12/19/05 - Daniella - HOLY INDIA
Dearest friends and family…
My first step out of the Indian airport and into Madras(Chennai) was one I will never forget. Filled with adrenaline and excitement, My first glance of this country was indian men lined up against metal fencing staring intensely….the whites of their eyes shone brightly against the black of their skin and eyes.
Not lingering too long, I hastily looked to find our driver holding a placard with our names on it. Excitedly I found him and we made our way over to him. We were being picked up (thankfully!) by a driver arranged by my Indian friend Savitha.
Savitha is one of my yoga students whom I’ve been working with privately at her home in San Jose, California for about 2 years. Over this time we have built a sweet friendship and I have had the pleasure of getting to know her husband, son, and soon thereafter her parents who came from India to visit her some few months ago. Savitha had plans to visit her family in India this month of December as I had plans to travel there. Savitha and her parents warmly invited me to visit and stay with them at their home in Madras. I gratefully accepted and it has proven to be a most pleasurable gift and blessing to have landed in the lap of a native family. It has been a very graceful and easy transition into Indian culture and I can clearly see how if I did not have this connection, how the landing here would have been much more abrupt to say the least. Thank you Savitha!
After loading our things into the driver’s car…we were taken into the madness of the streets covered in cows, trash, broken buildings, people everywhere(!) on bikes, on foot, the constant barrage of sounding horns as taxis, cars, and rikshaws zig zagged around each other within inches of touching! My eyes were dancing in all directions taking in all the sights and sounds, my smile growing bigger chuckling inside at the sheer insanity of it all!
We arrived at Savitha’s home….in a community called Cee Dee Yes in Velachery. We were taken up to the 3rd floor of a 8 story cement builing where Savitha and her family lived…we were ushered in without extensive greetings or hellos….simply getting down to business. Being shown to our guest house/room on the 8th floor by their cook and left there to rest for an hour or so before having our first Indian meal with the family.
Our room had not been used for some time…mildew scented
walls, sheets, and mattresses as the Monsoon had just ended here weeks
ago leaving a less than desirable dampness in the air. We looked around
the room smiled a peaceful “thank you” to our Indian escort…..I
flopped down exhausted onto the bed, joseph onto the desk chair and looked
at each other and laughed. Joseph then saying…”Bella, what
the heck did you get us into?” I laughed full smile, full knowing
that we would shortly and most certainly find out.
12/20/2005 – Joseph:
We spent the entire rainy day in our room to take a break from the madness out there, but I just about went mad in here...
Yesterday we went shopping in an open rikshaw which was a mistake because the air in the streets wasn’t really breathable.
I’ll just enjoy seeing India from our balcony for now.
Catered food to our room for $2
the street out front of our building
The rikshaw drivers on the street are enthused to have their photo taken
I love these cars, I want to ship one home (the're diesel
12/21/05 - Daniella
Since landing in India, I have never truly felt the color of my skin until now….our time in Madras has seemingly been all to ourselves…no tourists….no white people…just us and the whole of this paradoxical Indian web of life. I look in admiration the beauty of these people…their skin, their eyes, the beautiful dress of the women in sarees, like princesses walking around everywhere, and ahhhhh yes…the hearts of the people. But this I feel like I have only begun to touch upon.
I have begun to feel an oh so familiar shift inside myself…that
movement of energy within as I move my energy without……my
being exploring new and unknown territory on this planet earth….a
breaking down some new yet old walls…a feeling of uncomfortable
surrender and wisely letting go…..I welcome this shift as I love
these times…with a grateful heart and open mind…anticipating
the fruits of change….the labors of the birth of the new….
I continue forward.
12/22/05 - Daniella
Savitha and her family
I decided initially to start in Rishikesh…but then this changed to Madras as my student Savitha and her family extended such a warm invitation to visit. Unfortunately life continues to flow and so did their busy lives leaving not much time for connection between us. This is all a bit disappointing but it is also ok. (I can’t help but see in my mind an Indian person wobbling their head from side to side every time I see or hear the word “OK”. They do this A LOT as a gesture and I find enjoyment in it.) Madras itself has little to offer the foreigner but regardless I went out explored the city, shopping and wearing my very first sari and enjoying a violin concert given by a local family.
My shopping experience looking for the perfect sari was a bit overwhelming and totally hilarious…going into shop after shop each one walls lined with all kinds of fabrics all sorts of beautiful brilliant colors all the women eager to dress me up in one every time I looked even remotely interested. I was taken all over this one place with 4 floors of options to choose….finally finding the one…. partially out of exhaustion and wanting to get on with it….but the best part was the wearing of my sari out in the daily hustle and bustle of life…
To my surprise I received an abundance of praise and recognition and loads of respect as the wearing of this sari showed my respect and appreciation of Indian culture. There was a moment while walking through the Swami Vivekananda Museum that a whole family approached me…the women and daughters smiling as they touched me with gentle hands saying…”very smart, very cute” and the elder of them, after she noticed my nose ring, bindi, bangles and toe rings caressed my face lovingly and delicately touched my nose as she sang her praises of approval in Tamil (her native tongue) and broken English. I was deeply moved and pleasantly surprised by this experience. But it did not stop there…not a minute later an Indian couple came to me, the husband saying that his wife wanted to talk to me. I agreed and the women acted as if she had just met a celebrity as she excitedly and humbly introduced herself asking me questions of where I was from etc. and asking to take my picture…I could not stop giggling with such a feeling of warmth in my heart. This is not to say that I don’t receive this kind of friendliness if I’m not wearing a sari…it’s just not something they see very often at all and find great pleasure in seeing this show of appreciation from a foreigner.
I am excited and anxious to see the north of India which is where we will head after Goa and possibly Pune. I am grateful that Joseph has decided to accompany me on this journey for many reasons…one of which is the fact I feel that I would be having a much more challenging time as a women alone here. It has made this trip so far a graceful one for sure.
I also feel that I am slowly but very surely falling in love with this country and I have hardly seen anything yet…ahhhhhh so much to see and do….love being free!
now to Goa...