Reposting from my personal travel blog my first time impressions in India. Cultural shock, fatigue and being on my way to make a life changing decision. Little girl who knew nothing about how this is going to change her life in the most enriching way possible.
Text written on April 15th, 2015 ( Day 1 in Rishikesh) at AYM School. I like reading old posts and I like writing in an equal measure. We don’t realize how much we change every day. It’s nice to keep track on how much you change as a human on this earth. How much our opinions, thoughts and everyday life can look so much different if we remain open to new experiences and conquer our biggest fears.
Namaste from the country of Sir, Madam and holy cows! I am writing these lines from my room at AYM Rishikesh in the Himalayas. I arrived in New Delhi at 00:40 am but left the airport around 1:40 am after passport control, baggage pick up and freaking out that the driver from the school didn’t come to pick me up ( Eventually he was waiting in front of the airport and not at arrivals ). So we leave the airport and there starts the madness. I heard that the traffic in India is chaotic and that there are no rules but you need to “blow the horn please” (a message on the back of many cars and trucks I saw from Delhi to Rishikesh) BUT I couldn’t possibly imagine THIS! In these moments I feel extremely grateful for my Romanian background that allows to make fun of the situation when that is the only hope you have in that very moment. I cannot say I freaked out because I had a feeling the driver knows what he does, so “When in Rome…do like the romans do”.
The fatigue and the cultural shock is there, even though nothing surprise me. The basic knowledge I had about India contributed a lot in order not to freak out. I am aware that I have a large capacity to adapt to different situations and cultures but in the same time for the first time in my life I feel more western than ever.
On the way from the airport I could hardly fall asleep with the crazy traffic outside. Every time I would open my eyes I could see cars coming straight to our car and not being sure if we’ll get through that alive or not.
Then cows in the middle of the road (aka the gods), pigs eating garbage, monkeys, stray dogs, people doing their needs in an open field and the story goes on. Just casual stuff on a Indian morning driving from Delhi to Rishikesh.
In the morning we had the opening ceremony (for our teaching course) which consists in chanting some mantras and making a fire place and throwing into the fire rice, purified butter, dried fruits and some other stuff with nutritious value. What is the meaning of all this? In order not to be disturbed to go to the toilet while meditating, yogis used to burn different stuff that can be brought to molecular form thus inhaling the gas and maintaining the physical body. The best example given by the teacher in order for us to believe this is actually working, it is that if you burn chili peppers you’ll see you can no longer stay in the room because of the spicy smell that spreads around. By burning these foods yogis not only fed themselves but other living beings benefit as well, contribute to the wellbeing of the nature. I am writing here a little bit of what he explained it stays behind this practice.
Afterwards we had lunch which by the way it is adapted to western taste and it is not spicy. One big yay for today!
India is noisy but the place where I’m staying less noisy than the city center because of the location of the ashram. I can still hear a lot of cars, dogs and cows though…So I don’t want to imagine what would have been staying in the center for a Romanian that got used to Swedish lifestyle.
I never felt so alone and in the middle of nowhere as I feel now. I know I only have myself here even though apparently there are other people too that traveled half the world for exactly the same reason. This morning when I arrived in Rishikesh, the first thought was “Why the hell did I come here? What am I doing here? Alone?” It’s the conflict between my values and their values. It’s being afraid of what it’s different and feeling so uncomfortable. I guess it is been quite long time since I was outside my comfort zone.
And now it starts raining! Wait a minute but there is no monsoon yet!
In the afternoon we had our first Hatha yoga class which consisted more in explaining different poses and common mistakes people do, alignment rules and what to do in order to avoid overstretching or to harm to your body when practicing the asanas. And then after the practice it was curry time again. The menu for dinner was rice, chapatti, pumpkin in some curry like sauce and of course lentils with curry.
I had so little food in the last 24 hours that I am surprised I am not starving. Maybe the heat outside also contributes to the fact that I am not that hungry.
And now I have go to sleep my darlings. Tomorrrow wake up at 6:30, 7 am meditation and then 2 hours of Ashtanga yoga, lecture, another lecture and hatha yoga in the evening. Crazy it’s not enough to describe how the first day in India felt…
© Unfold Your Mat 2017
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