In 2010, I finished Peace Corps and moved to India. I also turned 26, which was a pretty big deal to me at the time. I wasn’t really looking forward to my birthday that year but decided that I needed to step it up and do something to get ready and excited for another year on Mother Earth!

The following are the brief blog posts I wrote at the time! I’ve also added in a few memories and reflections too!

I’m turning 26 this month. This is the first birthday in my whole entire life that I have not looked forward to my birthday with the fervor of an ultimate patriot cheering for his team in the Olympics. I usually spend the 2 months before my birthday reminding people that it is just around the corner. For my 24th birthday, I had a month long celebration that included 3 different countries, a tattoo, and a 111m jump off a bridge. I think that one birthday sums up my love of celebrating the day of my birth.

This year is a different story. I’m turning 26 and not looking forward to it. It will officially mark my downslide to 30. And I’m not ready for that.

I decided I wanted to prepare myself before the big day arrives. To do this, I am fasting for 9 days in celebration of Dessara, a Hindu festival in honor of the Hindu Goddess Durga.

Fasting here doesn’t mean no food. I eat curd (just like plain yogurt), fruit, and potato for lunch and a small meal at night. I will be strictly vegetarian. In addition to this food fasting for 9 days, I’m not drinking any form of caffeine. No coffee, no tea, no chai.

This is the part that I think will prove most difficult for myself. The last time I went one day without coffee, I had malaria. And it was literally only 1 day that I didn’t drink coffee. I made it but was too sick to actually drink it. But I’m ready for the challenge.

Day 1 is done. 8 more days…

I made it! I successfully completed my 9 day fast! And I did not cheat once! No coffee, no soda, no chai. Fruit for 9 breakfasts, fasting food for 9 lunches, and Indian food for 9 dinners.

I can safely say that I can give up coffee anytime I want. I’m actually drinking less than I usually do every day. Which will save me money if nothing else.

Now on to my next challenge. Turning 26.

While I jumped from before I start fasting to the very last day, a lot happened in between! Day 3 was the WORST!!!!!!!!!! That was when the caffeine withdrawal really kicked into over drive. I couldn’t do anything. jen sent me to bed because I was hopeless at being productive or even minimally engaged with whatever we were doing at the time. But after that nap?! I remember feeling like a brand new person and the rest of the fasting went pretty easy.

And I had a great 26th birthday, my first in India! I was working and we went to Alandi and Ishwari with the Tare (Community Programme Particiapants!). And at Ishwari, they made a cake and decorating for me! It was a great start to my ‘downslide to 30!’

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