Sunday, November 10, 2002

From the Camino to India

Dear Ones:

Time flies when you have fun! This is very true. It has been almost one month since I finished the Camino.

After Barcelona I went to Nice again (for the third time) sending things to Sarah at Montgomery Creek. My passport, monies, credit cards and luggage were all safe at the Guillaume's home.

I was very glad to see my boots flying away to another continent. My feet are much happier now on the beach at Varkala, Kerala - India.

Yes. I arrived in Bombay November 8th at 1:30am from Frankfurt. By the time customs and immigration was over and I had some travellers check changed (not much of automatic tellers in India) it was almost 4 am. I checked into a hotel near the airport and got up at 8am to catch a flight to Trivandrum at 10:20am. Well, the flight schedule was changed to 11:40am without me knowing it and it was even later because of technical problems. But I still arrived in Trivandrum around 4pm, and took a taxi directly to Varkala, about 1 hour and 20 minutes ride.

On the way here I saw two accidents. In one of them a man was laying under a bus, his motorcycle a few feet away on the ground along with all the things he was carrying. The accident must have been recent- his blood still looked fresh on the dark asphalt. A couple of policemen had measurement tapes and were standing nearby. Everyone seemed to be relaxed into their daily activities. My driver didn't seem to react to either the accident or when I went on and on grieving for the dead man, "oh my God, oh my God" my heart experiencing pain, maybe for my own sense of loss. Maybe this is the indian equanimity or maybe mindfulness? If he didn't keep his complete atention on the road filled with buses, cars, motorcycles, people and animals coming from all directions, we could be next under a bus or truck. He simply produced a short lung cough which imediately brought my attention to what deseases he may have, and my eyes on the road past the dead body.

The sunset at Varkala was stupendous when I arrived last Friday. It had rained two days earlier, so the air was fresh, the ground packed, with no dust, the town looked wonderful and I recognized a few people I had met a year or two ago (was it 2000 or 2001 when I was here?). The short strong massage guy from Shanti Massage place, Obdulah from the Sunset Restaurant and many others I don't know their names. Even the young girl that used to harass me and Julie on the beach to buy her beach sarongs.

The restaurants all lined up along the cliff to the arabian sea with neat table cloths and seats covered with beach towels. It is very nice being here. Even nicer this time, still uncrowded, the season is supposed to start at the end of the month. I can fully enjoy the bright indian smiles against their dark skin. They are so inocent it seems! Their smiles cannot lie, they are inocent. It is just nice to smile back and respond to their endless "good morning madam", "good afternoon madam", "do you want something?" "please come in and have a look" "did you have breakfast already?" "where are you from?" "where are you staying?" "how much are you paying?" After four times in India I am realizing that they don't just want to sell you something. They truly find joy in meeting you. I am very happy to be here again and experience this new finding. I don't have to be annoyed anymore, I think I understand their soul a little better.

I am starting Ayur Veda massage classes tomorrow and I already had two massages in two days.

I flew from Nice to Copenhagen March 23rd. Britt was there at the airport, all smiles. We took the train to the center and walked on the pedestrian way to her place. A cute one bedroom apartment in the center of Copenhagen, very neat and Taurus like = lots of candles, little nice things, old furniture her grandmother gave her. Regardless of the 13 years Britt spent travelling and living around the world she still had many of the things she cherished. We had the spanish Rioja wine, berbie (sheep) cheese from Corsica and french baquete from France. Britt made a big concession here since she is a serious yogini but she undertood my need to close my recent past experiences with this little ritual.

It was cold in Copenhagen, so the first priority was to hit the sauna in Christiania, an alternative place where pot is sold on the streets. That was the cheapest thing I found there, about 10 euros for 3 grams?? Don't ask me how I know it.

We also took a train to a town nearby where her parents live and where she plans to have a health center-a beautiful place by the sea. We saw a movie-"Samsara"-recommended, although it was in indi with danish subtitles, I was able to follow with Britt's translations every now and then. We also went to some castles, the mermeid and walked around town. Copenhagen has beautiful open skies, not so many tall buildings, lots of water all around producing a chilled wind. It helped to have one of Britt's wool sweters one. The bicycle scene is also interesting. Everyone uses it rain or shine, they take them on trains, or even walk their dogs on it. I saw it one rainy Saturday morning on my way to a nearby cafe. The pedestrian streets are also very large, more like squares than streets. The danish are usually more reserved but open up to any good opportunity, like a smile-- they will always smile back even if not so broadly.

It was very nice to be with Britt again, we often inspire each other on our practices and our lives. This time it was not different. Her boyfriend Kim and her took me to the airport March 27th when I almost missed my plane the goodbye hugs and kisses were so long.

I flew into the Frankfurt airport where a Mother Meera devotee was waiting for me to take me to a town near Limburg. I received Mother Meera's blessings, bought a couple of books and took the train to Stuttgard. My dear friend Cristina was there waiting for me at the end of the plataform. I am so lucky to received by so many lovely people in distant lands. She took me to her comfortable home, I had the biggest guest room I've ever had, Bruno (her almost two years old) was there, then Knut arrived from work already all set up to cook a delicious dinner of Salmon, salad, rice and potatos? The next day Cristina and I went to Koln for her art show and big annual Cologne Art Fair. We stayed at the Shuppenhauer (?) gallery where she was showing her work, we had capucino made for us in the morning when the gallery owner showed up and we arrived in time for a reception dinner with art collectors, gallerists and artists. Of course Cristina had to lend me clothes and a warm coat. It was all very nice, Cristina treating for everything, including train fares. Then we went to the Art Fair the next morning. Such a big fair, Cristina meeting her friends, art collectors, gallerists and artists, inviting them for her opening. Very nice people, who love to drink champagne any time of the day. It was impossible to stop drinking around Cristina, but now in India I am dry and will continue until the end of the trip. This is not only a promise, a must, as I need to loose 13 kilos.

Knut's mother took us all for lunch on the 1st of November and we visited the town where Knut used to live, near Stuttgard, a really nice place.

Crisitina was collecting all the things sent to me: books, eyemask (thanks Julie), water bottle with filter (thanks Rachel), my palm pilot (thanks Sarah). The best part is that Knut was able to download the program that allowed me to retrieve all the data from my palmpilot. The person who stole it (story later) had erased all the data. What joy to have my astrology program back and not have to carry pages and pages of addresses around.

We also had a swim in the mineral water swimming pool in Suttgard-an amazing place. What an experience to have all the bubbles on your body while swimming!!!! Knut and Cristina were such good hosts !!! It was great to also catch up with Cristina since our last visit at Plum Village was short and filled with disruptions (more later).

Cristina, Knut and Bruno took me to the train station on November 2nd to catch a train to Munich to see Amma. From there I went to Bensheim (near Frankfurt) and then Bombay. I feel fully blessed by both avatars (Mother Meera, Amma) and my lovely friends. I can only keep giving thanks for all this amazing luck that I have.

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