Last night I was transported into another dimension by way of a crowded Indian bus & tuk-tuk packed with 11 people en-route to Vrindavan.
When I arrived by foot just outside the ISKCON temple, an unexpected familiar face dressed in a t-shirt (distinct from all the orange-shawle'd Hare Krishna devotees) called to me. L, an old friend I met in Auroville, was staying <1km from the temple. After briefly visiting the temple (full of happy Hare-Krishna chanting & dancing Indians & foreigners) we walked to what would become my home in Vrindavan for the next 2 nights.
It was a 2-bedroom apartment shared by 10+ travelers from America, Europe, and India alike. Everyone's funds were tight, so their sustenance was fed by free rice & gravy twice daily by the temple--supplemented by simple white bread and (local) honey.
I had no sleeping pad or bag, so I spent my nights sleeping on cardboard, covered with my thin dhoti.
My first day in Vrindavan, I had a long conversation with 2 men who moved to India 40 years ago. Both were born in New York, which is also where ISKCON was started by Bhaktivedānta Svāmi.
I was unexpectedly pelted in the back of the head by a fistfull of flowers.
Later that day we took part in a grand procession with hundreds (if not thousands) of Hare Krishna devotees chanting, dancing, throwing flowers petals, and passing out free fruit & water. Many times I was unexpectedly pelted in the back of the head by a fistfull of flowers. Before long, the streets were covered with flowers & plastic bags (from mineral water).
The following day I caught a train with 5 friends to Delhi, then hopped a bus north to Manali, where I greeted the Himalayan mountains for the first time.
Last week I went swimming in the ocean off the Indian Subcontinent for the first time.
I was visiting friends at Serenity Beach just outside Auroville for a long holiday weekend (Ghandi's Birthday). After emerging from the warm South-Indian water, my friend V complimented my long, dripping wet hair. She told me I would look great with my hair dreaded, and she offered to lock my hair. Flattered, I gratefully accepted her gift!
V's 9-year mature dreadlocks are wrapped beautifully. She has a lot of experience with dreadlocks. The next weekend, I returned to Auroville. It took her 5 hours to lock my hair using the so-called "rip & twist" method. The following weekend, she spent a few more hours with a crochet hook to finish the task.
This weekend I'm dodging cows, dogs, and goats on my moped through the streets of Tamil Nadu. The engine lets out a constant scream as I ride full-throttle at 40 kph. My usual preference for a cycle is impractical for this weekend's agenda--I'm attending a Bamboo workshop at the Bamboo Center in Auroville.
This weekend I'm dodging cows, dogs, and goats on my moped through the streets of Tamil Nadu. The engine lets out a constant scream as I ride full-throttle at 40 kph.
On my 4-day weekend break from work, I took a 7-hour bus ride from Bangalore in Karnataka to Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu. Auroville is an incredible community with more wisdom per-capita than I've ever experienced in any town or city. Any traveler should land here with the intention to stay a few weeks, and the will to stay a few months. There's volunteer opportunities at every corner, with immense potential for useful knowledge in permaculture, sustainable architecture, community, and spirituality.