I have a new love in my life. I found her far away on a trip-of-a-lifetime during 8 weeks of travel. Her name is India and Wow! I’m head over heels!
Going to India was easier than I ever imagined. Everything, even the public washrooms, were not the scary mess I was warned about. India has shifted into modern times with all the deliciousness of a great tali meal.
My husband and I planned our trip for 3 years. Now we’re back with beautiful memories and some post-trip sadness, you know the slog that comes when a dream is fulfilled and you wonder; when’s the next adventure?
I’m determined to hold onto the feeling of the trip but that’s like trying to hold onto sand slipping through your fingers. You end up with granules.
So I want to share these Insights into Incredible India while still basking in the glow of my new love affair:
Insight 1: Gained from Traveling to a lot of Cities
Whether we physically go to another land or not, we are all travelers. We are passengers in our body moving through phases of life.
Physical travel taught me lessons I’ll cherish for a lifetime. Yet as I traveled I felt the impermanence of my adventure. Time marches on wherever you are, whether you travel or stay in one place. Enjoying life as the sand moves through the hourglass is more important than where we go. It’s about how we feel as we go.
Our Inside Joke: Market/Temple/Monument Repeat
After a month of travel, my hubby and I developed an inside joke about another day seeing another market, another temple, another monument in another city. It was all blending together and losing its sparkle. That rut can happen anywhere. Our inside joke stopped being funny. Our solution was to stop for 8 nights in a town called Hampi. We needed to get grounded.
Ironically, travel reminded us that it is not the destination, it’s the journey. Sometimes you travel better when you are in one place.
Wherever you are, you are traveling, so find your ways to enjoy the journey.
Insight 2: Gained from Overweight Luggage
It’s a cliché, but living from a suitcase shows you how little you need to be happy. Along our journey, we attended numerous wedding events which meant a lot of party clothes to lug around.
I longed to be like the many travelers we met along our journey who traveled for months or years, across Asia, out of one backpack! I began to hate my big heavy suitcase.
So we created a mantra to help us accept our situation. Whenever we moved we calmly reminded ourselves, “We have baggage.”
When we acknowledged our discomfort, in this case our heavy baggage, it helped us relax and deal with it.
I learned that it’s nice to have things, but not necessary. I love my closet and bed even more now but these, along with all my other possessions, exist for my comfort and sometimes become a burden. Things aren’t what make you happy and don’t make you you.
Insight 3: Gained from an OMG! Car Ride
Change can be uncomfortable but rewarding, like seeing how people drive differently. It’s a little scary at first but also an opportunity for growth.
Here’s what I mean. The ride from the airport on the first day in Delhi was thrilling in an OMG (or as they say in India, Hey Bhagwan) kind of way. Stop lights are suggestions, cars weave in all directions including toward you, and honking is more common than signaling. I left my first car ride wide eyed and shaken.
By the time we left India we had tried every kind of transportation you can imagine: auto-rickshaw, bicycle rickshaw, train, sleeper train, bus, sleeper bus, airplane, taxi, and boat. At the Taj Mahal, we even took a camel drawn carriage.
We got used to the traffic. One day I rented a moped and drove myself around India.
New things take time to get used to, but pushing through pays off. Without a meditative mind, you might feel like a thousand monkeys are trapped in a cage when you think about all the new experienced.
I thank meditation for allowing me to love India and letting India fill me with its strangeness, harshness and exquisite beauty.
Insight 4: Gained from a Thorough Search for Good Dosa
If you take care of your body, your body will take you to great places. I thank my yoga practice for giving me health to explore. To walk through bazaars, across fields and up mountains. To travel and do all these things. Another good reason to keep doing yoga!
You need a healthy body to have stamina for these quests, like the one to find the best dosa in India (see the picture above if you don’t know what dosa is).
We had so much fun trying this delicacy in different cities.
However I inevitably got sick, though not from dosa. I rested and ate light food and my quest for dosa took a break till I was feeling better.
Insight gained: you are what you eat, so eat as your body needs.
Insight 5: Gained from a Santa Claus Hat in India
Life is love, loving people and loving family.
We went to exciting places but what surprised us both was the amazing people we met from all over the world. They were friendly, talkative, helpful and fun to be with. We met seekers on the spiritual path, volunteers educating farm worker’s children, artists creating and expressing the world around, adventurers exploring all they could on tiny budgets. They inspired our trip in ways we hadn’t anticipated.
We were also invited to two weddings (and attended three). We discovered the deep bonds of laughter and love with family. Even when you don’t see someone for a long time, you can pick up the connection with a hug and a cup of chai, or a Bollywood dance, or a goofy Santa hat.
And for the first time I missed spending Christmas with my family in Canada. I learned how much the people at home mean to me and how being away during a big tradition, like Christmas, well, it hurt physically as well as emotionally. My next trip will not be planned during a major holiday.
Now that I’m Back…
After all this adventure it is hard to sit in one place, working away at my computer, but I’m grateful I get to reflect on these insights as part of my work. For me, it is better to travel and return, than only to travel the mall.
As I ease back and reconnect I notice anew what things I look forward to, the great people I want to spend time with, how I want to connect with others in yoga teacher training or classes, meet friendly, talkative, fun to be with adults and children.
I look forward to the places I’ll travel to next and also the comforts of home.
I don’t want to forget these insights, the journeys, the destinations, becoming aware of my baggage, being open to change, taking care of my body and mind, and loving.
And I’m dreaming of how I can get back to my new lover, India. Can you hear her softly calling too? Maybe I’ll offer training there, go on a Himalayan retreat, or a back-water beach vacation. Maybe all three.
Do you have any travel insights or stories? Share them in the comments. I love hearing from you.