Sunday, June 24, 2007

India to Me

Well it has finally come to an end, I would love to keep talking and reminiscing about India, but I guess its time to move on. One more tip, every time you walk into a temple and there's a festival or significant ceremony going on they will ask you to pay money for a blessing. The first thing they'll ask you is how many brothers, sisters, children you have if your married, if your parents are still alive? and so on and so on. For every person you mention you'll have to pay a fee, if your Hindu that's fair enough if your not it can be quite expensive. Again if you feel to pay this go right ahead, if not try and get out of it(maybe run, or tell a white lie and say your an orphan, lol).

So what is it like being back in Australia? um, for me not very good. I met a lady last weekend out of the blue at some markets(we had met in Pushka, in November) we had a bit of a chat and I noted one big thing out of our conversation, she said that she'd cried when she was at the airport leaving to go home. Well I didn't cry but I certainly had alot of sadness come up when I was going. I've written to friends since being back and I assured them it wasn't the travel bug that I was feeling and how I longed to go back. It's funny you know most of the people that I've keeped in contact with, have said the same thing, I know one of my good friends will be back there by October, he wrote me in an email a couple of weeks ago, saying how much he missed India.

I've realized that India and it's people had touched my heart deeper then I could ever have imagined, even though sometimes it was as frustrating as hell. Even though sometimes it was pushing my buttons left, right and centre, I love the place and I can certainly see now why so many people go back year after year. Other friends that I have spoken to feel the same way, there's something about this mystical place that gets inside you and think never leaves you. Your whole being feels alive on all levels and once you get back to this western world it's just not the same.

I've heard people say once they've been to a third world country, that it makes you appreciate how well we've got it back in our western society. Well at the moment and its something I've been looking at I don't feel that at all. I don't know why, I knew it was there before, but it's right in my face now and that is what a cold, separated society Australia has become, and probably the rest of the western world,(or has it always been like this?, I don't think so).

I'm trying not to generalize here, I know its not everyone, it just feels as though since I've been back there's even a deeper fear of the future, that there's even more separation, that there's no soul, no identity left of Australia, everyone is out for themselves. People have being caught up in consumerism like I've never seen before, or is it for the west to go so far down the road of materialism, that finally as a whole we will finally workout that the path we are on is not the fulfilling path we think it is. I know some of you think well that's just your experience, well maybe it is, but for some reason this country doesn't feel like home anymore, this way of life doesn't appeal to me anymore.

I have come back with a plan and from the moment I touched down I haven't felt like being here. A friend said to me 'some of us do better in other countries' well maybe she's right. Since being back nothing has unfolded the way I thought it would, every turn or path I take, has had the doors closed. Why? is it because I'm trying to push things a certain way that I want to go?probably, has the universe got other plans for me that just haven't unfolded yet? probably, is it all just another test, my biggest test, to allow it all just to unfold as it should be and not get caught up in it, overwhelmed by it, when I'm in the western world?probably.

I'm asking lots of questions of myself, why have I fallen into such despair, when I know it's all going to pass and change as it always will and does. I'm realizing there's a huge difference about knowing something and actually really embodying something. I let go of the Cliff a year and a half ago, I just went with my guidance and was certainly in a peaceful place, so why would I choose to go through all the suffering again? because I probably didn't fully embody it the first time as I thought I did. I've been questioning everything I thought I knew and even every belief I've had, which is probably all a good thing, is the final real letting go, the final understanding of who I really am?

My inner child is jumping up and down because he hasn't got what he wants, I've played victim and fell for every illusion in the past few weeks. Funny how I look back on things I had written about over the past year and things I've said over the past ten years, and now that push comes to shove I have fallen for it again myself. Oh life is such a wonderful thing, as I've said it before just when you think you've got it, you fall back into it again.

So the question is what do I really want from this life, what brings me the most happiness and joy to my heart? Well I worked that one out years ago, helping people, so how am I going to achieve that? My dream, is to open up a couple of orphanages, one in Nepal and one in India somewhere. It also occurred to me that I would love to open up an organic shop and sell food at the proper price not the inflated prices they have at the moment, most people just cant afford buying organic produce because of the the greed that plagues the western world and I believe that it's every bodies right to eat chemical free food, especially our children. Last of all I would love to set up a small healing retreat, that everyone can come, even if you cant afford to have a healing, things can be worked out so there's a fair exchange of energy.

I know one thing for sure and that is I will go back to India and see some of the places I didn't get to see, like Varanasi, Sikkim area, Bihar, Ladakh and Kashmir and this time I'll go to more ashrams and spend most of the time experiencing the deeper spiritual side of India. Where did I like the most in India? for me I liked just about all of India, but there were some special places, Udaipur, Pushka, Mcleod Ganj, Hampi, all of the state of Kerala, the Ellora caves, Diu Island and I even liked Delhi. I could go back and live in Varkarla for a while, who knows what will happen.

Here's maybe the last of the photos of India, each time I look at them it brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart. I was blessed to meet so many wonderful people from all around the globe, from all walks of life, I thank them all.

Sunset at the camel fair, Pushka.

The unusual landscape of Hampi, this place was certainly a special place.

The Himalayas, I fully understand why people have yearned to visit this magnificent part of the world throughout the ages. I know I will come back to these mountains many times throughout my life.

I'll never forget the amazing sunsets of India, they certainly make you look like a professional photographer.

I hope you all have enjoyed my adventure as much as I did. Next week I'll place on the newsletter, spiritual articles and spiritual news from around the world. Namaste to you all and remember, we are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can fly only by embracing each other. Many blessings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

India Experience

G'day to you all from Australia, I wrote on my last post about giving some tips through my experience travelling around India for five months. All of the information that I write is only what I came across on my travels, as you all know every single person on this planet will have a different point of view and a different experience to what I had.

Where do I start? I guess first off I believe it is best to have a bit of a plan when travelling to any country especially a country like India. Have a rough idea how long you want to go for and some of the places you really want to see and allow everything else to happen naturally. Some people don't like to plan anything and some people are to rigid in their plans, like everything, there is a balance. If we go with an open heart to a country and allow the whole process to unfold without to much control, I feel we will have an easier and more fulfilling journey(I forgot to apply this now I'm back in Australia). Just writing this reminded me of how I was living before I went to India and how I travelled around most of India, I allowed the universe to direct me to where it was best for me, not where I thought I should be(there's a big difference).

Next is a big one what to do about your health, do we use the conventional doctor or do as I did and go to a homeopathic/natural path?. Well that ones up to you, if you choose the conventional doctor and your going to a country with malaria and other diseases, you will be given needles and malaria tablets. Now things can sometimes go wrong with the injections in some cases and if your doctor is a good one they will inform you of the many side effects of taking malaria tablets. If your going for more then three months then the doctor will tell you to get off them, which isn't much help. I think it is best in this area to sort through all the pros and con's on your own accord.

The way I did it was to have some needles for certain diseases and take herbal medicine for malaria, all the stomach bugs and a few other minor things. Now I was very fortunate to come across a man who believed in his work as a homeopath, there was no doubt in his mind that if I took his Asian mix as he called it and colloidal silver I would not get sick. Now there could have been a bit of mind over matter in play here as well, because I fully believed that I wouldn't get sick, that has got to help in some way. You see before I got onto this man I had rang three maybe four other homeopaths in the area and not one of them could guarantee me that I wouldn't get malaria if I took their mixtures, old Wal was the only one, so naturally I went to him. As some of you know, I ate everywhere and anything, had even drunk a bit of the local water and not once did I get sick in five months. If any of you are thinking of going the natural way I can put all the details of what was in the mix that I took.

Now as most travellers know there are some wonderful books out there to give you all the information you need whilst travelling around, for example probably one of the most popular of them all is the 'Lonely Planet'. These are fantastic guides and I stress here guides, I like alot of other people treated it like the bible and I realized after a couple of months that it certainly wasn't that(I travelled through Peru with the Lonely Planet and everything seemed OK). Maybe the guide books are fantastic for most countries in the world, I found that India maybe was changing to fast for books that were a couple of years old and this was the latest edition that I had. Like I wrote earlier these books are written by people who had there own experience in certain areas of the country. I read about places in India that came across in the book as fascinating, beautiful places and when I got there, I and other people I was travelling with found it quite the opposite. What I did from then on was to ask as many fellow travellers what they thought of certain places I was interested in and then went on my own intuition.

What I and my friends also found was that most of the accommodation that was mentioned in the Lonely Planet knew that they were in the book so they put their prices up and if your on a budget that's no good. So it's another tricky one and it's another one that can work good for some people and not for others. What I did was if I was arriving very early morning or late at night and I knew I was going to be tired, before getting on what ever transport I was taking I would go through the Lonely Planet and find a good guesthouse, so when all the touts came rushing at me if I said I already had a place to go they'd leave me alone. Now if you don't mind having a bit of fun with touts so you get a better and cheaper place then the Lonely Planet, go for it, also know that you might get lead around in circles and it ends up costing more in the long run. After a while you get a feel for whats going on, when your more confident and as I've said before the Indians some how sense that they cant rip you off you can find bargain places that are very nice.

What is the best price to pay for anything, when travelling through countries like India? well that's up to you again, know that in a place like India most of people are very poor, so they'll do anything to get as much money out of you, we would describe it as though the Indians just see us as a dollar bill walking around with arms and legs. I often asked when I knew they were lying through their teeth to get a sale,'what religion are you?' and nine times out of ten they would say 'Hindu', then I would ask 'isn't a part of the Hindu religion based on Karma?', 'why yes sir, it is','then why are you lying and trying to rip me off?', (this was said in as loving way as possible), I was just trying to point out to some of them, that if they are going to follow their religion then they best follow one of their main principles.

I believe that there's a right price for both parties concerned, I saw a certain group of people that would not even go near a fair price for the seller. Most of them were quite aggressive in haggling and I could see in the Indians eyes they were never happy with what was going on(oh but was that the Indians Karma for ripping off other customers?) I found the best way to bargain was to always remember what you would pay in your own country and to take into account how much mark up is on the price(sometimes it could be ten times the amount even more) because your a foreigner and in between that is a fare price for both of you. I think I used to say what ever price they give halve it and then its up to you if you want to go just under half or pay a little over half. Don't get me wrong if you can get them down to the real price or just above that's fantastic especially if your travelling for along time, but I feel if your only there for a short trip then why not give a little more.

One of my favorite books talks about haggling and how it is not good for both parties. I cant quite remember how it was written, but I think it was saying something along the lines of if the seller is asking for a higher price to see if they can trick someone into to paying to much, then they are saying 'you are not worthy of a fair price brother' and that means, if we are all one then we are actually ripping ourselves off in a way. That goes for the buyer as well, if you try and get a very cheap price for yourself, are you not saying that 'you are not worthy of getting a good price for your goods, so I'm going to not pay you a fare price, because you don't deserve it', when you look at it, it certainly is a huge form of separation and that's sad.

Here's some of the pictures I didn't get in.

This was taken in one of the rooms in the Meherangarh Fort, Jodhpur.

You can see elephants just about everywhere in Rajasthan, unfortunately this was one of the experiences, going for a ride on an elephant I didn't get to do, this was taken in one of my favorite places in India, Udaipur.

I cant remember where this was taken, I saw that many temples and forts in five months, after a while some of them looked the same.

I had placed a black and white photo of this wonderful old man in a previous post. He was seated outside the Jagdish Temple, Udaipur.

I took this photo of this monk in Mcleod Ganj, I had seen his face before, but didn't know where. A president of a country I've never heard of was at this ceremony, an Irish guy and I just happen to be out the front of the Dalai Lamas residents, when the president and his entourage came out. After I took this photo this monk came over and stood next to me, I glanced across and smiled at him he smiled back and nodded his head. After the interview in which me and the Irish guy were right in the middle of, I turned and asked one of the press photographers, who the monk was, he looked at me quite puzzled,'why he's the prime minister of Tibet, Samdhong Rinpoche', 'oh, I knew I'd seen his face before', the man then said, 'hey are you press?', 'no I said', now looking back at him with a puzzled face,'what are you doing here?, your not supposed to be here, only the press, you can get into big trouble being here'. I looked around and noticed that the whole area had been cordoned off, and was surrounded by heavily armed guards, well it was perfect timing I got to listen to the interviews, stand next to a president of a country and the prime minister of Tibet. Right at that moment they all started moving so I just casually walked off, one of the guards looked at me, I just nodded my head as though I was supposed to be there and went under the rope, to easy.