This won't be a travel blog entry. You find many of those on the web. I visited a lot of wonderful places, swam in the warm Arabian sea, walked through tea plantation in Nilgiri hills, cruising with a private boat the luxurious Backwaters and admired the famous fishing net in Kochi, but I want to talk about the India I met in these three weeks. The India I love so much. By the way it felt more like 3 months.
Yes indeed because India is intense. What happens in an hour condenses the energy of 2 hours, even when you stroll under palm trees the very act of balancing your weight on your feet becomes an exercise in awareness. Because if you don't, you may stumble in a cow shit, or occasionally an huge elephant dump, you may hit a rock with your toes or simply you turn around to decide if that beggar is worth of your
, Hindi translation for alms.
Or you have to skillfully avoid the next hawker or shopkeeper trying to convince you to buy his merchandize and buy pretty much everything, otherwise they won't really notice you.
I love India, even when at times it becomes unbearable and I scream out of my eyes please enough!
Enough of the noise that for nights in the row disturbed my sleep in Upper Coonoor. We thought it was a peaceful place and indeed it was. It was the end of the Hindu festival that was taking place in the market place down in Coonoor. All night
drumming on tablas and anything else you could bit on, chanting and praying the Lord. When finally at 4 am they would stop, the near by mosque started its prayer, its loudspeakers screaming out Allah’s name...
When that was over, the familiar sounds of the church bells were cradling me into morning, with just few hours of sleep. The bells were the only ones that lasted only couple of minutes.
Don't you love that? Where else in the world you can see a church, a mosque and a Hindu temple in the same square.
(though honestly, these three photos were not taken in the same place - not that we didn't see them in one spot, but Driek said they were impossible to get into one photograph)
India is a free country! The Indian take proud of that and never hesitate to remind you of this basic fact.
The last place we stayed in was Varkala. The bungalows we were at, a wonderful place faraway on the north coast was run by two Hindus, two Muslims and one Christian in total mutual agreement and respect for their own religion.
My “enough” never last long, because the following moment I am totally and utterly in love again with the colors of this country, with the way they speak and smile and sing Bollywood or Malayalam
songs to you, making you the center of the universe.
One day we found ourselves on the Toy steam blue train in the Nilgiri Hills. We tried to reserve a first class place but we had to settle for second class. When at 6.30 am we reached our seat I got pushed into a place cramped with a school class day off. Only boys!
When they realized I was the only woman in the train they started to sing to me their bollywood songs. To top it off we declared we were in our honeymoon! Three hours till Coonoor of songs, pictures and a lot of noise as the train was climbing up the breathtaking landscape. I spent most of my journey with my head outside the windows and stayed alone in the train when everyone was out taking a break. A much needed and frequent break to refresh the steam machine and shot some pictures with monkey. In those moments I had the whole train for myself.
Driek has been trying to capture the essence of his experience through his camera, and I am really grateful for his work, I let my eyes capture the experience and sent it straight to my heart, where they will be forever.
My life with Osho
I remember the first time I arrived in Bombay in October 1986 finally meeting my master Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. I was 25 years old and my heart was full of wonder and enthusiasm I looked out of my eyes with the curiosity and skepticism of a survivor.
Life after my accident was a wonder and a quest, a constant searching for meaning, in any possible way. That invisible thread pulled me to India. I had the chance to go to the last Rajneesh Annual Celebration at the ranch 1n 1985, and fly to Crete where Bhagwan had to escape. I waited for him to return to India despite the fact he once said in his US years that he would never go back to India.
I was pleased he did. He didn’t have anywhere else to go. Nobody wanted the dangerous
Bhagwan. All countries refused him the entry visa. He knew he was going to die. At last as a good Indian he decided to embrace his roots.
I found myself outside Bombay airport after the long flight from Amsterdam and being surrounded by a crowd that was pushing on me and pulling: porters, beggars, taxi drivers. I thought I am in a mad land. Never I was so close to the truth. India is a land of spiritual madness, freedom of thought and worshipping a river as god.
India, Gandhi's peaceful country, now has the atom bomb!
At that time in '86 I stayed in Juhu beach in a small hotel with other sannyasin and everyday I was venturing out a bit more to explore the craziness of Bombay and listen every evening the teaching of spirituality and meditation from Bhagwan - the duality of life hand in hand.
That is why so many people turns to spirituality in India. What goes on outside is just so chaotic that you need to tune in to find some peace.India is India
Now, 22 years later I found no difference. Still the breeze outside an airport is warm and the crowd outside just as annoying. Maybe what you notice the most are the billboards with cell phone advertisements and the constant ring tones in the street. This country is a master of cacophony.
India is hitting a wave of a new middle class spending money and making money. Everything now costs much more then I remember when I left Poona 12 years ago.
The pre-arranged taxi took us to Kovalam. As we walked to the hotel two porter took our luggage. After couple of minutes we arrived and I gave them 10 rupees thinking is a lot. They wanted more and got angry. I was puzzled. What happened to the value of rupees? I realized in a short time that everything got so much more expensive that finally I give up thinking how it was.
I used to pay a rickshaw for 2 km on my way home from the Ashram, 4 rupees. Now, the rate for 2 km is at least 30 or 40 rupees.
However expensive it got you get the same crazy rickshaw drivers though, with his temple or church or holy figure right in front of the windshield, horning and honking, speeding up before a bus and curving sharply to avoid a truck. It takes your breath away. And it is still my favourite way to go around, despite the adrenaline running through your body.Yes India takes your breath away.
I loved to walk in between tea plantation in Coonoor in the Nilgiri hills. I looked up and felt like the trees were reaching the sky. Everything in India is a call towards the divine. Once you forget this, you are lost.
After a long morning ride with the blue mountain train, a old steam locomotive that pushes up the small toy train from the Combatore plan to the refreshing air of the hill cities of Coonoor (1,800 m) and Ooty (2,286m), Driek took charge and decided to stop in Coonoor - less populated and less polluted, and a good starting point for nice walks.
It was on this search we met the most beautiful people we had the pleasure to become friends in this holiday. Friends that I surely hope to see again, Gopy and Malati.
I don’t know what it was but I was drowned to them. I was not looking for connection or social talking. I found myself merely following the rare impulse of Driek to talk to strangers. After spending some time chatting about place to walk we finally hit the small trek and venture through the forest. I was surprised when later in the day, they were showing us around the valley by car, Gopy told me out of the blue he met Osho in Bombay in ’71. And so the story goes how Osho before he was Bhagwan was walking around on the beach with a handful of Indian sannyasin preaching at sunset. I was missing a piece of his past story. Life of Osho before he even was called Bhagwan.
I guess in that moment I felt an incredible sense of connection with my past in India, with Osho and with all his people who were touched by his presence.
As Gopi put it, Bhagwan put up a great show, and it was good for India.
In the middle of nowhere, not looking for any ashram, guru or sadhu, enjoying the simple beauty of the Ghats I was reminded of the mysterious thread that bound people in a circle of love and light. I don’t want to sound too esoteric but certain invisible hands are molding certain energy and people more together then other.
I like to call it God. I like to call it Love.
The temple you see in the next photo stands on the mountain behind their new home.
My heart reaches out to were they live and may the gods be always with them.
There is so much more I can say about my impression of this last trip in India, but it will have to wait. One thing for sure I got out is the determination to finally set up my time and my mind along with my heart to write my so desired book.
in the middle of chaos
I bow to the greatness
of this simple moment
with only one desire
to let it be.