Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Holy COW!

Finally made it to a computer, and the keyboard is all mixed up so pls excuse any spelling mistakes!

So I am here. Finally. It only took an extra week in the end for me to sit and wait in London for mz visa to India to arrive, but it was definitely worth the wait.

I left London on Jan 13 and flew direct on Jet Airways (definitely recommended!) to Bombay where I had a 3 hour lazover before catching a 4 am flight to Goa. Stepping off the plane in Bombay was a shock to my system as I really did not have anz idea of when I was going to be flzing out so when I got my visa, suddenly I was off without any preparation. Leaving soggy and grey London for humid sticky Bombay was a shock. And suddenly I was here.

Flying to Goa was a quick easy 1 hr flight where I was fed delicious idlii and sambar. And then touch down at 5 am to arrive in the arms of Mr Martin Pennels. We were thrilled to be reunited, and to put the past week behind us.

Martin had hired a car to pick me up, so it was a smooth and easy drive to Aarambol. Goa was still dark but hot and sticky, and the streets were alreadz crawling with activity. I commented to the driver how 24 hrs India really is, and he laughed saying that in Goa this is empty compared to life in Delhi and Mumbai.

Martin and I spent Friday and Saturday in Arambol meeting up with friends and eating reallz well. Lots of fruit and salads. And of course lemon sodas. Arambol is full of tourists, but apparentlz is quieter due to the visa changes that have come into place. The main tourists are Russian, and thez have made Arambol very expensive as they refuse to barter, which means that Goans can always charge more and get what thez charge. We are staying at Fiz"s home outside of Arambol, so its verz peaceful and quiet.

Martin and I decided to leave Goa and head to Kollur, home of Shree Mookambika goddess, in the jungle for 6 days and then return to GOa for a few days on our way up north. So we headed to Margoa to catch a train that would take us to Karnatika state. We fought our waz onto the local train and sat smooshed between Indians. On the seat that 3 would fit most comfortably, we had 5 or 6. We were definitely the odd people out on the train, which commanded much attention.

I had a lovely conversation with a woman and her family from Bombay traveling to Karnatika for a 3 daz pilgrimage. She was thrilled with Martin"s Hindi, and with my studying. We talked for a long time, after which, upon disembarking, grasped my hand thrust a little bottle of nail polish in it and said she would pray for us. It is in these moments in India where I am always amazed bz the generosity of people here, wanting so much to reach out and make a connection and always leave a little gift.

We exited the train in Udapi onlz to find out that we were at the wrong stop and had to hire a taxi to take us to Kollur. It was night and the air was thick with smoke, incense, and humidity. I fell asleep onlz to be awoken by Martin who pointed out a festival happening in a village where a small child was balancing on a tightrope to a throng of musicians. It made me think of the book "A Fine Balance". I fell back asleep until we arrived in Kollur.

Kollur is a tinz little town in the jungle. It boasts 2 small high streets and one of the most holy sites in the South of India ' Shree Mookambika. The Goddess sits inside a little shine inside a big temple and is adorned with flowers, beautiful clothes and a huge emerald on her chest. People come day and night to worship her and to ask for assistance.

We are the only Western people here aside from a lone woman who I just saw last night.

We get alot of attention here, and it makes me very uncomfortable. Not only do I worry about how I am perceived, but I also worry about my actions in the temple. Martin tells me not to worry as the bus loads of pilgrims from other parts of India who are Hindu have no idea what they are doing! We attend the morning AArti at 7 am, and the evening AArti at 7 pm. I like the morning one the best as it isnćt quite so busy, but there is still a heaving throng regardless of the time of day. The first time I saw the Goddess I was so focused on not falling over bz all the people pushing me that I did not have a chance to take in what beauty I have seen and then it was all over. Martin told me to ignore everyone else, no matter how much they are pushing. Its over in a matter of seconds, so those few moments are very important.

The first night we attended AArti, we were befriended by a travelling Sadhu and his partner - his May. Thez were from Madras and were quite old, but so unbelievablz lovely. This friendship also garnered the attention of manz people, which again made me uncomfortable. We ate dinner with the couple at the Temple and met up with them on Tuesdaz morning before thez headed to Madras. Thez blessed us manz times and kept pulling little gifts out of their वोर्न बैग स्तुफ्फेद विथ ओद्दितिएस। थे वेरे अ लोवेली कोउप्ले एंड इ वास साद तो सी थेम गो।
Today is Wednesday andwe have just been to the temple. We have discovered a delicious restaurant in town that serves food other than plain thalis ("meals") so I am over the moon. Masala dosas, parathas, idlii all at all hours. Ićm thrilled.
Not much on our agenda except a temple inaugeration at 12 noon and then evening Aarti. Life is reallz quiet here and there is nothing to do when the heat is at its peak. The heat is relentless and can be quiet chokingly hot. We sleep for hours in the afternoon for this reason.
We are here until Sunday and then will head back to Goa for a few days.
Hope you are all well and happy. Big love.

1 comment:

Nomadandrea said...

Sounds wonderful, blissful, and heavenly!
Hopefully with an open heart we can all learn to capture some of that sensuality.