I just got back from India last evening after a break for a couple of weeks. For me, India is home. It is where I am from and it is where my heart, soul and being thrive. I moved to Seattle only 4 years ago, and living yoga, sharing it with others, is what makes this place home to me now. I went to India for personal reasons this December, and I wanted to give you a glimpse of what my trip was like! For the first time in many years, it was not entirely a yoga trip. I did do some yoga, but did not take my camera into class.
Living in India is an altogether different experience – with such a rich and ancient culture that exudes itself through the foods, the people. It’s a nation of bright colors, and a sense of joy that, if you let it, will penetrate each part of you and take you along for the ride. As a highly populated country, they have mastered the art of simplicity and sustainability, only progressing more each day. If you have been there, you know what I am talking about. It is so vibrant that it is difficult for me to put down in words. A trip to India always helps me get in touch with my roots, identify with who I really am, and on my return it leaves me wondering ‘why do I choose to live here in the States?’. It takes a few days of getting back into my routine, but then I remember why it is I am here.
Here’s a visual glimpse of my days in India, in no particular order.
Indian traffic is pretty crazy. And scary if you are used to order and routine where you live. The lines on the road are merely just suggestions, and the way the drivers let you know they are coming is by honking their horn (no, it’s not all road rage!). India is the most populated country in the world and that really shows in many aspects of life. While road rules exist, they are not followed completely. Driving there is an art and needs skill. It’s tight packed with not an inch of the road wasted. But despite the chaos, you would be amazed at how safe it is as people’s reaction time is great Though it can be very exhausting, frustrating as well as entertaining to drive there, it certainly has a way of keeping you and all others extremely present. The roads are a mix of cars, buses, trucks, bikes, cycles, bullock carts, auto rickshaws, animals and people.
In India, cows are considered holy, and having them in traffic is part of everyday life. These two even stopped at the red light. Never a dull moment.
For me, India is a food celebration. The diversity in India is immense, and it is reflected in the food across the regions. I am from South India, and food served in this region is very different from what is served up North. I will save the differenciation for another time. But some of my favorite dishes are the masala dosa (see pic below). It is a crispy crepe with Indian spices, chutneys and is to die for. I would recommend you eat one of these before you leave this planet – you will not regret it! My favorite recommendations for dosa when you are in Banagalore are – MTR and Vidyarthi Bhavan. YUM!
I must confess, I ate a LOT. It was less Yoga and more bhoga (enjoyment)!
I love shopping for fruits and vegetables in India. They are local, fresh, organic and available on carts all over. They come mostly directly from the farmer and are wonderful bought from small vendors. Also, in India, people do not hoard much food, they buy small quantities often.
You must stop at the local eat street to check out the local street food. It is an experience
Local grocery stores in India are smaller. And so much easier to get through. Quantities are much smaller in India – in general stores and malls are smaller as well.
A local store that sells all puja items. Stuff used for daily rituals.Home is where the heart is, they say! And it is so true. Whenever I go back home, I regress into childhood. So much fun to be back home. Each and every time, I feel like I connect with my truest self here.
Have you ever ridden in an auto rickshaw? It is the most fun ride. And also a great way to take in the sights. When I was younger, I wanted to buy one and ride around town.
In India, a lot of alliances are matched through parents, relatives and online services like these! And people have found great matches and lived happily ever after.
My mom buying some veggies off a cart!India uses a lot of steel for utensils. Microwaves are not as common, and gas stoves are used in all households. I stopped at this store to pick up some copper utensils for myself. My family has been going to this store since my grandfather was young and we have seen three generations of this store. There are many relationships that you will form with people in a country and community like this.
India runs on chai! And it’s true. It is the drink of the nation. People drink chai (tea) whether they are happy or sad. Sleepy or wide awake. At a movie, wedding or date night. It is literally in our blood. The Indian chai is not like your typical Starbucks chai tea latte. It is far better! It is made with tea leaves and powder and has milk and sugar. It is divine. I am a chai-holic. I live on tea. Someday, I dream that I will retire with a little chai shack in my older years.
If you are staying off caffeine, you must try the local coconut water. You find them at street corners or you have vendors who will come on a cycle past your street. I snapped this picture a little too late but a sight like this is common. And they have the best tasting coconut water. They also work very hard. I have noticed how hard people work in India this trip. And has increased my humility and respect for the people there.
India recently underwent demonitization – exciting times for the nation where 90% of the nation traded with cash, a massive change is underway in the past 6 weeks. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi went ahead and made a bold move. And announced that certain currency values would be illegal tender going forward in an attempt to stop black money and also to move into the digital age of online transactions. While the nation is still learning how to go cashless, it is a fantastic and progressive move.
On the subject of progress, my city has also banned plastic bags! This makes me SO happy. It is my pet peeve. I do not stop at a grocery store if I do not have my veggie bags. In Bangalore, people now are charged for bags if they do not bring their own, this includes to-go boxes or containers at a restaurant.
And if you can’t tell, I had a great time eating, meeting friends, making merry and just had a blast. And as I was headed back, I noticed that the Bengaluru International Airport had a statue of Patanjali as well as some yoga bars in the stores. Looks like Indian tourism board is getting influenced by the westernization of yoga.
I came back to a very snowy Seattle. Well actually, more like a snowy Redmond. I am ready to tackle 2017! It is an exciting year ahead for Aham Yoga. And if you want to visit India, we have something very special in store for December 2017. Keep a lookout for more details coming your way soon. Happy New Year everyone. Make this year count. Make memories not resolutions. Be intentional and live in the present moment.