My India: Goa

Yoga and meditation was the theme of this yoga trip. As it was winter in India, starting off south made sense to take advantage of the warm, sunny weather. Also, Southern India is less of a culture shock than Northern India. This was especially evident by the yoga teachers and participants who were mostly European or Australian.

Yoga ashram

The lush vegetation was soothing as I walked from my room to a yoga class.

Ashiyana yoga center Goa

An easy stroll through the village towards Mandrem Beach, reminding me that I am in India.

Street in Goa

Goa, located on the western coast of the Arabian Sea, proved to be a perfect place to limber up my body as I practiced different types of yoga with different teachers and prepared for the trip ahead.

Goa beach

 

 

 

 

My India: Mumbai

One of the books which I read before coming to India was Behind The Beautiful Forevers : Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo – a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist recognized for documenting the lives of people in poverty.

“Here, in the thriving Western suburbs of the Indian financial capital, three thousand people had packed into, or on top of, 335 huts. It was a continuing coming-and-going of migrants from all over India – Hindus mainly, from all manner of castes and subcastes.”

Slums in Mombai

The Gateway of India taken from a sea view seat at the Sea Lounge Café in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

mumbai taj hotel

The University of Mumbai, The Supreme Court, and The Chhatrapati Shivaji train station.

University

mumbai university 2

 

train station

Mumbai is a city of extreme contrasts. Extreme wealth and extreme poverty are openly displayed throughout Mumbai.

The number of people living in the slums of Mumbai in 2020 is over 9 million. 

 

 

 

 

 

My India

Juhu Beach 2 Mombai

Since I’ve returned from my trip to India I have been feeling quite rusty about posting. First there was the jet lag and then the putting our clocks ahead an hour. I was grappling for all kinds of excuses to put off getting back to my blogging habits. After all, there was lots of washing to do, bills to settle, phone calls to friends and family, groceries, cooking and cleaning.

And then there was what to write about.

For years, I have had a romantic relationship with India.  There was that time the Beatles went to visit the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ashram in Rishikesh to learn transcendental meditation. That gave me a nudge. A place I’d like to go to someday.

Then, there were all the yoga classes and workshops I took: ashtanga yoga, hot yoga, hatha yoga. I got interested in Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion), Karma Yoga (the path of right action), Rāja Yoga (the path of inner illumination), Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom). Those all peaked my interest, especially Raja Yoga with its lure of inner illumination.

There was the literature written by Indians which drew me in. Anita Desai whom I mentioned in my novel Getting to Mr. Right and Bharati MukherjeeRohinton Mistry  and Yann Martel. The list of fine Indian writers with amazing talents is long. I have always loved reading a novel with India as its setting.

India also interested me because of their sacred cows, their holy cities, arranged marriages, Hinduism, Buddha, karma, reincarnation, meditation and Bollywood.

I travelled to India with a friend I met at a yoga class. Without going through a tour group we designed our own trip with yoga as theme.

Except for Mumbai and Agra we had the opportunity to practice yoga in Goa, Kerala, Pondicherry, Rishikesh and Varanasi with different yoga teachers both from abroad (mostly Europe and Australia) and from India.

Spending five weeks in India both in the south and the northern parts is hardly enough time to know a country so large and diverse as India. I was barely able to dip into its traditions and missed most of its day-to-day life.  At times, during the trip, when I was sick and tired of its constant honking of horns and trying to cross a street amongst tuc-tucs, automobiles, scoters (lots of them – practically touching you), whenever I was confronted with the dirt and poverty I vowed to myself that I will never return to India. India is too hard.

Yet, at the same time it is soft. That is part of its beauty. The photo in this post was taken at Juhu Beach in Mumbai. A typical Indian family out for a Sunday afternoon stroll along the beach.

Click for some spectacular photos of Juhu beach

I  hope that you will enjoy my series on My India.