We greet our lovely Juliette at the in Chennai and embark on a three hour crazy ride to Auroville. She gets to see all the variety of Indian life from the street view. Shops right on the edge of the road, selling everything from milk to fruit to motorcycles to hair products, street food, bells, beds, coconuts, carvings while taking in everything IN the street: bullock drawn carts, scooters, busses gaily decorated with swinging laurels of marigolds, bicycles loaded with wood, milk canisters, bananas, plywood…., oh – and hundreds of people walking ( there are no sidewalks) , children of all ages darting vehicles, women in dazzling saris, balancing packages on their heads, serenely passing amongst the seeming chaos. It all flows, everyone is aware and accommodating anything that arises. I heard Juliette gasp a couple of times, she certainly was awake despite her overnight flight from London!
And then we turned off the road and entered a piece of paradise called Auroville.
I need to pause here as it is time for me to meet Joseph at a WiFi place ( a bakeryof course!) so he can upload what I have written so far. Tomorrow we are off to cochin and I will do my best to do some more catching up!
Back in McLeod Ganj after five years and many changes have taken place, some wonderful and some not! Busier and noisier. It has been discovered by the Indians as a cool place to holiday so that brings a lot of cars and since we are on the edge of a mountain, flat places to park are not to be found. Now there are four story car parks being built which block the mountain views and sky.
Now that we are in the foothills of the Himalayas, we are always walking either up or down. Upstairs to rooftop cafés (spectacular views) or up flights of stairs to the Main Temple, or down, down, down to some good shops. And then up, up, up to return to our hotel. We rest often (we are also at 9000 feet) and stop to enjoy the views.
We were happily reunited with our Tibetan friends and many people stopped us on the street, recognizing us, and saying hello. Many asked where David was, as they remember him too. We had several delightful tea/meetings with Ani Wangmo, Kunsang and Pema. We went to the Tibetan Childrens Village and met with our contact and got to meet one of the students sponsored by Simple Gifts. I have lots more to share about our Simple Gifts activities but I will write about this on SimpleGifts.ca
I met a beautiful older woman painting thangkas on the steps outside her miniscule shop. She was working on a White Tara which called to me. I visited her several times and decided to take her home with me – the painting, not the painter…. although she too is in my heart now.
Kelley, Joseph and Jennifer were able to attend a long life puja that HH Dalai Lama was offering, I was a little under the weather that morning so stayed home. Kelley, Joseph and I took the traditional circuit walk around HH home and temple one morning. We stopped and remembered David as this was a place he had enjoyed. We placed ashes near one of the stupas and under a flowering cherry tree surrounded by thousands of prayer flags. Eagles called to each other, breezing by on the currents and one landed for awhile on a rock quite close to us.
After the busy-ness of MacLeod Ganj (and much success in our Simple Gifts work!) we stayed happily and quietly on the banks of this holy river in this sacred pilgrimage place. We enjoyed yoga, meditation and deep conversations with our homestay hosts. We can see and hear the river from our room and were able, many days, to walk her banks of white sparkly sand. I took some of David’s ashes and released them into her embrace, along with my tears. One night we went down to one of many temples on the banks of the Ganges and stayed for the daily sunset, hour long, chanting/praying and fire ceremony. It was a special full moon and we took in the beauty of the moon rise on the river.
As a group of four we all experience each day and place differently. Some days are full, some quiet, some challenging, some peaceful. Our meal times (did I mention how well – and often- we have been eating?) are long and relaxing as we share our thoughts, feelings about it all. One of the many blessings of being together ‘in love’
I had a few days to take time for myself, journal, read, meditate and pray. This is precious time and it is amazing what surfaces when we give it to ourselves. I have three sections to my journal. The first is a simple diary, where we are, what happened, conversations etc. The second section is insights, ah-has, important realizations. (real eyes=realise, hmmm). And of course in the midst of all this reflection and meditation, I do get ideas of things ‘to do’ – at Unity Comox Valley, in the Unity movement , in my home life. Don’t want to forget those! So they go into my third section where they are off my mind, but available to review when I get back home.
After a week on Ma Ganga we journeyed back to Delhi for a night before our next leg to Auroville and Pondicherry.
A word about our overnights in Delhi. Thank you Pat (and Geshe) for passing this information on to us. We have been staying at the World Buddhist Centre where we can quietly and peacefully enjoy the company of the monks, the diverse people who also sojourn there, simple vegetarian meals. There is puja every morning and evening that we can join, when we can meditate, listen to the chanting monk and gonging bells and drum.
Catch up Time (written by Vicki)
Yikes! Many days, places and experiences have passed. I am taking a morning in my room and going to attempt catching up with our adventures. Thank you Joseph for posting pictures and little bits about where we have been!
On November 8 we not only received the news of Trump’s victory but also the announcement from the Indian government about a recall of their two most used notes (money). And with no notice, like everyone else in the country (more than one billion people) we have been thrown into a cash crisis. The impact on us is that we spend 2-3 hours a day trying to find an ATM that is working and wait in line for hours and IF we get to the machine before the cash runs out, get a few rupees. There is a maximum to take out – a small amount, so we are doing this every day. Although we are keeping our spirits up, it is taking a toll on us. We are researching leaving India earlier and going to Thailand for a longer period of time. As a group we are doing well, having a good time, sharing stories, insights, challenges and loving each other through it all.