Stranger in a Strange Land
Tales of a Year Abroad

Modhera Sun Temple (WARNING! Picture heavy!)

Well, it's been a long time since I've posted. I've been busy applying to PhD programs (both Literature as well as Literature and Creative Writing), getting ready for my cousin, and planning for the holidays. As a result, there isn't much to report--Steve continues to work on his research (it's going mostly well), I became a first time auntie (shout out to my nephew--can't wait to meet you!), and life continues in the A-Bad. It's gotten "cold" here--high of 84 in the middle of the day, low of 50 at night--I know, poor us! However, 50 is now cold enough that it warrants layers and socks and shoes... which makes us SO SCREWED when we get home. **Sigh** And I already hated winter! 

In the meantime (and as a sort of... obscene gesture at winter) we went to Patan for some manuscripts. Along the way we stopped at the Modhera Sun Temple--one of three such temples (of consequence) left in India. The temple was built in 1026 AD by the Solankis (the dynasty that Steve studies) in honor of Lord Surya, the Hindu Sun God, from whom they claim divine lineage. The temple was sacked twice (first by Mahmud Ghazni, an Afghani ruler who raided temples to collect money to fund his war in Afghanistan/Iran) and later partially destroyed by Allauddin Khilji, a Turk; he raided the temple during his conquest of Gujarat and subsequently destroyed the Solanki line and worship at the Sun Temple. The temple is in remarkably good shape despite how weathered some of the sandstone is; here, take a look:

Sun Temple proper is positioned in such a way that during the equinoxes, the sun would shine into the temple and directly onto a statue of Lord Surya.
Tank for bathing and royal weddings in front of temple. There are a total of 108 shrines around the perimeter of the tank

Vishnu sleeping on Shesha (the snake) prior to creating the world
Sun Temple Meeting Hall--dance hall, marriage hall, hall where the Solanki's held court, etc.

The stones were cut and placed next to each other, joined by a thick wood pin.

Shiva, Lord of the Dance

When a demon took over Hell, Heaven, and Earth, Vishnu appeared before him as a dwarf. He said, "give me as much land as I can cover in three strides." The demon granted his wish and Vishnu promptly turned into a giant and with three strides, he covered Hell, Heaven, and Earth. This depicts his third stride from Earth to Heaven.
Loving the pot belly!
Steve doin' his thang...

Steve droppin' some knowledge on the Kid...

A rare depiction of Brahmani (a female depiction of Brahma) with three heads

Sex Ed Kama Sutra style...

Popular myth says that this particular pillar was shattered by the mighty sword of an invader. More likely, there was an iron deposit that worked its way out and then was forcibly removed.

Boo-yah! Amazonian archer to the rescue!

Monkey see, monkey do!

Even medieval women enjoyed their pedis and manis!

One of the goddesses--Saraswati or Lakshmi?
Door guardians
Where there's guano, there's... BATS!
Snakes on a Column!

The Boy and I standing in what would have been one of the original gateways to the temple

Me & the Kid

Crazy eyed Ganesh


Hey girl, you look FAB! hope you're having a blast over there! When are you guys coming back??

Also we need to be editing buddies again :)

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Visions of India

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Lights! Camera! Action!


Hodgepodge and Miscellany

The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Alladin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday's bear date with the modering antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.
- Mark Twain

In India, I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it, inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything, but possessed by nothing.
- Appolonius Tyanaeus

If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.
-Romain Rolland