January 29-30 – Birthday and Days 1-2 of Panchakarma

January 30, 2011

January 29-30 – Birthday and Days 1-2 of Panchakarma

As today was my first day of panchakarma, and some of you are new to all of this, I’ve decided to give a day by day description of the process once again, even though I did it several years ago.  Have even gone back and reviewed the old posts and found some of my reactions similar to what they were in the past, although less intense. So just a quick couple of words about my birthday “celebrations” and then on to panchakarma. My birthday dawned early, when I got my first text message greeting at 7 AM from and Indian friend!!  Rude awakening but began the day pleasantly.  I would love to be able to say that the day dawned sunny and warmer as it has been, but it dawned cloudy and much cooler…but there was nothing I could do to change it, so just got on with the day.  The fact that a few weeks ago was SO cold, actually made the chill of THIS morning not so bad at all. The day moved along with lots of greetings on facebook, e-mail and messenger, as well as in person and by phone…very pleasant and giving a warm feeling knowing that there are many people out there thinking of me (at least once a year!!) And then, following my morning of meditation and pranayama, and my usual oatmeal with apples, cinnamon, cloves, raisins, almonds and fruit juice, I went down for my first day of Panchakarma.  Panchakarma is a cleansing and rejuvenation treatment, a process which takes various lengths of time (I usually do 4 weeks, last year did 6 weeks), and it is based on the ancient Indian medicine called Ayurveda, meaning “the science of life”.  For more information just google it and you’ll find everything you need to know about what the treatments involve, what doshas (body types-but not really) are all about, and how they are used to determine health and imbalances etc. So, I came down for day one to the clinic, and as I walk in, Doc says to me “First Birthday, then panchakarma!”….His wife had come down especially to see me bringing with her a special birthday treat which she knows I love .  Carrot Halvah.  Now, Halvah in India refers to anything which is sweet.  And this is a lovely dish made from carrots and cream and spices and simply divine.  So I was handed a large portion to eat and enjoy for my birthday!! And then down to business. Day one is usually a consultation first where pulse checking determines what needs to be “fixed”, but I had already had mine as you may recall so all I needed to do this morning was to weigh myself.  Good weight for me, 56 kg, which Dr. Arora feels is my ideal weight at this age, although I find it a little too much. Then, up for my full body massage with medicated oils, and this was wonderful as always.  Due to the cold weather, the room had a heater on (didn’t help much), but the table also had an electric mattress pad, and I was given a got water bottle to keep with me under the 2 very warm blankets I was covered with, and I was fine.  The oil was heated and all in all I did not feel the cold at all. After the massage, downstairs for a spoonful of ghee (clarified butter), disgusting, but very good for lubricating the system, and a glass of herbal tea.  Then I would normally eat kicheri (a meal of mung beans cooked together with rice, herbs and spinach or other vegetables and considered THE easiest food digest in the world – hence used during treatments, and also for invalids, after childbirth etc).  But I have changed my system this year to make it easier for me.  I take the kicheri back to the room with me so I just have to heat it up in the evening, and have found a place which will prepare my steamed veggies and chapaties with ghee for me.  SO I go there directly from the treatment, just nearby, very conveniently eat my lunch, saving me having to shop for the veggies, prepare them myself etc., in the evening.  And then up to rest and relax in my room. I went home feeling good, but towards evening developed a bad headache, same as previous years and had a bad night…also got up to pee many times which is unusual for me but a good sign that the massage already started the process moving along and cleansing.  I believe the headache is a withdrawal symptom from all the caffeine I’ve been drinking daily in chai… In the past it lasted several days and was really really bad. I can already tell you, that it was already gone by this morning and I am fine today. So that was day #1. Day number 2 DID dawn warmer and sunny and after breakfast went down for my massage where I was able to take advantage of the “sun room”.  A closed in porch with lots of windows which is extremely warm and lovely as long as the sun is out.  I was still given a blanket and hot water bottles but they were unnecessary until I moved later on to the other room for the second part of the treatment for the day. The massage, given this time by the second massage therapist, was even better than yesterday… Anyway, following it, I had my first Sirodhara, which is treatment where your eyes are gently covered and warm oil is dripped on your forehead for about 45 minutes.  I did not used to enjoy this, but Dr. Arora taught me last year how to get the best results, and now I find it very relaxing, even falling asleep. Sirodhara is good for three things basically (and others as well), insomnia – which I don’t have, memory, which I also don’t have!!, and for proper functioning of bone marrow which is very important as we get older. Since your hair becomes completely soaked in oil, there is no choice but to take a shower…which is done with a bucket, but plenty of hot water, and by the time I finished, I was really hungry.  Downstairs again for ghee and herbal tea, packing up my kicheri and off for lunch. It is now 5 in the afternoon…I feel good today, if a little tired, but nothing like in the past, have had my snack of fruit and will soon begin to think of dinner. And that’s about it. Nothing interesting to speak of…but I am pleased I have waited until now to do the panchakarma…warmer weather, and I am past much cleansing and healing already.  I feel it will be a very productive month. Namaste Jane

January 28, 2011 – Last Day Before Beginning Panchakarma

January 28, 2011

January 28, 2011 – Last Day Before Beginning Panchakarma

My Room in the Evening

Today is my last day before panchakarma, and for breakfast I ate paneer parantha and masala chai (the last for a month), for lunch I’ve bought myself a delicious whole wheat apple cake to eat, and for dinner I will have my famous “sort of” cheese/tomato omelette. I’ve shopped for fruit to keep in my room to snack on during panchakarma, including keewees and wonderful seedless black grapes among things, and have arranged for my kicheri to be prepared each day as well as a place to eat my chapattis and steamed veggies.  So I am all set for tomorrow, happy I waited until now to begin.  I’ve done all of my errands here BEFORE beginning, which means I have a full 6 weeks to just take care of myself and relax without worrying about things I need to do.  It was a wise decision based on the very cold weather previously but in the end making this the most relaxing panchakarma I’ve done to date.

Well, you may have noticed, but I’ve been “silent” for a few days now…this was not planned but something which just flowed and which I accepted.  I needed time “retreat” time for myself, and although issues from back home did their best ti disturb that retreat time, I did manage to go deeply within for a few days.

I spent most of the past few days sitting on my rooftop, with minimal contact with other people.  The weather has been most cooperative, with blue skies, warming sun and pleasant caressing breezes.  I have not used my heater in two days and last night I didn’t even need the hot water bottle to “put me to sleep” at night. I am no longer dressing in several layers of clothing, and during the warmest hours of the afternoon, find myself removing all layers down to short sleeves and no sox.  Once the sun sets the longer sleeves are again required and in the evening, a couple of warmer layers in the room, but quite comfortable actually.

So now I sit in the sun, beautifully warming and pleasant, and just figured I write this one post so that you know I haven’t disappeared completely.  Since I haven’t done much out and about stuff, there are no interesting photos to post, except for what you see here which is a picture of my room in the evening.  The last couple of evenings I’ve been able to sit outdoors until after 6 and it is a real pleasure to be able to do this.




January 23-24, 2011 – A Glorious Day Out Plus the New Blessing (Addiction?) of Needlepoint

January 24, 2011

January 23-24, 2011 – A Glorious Day Out Plus the New Blessing (Addiction?) of Needlepoint

I am now sitting out on my rooftop and believe it or not, have to sit in the shade.  It is 4 in the afternoon and the sun is too strong to sit in directly.  But as you can see from the photo, the mountains are at their most glorious green shades after these past two beautiful days.  The weather has definitely shifted, and although there may still be a few days of rain now and then when it will be chilly, warmer weather is here.

Today was a lovely day, spent outdoors from breakfast at a lovely restaurant in Ram Jhula, Flavors, where I had the best paneer parantha I have had since arriving, as well as the cheapest (this is a real Indian Restaurant, not some Western tourist place). [ I met an Indian girl there and was going to relate her family story to you all, but after a very unpleasant visit with her in the evening in my room (I had invited her!), I’ve decided to just release the whole episode and move along.  It seems I had forgotten the rules of interaction in India and had been far too open and generous with her at the restaurant, leading her to false expectations or just cheekiness when she arrived at my room. ]

Took some lovely photos today and the link to the album is here:


More trees, views of a sunny warm day along the Ganga ghats (including a lovely series showing a woman doing a ritual bathe with her son assisting her so she doesn’t fall completely into the water) and a loving Mother and Baby cow !

I had walked down to the restaurant for breakfast using the upper forest road and cutting through the Sivananda Ashram, a first walk of this type for me since arriving.  It’s just been too cold to venture out down this road in the morning, but it was lovely today  From there, I crossed over Ram Jhula bridge, and walked out the other side going all the way to the end of Swaghashram area and just enjoying the ghats, as were lots of other people.  The first really warm day and you can see people everywhere bathing in the Ganga…not just the very spiritual or cold water bathing enthusiasts.

And it seems that the tourists are back.  Either they all arrived yesterday, hearing that the weather was turning, or they were here all along and just hiding out in their rooms the past month!.  Either way, all the restaurants were full, as was the local Coffee Day coffee shop, which is always mainly taken advantage of by westerners (although the occasional Indian – who can afford the prices- will be seen there).  It was full to overflowing, both inside and out!  Lots of people out shopping and the shopkeepers were really happy with wide grins on their faces as the slow movements of winter slowly give way to a real flow of tourists.

After my walk out and back to ram jhula, instead of crossing over and coming home, which is what I would have done until today, I simply continued on back to Laxman Jhula, (about 2-3 km. on the back road), went in to my lovely restaurant on the ganga for a late lunch, and then headed home.  All in all I walked about 8 kilometers today, felt great the entire way, and was outdoors longer than I have been until now.   It was wonderful.

I realize now that I really needed this past month of extremely cold weather to force me to use this time to heal myself on many levels…including physical, so I could then take full advantage and completely enjoy this wonderful weather which has now begun.  There is no way I could have done the amount of walking I did yesterday and today when I first arrived, or even two weeks ago for that matter…when I still had serious issues with my shoulder and upper back and then suddenly, even my knees.

After my healing sessions, and other ways of releasing negative emotions and traumas, my shoulder and back are perfect, I have no problem carrying my bag around while out and about (when I first came, I couldn’t carry ANYTHING without experience extreme shooting pain, and this began almost 5 months ago).  And then my knees gave out…don’t know why, but it also had to do with certain emotional cords/ties I was having trouble releasing.  Well, after three consecutive days of doing Reiki on my knees for one hour a day, they are as good as new.  I was able to walk up the mountain yesterday, and today, walked about 8 kilometers without a trace of trouble. So the extremely cold weather was a blessing (as all things are actually), and now I can enjoy each and every moment being out in the glorious weather which began yesterday.

Needlepoint: Well, I had begun a work of needlepoint several years ago (the last I had done this before this one was when I was pregnant with my last child – He is now 29 years old!).  I had decided it would be something pleasant to do in India in 2007 and enjoyed it that year.  It was put aside when I got home, and last year, remembering it, decided to take it again with me to work on.  To my surprise and dismay, I could not see well enough to work it, and figured it would be resigned for eternity, unfinished, to the drawer.

Just before leaving for India this year, I came across it in the drawer and for some reason, felt the need to throw it into the suitcase.  Yesterday, for some reason, I pulled it out and had a most wonderful discovery.  I was able to work it!!  It seems that last year, when I was diagnosed with a cataract on one eye (the reason I couldn’t see well enough to do it before, and couldn’t even read comfortably the past year), I was told that I would need stronger reading glasses as the progressive, multifocal ones I had been using for years could not compensate for the loss of close vision.  So I DID get a pair of reading glasses, and later in the States my brother, an optometrist, also made me a pair of bifocals, and I was once again able to enjoy reading.

Apparently, these same reading glasses have improved my vision enough to allow me to work the needlepoint as well!  What a lovely surprise!

I find the repetitive movement of the needle and thread , even though it is ME who is consciously causing this movement, to be meditative, hypnotic, relaxing and to my surprise, as addictive as a good computer game!!! (just one more section….just one more color….just this tiny space….just a drop more), and I found myself sitting today (it is already the next day), for several hours out on the rooftop, working the needlepoint.  Today was a day for relaxing at home.  Had a good shower and hair wash, even did my nails, relaxed outside in the sunshine and caressing breeze the entire day…reading, doing needlepoint, and just absorbing the healing warmth into every part of my body. Now, with the sun down behind the trees, have retired to my room.  It has been a lovely day so far, and am sure it will continue in this relaxing way.



January 22, 2011 – Tapovan Village Walk

January 23, 2011

January 22, 2011 – Village Walk

For a full photo review of the walk, please see this facebook link:

Went to sleep last night knowing I would be going up through the village today. Woke to a glorious sunshiny day

and after a leisurely morning including nice hot shower (which up until now I’ve had to take in the evening as it was much too cold in the room in mornings), I left for my walk. After walking uphill for about an hour (I thought it was about 15 minutes and couldn’t understand why all of me was complaining), I realized that I would not do any more of this. I have been feeling the changes in my body for a few years now, but it was a loud and clear message to me that uphill is no longer a serious option for me1 Sad but true. I accept these new limitations gratefully and joyfully, thankful that I can still walk for hours with no problem, as long as it is not continually UP!.

While walking up the mountain past the village, I was accompanied by rapids, and the beautiful music of the water was with me all the time. Other than the occasional bird-call, that was the only sound I heard most of the time. The sound of the water became progressively louder the higher up I walked, until it was the only thing I heard. And if I ventured off the main path for awhile, I was greeted with almost an eerie silence once the water sounds could no longer be heard. Here is a link to a video in case you want to get an idea of the sounds for yourself:


January 22, 2011 – A Day with the Trees

January 22, 2011

January 22, 2011 – A Day with the Trees

I am now sitting at Ayurpak waiting for my lunch of  fried vegetable rice with cooked pumpkin (ayurveda style), after my walk up through Tapovan Village.


I will post more about this walk, including lots of photos, but this post will be devoted to TREES.



Why?  I have no idea actually, but while walking through the village , the clouds began to roll in but this was fine.  I had already peeled off whatever I could and was feeling really hot!, and then the trees began talking to me, asking me to look at them, to study them and, yes, to photograph them.  Which I did for the remaining half of my walk.  I don’t know yet exactly what this was all about, but it was definitely a wonderful walking meditation.  While communicating with the trees and photographing them at their request, I also heard the lovely sounds of the water rushing along beside the path.

Try to ennjoy this video as I enjoyed the actual sounds


And in the past, I have received messages from tress which have always helped me through difficult places. You can read one of these stories at this link:


…and I am sure as I begin to go through the photos, in order to post them, I will understand further, any messages the trees had for me today (or not!).

So enjoy these photos, and the next post will contain lots of photos from the lovely village walk of today, as well as my new reality regarding  the subtle but very real changes in my  body…

January 20, 2011- Just Some Photos of a Quiet Day on the Ganga

January 20, 2011

January 20, 2011- Just Some Photos of a Quiet Day on the Ganga

Panorama of Ganga from Buddha Cafe

I am sitting at the Buddha Café overlooking the Ganga and in the background, and Israeli singer and his group are singing.  (Shlomo Bar / ha’berera ha’tivit) and for some reason it seems perfectly suitable.  Others have been asking what the CD is and I happen to be the one there who could identify it as Israeli.  Many were surprised…it seems so Indian sounding and so fitting for here.  Quite enjoying it in the background.

Just a lazy quiet day so will just be posting some photos on facebook.  Here is the link:


I’ve had this internet connection in my room now for a couple of weeks, and I just realized today that I could download stuff !  Didn’t think of it until this morning…so I am now downloading (VERY slowly) recent episodes from a couple of TV programs I like.  (I have no TV at home either, so I always watch these 3-4 programs either online or by downloading them, so this is nothing new for me).  Wonder how long it will take to download them.  Doesn’t matter, I have plenty of time.




January 19, 2011- Addition: Perfect End to a Perfect Day

January 19, 2011

January 19, 2011 – Addition:  Perfect End to a Perfect Day

steamy steamed veggies - 1/2 minute in pressure cooker

What better way to end this lovely day than with the following;  While I finished posting the first post today, my veggies steamed, and the moon rose like this:

The Moon this Evening

Another day full of blessings!



January 19, 2011 – Sun, Sweet Lassi and Indian Paradox -Impressions of a Changing India

January 19, 2011

January 19, 2011 – Sun, Sweet Lassi and Indian Paradox -Impressions of a Changing India

Just a quick post.  Woke to a lovely sunny morning and decided it was a good day to go into the market and do some errands…some things I needed to purchase and ship hope.  I usually wait until my last couple of weeks and am then hassled, and the weather is hot.  So decided to do it while it is still cool and I am in no hurry.  And as usual, what should be a quick trip to the shop became a full day’s work.  And I still have to return again to finish the transaction and get the parcel off in the mail. But that’s fine.  No hassle…typically Indian and I don’t mind it at all.  I know that it is possible to do just one thing a day here, and so technically life becomes very simple.


My Dinner Waiting to be Steamed While I Post This!

When I returned from the market, pleased that I had done the basic work of getting the stuff purchased and ready for the post office, I sat for awhile to talk to some friends in the next guesthouse and then returned to my room and didn’t feel like cooking.  I ordered room service and where, until today, there would be no question about my ordering chai to drink to warm me up, today, for the first time since I’ve been here (a whole month already), I actually ordered my first LASSI.  Delicious as always and it hit the spot, proving beyond a doubt that very slowly the weather is warming up.  Nothing drastic, but enough to be able to enjoy a cold lassi on the rooftop in the sun!

While purchasing the items to ship home, among them, two pressure cookers, I had to sit and wait for some time in the “pot shop” and the owner and I began chatting over chai.  I mentioned how I’ve noticed prices going up in India drastically from year to year.  Asked how people managed and he said that salaries are also rising.  When I asked however, about the poor, who don’t get salary hikes, he simply bobbled his head and said “what to do…too many poor people”.  And then went on to tell me how expensive his vacations have become.  He told me that it was just as cheap to go to Macao and Hong Kong as it was to vacation in India.  Didn’t understand how this could be possible, until he told me about his vacations in Chennai, Hyderabad and Goa.  The one in Goa for example, cost him, for him and his wife, for a 3 day vacation, 60,000 rupees!!  Yes, that’s right.  That is about $1500!!!  I don’t even remember the other prices her quoted to me, but they were equally astounding, at least for me.  He said he only stays at 5-7 star hotels (never heard of a 7 star hotel personally).  I said that I only stay at “0” star hotels and he laughed.  I commented that he must be selling an awful lot of pots to be able to do this and he bobbled his head, laughed and said…”yes, many pots for sure!!”

He then began to tell me about the wonderful malls springing up all over the country and when I mentioned that they seemed very expensive, he agreed but said that is because they sell only the best quality and of course it is OK to spend a lot of money for good quality.  He says his wife loves to go shopping at the malls and travels for hours to get to one and spend money.  Apparently, India is not far behind the rest of the world as far as consumerism is concerned.  I just find it so disconcerting when I look around and see all the poverty everywhere.  It is difficult for me to accept, but the average Indian doesn’t seem to think there is anything out of place, or paradoxical about it.  That’s just the way life is.  Some people are poor, and will always be poor, while others have been blessed with upward mobility and will climb as far and as fast as they can!

This would help explain all the new building going on even here in Tapovan Village…


New Private Flats Under Construction Replacing Open Fields in Tapovan

mostly flats, not guesthouses or hotels.  What you see in this picture, and others I posted a couple of days ago, was just a year ago open fields…now there is barely room to walk between the buildings! Seems many retired couples are purchasing  small one-bedroom flats in the “suburbs” and even some young couples are purchasing them as “first flats” before they move on to something better.



That’s it for today….

January 18, 2011 – Dusk of a (slightly) Warmer Day

January 18, 2011

January 18, 2011 – Dusk of a (slightly) Warmer Day

A stay at home day to clean my room, wash my hair, and relax on the rooftop in the warmth of the sun…just glorious!

I don’t see actual sunsets from here, which is a shame, but can just imagine how beautiful this one was after such a long time  of clouds, mist and fog.

The blessings of simple things!

Looking West From my Rooftop

Looking East - note the moon off to the left

January 17, 2011 – What’s Happening?

January 17, 2011

January 17, 2011 – What’s Happening?

waiting for my lunch on the way home from Puja

Actually nothing much, which is why I haven’t written the last couple of days.  Today of course was the lovely puja at Laxmis’s new home, but other than that not much to write about.  The weather has gone back to normal winter cold, which is fine with me.  I don’t need my heater at all in the evening and just for a short time in the morning.  Although there is still no sun to speak of, the outdoor temperature is much nicer, and perfect for comfortable walking with only a normal amount of clothing on rather than tons of layers.  I am quite content to do my walk abouts leisurely when I feel like it, or just sit around near my room, visit my friend Seema, etc.  Cooking about 50% of my meals these days and that’s just about right for me.

Getting back to restaurants I haven’t been to yet, like the Pyramid Cafe…long walk up but fabulous, fresh, health food and wonderful view and they even have WIFI if you need it…also very quiet (since it is way off the beaten path)…pics below:

on the way up to pyramid cafe

view from pyramid cafe

also from pyramid cafe

I am including a few photos just to make this a little more interesting, but this is the way I like it.

I do my morning stuff each day, without having to worry about the time, take my time with breakfast, a few hours out each day and back to relax late afternoon.  I will not have the same freedom in a couple of weeks when I begin panchakarma, so for now, am just enjoying the blessings of each day.  Having the internet connection in my room has been wonderful as I can choose when to post, when to upload while doing other stuff (like now, I am in bed, nice and comfy and warm with hot water bottle, music relaxing me in the background, and while I upload photos etc., and am reading).  It was a good decision and I am happy I did it.

Enjoy the photos

a couple here from Laxman Jhula bridge which is always busy

Bridge Traffic...people, motorcycles and monkeys




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