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




January 17, 2011 – Puja Ceremony Before Moving into a New House

January 17, 2011

January 17, 2011 – Puja Ceremony Before Moving into a New House

I was invited today as a special guest at this ceremony .  My friend, Laxmi, has been in the process of building a house for the past 2 years.  It has been an uphill struggle the entire time and only through the good will and assistance of many wonderful people (making sure she would not have to take any bank loans), she was finally able to finish building this house and arriving at this auspicious day chosen by a priest.

New House from the Front

This is a family that has been through very difficult times.  Her’s was a love marriage, highly advised against, and with terrible results.  Her husband turned out to be a drug addict and after two children, she finally left him.  She has been supporting the family as a massage lady at Dr. Arora’s clinic all these years and works very hard at what she does.  Her mother-in-law is a great help to her, living much of the time with her and her children.

Up until now they were living in a one room house where they all slept, ate, did homework, played etc.  No bathroom, a kitchen out in the yard…no running water.  They now have a two story house which must seem like a mansion to them.  Upstairs there are three rooms.  One for Laxmi,

Her OWN room. This is about the size of the room she used t live in all together with her children and mother-in-law

one for her children and mother-in-law


This room was used for the puja but it is actually the kids room as well as the mother-in-laws when she is there

and the third a living room.  Off the living room


Living Room

is one of THREE toilets/showers!! Remember, this is after living in a house with NO toilet or shower!


"Guest" toilet/shower

This, so that the room can be used for guests easily, or even rented out to earn money.  Downstairs is another large room and another toilet/shower built to be rented out. SEE THIS LINK FOR FULL ALBUM ON FACEBOOK


And upstairs is also a full kitchen and another family toilet/shower.

The house is very plain and simple but will be a wonderful new home for this lovely family.

Built in Indian fashion, sort of “figure it out as you go along” style, there are things that no westerner would put up with…just one example.  The shelves in the kitchen are so high that the only way to reach them (for EVERYTHING needed for working in the kitchen) is to climb up on the countertop!!

Kitchen shelves

standing on counter top to reach LOWEST kitchen shelf!

I imagine in time shelves will be added at a normal height but for now, Laxmi seems to feel the kitchen design is fine!

Anyway, I was at the puja (religious ceremony) to sanctify the house and guaranteed it would be blessed with all good things and it was an interesting morning for me.

I’ve taken photographs but due to the cramped quarters, not sure if you can get a real feel for the place…what you can see, is the definite cramping of the entire neighborhood with others also building homes, with no zoning laws or permits needed…just do whatever you want, wherever you want, as big as you want and as close to your neighbor as you feel like.  A shame, but people here just seem to regard it as a positive sign of development and upward mobility.


views of the neighborhood from the roof


January 15, 2011 – What I am Reading

January 15, 2011

January 15, 2011 – What I am Reading

Just a quick “what I am reading” post.  I read an enormous amount of books while in India, and I usually post them on my blog page “What I am Reading”…haven’t done that yet thistrip, but that is not because I have not been reading.  I arrived here with a book I began at home, leant to me by a friend, written by Anne Tyler called “The Amateur Marriage”…I enjoyed the writing style and the story very much, and on my first visit to the used book shop here to pick up more reading material, came across a book by the same author entitled :”Digging in America”.  Since it was a small, lightweight book, I bought it to use as my “walking around” book..to keep in my bag for when I need something to read while waiting for food, etc.  Just as well done as the other one I read.  Both highly recommended.

During that same book shop stop I picked up a book by Carlos Casteneda, apparently his final novel, “The Active Side of Infinity”…finished it, thought about, and although brilliantly written, cannot say I would pass it along to anyone I know.  One quote taken from the book was posted on my blog and facebook, but I found it rough going.

The book which I kept as my “in room” read and which I just finished, is “The Help” by Katheryn Stockett.  Definitely a must read!  I read a few other books as well since herebut have already returned them and am sorry to say I do not remember the names of a couple.  Another was called “Maalika”, and if you find it, also a powerful true story of a British woman who married an Ethiopian and spends her life trying to ease the plight of the disappearing  Afar nomads of Africa…Valerie Browning is her name and she has an amazing and quite unbelievable life story to tell.

And now, I’ve just picked up a new book, and after reading just the first couple of paragraphs, I am hooked.  It is by Cecelia Ahern, titled “The Book of Tomorrow”.  I’ve read several other books of hers and have enjoyed everyone of them.  She has a very special writing style which I enjoy very much.

And last but not least, I read Jodi Picoult latest novel, “Nineteen Minutes”, her longest novel yet (definitely an “at home” book) but emotionally charged and really difficult to put down…highly recommended.



January 15, 2011 – Cleansing Rain and Tears

January 15, 2011

January 15, 2011 – Cleansing Rain and Tears

Last Night Before the Rain

Raining, hailing, windy, but the electricity is still working so I am quite content.  I have plenty of supplies for cooking, my internet connection, and this will be a wonderful day to rest.  I am feeling actually HAPPY that it is raining, and this is really something new for me.  I am finding it actually beautiful…just sitting at my window looking out on the really heavy rain falling outside…the sounds of the rain and hail on the roof and windows and rofftop…looks like it will be a wonderful day, once again!

Cleansing Rain

Just finished eating a nasty day breakfast including my special “sort of” cheese tomato omelette, a toasted brown roll (ordered from downstairs) with ghee and masala chai (also ordered from downstairs).  What could be better.

Something I haven’t written about this trip, but want to mention is the great joy I get from my music here in India.

I have an enormous collection of very varied genres, and right now for example, had the urge for classical music, now playing in my room, full volume on my speakers.  This is something I get great pleasure from, but since I don’t live alone, am limited to the amount of time I can listen to music, limited to the type of music I listen to and of course to the volume!  It is just another special treat for me here alone in my room in India and one I am most grateful for.

Seems like today will be a day for music, reading, maybe some computer games, meditation, yoga, good food, and later perhaps even a hour of dancing.  Last night I watched a movie, so don’t think I will do that again today, but you never know!

Sitting here reading and listening to lovely music when all of a sudden, …

Rain of Tears..

As this is extremely personal, I will not be posting full details either here or on my other blog, but will just write that reading a passage in a book talking about the heroine’s mother dying, and her understanding that “now she is the child and I am the Mother”…precipitated a powerful cleansing and healing in me.  I cried tears from the depth of my being…something which I have not done until now, deep, sobbing cries, so loud I’m sure the people in the next room heard me, and at the same time, powerful insights and understandings. These involved anger, guilt and asking for forgiveness mainly. I will not write the details here but my Mother was actually here in the room with me, and I heard her voice speaking to me and giving me the exact words I needed to help me move past the place I was stuck in regarding her passing….

Another great blessing…



January 13, 2011 – Change in Weather or Just a One Day Reprieve? Ayurveda Consultation Results

January 13, 2011

January 13, 2011 – Change in Weather or Just a One Day Reprieve? Ayurveda Consultation Results



I sit in my room now at 8 PM, with no heater, only a normal amount of clothing, and no hot water bottle and I am perfectly comfortable.  Was out-of-doors until almost 6 this evening…ok…let’s backtrack to this morning

I was woken this morning at 5 AM to howling winds and a freezing cold room (had to turn the heater on and refill my hot water bottle to fall back to sleep).  This was the first night wind in the past two weeks and it was most welcome.  It is a sure sign, a harbinger is you like, of a change from what we’ve been experiencing over the past few weeks. A sign that the morning would dawn free of all fog and mist, the mountains would show their true green hues, the sun would shine and bring with it it’s lovely warming energy, the sky would be a brilliant blue and the Ganga a lovely turquoise/emerald green.

And that is exactly what I woke to 3 ½ hours later!

During those 3 ½ hours I did a full hour of Reiki and fell quietly back to sleep.  Nice and warm and with lovely expectations for the morning.

I’ve been out now just walking, and enjoying all the blessings this day has brought.  As a matter of fact, even though I tried to dress accordingly, removing a couple of layers of clothing, I was actually much too warm, began removing layers but then had to carry them, and at some point, after walking out about 3 kilometers, realized I better head back…I was just much too warm!!!

I walked up in a different direction just for a change, and there is a spree of new building here which is almost obscene.  Private homes, hotels, guesthouses/restaurants, ashrams…every piece of land which was used for farming in the area is being taken up by new building…I wonder how many of these new projects will actually earn a profit for their owners.  Seems like there is just too much and too much of the beauty and tranquility of the place is being lost in the process.  The buildings are one on top of the other – there are no zoning laws here – everyone just does whatever he wants to, however he wants to…hope it will all be worthwhile in the end but it makes me sad.

But it was a beautiful day to be out and upon returning, sat out on the roof for another while and then went down to visit with my friend Seema on HER roof until it turned chilly again around 5:30. More than an hour after the sun actually went down…so that is also a sign of much warmer weather…So – does this mean the weather has shifted?  Or is this jus a fluky reprieve for a day or so?  Time will tell.

I also went finally to Dr. Arora for a consultation before beginning my panchakarma (probably in a couple of more weeks) and both of us were both surprised and very pleased at the diagnosis.

First of all, I’ve gained at least 4 KG in less than 4 weeks since arriving, and he is always happy when my weight reaches 56 kg, which it has!   If you know nothing about ayurvedic medicine, the following won’t mean much to you, but for those of you who do, here are some of the indications of my apparently pretty good health.  My Vatta is a little high (it is always very high), but this time it is age related and at an exceptable level rather than very high due to various imbalances.  Meaning, for my age I am doing very well.  Pitta is completely balanced – a really first for me.  Pitta, among other things, accounts for our energy levels, and mine have been, at least for the past 10 days, better than they have been for the entire past year!  Kapaha is low but it always is.  That is where my craving for sweets comes in – so advised to eat lots of raisins and dates.  My skin is “lovely”, also something new, but the biggest surprise was thatfor the first time in all these past years, the pulses on both wrists are the same…meaning, that my male and female energies are balanced.  My male side is usually much higher and female totally out of balance (relating to releasing of emotions and blockages in different issues among other things).  Apparently my work of the past weeks has paid off and I am truly in better shape than I was even BEFORE all the events of the past year.  Something I’ve been feeling myself the past 10 days, but always nice to have your personal feelings confirmed by an expert.

I  am sure the checkup would have been very different if I had done it upon my arrival several weeks ago. I am quite proud of myself for a job (still in progress) well done!

He says I will have an easier panchakarma than in the past and will be able to eat a little more freely than before.  Milk every day, more chapatti and fruit and even some rice.  I will start in about 2 weeks time, hoping for continued better weather by then.

Lovely day with many blessings



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