I just passed my two-month anniversary in India, and at about the same time had a major breakthrough. I realized a week ago that I am totally comfortable here now. This trip is awesome. Somehow all the difficulties and obstacles that I was facing before have vanished. Jaya Ganesha! (He removes obstacles, and I sing to him a lot). I’m completely comfortable with no toilet paper, no hot water (had my first hot shower for two months this morning. So good.), last-minute bus tickets, long train rides, and most importantly, major uncertainty.
That’s really the biggest thing, and it’s the part that troubled me the most at the beginning of my trip. It only took a couple wild rickshaw rides to get used to the driving here, but the uncertainty has taken longer. I would stress out about not having a place to stay, not knowing when I’d eat next, find water, or have a toilet. Here’s the thing about India: there are people EVERYWHERE. Everywhere. So there is always a place to eat, and someone to help you if you’re desperate. I’ve got a good sense now of what food is safe to eat (almost all of it), who to trust (almost everybody), and when to keep walking. I’ve realized that the only difference between doing a lot of research to find a cheap and good hotel a week in advance desperately searching for one at the last minute is probably only about $2. There is usually space to do yoga. Having travel companions has been hugely important. A couple friends (or soon-to-be-friends) can make a stressful day of squeezing onto local buses without really knowing where you’re going into a noteworthy adventure.
With this comfort has come a great sense of freedom. My plans are entirely flexible, which has been great. I have a general goal to be in the north in about 10 days, which I think I’ll almost be able to make. It’s okay if I’m late – it looks like I’ll have a 60 hour train ride first, and I’d love to stop by Varanasi. In the past week I’ve been in Tamil Nadu, which I had no plans to visit before I arrived in India. With a couple travel companions, I checked out temples in Madurai, went to a Sivananda yoga ashram for a few days, and now am in Kodaikanal getting ready to head to a permaculture/yoga farm in the mountains. It’s dreamy here. The landscape is a bit like northern California, but with more jagged cliffs. Kind of like southern Italy or Greece.
I feel like I’ve seen so much, but I’ve barely left the bottom 10% of the country. There is so much here, it’s unbelievable. My ideas of what India is all about are constantly shattered. Most of the places I’ve visited I would love to come back to for even longer (and I have a feeling I’ll never want to leave this farm). There is a zen meditation center right near where I’m staying now, which I’d love to visit but might not have time/they might be booked. This is the norm – there is more to see and do than I possibly have time for, and almost all of it I had no idea about before I got here. This sense of endlessness is wonderful, and it makes me want to travel so much more. The world feels enormous, but more and more approachable. The more I discover about myself, the more natural I feel where ever I am.
Open eyes, open heart.
This trip is awesome.