Five months in India – a small personal summary

Full Moon rising at the southern tip of India – Kanyakumari

 

Prenote: This article has been written in spring 2012 after my return to Austria from India. Unfortunately I found the time only now – almost five months later – to translate it in English.  This translation is also the first step towards a revival of my website – watch out!

 

India is like a lucky bag-. One – no, endless numbers of new worlds are opening up. Each city is different, where ever you go, there are always new and fascinating landscapes, and friendly people everywhere – at least in most places, Indians and loads of  travelers. I cannot count the number of nocturnal and sometimes very profound conversations I had.
This country attracts different travelers than Southeast Asia, there is less drinking and many people who stay longer, look for far more than running through the attractions. Through these many conversations I not only learned a lot about the country; I also saw a variety of different lifestyles and the search for it. Sometimes, however, I had the feeling that this country is just a projection, a playground for travelers to experience themselves – and I was no exception as well.
These encounters, the traveling around by bus and train – an impressive, tight, friendly and colorful experience, the variety of smells, noise, colors, dirt and dust – an assault on the senses (I know it’s a cliche but it’s true) , this incredible and touching experience nature in Hampi (of course) but also in the mountains of Western Gats, or the desert in Rajasthan or the sea in Kerala. All this and much more were the source of five brilliant months, I had in India.

 

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Wedding in Bikaner

 

The entry was gentle – relaxing on the beach, instead of a metropolis to start with, like so many other travellers suffering then weeks under the culture shock – and the idea did pay off. I wanted to like the country and did so from the very first second, with all its contradictions. Nevertheless, there are always those moments where you can just palm your face – dirt and pollution, incredibly dusty bureaucrats, antediluvian attitudes to gender issues, poverty, diseases and more. And then again the variety and colors, these full and dirty streets, the immense number of merchants and small businesses, the narrowness …… but also a fascinating nature in all varieties and shades, temples in all shapes and colors and and and and and … I think of India not as a country but a continent which can explain this diversity a bit. And each state with its own culture, language, gods and landscapes is a country. And yet there is a common cultural basis – as in Europe. India was like a grab bag – an attack on all the senses, sometimes positive sometimes negative.

 

The Indian everyday life (of course, with the luxury of a western tourist) became normal for me in these five months and the culture shock when returning home seems almost greater than five months ago, when I entered India palefaced and very excited. I now enjoy the luxury of warm water, drinking water from the tap, heated homes and broadband Internet. And yet all seems a bit anemic and clinically. Why is everything so perfect and clean but yet so gray and empty? The colorful life remaining on my computer’s hard disk with its nearly 35 GB of photos.

 

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Lonely beach in Kerala

 

I also intended to practice yoga during my stay in India. After a few hours of internet research, I realized that the offer is too confusing to find something reasonable without concrete tips.But what I did find is a renewed and deeper access to Nature . In some places (especially Hampi and Kodaikanal in the Western Gats), I felt a very deep connection with nature. I formally merged in it, admired the richness and incredible details. And not to forget sunrises and sunsets, full moons in incredible colors or just deep dark night, in an unprecedented intensity. I took this back home – during my walks here, I realize that I experience the nature around me in a different way, with an ability to enjoy weather, the greenery and the upcoming spring in a more mind- and joyful way.

 

Spiritually seen, the five months were an exercise in developing trust. If you travel to India without trust can, you can’t be happy, I believe. Confidence to sit in the proper bus, even though you have no idea where it is going, trusting in the own ability to differentiate (in yoga viveka) with which people it is good to get involved with and which not. But also in longer term to learn not to mess this great opportunity to travel so far just to think about my future all the time, but to trust that everything will somehow result (and that’s what happened, but more about that later)

 

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Morning athmosphere in Madurai (Tamil Nadu)

 

I left Austria without great expectations and just wanted to take my chance of being able to do such a long trip. And India seemed the perfect opportunity. I’ve never been there, and as an avid yogini going to the birthplace of yoga, seemed somehow appropriate. These five months have been just a great time. I have seen and experienced so much, in an amount not seen for years. And I think I am again grown a little bit. On the latter, I will be able make good use in the future … but more on that another time.

Finally here the trip in a nutshell:

The first weeks were devoted to the arrival. First in Agonda (Goa) chilling at the beach and then in Hampi, this wonderful scenery, which has touched my heart. Later traveling around – temples and mosques in Badami and Bijapur, modern urban feeling in Bangalore. In Kerala I visited the colonial city of Cochi and then up in the mountains. Kumily and Munnar – hills with extensive tea and coffee plantations, clear air and cooler climate. I love the sea, but in the mountains there is something warming my heart. Christmas and New Year I spend almost alone in a small guest House by the sea. I enjoy the solitude and read a lot. After a short resocialization period in a busy Guest House just a few miles further, I take the plane to Rajasthan, where I travel with at high pace. Eight locations in four weeks give us indeed a good idea of this state – at the end, however, I feel overwhelmed by the multitude of impressions, and will get sick shortly after my arrival in Goa – the next destination of my trip. A second visit to Hampi has not only an article on the outcome but I find my peace again, while I dive there in nature. The last month I spend again in the south, a week at sea, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the southernmost tip of India and three weeks in the mountains at 1,700 meters above sea level, where I don’t want to leave because I learned to appreciate this simple life at a high altitude with a really good view and a fantastic community.

Later I published an article, about traveling alone as a woman in India.

 And here the route on google maps:

India 2011 -2012 auf einer größeren Karte anzeigen

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