Thursday, September 28, 2006

Oh, a snake... how charming...

The orange clad sadhu's will sometimes just ask you for money, tell you to give them money, demand money or in the odd case... perform for money.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Satsang and I sung and sat...

I had the privilege of attending a Satsang at a school my travel mate, Petra Melin of Sweden, volunteered at. It was an experience being with these children.

Monday, September 25, 2006

An armpit cold...

Armpit cold. You don't know what it is? I recently found out. On the trip from Chandigarh to Haridwar we travelled via ordinary bus. Since I was travelling with two Isrealis, everyone thinks I'm Isreali. Nevermind that, even when I'm by myself people are wishing me a Happy New Year and Isrealis roll up to me and start talking in Hebrew with me. Apparently after they serve their mandatory time with the army they ALL come to India. When they finish their time in the military they still don the military presentation. They all grow hair and facial hair long - and most of them have curly hair. Sounds kind of familiar ;)

They is a migration pattern amongst them. They start off in the north and when winter comes they fly south. I happen to be joining the migration pattern. So when I began speaking in Hindi with the travellers on the bus they were astounded and I became the number one person to talk to during the trip. At the one stop we had shopkeepers were giving me food and drink, it was nice but very odd. Everyone just loved the hair and the fact that I spoke Hindi.

After that stop the bus began filling. All the seats were taken so standing room was all that was left. In some states they allow you to sit on top of the bus, not this state otherwise I would be the first to offer myself up as the hood ornament.

Then came the armpit. The armpit was in my face for two and a half hours. It wasn't your run-of-the-mill armpit either. It was not a stanky armpit, nor instrusive, it was a rather subtle poison with greater exposure caused illness. My nose stuffed up after about half an hour alleviating me smelling anything. The only problem was that I was still exposed to the infestation. I got off the bus in Haridwar and began a sneezing fit. After the bus trip and my thirty consecutive sneezes I was spent. Argued over a taxi fare into Rishikesh and found probably the only guest house open at midnight. The taxis can't go into certain areas so we had a twenty five minute trek through ashrams, bridges and dark cow dung covered alleys.

I got over the armpit cold after a day or two and now enjoying the sun and fun.

There is a religious festival going on this week in Rishikesh and foreigners and Indian tourist flood the streets, bridges and temples. Every morning you can hear Mantras being performed over loud speakers while gazing along the Ganga River. I have washed away some of my sins in the Ganga so far. I'm sure that I would have to dip in a few more times to resolve some my accumulated sins. Truly phenomenal experiences.

The busted station...

Events in this story may contain mature sexual themes and/or strong language. Viewer discretion is advised.

So get this...

The journey from Dharamsala down to Chandigarh was amazing. My very good friend Yakob drove myself and my two new Isreali travelling partners, Yuli and Lior, to Chandigarh. We stopped at magnificent scenery, laughed the day away, lived in luxury in a vehicle rather than the 'ordinary bus'. We were truly blessed to have such wonderful company and such a gracious host. We arrived in Chandigarh only for the night to leave for Rishikesh the next day.

Everyone in India tells you that 'everything possible' but upon further investigation 'not possible'. We were given so many stories of when buses leave and where, etc. After learning my lesson once before I decided to head down to the bus station to find out first hand. I got off the cycle rickshaw and not even a second after I put my other foot down a young Sikh boy approached me.

He asked me "Where you are from?"


"Oh... you don't know how much feelings I have for Canada" he said and added, "I have only seen Canada from the television. Maybe you want to 'taulk'?"

In my broken hindi I responded, "I only came here to find out some information, we'll see..." The converstation was mostly me trying to speak in hindi and he in english. He followed me from information booth to information booth. After going to five different people I finally found out the information that I needed. The last bus was leaving for Rishikesh at that very moment. The next one would be at eight in the evening landing us in Rishikesh at two in the morning. Not a suitable travel arrangement.

"So where you want to go?" the boy of not even seventeen years says to me.

"Go where?" I ask.

"Where you want to go to 'faulk'?"

"Where do I want to go to what?" I say with the most puzzled look on my face. It sounded like something I wasn't sure I really heard correctly.

"'Faulk'." he says sharply.

"Where do I want to go to F-U-C-K?" I ask with complete disbelief at what was transpiring.


I had to laugh out loud, for a very long time I might add. Some little kid just approached me in a bus station and asked to have sex. I was quite calmly in my response, "Oh yaar, that might float your boat but it doesn't float mine. I like women... a lot. I'm sorry that I can't help you out." in partial enlish, partial hindi.

"But you don't know how much feelings I have for Canada and for you."

"Oh... I'm pretty sure I do. Thank you but no thank you."

"Please, let me put your 'panas' in my mouth for five to ten seconds, please."

"You want to put my penis in your mouth for five to ten seconds? I don't think so. I'm flattered, but you need to go now."

He realized that I wasn't into biting any pillows or redesigning the interior of any homes in the near future and went off on his way. I just can't believe that I was approached by some little kid who asked to have sex with me. What was he going to do, take me from behind, behind the bus station? Did this ever work for him? Had he ever gotten someone to respond, Ya, ok... why not? (with the mandatory Indian head nod and shake).

I understand there is a population issue in India, but I'm not sure if this is the appropriate avenue in which to explore the decrease in population.

That's my story... unbelievable but 99% true.

A beautiful pain...

I had an issue uploading all the pictures. Only two hundred of the six hundred were uploaded. I have burned them to dvd but finding someone with a dvd reader is quite the tall order 'round these parts. Luckily I found one yesterday and I will be uploading them up at a snail's pace. Then again, nothing ever moves quickly in this area. Everyone seems to have all the time in the world - a definite switch from the west.

The image is of a wandering sadhu with drummer (of course) seeking out his earnings with great showmanship. He wields a large whip in the shape of a snake and whips himself to show his devotion. The Tibetan refugees are looking on only after being scared of him to begin with. The drummer making eye contact is the most amazing part of this photo in my perspective.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Smile and say paneer...

I have arrived back to Chandigarh...

I have updated photos from Shimla, Bhagsunag, McLeod Ganj and Dharamsala. I'm off to Rishikesh today. Catch up soon... ;)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Questions on the daily...

And there is a practice which I follow every night before going to sleep. It is very simple, but it has helped me immensely, and it can help anyone who uses it. It involves only three questions: Have I lived? Have I loved? Have I laughed?

Have I lived? Have I made the best us of the time provided me during the day to grow, to learn, to develop?

Have I loved? Have I reached out to everyone I met and made them aware of the love in my heart and eased their burdens of self-mistrust and self-doubt?

Have I laughed? Have I seen the humorous side of even the most painful incident?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it is a matter of remorse. One more day passed and I am another day closer to my death and I have not exerted myself to my fullest potential. This is enough to make me work harder then next day and try and make amends.

Three questions that must find a home within your daily rituals...

Friday, September 15, 2006

There is no try, only do...

Do something.

Actions to change the world! Have a look at a list of simple, everyday actions you can do to help change the world (and have fun while you're doing it).

Something I came across in my timeless ventures ;)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Time does not exist...

I was walking down the dimly lit winding street of Jogibara Road in McLoed Ganj, Upper Dharamsala. The moon was peaking over one the Himalayan ranges casting the softest white light upon my path. A path full of no roads and many a rock. In my concert hall between my ears Lauryn Hill was giving a performance. After hearing it so many times I thought I would grow sick of it and an album of that calibre I never could. The thought was there though and I would have been less fortunate to have disliked an album only due to hearing it too many times -- I didn't want to take the chance of wasting it. Her throaty and melodic flows flow through my body and keeps it in warmth with thoughts and memories. Someone was with me on that walk and I was definitely assured of that when I looked to my right to see a movie theatre. The only Dolby 6.1 Digital Wide Screen Surround Sound in Dharamsala. The 8:30 movie playing was Samsara. I looked at the name and stopped in my tracks. I couldn't figure out why I knew this name. I searched and then it hit me... right in my stomach. An image of someone made a guest appearance and I watched them speak the word "Samsara". Thank you for suggesting it for it was the first movie I had seen in India.

It was definitely an experience in more ways than one. I am currently surrounded by Tibetan monks theologizing and carrying on like monks do. The movie came at the right time in the right place. Something I keep finding myself in.

This morning I woke up and was sitting on the front steps of my guesthouse when a South Korean man named Ta Tha Gata strolled by, I had met him the previous evening. He is a simple man only wearing one piece of fabric intricately wrapped around his amazing physique. His hair flows like the mane of well oiled Arabian thoroughbred reaching the bottom of his back. We shared in great conversation of travels, Canada and of course hair. We walked the Kora - circumambulating in a counterclockwise direction around the temple, the Tsuklhakhang, in which there is a long route and a short route. The short called the Kora, with Lingkor being the long route. I've seen elder gentlemen with personal prayer wheels and they are twirled so effortlessly that it appears that they twirl on their own accord. Along the path there are many Prayer Mills and it is not uncommon to hear people saying under their breath Om Mani Padme Hung, the main mantra of Chenrezig (Bodhisattva) who Tibetans believe His Holiness the Dalai Lama to be a manifestation of. Reciting this mantra, it is thought that one accumulates merit.

I then proceeded to Carpe Diem, a restaurant, where I finally introduced myself to Carly - the Australian who puts an ear to ear grin on your face upon crossing her path. I was privy to a creative storm between some musicians, then off to enjoy a fine cappuccino and witness the making of fresh Muesli on top of the restaurant. I ventured out to the street and passed on my Salaam's to all the Kashmiri fellows and then joined one in three blistering matches of chess. I wish I could upload the pictures of what I saw next. A sadhu (holy man) with a costumed snake filled with fire crackers and upon whipping himself do the firecrackers crack. He was accompanied by a young boy playing a drum - a scene for all of us in the street and the Tibetan refugees staring from their windows. I will however post them when I get the chance.

I don't want to leave this paradise in the clouds. There are too many good people and exhanges to be had. Everyday has been something new with someone new. It was said once if you can't say it yourself, find someone who can. Tenzin Tsundue is a poet whom I've come across here in Dharamsala and I share with you...


From home you have reached
the Horizon here.
From here to another
here you go.

From there to the next
next to the next
horizon to horizon
every step is a horizon.

Count the steps
and keep the number.

Pick the white pebbles
and the funny strange leaves.
Mark the curves
and cliffs around
for you may need
to come home again.

-Tenzin Tsundue

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The maddening moistness...

The incredible moisteness of this area is out of control. I was wearing a long sleeved black shirt roughly three days ago and there was admittedly a large sweat stain on front and back. I put the shirt up on a hanger in my room and it's still got the very same shape of sweat in all areas as I had the day it covered my body. I have moved from Bhagsunag down to McLoed Ganj (the main thoroughfare). I can tell you that my Kashmiri friend who had an emotional moment with me, tracked me down to see if I had left yet. He came to ask and any one that I knew to take one of his classes. He opted to earn his money and he came to ask me to help it out in not so many words.

I was taken to lower Dharamsala for tea on the side of a mountain yesterday. I have recently found hospitality with a few of the locals. It makes a world of difference when you have somewhat of a belonging to the place you're staying in. I was invited to my very new found friend's home for dinner. To my surprise I was welcomed by a breath of fresh air. Her name was Alne (pronounced Al-knee) and she was originally from Australia. This woman has given birth the five children and has now settled in India to relax. At seventy six years of age this woman was a mere thirty four. I was intrigued by story after story and our conversations ranged right across the board. I thanked above yesterday for yesterday. It's the very thing I needed after having such a rough time. Life is sunny for the first time in a week since I've been here. I truly am fueled by the fires of the sun. Thank you.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Let's just recap my health in the past three weeks now shall we? I was poisoned in Pakistan by chicken and found myself in a hospital with an IV and no fluids whatsoever in my body; after recovering from the absolute desaturation of my body the night before I was to leave to India I caught a cold from the air conditioner, the fan and me sweating; and now the little rash I found out to be called 'chicken pox'. Yup, that's right... chicken pox. I have the chicken pox. I never had them as I child and was bound to get them one day. One day is now and I look to the brighter side of things, I'll never get them again ;)

I have been unable to enjoy the wonderment of Dharamsala and McLoed Ganj to it's fullest. However, today I ventured out of the room and to the waterfall in Bhagsunag. I stood a mere six feet from where it met it's descent and was misted by the most magnificent crisp wind. I think that's what gave me the energy to keep on keepin on. After that, I kept walking. I walked down to Kalachakra Temple, the Buddhist dialectics institute. I was thoroughly entertained by the theological debates. The monks would state their point and all would have personalized version of the same act or motion, that is driving their hand in a punching motion while bringing the other hand up to meet with a loud slap and a "Hoooggeeeee" kind-a-sound. From what I understand it is the end of a point made or argument reached. Whatever it was, there was one big monk that kept me laughing with his version of it. I have taken pictures that I'll stick up whenever it is possible.

An interesting thing happened to me the very first day I was in Dharamsala (I bet that's said quite often). I was wandering aimlessly through market streets when I was pulled back into a direction I wasn't moving in. Didn't know why, just thought I'd better go that way. And as I looked up the road there was a store called Kundalini. I approached the front of the store and knew I had to go in as soon as I saw the sign "BELOVED PLEASE REMOVE YOUR SHOES". So I did and looked about all the magnificent Pashminas, stones and unbelievable crystals. As I was leaving the owner walked in and the room became big. He offered me chai and we sat and talked... and talked. I had recently purchased a book entitled Aghora II: Kundalini by Robert E. Svoboda and had been searching for the first one but it was not to be found in over a dozen bookstores I had searched it out in. It was Yakub, the store owner that presented Aghora: At the Left Hand of God to me to read. I was in the right place at the right time in more times than one ;)

After this I was walking back to Bhagsunag and a young Kashmiri fellow started a dialogue with me. He told me he did this and that and so forth and so on... you have to understand that with Indians there is always an exaggeration to their stories, so you just have to adjust your reality to really understand what they mean. He showed me a shop where he teaches how to make Malas, where he practices his gemology, Reiki treatments and yoga. We continued up the 45 degree slope to a German bakery. Nice little place. I was starving and here I thought this kid knew that I was. He continued on about trying his hand at business franchises all over India but he was bad with money so it all slowly came crumbling down. He is left in Upper Dharamsala just trying to make enough to get a meal each day. There was something I was feeling and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. It was during our meal when I realized what it was. It was his thoughts. They were disturbing me and I finally figured out how to translate them if you will. I said to him "You have a lot of tension, you need to get out of your head". At this he agreed and I continued, "You know that those thoughts that you have in your head right now are very bad and your mind is convincing you that they are a good idea... you know for a fact what your body is telling you - yet you ignore it and allow your mind to convince you otherwise". He also agreed with that adding that his friends also told him that he should go sit on a rock and contemplate. We continued on speaking and at the end of the meal bought him his food and told him this, "I am buying your meal not because of the stories you've told me, or out of pity - I have done it out of kindness. I am showing you unconditional love." He began crying and thanked me. Now there is part of this story that is missing. His thoughts were to try and steal from me. He was trying to concoct a way of gaining possession of my iPod and digital camera. No doubt about it. That's why he broke down. He realized that I saw right through him and instead of reacting in belligerent manner, I took the other road. He knew that I knew and couldn't believe I still bought him his meal...

It was a very eventful day in randomly non-random fashion.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The mountains...


That's pretty much all I've been saying since hitting the mountains. I left Chandigarh on Monday late morning for Shimla. I was prepared to catch a deluxe bus when I met a young man who was finishing his engineering degree in a town just a few kilometers outside of Shimla. I joined him on a regular old bus. Wow... the bench seats and the no frills really can take a toll on you. I don't prefer the 'ordinary' buses at all and have come to the realization that I am a princess in a land with no castles.

After the absolutely gruelling 4+ hours on the bus, recovering from a cold and just plain old cranky I was in Shimla. Porters were on my like flies on dung. "You come with me", "I know best hotel", "Special deal for you" and my personal favorite "No problems". There are no rickshaws in Shimla so a porter takes your bag and carries it to your hotel for a small fee of course. So I found myself at a posh little spot called the Brightland Hotel. Since it was off season I got 40% on the room and relaxed in somewhat of luxury. Shimla is the holiday spot for Indians. It's kind of like comparing it to Banff but bigger and more Indian. All the architecture is British influenced for it was station to the British in the summer time.
I ventured out into the hills and valleys of stores until my shin splints were too overwhelming. I found a restaurant, enjoyed a gargantuous thali and made my way to my posh little hotel room. Upon waking up in the morning at 7am by a phone call from the front desk asking me if I was checking out at noon or not I began to notice little hives all over my body. Bonus. I had no clue what they were so I headed out to the chemist to try and solve my problem. He said I was having a allergic reaction to something and gave me some pills. I found a coffee shop called Barista and bumped into two lasses from the UK - Rosie and Anna. We swapped some travel stories and they joined me on a tour of all the valleys of Shimla. We went horseback, well maybe not horseback... more like ponyback riding to the world's highest go-cart track in the world where I abused their machinery until they got mad and pulled me off the course. I now have a story to tell...

That evening I was to set off to Dharamsala on a semi-deluxe bus. I went down with one of the hotel attendants to get my advanced ticket only to find out it was an 'ordinary' bus. I didn't fare well with four hours on this thing, I couldn't imagine ten hours! I eventually flipped a coin and did the opposite of what the coin told me to do. I jumped on for adventure. At the bus station I ran into a lovely young lady who has been trekking northern India for the past month and a half. Amit and I got seats together and found ourselves to be the oldest of friends.

I made a conmment earlier in a post about being alone amongst millions... I was so wrong. You're never alone and the universe just had to remind me of it during my stay in Shimla.

I'm off to go kick some philosophy with the Dalai Lama and his crew. That's a look at current events, top stories at a eleven... back to you Bob ;)

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Well I have to tell you that all those warnings must have seeped into my subconscious because as I arrived in Amritsar I found myself completely at the mercy of something more powerful than I could imagine - fear. I had no idea where anything was or how to get anywhere. So instinctually I grabbed a rickshaw to the bus station to find out where I could catch a bus to Chandigarh. That lead me in some circles so I decided I would set out to go see the Golden Temple and leave that night.

I jumped in an autorickshaw (pictures you'll be able to see) and ventured out to get a SIMM card for my phone so that I could have an Indian phone number. In my journey to find that I also found out that the bus leaves for Chandigarh at 2:45pm and it is the last one of the day. These are private run companies with solid deluxe buses, so my trip to the Golden Temple were 86'd. I was then taken on a joy ride by the autorickshaw driver to make it seem like the distance was oh-so-far but in reality just blocks away. He took me down the narrowest of streets that had construction on it (killed 25 minutes) and I asked him how long the contruction had been going on and his response was two days. At which point I told him that he knew about it and he was taking me for a joy ride and that I was "on to him". ;)

I finally got angry with him and he got out of the market area and back on to the main road ways. This is where those fear-instilling horror stories came into play. We were in some back alley and he stops the auto rickshaw. I notice him look up and one guy dressed in beige and he gives a nod, then to another across the street and finally one more as he told me to follow him. I thought this was his game... round up a foreigner, round up his troops, throw me into a dark alley way, work me over and leave me with the shirt on my back. My adrenaline kicked in - I just grabbed my stuff and started to walk away from him to the street at which point he was also going that way. As I made it to the street and in between the blistering traffic I saw a sign that read Libra Travel (Delhi, Chandigarh & Kullu). Thank you, that's all I could say. The driver came through for me, I thought he was about to rob me but he came through. Solid. Then he asked me for money ;) He thought by taking up an hour or so that he deserved a big fee. Now the bargaining and arguing begins. I told him that he took me for a joyride and the travel agency was 4 blocks away so I gave him what he deserved. A small victory for me in the bargaining rights of my brethren - I won this battle but the war will surely come.

I arrived in Chandigarh safe and sound. I have gone to all the sights and scenes. The Nek Chand Rock Garden was the most amazing thing I've seen so far. I have uploaded the pictures to the site so please feel free to go for a free tour of the rock gardens.

Till then...

I am off to trek the Himalayas /\/^\/\

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