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.


Monday, 31 March 2008

On Indian daily routine, and leaving Khajuraho

These last couple of weeks, since I have been able to walk, we have been getting up everyday around 6 o'clock for a morning walk, to freshen our minds. A morning walk in the fields, to the temples, along the farms. On the way vijay climbs neem trees to get leaves and sticks to brush our teeth. Neem is an amazing tree, virtually everything from it - leaves, bark, flesh inside the branches, fruits etc. are medicinal - it is excellent for skin and blood etc. So on the way we bite in a stick to 'uncover' the hair-like-flesh and that makes it an excellent toothbrush. Apparently people have few dental problems in India, which is always nice to know. So we bite on neem sticks on the way. We pass by the buffaloes and the cows, he tells me that that mark in the ground is the 'footprint' (??) of a baby cobra, he shows me all the different trees and their fruits, shows me the parrots high up in the mango trees and we listen to the multitude of birds' songs. This morning there were monkeys running around, too; from listening to their cries he could tell me exactly where they were, and we went to get more black mud to wash my hair. Of course living here for the last twenty years he knows tons about his natural environment; and I remember how being a Westener cuts you off from nature. I am amazed by his knowledge of nature.

The other day I did wash my hair with mud and was amazed with the result. Hair shines and greases less quickly so I don't have to wash it so often. The mud is full of protein and strengthens the hair.

And Vijay also showed me how to clean the soles of my feet rubbing them agaist the granulous, rough bathroom floor and with a granite stone which he'd picked just across the house in a pile of stone. There are so many interesting ways to live 'Indian style'. I learnt how to wash my clothes by beating them, too. Oh, and to blow my nose with water, 'breathing in' some water, then pressing against each side of the bridge of my nose and breathing out with a lot of pressure... It is hard to describe. But it is nicer in the hot and sticky weather than blowing my nose in tissue all the time. It has been so interesting to learn indian ways; of course adopting indian ways are more appropriate to the indian environment than keeping on my western ways! So I let go and learn... And I love how everything is at hand, available from Nature.

* * *

And tonight the kids came for a last english lesson with me; the kids that everyday come and learn with Vijay's sisters but for whom I took over the english part. And finally mohit knew all the weekdays and we loughed and said 'tata' (byebye). Now my bag is packed and I am leaving Khajuraho tomorrow. After all that time, frankly it feels a little funny to make a new start. But I am used to it; I live somewhere for a while, get used to it, end it, have a good cry and leave to start again. Of course, there are no ends, only new beginnings, so it is always OK. Vijay is coming with me to Varanasi for a few days; it will be interesting (and easier) to travel with a local, and especially good to be with a local in Varanasi because if it is an amazing place, I know it is also a very intense one...

And on the 6th April; off to Nepal. Because tomorrow is already April. Oh wow...

Saturday, 29 March 2008

On Indian 'shower', and the joys of returning to Nature...

[Typed from paper journal]

So in two or three days we will leave to go to Chittrikut and Varanasi. Somehow my four days of 'negativity' have led to a more peaceful state of mind. I don't so much have thoughts about the future now and I am more peaceful . Let it last...

The other day Sonam helped me wash my hair with mud from the lake. Every few days, Mummy goes and collect some mud (it looks like dark stones in its dry state) for everyone to use. I was concerned about using bottles of shampoo to then having to throw the plastic in the rubbish pile behind the temple, in the dried lake. So I had asked Vijay how his sisters washed their hair, as there are no bottles of shampoo in the bathroom. The answer: with mud. I love the idea and wanted to try it out. They say the mud contains proteins, too, and helps to prevent hair fall. Anyhow, it makes my hair very soft! (NB; later I was to learn than the sisters do also use shampoo, actually, but it comes in single-use sachets!)

Today for shower Vijay wanted to show me other things - Indian-style shower! I must add at this point that even showers are not necessarily a private affair in India. Often I saw men in their underpants washing outside on a terrace or even on the side of the road by a water pump. And women also, showering in their sarees or under-skirts in the open; with children too obviously. Besides, 'to shower' is not an accurate translation from the Hindi 'nahana', which rather and more generally means 'to wash'. It may be a bath in the river or the lake, underneath an actual shower head, or as I got used to, washing oneself using a bucket and a pot. Shower and laundry are often part of the same session by the way: people wash their daily clothes and body at the same time. (And with that many people in the house taking that much time for shower, taking turns in the bathroom took half of the day - I gave up 'waiting' anticipating for my shower, rather gratefully accepted when my turn had finally come!)

So, it all started when I was doing my laundry from the bucket in the bathroom. Vijay saw me and decided to show me how to do it in the Indian way. Indeed it does look more efficient than my awkward, rudimentary, not-used-to-washing-all-by hand, western way. It may also be that the western way of washing clothes by hand, and that's delicate clothes that need a soft touch, is definitely not appropriate to the Indian, hot and dusty environment! So much dust flying around all the time, making laundry water very dirty indeed. So he took each of my clothes and pressed it, turned it, pressed it more, vigorously onto the bathroom floor. I tried but didn't have so much strength. Squatting was better than sitting, because you can use your body weight to bash the clothes more heavily! After each item was done, he threw away the water. I poured into the bucket new water for rinsing; Vijay even had to show me the 'proper' way to rinse the clothes; pulling each item out of the bucket and up until the item was completely out of the bucket, vigorously and lengthwise, in and out, in and out, a few times. Then to wring the clothes with much strength (Vijay has plenty of that!), folding the cloth right and holding both extremities, and in just one miraculous go twisting it until all the water spills... My clothes were half-dry after this and I was amazed by Vijay's efficiency!

Then it was time for Vijay to have his shower, so he asked me if I wanted to see how he did it. I looked at my feet; from being bare all the time the skin of my heels was so dry it had started cracking and dust was starting to encrust into the crevasses – like I've seen on many Indians. I was concerned by this but didn't know what to do. The soles of Vijay's feet however were soft and clean, so he decided to show me how he washed them. I liked it very much: he applied a little soap (laundry powder, actually!) and water to his heels, sides of his soles, and pads of his toes, and then vigorously rubbed them onto the rough bathroom floor. He then rubbed a granite stone onto the entire base of his foot. I really love how Nature is used in India; he had picked up the stone from the ground by the temple just outside of the house! And all the wonderful local plants that they use; I already know neem tree, and amla (a fruit full of vitamins, the oil of which is applied on hair and skin), and there is the tulsi leaf, which Mummy picks up in the house yard to make herbal tea when we have a sore throat or a cold. And the mud from the lake to wash our hair and skin, and hundreds of other herbs used in ayurveda...! After the feet, Vijay showed me how he showers – again vigorously – first with water, then with mud, then with a scrubber and finally with soap. Vigour is important because with so much sweat and humidity all day, after an 'ordinary western' wash you are still almost as dirty as you were before you started! And coming back to wonderful Nature in India, women also use henna to dye their hair and to tattoo their hands or feet, and I saw the small henna tree on one of our early morning walks. They apply mustard oil onto the henna tattoo so it will last longer; they apply amla oil to moisturise their hair and skin... Oh, how I love this returning to Nature here in Beautiful India...

Monday, 24 March 2008

Brushing our teeth with neem, and preparing for departure

[Typed from paper journal]

I can walk almost normally now, so Vijay and I have started again getting up early for a morning walk. It is always difficult to get up, but within an hour I feel awake and fresh for the rest of the day. So this morning we got up at 6.30 to go walking towards temples and in the vastness of dried field. There is something really sad about dry fields and the fact that there has not been any rainy season for the last three years. Part of me wants to leave India for this (dangerous?) reason, but the other part of me wants to stay to experience this, to make myself more aware of the realities of this uneven (unfair?) World. We really are de-sensitised to the realities of Nature in Occident! So we walked - and on the way back, like yesterday, Vijay climbed a neem tree (a very valuable tree from which one can use all the parts, bark, fruit, leaves etc. for medicinal purposes, especially relating to blood and skin health) to select some good branches and leaves. When we got back home, we sat near the temple opposite the house and proceeded to clean our teeth for half an hour with the chosen neem sticks. First, we bite in about one centimetre of the stick's bark. With our teeth we remove the bark, inside which the fibery flesh wet from saliva makes a good toothbrush. So we brushed our teeth inside out and everywhere. The taste of neem is very bitter at first and it almost makes me gag when the bitterness reached my back teeth. Clearly though I have already got used to some of the taste because this morning it was a lot easier than yesterday, and I could brush my teeth for longer. According to Vijay, it is the bitterness that kills bacteria, and if I were to brush my teeth everyday I would never have to go to the dentist (I think Vijay has never been, and his teeth are strong and very white). These last few days, funnily enough, one of my upper back molars (its enamel right at the limit of the gum) has been bothering me, so I was thinking of getting myself some fluoride toothpaste like I was prescribed in Auroville - so I tried to brush it a lot with the neem tree to see if it will help. After brushing our teeth we ate some of the neem leaves, as it is good for blood, skin and stomach. Vijay had picked the youngest ones because fresher leaves are said to be healthier. They too taste very bitter, and both Vijay and Ravi laughed at my grimacing as I chew.

After all this I felt very fresh; I went for some pranayama (breathing exercise) and meditation sitting on my bed. Meditation was somewhat difficult this morning; perhaps I will practise vipassana again... I haven't done any of Amma's meditation either because I couldn't do the preliminary exercises with my poor foot. Perhaps I will try again soon, I don't know. I managed to do a downward facing dog yoga posture and an uttanasana forward bend this morning. I do hope I will start practising yoga regularly again soon. I do feel a lot better than I felt for the past month, when I was sleepy all the time - or on and off - then when I had the foot operation followed by a bad stomach. And the headaches in the last few days too. They all seem to be going (touch wood), and the foot is almost fine now too. I feel myself again. The past month now seems somewhat unreal.

Today I have been in Khajuraho for two months. Next week I will be leaving. Yesterday I phoned Sukhdev, the violin teacher whom Michael recommended to me. He said we could met and yes, he could teach me violin... But I am scared; again I am going for a new start, and this Vio will die. I am concerned about going to Nepal alone, though the political situation apparently is fine at the moment. I guess I just feel the same as when I left Auroville – awaiting the Unknown.

Yesterday near the lake where we sat I told Vijay that I felt as if I had just arrived in India. Indeed it feels like I am starting my journey now. The first two months I was with B' and Michael and it did not matter what we did and where we went as long as I was with them. Those first months with them now feel like a trial, a time of adaptation or preparation to India. But not real time on my own. I was doing what they did; I did not care about what we did or where we went. I was in India and it was all that mattered because wherever I was and whatever I did, it was enough to work through the process of adaptation...

In Auroville there was also Micha; after that I went to see Iyengar. And then to Khajuraho, to learn about Indian family life and to learn Hindi. I was never alone really apart from the few days in Pune. I will be alone again now, starting with the flight to Kathmandu. I am awaiting for the Unknown – and the heat... for my body to adapt. I hope. We will see... (as always...)

Two months in Khajuraho & on living in india

Today I have been living in Khajuraho for two months. Gosh, how time flies. No way I can come back to the West now. Yesterday I spoke to Dad, and I told him I may be back in September or October. He was taken a little aback, but then, time flies so fast that I feel i will come back pretty soon, really.

There is something I like very much about India. Normally we are seven people living together in the house. Three sisters, two brothers, one mother and me. These last couple of weeks though, the two other sisters, who live in their husbands' families have been living here with their kids. And so we've been ten people - sometimes up to thirteen - living together under the same roof. Needless to say I had never lived with so many people before. And being such a loner, I have surprised myself at how well I have been coping with it. Perhaps it's because I can do my own things without feeling judged. (I did feel very observed at first, but now they are used to me and my 'funny' ways, so I can pretty much be myself easily at all times.) I can even meditate in the room when two sisters sleep on the other bed, or when people come and see me whilst I meditate. It was something I was very shy with before. Somehow. But then when so many people live under the same roof and there is virtually no privacy, you have to be yourself and not feel judged, because everyone needs to be alone at times, otherwise wouldn't you go crazy? Meaning if there's a lot of people all the time, you have to be alone - in your head! - even when people are around you. It is a question of survival. And that is where I feel my practice of pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) comes in very handy... Still, it seems in India there's something that makes living with so many people more bearable than in the West... Something to do with non judgement and 'togetherness of privacy'...

I don't even think there is such a word as 'privacy' in Hindi. Or is there? There is one single towel in the house and everybody uses it after their shower. I brush my teeth and pluck my eyebrows sitting outside of the house with passers-by looking at me. I can't feel shy about plucking my eyebrows anymore. They all do it anyway. There are a few beds which everybody shares, though sometimes people change. Sometimes X and Z sleep together, following day X will sleep with A and B. There are no individual rooms here, and the family eat together on the same plate. I don't because I guess I am still a guest and not from the family. But when I was always given a mat to sit on at the beginning of my stay (because of respect), now I am so comfortable that they accept that I can sit on the floor, too and they no longer feel bad about it.

There are many ways in which I adopt the Indian lifestyle. Sitting and eating on the floor and with my fingers are second nature for me now. And there is no table to cook on, they use the stone floor, too. Why bother with tables when the floor is always clean? I come to notice how much useless things we have in the West. Here there are no high chairs for kids. It's very comfy to sit on mummy's crossed-legs-in-a-saree on the floor. Why bother? All these useless expensive ustensiles that we have, honestly. oh, and about food - I have even surprised myself burping after meals! At first when I burped, I felt bad like someone would tell me I'm disgusting. But it is so natural here that no-one notices. Now I don't notice either. Squatting in the toilet has become very natural. In fact it is more natural than sitting like on a chair. And I have come to like squatting toilets better than Western style. I even stopped using toilet paper - yes! I use my hand and water. Sorry for people who don't like to read this. But it is nature. And it is very hygienic when you wash your hands afterwards. Here people have handled cow dung since they were kids, so no wonder they are not afraid of touching poo. Cow dung is used so much here. There are piles of cow dung drying everywhere. Dry cow dung is VERY good to burn fire. It burns very well. And burning cow poo is a mosquito repellent too, actually. Everyday in the family, for puja (religious worship) they burn cow dung on the kitchen hob. The cow is seen like the Mother here.
It is holy and it gives them healthy milk. And I start seeing how useful cowdung is, too. They use it in their house also. The floor of the courtyard in the house is made of spread out cow dung. Yesterday and the day before it was holy festival; the festival of colour. For this they had made a pyramid of dry cowdung which they then burnt. And the puja yesterday was performed on statues made of cow dung. Yes. (This did look a little funny for me because it was litterally statues made of poo - not dried. huhu.) People here are not afraid of poo. but then, WHY should we, really!?!!? Does it even make SENSE??

Here I am very aware of the environment. Nothing is hidden in India. You see reality as it is. You see people with harelip not 'repaired', crippled people who walk on one foot and one hand because their other leg no longer works; you see lepers in the streets. And the rubbish you throw you see it also, because there are no facilities and so where do you throw your rubbish? In the dry lake, behind the temple. Or where there are already rubbish, some piles in the street. I hate using sanitary towels and use as few as I possibly can, keeping them as long as I can in my pants, because I have to throw them behind the temple, too. I see directly where my rubbish goes because I have to handle it. It makes you VERY aware of rubbish. It is a very good lesson. So if I can use one instead of two towels then I will. And that plastic bottle of shampoo - well I have come to hate it. The other day I asked Vijay how his sisters wash their hair. There is no other bottle of shampoo in the bathroom else than mine. Well, they wash their hair with the mud from the dry lake*. I too want to try using mud if it can save me from throwing a bottle in the pile of rubbish behind the temple. And I don't use plastic bottles for my water - Thank God for that travelling water filter. Oh and I have come to LOVE using pots to have a 'shower'. Of course there is no proper shower; there is a big bucket of water and we use a small pot to pour water on ourselves. But what I love is that this way I can see how much water I use - and I use far less than I do in the West. But then Khajuraho has not had a rainy season for three years and so the water in the wells runs low... And so I am indeed VERY happy not to use too much water. Oh and mothers don't use nappies on their kids. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. No stupid, millions of so-non-ecological nappies in the rubbish! Understandably, with so many kids, and no hidden place for rubbish, how would people cope in India with nappies anyway? So babies wear no nappies. They are just continent earlier than kids in the West. And they run around bare-bum. And if they want to poo their mums take them outside on the side of the road or in the field. And if they pee on the floor, it's OK, because stoned-floors are very easy to clean anyway, and no-one is scared of pee. And accidents happen surprisingly rarely. Oh, I can't tell how much I LOVE the fact that they DON'T USE NAPPIES.

Sometimes I do long of the West because everything is materialistically easy. Part of me longs the easiness, but the other part does really like to be here and be aware of the other way of living. To be so close to nature because that is what we are, really. My other concern is that the VERY hot season is coming soon (April-May) and it will be about 40 degrees here. Apparently it's even hotter in Varanasi. Yet I do trust that my body will adapt somehow. My heart knows I have to be here right now and so I will adapt - I have very well adapted these last few months - I no longer take my tablets of grapefruit seed extracts with meals and I am not ill. When my foot is completely OK (it is ALMOST now, really!!!) I keep thinking I should start drinking the water untreated, too. A french guy I met last month told me that when he lived in India for a year, after a few months he could drink the water. I have already used the water to brush my teeth. I have probably swallowed a few drops in the process, right? I will see how I feel... Everything anyway revolves about seeing how one feels in the now anyway. There is nothing else in life but being aware at any moment.

*Later edit:
I later came to find out why there are no other shampoo bottles in the bathroom: not that they only use mud to wash their hair; rather, they mostly use (unnatural) shampoo in individual sachets, which they then throw in the gutter outside of the house... For my environmentally-friendly self, this is not nearly as exciting as using just mud, tsss....

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Walking again, and planning ahead

[Typed from paper journal]

I was going to work on some Hindi tonight but I took my diary instead (as well). I guess I have not written for far too long. What will come out onto the pages tonight? I think of writing quite a lot but then when I focus on the Now I never end up writing. Thoughts not clear enough? Lack of motivation? I do not know. Right now though I think I should 'do' more in my days. It's been a right meditation to 'do' nothing for a whole month, though it is never lost; I do learn (digest) a lot everyday, and work on my achievement-oriented, western mind. Who cares anyway? We have just one life. Money doesn't matter, and I have a lot anyway.

Tonight I went to the vegetable bazaar again with Vijay. I love going to the vegetable bazaar because there are many mysterious fruits and vegetables to be curious about. I told him today how I had noticed that even though the temperature is getting hotter, it seems we are eating heavier and hotter food, which is not good for me according to the ayurvedic doctor. It's getting hot, Vijay said, so crops are not very good. Peas are getting out of season. We had a papaya today, too. But there were tons of vegetables at the bazaar including mulli (a long white radish) and carrots and peas - though there were less and they looked dry and wrinkled, it is true - and beans and peppers and aubergines and many vegetables that to my knowledge do not have a name in English. It was nice to be out again, and I walked quite a lot. I have to walk slowly, focusing on relaxing my left foot's toes and pressing my heel evenly onto the floor, otherwise the reflex is to bend my toes to make my sole concave so the wound won't touch the ground. And my heel goes on one side or another which unhealthily bends my ankle, too. So I have to focus a lot. But it is better everyday, and it is interesting.

Yesterday we bought my flight ticket to Nepal. So on 6 April I will fly from Varanasi to Kathmandu. I will only stay for eight days, but if the visa procedure takes too long I know I can change the flight. Hopefully it will not take more time. I just don't want to go to Nepal, but I guess we will see when I'm there. I guess too I am longing to take the road again, to do something – to be free from the family, too, although I love them all dearly. I am free though, I know. I could very well eat outside when it pleases me – but they look after me so I feel I have to accept. It is not a duty but I cannot do otherwise; my heart wouldn't allow. I find it difficult with the TV too. I find I don't even listen to the Hindi anymore because I just do not like this medium, shiny and loud, perhaps stupid, and sometimes violent too. I am no longer afraid of retiring to my room, at least. So, it will be nice to go somewhere different even though it is going to be the Unknown again. It is always the Unknown anyway, I do know, but somehow it feels more like the Unknown now. Do I make sense at all?

So beginning of April I should head with Vijay for Chittrakut, where his sister and family live, then Varanasi. It will be fun and interesting to be travelling with my Indian friend. And then Nepal. I guess it will be fun to be alone again. It will help me clear my head, to see things clearly.

I have been thinking a lot about the West this last week. Missing dark chocolate and 'my' life and the flat and freedom of Edinburgh. And the cool weather, because it is getting hotter and in a few weeks heat will be at its highest, and I am concerned about how I will cope. I know roughly what to eat and what not to eat. I am getting more careful about not overeating, too – leaving space in my tummy to give it room to digest the food well, which seems even more important in India. The ayurvedic doctor also gave me some herbs for this, and I think they are good for me.

I am concerned about how my twin sister and Papa etc. will react about my staying in India longer. Though I don't know if I will stay another full six months. I wonder how I will get on in Varanasi. Michael got me a contact for – apparently – 'THE violin teacher of Benares', and he even told him about me. I will have to phone him soon... If I have the courage I will study some Hindi now.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Four months today & riding an elephant!

The foot is almost completely repaired. Maybe in three days the hole will be gone now. It is very small; and it no longer hurts at all. I can walk too, on my heel and pain-free, but I don't want to force it too much.

Still the foot incident will have lasted a whole month.

So I have not moved much for a whole month, yet still a lot has happened; so much that I have been overwhelmed to write anything on this journal. Or in my written journal even. Most of the time I prefer to focus on the present and what happens than throw it all out into words or thoughts that anyway are not yet well enough articulated in my mind. So I focus. Sometimes I wish I would write more to remember, but what is the point of remembering the past when all we have is the present?

I guess the main 'issue' has been my questioning my presence in this family; do I have a place here? Shouldn't I go? but there is no way I can go; I have to stay until my foot is healed. And so there is no question; I am meant to be here. And surprisingly I do feel home here, and I love this family.

So I am well. I have been very well and very well looked after. Today and yesterday my stomach was a little bad so Vijay's mum cooked curd rice and curd with a herb for me. I am better already and my energy has returned since yesterday.

Four days ago, after the doctor had come and changed my bandage; we saw an elephant pass across the lake. When he realised, Vijay went to borrow a scooter and off we went to catch the elephant back up, and when at one moment I didn't know what was going to happen that day, the next hour I was riding an elephant. Elephants are BIG. And it is funny to see their head from the top, because then their shape look very different. It was astonishing to be so high on this big wise beautiful beast. Yesterday the elephant passed right in front of the house again, and again I was big-eyed looking at it like a little child. I love love love elephants. I don't know why.

Ashish still comes to see me everyday for reading/writing lessons. He is doing well. It's very interesting to teach how to read and write to a 19-year old. I learn a lot; my teaching technique develops as we go. He writes faster now, and I think he is doing well.

* * *

Today I have been in India for exactly four months. In a little more than another month my visa will expire. I want to stay here. My time is not up; and frankly if I even think about coming back to the west (where!?) it makes no sense. What would I do and where would I go? No. I am staying here. So as soon as my foot is OK (and it requires patience, but I'm OK it will be OK!) I will have to think to go to Nepal; perhaps via Varanasi I don't know really. So Nepal. To make a new visa. After that? Big question? I was thinking Varanasi to learn chanting and violin but the email I just received today makes the 'plan' seem unforeseeable now. So, as usual in India (or in life?) I don't know about tomorrow. And all I can focus on is the healing of my foot, now. But Nepal, new visa, then what? Perhaps (I hope) a vipassana meditation retreat because I feel the need coming soon now.

So I don't know. But I do know and trust that I will know what comes next in due course, and all will follow how it should follow.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Recapitulation, and facing the Unknown

[Typed from paper journal]

How I cope sometimes I don't know. Life in Khajuraho seems to have been divided in three phases. The first three weeks were fun and easy; going out with the boys, the birthday picnic, hanging around, spending time with the family. Then there was the foot incident and the exhibition gallery for ten days; Vijay was away for work while I was at home with the family, focusing on my recovery. That lasted two weeks or so. Now, Vijay's two oldest sisters have come from their villages to visit the family because it is festival time, and it is very, very crowded in the house. And the doctor tells me I still have two weeks to go in a bandage. I always feel compelled to go upstairs (now that I can walk a little on my heel) and sit socially with the family, but being stuck here all day makes it very difficult. I am longing to go out, spend a lot of time hiding alone and reading in my room. I have a lot to process in my head, and to accept that I have no choice but to be here. I feel fine, half-forgetting all about the foot whilst still being 'imprisoned'. I guess it is a meditation retreat. All I can do is focus. Sonam just brought me some filtered water and she too thinks there are too many people and too much noise in the house; she said. I like her and I am glad she understands.

I haven't done a meditation retreat as such (or have I?), no yoga, no (or hardly any) teaching. No learning ayurveda, no studying music. No volunteer work in Kolkata. But I have been four months in India and I am still stuck and searching. Or am I? I want to know what will happen next, but there is no way that I can know. It is a very strange feeling, yet not that strange, oh whatever, I don't know. What do I know? Will I extend the visa? Will I fly back 'home'? Where is home, even? I don't know and my quest is not over. I don't want to go to Nepal. I don't know, I don't know, and I don't know. Make these two weeks a meditation for that is all I can do, really.