Thursday, February 26, 2009

Art Day with the children of Karunya Mane...

I am sure that the children are going to be putting the 70 pounds of Art Supplies that were so graciously donated by my friends and readers of this blog to good use! We were not able to give them directly to the children as that is not allowed...but I know that they are going to have the time of their lives with it all when they have art days!!
We were however allowed to give them the painting that my dear friend painted for them and their eyes "lit" up with Joy and Happiness when they saw it!! Also..we were able to hand out the cards that the children in Colorado at a private school made for them..thanks to Kristi my fellow blogger! They each held up their hand as I read off their names and they were SO excited! I SO wish I could have taken some photos of that!!!! They are making cards for each of the children who made them cards and they will be sent directly to them in Colorado.
It was a joy full day for the children of Karunya Mane..but it could not equal the joy felt in the hearts of my husband and I...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

delhi..when oh when...

I can't understand..it happened 5 years ago when we landed here. Then of course, as India never dissapoints...some things just never change do they? But I sure do wish they would! Just some...

But first, a word of advise for those of you who use and book flights through "Make My Trip"...DON'T! As they Royally ~~~scewed~~~ us yesterday. Yeah. It wasn't fun. But it taught us a few lessons as these things tend to do. Lessons. Even when you aren't in the mood to learn them. There they are.
They were suppossed to deliver us "paper" tickets for our flight out of Chennai to Delhi. Did they? No.
So, when we approached the check in kiosk and handed them our email confirmation, they looked at us like we were from another planet.

Long story short. We had to pay for the flight Again.
But we made it to Delhi after circling in the air for 30 mins. At 1am.
It happened 5 years ago...
and again last night.
Seems as though it wasn't because of fog though.
The runway was just too congested...so we were #16 in the line-up order to land.
Thank God I have no fear of flying.
But this pilot practically gave all of us whiplash when he put the plane down. He actually slammed on his brakes SO hard we all made some sort of noise when it happened.
I contained myself and just said "Geezus"

One thing I will never get used to here in India is when a foreigner walks by me in the airport (while I am typing this actually) and has "booty shorts" on and her cheeks are hanging out....OMG! Girl, what ARE you thinking????????
No wonder the Indian guys think those thought when they see us white girls. BUT, I would NEVER wear those...out in public that is!!

So, we are waiting for our Kingfisher flight to Dharamsala. It leaves in about 45 and then we will be in the clear mountain air at our most favorite hotel in India. The Chonner House.
We always stay in the room right next door to Richard Geres room. But I don't expect him to be there this year. He was 2 years ago though. He took the whole hotel though that year as he brought a few friends with him. So the day he checked in, we checked out.
It might be interesting to sit and have a Chai with the guy though!

Om Mani Padme Hum~ (photos to come..sorry though, none of the girl who walked by ;0)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

see you next time...

Varkala...wow, time went by so fast here. Just managed to get a good tan and then hopped on a train to Trivandrum and catching a late flight out to Delhi. Raj, the guy in the photo above, has been our friend for 5 years. We knew him before he had his shop and he was a skinny, funny boy. He is still a funny boy, but he is now married and has a little girl...with some meat on his bones FINALLY!!!!

these guys walk the cliffs all day long selling their drums..they are friends of ours as well, we see them each time we come here. Ray actually bought one of the drums 5 years ago from the oldest brother and he taught him how to play it. Each day Ray would take his drumming lessons while I layed on the beach and fried my body with coconut oil...ahhhhhhh. It's so hard not to when you are here...

i had 3 coconuts yesterday from this woman...OMG they were so damn good!!!! I could NOT stop!

She is good at what she does let me tell you. She liked us, so she gave us the big, meaty ones!!

on the way to get our coconuts I saw this Vishnu Temple, and loved how the steps were still wet from one of the visitors who came by before we did. You must wash your feet before climbing the steps and leave your shoes down at the bottom...
one of the things I love most about India..the Spirituality that is literally everywhere you look...it's so refreshing~

Saturday, February 21, 2009

some shots of varkala

this is it...Varkala...Heaven on Earth~

from our balcony...the view is amazing!!

look really close...that IS me helping the fishermen pull in the nets. 40 mins. worth!! But they are out for 5 hours pulling them in.

these guys were out really far..but Ray has a great zoom lense!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Honeymoon In Varkala~

we arrived on a late train to Varkala, and immediately noticed the beautiful drop in temperature...like say 10 or more degrees!! YES!
Bala was waiting there at the train station for us with a tuk-tuk and thank goodness Bala and the driver took the luggage across the tracks for us and let Ray and I walked up and over to the other side...because I would have freaked if I had been there when they loaded everything in. I still have no idea how they we were able to get 2 huge suitcases. 2 stuffed backpacks, 2 yoga mats AND 4 people into that thing....but we did and we were off to Asthamay Bungalows..otherwise known as "Balas House"!

We finally got to sleep at probably close to midnight..but I couldn't even think about sleep because I was in Heaven~
We are so close to the Arabian Sea, that I can take 30 steps forward and there it is! The crashing of the waves is like thunder in my ears, but there is no rain...and the ocean breeze brushing my face is like a breath of fresh air. Very fresh air..the sky is clear and I just watched the fishermen pulling in the net on the sand below me. What a difference a day makes!

The only sad part of the whole story is this...
we called Bala a month ago to make a reservation to stay and now we must find a place for the other 2 nights we are here as he has had some friends come from out of town and they have first dibbs... :0(
but, my motto is and always has been.."Things happen for a reason" so Ray is off scouting for another seaside room and I will await his return and see what comes next here in the most Amazingly Beautiful Varkala!

About 2 hours later....

Things indeed DO happen for a reason...

as it turns out, Bala has a new "squeeze" and she is pretty much "running the show" there now. The energy was way weird this morning there..so Ray took off down the path along the beach and found us a STUNNING place to stay. Overlooking the water from our balcony..very luxurious by Indian standards, but we could use another Honeymoon!! So we are staying for an additional week and living it up!!!!!

You only live once..Right?


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Days in Fort Cochin....

have been warm and sort of muggy/humidish...good for cleaning out the system that's for sure!!! We have gone through one of those 5 gallon bottles of water in 2 days! Between just the two of us!
We plan on doing it again today and tomorrow before we leave for Varkala Beach. It's really quite easy though as you sweat so much, you just naturally want water all day long..and Chai of course! Always Chai....and now that we have learned how to make it the right way...I can have it at home!

Yesterday was Valentines Day. We weren't sure if they celebrated it here or not, but at breakfast we were talking with Biju, our friend who works there, and he mentioned that he was going to go shopping after he got off work for his wife for her Valentines Day gift. So Ray asked if he could go with him and get my gift as well..and they met at 7:30pm to go on a shopping spree!!

See what I got!!!

Since I have arrived I have been hooked on Bindis..I have gotten so many Bindis this year and have been wearing them most all the time. So Ray bought me a very beautiful one for a special occasion...it is the one second from the top in the photo...

Biju had fun taking pictures of Ray shopping and then Ray took some of his gift for his wife. He is newly married and they have a beautiful 2 month old baby girl named Eva. We have known Biju for 5 years, and I swear, the guy just gets younger every time we see him!! (he is 32 now..can you believe it???)

Here are some pictures of the guys at the Kashi Art Cafe..the manager Prasaad next to Ray and then Biju and the Chai guy!!

The art that is on exhibit is by a woman who lives in India named Gayatri Gumez. A very talented painter who does HUGE canvas paintings and sells them for thousands and thousands of dollars...just to give you a taste of the prices...the Polar Bear is going for over 9000.00 US dollars! They are beautiful paintings, but out of my price range...
It's been so awesome being here and seeing old friends...walking down the street and then spotting someone we have not seen in 3 years and of course Padmini at Idiom books and Aneel and his wife and son Krishna who is now 4 years old... he is always sleeping when I gethis photo!!

We are leaving tomorrow on the train for Varkala Beach where we will see and stay with our old friend Bala just steps from the Arabian Sea...it's going to be hard not slathering myself in coconut oil and basking all day in the sand next to the ocean, but I made a promise to myself..so I will keep it and avoid the sun tanning this year~ but I will still slather on the coconut oil that I bought here and moisturize!!!

Until then...

Friday, February 13, 2009

saying good-bye....

we left Mysore 2 days ago...and yes, I cried. I cried good!

I cried because sometimes, if you get lucky in life, you meet people who become such great friends that it's hard to say Good Bye when the time comes to leave them... and I have such a friend here in India...and though she may live half a world away..she is always in my heart~

So, here is to my great friend Anu! I know you didn't want me to post these...but sometimes..as we discussed at dinner...I do bad things! ;0)

love you so much my friend~ and I will see you again, that I promise!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Puja at Swamijis Cave...

We were invited up to a very auspicious Puja on the night of the full moon..last night to be exact.
I had always wanted to meet Swamiji...but I had NO idea how special this night would turn out to be...

We were picked up at 6pm and we drove towards Chamundi Hill and stopped in a nearby village to buy flowers for Swami...2 bags of beautiful flowers for 70 rupees only..
and then we arrived at the foot of the cave, Swamijis Cave, where he has lived for 14 years now.
I could feel the butterflies in my stomach, as I was so excited for this moment. I had seen so many photos and heard so many wonderful stories about Swami..who knew a man in a cave could be so well known all over the world AND have so many visitors...

We left our shoes at the bottom of the stairs leading up to his cave and as we approached the little tiny door into the cave, there he was, with a glowing smile on his face and wonderful music emanating from inside. At first I wondered if I could get in the door..it was Small!! But we all made it inside and you literally have to hunch over so as not to smack your head on the roof of the cave. It IS a Cave people!!

We gave our Namastes and said Hello and we sat down. He was so happy to meet us, and visa versa. All of a sudden people started stopping by..some stayed for a few minutes, others bowed to him and paid their respects, taking their prasad and then leaving. They were all Indian men, women and children and were Very surprised to see two white Americans sitting there in the cave when they arrived!
Swami speaks very good English and he told us how he had lived in the Himalayas for 20 years wondering around and then he came to Mysore to live in the cave. He is a very humorous man, suttle that is, but wise...so wise and his eyes...they pierce right to the depth of your being. He told us that the world is small...smaller than your thoughts...and suddenly after the words left his mouth..and man we know from town walked in...yes, small world indeed.
Then he was telling us that many business men and women come to see him daily..that they travel 20 even 40 kilometers to visit him..and with that said, a very well dressed man and his wife entered the cave and sat down before him and told us that they were from Bangalore and that he is a Pharmacist...Swami asked if we had ever heard of Mill Valley and I thought Rays jaw would hit the floor..as that is where he used to deliver his UPS packages, that was his route in Marin..he told us of a man named Ronnie who lived there, that his father had an exotic car showroom there..and we knew of it. He told us that Ronnie had stayed with him there at the cave for 3 months...he had initially come to practice Yoga with Guruji, but upon meeting Swami he left the practice in Gokulam and practiced up at the cave and studied with Swami for 3 months sleeping in the cave bedroom and living with Swami. What an experience!
He has much to teach..if people want to listen..so true. I felt like I could have stayed there for hours..the energy in his cave was so peaceful and relaxing.

Soon the Puja began and we were invited onto the veranda that overlooks Mysore..breathtaking views and the night was alive with stars and lights from the town below us. It was magical....
The Puja lasted about 2 hours and the priest who performed it never missed a beat. It was amazing..with all of the chanting and the rituals of coconuts being broken, bananas being cut, flowers being thrown and the sweet incense being lit...the oil lamps burning...it was very special.
I had no idea there was a HUGE meal being prepared in the back and that we were going to have a feast afterwards.

So, when the puja was done..all of the people who had attended..about 200 total, headed out to another area down a few steps and sat down to eat..it was packed with people!!
So we milled around because there was nowhere left to sit...when an Indian man appeared and told us that Swamiji has invited us to come up to eat! We went back up the stairs and a beautiful rug had been laid down for us to sit on and banana leaves were brought out and placed before us..and our friend Mane served us! This is my first attempt at eating with my hands in India..I know, I know, I have been here 5 times and this is the First time I was expected to eat with my hands...I had to remind myself to keep my left hand on my lap..but we feasted on the best rice I have had yet in India and some cabbage that was seasoned so deliciously, some greens that were so delicately stuffed and some delightful dessert~ It was heaven!

It was getting late, going on 10:30 so Swamiji asked us if we enjoyed our food and we graciously thanked him...he then led us back to the cave where we sat for a bit more and I asked if it would be OK to have a photo with him and he said that of course we could.
He asked us when we were leaving and if we could come back..but we told him that we were only here for 2 more days...and that next time we come back, one of our first stops will be his cave to see him again~

You just never know what awaits you here in magical India..and this is one night I shall never forget!

Jai Hanuman!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Operation Shanti fundraiser at Santoshas!

It's been so long since I have been here...where to begin?!

Well for starters..last night there was a find raiser for Operation Shanti at Santoshas here in Gokulam and the turnout was Fabulous!!! LOTS and Lots of Yogis and Yoginis turned out to show their support and it made me smile from ear to ear! Some of the children were present as well and they LOVED the Magic Show...I left before the Snake man arrived...sorry guys...I just don't do snakes! Food was amazing...music was superb and the night was perfect up on the rooftop of Santoshas~

Had a pretty awesome massage and the girls who did it were so young yet so strong! !9 years old and 18 years old. Such beauties~ The oil was everywhere and when I left..we had a good laugh..because I did look like a drowned Rat!

Tomorrow we will be heading out to Karunya Mane and spending a bit of time with the kids...can't Wait!

Enjoyt the photos and I will be back with more!!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

the old timers...

It is just such an amazingly small world here..well, let me rephrase that..it IS a small world.


Seeing so many familiar faces..just after seeing them 10 months ago..they arrive daily.

You think about someone..and then they magically appear!

When I was here last year I met a man around the corner from Anus who was selling the greatest Yoga books and Mysore rugs, CD's..etc. We spoke in length and he told about his wife..how she cooked for all of the "old time" Yoga students...you know...the first of the first to come here to practice with Guruji! Richard Freeman, Brian Kest, John Scott...John Berlinsky (my teacher) and his wife Leah...Eddie Stern, Annie Pace...all of them..

well, today we had the utmost privilege of meeting his wife..that beautiful little Indian woman who cooked and STILL cooks for the yogis who travel to Mysore. Her name is Nagarathna. She is a gem!

We sat with her for about an hour this afternoon while she made us a fresh lime soda and then insisted we taste some of her food. OMG!!!! It was SOOOOO good. The flavors of the food just exploded in your mouth...they cook here like nowhere else in the universe I swear!

It was wonderful to meet her and hear of all her stories of days long past....

and then there was Buggy!! Talk about falling in love here in India...he is a "Love Bug" for sure! This dog will be famous one day..soon. Just as our beloved Poochie was..he has a hard act to follow, but I assure you..he WILL do it!

he is a Prince in training..and yes, like Poochie was..so Buggy is..just like Ganesh! In different ways of course, but they have similar qualities..just ask Anu! ;0)

Meena and her family just got their new car yesterday..and there was a small Puja at the house..there will be another big one up on Chamundi Hill later this week...but they did put the lemons under the front two tires and then roll over them as well as breaking the coconut and the incense and the beautiful Marigold Garland that they drape across the front of the vehicle...I love the traditions they have here..like nowhere else. So special!

I am waiting for R to come back to meet me after his massage..it is 1 hour and 45 mins...and then I will have mine! Then we discuss relaxation here in India!!

OM Shanti~