Friday, December 7, 2012
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Saturday, November 24, 2012
I was doing more than ok with the food situation in India for a while, loving the new flavors, soupy curries, light dosas, fresh nan and complex Masalas. I couldn't get enough. While other travelers stuck to their Muesli and pasta, I was on a never ending hunt for the best pumpkin curry and biryani.
Then the inevitable happened. I got sick. And nothing makes you miss homey comfort foods like being sick half way around the world and just wanting mommy's chicken soup.
Here's a list of foods I would kill for right now:
My mom's perfect Jewish penicillin with loads of parsley.
Burger from jg melon on 74th and 3rd
Sushi, fucking top notch close your eyes its so good sushi. From Riki on 45th st.
Baked fish. Any fish, as long as it's fresh. With olive oil and lemon.
Really fresh salad with cheese, lemon juice and olive oil
Hummus from hummus place with above salad.
I arrived in Amritsar on a crowded dusty government bus which left Dharamsala 7 hours prior at some ungodly predawn hour. This meant setting my alarm for 4am and walking in complete darkness to the main square hoping I would find a taxi to the bus station. Luckily I did and sat in the nearly deserted waiting area next to tall, skinny light haired guy who instantly reminded me of my best friend and bandmate back at home. As we exchanged the usual banter, where we are from, how long we are in India for, I decided he would be my new best friend as his gentle mannerisms, laid back nature and general go with the flow vibe were immediately evident.
Benji from Austria and I rodé the hellish busride together which included a rest stop in a dusty garage infested field where the men got off to simultaneously surround the bus and take a piss and a nicely timed save by a mother who opened the window in front of us so her kid could puke out of it. I immediately decided I would never again take a government bus in India. Benji didnt seem to care about any of this. 'It's not bad,' he would say in that monotone German chilled out accent.
Amritsar is a disgusting, dirty, crowded city but houses the Golden Sikh temple which in my opinion blows the Taj Majal out of the water. In the evening time it is especially magical and not to sound like a Lonely Planet guide but no visit is complete without experiencing the communal meal eaten on the floor and served efficiently by temple volunteers to over 80,000 people daily. The chappati and dal was one the tastiest I've had in India and really showed just how generous and anti-caste the Sikhs are.
You could stay for free in the temple in the foreigners room. Benji didn't mind sharing a bathroom with ten other people and sleeping on an uncleaned bed next to a complete stranger. 'It's not a four star star hotel' he would say. I booked myself into a two star down the block which included a flat screen TV and the rare complimentary role of toilet paper.
Monday, November 19, 2012
I've done my share of traveling but many things feel profoundly different on this trip. I rarely feel lonely even though I am often by myself. Part of this is the ease at which one can talk to people here, both tourists and locals. Travelers don't come to India to party or veg like they do in Thailand or Jamaica. Most come looking to be stimulated visually, to expose themselves to a unique culture, to look inward, to meet likeminded people who don't mind trading an easy beach vacation for something a bit richer, albeit more difficult.
Even in big cities things shut down by 10pm. Tea is the drug of choice with the occasional Kingfisher or blunt if you are up north. Even chicken feels like an indulgence as it is beyond easy to be a vegetarian here (this coming from an unapologetic carnivore).
Entertainment in India is everywhere. Once you sort of get past the mountains of garbage in the streets, pollution, crowds and poverty, you are left with a beautiful feast for the senses. Womens' saris in every color of the rainbow packed into a ladies only subway car. Random cows following you home at night as if they want to make sure you made it ok. Random conversations with an elderly wise and silly Sikh man that exemplify the generosity of the religion. You really have absolutely no idea who you will meet next and what kind of impact they will have on you.
Indians subscribe to the notion of living in shanti, or, peace. I can't seem to shut off my Western frantic NY ways but I will say that being here has helped me inch a bit closer to this style of living, taking the time to just stop and turn off the worry, eliminate the clutter in my head, understand my priorities.
On a personal note, moving forward with a relocation feels exhilarating on this trip. I love this feeling of being in between two lives. Knowing I'm not going back that place of severe burnout has done wonders in enjoying my present surroundings. It just goes to show that it's not where you are physically that dictates your state of mind. It's the decisions you make in order to ensure your progress, how much you listen to yourself, care for yourself, make sure you are living your life for you and not for anyone else that allows yourself to fully enjoy every aspect of your daily routine. It is cliché but so true- do what you love and the love will find you.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
I've met many Indians who told me they never did yoga in their lives. In Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world nonetheless, and they would laugh hysterically when I would try to teach them half lotus or bridge pose. The best yoga experience I had in Rishikesh was on the rooftop of my guesthouse playing yoga instructor for my new Indian friends. Crazy ass role reversal.
It's hard to leave Rishikesh. After a few days here, you find yourself settling into a pretty solid schedule. I was here during the 5th annual yoga festival (in the yoga capital of the world! mind blowing!) so my schedule would vary slightly depending on what lectures were happening that day. Dinner plans, breakfast plans, plans to meet for 2pm hatha but maybe I'll be late because there is that 1pm Aryuvedic lecture. Afternoon chais would turn into dinner when you bumped into someone at the cafe. It's unbelievably nice to be surrounded by other people with an open schedule. Back in NY everyone always has someplace to be. Here, yoga and naps dictate the schedule. Not a bad way to start off the trip.