Indian Opportunity

Bright, crisp
September mornings.
The elusive magic
of railway stations,
foreign faces.
Chai in clay cups,
red earth recycled.

As life’s own cycle.
Adventure on every corner.
Sadhu’s promises
of grace and nirvana.
Reflections of life’s
second chances.
Sunrise itself
their metaphor.

Running out on Western civilisation….Again….dispatch # 9

The US was great. After no TV and mobile for nearly two months. I can see why people regularly lose their heads there. I couldn’t wait to get out.
What? They let her in? I thought they were fussy these days? They let me in alright. Not before I had a quiet rabble-rouse in the queue for fingerprinting and mugshot, though. Treated us like criminals, they did.
And the good bits? Seeing a lady dressed head to toe in the American flag, including her luggage, made me laugh (and shake my head in disbelief!). And Guy Davies, an old school blues musician, live, was amazing.
Didn’t we see her in London there? A bad hallucination perhaps? No hallucination.  Was en route to India again. My planning skills need a little work.
Why on earth? (We knew she really was an old hippie at heart!) India really seems full of possibility. Despite the incongruity of it’s filthy streets, and how fastidious people are about their own personal hygiene.
And what route this time? I followed in some of Michael Palin’s Himalaya footsteps (by chance), through Kalka and the hill stations of Shimla and Dharamsala.
Tsk, tsk. She’s at it again. Hobnobbing with celebs (yawn). I didn’t actually meet Michael (more’s the pity). But I did see the Dalai Lama on my 30th birthday, in Dharamsala.
So much for being a good Catholic girl then? I went for a spin on the prayer wheels at the Buddhist temple most days. When in Rome…..
Nothing like a bit of multiculturalism eh? We were in Amritsar for the Hindu festival of Holi. The locals celebrate by throwing coloured powder at each other (and at as many unsuspecting tourists as possible).
Nothing better to do with their time? Well, there’s always the closing of the border between India and Pakistan . A very ceremonial spectacle (taken very seriously by the border guards involved), a bit like being at a football match.
Sound like it’s all go, then? I do miss the peace of Dharamsala; sitting on the balcony in my favourite cafe, listening to the Dalai Lama chant prayers in the temple below.
That’s it. We’ve lost her for sure now (hooray!!!)

Written 24/06/05

Running out of chai……………dispatch # 3

So, it’s all over then? (Blub!) After all that; bitten, bruised, tired, I actually didn’t want to leave India.
Bit bereft without the group eh? Who would have thought it? But yes, missing them a bit.
High points of the Indian adventure? The people, masala chai, camel safari, being rescued from the storm in the desert, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, the lassi, Taj Mahal, Varanasi – the Hindu Mother Goddess ceremony (Ganga Aarti), pani puri (street food).
What’s this about lassi? Let’s just say it’s excellent.
Worst bits? First overnight sleeper train journey, not being able to stay clean all the time, having days that were both delightful and frustrating.  So more good than bad.
Lessons learned? (Don’t they just keep on biting you on the backside?)  Stay cool, keep it simple, have a little faith.
And how was Singapore? Terribly clean and functional, especially after India. But no soul. Unlike India.
Always take the weather with you? The bad weather followed us through after the storm, there were thunderstorms in Singapore, and now it’s raining in New Zealand……
Written 26/10/04

Running out of………………..dispatch # 2

Cor, she’s taken her time then? With India coming at you in all directions, every which way (especially loose), it’s no wonder!
So, how is India? Absolutely amazing, incredibly beautiful, with terrible poverty alongside. Fantastic people. Peaceful. Chaotic. Teeming with life, and impossible to describe adequately.
Has there been any grief? Let’s just say it was very interesting getting through the Ganesha festival at Delhi, running for the sleeper train, with all your luggage on.
So what does stop traffic? Cows, jams, and funerals only.
Now what’s this about camels? On safari through the Thar desert for a few days. For the first day, read overheat, and the last, sore legs. Sunset in the desert and camping under the stars more than compensated though.
Any major excitement? Having to bail out of the desert due to a sandstorm, followed by big storm with wind, thunder, lightening, rain, the works, (and a very frightened roomate); pretty much fills that quotient.
And people talk about finding peace in India? The Jain temple at Ranakphur in the Avarilli hills has got to be one of the most peaceful places on earth (all 1,444 pillars of it).
And the order of the day is? “No problem, everything is possible” (They just don’t tell you how long it will take).
So what does INDIA stand for? I Never Do It Again! (From Puri, the camel safari leader).
Written 19/10/04