Yeah made it!
After a 2 hour flight to Chicago, a 5 hour layover, a 14 hour flight to Delhi, and a 10 hour bus ride to Rishikesh...I am here, I am safe, and I am wondering what the heck I got myself into. I'm also wicked excited. The jet lag isn't as bad as I thought it would be, but part of that could be attributed to the fact that I slept nearly every one of those hours on the plane before crashing in the hotel. I don't think I've slept that much, like, EVER...it must of been some 20 or so hours that I was essentially in a row. It was fantastic.
Driving from Delhi was a really fun adventure. Delhi, to start off with, is a city that I will be happy never to see again. It cracked me up to hear the pilot describe it as "misty." What he really meant was "polluted as hell, so much so that you can't see the sky even in the middle of the day when the sun is at its zenith." Take L.A., maybe some Rio, and pile it all on top of London during the Industrial Revolution. Then drive a fleet of poorly maintained gas guzzlers over it until you form...icky. I wasn't a fan, but fortunately I won't be spending many hours there.
Okay, anyway the drive. Oh...the drive was hilarious. My roommate (Kate!) and I couldn't stop cracking up at the ridiculousness of it all. Bikes, mopeds, rickshaws, trucks, cars, pedestrians, cows, donkeys, you name it all freely sharing the freeway. Lots of honking, as far as I can tell, is key to survival when driving here. So is gunning it even when it may seem to the inexperienced observer like a terrible idea. But despite the chaos, I had complete faith in our driver. There's something to be said for how alert everyone has to be to handle driving here--no texting or eating or shaving while you drive cause these may lead to certain death. Jsut honking, and lots of glaring.
A 10 hour journey later (at somepoint we stopped at an Ayurvedic healing center and got delicious sweet things that were carroty and nutty and oh so right it was fantastic).
And so the ashram. Anand Prakash Ashram, located in Rishikesh, the mouth of the Himalayas. Considered one of the most sacred places in India, it is located next to the Holy Ganges and the well known city of Haridwar. The building is a yellowish gold with red trim (what else is there to say...there's a garden! It's pretty too!).
I am in a group of 30 soon-to-be-yoga teachers, all from around the world. We have people from Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, the US (a definite minority), and lots and lots of Canadians. I can already feel my "o's" getting a bit longer, my speech slowing down a bit to match the rhythm of my Northern neighbor's. My roommate, Kate, is from Alberta. I think. Apparently I suck at Canadian geography but anyway I'm excited to have a buddy to share this experience with.
Will probably not have a chance to much updating of my blog while I'm here. The schedule is pretty intense, and I have a feeling I might need a vacation from this trip when I finally get home. They definitely keep us busy:
6:00-7:30 Yoga practice
7:30-7:50 Mantra and meditation
8:30-9:00 Fire Puja
9:00-10:30 Philosophy class
10:40-12:20 Techniques class
1:00-2: 30 FREE TIME!!!
2:40-6:00 Techniques, asana class, practicum
7:00-9:00 Kirtan, story sharing
9 pm-I pass out from exhaustion
Silence in the ashram is observed from 9 pm - 9 am. I love it and think it should be observed worldwide. There's something about waking up to the perfection of the misty (it's real mist in Rishikesh, not just nasty) foothills of the Himalayas, having a silent yoga class, and eating delicious (oh, the food!) breakfast in complete quiet. All while still sharing the experience with a group of focused and dedicated students...pretty cool! It's a bit like the military, really. Honestly I think the only way I could really handle this mentally is with the structure they provide. It will hopefully keep us all busy and social and sane.
So I know you all want to hear about the food to which I say HOLY COW (there are some of those around) I WOULD LIVE HERE JUST TO HAVE THE FOOD. Right? Eh? Alright, I couldn't live here long term but the food is definitely in the ashram's favor. It's very simple, vegetarian Indian food--dal, chapati, rice, a veggie (cauliflower/okra thus far), maybe some tea. Loving the simplicity, the spices, the heavy use of ginger. I'll probably get tired of it eventually, but right now I am perfectly content with it. We have each been given a plate, a spoon, a cup and a bowl and strict instructions to wash and dry (drying is key to killing amoebas...mmm...). There is a bell rung at mealtimes and we all meet in the dining room where there are little tables that we sit in front of while the "karma yogis" serve us little bits at a time.
Simplicity and austerity. I kind of feel as though I'm living in a monastery. I kind of am.
I hope you all are doing well. I will do my best to update around once a week but I can't promise anything. Computers are a bit more accessible in the states.
Much love to all,