On April 2nd, Dillon and I arrived in New Delhi at 1:30am after about 20 hours of air travel. Stopping in Shanghai, our trip to India started by visiting two giant cities with serious environmental pollution. It has been alarming to see a grey/brown sky with no horizon in sight. The hot sun of Delhi found its way through the smog and the temperature peaked around 40 degrees C, or close to 100 F.
We’ve spent our first “night” (2am-6am sleep) in Paharganj (the only place I could book a hotel the night before), which is not recommended, as it serves as a budget travelers transit neighborhood. The second night we spent in Manju-ka-Till, the Tibetan refugee camp in Delhi.
I am filled with memories and flashbacks from my time here 10 years ago, when almost no one had a mobile. Now smart phones and wi-fi are ubiquitous. Ten years ago, in my more youthful days as a 20 year old college student, I found everything fresh, new, adventurous and mind expanding. Now I find myself 10 years older, 30, with some significant life experience. Having loved, studied, traveled, worked, experienced heartbreak, and followed the spiritual path to some extent, there as been an enormous change in me. Am I that same 20 year old? No – but those impressions and experiences have lead me to where I am now. I am, however, interested in retaining that freshness of vision and curiosity that taught me much about myself and the world.
Sometimes I wonder why I/we decided to return to India. What is it about this place? I know the trials, hassels and constant encounters with people who are seriously undernourished and living in very difficult circumstances are a part of life here. Delhi is especially trying to traveler as everything is hot, dusty, noisy – cars, motorbikes, buses, rickshaws constantly honking – and for me is quite overwhelming to a jet lagged and newly arrived traveler. As the days have gone by, it has become more clear to me why I have come: The gravity of this place, its ancient spiritual sciences that have survived by a small number are pulling me back to my very center as a human being.
On April 3rd, we took an afternoon train to Haridwar, 5 or 6 hours North of Delhi in the edge of the Himalayas where the Ganga river flows swiftly into the heart of India. A hot ride and humid ride, my clothing sticking to every part of my body. It was not entirely unpleasant; there is an underlying gentleness and humanness to many people which makes connection come naturally.
Our first morning, I took a bath in the Ganga, the cold water rushing quickly and pilgrims bathing joyfuly, splashing themselves and each other, praying, enjoying the sacred banks of mother Ganga. Our 2nd night in Haridwar, we discovered an old-style ashram right on the banks of the Ganga called Vanaresi Vaisram built around 2 generations ago when the surrounding land was still jungle. Our room was right on the edge of the fast flowing Ganga. What a blessing.
The next day we left by train uphill to Dehradun, where we are now, in Rajpur, a small settlement in the foothills of the Himalaya. We began our Yoga course yesterday with Rajiv and Swati Chanchani at Yog-Ganga. Much to say about this, so I will save that for the next entry.
It seems the internet connection is too slow to upload photos. Those to come as well.
“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” -Mother Theresa
“The fool thinks, “I am the body.” The intelligent man thinks, “I am the individual soul united with the body.” But the wise man, in the greatness of his knowledge and discrimination, sees the atman as reality and thinks, “I am Brahman.” – Shankacharya, The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination
“The navel chakra: a vortex into the sanctum sanatorium.”
“Satiated in Radiance.”
– Rajiv Chanchani (paraphrased)