INDIA // MUMBAI – GOA – JAIPUR – PUSHKAR – JAISALMER – AGRA – AMRITSAR – RISHIKESH – VARANASSI
February 05, 2009
There are piles of trash and crowded people everywhere I look. From the bus I can see a dumpster on the side of the road engulfed in flames – no one cares, no one is trying to put it out, it just burns. The men are wearing neutral toned clothing while the women provide pops of color in bright sarees, intricately embroidered. Men squat in circles on what should be a sidewalk drinking hot masala chai. A man shouts in a booming, monotone, bass that vibrates in my chest "Chai! Chai! Masala Chai! Chai!" The sun is unforgiving; though its 90+ degrees I'm covered from head to toe with a scarf over my head (half to protect from the burn, half to protect from the stares). The air is a thick, hot unrelenting mixture of trash, human waste and curry.
February 15, 2009
From my bamboo and grass hut in the middle of the rice fields I hear...
- Wind rustling
- Water buffalo and cows mooing
- Dogs barking
- Dogs howling in packs (out of tune)
- Dogs chasing each other around my hut
- Dogs wrestling under my bed
- Dogs hitting their legs and heads under my bum
- Hindi chanting through loud speakers
- Distant trance base
- Konkani shouting
- Rumbling moped motors
- Crows wings flapping
- Parrots squawking
- Christian church bells
These are the sounds I sleep to.
April 5, 2009
I am in love with this city! Every morning I wake up with the sun, leave my ashram to go for a run through the village between the Ganges river and the Himalayan mountains, then practice yoga. It's much quieter here than the other villages and cities I've been to in India; I feel calm and safe instead of agitated and guarded. The people don't stare as much; no one tries to touch me or swindle, though I still have to watch my step for giant cow pies.
Most evenings I go to a small 30-person lecture with my yoga group at Trika Yoga, generally covering different meditation and yoga practices, as well as "purification techniques." I look around the room as everyone nods their head in response to the benefits of urine therapy; no one asks questions concerning the science behind this technique – it's blind faith in a lot of what the instructor teaches. Last night I was furious after a discussion about Karma. From my understanding, Karma is basically a kind of pay back process with the universe; good and bad things happen if you, in turn, commit good and bad actions. However, our discussion last night took this idea much further, working off the idea of reincarnation and what you have done in past lives. Meaning if you're an a**hole now, you might not see that retribution until the next life or "payback over generations." I cannot wrap my head around the purpose of that; if I steal, cheat or lie, the universe needs to make me deal with it now, otherwise how would I learn? There are no consequences that I am aware of for my actions; I'd be too far removed to understand. Again, no one bats an eye. No one asks questions or debates; these ideas are presented as fact and are not to be argued. Feels more like a cult, to me.
Tonight, however, I will not be going to a lecture. I do not have the energy to surround myself with strangers. One of the women from my class brought me with her to see Maharaji, an 85 year old enlightened man in the neighboring village. At nine in the morning the door to his room in the Saacha Daam Ashram is opened and people file in to kneel and bow in his presence in order to absorb his energy. You sit in silence outside for a little while before you go in, preparing your thoughts while waiting your turn. When I filed in he never said a word but held eye contact with me the entire time. My heart was racing and, while walking out tears started streaming down my face. I sat in silence for a while after, leaning against a wall in the sunshine until I could stop crying. I can’t explain what happened. Something must have sparked inside of me to let go of old emotions because, while reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, a sad part came up and I sat crying over my book for an hour. I mean, it was a sad book, but not to the point of convulsing in tears for an hour. Maybe there really is something to this yoga/meditation/purification stuff; I know there are a lot of old pent up emotions inside of me that I have never really let go of and I feel like now I can and I have (or at least, some of it).