Trip Start Sep 15, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2011

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Flag of India  , Uttarakhand,
Monday, January 3, 2011

On Christmas Day I headed North to meet one of my best friends, Breanne, in Jaipur.  She was in India for a wedding and then touring the country with her friend's family.  For four days I lived in their lap of luxury with guides, drivers and hotel towels.  Of course this doesn't guarantee things will be hassle-free.  On our second day the highways were blocked due to protests staged by the lower caste.  Despite transportation delays, we happily bumped along back country roads while dozens children came out of their homes and the mustard fields to smile and wave.

After exploring palaces, forts and temples with Breanne, I took a train to Rishikesh.  This small town, tucked in the foothills of the Himalayas, is also known as the 'Yoga Capital of the World.’  I spent the first night freezing cold in a dusty ashram.  Exhausted and miserable, I met a woman the following morning in a nearby bakery and she took me to a nice family guest house (complete with three cows living in the garage).  From there I simply criss-crossed the Ganges River bridge and took meditation classes, yoga and listened to satangs (lectures) for the next six days.  I felt like a kid in a spiritual candy store.

On New Year’s Day my meditation teacher, Swami Umesh Yogi, invited me to attend a colleague’s party.  His 6-year-old daughter, 4-year-old niece and I all piled on his motorbike (a common miracle in this part of the world) and drove across town.  When we arrived, his friend's home was filled with old men in orange robs and long beards.  I said "namaste" and then was ushered into a room with the women and children.  After an hour of trying to make small talk and trying to learn Hindi (always a good ice-breaker) we were invited to sit on long blankets laid out on the rooftop.  There, we ate the most incredibly delicious food, fresh from the garden.  Afterward they asked if I would help serve the next round of guests.  I was happy to help out and feel like part of the family.  Swami Umesh later told me that they thoroughly enjoyed the American hospitality. ;) 

It's hard to believe my time in India has now come to a close.  Even though on some levels it was a completely bamboozling experience  ... the cows, tuk-tuks and glittering saris ... it has also been a centering one.  The word "namaste" is used here as both hello and goodbye.  It literally means "the divinity in me honors the divinity in you."  I feel like my time here has put that meaning back in my life.  I arrived here feeling frazzled and worn out from months of traveling through the Middle East.  People warned me that getting through this region would be hard, yet I wanted so badly to prove them wrong.  It was hard.  However the truth of the matter is that difficult things can happen to you no matter where you are located.  I feel like my time in Rishikesh has helped put things back in perspective and remember that the things that truly matter in life are far below the surface.
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Kevin Gilbert on


Amazing as always and thank you for sharing. I know I can't wait for the next update.

Catherine Shaw on

Namaste, So happy that your palaces were actually floating! When I visited in July, there were no lakes due to the drought, just palaces "floating" in cow pastures. At the Amber Fort, the lake in your photo did not exist. Such good karma you have, enjoy! Namaste, Catalina/Catherine p.s. Hope to see you in Guatemala.

coldcharm on

I think they just loved u....

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