  I’m equal parts thrilled and terrified.

My flight departs from Newark Liberty International Airport at 8:30 pm.  Off into the void!

Wish me luck.


11 thoughts on “The first post

  1. marifyi says:

    Elizabeth and I are sitting on my bed in DC as we read this, Louis. I am 1. proud that you have joined the blogging family 2. really excited for you 3. already miss you!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Beautiful words, Louis! Good luck in India! And listen to your mother; street food can wreak havoc on the digestive system.

  3. Eddie Hejka says:

    “Eat the street food!” A little lime squeezed on it will make it safer.Do they have limes in India?:)
    Good luck. You must be proud. I know your parents are. Make sure to get out of the city if you can.

  4. Vieshnavi says:

    Definitely eat the street food!! It’s delicious! Get some ciprofloxacin (available over the counter in most Indian pharmacies) to take each day, and you’ll be fine.

    Have fun! Looking forward to reading about your experiences!

  5. Mary Lou Leanza-Sullivan says:

    I’m hooked – just read Blog 1 – Put it on my timeline so all can live vicariously through your adventures!

  6. Huy says:

    Good luck, Luigi! I will be following this blog with you. Safe travels, man!

  7. barbara summo says:

    Be safe! Have fun! Call your mom from time to time!

  8. Good luck Louis! We are all so proud of you and excited about your adventures. I look forward to following your blog. Good luck and remember; fear and apprehension are usually the precursors to life’s most amazing events.

  9. Tish Anderson. says:

    Beautifuliy written Louis! Stay healthy and safe looking forward to following your blog! What a great experience!

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