I am glad to be home again and am so thankful that I have had the pleasure of traveling with such and awesome group. I would like to extend my best regards to Derek Maher and Wes for making this trip such an incredible and life changing experience. I did not post much text on the blog while abroad, but I am often a person of few words. I always have lived by the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words and I hope that the pictures I have been able to share spoke to everyone while we were away. I shared a limited amount of pictures online due to time during traveling. Now that I am home I am working on getting these pictures to everyone via a slide show to be shared among the group and to others upon request.
I will send DVDS to everyone in the group who traveled as well as a few extra to Derek when I finish them to be shared as he sees fit.
Thank you everyone for being a part of the past few life changing weeks. Good luck and keep in touch.
It was pretty awesome returning to Delhi with a little more experience under our belts. The first time we were there, we were all intimidated by the chaos and high temperatures of the air. With extra rupees to spend, we all set out for a final day of shopping. This time none of us were nervous to argue over getting a fair price, the shop owners still thought we were all fresh off the plane- boy were they wrong! Most of us were able to cut prices down by about 75% and be confident in the process.
A few bumps in security in Delhi for some people, but over all I say we all made it home safely and smoothly. It’s hard to believe just a month ago we were all anxiously preparing for take off. Despite the few tense moments that come with 18 different personalities spending every moment together, I can honestly say we had an amazing group of people along for the ride. The strangest things about returning home have to be the ability to turn on the faucet and use the water for anything I choose… not having to worry about have a bottle of “mineral water” beside me at all times.
India opened my eyes in so many more ways than I ever imagined possible. I hope everyone who went took something from the trip, I know I look at so many things differently now that I am home. Yeah, I am already looking forward to a reunion in the fall, and seeing the thousands of pictures we all snapped.
Finally back in the good ol’ US of A. However, it has been a long time coming. Starting from McLeod Ganj it was another day-long trip out of the mountains to get down to Delhi. However, this time, the drive was broken up by a trip to Amritsar and the Golden Temple. This temple is the “Mecca” of the Sikhs, so it was very cool to go to a city like that and experience a completely different kind of religion than we have up to this point. Many people really liked Amritsar and the traditions of the Sikhs. For example, one thing that I thought was really cool was how men are allowed to carry swords, daggers, and spears as part of their religion. Another interesting part of Sikhism is the intricate way of rapping their turbans.
When we finally got back to Delhi, we all went into shopping mode, to spend our last rupees. It was great to see all the cool things that people bought at the last minute.
Overall India was a great experience that I really enjoyed. I want to thank everyone on the trip for making it so much fun and everyone at home for keeping up with our blog. All I can say now is it’s good to be home.
Everything is packed, and I am thinking about the flight home, and planning my next trip! I will be happy to see friends, but I am never really eager to return to the US. On the other hand though, I know that all good things must come to an end, and I welcome change in whatever form it comes. On to another chapter in all of our lives!
We are in Delhi once again and it does not feel the same. With our departure hours away it is hard to say we are leaving. As we slow down we get a chance to reflect on our adventure here and remember the amazing things we have seen and the amazing people we have met. I have grown to love all of those in this group (even though we have had our hard times) and grown to appriciate what we have everyday. My dad always said it was the small things in life that you must appriciate and it is exactly that which makes India special to me.
The Taj was great, the Ganga was amazing, even the Himilayas were intimidating but it is the honking of horns, the crowded streets, and the friendly environment that I will miss most of all! Though I am ready to go home a part of me will stay in India and with this group of brilliant individuals!
Getting the obvious things out of the way… The streets are crowded and narrow, There is a lot of Tibetan influence, The weather is much cooler, the altitude makes it hard to breath, and both Indian tourists and foreigners abound.
Tong-Len does lasting work, both in the slums and in the hostels. The kids are for the most part ambitious and about as studious as they can be given the resources available, and the program has no sign of stopping as it is raising a generation of comparatively well educated boys and girls. Tibetan and Kashmir noodle shops are very common here and are delicious and cheap. The mutton and chicken is spicy and delicious, but problems can occur(which may very well still be worth it). The entire town is built around tourism and of course has many accommodations for us westerners. Many locals speak English, and the Tibetans themselves are friendly towards westerners and often know more English than Hindi, and even the dogs here are friendly(a big change from the rough and tumble Delhi street dogs). Tibetan band members that play a strange and, actually good, mix of modern western and classical Tibetan music, and they hang out on doorsteps in cool western clothing that you would imagine some indie rocker in the states to wear. The town is a little more expensive than other parts of India because of the tourists, but overall it is still very cheap.There is no shortage of older Tibetan values however, as monks are almost as populous here as the tourists!
I am happy to be staying in India for a little extra time, if only for a measly two weeks. I feel sorry for the group members that want to stay but can’t, and John and I send our regards from Dharmsala. I know I will miss many of you, and I can’t thank Dr. Maher, Wes, and the group enough for this experience.
I do not want to leave Dharamsala! This place is amazing the mountains are beautiful and the people here are wonderful. I want to trek the snowy peaks of the mountains surrounding this city soo bad.
I hope to come back to India, Dharamsala especially and share the experiences Ive had here with my family and friends.
Visiting the slums today was like stepping in to the commercials about giving 40 cents to a child every day. Visiting with the Tong-Len organization the past two days was inspirational , I can not believe that kids growing up in an environment where their homes are bamboo poles with tarps over them know two languages (hindi and english).I feel that the education I have received in the past 15 years of my life has not always been spent wisely. I wish that more emphasis was placed on being proficient in a second language, I could have done with out the gym classes : )
All in all the trip has been wonderful and I am going to miss this place.
"It was the best of times and it was the worst of times"
With our last day at Dharmasala coming to an end, I’m so excited! I’ve enjoyed the trip but it’s time to call it a great experience not a reality! I’ve seen so many things and ultimately learned that it could always be worse. When the trip does come to an end, I doubt I’ll complain or worry about any small imperfections within my life. We traveled with an array of personalities so I’ve come out of the trip learning how to be even more open-hearted. I’ve has some great experiences and some disturbing experiences while on the trip but I’m glad I was able to.
Today we visited a major slum in Dharmasala. It was heartbreaking. Babies walking around with no clothes on. Sanitation and living areas weren’t that great either. I think what disturbed most of us the most was how happy and loving most of the slum kids were in some of the most horrible living conditions. It challenges how unhappy anyone who doesn’t have to live in those condition can be.
From extremely hot weather….to water rafting….to sketchy rock climbing…to resort style massages…to facing the reality of the slums..to leaving with a lot of unanswered questions….
"It was the best of times and it was the worst of times"
So yesterday was by far the most amazing day on this trip. We went to Tong-Len Children’s Hostel to meet and play with the children there. The Tong-Len Hostel is a boarding school for kids from the nearby slum who get accepted into the program. It is really amazing to see how these kids, who are some of the poorest in the world, and now have dreams of being doctors and engineers. There is a boy’s hostel and a girl’s hostel that is separated by about half a block. When we got there, our group was split into two groups with half staying with the girls and the other half going up the street to the boys. I was in that group that spent time with the boys and I have to say those kids are amazing. They are so happy, respectful, and enthusiastic about everything they do that it is infectious. We spent the whole day drinking tea, playing guitar, playing board games, doing crazy acrobatics, having dance parties, and talking about what they want to do in the future. I really wish people at home could see how happy these kids are with their lives even though they are missing so much, because it would help Americans gain an appreciation for everything we have now.
Well the trip is near it’s end and I must say I am leaving here very happy that I came. Going to Tong-Len and spending time with those girls reminded me of why I came. They made my trip!!! It was AMAZING!!! They were the nicest and most beautiful children and it broke my heart to have to leave them. I wish them much success in life. They deserve it. For me this trip has been a trying one. I feel that I have overcome obstacles and experienced things I never would have. I am very grateful for having had the opportunity and even more grateful that I made it out okay. Overall India was a life-changing experience. I am still afraid of animals but I think my scream of terror will be more mild when I return. I have had highs and lows on this trip but I do not regret coming. I have met some fabulous people and have experienced many different cultures that have giving me a greater perspective about life. I will return home more appreciative of the luxuries I have such as socks, shoes, toothpaste, clean water, and all those little things we take for granted. I am so blessed and I am happy to have come even if it was just to put a smile on those kids’ faces. I miss everything about home and one day I am sure I will say that I miss India as well. India is a special place. It is made up of so many unique elements and will be unforgettable. I am proud of myself and ready to be home. Farewell India.
I attempted to post this blog last night… Oh how we all have learned to love India’s power outages. Better late than never…
So today was kind of a rejuvenating day. We spent most of the time in the Tong-Len hostels with the kids. It amazed me how sharp these kids are, and how clear their English was. Dr. Maher warned us they would be “shy” at first… but that was definitely not the case. We were quickly welcomed and learned all about them. We were always addressed as “ma’am” and “sir”. These are all kids that were chosen by their families and taken out of the slums. They attend school (which they all love) and are very well taken care of.
They are probably the sweetest children I’ve ever met. We spent time with the boys talking about school, their favorite subjects, what they want to be when they grow up and many more topics. The favorite activities of the day were definitely taking photos (they are AWESOME models and photographers), as well as having “dance parities.” I believe this has truly been what we all needed, and became our favorite part of the trip as a whole. -Nicole
so i was almost done with my blog entry when the power out, so i am not sure if i will rewrite as much as i had before. anyways, the past two days have reminded me just how fortunate i am. i always know i will have food, i am receiving a wonderful education, and i always have a steady roof over my head. yesterday after visiting several places we were able to go to the hostel that is sponsored by Tong-Len, that pulls some children out of the slum, and gives them a home, means of education, and constant food. the children there are amazing. they are doing really well in school, and several of them are in the top percentile for their state. they were some of the sweetest and most polite children i have ever met. they were really fun too. the girls taught us their dance moves, painted our nails, and we drew pictures together. it was so much fun, and i did not want to leave. today we were able to visit the slum where they came from. the homes were tent like structures covered with black plastic. there are over 700 people that live there. Tong-Len also performs many services there, so we went around the slum looking at the different parts, and the small school room that exists for the children. the children followed us all around, holding our hands, and asking to be picked up. many of these kids were siblings of the children we saw yesterday at the hostel. the children were really sweet, and we played with them for a while before we had to leave. it was quite an experience to be there, and i know it is something that i will hold with me.
So thanks to Dharmsala I do not want to leave India!! Waking up to the snow capped Himalaya mountains is breathtaking. The food and people here are amazing. I had the closest to the real thing burrito today, I really miss mexican food on this trip.
Visiting the Tong-Len children today was an amazing experience, one of the older girls taught me how to play chess. And some of the younger girls then kicked my butt at a few games of it!
Seeing the Dalai Lama in person yesterday was an unreal experience. I still can not believe it happened. His presence is felt throughout the entire town, it really seems more peaceful here than in any other part of India we have visited.
I am excited and sad for the next few days of the trip. I am excited to go home however I do not want to leave this amazing place.
So I’d say that just about sums up life in McLeod Ganj. However, for the sake of a good blog post I’ll go into more detail.
Yesterday we were graced by the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama! It was pretty fantastic. I think I had been building it up in my head so much that when I finally saw him with my own eyes, I realized that he’s human too. I hope that doesn’t come off the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing less than total and complete respect and appreciation for him. And I absolutely wasn’t let down by seeing him in person because it was still a very moving experience. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t feel quite as insignificant as I expected I would.
We had a free afternoon after the Lama sighting so I used that time to spend way too many rupees on awesome gifts for friends, family, and myself.
This afternoon we visited the Tong-Len hostel. I decided to stick around at the girls’ hostel and I had an absolute blast. It was so hard to say goodbye to those precious, smiling faces. I really hope I can go back someday and work with them on a more long-term kind of time frame.
It hasn’t really hit me that I’ll be leaving India in a little over three days. This has been such an amazing experience and something I will never forget. I can’t wait to post all of the photographs I’ve taken over the course of the trip.
So I clearly have been anti-technology for most of this trip, and I cannot believe that our journey will soon be coming to an end and I will be forced back into the turbo internet charged world we live in! Everything has been amazing-our river rafting on the Ganges was soooo much fun, running through a mini flash flood (safely), attending one of the Dalai Lama’s teachings-could this trip really get much better?!?! Today we finally experienced the Tong-Len organization first hand by interacting with the children-I cannot begin to describe how happy it made me to just hang out with the kids, making it that much harder when we had to leave. Our visit made me count my blessings once again, I cannot begin to talk about how fortunate I have been in my life and how thankful of everything that has occured for me (and thankful of everyone in my life!). In these last few days we will be checking out a few more sights and trying to soak in the last bits of India that we can, so my apologies ahead of time if my next post is delayed! :)
Rishikesh was good for many of us, as it allowed time to rest, and a break from the dirtier side of India. Yoga and big breakfasts every morning was rejuvenating to say the least. Leaving that little town was not without hardship, as sickness befell several of us, myself not excluded.
I remember feeling better around the time I awoke on the road on the way here to see the majestic snow capped Himalayas in the distance. As we passed through Dharamsala into Rishikesh, the air turned crisp and fresh. While this place appeared on some level a backpacker mecca, it also possessed traits clearly Tibetan. Never before exposed to Tibetan culture, I felt excitement growing within me to explore yet another cultural landscape.
Today, outside a local school, we all had the opportunity to see the Dalai Lama pass just several feet from where many of us stood. Seeing him was almost like a dream; his presence powerful and surreal. The most beautiful thing happened as His Holiness, in his seventies and showing early signs of frailty made his way to his vehicle: a young man, appearing afflicted with cerebral palsy or another mental or physical disability waited patiently with his father at the front of the crowd. The Lama did not have much time to stop for many waiting outside, as the crowd was unusually large today. Nevertheless, H.H. went directly to the boy before getting in his car; he touched the young man’s shoulders, his head, and his ears, saying what I imagine were gentle words of lovingkindness and encouragement. Tears fill my eyes just recounting this a few hours later.
So this city is completely different than Richikesh! On the way here I assumed we would be on the mountains but we’re really up high in the mountains! lol So high that when I think about it at night on the way back to our hotel I feel sick! There are tourists from everywhere. It’s almost mesmerizing when you first get here. The fact that there are other people who look and dress similar to you in large groups. When we first got to India it was extremely hard for me to deviate from the group. But here, I can easily get lost following other groups because everyone is grouped up like us. On the way to McLeod Ganj we passed through Dharamasala and the social classism was mostly middle and upper-middle class. The streets were cleaner, I saw hardly any homeless people and everyone I saw had on shoes. Of course here in McLeod Ganj, theres an infused Tibetan culture. I like it here. Reminds me of the UK alot. But I can’t deny that I’m about ready to end this trip. It’s been great , but I’m exhausted!
I must say it is very interesting here in Mcleod Ganj. It’s almost like being on the strip at the beach or something. The night life is very alive here. We went to a dining place and they had alfredo pasta!!! I was super excited and it tasted fabulous. I never thought I would say it was cold in India but at times it does get chilly here. The shops are great and the people are really nice. Today we saw His Holiness and that was cool to be able to say I have seen him in person. He was all smiles. We saw a medical museum and they have many ways to treat medical conditions here by way of herbs, stones, gems, etc. It was interesting to see the differences in Tibetan medical culture. I was really empowered by the lecture we recieved from the civil rights organization that works to help the Tibetan people. It made me aware of the issues and I hope to spread the news to my friends and we can write letters to legislators. There is ust so much happening around the world that I fail to notice when I’m in my own bubble of America. The trip is coming to an and and I am not sad about it. I am ready to go home. I mean it’s nice here but there is no place like home and I can’t wait to go back! -Kristen
The entire ride here was thrilling i could only sleep as we left Delhi. The roads twist and turn and at sometimes the giant trucks make you want to hold on for dear life. It is beautiful here, the city is very youthful and i must admit the amount of sweets shops is glorious. Yesterday we went to the center for Human rights and democracy in Tibet. This was one of the biggest things i was looking forward to on the trip. Also i loved seeing and hearing people mention Students for a Free Tibet, and also seeing people with the organization today as we heard the Dalai Lama teach which was amazing. Hannah and i literally stood 5 feet from him. Just seeing so much compassion in someone is extremely uplifting. The view from where we are staying is magnificent you can see the snow on top of the Himalayas.
This message is to everyone. I just wanted to thank you guys for your posts to the blog. I realize it is not the easiest, nor is it very exciting to take time out to blog your experiences, however, for those of us following your jouney, it is has been a highlight of our days to see new information about your trip. It is almost as good as being there.
Now as Matthew will tell you, I really cannot do anything without giving advice! For those of you having a great time, please don't get overwhelmed by the big stuff so much that you miss out on the little things that make india different and interesting. For those of you are homesick, or do not really enjoy the differnt culture, please try to stay engaged and realize this is a once in a lifetime adventure that may change your outlook on life when you do get home. Go with the flow, and things will get better.
Thanks again, and keep posting!
Man. McLeod Ganj is absolutely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The people are nice, the food is great, and the view is breath-taking. Sound familiar? Sound like Rishikesh? It’s pretty much like Rishikesh, but a lot less tourist-y feeling, and the view is even more incredible. I have mixed feelings about going back home, but I can’t wait to see everyone. India is such a wondrous land.
In six days I will be home. I’m looking forward to it. We’re in an amazing city in the Himalayas, the site of the exiled Tibetan community. Getting here was fairly barfy but I woke up just in time to see a letterpress shop! I wrote down the road marker but I don’t think we’ll get to stop and see it. =sigh=. Today was intense - another climb down a hill with a less-than-great path (I hate these) but interesting stuff at the end. Several Buddhist temples - one where we sat in on a monk’s daily teaching - a great review on some bare bones of Buddhism, a temple for Ne Chung (supercool!!), the oracle who is at times consulted by the Dalai Lama, a visit to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, which was really intense, and the Tibetan Medical Museum where I saw books from the 6th century. Absolutely stunning. We also went to a huge Tibetan Buddhist temple. Tomorrow we’re going to listen to the Dalai Lama teach which should be pretty wild. The situation in Tibet is really bad. The Chinese gov’t is committing genocide, constantly persecuting the clergy and intellectuals, and not enough of the world seems to know about it. The future is uncertain if things don’t get resolved before the current Dalai Lama (the 14th) dies, and the least we can do is get the word out. How many times will people continue to commit genocide, wherever it is in the world, before we stop this from happening? Haven’t we learned anything from our history? The hope lies with us. —Lisa Beth
So we have made it to our last city on the trip. I have to say, getting to McLeod Ganj was ridiculous. After about 14 or so hours in a van, going up mountain roads and feeling sick to my stomach I was definitely was thinking this place better be worth it. So far it totally has. The first thing you notice driving through Dharamsala to McLeod Ganj is that this isn’t just another Indian town. There is almost a clear line where once you cross it you no longer see many Indian people and instead see mainly Tibetans. It really doesn’t feel like we are in India just looking out the window. Then once you get out of the car then you really don’t think you are in India. It is legitimately cool, with temperatures in the 70’s mainly throughout the day. The town is near the top of the mountain so the views are absolutely incredible from our balcony. Anyway, I will add more once we see more of McLeod Ganj.
So we all thought leaving Rishikesh was going to be a sad, sad time. For some it was- but for myself and a few others our little hide away about 30 kilometers from Dharamsala is really paradise. The 15 hour jeep ride to arrive here wasn’t so pleasant. Many people (including myself) had their first experience with motion sickness… over all I say we handled it pretty well. Our hotel is located with amazing views down into the valley- and at night the sky lights up with the stars.
There have been many more Americans here than anywhere we’ve visited. It’s comforting but at the same time a little shocking when you are used to constantly being stared at and photographed for being so different. Today was a long, but interesting day. We gathered in the morning to head off to a Tibetan Archive and Library. Followed by a medical museum, a few temples and much more walking- I am sure we are all ready for a good nights rest. It’s hard to believe some people are claiming this as the “home stretch”… I am taking Dr. Maher’s advice when he says “enjoy right now.”
Well its our last day in Rishikesh (sp?) Yesterday we had an amazing time white water rafting, the water was freezing but the rapids were fun! I don’t want to leave the mountains. I love waking up here and watching the clouds rise up over the mountains and seeing all of the beautiful flowers at our hotel. Also there is a “marmaduke” dog here at the hotel, she is sooo sweet and lazy! she is a very loving dog and lets the whole group cuddle her.
Any day on the water is a good day, and yesterday was the best day of the trip so far: outdoor yoga and breakfast, then a majority of the day was spent riding the rapids of the Ganga up here in the Himalayas. It was followed with an Ayurvedic massage, then a nice dinner with other students. I would definitely return to kayak up here, and I would absolutely stay at our same hotel. At last, some joy in Rishikesh! —Lisa Beth
So I just typed this very long blog and thanks to technology over here and everywhere I lost it all; it just froe and erased. And being that I am being charged by minutes spent on here I now have to sum all of that up very briefly. I have actually begun to enjoy myself. I went water rafting which is a big deal for me and ultimately I have been facing my fears. I am proud of myself and very thankful to the group for being supportive. Being here is like being on an island it’s gorgeous. The mountains are beautiful and the staff here is so nice and helpful. I enjoyed my stay but am ready to keep moving so I can get home. I’m glad that things on this trip are beginning to turn around for me. Hopefully the next time I can say more without havng it be erased. Sorry to rush. - Kristen
I hate that we have to leave Reishikesh! It’s like a resort here in comparison to Delhi! Everything has been so relaxed and a lot cleaner! The air even feels better here in the mountains. It’s funny that I enjoyed Reishikesh the most because I did hardly any shopping. A summary of all the chill things we’ve done here: We went to the Beatles Ashram which included rooms filled with psychedelic colors from when the Beatles lived and meditated there..oh yea a lot of their songs were written there. We went water rafting in the ganges down the Himalaya Mountains and believe it or not I was peered pressured into jumping into the ganges for an extremely brief swim! (The cleaner mountain water that’s upsteam not the cremation ganges of Varanasi). Later that day most of us got full body massages which was great but definitely a lot sketchier that the massages you would get in the US ( in a good way) ! Very detailed massaging! At least in my opinion. At this point everyone is having a good time, minus a few upset stomachs and some homesickness.
I personally love Reishikesh! If we would’ve initiated the trip here I think I would have blogged a lot more earlier. From what I’ve been told the locations only get better so..I’m so ready for the next city! In all I can now say that the days are moving a lot faster than I expected.
coming to rishikesh was like taking a breath of fresh air. the ganges flowing with the himalayas in the background is incredible. there is just so much green everywhere. it was so refreshing when we swam in the for the first time. the water felt like ice, but once i was all the way in, it felt so purifying. since being in rishilkesh, i have felt so relaxed and at peace. aside from the beautiful surroundings, the morning yoga and my massage yesterday probably helped haha. rafting down the river today was unremarkable, and it really wore me out. i pretty much passed out when we got back to the hotel. and when i woke up, i just gazed out from the balcony at all of the beautiful sites in view. its like everywhere you turn, there is something amazing to gaze at.
Today was the first day that I have ever been rafting! It was absolutely spectacular! I have never had so much fun for five hours in a row. Between jumping off the raft into the freezing cold Ganga, hitting the rapids hard, and jumping off of a 20 foot rock who could ask for more! Thought I am tired and sore now I had a blast! For those of you that come next year…you must go rafting!!!!
To the parents following this…we had specially trained professionals with us at all times and they were very good at what they did. No need to worry we are all fine and in one piece!
Today we went white-water rafting down the Ganga, it was amazing. There where great views all around us, and the water was ice cold, which was a nice change from the hot, humid air. Rishikesh is great, the views a breath taking and the site are interesting, yesterday we went to the Beatles Ashram. This is where they were inspired to write the White Album. It was an amazing place tucked in the mountains. Most of the people are having a great time, but there are a few that are getting home sick, and are ready to leave. I wish i could stay another month.
I’m afraid I’m having a 180 degree experience from the students in Rishikesh. This city and I do not have a good relationship and I’m very much looking forward to leaving. It’s a beautiful place - much like the beloved landscape near my Aunt and Uncle’s home in CA, which makes it even harder to be here. I’m homesick every morning for their company and my home.
To me, this town seems like a Disneyland/Las Vegas of spirituality. Every bit of soul is for sale and although we have visited some interesting pilgrimage shrines and the Beatles’ ashram, it all seems to be in decline or a mockery of itself. Derek talked to me for a while this morning about belief, and how for so many of the travelers here this is a pinncacle of their spiritual journey/experience. Some folks wait their whole lives to come here and save all their money to travel here, much like Jerusalem. I understand the fascination with belief and how it shapes and steers people’s lives - it is no different in the U.S. I was raised in a western religion and went to a religious/political summer camp all the way from fifth through twelfth grade, the experience culminating in my living in Israel the year after high school. I have spent so much time with my and others’ religions and I find that they are mostly the same in terms of teachings, but some have more deities than others. I think about the deities we make out of pop figures (i.e. the cult of Frieda Kahlo) and gurus (the Beatles’ Maharishi Maharesh yoga), and I am finding myself coming up empty handed. Am I becoming an agnostic?
India is like a giant tangly knot. You can follow a single thread and easily find a path, or you can take a step back and get lost and overwhelmed by the mess. The heat and crush of people and chaos and constant noise and animals and rain are overwhelming me. For me, spirituality is a quiet place inside, and there’s no quiet in Rishikesh. My fingers are crossed that Dharmsala will be a better experience. —Lisa Beth
Continuing to love this trip-We have all successfully purified ourselves in the Ganges river! The water was cold but very refreshing, especially after all of this heat we’ve been experiencing! My health is still holding up (knock on wood!), and I am continuing to enjoy all of the foods of India-I had an avocado lassi last night that was amazing!! Our current hotel is awesome, a huge bathroom and sweet balcony that opens up right to all of the surrounding mountains! We’ve been partaking in a few yoga lessons, which are making me wonder where all my flexibility has gone! The people here are great I feel like a celebrity when I walk around because people are constantly taking pictures of the group and they all just seem so curious! There are still many cows patrolling the streets, and now we have monkeys hanging around our yoga lessons! Tomorrow we are planning to do a little bit of whitewater rafting, which should be incredible! I am looking forward to all the adventures up ahead! :)
So today I almost reached my breaking point. It’s just all these animals are driving me CRAZY!!! And the monkeys here are ruthless. This morning during yoga one came near me and broke all of my concentration. I’m just not cut out for this place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful here but if you are afraid of animals and opposed to being outdoors all the time then this trip would be difficult. Overall it is an experience many will never have the opportunity to be apart of so I feel blessed in that way. I am a little homesick though so I am glad the trip is moving along swiftly. I must say the food here is amazing and today I had a sizzling chocolate brownie with ice cream that reminded me so much of home. I look forward to working with the kids in a few days. Hopefully that will change my entire outlook on this trip.
I am an absolute animal lover, except for cats, so seeing the cows, monkeys, and goats in India is a highlight. Today the group saw the monkeys true object stealing capabilities. As we were crossing the bridge to get back to the hotel a group of monkeys had gathered on the bridge. As one lady in a pink sari was walking past a monkey he or she swung down and grabbed at the fabric. Luckily the lady was able to keep her sari and the monkey scrambled away. Later on, as we continued walking up the hill to the hotel another monkey darted across the street grabbed one pack of candy as the shop owner swatted at him or her with a peacock feathered fan. He/she quickly crawled up onto the roof of the shop and into a tree and enjoyed the snack.
I guess it was the monkeys lunch time and I think they were a little wild from all the junk food they steal. I have yet to see one with a banana in its hand : )
I think everyone is really enjoying this city. Yesterday, we went to the Ashram where the Beatles wrote some of their best music. This place is more scenic than the other places but it is also has religious significance. I am really happy this was on the itenary. We missed out on a waterfall this afternoon. But I think we will get to it eventually.
So as you can see from all the posts, Rishikesh is a very popular city for our group. It just seems that everything about it is more comfortable. It is cleaner, less crowded, cooler, and just overall just has a better vibe than most of the places we have visited. Maybe the most interesting thing about Rishikesh is all the foreigners here. You literally can not go out to town without out seeing dozens of them. The funny thing about these tourists is they are all hardcore hippies. You know, dreadlocks, the crazy clothes, constantly smoking stuff. It is really the closest I think I will ever be to living in the 60’s and dealing with that movement. Other that that I really love the fact that we are on the water and are able to swim in it. The view from our room is maybe the best of any ones in the group so Matt and I definitely got our money’s worth here.
Hey there,Rishikesh is such an amazing change of pace and scenery. The mountains and our hotel located on an awesome hill make up for the other cities chaos pretty quick. At night you can go on the roof and see tons of lights over the city… it almost makes you forget you’re 8,000 miles away from home. There has been a lot more rain than I ever thought there would be. It has rained in every city we’ve been to except one, and there it rained right before we got there. Last night we were at dinner on a rooftop (but yes, it was covered). There was a lightning storm the majority of dinner which was awesome because we could watch the mountains in the bright strikes. About 45 minutes before we were done eating it started pouring rain… and decided not to stop for quite a while. The majority of the group wanted to take off so we headed out in the pouring rain. Luckily we all made it- just left soaking wet with a good story to tell. So the monkeys here are wild… today coming back to the hotel we had to take a foot bridge crossing the Ganges. There were monkey posted up everywhere and not fifteen feet in front of us did a woman get her shawl ripped off of her by a monkey standing by. It’s honestly pretty awesome with a bit of frightening also. On the way to this city we saw one elephant on the side of the road… we are all still waiting for when we get to ride one! We were supposed to hike to a water fall, but when it came to getting Jeeps to take us up to the entry point it was a no go… so now it’s mostly a freeday. I really wish we could have just skipped ahead to Rishikesh… but now I can say I have definitely seen all different parts of India. Nicole
As you know by all the other posts we are now in Rishikesh!!!
I have been doing yoga off and on for a couple of years and have had previous teachers tell me that everyone should try to visit here (Rishikesh) atleast once. Well Im here and had the greatest morning waking up and doing yoga in the Himalaya mountains!!
Also the weather here is cooler which is a wonderful releif from the previous hotter cities we have been in, and the fresh mountain air is great!!
Swimming in the Ganga yesterday was eventful, the water was a little cold but we met a friend on the way, a monkey who almost made off with Shannons bright green hat. It was needless to say a highlight of the trip.