river of love

Photo by omtapas, 2010, Krishna River, the Lord of Love. from Piduguralla to Malkangiri (Orissa)

in om’s words: “I start at 6:30am and after maybe one hour I reach the Krishna River. There is no bridge so I have to wait for the little ferry to reach my side and then the other side. My energy level on those first two days is incredible, I feel as if I am in complete love and that I will see my beloved one at Malkangiri.”

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look at this child

this was one of those serendipitous moments when my auto rick stopped and this boy came out from his hovel in the alley to look at me, and then smiled. notice that he is playing with garbage and then think of your own child.

this photo that took all of 3 seconds to shoot says a lot. it was one of those fortunate moments in india. not because I got a perfectly framed shot of a boy living in an alley and a half-hidden girl that in itself makes a statement, but because when you connect eye to eye it changes you forever. and I am grateful for that.

the rickshaw pulled away just as he was about to take 10 rupees from my hand.

how I spent my last day in india

this is how I spent my last day in India (tuesday afternoon), flat on my back from food poisoning. I am still sick and have had “loose motions” and stomach pain since last Friday evening — a long time. as I said in the previous post, I am sporting the fashionable emaciated heroin chic look right now. I weighed myself this morning and have lost almost 10 pounds. I wanted to lose weight in india, but not this way!

I won’t bore you with the gory details but I was stupid and ate a “jam cake” in Fort Cochin, Kerala late at night. I realized at about 3 am early saturday morning when I woke up puking my guts out that the thing had been sitting out all day in the heat. what an asshole I was. I have survived indian street food and drinking chai from street vendors where the chai cups are washed out in who knows what type of germ-infested phlegmy water, and a pastry does me in. am going to rethink drinking street chai for my future trips. chai cups washed in water that sits out all day doesn’t appeal to me. and while I’ll be contributing to India’s worsening garbage problem (like it could get any worse), think I will only drink chai from stalls that use plastic cups from now on.

My friends Nick and Sushi (my thankachi in tamil, i.e., “younger sister”) picked me up Tuesday morning from the 5 star hotel I stayed in for my last two nights in india — where I spent most of my time in bed or on the toilet — and took me to their house. since I was facing two flights totaling 18 hours, Sushi (Nick’s wife) thought it would be a good idea that I go to hospital for an IV. I had thought that on the way home from the airport I was going to tell my husband to stop at an ER for the same thing.

When they took me, I was very sick. I basically had not eaten anything substantial for 5 days and my brain felt like it was in a fog from lack of food. I felt very disoriented.

They took me to the hospital that is admininstered by Sushi’s daughter-in-law’s father. Sushi made the call and they were waiting for us. I was treated by the head doctor and the head nurse — for free. The head nurse is in the pink sari and sushi is in the orange sari, but she is hiding on the left side. I saw Nick taking the picture and said “oh no you don’t!” and put my arm over my ashen face.

They wanted to give me two bottles of glucose and salt but it was already after 6 pm when we left and I had to repack my bags, we had to get back to the house. The hospital director (sushi’s in-law) did not ask for one rupee, but I would not have felt right if I did not give something so before we left I gave him 1000 rupees for my treatment and told him to donate it to a charity if he wants to — 1000 rupees is about $26. The hospital, by the way, is a hospital for leprosy, TB, and AIDS patients. The room I was in was a private room.

This was my third trip and I never got sick before this. my husband said since I got sick I should never go back to india. I looked at him and said, “you know that’s not going to happen…” but he was happy that I told him I decided not to go to sri lanka this year with the buddhist monk whom I sit with because the tamil tiger and sri lankan ceasefire is over, I decided it would not be safe. but I do feel like a big chicken for deciding that.

Thanks to all my Indian friends!

down but not out

whew! I returned from India about 12 hours ago sicker than a mangy Indian street dog. I’ve had food poisoning for the past 6 days from a “jam cake” that I ate in Fort Cochin. I am amazingly svelte — eating nothing but 2 slices of bread, 2 bananas, and water each day for the past 6 days does wonders for the figure, however, my face is very ashen and gaunt. Oh well, it’s that heroin chic Kate Moss look.

Thanks to my network of friends in India I was taken to a hospital for a “drip” (what they call an IV infusion) of glucose and salt just to help get me on the plane for an 18 hr. flight home. It’s good to be home in my own washroom….:)

what a long strange trip it was! It was a very different trip for me this time physically but especially emotionally. I experienced the beautiful and the terrible of india, but hey, that’s india….both enthralling and repulsive all at the same time.

one of my teachers at the school told me that I’m a native now — that the first time you go to india one is scared and apprehensive; the second time you’re in india, you love it, you want to stay forever, nothing is ever wrong; the third time you begin to see things as a native does, the good, the bad, the horrible, the indifferent, india with its warts and all. what I found amusing this time around was that instead of asking me “what country, madam?”, people asked me, “do you live here, madam?” I’ve arrived.

india never fails to make me rethink this suburban life — if people here only knew what goes on in the rest of the world, maybe they would appreciate what they have. Yes, people have it bad here, but I would rather be dirt poor here in the United States than anywhere else in the world. If you want to live a Hurricane Katrina experience EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE WITH NO GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE, be a slum dweller in India. so quit your moaning and belly-aching about what you don’t have like those hand-painted yoga pants or the latest yoga book or that eco-conscious yoga mat. I was with slum children in Madurai, India who have nothing compared to many American children, yet they had the biggest smiles for me.

my favorite experiences of the whole trip was my serendipitous visit to a slum school where I was the “guest of honor” and my dancing with tribals at a Pongal (harvest) festival at an Indian village outside of Madurai. I took two train trips and a four hour bus trip through the back roads of tamil nadu where I swear I felt something run across my foot. I discovered that four hours is about my limit on an Indian country bus, especially when one has to listen to cheesy Tamil videos from the 1970s played at full-blast.

but here are some pictures from tracy . You may recall that she was collecting shoes for the street kids of Mysore, India and I sent her three boxes of shoes that I collected at my former yoga studio. I also sent her my own baby shoes from the 1950s and requested that she take a picture of the baby that they went to, so here are the pics:



wow. my baby shoes from the 1950s now worn by an Indian baby. incredible. incredible india. thanks, tracy.

more stories and pictures from India soon…

shanti!

soon

Crows
cows
painted elephants
starving pups that won’t live the week

begging children
laughing children
in just pressed clothes
run to touch you
giggling girls and
one pen boys

mango eaters
stone cutters
coconut choppers
bucket sellers
tout screamers

traffic
chaos
walk
run
jump out of the way
of the family on the scooter
baby on the gas tank

beggars with one eye
beggars with no legs
women dressed in gold
and rainbow saris
gliding in the streets
unbroken
straight
cool

dust
dirt
sweat
mixed with jasmine flowers
scenting my hair

music of the people
for the people
cars honk all day
every day
every night
laughing
crying
spitting
fighting
chanting
om kali ma
om muruga
temple music wakes me
temple music to sleep by

healing
yoga
ayurveda
pure yoga
from the heart
this is the heart
of yoga

birth
life
death
on the streets
go with the flow
or you go crazy
I’ve seen the
dead men walking

my india
ma india
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