India Went Deep

India Went Deep

Reading Time: 23 minutes

This isn’t about meditation

I sat next to a man for ten days and never said hi, learned his name, or communicated in any way other than the occasional bow of the head as to indicate an apology if one of us were to bump into the other. Eye contact was a no-no during our ten day Vipassana course at Dhamma Giri in Igatpuri.

Shell and I were sitting on a curb after being reunited. We were sharing stories and feelings from our ten-day adventure when this same man, sitting to our right and dressed in a beautifully vibrant white traditional tunic, turned and asked where we were from. We exchanged pleasantries and how we were moved and how we experienced these ten days. Our answers must have seemed dull.

“Before I came here I had a spot on my chest,” he said, mid-way through our conversation.

“And now?” I replied.

“It is gone!” As he tugs open his tunic for the reveal.

“I nearly did not come here. I thought I needed to go to the hospital to have it checked for cancer,” he explained.

“You believe these ten days with Vipassana have healed you?”

“Oh, yes, it shows you the power of our minds,” he remarks in a fatherly manner.

I nod.

He continues to riff on the power, value, and importance of what we did over the past ten days. Most of how he is feeling and what he is espousing, I completely agree. But, I spend most of my attention thinking about him needing a biopsy of the dark collection of cells.

He’s an older man, easily into his 70s, but still quite healthy in appearance. His mind, obviously, still sharp and curious. The concerns of someone his age and his generation are not any different than in any other place in this world. He worries about his family being unable and unwilling to care for him as he gets old. I imagine the cancer scare made him more acutely aware of this, and then he meditated with this information bouncing around his mind for ten days. Regardless of how well he focused on his breathing or vibrations, I know his mind wandered. He’s human.

As with anything societal in India, there are rules and guidelines one must live by and as India modernizes some of these rules are changing. I imagine one would find similar percentages in both India and America about how positively and negatively these changes are viewed in each of our own societies. But to what degree, on any of these many things, is likely a function of your generation and station in life.

As Americans, we seemed to represent something to him. I’m guessing this is due to some of his younger kin having immigrated to the states. America represented materialism. He seemed sorrowful over his relative’s obsession with money over family. We were, in part, representative of something he struggled with, but we were also with him at Vipassana to meditate, clear our minds, and participate in a distinctly ancient practice with roots in the subcontinent. We were a paradox, perhaps, or were dualistic?

Hearing this from him immediately upon ending our silence gave me pause, and reminded me just how prevalent confirmation bias is. People will find what they want to believe, especially when a finding fits perfectly into their self-designed puzzle. This, regardless of empirical evidence. So much of what we learned and experienced in those ten days was free of dogma and religion. Yes, there were bits of pseudo-science and strange explanations here and there, but taken with a mature and open mind with clear lenses and clean logic anyone would walk away healthier from these ten days regardless of their creed. One doesn’t need to walk away with a different religion than with which you came.

I fear that his credulity will blind his need for accepting cellular biology as something we’ve learned a great deal about and goes much further than feelings.

“Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.”
― Ludwig Wittgenstein

I had not been exposed to Wittgenstein before our time at Vipassana. A very articulate man by the name Manish spoke of him and quoted great philosophers in earnest during a late night discussion outside our Dhamma Hall after we broke silence. Manish blew me away with his encyclopedic knowledge and assessment of both Western and Indian philosophies. A mid-aged man with a prowess in spoken word that left me in envy. (Manish, if you’re out there, say hi – I missed saying goodbye on the parting day).

Another young man shared his stories as we stood there in the dark together. One of his (mis)adventures in trying to read his way through experiencing the deeper side of meditation and enlightenment, only to see that one must go and experience it. As with anything, preparation can only go so far, and nothing can replace real practice. His reading has left him a mini-philosopher, and as he grows I will not be surprised to see him find a following or write a book I would be excited to read.

India went deep. India stirred and troubled me. India will continue to inspire and influence me.

“India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy.”

 

“Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all. Nothing should more deeply shame the modern student than the recency and inadequacy of his acquaintance with India….This is the India that patient scholarship is now opening up like a new intellectual continent to that Western mind which only yesterday thought civilization an exclusive Western thing.”
– Will Durant

Challenge

A friend wrote to me asking for suggestions and tips for her quick trip around Delhi. I wrote back a lengthy, and arguably distraught, reply. A reply that I described as ‘hungover’ after our month touring and moving too quickly through India. The last experience we had was a full-blown stampede while attempting to board our plane from Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur. This wasn’t the nonsense that happens at JFK where people of all boarding zones stand like waddling penguins outside the gate blocking all those eligible to board. This was more primal.

I advised her to let her baseline assume chaos. “You’ll have a more comfortable time if you simply expect this at all times,” I said. I believed what I told her, and thought it to be helpful. But, I also wanted to take it back the moment I hit send. Am I tainting her experience before it has even started?

“Human beings cannot live without challenge. We cannot live without meaning. Everything ever achieved we owe to this inexplicable urge to reach beyond our grasp, do the impossible, know the unknown. The Upanishads would say this urge is part of our evolutionary heritage, given to us for the ultimate adventure: to discover for certain who we are, what the universe is, and what is the significance of the brief drama of life and death we play out against the backdrop of eternity.”
― Eknath Easwaran, The Upanishads

India was a challenge. If I only had one thing to say, that would be it.

She ended up appreciating the advice. Adding later that she felt like she had to play defense the entire time in India. I thought that was a better way of putting it. There tends to be an all-out assault if you’re outside of your hotel room or another controlled environment. Some friends, in preparing us, advised a strategy: find every five-star hotel in town and have them marked on your maps prior to starting each day. Anytime you need a reprieve, head for the lobby. They advised further: If you get one major site explored that day, it is a success. They had high expectations of how much they could get done each day, but the environment and the challenges bog one down everywhere one goes.

I consider myself someone who will embrace someone else’s country for what it is, and recognize I am in their country, not my own. With that, I should expect things to be done differently, and, occasionally, for me to have trouble with how things are done. Hell, I have trouble with how things are done in my own country. Why aren’t people walking on the right side of the sidewalk!?! Yet, I needed to remind myself of this minute-by-minute in India. It wasn’t a matter of me not ‘getting it’ and needing to find the flow in another country, I’d argue, it was a complete reset in cultural norms and expectations. Consider our arrival as just one example:

Arrival

We landed in Delhi, the second time. We had flown through on our way to Kathmandu via London. Our layover was long, and we didn’t have a multiple-entry visa, so we needed to stay within the airside of the airport. We went to the lounge, a worthwhile credit card benefit, and loaded up on butter masala and other Indian comfort foods. Then we worked on making the many hours pass. India remains the top destination for lounge food, btw. It is a large and spacious airport, we enjoyed our overnight in the lounge and looked forward to coming back through.

This time we headed straight for passport control and were quickly introduced to queueing in India. Chaos. Disorder. Cheating.

“Here, the good guy does not get ahead,” I kept telling myself, as I continue to see people lie and cheat their way into cutting. One Brit ahead of us responded to one of these cheat’s propositions in saying “we’re all in that situation, friend, stay put” – I wanted to hug him.

Fifteen minutes later that cheater tried someone else and succeeded, his third cut from what we saw.

To complicate things, these weren’t Indians. It simply was India. These cheaters knew much more about how to operate in this country than I did. I felt like I was some kind of delusional person who believed in (mostly) order and good behavior. I had a lot to learn, and it had nothing to do with identity, it was simply the place.

More than four hours pass before we reach the counter, in a line that should have taken no more than one. So, before we were allowed to enter India my temper was already blown. A doctor would have rightfully prescribed Xanax and a pile of beta-blockers if a blood pressure cuff was around my arm. Our bags had been moved to storage off of the conveyor. Our driver, upon finding him, expressed concern over our well-being considering the all-day wait time when he was expecting to see us at 11AM, and now we were thinking about dinner. But, I calm:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
― Gautama Buddha

Delhi

Finally, we were out and being driven towards our hotel in Delhi. The first thing to strike us was the color of the sky. Nay, the air. We couldn’t see the sky, let alone more than ten blocks. An orange-yellow hue was lit by the intense sun that we couldn’t see. If this had been an early morning fog, my elementary school would have declared a two-hour delay. Instead of water hung in the air, this was heavy particulates and pollution. Newspapers in the west reported that a day in Delhi was the equivalent of smoking 44 cigarettes. Some American airlines stopped flights into Delhi on visibility grounds, and there was a 24 car pile up on the highway. It has its own Wikipedia page.

We started off on rough footing, India.

Given our day was nearly gone, our driver offered to take us to see one sight before leaving us for the evening. We went to see the Lotus Temple, where we were able to stay for a prayer service and some singing. The temple itself is modern and beautiful, and the religion left me confused and in need of more information. I didn’t know anything about it before arriving in Delhi and am still not well versed. We learn our driver’s child had a birthday that night, and we urge him to let us go so that he may return to his family for one last night before leaving town with us for ten days. He dropped us back off in the area where we were staying, Hauz Khas, and we grab some dinner of southern Indian cuisine.

The next day we tour some of the great sites around Delhi. Two were, in particular, memorable for me. First, was our rickshaw ride around Old Delhi. Besides the usual proposition to go into the rickshaw driver’s friend’s shop every 100 feet, we got to see the old and narrow markets. This assault on the senses was exactly the kind of assault I want while traveling. Deeply colored fabrics of scarves and tunics flowing in the breeze and chaos around their wearer, popping the indigo, turmeric, and other natural colors everywhere one looked. This against a backdrop of fruit and vegetable stands with equally saturated colors of limes, cabbage, red onion, cauliflower, and chilis. The corridors so narrow one was able to forget about the smog.

Second, was Raj Ghat, the site of Gandhi’s burial. Walking around the open gardens of Raj Ghat made me think of a professor of mine who liked to stem lessons from great leaders in history. Gandhi was one he used frequently. We would pull apart his speeches and writings to assess what made Gandhi such an effective communicator to such a great many people. One can’t escape Gandhi nearly any day you find yourself in India. There is one piece of iconography all over Raj Ghat that you’ll also see often throughout the country: those wireframed glasses.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

There were several other stops that day, one allowed us to walk around the grounds in some amount of peace with audio guide earphones on – which turn into a sort of armor. Once they’re off, however, we might as well have been a celebrity couple or something. Requests for selfies happened every few steps, and once one happened you were free game for others. One stop, three or so groups asking for selfies. Walk a bit, and it starts over again. Everyone was excited, kind, and caring during these exchanges. It wasn’t off-putting, really, but you also feel like you turn into a jerk the moment you start refusing. But one must, otherwise, you won’t get anything else done that day. The off-putting part is when someone’s hands get a little aggressive. I saw this happen to one female who rightfully shut the operation down after such an invasion. Shell had better luck, perhaps due to me always being there.

We begin the ten-day tour around Rajasthan which is probably a little more than one-third part sitting in a car, one-third sleeping in your accommodation, then less than one-third actually experiencing things. With the remainder being meals and other odds and ends.

Pushkar

Pushkar is a hippie’s escape. The town seems to be filled with Indians looking to bathe in the holy waters of the lake and westerners looking to not be found for a while, particularly, Israelis. We stayed at a hip little place called U-Turn Hotel, which was fine for the price point. They had a nice rooftop to chill and eat at come evening time which overlooked the lake. We stirred before sunrise and watched from the rooftop as the sun brought life to the town and the bathers performed their rituals. We took an early walk after the sun was up to explore the lake and the relatively quiet streets. There was a small coffee shop that advertised real Italian coffee, it isn’t on Google Maps, but do find it if you go. I think it was called Honeydew Cafe and Restaurant. The proprietor was warm and full of smiles, and Shell said it was the best chai she had on the trip. We watched as the cows and people passed by and commerce came to life that morning. Be sure not to accept the marigold petals everyone offers you here. Once accepted, you’ll be obliged to turn over a good amount of rupees.

Jodhpur

We stayed at another nice place with an even nicer rooftop this time, a place called Hostel La Vie. There was a nice view overlooking the blue city and other rooftops. At night we almost felt like we had company not only from our own hostel but the neighboring rooftops as well. We toured Mehrangarh Fort, a UNESCO site, and once again found the audio guide to be worthwhile enough and well organized. Many of these sites seem to use one company for these recordings which created a sense of uniform quality, in a good way. This Fort is high on the hilltop, and we hiked up to it from Hostel La Vie, however it seemed most people took cars. The view of the surrounding area offered a chance for us to stop and see if there were other things we should see before leaving. There was one huge palace off in the distance, and I checked our schedule to find it wasn’t included.

Hm. Just by the expanse of this structure and how well lit it was at night, I thought it must be a tourist attraction of some sort. Two minutes of more research and it becomes apparent this is Umaid Bhawan Palace. Where the royal family lives today, and a breathtaking resort.

Udaipur

The number of recommendations, personal connections, and outreach we received from friends regarding India really blew us away. It reminded us of two things: how many of our friends and connections are Indian or of India decent, and how many of our friends and connections have traveled there. Silly how we don’t notice things sometimes. Udaipur was no different, friends recommended Shashi’s Cooking Classes, and this was easily one of our favorite activities in India.

Shashi had a rough start to finding her new calling after losing her husband and having to break the rules of her caste in order to provide for her children. She stuck it out and eventually started teaching cooking classes and working on her English. She is warm, caring, and motherly. She’s sharp and not afraid to call you out or put you to work. She also goes to great length to make sure you understand the ingredients and why they’re being put together and how. If you speak something other than English, she likely knows the ingredient name in French, German, etc. Clearly, she’s a quick study.

Other sites toured: Monsoon Palace, Sahelion Ki Bari, City Palace (Udaipur), and Jagdish Temple.

If you’re looking for that extra special experience, look no further than the Taj Lake Palace. If you’re a romantic at heart, this will treat those heartstrings. We stayed at the Lassi Guesthouse, which suited our needs and the staff was very kind.

Jaipur

By now we had spent many days with our driver and were getting to know him better. He had cooked us his famous chicken dinner and graciously served it to us in his guestroom while we were in Udaipur. In Jaipur, he invited us to eat dinner with him again. This time, we would eat where the drivers eat. This industry is large enough that the guests eat in the main seating area, and then there is a totally different area for the drivers. The roadside establishments we often ate lunch at in the middle of nowhere also had these kinds of arrangements. I never knew where he went off to, exactly.

In Jaipur, we were in a hotel and were soon invited to join our driver in the basement. He had already run out to get some traditional Indian snacks as well as a bottle of Indian whiskey. I’m not certain what his normal whiskey choice is, but he said he got the slightly better bottle for us. One called Royal Challenge. This was a good compliment to the salty Moong Dal and peanut snacks. These were soon followed by a long line of curries and other dishes from the hotel’s kitchen while we were periodically joined by other drivers looking to say hello to their friend and greet us. The bottle was gone by the time we were ready to depart. The owner of the hotel paid us a visit and we stood for pictures outside the front steps. Then we loaded into a rickshaw for the ride back to the hotel we were staying in.

We visited most of the main attractions in Jaipur including the Hawa Mahal and Amber Palace. We sprung for the expensive private tour of the city palace which we felt was worthwhile. We had a knowledgeable guide who also let us go at our own pace. It included tea time and some other novelties along the way which added to a colonial feel. The palace is home of the prince still today who was indeed home when we were there. One knows of his presence by whether the flag is flying or not.

My other recommendation would be to visit Gaitor. It was a peaceful stop that allowed us to get away from it all for a bit, but not be in some hotel. A beautiful little complex of temples where we sat in peace and walked the grounds.

On the way out of town, we also visited Chand Bawri, also marked as Step Well. Movies have been shot here, and it is a really incredible site. This is also one of the times where I let my guard down and succumbed to the request for a guide. He basically just followed us and offered to take pictures, which cost us. Then, on the way out, having learned that we were successfully poached, a man approached requesting a tip for sweeping the floors. He was simply a hanger-on.

Agra

The most impressive and daunting site we saw was hands down the Taj Mahal. Seeing the Taj is worth all the trouble of getting there. While our time there was not optimized, it was still worth it.

I recommend doing some research and getting a good guide. One that will get you in there early and has some connections/friendliness with the Taj Mahal staff. It will go a long way to making your experience trouble-free. A knowledgeable guide will also help you absorb all there is to absorb at such a historical site. While we were recovering from our treks in Nepal I watched a documentary on the cleaning of the marble aired on CNN. It was a fascinating introduction to the all-natural process of keeping the white marble, white. I was also able to learn some of the history of the Taj, something I didn’t learn anything about while we were there.

Upon arrival in Agra, we were obliged to visit another shop. One of what felt like hundreds on this tour, meanwhile we were buying nearly nothing. Upon returning to the car, another man was with our driver. He was introduced as our tour guide for the Taj. He would be with us this evening for a quick tour from across the river and then again in the morning for the proper entry and tour. We were not consulted on this prior to it happening. If you need a good guide, feel free to reach out. A friend found one, and I’m happy to make the connection.

While he was a nice enough guy, he spent most the time talking about himself. He boasted about how many people he’s taken through the Taj, how he studies Japanese to help all the Japanese tourists (yet didn’t know how to respond to my saying おはようございます, good morning), and how he has a great personality for being a tour guide. He spent considerable time showing me the portfolio of selfies he has with his clients who are from all over the world. He insisted what he earns helps him continue his education, but I think it mostly when to lifting weights and creatine. “Feel my bicep” was once said. After getting answers on how many tours per week, and how many gym visits per day and per week, little time remained for study unless he’s especially diligent. His biceps and Japanese proved what I felt I needed to know. He carried the gait of someone who lifts and does not stretch, and couldn’t be more than 25 years old.

I was spending considerable amounts of my time alone with my camera, clearly not giving him enough attention. But I was only hearing the same three facts about the Taj repeated over and over. So, as I was standing there alone with him while it was Shell’s turn to take a time lapse a distance away he confided in me that I needed to work on my personality. I assured him I had no future as a tour guide. He really earned his tip.

After Agra, we had planned to meet our driver’s family in Delhi before departing for the airport later in the evening. But we ran into a bit of a mechanical issue along the way and our departure was delayed out of Agra. We missed meeting his wife and kids, which was an experience we were looking forward to and it’s unfortunate we didn’t get to do it. But, despite the mechanical issues, we made it to the airport in Delhi for a flight to Amritsar. Now, we were on our own, no driver or preplanned course.

Amritsar

In the airport, we stuck out while waiting near the gate for Amritsar. We were the only white folk on the flight. A man in his 60s approached and very animatedly used broken English to ask where we were from. He wanted his niece to speak with us, she seemed to be the family’s star pupil and English speaker. She was not shy, but considerably more reserved than her uncle who continued to talk with me.

He had a lot to say about Pakistan (overwhelmingly negative), and a lot to say about the United States (overwhelmingly positive). I don’t want to seem disingenuous in invoking this, but his mannerisms and speech were not unlike the fictional character of Borat. At times this was a lot to handle, but he was giving it his all. He said he learned his Enligsh exclusively through television. He was not an educated man, but much of his family was and it was a source of pride for him. This was our introduction to being on our own and we were already getting a lot of attention.

As we scanned our boarding passes to board the plane the screen flashed “seat already assigned.” We were reassigned to an upper class. The only white folk on the plane got auto-bumped to the upper class. I’ll admit it is always nice to have an upgrade, but having one so visibly was a different feeling.

We got to Amritsar late into the night and headed to our accommodation at Hong Kong Inn. They kindly had rates printed out for hiring a driver for the day and such, something we knew we would need. The next morning we took Bourdain’s suggestion of Kesar da Dhaba for our morning meal. This ended up being one of my favorite meals in the country.

When we hired the driver from Hong Kong Inn we simply expected a cab-like experience that we had hired out for the day. Instead, our Sikh driver ended up being a great guide for us as well. He did not speak English, but his smile and kind eyes were all we needed to follow. He took us to the Golden Palace for our first time. He accompanied us through the temple and tied my scarf around my head like a turban.The temple feeds some 100,000 people each day. He showed us the rituals along the way and took us through the kitchens. We would not have done this otherwise, or have known where to go. It’s easy to find a meal, it wasn’t easy to find the kitchen or know that it is possible to go in. I also wouldn’t be surprised if one cannot go in without the kind of company we had. We went from corner to corner with different experiences in each. One which has water that you drink, another with an interesting putty-like edible that is smashed into your hand which had a sweet nutty flavor. All creeds are welcomed into this temple, unlike many other religious places we’ve been to this trip.

We also took a ride out to the India/Pakistan border for a very curious show. At the Wagah Border, there is a nightly ceremony which fills up the stadium seating built up on each side of the border. The guards are dressed flamboyantly and impeccably, and with equally large showmanship they march and salute during a loud and strange celebration of sorts. The show is obviously growing in popularity as there is a second level of stadium seating being built on the Indian side. This, as it would seem all construction in Asia, is made of concrete. The men doing the work at the sky-high levels were sawing and chipping away at the concrete, which as we all know creates massive amounts of noise. Not any of which we could hear above the cheering and music being pumped over the loudspeakers.

An equally intense audience was just across the border decked out in different colors and more Arab dress. HINDUSTAN bellowed from one side. PAKISTAN from the other. Everyone was cheering, it was like being at the most intense ball game you’ve likely ever experienced. But instead of a bowl game, think nuclear war.

This border station is, after all, a border crossing, and the gate is being closed for the night. We had been sitting in the stands for a bit, watching men sell sodas and snacks around the stands when a tour bus comes flying through the main route. People were peering through the glass, waving at the crowd as the bus passed through the gate and into Pakistan on its way to Lahore.

After the show as we filed out of the arena-like viewing area we bumped into a couple from the states. He was born in this area of India, and they were visiting his parents with their newborn. She was born only 30 miles away from where I was and I soon learn she and I are both Purdue graduates. They now live in the Chicagoland area, and we are, once again, reminded just how small the world is.

In leaving the area, we mixed up with a whole pile of people and you might think we could have sunk into it all and become anonymous. But, we stuck out and had a plethora of pictures taken. One memorable moment was of a bunch of young Sikhs with very colorful turbans. They kindly asked for a group selfie shot and we obliged. I soon regretted not asking for a copy. It took me a while, but I searched them out and found the group. I got one’s attention and he rounded up the rest. They were even more excited than I for this second go.

Our driver was waiting for us and seemed happy to find us smiling and mixing up with a whole lot of people from the crowd. We had him take us to a restaurant he liked for dinner, which ended up being a sister place of one of Bourdain’s dinner stops. We then took another visit to the Golden Temple, this time in the dark. We did not brave the line for entry to the temple itself on either visit. I’m not sure if we regret that at all or not, the lines are very long. The grounds themselves and all the action going on at the temple seemed more interesting to me, likely due to our private tour.

We arrange for our kind driver to stay along with us for the next day and have him drive us to the mountain station of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Dharamsala

I wrote a post on Thanksgiving, which marks our time in Dharamsala and includes some of the details of our stay there. We never did cross paths with His Holiness, and we also just missed him in Mumbai. But we did meet some very kind folks at our homestay in Trimurti House. One couple on a spiritual journey, and two older friends who have spent much of their life traveling the globe. The older gentleman had been to Dhamma Giri in Igatpuri for a ten-day course 30 years before us and told us his tale. A tale of staying in dormitories in Mumbai with no electricity. The imagery he provided us was of him opening the door to the dorm and seeing a string of sweaty faces turn towards him in the dark. He admitted to upgrading to a different arrangement.

We enjoyed the relaxing time up in Himachal Pradesh. We had a lot of spider friends and slept under many blankets each night without heat. But each day was a bustling and sunny day of exploring the area in the foothills, mixing up with monks, volunteering our English skills, and visiting temples. We met some American students studying there, one was surprisingly studying in Indiana near the Ohio border at a school, of which, I’ve never heard before but was trying to tackle the topic of consciousness.

Mumbai

We may have had more boots on the ground help in Mumbai than anywhere else. Between former coworkers and friends, we had several people we could have called for help or to meet up with. With some regret, we didn’t take advantage of either. We arrived very late into Mumbai and waited in the horn honking mess outside the airport for a considerable time before making it to the Fort area. We grabbed some food in the neighborhood after dropping our bags. We explored a little in the morning and found some breakfast, but were soon off to catch a train to Igatpuri. An experience all to itself. Then we paused for ten days of Vipassana.

Upon our return to Mumbai, we had an afternoon to explore before our flight the next day. We stayed in the Juhu beach area and strolled along the long, but polluted beach. The disparity in living conditions may be most apparent in Mumbai. It also is not a cheap city to be in.

“India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay.”
― Shashi Tharoor

We didn’t leave ourselves anytime, really, to meet up or explore. We soon caught that flight that included the stampede. At this point, we had become exhausted with all the movement and were feeling relaxed and at peace after ten days of silence. Ready for a change in our surroundings.

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”
― Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)

P.S. I read this article on India’s economy, I found it harsh but also some harsh reality with it too. “Visitors don’t return from India thinking this is a country about to take off, but one that is, as always, muddling along at its own pace.” I do see enormous potential despite the tough environment.

P.S. This phenomenon of Good Morning texts has now also become a reality for us.

Delhi – Selfies Everywhere

 

In the alleyways of Old Delhi

 

Alleyways of Old Delhi

 

Old Delhi

 

Delhi – Lotus Temple

 

Delhi – Lotus Temple

 

Udaipur – Moghul Palace

 

Jaipur Hawa Mahal

 

Jaipur City Palace

 

Jaipur City Fort

 

Jaipur City Fort

 

Chand Bawri

 

Taj Mahal

 

Taj Mahal

 

Taj Mahal

 

Amritsar – Golden Temple

 

Amritsar – Golden Temple

 

Amritsar – Golden Temple – Kitchen

Amritsar – Golden Temple – Kitchen

Wagah Border

 

The temple of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

 

McLeod Ganj Sunset

 

No hiding what Shell thinks here. This photo may embody everything we try not to do while traveling.

 

He did get one good photo of us, after all.