VSO Conference

Corey writes:

So this past week, Gina and I were on the road again, this time traveling to Puri for a VSO Conference. Puri is on the east coast of India, on the Bay of Bengal. It's a popular tourist destination within India because the original Jagganath Temple is there. (Apparently the one we have in Koraput is just a copy.) It also has a few miles of great beaches which draw even international tourists.

Gina and I thought we would take the opportunity to spend a few extra days after the conference to get some sun and see what's what. She'll be following up with a blog on the fun part of the trip later.

We left Koraput after work on Monday (last Monday) and took the overnight train to Bhubaneswar (or Bhub if you don't have the time). No problems on the trip, we arrived to a blast furnace of 90+ F and about 4000% humidity. We screamed and ran for the A/C room at our friend AnnMarie's. After an awesome tofu scramble (yes I'm becoming a damned hippy) and a few hours chilling (get it?), we ventured out to the Big Bazaar close to her work. This was culture shock for us hicks rural volunteers: four floors crammed with merchandise, air conditioning, and "helpful" staff! We selected some treasures we can't get in K-put (Kidney Beans! Yay!) and got out. Later we caught the VSO bus to Puri and after two hours, we arrived at the Holiday Resort.

As soon as we checked into our hotel, we got busy with one of the prime reasons for the conference: catching up with all the folks we have't seen in three months. It's like a dinner party where everyone has interesting stories to tell.

The next day, Wednesday, we started the conference proper. This was where we got to another conference goal: sharing professional information. We heard about what is going on, and going well or not-so-well throughout the VSO partner NGOs. This continued, with frequent food breaks, until Friday afternoon. The conference ended with a choose-your-own-adventure trip, we decided to visit a small artist's village close to Puri. We bought some nice art, but ultimately it was more of a sales pitch than our visit to Kotpad. Stay tuned for the rest of our trip when Gina writes next!