Monday, January 30, 2012

The Desire to Overcome

“That is why you fail.” The words of Yoda are running through my head.

In my pursuit to deal with past hurts: anger, guilt, shame, abuse (to me and by me) I struggled to overcome; beating these things, a finality of dealing with myself and mastering them (they are not me, they’re my past). In doing so I ignore who I’ve been and who I am.

My scars, pains and hurts change me. They make me who I am today, color my reactions, change the way I think. My behaviors, conscience and subconscious have new channels set into my being, my self-definition; it makes me a different person. I attempt to eradicate them by a mental surgery of the self: covering up or eliminating my scars instead of dealing with them as part of my self identity. A recognition needs to take place. I need to acknowledge I am changed, finding a way to live with my new self identity and accepting my scars as who I’ve become. Failure and hurt will continue until I can see them as part of me.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Feel of the Beach

The waves crash upon the shore in a constant rhythm, sounding like the thunder of a storm close to home. In it I feel the thrust and recourse of the waves as they push me toward and away from the shore.

Afterward, that pulse continues living within my body. I feel the rolling of the waves pushing and pulling in the air around me. With the waves coming in, there is a stillness of the mind. The undertow brings forth a stream of ideas, quickly flowing out to sea, you try to grab onto them before they flow away under the waters lost forever making way for a new wave of stillness arriving in it’s wake. In this, many thoughts and images come from my own depths, only to be lost a moment later in the flow of energy.

The night here has a different quality. Back home, in the dark, I see black splotched with bits of red and blue. Here the nighttime has a mist of white everywhere like a shroud fogging the air. That same whiteness permeates the daylight making you feel like the veils are different colored dupattas, the red, blue and black at home and here one of white. The air teasing you with floating and tugging sensations.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Buzz of Food

My mouth has awakened from a long slumber. I am eating cinnamon for the first time. You might be inclined to say I’ve eaten it before, a powder sprinkled on toast, in chai or on top of pumpkin pie; but I would say that was only a taste of it. This cinnamon is a chunk of bark, boiled until soft and carefully blended into the spices of the dish I’m eating. I’ve never eaten cinnamon before – only tasted it’s essence. This is a piece of actual bark. My mouth is awake and alive.

Kerala Banana Leaf Meal
Traditional Kerala banana leaf meal. You eat this with your right hand, but not your index or your pinky fingers. Never ever your left hand.

Have you ever gotten a buzz from food before? You may have drank too much alcohol or even tried drugs. This food is giving me a buzz – and there is nothing illicit about it. The spices are combining in such a way as to create an euphoric state from eating.

I’m convinced my hosts are trying to kill us. The food so good we just keep eating, day after day after day.

I can remember the first time this happened, also in India. We were visiting the Mansingh Palace Restaurant on top of the hotel in Jaipur, Rajasthan. In 1996 we ate a meal that was so good, we got a buzz. Served with a drink concoction topped with silver. The food was so good, we had to eat there twice, and we were desperately trying not to repeat anything to keep exploring. The food was that good.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The War on Travel

Nothing is supposed to be this difficult.

We’ve been coming to India together on four prior trips. If you count Saum’s experience, five years living here and many other long-extended stays before we met with travel nation-wide – she’s a pro. In January 2000, she organized a trip through Rajasthan complete with three-day camel safari through the Thar Desert just outside of Jaisalmer. We’ve been through mountains, over plains; in cars, trains and planes. We’ve stayed in old palaces and forts, palace hotels, hunting lodges, ashrams, even in tents. In terms of planning a vacation in India, we’ve never had this much trouble before.

Until now.

We’re here in India for six weeks together. After arriving in our base of operations, the launching point of our previous travels, we set out to make way for Kerala. In the past, we’ve used a travel agent, at other times friends, occasionally just hopping in the car. We know what we want to do, our research done, plans – well trying to set. And here’s the problem.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Return to India

We’ve been in India for two weeks. The airports:, clean and modern. New Delhi, sanitized. Everything seemed much more tame than our last visit.

Last week, we arrived in Rishikesh from Dehradun via taxi, one of our most common forms of transportation here, especially when we have the whole family with us; taxies are less expensive than trains beyond a certain sized group. Our travels through Rishikesh and Laxman Jhula started to feel like, something. But I still hadn’t caught that feeling of being in India. Something about me was missing. Was I overly nostalgic in my romanticism of the India that I remembered from my last visit? Had I changed too much?

As we travel to Haridwar, the landscape and drive bring everything back into sharp focus. Suddenly India seems more: colors, sounds, people, vehicles. The villages smell like villages: diesel, sewage, animals and people to foods and wares. The traffic becomes a chaotic wave of cars, busses, scooters and other things (tractors, bikes, animals and people). Traffic in India is like a school of fish in the ocean: they dart in and out as one and can scatter just as quickly around an obstacle. They move like a hive mind. Tapping into that feeling, that motion is tapping into India itself: feeling the chaos of the place and making it a part of you.

Suddenly I am feeling like one with my surroundings again.