Daily Archives: 2012-04-15

Full Moon Sun Rise in the Ganges – Rishikesh, India

We decided to wake up early this morning to watch the full moon set and the morning sunrise. We had planned to take a midnight dip in the Ganga river just as the moon reached its fullest at 12:48am. But we were discouraged from some locals who warned the police would throw us in jail so we postponed it a few hours. I hardly believed that the cops would trouble us too much even if we were discovered but I did remember how freezing the river was at the height of day. The prospect of venturing back home wet in the dead of night was not appealing.

So I set my alarm for 445am although it wasn’t necessary in the end. I didn’t sleep all night. I was busy thinking which seems to be happening a lot lately. I was advised to perform a sort of ritual in order to clear and reset my energy. Before I laid down, I completed the first part which meant writing all the feelings, emotions, people, memories, habits, and patterns I wanted to let go of. I ended up with eight pages and some of it was really heavy. Next I would burn the list to ashes which I would then release with love into the sacred ganga. Then I was to immerse myself allowing Her to flow through my chakras and carry away that which no longer serves me. Sounds hokey? Well, I didn’t really have much to lose by trying it and stood a lot to gain. Besides, I always say to try everything once, twice if you like it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I imagined that the effects would only be amplified by the full moon. The moon and I have always been close. So I convinced a couple of girlfriends to join me on the adventure making us three. They met me more than halfway and together we made our way down to the river in the still darkness. When we reached the sandy shore, we found our favorite spot and perched ourselves up on the rocks. Lena and Amanda worked on their lists while I admired the mystical orange pregnant moon touch down on the horizon.

After reviewing my list and adding a few last minute regrets, I ceremoniously set the pages alight. I watched the flames consume my fears, negativity, and destructiveness. I understand the power of fire and experience a similar feeling when I watch the Sunday night temple blaze every year at Burning Man. When all my anguish and tears were reduced to light grey ashes, I gently sprinkled them into the fast flowing river.

Since it was early and barely light, I stripped down to my swimsuit. Usually this would be considered scandalous so I would be much more covered. But since the usual crowd of male spectators were probably still in their beds, I took advantage of the freedom. The wind was quite strong which made the air feel more chilly than it was but the river was still freezing comparatively. Just before I stepped in the water, I noticed my toe was bleeding pretty bad. I must have sliced it open on one of the jagged rocks and now it was really starting to throb. I shrugged it off reasoning that there must be something very auspicious about giving the holy ganga my blood as well.

I sucked it up and walked in with purpose, only stopping when the water reached my heart. At that point, I couldn’t help but gasp for air. I didn’t mean to but it was loud enough that the other girls raised their eye brows in concern. It was bloody cold! I tried to stop hyperventilating but it took me a good five minutes to regulate.

Finally, I bit the bullet and dunked my head right under submerging myself fully. For some odd reason, whenever I put my whole head under, the rest of me warms up considerably. That said, I only had the courage (thank you manipura) to do that a couple more times before I had enough. A good twenty minutes after I entered, I allowed myself to emerge, shivering like a leaf. I climbed into my giant lamb sweater and poured some hot ginger tea from my thermos. Lena sipped it and passed me the cup as we cuddled together. We giggled like school kids as we waited for Amanda to join us. We three dried off as best we could then practiced some solar gazing for a few minutes before heading back. I felt tired but my soul felt energized. I am not sure what exactly to expect from it all or how much I changed but we all agreed we felt much lighter.

Grateful for rituals.

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Trains vs Buses – Hardiwar, India

My last few days in Rishikesh were spent working on the book. I was so moved by everyone’s support I felt a renewed sense of purpose. I also felt a slight bit of pressure, now realizing that I had better put out something top-quality if I didn’t want to let everyone down. It is a fine are revising without losing the essence of who and where I was at that delicate point of my life. I was so glad to have found a copy editor in my new friend Sarah who agreed to assist me in the project.

I was really looking forward to learning to make gulab jamen but it turned out to be an empty promise. I stocked up on apple cakes to share with my friends as I said my goodbyes. I headed back across the ganga on the water taxi one last time before heading to the bus station. I met up with Lena and Triin then we climbed onto the local bus to Delhi. We made sure it would stop in Hardiwar where we could jump off and catch our train.

Everyone knows that train travel is far superior to buses in India. We were lucky enough to get a few of the last “tatkal” quota tickets on the otherwise completely sold out route. I still don’t understand how the railway ticketing works but somehow people seem to get to where they are going. Even if that means squishing seven onto a three person bench or standing for eight hours at a time. The more dangerous and less reliable buses are also very inconvenient if you happen to be suffering a case of Delhi Belly. At least the trains are equipped with private holes in the floor otherwise known as Indian squat toilets. On the bus, you just have to hold it and sometimes that like trying to stop a heat seeking missile searching the sun. I guess those embarrassing explosive plumbing problems are all part of the Indian initiation process.

Our bus had mechanical problems and although we also got stuck in a traffic jam, we still made it to the train station with a half hour to spare. Or so we thought. Lena was going to charge her phone with minutes but luckily she couldn’t or we would have surely missed the train. As we were walking down the platform trying to locate our sleeper car, the train lunged ahead suddenly. We all panicked and jumped on. We were confused and had to triple check that we were infact on the right train. Why was it leaving twenty minutes early? An early train? Expect the unexpected, I guess.

We all settled into the top bunks and hunkered down for the next eight hours. Lena slept right through it and Trinn battled for legroom with cheeky bottoms. I tried to read but couldn’t focus. I tried to sleep but couldn’t relax. I just laid there and thought. As if I haven’t been doing enough of that lately. India has been quite a trip but I was so relieved it was almost over. I guess I was proud of myself for sticking to it for almost five months but I really am wearing thin.

In those last days, I seemed to get unusually clumsy. A lot of the buildings have grey marble stairwells which paired with slippers, are a recipe for disaster. I remember thinking at the beginning of my time here how awful it would hurt to fall down those stairs. I avoided it for a good five months but then the inevitable came to pass. I sustained heavy bruising on my arms and backside but the most painful was my swollen sprained left thumb. I left India black and blue and bloody and scarred. Inside and out.

Grateful for travel partners.

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