Deb & Roger’s YB Travel Adventures to India 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010
As you can probably tell by now, travel has always been an important part of my life. But it was impossible to do more than take a Holiday when building a career, and raising my daughter. But all that changed in 1992 when I married Roger. With our children grown, we could indulge our love of freedom, travel and adventure. And both of us have enjoyed the ride of our life.
And we want to see, and do it all. So even India was on the list. We wanted to experience it. But weren’t sure how we would handle it. Everything I read said it was tough, even for well seasoned traveler’s like ourselves.
In ’97 we were in Thailand and our Visa was expiring and we needed to leave the country. Several people told us how wonderful Sri Lanka was. So off we went. And it was a challenge, but we had grown a lot with all our travels and our way of being, and expectations were different. So we felt we had some idea of India, though later realized that Sri Lanka was finishing school comparatively speaking.
So in 2002 off we went on our first trip to India. It was made easier that we did a teacher training so while we flew into Kolkota, once we were in Mysore in the south, in the province of Karnataka, we stayed in this area due to our daily teacher training schedule. We got up at 5am each morning and made our way to the Yoga Temple. Stopping along the way for Indian Chai. While there we fell into a routine, out and about each day all over the town, visiting the market, the Palace, Chamundi Hill, plus sites all around the area including the Tibetan Settlement of the Dalai Lamai, Bangelore and Ooty in Tamil Nadu. After two months I was finally “Getting” India and had made the adjustments needed to accept and enjoy traveling there. And it turned out to be an amazing experience.
For me, India is a truly spiritual experience. Each day you are exposed to more challenging situations in a day, than in a lifetime back home. Things that make you question your beliefs, reshape your attitudes, and alter your perceptions. As a truth seeker, and someone that wants to truly walk my talk, I found that I had to expand my knowledge of myself to take into consideration me in all of these brand new situations. Where you are brought face to face with exactly who you are, not the person you think. And this led to letting go of things I had been taught that didn’t ring true, or were simply no longer applicable. India isn’t a philosophy or theoretical class, this was life. I found beauty in silence, and other simple things. Plus, developed much more patience, tolerance and acceptance. And really knew what it meant to have no expectations. The meanings to words changed, until words no longer were adequate to describe the changes.
I say my relationship with India is one of love hate. It is trying, difficult, challenging, mind blowing, dirty, poor, vastly different, ancient, sacred, neglected and so many other things that I often grow weary. But I also love it for all the same reasons, and know I am a better person for it. And when we travel, we aren’t talking a tour with 5 star lodging and being shuffled from one safe place to another. That is a Holiday, that is not traveling. When we travel we are there with the people, taking public transport, staying at local establishments. We are immersed in the local culture but not actually staying in someone’s house. We do like our privacy, and it is nice to have quiet when you can’t handle the chaos another moment, and a shower is such a luxury. You gain a renewed appreciation for everything.
So 2002 was our first visit and we stayed two months. Then we returned in 2004 for another couple of months. And this was truly an experience of a lifetime. We flew into Delhi and stayed in Old Delhi. After several days there we took the train to Kalka, then a bus to McCleod Ganj to visit the Tibetan Settlement where the Dalai Lamai resides. After 5 or so days we took the bus to Shimla, an English hilltop station to take the narrow gauge train through the mountains back down to Kalka. From there we stood in the road in the middle of the night to catch a bus headed to Rishekesh, via Hardiware. It was the bus ride from hell and we arrived Rishekesh about 6am.
I will write more about each place we visited but for now just hitting the highlights. We were there several days then headed to Dehra Dun to catch the bus to Mussorie. Loved this area. After a few days we took the train back to Delhi then a Volvo bus (nice!) to Rajasthan where we spent a month in this area starting in Jaipur. From there we took the train to Udaipur, bus to Pushkar, bus to Jodphur, bus to Jesailmer where we did a 3 day desert Camel Safari then took the train back to Jaipur. Rajasthan so far, is my favorite place in India.
The next time we visited was 2008. We flew into Mumbai, formerly Bombay. Saw all the sights there, met with potential suppliers, then flew to Kochin in the province of Kerala. This area is the only communist state in India, has a 97% literacy rate and is the place to study Ayurveda and I wanted to deepen my knowledge. We went every where, and had every experience available spending six weeks exploring all the way south to Kanyakumari. Our favorite spot was Kovalum Beach where we ended up spending two weeks because we found this sweet place on the top floor, right on the beach (only 5 units) and fell asleep each night to a raging surf that was at once comforting, and sometimes agitating.
In 2010 we left Bali, flew through KL and Sri Lanka and arrived in Chennai. I am not sure which year, but we had spent a lot of time there before, and used it as our gateway to Pondicherry which is about an hour and a half south. Pondicherry is a sweet little place that used to be a French colony. We love staying at the Park Hotel which is part of the Ashram and right on the Sea. We usually take the front room of the ones just across from reception. There is a nice space where we can do our Yoga. Auroville is a great place to visit and this is simply a nice place to hang, enjoy downtime, yoga, good food and interesting people. From there we went back to Chennai and flew to the other coast and Goa. Compared to beaches in Florida, the Caribbean and elsewhere, Goa is just OK. When I have read books about Goa I imagined something different, so imagine I should have been there in the 60’s and 70’s. But being Indian, the atmosphere is totally different than anywhere else and we really enjoyed our weeks there before flying back to Chennai, then back to Bali.