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Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy Birthday Ganesha! Ganesh Chaturthi in India!

Yesterday was September 9th here in India and it was also Ganesh's Birthday!

It was hard not to take notice as well.

Everywhere you looked there were festivities...
and many, Many Ganesh Statues for sale, as well as statues of Ganesh's mother, Parvati.

Walking down the street, you could hear people inside their homes chanting and performing Pujas as well. Lights were twinkling inside windows and everyone was dressed in their finest clothing.


We were invited to two pujas.

One was at noon at our landlords home..
and they had a big elaborate Ganesh statue. Painted in the bright pastel colors and decorated with flowers Galore! This Ganesh statue is one that is not bio-degradable. When placed in the river it will not be good for the environment as the paints they use are toxic and the statue has a hard time, and longer time in breaking down as well.



The Ganesh was decorated with rice, fruit, and sweets...especially Laddu's, as those are Ganesh's Favorite sweets! The whole room was in fact for Ganesh on this Very special day!

The front gate to our home was decorated with flowers and  a big chalk, pastel Rangoli design was on the ground in front of the gate.

Actually Ganesha is my Favorite God of India and we have a few things in common as a matter of fact.

First off, he is a Virgo like me and we share the same birth month.
Second, he loves sweets, like me..although my favorite sweet here in India is Mysore Pak though I am swearing it off since I have found a suitable, healthier replacement from my friend Pava at his shop "The Green House".

The pujas I attended were both quite different.
One was loud and quite elaborate in d├ęcor and presentation.
Chanting was quite robust and fists were pushed into the air shouting "Jai" "Jai" "Jai"!
Bangles were given and sweets and fruits were distributed to those in attendance.
Afterwards a tiffin of food was delivered to our door...
quite the celebration indeed!


The second puja was at 5:00 in the evening and was hosted by our dear friends Meena and Mahesh of "The Silver Nest" here in Gokulam.

Upon arriving the atmosphere was calm and serene and there were a few of the yogis sitting on cloths placed on the floor in front of Ganesh and his mother~



The sun was shining so auspiciously in the window just behind Ganesha and it was Pure Magic the feeling I got just walking in and seeing it all..
It brought tears to my eyes.


The Ganesh and Pavarti statues at Meenas were made of clay. These are the bio-degradable ones that will break down easily once placed in the river. No harmful paints are used and thus no fish and the environment is not affected in any way.
They were rather sweet, and the eyes were painted on so pretty. I loved them.

Mahesh was getting Laddus at the sweets shop so he was on his way as we arrived.
Meena put on a Ganesh Mantra and we all sat around relaxed and in a meditative mood listening to her chant along...it was super sweet...


soon Mahesh returned and the puja began....
it was calm and sweet and so very perfect in every way...






Meena started by lighting the camphor and placed it on a silver tray. Each one of us got our turn in taking the tray with the lit camphor and circling Ganesha three times. Then we were given a palm full of flower petals and rice
they were tossed onto each statue of Ganesh and his mother and then we said a prayer to Ganesh afterwards.
I couldn't help but cry because I realized that this would be my last Ganesh Chaturthi here in India..and it was so special for me and so important to me.

I savored every moment.

Meena had prepared dinner and CHAI! Oh..and Ganesh shared his Laddus with us as well!!

It was a Very special puja and it left me so relaxed and at peace that after I got home and took my bucket bath I drifted right off to sleep immediately.

Oh, India...how I will Miss You!!!




 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Things that matter...

Well, as far as updates go, our time here has been simply spectacular of course.
But we gave our notice here where were living and Literally within hours our place had been rented out by new tenants!

Yes,
Things happen that fast here in this wonderful little town of Gokulam.

So as we look forward to returning to our home in Sonoma County as planned in November we are so excited to be reunited with our little girl whom we regretfully had to leave Months ago...
I can't even Imagine her face when she sees us again!!!

We will go back to our life in the states and start over yet Once again....

It's truly been a roller coaster of a ride and we will be quite happy to jump off that ride in about 12 weeks time. Because it's been constant turmoil being here and then getting distressing news from home.
If I could snap my fingers and be back today, I would. Because some things are more important than others and this one surely is.
I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

I will leave you with some pictures until the time we go on our little week getaway to Thailand and then I begin my little month long event soon in October!

on my walk to morning Yoga practice....


these cute little goats were playing so sweet with each other just as I turned up the street to the Yoga shala....








and a Fantastic lunch at Janakis in Mysore.
I had always heard about this little gem, but never had gone until a good friend came into town and we met there for lunch.
Now it is one of our Ultimate Favorite places to go and eat!!

So until Thailand....
 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My Love

for India is beyond being able to explain to the world.
It's going to be Extremely hard for me when the time comes to leave.

It hit's me each morning when I wake up..
at 6:30 am, unless it's a practice day in which I rise at 5:30 am
and it begins with the sounds of Life outside our bedroom window.
Sounds you will Never hear in the states...
like..

women washing the front entrance to their gates and the people strolling by doing their morning walks...talking like it's the middle of the afternoon...

the fruit and veg sellers with their carts and the flower sellers with Big baskets filled with different mala garlands for the residents morning pooja offerings...

then the milkman comes round calling out and the newspaper boys on their bicycles tossing the papers into gates or onto terraces..

the smell when you walk out the from door and open the adjoining window is a smell that I will miss with all of my heart. It is fragrant and full and just so India.
I love it so much.

The air is just the perfect temperature and the marble floors feel so smooth as I walk out and onto the marble that is on the terrace as well...

I begin my days checking to see if there are any important emails from home...
and then make our bed which is just a sheet and blanket as the nights aren't cold here (yet).
Then I go out and my Mala Garland is awaiting me on my front gate...
freshly made and the smell of the jasmine would blow your mind...
I have one delivered each morning and I will truly miss that more than you know..

as I make my way to my pooja room and opened the doors, the smell from the incense the night before is lingering in the room and I begin my morning ritual and light the oil lamp and incense and place my fresh garland in front of my Ganesh/Lakshmi and Saraswathi photo, thus beginning a fresh new day here in the land where Spirituality is always at the forefront with the temples and Gods that line the roads.
Another reason I love this land so much..


India makes me feel Alive!!!
and my husband is the one who brought that to my attention just the other day.
and you know what?
He's Right! It does!
I find that when I am in the states it's beautiful and I love it too...
but India just BURSTS with LIFE!!!

The colors, the sounds, the smells, the People! It is like Nowhere else in this world for me.
It's a place that I love and will always love...





and it's a place that I will return to again and again...

because it feels so much like home that I cannot imagine being away from it for long and in all honesty wish I never had to leave...

 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A meeting with the Police Commisioner of Mysore...

A meeting of concerned citizens of Gokulam and the neighboring areas will be held at the V. V. Mohalla Police Station at 11 am tomorrow, Sunday 18 August. It would help our cause of ensuring safety for women in Gokulam, if some yoga students (both male and female, but particularly female) would come with me to this meeting. We must make stronger representation and numbers would make a great effect I would think. Please be present at Anu's Cafe at 10.45 am if you wish to go with me. If you miss, then come to the V. V. Mohalla police station directly. Your cooperation is appreciated.
~Anu Ganesh

I saw this message on my Face Book page this morning when I woke up at 7:00 and just knew that Ray and I would accompany our long time friend Anu to this meeting.

We arrived just as Ganesh was seeing Anu out of their front gates and off we drove to the V.V. Mohalla Police Station not too far from their home.


                
                                                                                                                                                                                  
 In good Indian fashion the meeting began about 30 mins. behind schedule, so everyone was ready and seated once the Station Inspector arrived.


 

 
 Everyone was anxious for the meeting to begin so that they could address their concerns/issues with the Police Commissioner who was due to arrive shortly. But in the meantime the Station Inspector went over the last months meeting and the issues and concerns that the citizens had come forth with, as well as the outcome of "said issues/concerns"




It was a full house as you can see....
                                                                                                                                                                              

 
 
 
 
 
    The man bending over signing the paper is the Station Inspector.
 
The meeting was pretty much discussed in a language I neither speak, nor will pretend to understand..because I only know a few words and none one of which were spoken during the meeting.
But thank goodness we were with Anu as she was able to translate most of it for us.
 
Many issues were touched on, including the following...
Construction work blocking streets.
Two chickens that had been stolen from a mans property
Gas cylinders that had been stolen from someone's property
Young couples spending time together in the park after sunset
 
and then the situation regarding the Yoga community was brought up.
Anu came forth with her concerns on every one's behalf.
She asked about the extra police patrol on the streets as the busy season was soon to begin here in Gokulam.
 
Other citizens spoke up and asked why the Yoga Shalas don't do more or come forth with ideas and solutions regarding the situation when They in fact are the ones making the BIG Money from the Yoga students. And in fact was Their responsibility.
Some even felt that it was a good idea for the Main Shala to move to a remote location that would ensure the students more safety and thus provide housing for them as well...
 
They addressed Anu's concerns and told her that they were doing everything they could to provide extra street patrol during the hours of 4am-2pm and 4pm-8:30pm
 The Police Commissioner is pictured in blue. He was quite thorough in telling the crowd what they were doing in regards to making Mysore an even safer town. He seemed genuinely concerned in making the residents feel safe and watched over. He touched on Many points in his conversation and I felt a real sense on community while at the meeting.
 
 
One very concerned gentleman turned around and told Ray and I that he gets Extremely concerned when he sees young women riding on the backs of scooters with men that he seems to know are of "questionable character" and wanted us to be sure to tell them that they should Be Aware of who you go with unless you Know who they are. He doesn't want to see anyone getting hurt or any problems arising from such situations.
 
The Police Commissioner also told Anu that included in the Police Security, there are 6 all together and a few are dressed in street clothing so that nobody will know who they are.
He said he in fact "wants this situation taken care of and want's to see it come to an end. That he is trying to solve the problem"
 
I personally came away from the meeting with a good feeling and with a Very hopeful heart knowing that the Police here in this wonderful little town that I am living in are watching over the residents to the Very Best of their ability and they Do Care.
 
 In fact they care SO Much...they must have Known I was coming because they served CHAI and Cookies!!!
 
 
 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

So you think you want to drive in India...




You may want to think again!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Most Magical Evening in Mysore...

I have had practically zero motivation to blog lately.
There are wonderful things all around me, and as goes the story there are equally not so wonderful things all around me.
I won't go into the not so wonderful things, but I will say that my rose colored glasses have changed to clear.
I have seen some things for what they truly are and I am Grateful that I have because that in fact has made me realize who I help and what I get involved in in the future will indeed involve a Great deal of thought.
I actually have decided to NOT get involved in anything more for the duration of my time here in India. Just to enjoy my time here with my friends and my husband and our dog...

Oh how some people will show their true colors...Amazing. Disappointing, but a great reality check indeed!

So, onto more Positive things now, yes?

The other night Ray wanted to walk over to The Green Hotel to pick up a freshly baked loaf of multi grain bread that the French trained baker Kenneth had baked for him (you place your order early in the day and it's ready by the evening..and costs 30 rupees. Less than one dollar.)

On our way back to our home we decided to go a different route and we walked past Amma's home. Amma lives close to the Green Hotel and she used to rent her Penthouse Apartment to a couple of our dear friends J and H. We had Always wanted to meet her and tonight was the Night!!

As we passed by, she was sitting out on her swing. Swinging away and chatting on the telephone. It was so Cute! Dressed in her sari and sweater...



We approached the gate and her security guard immediately wanted to know who we were and what we wanted. So I called out to her and told her who we were and that we were friends of J and H and her face Lit Up with a Big Smile!

She told us to come, come inside!


she turned on all of her lights, the lights in her display cases and her fan.
It was like being in a Museum! All of her Indian Gods and Goddesses displayed perfectly in wonderfully enclosed glass shelves (as they are here due to the dust).
I couldn't stop looking around, and she Loved the fact that I loved it all so much!

 this is her first doll that she had as a child and the chair it is sitting in was made by her grandfather...the photo is of her as a baby.
 this is a photo of her receiving her degree..

and her sister painted this beautiful picture that is just Beautiful in person! She had other paintings that were HUGE and so, So old. She told us they were her grandparents and that they were painted by a very famous artist and the worth of them..and I almost fell off the couch I was sitting on.


At one point in our visit, Amma said "I will get you some juice, Real Nice Juice, not from can. Because in India we believe that when a guest comes into our home, it is like God coming into our home" (and that is true.That is what all Indian people believe and that is why when you are a guest, you are treated like royalty)

She was preparing our drinks and popped her head out to say "Would you like to come say Hello to my God"?
I Knew what she meant and jumped up like a rocket!!
She wanted us to come see her Puja room...
and What a Puja Room it Was!!!


 all of those windows in the front entrance are Filled with pure silver Gods and Goddesses...
 as are all of those pictures and OM on the wall there...

and these are Very old pure silver pictures...they are literally breathtaking to behold in person.

Amma shared her life story with us and took us into her guest room and it felt like coming home. It was soooo comfortable looking and she was proud to show us her guest bathroom inside the room as well...it had a full size bathtub!!!!!
Something you rarely see in India!
She showed us her family tree and all her photos of her parents, brother and sisters...

at one point during our visit, the front door bell rang and it was her security guard. He said to her "Amma, you have two strangers in your home, are they allowed"?
She laughed and told him that yes, in fact they were just fine!

During our visit, Amma shared many things with us. She ran us through a typical day of hers.

She told us "My cook arrives at 6 am and asks me what I would like to eat for the day, I tell her and she begins cooking all of my meals. She then puts them in the hot box and I can take them out whenever I am hungry and they are ready to eat. Around 8 am my maid arrives and cleans my entire house. At about 10 am I go in and have my breakfast and then I bathe before I go into my prayer room to greet my God. I do my prayers for about 2 hours and then I begin my day with meetings, bridge, Yoga or a day out with friends" "My days go by very quickly as I keep busy. I believe that you Need to keep your mind busy and fit as you do your body in order to have a healthy long life" she then said "Everyday is a Bonus Day that we are alive and I am SO grateful for each day. I just want my life to be Peaceful and Happy and I only see the Good in others"

It was so refreshing to be around her and to share the evening with her.
All unplanned...
but yet perfectly orchestrated.

me, sitting on one of her 4 couches...

When the time came for us to say farewell, I asked her if she would swing with me and she Loved the idea! She told me that she Loves to swing and in fact spends a lot of time out on her swing in the evenings. As it overlooks a park that is just being completed. She said it is a "high tech park" and as I looked over I could see the most beautiful green lights lighting up the whole park! It was pure magic! Then she told me, "put your legs up, I shall swing us" and that she did! I had to hold on and she had the best balance. No hands for her!

She is a very content soul.
Her husband passed away last May and she seems to be at peace and she is living her beautiful life in beautiful India...
My dream.....