A note on my three blogs


A note on my blogs

(1) vio; in love with india - this one is the main blog about my Indian adventures, which started in 2005. I don't write much on this blog these days because I prefer to write privately in the confidential blog. But check out the categories and the index to figure out your way. I have kept some older posts not about India but which I still find interesting or relevant in Old words. Also check out my new, fun category Only in India in which I post photos of funny, unique, Indian situations...

(2) vio; sounds of india - this is my blog of sounds, because India wouldn't be as incredible if it was not so vibrant and just so full of incredible sounds!

(3) vio; confidential - this an extension of my main blog in which I post entries I do not want to reveal to the entire webspace for privacy or sensitivity reasons. You must receive an invitation from me and then accept the invitation to be able to read it. You may email me if you are interested in receiving an invitation.

Enjoy!

Thursday, 25 August 2005

One more day

Back in Delhi. In 24 hours we will be waiting in the airport for our plane. I don't know in what state I will arrive, since sleeping on the plane will work as our only night... wohah... and the comfort of Aeroflot isn't the best... :p

Nevermind... I can't remember when I wrote last... I think it was in Haridwar... Yes... After that our final destination was Rishikesh, another city on the Ganges. We will have seen the Ganges from 4 different cities, and in Rishikesh, we even found a little beach and bathed in it. :) This morning. It was very pleasant to say the least, albeit rather cold... but in the heat very refreshing. The speed of the current of the Ganges is rather scary, it's so fast it looks funny... But we were careful and it was ok. :)

We found another companion in Rishikesh, who travelled from Haridwar with us. A young German guy from Leipzig, very friendly. We laughed a lot and joked about chapatis (aaaargh... dunno when I'll eat those things again...) We went to a concert last night but it was disappointing. We will have spent lots of time with various people we met, it was great. We end up our trip with the contact details of about 8 new people. :)

Anyway, Rishikesh was really nice. Very yoga-meditation etc. with ashrams and OM symbols everywhere... So, we stayed again in an ashram but this one was a lot more pleasant and friendly than the one from Haridwar. We could have taken another Yoga class but unfortunately I got ill again - recovered pretty quickly though - and we didn't have much time. This place made me want to go on retreats though... Arhh... :) And the room in this ashram was so cheap for such a palace (200 Rs i.e. 4 euros for both of us!).

So yeah back in Delhi after a long 7-8 hour bus drive... Delhi is such a mess; we hadn't missed that traffic and those horns... But it is kind of fun... Tomorrow we will probably go to a quiet garden whose name I forget and go shopping some more before heading to the airport...

Flight at 3 am...

So our itinerary was:

Delhi - Agra - Varanasi - Allahabad - Kajuraho - Orchha - Gwalior - Jaipur - Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj + Bhagsu - Manali + Vashicht - Haridwar - Rishikesh - Delhi

We have seen a lot in one month. :)

And been in very many autorickshaaawwwwws.............. :p

And been amused by the countless spelling mistakes seen on signs and menus (the best being 'spenatch' and 'costember' (customer)... :p)

Now my worry is the price I will have to pay for the tons of photos we need to develop... ;)

Monday, 22 August 2005

Haridwar

Manali was another pleasant town in the mountains, where the temperature was as cool as in Dharamsala. There wasn't much to do, however we went for a 2-hour ayurvedic massage and a consultation. It was most interesting. The two Swamis detected something very relevant about Niko, which really convinced us about the reliability of this.

We are presently in Haridwar, which means "God's Gates" in Sanskrit. We sweat like beasts again, but my stomach seems to be back to normal for good now (touch wood!) Haridwar is another holy town on the Ganges. We are staying in an ashram where the food is free; I had never imagined an ashram would be so posh... It feels rather severe. The town is very pleasant, even though there is not that much to do here either. More temples... We wanted to go to Chila to go to a natural park this morning, in order to ride elephants, but when we arrived there we learnt that it wasn't allowed for a month. It's a shame... I really wanted to ride an elephant. At least I have seen one on the road from the bus about last week (Niko didn't even see it though!)... So I *have* seen an elephant in India (and maaaaaaany cows, and goats, and dogs, and pigs, and cats, and donkeys, and horses, and monkeys, and camels... and lizards, and snakes and bugs... :p)

Anyway, the end is near and we have only one destination left, Rishikesh, before heading back to Delhi.

Thursday, 18 August 2005

Dharamsala cont'd

We are still in Dharamsala, well to be precise McLeod Ganj. We have spent three days here; I am in love with the place and I will definitely come back some day. I had felt something good would happen here and it did; we ended up meeting a new friend-for-life here, whilst wandering around town...

She is a Francophone Swiss girl with a totally amazing life story, and we clicked straight away; since then we have spent all our time with her. We met her as she was looking for an English word and it came out in French; I helped her find it... We then started speaking as if we had known one another forever, and she told me she had been working as an English teacher in Calcutta... Now if I want to go there to teach English, not only have I got the right contact, I may also have a companion as she may well do it as the same time as me... We will see...

By last night she had totally convinced us to go for an ayurvedic consultation (probably in our next destination) (her mother has been treated for almost 20 years and she gets treatment as well; it is even more comforting to know that from someone occidental you know...) and we have totally convinced her about finally taking on yoga. I wanted to go to a yoga class here in India but didn't want to fall into a rip-off class for tourists; she's been here fore two weeks and knows a very good class so we will go with her in two hours. :D

We have also had our best Indian breakfast here in a small Tibetan bakery/coffee shop (Tibetan bread is amazing, and even there apple tart tasted great!) and we have met a Tibetan refugee; totally honest and good-hearted man... We have heard some of his stories about his family about the Tibetan history and condition... He had glowing eyes when he spoke about his dear country, to which he cannot return or else he would go straight to prison... Refugees are obviously better-off in India but still rather taken advantage of by the Indians. He earns 1000 Rupees per months, that is 20 euros (!)... - He dreams of having an education, but now our Swiss friend has decided to sponsor him so that he gets the chance...

This place is so very inspiring... There are so many more ideas boiling in my head; this meditation retreat will definitely be the perfect conclusion of my trip to help me find what comes out of it and where I go from now...

Tonight we are taking a night bus on to Manali.

(I have now been speaking French almost constantly for three months and my English doesn't feel so fluent...grrr...)

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Dharamsala

So, after almost 24 hours of bus journey we find ourselves in Dharamsala, the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and of countless Tibetan refugees. As I so wanted to see Tibet, needless to say I am happy here... It feels like an entirely new destination; besides it has rained a lot and now the temperature is so cool that I can wear jeans, closed shoes, and at times even a jumper. How refreshing! And there are the mountains and the incredibly low clouds to make the landscape amazing.

There are Tibetan people everywhere; hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns are part of the scenery...! It feels completely amazing here. We have seen the residence of the Dalai Lama, his temple, and an amazing Tibetan museum. It is also a lot more quiet and peaceful here, no more concerts of horns and beeps and terribly heavy and noisy traffic; beggars are less aggressive also.

I feel incredibly lucky and yes, blessed too. My heart is filled.

Monday, 15 August 2005

Saturday, 13 August 2005

Second half of the trip

It seems we are having a little difficult few days in our trip. We've pretty much lost three days, well time is never lost and it's all part of the experience but there we go...

We clearly 'shouldn't' have stopped in Gwalior given the time it took us to arrive in Jaipur, after various breakdowns and things that slowed us down (e.g. three hours to get a train ticket etc.)

Today we are in Jaipur, Rajasthan at last, but Niko has been ill all day, sleeping and resting. Like I did in Khajuraho four days ago... I have been very fine since I've not eaten Indian since, in order to rest my tummy... It really helps.

We were stuck as to where to go next and a little worried as we have only two weeks left, that is ten days if we want to be in Delhi back on time for the flight... We were thinking of going round Rajasthan but without conviction... Today in the hotel I met an Israeli guy who helped us though. He knows India very well and has been travelling for 18 years (!)... So finally we are deciding to go up north to see the Himalayas...

Next destination Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama spends all of his birthdays and where there are numerous yoga and meditation (vipassana) retreats... Then Manali; in this area it looks a little more like Tibet too, so we will see very different landscapes and sceneries. I like the idea very much... :D

Thursday, 11 August 2005

Gwalior

Ok, perhaps I should write another little entry as I am in an internet cafe... Problem is, I dunno what to write. Useless heh.

Khajuraho was amazing. We met three young Indians (ages 17, 17 and 20) with whom we developed proper friendship. As a result we stayed there for four nights, two of which we spent in their family's house. That was amazing, they took us off touristic tracks, we rode bikes to the breathtaking, splendid nature, in the mountains, in little villages. We were greeted by a farmers family where nobody spoke English, got offered chai tea and food, got greeted by lots of village members, surrounded by countless adorable children... People smile so much here and we smile so much too. Our friends have taught us some Hindi, which I totally enjoy practising with people... To their delight... It really brings a lot to communication to speak their language. :D

The best of the trip is the fact that we live in the here and the now, truly, we are fully present to everything that happens to us.

Another amazing experience happened in Orchha, two days ago... The five hours we got to spend with a sadhu, that is a great yogi sage who has given up all possession, ties, family etc to devout his life to enlightenment. People follow them, ask them questions about Dharma and gods and wisdom etc. etc. And we spent time with him. He called us our brother and sister... We spent time talking, laughing, smiling, drinking tea, eating, sharing food, giving, practicing Hindi, and at night, I was the only woman sitting next to the sadhu, whilst a crowd of Indian men sang mantras and played percussion. I was even escorted to a temple. It felt very privileged as I was taken by the sadhu, I was his sister Meena (my new Indian name... :p).

It's such a mess to write here. There is so much to say (again)... But I am amazed; I am blown away... And it's easier to write when things come in my paper journal than the few times I get access on the internet...

Today I write from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.

Tomorrow we are off to Jaipur, Rajasthan...

Thursday, 4 August 2005

Fascinating India

Almost a week already and only now we have found proper access to the internet...

We arrived in Delhi one day late as we missed our connection from Moscow... It was a whole experience in itself though as we had to stay 'prisoners as passengers with no visa' in a Russian hotel, were fed etc. Many people were in our case so we met lots of interesting characters in the process, including a Dutch couple with whom we spent our first week. They are now in Katmandu, Nepal and we have carried on our journey through India. They will pick us up in Amsterdam though at the end of the month.

So, I have already been to Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal), and Varanasi/Benares, the holy city on the Ganges. Now we find ourselves in Khajuraho after a 12-hour taxi drive with a 'private chauffeur'...

I needed a few days to adapt as everything was very disconcerting at first, overwhelming and lots to handle. But I feel perfectly fine now and I totally love India. There is so much to see, far too many pictures taken already; I especially love the children, who are so adorable and beautiful. Everywhere we go we see the looks at people on us, like they have never seen white people before. But it is not unpleasant at all, because their looks are curious yet pure and honest at the same time.

There is so much to see in India, the amazingly messy traffic, the cows everywhere, the vivid colours, the amazing landscapes, the beautiful women in saris, carrying things on their heads... the temples, the boat trips on the Ganges, the enormous Taj Mahal, the music, the smells... And the food is amazing...

More later... There is far too much to say.

Wednesday, 3 August 2005