04 February 2016

Travel Is My Job

I’ve struggled on this trip: I’m suddenly unemployed (How freaking scary!), my life feels pointless (What is the point of travel anyway?) and full of lots of inconveniences (rickshaw drivers trying to rip me off, delayed buses and flights and trains, the smell of burning trash, my ATM card not always working….), and confused if I’ve made the right decision.
Well, I have. It was good I quit my job and came to India.
Here’s how I finally came to that decision.

First of all - I was so unhappy at work. It was making me sick. Despite trying to change my situation, I just could not. No matter what I did, nothing changed. It got worse. And I felt worse. The reality is: if I had stayed, things would continue getting worse. I needed to leave to be happy.

When I was at the amazing five-star brunch with Barbara, Henrik, and Jen, I was overwhelmed by all of the food. “OMG, this all looks so amazing. How can I possibly eat it all?”
And somehow, a voice popped into my head. “Cherie, your job is to eat. You will eat. This is your job.”
And I did. I ate a lot. Because when something is your job, you take it seriously.
I realized, for now, travel is my job. My job is to see cool places and do lots and lots of yoga and write a lot. My job is to live my dreams. My job is to figure my life out. (I realized I WANT to write as a career; I’m not sure how, other than the small freelance jobs I’ve been getting….) My job is to meet amazing people. My job is to try tons of different food and eat lots of amazingly delicious food.

When I went to my guru, she said a few amazing things:
“Use your potential in the best possible manner.”
“Don’t regret your decisions. Everything is an opportunity.”
“We are born and we die. There is a gap in the middle called life.”
“Be positive.”
I realized I need to focus on sorting things out, relaxing, calming my mind, being happy, living life for me. I can’t live a miserable life. It just sucks too bad.
I need to stop living in the past. It was good I left a job that did not treat me life. I will have the space to curate my future.

When I went to the acunpuncturist (and this was what really pushed me), she said to me, “You’re unhappy.” And I said, “I’m not. But I was. I was very unahppy and I quit my job becuase of it and now I’m here.” But I realized my unhappiness was lingering and I couldn’t move on. So now I’m moving on and my unhappiness is lifting and there’s a bright, amazing future ahead of me. I couldn’t be happier!

I’m happy traveling. I miss everything back home, but less so. I know I’ll have moments, but for now, I’m enjoying life on the road. I’m enjoying meeting new people, taking tons of different yoga classes, write, see cool stuff, eat amazing food. I’m not going to do every single tourist attraction there is because duh, I want to also write and get to know myself and not feel like I’m rushing. I want to do reiki 1 if I can. I want to learn about myself, about life, and about the cosmos. I want to learn and live and be - and I want to be my happy self.

So here I am - a bit transformed, and all the much better for it!

Next stop - Hampi and happiness beyond!

Mysore: Not Enough Time in This Peaceful City

Okay, so yogic isn’t probably a word, but whatever, it’s filled with yogis and oh-so fun.
I arrirved in Hostel Zostel in Mysore, a hostel with a great vibe, lots of nice chill spaces, fast wifi, and a location close to some great tourist spots and dosi places.
After arrived, I grabbed my mat and headed out to yoga. There was Iyengar yoga at Mystic Yoga and I didn’t want to miss it. I explored Gokalum for a bit; it’s the part of town where the ashrams, yogis, and thus, Westerners are! There are lots of great shops and cafes and tons of yoga studios. Most of the studios require a month commitment, but Mystic does drop-in.
After yoga (I left a bit early), I head to the acupuncturist. She worked on my foot, but also some other stuff. She gave me some secret exercises to help my asthma, endo, and she also said my heart and kidneys were weak. I’ll try them. I’ll try anything.
The needles didn’t hurt that much, but my PT in Mumbai swore she was brilliant and she said she could definitely help me in a day. We’ll see.
At one point she said to me, “You’re unhappy.” She could somehow tell in my pulse.
I shook my head. “I’m not unhappy, but...I was really unhappy. My job made me so miserable and unhappy. I felt awful all the time. So I quit and now I’m here.”
I realized that my unhappiness was lingering; I didn’t know how to let go. I needed to do that. I’ve begun that process, of learning to be happy where I am at the present moment.  I needed to let go of the misery, of the stress, of living like I used to. I don’t need to live like that anymore. No one should live like that. I am here now. I will enjoy this now.
I almost started crying in there.
The rickshaw raced me back across the city and at my hostel, I learned where the amazing dosa place was. I ate three. The crepes were so similar to pancakes, I might have wept.
Three dosas for 100 rupees. (I didn’t have lunch!) (69 rupees=1USD)
At the hostel, there was great electronic music and hula hooping. So fun. I hung around, emailed, tried to do a bit of trip planning. I kind of know what I want to do, but I need to start making some plans for post-yoga training, post-Wayne.
I stayed up late because I wanted to be tired and ready to sleep for my overnight train to Hampi. I woke up at 5am, took a shower in a dribble of water (either boiling hot or freezing cold - I already miss Barbara and Henrik’s amazing shower!), and then headed to Iyengar yoga. My cabbie of course didn’t know where he was going, and as usual wouldn’t listen to me, but we got there, barely. FIrst was Iyengar, and immediately after I went to ashtanga. I did most of the primary series, though none of the inversions because it’s that time.
Then I went back to the hostel, cleaned up a bit (I did sweat) with some cold water, and ate breakfast at the hostel. Then I headed over to the Palace, but it was closed until 11, so I went to a market and had some bargaining fun over lots of bracelets. (Hey, Wayne, can you hang those hooks I wanted in the bathroom for bracelets? But make a lot more...I’ve been in India for a while now, teehee!) Then back to the Palace, which was nice, but no photos inside (and it was gorg in there, too bad!).
But hours left….what to do? I hopped in a cab back to Gokalum. I ended up chatting with an Aussie married to an Indian for a while. We drank coconut waters and ate the insides while we talked about love and life and traveling. She told me it was brave and wonderful I quit my job. Thanks. I love hearing that because I was so unsure for so long; so many people on this trip have applauded me.
Then I got lunch at a cute cafe and had an amazing smoothie with figs and dates and bananas and avocado and some other stuff. Yum. I had some food too, but the smoothie rocked. I chatted with the yogi next to me who is a teacher and just completed her 500 hour teaching. We talked about yoga, about teaching, about love and life. She was pretty awesome and I’m psyched we connected on Facebook.
After I found some amazing shops - Sadhu’s Shoppe, The SIlver Nest, and some other shops. I haven’t gone crazy in India, but um, now I did. I bought bags, shirts, pants, skirts….a lot of great stuff. I’m excited to have some new things to wear, but it will be a PIA. I had to email Wayne asking him to bring an extra bag. Yeah, plus all the books I bought, and my blanket, and I have extra books coming for the yoga training….
Then, I grabbed another smoothie at the great cafe, ended up talking with a girl from New York who was studying ashtanga yoga, and a guy who worked at the cafe who had lived in NYC for a few years. Nice.

And then, back to the hostel and then to an overnight train to Hospet!

03 February 2016

Bangalore: A Place to Rejuvenate

So if you’ve been to Bangalore, you might be thinking, “What the hell was Cherie on that she finds Bangalore a place to rejuvenate?” Well, if you had good friends there, you might see it in that very way.
I met Barbara and Henrik in Mexico when I was supposed to run Caballo Blanco last March; we bonded over being vegetarians and cooked most of our meals together. They came to New York in April, and everything was crazy and last-minute that we ended up meeting for breakfast on a weekday at Egg in Williamsburg.
So when I first thought about doing yoga training in India, I began messaging Barbara (who had done ashtanga yoga teacher training two years prior). Though they’re Danish, they’re expats living in India. They’ve lived the expat life for 12 years now, living in Japan, Bangaldesh, Brazil, India another time, and maybe someplace else that I’m missing. Because Barbara can’t work on her visa, she gets to do awesome stuff like travel, study yoga, practice yoga all the time. She has a yoga room. I am so envious. And Henrik gets great heat training in India for his races; he’s thinking of doing Badwater next year.
So even though Bangalore didn’t sound like the most exciting place in India, I decided I’d visit to hang out with them. As my trip went on, the moving around from place to place, staying at dubiously clean hostels/guesthouses with limited hot water and not enough toilet paper really got to me. The people in India can be really wonderful, but then sometimes, people are rude, shoving, traffic is crazy, taxi drivers won’t stop ripping you off, the tourist sights can be disappointing or long lines or you pay 500 rupees with Indians pay 10 rupees….it’s tough. So I asked Barbara and Henrik if I could visit for a few days; they said sure, but Barbara told me that Bangalore wasn’t that touristy and four days might be a bit much and she was really busy. I basically said I was needing a place to chill for a few days and I could amuse myself. So she said, great, come on over.
I flew in and then proceeded to get stuck in an hour and half of traffic on the way to their house. That’s Bangalore’s signature characteristic: tons and tons of traffic. I peered out the window at the traffic. Ugh. I went back to reading my book on my Kindle instead.
When I arrived, Henrik was getting ready for yet another business trip and Barbara had just gotten home from yoga. They quickly set me up with wifi and we relaxed with tea for a little while. Nice. Then Henrik left and Barbara and I walked around. We had lunch, looked at some spots I could do yoga (She does it in an asthanga place where most of the classes require a 30 day commitment.), walked around a neat park and talked and had chai, went to this amazing bookshop, Blossoms, by her house, where I went in to buy one yoga book for my training program and came out with four yoga books. But I really will use them all, and they were SO cheap. Um, but, um, now my bag is way overstuffed. I had to email Wayne to bring another bag.
The next few days were lovely. I woke up and did yoga in Barbara’s yoga room; I used Henrik’s running stuff for PT exercises; I went to yoga at a studio by their house; I wrote while Barbara studied Sanskrit or caught up; we went to Yogistaan, a wonderful cafe with an amazing vibe and lots of different kinds of chai; we cooked together; their driver, Suresh, took me to the toursist spots (two art museums, neither of which are necessarily worth writing home about, and the botanical gardens).
As I rejoined the world of regular normal hot showers and clean quiet spaces (Their neighborhood has a lot of expats and everyone in their building is British but them.), it felt very Western. And wonderful. Sure, we’d eat dosas at night, but I had toilet paper too! And fast internet! I slowly recovered from travel overload.
I was supposed to leave on Sunday; Barbara suggested I stay until Monday as Suresh was driving her to Mysore that day and I’d get a comfortable ride in. I wanted to spend more time in Mysore than jsut two days, so I said no.
On Saturday, Barbara emailed a yoga guru and asked her if we could attend a chanting session on Sunday. She informed Barbara that we’d need to meet with her for a one-on-one first; Barbara asked if I wanted to go, and I said, “I guess. I don’t know. What am I doing? Yes.”
Basically, that’s my attitude a lot of the times here. I don’t know what I’m eating or what I’m doing, but yes, please. As long as it’s veg and no onions, I’ll be into it.
So I went to Samita’s house. We had yoga therapy. She had me lie down in savassana, and did a regulated breathing (4 to inhale while chanting om, 3 to exhale while chanting om), and then she took my pulse.
We talked about a lot. Some of it is too personal to put here, but basically, she picked up on how I take on too much. We talked about my inability to make and respect my decisions, and how I need to stop questioning what I’ve done and simply accept it and see it as an opportunity.
We talked so much. And then two hours had passed. She told me to come see her in the morning. I meekly responded, “Yes.”
I texted Barbara, “Just wow. On my way back.”
We went out for dosas.
“So what happened?”
“I’m not really sure.”
“But your’e going back?”
“Yes.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know.”
And I didn’t. But I needed to find out answers.
I realized I was needing to figure out a lot of stuff in my life. Things felt really messed up and I was definitely too far to figure everything out right away. I needed prioritize, I needed to deal with some issues, and I needed to heal myself. Oh, and professional help wouldn’t hurt.
The next morning, I went back to Samita. Instead of talking, we did a practice that she “prescribed” to me, a routine that I am to do. It will help calm me, relax me. And I think it’s just what I needed.
Immediately after, I hopped in the car and met Barbara, Henrik, and their awesome friend Jen from SF at Leela Palace. We were having brunch at a five star hotel. Yes, I’m a backpacker.
The meal was phenomenal. It was one of the best brunches I’ve had in my life. We filled out plates with salad, enjoyed as our wine was topped up without us having to ask, shared food. During the dessert portion, I filled a big plate with tons of desserts and we shared. Henrik also went up and got a follow-up plate to mine, selecting desserts I had missed. It was truly wonderful.
And we were drunk. Um, no bus to Mysore. I’d go in the morning.
Instead, we rested, then Jen and I took a walk and chatted around the neighborhood. Then we hung out some more, I wrote a bit, and we all went to bed.
In the morning, more ashtanga yoga with Barbara (I’m starting to like ashtanga, actually….) and then, Suresh, their driver, drove us to Mysore and I got dropped off directly in front of my hostel. Wonderful!

29 January 2016

Mumbai, the First Time (I Think)

gateway of india

The plan is to fly out of Mumbai on April 14, but this plan, of course, might change. I might stay longer, or leave sooner, but I’m thinking I’ll probably just leave on this very date. Regardless, I’ll plan two more days in Mumbai, and there’s lots more to do.

I arrived exhausted after travel stress because of hyped-up security due to Republic Day (show ticket and passport before entering airport; show ticket and passport before entering main part of airport; get luggage scanned at x-ray machine; show ticket and passport again when checking in; separate electronics at security; x-ray machine; get pat down; show boarding pass again; collect stuff and wait at gate; leave gate; get bags searched and pat down again; then finally board plane). But even in the cab, I knew I already loved the energy of Mumbai. Sure, there was traffic, but it was nothing as crazy as it was in Delhi. But there seemed to be a certain energy, with gorgeous buildings (hello, Victoria Train Station) and lots of great street food.

I dumped off my stuff in Traveller’s Inn Hotel (a hostel of sorts) and headed to dinner around the block. Mixed veggies, cheese naan, a mango lassi. Then I went back to my room, and felt totally exhausted, and a little depressed. What was I doing here, all alone in an Indian guesthouse, missing my boyfriend and everything back home?

I suppose I’m having a great adventure?

In the morning, I woke up and did yoga. I felt better, and then showered and ate breakfast at the hostel. Then, following the directions the hostel gave me, I went to the Victoria Trail Station to catch the local train two stops away to my PT. Yes, I’m in India and I have a PT. My injury flared up, and Amit recommended a PT to me.

After confusion locating the place, I had my PT session (400 rupees) and he tried to calm me down about my injury. Then I decided to take the train down to Churchgate. I wandered around, looked at Gateway of India, saw the chaotic hell that is the Colaba street fair, and went into an Indian restaurant for some good, cheap thali. I met an Israeli girl, and we began talking about traveling and India. She has been to India four times, and said she’ll be coming back. I felt a bit out of it as I’m not yet in love with India. It’s magical at times, yes, but oh so hard so many other times. It also makes me feel without a purpose: what am I doing here anyway?

Oh yeah, yoga and writing. And I have been doing both.

After I left her, I walked over to Marine Drive and saw the beach. I just wandered, drinking water. I tried to write a bit, but I find a lot of the times, when you pull out your journal, people instantly talk to you and want to know what you’re writing, or stare at you. I ended up walking quite a long way, and then feeling homesick.

So I headed to Coffee Day, which is basically like the Indian version of Starbucks. It’s not special or even that nice, but I wanted something with more of a Western feel. I sat in the cafe and drank a masala chai and read my kindle.

After a while, I began chatting with the two people next to me; an artist/scientist from LA/Hawaii, and a PhD student in Buddhism, who ironically went to Naropa. We instantly bonded.

They said they were going to go on a walk; did I want to join them? Sure, I’ve been walking all day. Why not walk more?

We stopped at random shops on the street, I bought a new phone case, we did a lot of street shopping, just talking.

We ended up at a French place, where we got drinks (and I also got a soup). It was a very Western place, and I was somehow grateful. After they left for their dinner reservations, I stayed on to order a veggie dinner and another glass of wine. I felt relaxed.

I went back to my hostel and worked on some freelance writing pieces.


marine drive....

closeup of dhobi ghat

The next morning, after yoga, breakfast, and PT, I went and met up with Amit. Amit is a Mumbai ultrarunner who I connected with via my friend Henrik; I met him and his fiancee (Mexican-American woman living in India), Monica. We talked about ultrarunning, India, races...a good dorky running conversation. We drank tea and talked, and then they showed me around Bandra, a neat suburb neighborhood of Mumbai with lots of expats and a great vibe.

After, I went to Dhobi Ghat, and saw the infamous “human-powered washing machine.” It was pretty neat to see tons of people doing so much laundry and hanging it….though I’m sure they don’t love that they’re a tourist attraction. I hopped back in my cab (the driver who later tried to rip me off….sigh) and went to the museums. WHICH WERE ALL CLOSED. In Churchgate area, I realized that tons of things - basically, almost everything, was closed because of Republic Day. Finally, I found some food, and headed to the common room of my hostel and worked on some freelance writing. There were a bunch of people in there because everything was shut down.



dhobi ghat
After a few hours, there was a lot of noise from nearby Republic Day festivities. I headed out to watch some fireworks and see some energetic drummers. I saw a guy from my hostel; he was leaving the next day to go back home. Turns out, he had a really hard time with India. (I think a lot of travellers do. It’s a very difficult country to travel in.) His bank card was shut down and he didn’t like people scamming him (no one does...it kind of sucks) and he didn’t really get how to backpack and this was the first hostel he stayed in. We talked for a while on the street, and then I invited him out to dinner with me. We ate, talked, walk over to the legendary Leopold’s (yes, from Shantaram), talked….and I tried my hardest to convince him to not go home. I gave him suggestions; I told him he could travel with me to Mysore and Hampi, even share my rooms. I told him the things he could do, how to travel better, what to do differently, how hostels are awesome….and I felt good, he was going to stay, he was going to love traveling...and then, at the end of the night, said he thinks he should go home. I felt so bad: India was so amazing and great and I didn’t want him to leave. Yes, it’s tough and everyone wants to just go home - but there are ways to deal with it. I wish I could have helped him.

I passed out to sleep in my room, feeling bad for him, and woke up the next morning, and headed to the airport to fly to Bangalore!

24 January 2016

Holy Holy Varanasi

I had wanted to see Varanasi as I’ve always heard what a holy city it was. I only had three days, but I actually wished I had more. There were so many neat alleyways to explore and walking around the ghats was so fascinating and I stayed at a great hostel. But that’s traveling. You spend too much time stuck in transit and not enough time doing rad things.

After a day of pure hell in several airports and two different airlines, I arrived in Varansi. My first cab driver gave me a weird vibe, so I didn’t even get in his cab; I found another cab and arrived in Varansi after a long drive.

My hostel, Stops Hostel, was great. I almost didn’t book because I hate when hostels charge single people double occupancy price for a double person room, but I’m glad I did. Free breakfast, chai time, lots of activities, different chill-out areas, yoga. It was great.

Shortly after I arrived, I ended up going out to dinner with a random English girl. We ate chana masala and mixed veggies with lots of chapati. A group of women and men came in, and they began smiling and bowing at us. We ended up taking photos with them (An Indian thing is to take photos with a Westerner - I get stopped all the time and get asked to pose for photos with Indian people.) and finished our meal. I was so exhausted after my long day that I just went and organized my bag and then went to sleep.

In the morning, I went to do yoga with Siddharth on the roof. It was me and another woman, and it was pretty tough. It was also freezing on the roof at seven a.m. As monkeys ran by, we balanced on one leg and breathed. It was also a wonderful way to start the day.

During the hostel breakfast (omelette, eggs, cereal, toast, biscuits, chai), I met some other travelers and made plans with them to walk along the ghats.

The ghats are the stairs that lead down to the Ganges. The Ganges is a holy river where many things happen. When I arrived in Varanasi, I told my mom, “I’m in Varanasi. Google “Varansi AND Ganges.”” My mom wrote back, “Sewage and bathing and cremation came up - I’m not sure how that all goes together.” It does and so much more.

Along the Ganges, people are doing laundry, drinking the water, cremating bodies, taking boat rides, bathing, going for a holy plunge...It’s chaotic and insane. Boatmen try to get you to take a boat ride; people try to sell you beads; cows are everywhere, and so are their lovely piles of poop. There are tons of dogs and puppies sleeping in the sun and eating garbage. Holy men pray; tourists take photos; laundry is drying. It is such an insane and interesting place.

There are two main cremation sites; if you die and are cremated in Varansi, you will reach nirvana. Only men can be at the cremation sites because it is thought that women cry more and no one can cry; if someone cries, the soul cannot be released and will remain. The body is wrapped in white, and then a glorious orange and gold covered shawl is draped over the body until the last moment. The bodies are burned on the beach at a various levels in a building behind, or a crematorium on the Gaganes. (It costs about 15,000 rupees to be cremated on the Ganges in Varanasi.)

Women or men can be cremated, but there are 7 or 8 categories that cannot: pregnant women; babies; transgender people; people with leprosy; people with chicken pox; animals; and I can’t remember if there are any others. These individuals (there are about 200 a day) have a rock tied to their bodies and the bodies are dumped in the middle of the river. Think about it: 200 bodies a day are dumped into the river. 200.

And yet, down the river, people are drinking the water, bathing in it, swimming in it, doing laundry in it…

I went on a boat tour and when our guide told us that the laundry was done excellently, one guy at my hostel freaked out when he thought the laundry he had sent out was done in the river. Kind of gross...but to many, it is very holy.

In Varanasi, I walked along the Ganges; got lost in the maze of alleys that led to the ghats; ate a Blue Lassi (amazing, best lassi ever!); ate at Brown Bread Bakery (the real one, not the fake one 50 meters away - yep, there is a fake one!); ate street samosas (2 for 10 rupees); hung out at my hostel; drank lots of chai; got lost; have fun.

The last morning, I was the only one doing yoga so Siddharth’s assistant picked me up and drove me by motorbike through the maze of alleys. We did yoga along the Ganga, just Siddharth and I watched the sunrise over the Ganga and monkeys run around. I drank a rose lassi and thought about how lucky I was to be here - but also how hard India can be, and how much I miss home.

Next stop - Mumbai!

Hello, Mumbai!

This trip has had me homesick more than ever before. It’s a wonderful sense of freedom, but India can be exhausting. Traveling in India is HARD - things rarely run on time, security is a huge pain in the butt, there are often delays and breakdowns, and there are no apologies.

I find it exhausting to go from place to place, to constantly haggle, the trash, the cows, the cow poop, the stares, the crazy traffic like you wouldn’t believe, the cold water, the never-any-toilet-paper-in-the-bathrooms, the lack of vegetables, the lack of soap, the filthy toilets, the squat toilets, the mud on my shoes, the shoves on the street.

Why am I taking it all so personally?

I guess becuase I’m a person.

I was at an impasse with my career; I was stuck and I couldn’t get ahead where I was. I thought a change would give me a fresh perspective, and I’ve always wanted to study yoga. I could have time to write. It would be like a dream come true.

I’ve figured out more what I want to do with my life: write. I’d love to write full-time. It would be amazing if there were a writing job that requred research skills. Or my dream would be: part-time librarian; part-time writing (freelance or otherwise); teach a yoga class or two. But I also need to pay the bills and get benefits. It’s stressful to think about it.

But changing places so much leaves little time to write. i barely keep up in my journal. I haven’t written as much as I’d like. Travel arrangements have taken way more time than I thought they would. Delays at airports and buses and trains have also taken up more time. What am I doing with my life?

I miss eating salad and cooking. I miss being in Wayne’s arms every night, and my sweet cats. I miss a variety of clothes and clean clothes and laundry. I miss my shower. I miss my family and friends. I miss my yoga studio. I miss wine. I miss my routine.

I’m being honest here because homesickness happens. I suppose it could be worse, but right now, I wouldn’t mind being in my sweet little apartment. But because I’m here, I’m going to grow, live, laugh, and experience what’s next.

Hello, Mumbai!

22 January 2016

And then I lost it....

I paid 2 or 3,000 extra rupees for an earlier flight. I reckoned it was safer to arrive before dark. Turns out, that plan was for naught. My earlier flight was delayed by over three hours, and because it was a different airline, and things don’t run as smoothly as back home, I know have to pay nearly 6,000 MORE rupees. Great. Wonderful.

In the ticket agent’s office, they tried to tell me to fix it on the website (The website, like many things in India, didn’t work; it just kept running me in loops. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to book a guesthouse or plane ticket or bus ticket and had a similar experience.). I ended up talking with an agent, but surprise, my foreign credit card would not work. (This often happens in India. Way to say, “We don’t want you to travel here…” Supposedly, it’s to thwart off terrorism….or maybe it’s tourism?) I cried. I just could not deal with losing all of these rupees to stupid airlines and my stupidity and I haven’t eaten today and why the fuck am I here in India when I could be snuggled in Wayne’s warm arms? I dreamt of him last night, that I had gone home for two days, and how painfully I do miss him?

I haven’t eaten anything other than snacks today and that might be why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. I just caught myself gnawing on my finger (No, I’m not exaggerating.). I only hope we leave soon and the rest of the day goes as seamlessly as it can.

Every time I see other travelers, they’re mostly with friends. It’s a way easier way to travel in India. I suddenly feel so very lonely. In two weeks, I’ll be on my yoga training, too busy to be lonely. And then I travel with my boy! And another friend might come over too.

Some days suck. That’s life. It doesn’t mean you should toss it all away...but just means you need to clear your mind and hopefully things will work out in the end.

And after I cried, the ticket agent/flight attendent who originally tried to help me came up to me. “Have a chai...You were crying. Why were you crying? Your makeup is ruined.”

I was annoyed. and pissed about the money. “I don’t really care.”

Later, in the bathroom, while washing my hands, I noticed my eyeliner. With my shirt sleeve, I wiped off the smudges under my eyes. “You know, you are very beautiful. Very beautiful,” said the agent, who was standing at the mirror.

And this is what India is like. You are ready to throw it all in, and then a gem like this happens. Someone offers kindness and compassion. And you think, “This isn’t such a bad place after all. Not at all.”

Rishikesh!!!


Rishikesh was a super chill place where I really enjoyed just relaxing and not having as many cars circle around me. Rishikesh is a pretty little town (well, the part where I stayed was cute….not so much with the rest of the city!) and is known as the capital of yoga. It’s a great place to go on a retreat, do some yoga, relax, take some meditation courses, drink some chai….

It was like a bigger Dharamshala with less Tibetans and more yoga and more hippies. And I kind of liked it.

I got there after a horrendous night spent on a freezing cold minivan, followed by a rickshaw ride, bus ride, and then another rickshaw ride. (Travelingt in India is never easy.) I checked into Shiv Shakti Guesthouse, which had the #1 rating for Rishikesh B&Bs on Trip Advisor. #1 in India is definitely different. Ha.

I ate breakfast at The German Cafe/Pumpernickle, which was great and quickly became my fave cafe, despite super slow internet. The staff were friendly, the chai was good, the banana pancakes were wonderful, the fruit salads were lovely, and it was a great vibe. Every day, I spent at least a few hours, writing, sipping, relaxing, dreaming.

Every day, I did yoga at least once, sometimes twice. I ran a bit - but now, my old injury is coming back to haunt me. Two weeks off. Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction sucks. I wrote. Taking Julian’s wisdom, I am trying to write 2-3 hours a day. Sometimes it’s pure shit, sometimes it’s just journaling, somtimes it’s articles for the baby website...But it’s pushing me to do what I came her to do. I like to write at cafes, though sometimes I write in beds, at desks, in lobbies, and in transit.

I walked to the Maharesh Ashram, aka The Beatles Ashram. They now charge 600 rupees, which is pretty crazy, but it was a really special experience. You could feel the energy there. I wandered around, barely saw anyone else, took some photos. I wanted to meditate in the little huts or the meditation caves, but it’s also India and I’m a woman traveling by myself so…I didn’t.

With some people at my hostel, we watched the Gang Aarti, which was a nightly sunset ceremony by a Hindu temple. Lovely, neat, and fun, except some of the “holy men” (I’m not sure what to call them) took photos with people’s cameras the entire time, so that made it feel a bit weird.

I basically spent my time, wandering, drinking chai, writing, eating, doing yoga, and relaxing. Pretty nice time.

I also inquired abt further yoga intensives. I think the best option (unless I want to do the full 300 hours after my 200 hour training to have a 500 hour certification) is to do a kundalini intensive for 6 days along the Ganges. I think that is prob the best option for me to learn about something that I want to learn about.

There were lots of potheads (not my thing) but a pretty relaxed atmosphere otherwise. Hippies who got caught up for year.

I met a sadhu who gave me a necklace and befriended me, and later said as he passed me, “Rich people are stupid.” Um, okay.

I’ll prob be back, and that feels nice. It’s a cute town with a ton going on. I was even able to buy two new tops to boost up my minimal (too minimal) wardrobe that I packed with me from home.

Next stop...Varanasi!