This one will be for the memory books.
It begins with a flight from Dubai to Delhi and the reminder that every Indian has a cell phone. A Sikh gentleman in line to board the plane is on a long distance call to India in Punjabi, natch. A large Gujarati family is on another trying to locate one of their party in the terminal. They send a young bhatija to look for her and end up holding up the plane on the ground 10 minutes. I am on my way home…
…Needless to say, the kind Sikh gentleman ends up rather largely taking up the seat next to me….
The new Delhi International Terminal is truly a collection of thoughts, all grand but perhaps not so much in their execution as it looks very much like too many personal comments, each needing to mark its owners footstep in the cement…I think in the old days we called it a “hodgepodge”
After a day or two of being with family, I take an early morning car ride to Rishikesh. This ride is nothing like either of the last two times I had done this pilgrimage but that is in and of itself a whole other story.
I am here for the International Yoga Festival being held at Parmath Niketan. After greeting old friends at Parmath I take Shiva Rea’s class. It is surreal to meet her here as I am at the Festival accompanying my friend Mini, purely on a lark. I later take Marla Apt’s signature Iyengar session and it is good to see her too.
Over the next few days, and of course this is all over the Shivratri celebration, I get to talk once again to the Ganga. The conversation with this Goddess is now turning into a very intimate experience and it reminds me that if we pay attention everything in our lives reveals its purpose…even if it is years later. I am reminded that perhaps I am able to have this intimate tete a tete because I grew up watching my grandfather talk every Sunday night to God. First he would sing his heart out and then he would have the most passionate conversation with God and to me this was the most real part of him. Now, ever since she took me deep into her depths the last time I was here, ever since the Ganga filled my lungs with her sweet water and showed me a glimpse of her fierce Majesty, ever since the most intimate experience I have ever had, yes where the lines between sensuality and death disappeared into her mystery, I have been left yearning. Now I gaze at her in awe and fear. I am not ready for the second dip yet. I tell her so and she is back being a Holy River meandering through the mountains, valleys and sacred settlements.
After Rishikesh it continues as a personal sojourn to find roots and re-examine them in silence so as not to alter their value. This can be quite challenging as some of these roots require abandoning my Yogic/Ayurvedic life style. Again I am confronted with the sheer Intelligence of this Being called Nature/Ma/Universe/Shakti as she has been quietly preparing me over the last few months for yet another journey into my own psyche. I would like to say I trust you Ma, but I am afraid it will only open up another opportunity for you to teach me yet another lesson. And this trust, this perceived betrayal, this magnitude of Grace reveals past wounds that now seem trivial.
So, I teach a class in Delhi for Mini’s Yoga Studio and set up the groundwork for the next India Retreat to include a local contingency. Meanwhile I rest in the samskaras of family and watching the World Cup Cricket Events.
Soon, I head for Kerala and the next part of my own personal Retreat, now that I have my OCI card….yes, I am officially an Overseas Citizen of India!
Being in Mumbai, which to me will always remain Bombay, is again very much a personal yatra. This time I am with my maternal family. The old compound that housed the joint family I grew up in is now 3 separate properties, one a rubble waiting to transform into a 15 story apartment building. You cannot stop change. The separation from my present lifestyle is even more magnified here as I regress into the patterns inherent in childhood relationships, sometimes it seems completely untouched by the passage of time.
Now, off to Somatheeram! Here is where we did the last India Retreat. Next one is now planned for Oct 2011…please stay tuned and do join us if you can!
Mumbai March 13, 2011