I am in love with India. There is so much to learn here with meditation, yogic practices, and spirituality. I especially fell in love with Rishikesh in North India.
Rishikesh is an amazing place filled with tonnes of yoga schools, places to meditate and vegetarian food. I think I really loved Rishikesh because of the people that I met there. They became familiar and like family.
I spent most of my four months in Rishikesh, but did a brief few weeks of travel to Chennai, Pondicherry, Auroville and Varanasi.
Pondicherry has a nice walkway along the beach. The section of the city that is near the ashram is the most quiet.
I enjoyed my stay at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram accommodation nearby the ashram.
I had the best nights sleep at the Ashram Accommodation. My dreams were vivid and deeply spiritual.
Auroville is too pricey for visitors and has a huge split (war) between the Aurovillians and the traditional owners of the land. It’s certainly not what I’ve seen in advertisements. I couldn’t afford to stay there! So, I stayed at a backpackers outside of Auroville and did a couple of trips there just to see it, and especially to meditate in the Matrimandir
Meditating inside the Matrimandir is worth the trip! I mention my experience inside the Sacred Dome in a few of my blogs.
Varanasi is overwhelming and alot of the senses to take in.
When I went there the ghats were flooded so I didn’t have the entire spiritual experience there.I prefer the places that are focused on spirituality because the people tend to be more considerate and kind. The busier the city the more hectic, stressed, demanding and greedy the people tend to be. Although this could be a worldwide trait.
India is a different culture than the Western world. Stating the obvious. Yet it’s important to point out this fact because so many Westerners come to India demanding, criticising and trying to force things their way!!
Time and time again I’ve seen young women wear short shorts in a holy city because they “have to because it’s hot”. Then stay home!! The locals are disgusted with you – can’t you feel that?
Yesterday I read a TripAdvisor review of the Kriya Yoga Hall which I frequented recently. The woman was upset because she was told by the man at the desk to wear sleeves there.
And then she continued to rant on about the place being worse than a jail cell! Seriously? It’s an ASHRAM!
Ashrams are simple living because it is focused on spirituality. I’ve seen the rooms there. They are a decent size with their own – Western – toilet! Just like a hotel, but without the decorations.Kriya Yoga
I feel bad when Indian people have to deal with arrogant Westerners. So, please go with grace and respect when you’re in a different culture – no matter where you are in the world.
OR don’t go!!
*****Throughout my stay I learned a few things in India so I thought I’d share them with you. I’m looking forward to going back and seeing more of India in the new few years. I’m missing it already actually!Survival Tips for India:
1. If you wobble your head side to side you are agreeing. “Yes, I understand. Yes, I want it.” There’s no need to speak to say yes. Remain vigilant of this as you could be agreeing to something any time. Lol
2. North and South India speak different languages, and have different foods.
3. In the North you greet people by saying Namaste.
4. In the North: Ha or Ah, means Yes. Tikka means you agree, or also yes. Acha means you understand, or yes. All are similar in meaning but used in different contexts. Three ways of yes!
5. Know the price of anything before going shopping so you won’t be overcharged, and can bargain smartly. When shopping for clothes prices can start at 800 but be bargained down to 400. A friend of mine once gave me advice to put a number in your head that you want to pay – then bargain to that amount, or there about. A student from the yoga school once paid 600 rupees for a tuk tuk ride that costs 20 rupees. Know the price for tuk tuks and taxis and agree on the price before getting on. The responsibility is yours.
6. If you’re a woman don’t smile at, touch or hug an Indian man – and only a woman if she’s your friend. Keep to this rule! It’s not on the cultural norms to go about hugging or placing your hand on someone’s shoulder or arm. A young man from a village once told me that if a woman and man touch it means – in non-verbal communication – that sex is OK and you’ve given full permission. Yes, it’s different in the Western world….. So you need to remain vigilant of these cultural norms!!
7. Cover up! You must be culturally aware in any country you’re travelling in. I’ve seen young woman in short shorts in the holy city of Rishikesh, disgracing themselves. The locals are disgusted with them. Can’t they feel that? And then these young women wonder why men are staring at them like they want sex. They wonder why men hit on them. No other woman in the whole town wear clothes like this. Revealing yourself means to them that YOU want sex – like a non-verbal ways of asking. In many cultures there are non-verbal communications a newcomers must be aware of.
PLUS, it is a holy city. And there are many many sacred spots in the city. All throughout India actually. You might be reading my blog sitting in one! It’s necessary to be respectful and cover up in sacred spots.
OR, just don’t go there!
8. Don’t talk about or even think about eating a cow! I’m vegetarian so it’s not a problem for me. But, I’ve heard a foreigner wishing out loud that they wanted beef in a cafe in the holy city of Rishikesh. It was disgusted to hear that, and I could feel the cruelty in my entire body. The entire town of Rishikesh is vegetarian AND alcohol free!
If you’re mindstuck on eating cow or pig – don’t go to India. It’s not suitable for you.
(Cows are sacred to Hindus, and pigs are a no go for Muslims).
There are dire consequences for breaching this holy rule. Be respectful – for goodness sake, please.
9. I’ve travelled both ways on a bus from Rishikesh to Dharmasala. The first bus was basic – the seats went back but each one was like lying on the person’s legs behind you. And the leg room was small even for my short legs. The bus back was a VOLVO where the seats laid back with plenty of room for the person behind you, and had plenty of leg room. I definitely recommend travelling in a VOLVO. Always keep your valuables hidden and close to you. Both buses seemed safe with other foreigners on board. Definitely nice to travel with foreigners, even if you don’t know them. Yet, stay alert at all times.
10. I’m not all that confident travelling as a single woman throughout India, and there some things I would definitely NOT do. An Indian friend of mine who is a male was sat on, groped and stolen from on a train. And he’s a man. I’ve heard that upper class trains are OK, but I have yet to test them for myself.
11. I’ve traveled in many tuk tuks both public and private and a few taxis, and really enjoyed watching the wild chaos of driving in India. I’m glad I’m just watching it go by and not having to drive myself! My advice with tuk tuks and taxis is to know the reasonable price before you ride. Ask the driver what the cost is before you get on – and be sure to agree with it. As mentioned above, I knew someone who was charged 600 rupees on a tuk tuk to go somewhere that would cost 20 rupees.
If you’re not in the know – don’t go.
I love India deeply, and am pretty keen to see more of it! It’s a fairly safe place if you observe the local traditions and abide by them, if you’re an aware traveller and don’t leave your mobile phone on a cafe table, and eat like the locals do.I hope you enjoyed my blog.I will be returning to India soon.
I miss it. I miss it because of the spirituality there.
The depth of spirituality.
And the beauty.
It’s so beautiful.
And the people.
I met some good friends.
Ohhhhh… I love India!