"anything is possible"
After a crazy, and I mean CRAZY, 15 hour drive on the bike from Shimla (where our bike was making a grinding noise, we got rained on, hit a pedestrian with our side mirror, got bumped by a rickshaw, nearly got pummeled by a bus, somehow took a wrong turn adding 4 extra hours to our drive...(ouch!) ...got stopped at a road block for an elephant spotting... and then had 2 more hours of driving in 8 lanes of complete madness, IN THE DARK!!) we finally arrived back to our safe little yoga bubble, Rishikesh. Holy Cow... India... you sure know how to push us beyond our comfort level.
For the past 5 months, we've been mostly in the north, high in the Himalayas, driving rugged terrain, high mountain passes, and tiny, peaceful villages with stunningly beautiful vistas. Shanti shanti for the most part, although we drove through our share of terrible "roads", foot deep mud, river crossings, pot holes like swimming pools, washed out areas, mud slides and 1000 ft. drop off cliffs. Adventure!! And although that's all been amazing and crazy in an exciting kind of way, it hasn't felt dangerous til yesterday. Driving through major cities was a real reality check that we are leaving the peaceful, natural, Buddhist region and entering back into the chaos, stimulation overload, and plain full power nuttiness that we lovingly know as India. Pushing beyond comfort zones is why we came to India, but that is inevitable and unavoidable on a daily basis. Although becoming less and less, my boundaries are tested regularly with the crowded streets, aggressive monkeys, begging and contstant solicitation, cow diarrhea in the roads, forever staring and honking, scanky indian squat toilets, ...and the list goes on. And with our trip shifting out of the mountains for a bit, and through some larger cities, we started to second guess the safety of continuing to ride the bike. So, with much thought and deliberation, we have decided it's time to practice non-attachment, take the safer route, and go ahead and rent/sell the bike. It's time. (sniffle sniffle)
Buying our bike was one of the best decisions we made in India. It was exciting, empowering, gave us total flexibility to go wherever, whenever, and we had an adventure of a lifetime on it. Really, ... it was fantastic. We feel fortunate to have explored small nooks of India that few people ever find, and the views were absolutely stunning. We will be sad to say goodbye to our bike, but fortunately, we LOVE the trains and are really looking forward to our long, "stress-free" train-ride to the spiritual center of India, Varanasi.
Now after painting a terrifying and horrid view of India, let me clarify that it's also balanced, oh so perfectly, with overwhelming heart and natural beauty, a vibrant culture, deep in spirituality and connection, strong family ties, a raw realness that reminds me that I'm alive, and an indescribable vibration that outshines all the rest and keeps us coming back for more. India is incredible and we find ourselves loving it here more and more each day. We really do. I mean, let's be real, India can be really tough at times. It's definitely not all carebears and rainbows. We heard from the beginning when planning a trip to India that we will love and hate it at times... and that it will be the best and hardest thing we will ever do. I'm not sure it's been the hardest thing (Colin's accident and the year after it probably take the cake on that one), but India sure does have a way of hitting you at the core, ... stripping you down... forcing you to see what's the ultimate truth. Atleast, that's been my experience. Although I'm finding my balance here, I still sometimes feel like I'm on a roller coaster, oscillating between being overwhelmed by the poverty, loudness and complete grossness that is ever present and being struck by the pure beauty, unconditional love and compassion that somehow co-exist together. It's an interesting balance for sure. I think I find my peace with it by just accepting it all as the way it is.... breathing it in and allowing it to flow through me... whatever it is. It's life... it's real. Surrender is at the heart of the indian experience.
"...there is so much beauty in the world. sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst, and then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold onto it... and then it flows through me like rain... and I can't feel anything but gratitude." --American Beauty
Sometimes it's harder than others to see the beauty... I'm obviously not perfect. I still create labels that define boundaries and create separation instead of looking for the connections,... noticing the synchronicity of life and the ways that we are exactly the same. I still find myself swimming upstream instead of relaxing, going with the flow, and trusting that life always goes according to plan (just not always my plan). I still fall into the pattern of focusing on the negative, getting caught up in the chaos, ...lost in the scattered thoughts of my own mind and I have to remind myself to just breathe. Just BE. It sounds so simple yet can be so hard to continuously bring my awareness back to the now. It's a practice, like everything I guess, but when I do, it's quite amazing to feel the difference. Things magically shift and life smells a bit sweeter. I notice the smiles from the locals, hear the children playing and laughing, sense the gentle and innocent nature of a cow, appreciate a moment of perfect wordless communication, see something that makes me chuckle to myself, or am touched by the devotional beauty of someone doing puja... and I immediately feel more at peace. I'm present, in the moment, aware, alive... life comes and goes and I see the beauty that exists all around, ... fully connected... yet unattached. It's those times that it really feels like a dream world where everything is connected, anything is possible ("sab kuch milega")... and all is right in the world. And so it is.
"You are forever ...in a magical, infinite reality where thoughts become things, dreams come true, and all things remain forever possible." --Sacred Geometry and the Flower of Life
Circular rainbow!!! I'd never seen that before. Just enough cloud and mist around the sun to create a perfect and vibrant circular rainbow. Stunning.
how many indians does it take to change a flat tire?? Luckily people stopped, ... we were in the middle of nowhere and had another tube to put on the bike, but it was defective or got punctured in the process and we had to do it all over again with an old tire from a guy that stopped. Quite the ordeal, but it worked out and we were on our way within a few hours.
We took a week on the bike to get from Leh to Manali. You can do it in less time, but the view is incredible, and the road is terrible, which makes it exciting and exhausting. Since all we have is time right now... we went slowly and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. We met a young indian guy on our way, Tanzen, and he invited us to stay with his family for a night. He lives in a tiny village high in the Himalayas with his family and we ended up staying for about 5 days with his incredibly kind and generous Buddhist family (mom, aunt, brother, and grandmother). They were so welcoming and loving, so peaceful and delightful. We helped on their mutter (pea) farm picking peas and I helped in the kitchen. In the end, they invited us back to stay for a YEAR and sent us away with gifts and a blessing on conceiving a child. (most indians don't understand why we don't have children yet... does not compute. ... they said "it is time" ... my mom would agree )
view from their home... wow!
making momos!! yum!!
pea walrus we ate our weight in peas while we were there and they gave us a huge bag when we left. MMmmm....
drying cow manure on the walls to use for cooking and heat in the winter. Nothing is wasted...everything is used. Love it
tree hugger at heart
grandma was awesome and totally working just as hard as we were in the garden. Very sweet woman.
our home in Manali. We stayed in Manali for about a week and rested after the crazy drive from Leh. It is the monsoon, so it rained everyday,... but it felt cleansing and was just what we needed.
on the way to Tosh. Parvati Valley. Lots of wetness and mud!! Oh the mud.
foot deep mud in places... sliding all over the place,...and we had decided NOT to where our mud boots that day. We chose poorly.
Tosh. Another tiny village in Parvati Valley that we fell in love with. We weren't planning to go here at all, but we ended up here and didn't leave for 3 weeks. It had no internet in the village, no cell reception and power was intermittent,... and it was perfect. We found a quiet guesthouse with a sweet family and read, did yoga, hiked, played music, and made new friends... it was really a highlight of the trip.
Our rooftop dinner, breakfast and yoga space. 360 degree view of cloudy mountains. wow.
snuggled down in our room
a magical land of waterfalls and rainbows
mica... sparkles everywhere. India is the #1 exporter of Mica... didn't know that, but it's everywhere.
our little food shop...cute
Athalia and Sunil ...our buddies we sure do meet beautiful heart centered people on the road. These two were no exception.
weed grows everywhere around here... on the side of the streets, along the paths... everywhere.
a beautiful little plant really.
me being goofy again.
for our 8 year anniversary, we took a 7 hour hike up into the mountains for the night, up to some hot springs called Kheer Ganga. It was an amazing day and stunning at the top. Unfortunately, the hot springs were separated for men and women and I had to be in the "women's hut" that was closed in on all sides with a plastic tarp while Colin got to enjoy the stunning view in the open air. Lame. But a great day for sure.
i sure do love this man
chillin at the top
dorks... but we have a good time
back in Rishikesh... seeing a baba we knew from last time.
monkey eating an icecream cone... so humanlike... licking it and turning it so it doesn't drip. So funny to watch.
the bike's all clean and ready to be rented.
Tanzen, who's family we stayed with on the pea farm in the north, ended up renting our bike until we make it back to India. Worked out perfectly actually, he's a mechanic, we trust him, we know and love his family, AND he'll either buy our bike at the end of our trip, or we'll have the bike to sell and just made an extra $300. We were sad to see it go, but grateful for our time with it, that we had no major accidents, and that we found someone to take care of it for a while. Beautiful. Life is good.
On to Varanasi for more music lessons and to buy more classical indian bansuri flutes for our new flute business. More to come on that!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxo