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 Mukherjee, Rohinton 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.