So after lying in bed from 4am till 7am watching old reruns of the X-files, I awoke and said goooodbye to my hair. Hehe, on the way to small Tirupati we stopped at 3 other temples and I got to witness another 2 weddings ! One was posh with drums and clarinet player and guests dressed to the nines ! Other looked like a poorer girl who looked very unhappy with the world. Was a bit dirty at the temples because it was raining and I was wearing white….then I was wearing brown lol. Then we were off to small Tirupati and I gotta say, it was so not what I was expecting…no humble barber waiting for you to take that iconic decision to cut out ego from your life…just an old not so happy uncle and aunty who asked me how much to cut off like they were shearing sheep…but I remembered why I was doing this and all was well…I immediately felt lighter, happier and couldn’t wait to get to a salon as the scissors they used didn’t exactly look like they were sanitary ! So then all that was left to do was buy some ties as gifts at one of Muruges’ friends’ shops and then it was back to the hotel. I didn’t want to be rushed by somebody waiting for me so decided not to tell Muruges to take me to the mall…besides, taking the tuk-tuk was so much fun anyway.
So after a small rest I was off to Spencer because it looked a lot older and a bit dirtier than the mall I had been to yesterday and that equals big bargains and man was I right 🙂 did some lovely last minute shopping and then was off to Express Mall in another tuk-tuk. Went straight to Toni and Guy which I would never be able to afford to go to in SA but here I got the full VIP treatment, private room to cut my hair in with the Creative Director of the store to cut my hair ! Loved it !! Then did some cash burning, had a killer Baskin Robbins Candy Floss Sugar Cone and got back to the hotel to do the unthinkably daunting task of packing !!! Had to give a whole lot of my stuff away to the hotel staff who were sooo happy. I was sad to see so much of my favorite stuff go but it was worth what I’m taking back….saying a little prayer that I don’t get stopped by customs…put all my brightly colored underwear at the top of my bags hoping it will deter them from checking thoroughly hahaha…dirty tactics ! Now all that’s left is the looong wait to liftoff and then the looong 17 hour journey home. I’m sooo happy to be going home. Missed everyone sooo much and can’t wait to see them all but what an amazing experience this has been. More than learning about a new country, I learnt a lot about myself. I can go anywhere and do anything I put my mind to, anywhere in the world. If you can be calm and peaceful in India, if you can roll with the punches and still enjoy yourself, alone…in India…you can truly enjoy yourself alone anywhere in the world. The world is my oyster and my personality is my greatest asset. This has been a once in a lifetime experience and I shared it with the best person ever ! Me 🙂 Besides that, I would have to say I missed my loved ones a lot and 2 weeks seemed like 2 years ! So happy to know the people that I do. I got exactly what I wanted, a gratitude holiday !
So had an amazing rest after fighting with the hotel personnel last night. I mean, who does maintenance at 22:00 ? So awoke this morning and did my own personal yoga session after which I got ready, had breakfast and met Muruges for the day at Mahabalipuram. The drive was just over an hour long and Mahabalipuram is like the Umhlanga of Chennai. It’s wonderful beaches and amazing rock sculptures are really something out of this world and after the 2006 tsunami there was a whole other level to the temples that were discovered beneath the ground which are almost 1500 years old ! It was amazing and breathtaking but ohhh so hot ! Spent a good while in Mahabalipuram – did some really nice shopping and then needed a rest and refuel so came back to Chennai and had a time-out at the hotel. Then we went to check out Chennai beach which is a bit boring to be honest and I realised how traditional India can still be. There were some couples who were just sitting on the sand and talking, not even touching or anything – and everyone including Muruges gave them dirty looks and commented on ‘this generation’ and the film culture being the cause of all evil. Then he asked me if I was going to have a love marriage or arranged marriage…uhhhh….after what he just said I sheepishly answered that we don’t really do arranged marriages in South Africa but I would be sure that my parents approved lol. Then after the beach I told Muruges that we were done for the day and I was tired but I had another agenda ! How could I come all the way to India and not go in a tuk-tuk ?! Haha. So while the sky had the last bit of sun, I took a tuk-tuk to Chennai’s biggest mall, Express Mall. I must say the tuk-tuk was a harrowing experience but so much like a roller coaster I almost felt compelled to scream and to top it all off, my driver was quite entertaining as well, attempting to have a conversation with my with the wind rushing past my face. All I could concentrate on was keeping dirt, bugs and exhaust fumes out of my mouth and nose but all in all, an experience worth having. Then Express Mall – wow ! Except for the uncle’s in dhothi’s, we could of been in any country ! There was everything from Marks and Spencer’s to Lacoste and Tissot, even shops we don’t have in South Africa. Wonderful experience and finally got to buy myself some stuff and to top it all off…I had PIZZA HUT ! 😀
Was aweeeeesome ! Then came back to the hotel and slept till 4am….then was bright-eyed and bushy tailed for my last day…at 4am….it’s got to end !!!
Woke up and had my last morning in this great state of Kerela. Felt sad to leave but happy to continue on. So I packed up the last of my stuff and went to the quiet and chilly reception area at 5am. The driver was there already and Sava, the admin guy was there with the cook aunty. I wondered why they were up earlier than usual. Didn’t expect anyone to see me off but after I signed out, Sava called me to the small pooja area in front and the cook garlanded me with Jasmine flowers. They did a small prayer for me to have a nice happy journey and they both wished me happiness and safety. It was sooo sweet and so were the intensely fragrant Jasmine flowers. If I was sad to leave before – now I’m broken ! What an amazing gesture.
But onward and upward. So in we get for 7 hours of driving.
7 hours were blurry with some amazing views but scary roads too. And when we finally got to Coimbatore Airport, I had to wait 5 hours for the plane to leave and then a 1 and a half hour flight to Chennai. When I got off the plane, Muruges was there to greet me again !! He says there is trouble at the Andhra Pradesh border so Tirupati is not a good idea tomorrow but we will try on Sunday and if it doesn’t work there is a mini Tirupati on the Tamil Nadu side of the border. I’m a bit disappointed but I know that things will work out how they’re meant to ! I’m so glad to be done with today’s traveling and really missed yoga today. Everything seems to be moving way too fast around me. Chennai is great though from what I’ve seen. It’s clean and so metropolitan ! Can’t wait to explore it. Tomorrow is Mahabalipuram but first, a long good sleep !!!
I awoke this morning with mixed feelings. Had a wonderful dream that I overheard Appa and Thata talking about how proud they were of me ! But then this is my last day – I don’t think I ever realized I was going to have to leave here. Everyone has become an odd melting pot kind of family. So after morning pooja and yoga which was excellent, I spoke to Ma and Appa and Mahesh and really miss them. I had the morning free because my consultation was changed so I spent some time talking to everyone and taking walks around the village and went to Yoganitra. After lunch I had my treatments and gave my Ayurveda girls a big tip and all my clothes and towels and the bed sheet which didn’t fit in my bag any longer. They were really happy, I could tell because they used extra force in my massages and gave me 4 (FOUR) drops of medicine in each nostril!!!!! My eyes felt like tearing for days ! After they said goodbye and asked me a whole lot of questions about where to next I sat and soaked a bit in my room before my consultation with Dr Anu who gave me some medicines to take home and wished me well on eating right and leading a balanced lifestyle. Then I sat in the meditation dome and thought that I was really lucky to have had this experience and looked inside to wonder what changes, if any, it had made to me. Well I was definitely calmer, definitely learnt to have a whole lot more gratitude which is what I came out here for, I also have learnt that nobody is in control of your life but you. If your life spins out of control, it has nothing to do with external factors, only to do with what is going on in your own mind. If anything, this introspection has brought me a sense of peace and calmness and also taught me that no matter where I go, I can make it !
In afternoon pooja I took my own flowers which I had picked from the gardens, red, white, purple and a white rose. It was lovely. At dinner I gave everyone my little leftover packets of jelly tots and they went CRAZY ! Never seen anyone so happy to see jelly tots before hahaha. So we took pictures and exchanged e-mail addresses and i thanked everyone for being a part of my journey and for giving me company when I was sad or lonely. I couldn’t have asked to spend time with a better bunch of people. Even Andreya from Portugal who had only arrived 3 days ago had been such lovely company.
All in all, I appreciated my time here…
Awakened this morning before the alarm and got up to do daily morning activities. It was good and I’m really going to miss this yoga when I leave. Its so beneficial and because of the weather, the body is so much more reactive to it. After breakfast I had my consultation with Dr Anu and we spoke about the different types of digestive fires or Agni’s. And what types of foods I should be eating. To have balanced Dhosha’s I should actually eat more sweet stuff which makes sense I guess, I hardly ever do eat sweet stuff. Give me carbs any day ! I chilled for a while after that and pretended to read in my balcony but just sat there and was still. Then noon Yoganitra was, once again, wonderful ! I feel so relaxed that I almost don’t want to ever move again. Lunch was good and I’m finally starting to get my appetite back again. Then my treatments were followed by a looong meditation session at the river-side because I had to soak for 3 hours. I couldn’t wait for bhajans again tonight ! I even snuck in a recording during bhajans. This was followed by another hilarious game of Scrabble. Started taking pictures of everything because tomorrow is my last day here. I have mixed emotions actually. When I got here I couldn’t imagine how others were spending 1-2 months here but now I get it ! It’s so peaceful, relaxing and calming to the mind, body and soul. I wonder how I am going to react to my reality when I leave this wonderful place ….
As usual, today started with daily morning activities and I can feel the difference in my body during yoga. Definitely more energy, flexibility and stamina. The longer you stay here and get used to the way of life, the more you want to stay longer and whereas initially one week seemed so long, now that I only have 2+ days left, it feels like too little time to accomplish what I need to. I feel like there is so much more I could learn about my body, mind and soul. Like little secrets that the rest of the world doesn’t know about. It’s infectious here and it slows down your entire demeanour. I even speak slower which I didn’t even know I could do. After morning sessions was breakfast and my consultation with Dr Anu. We spoke about the different types of Dosha’s and what type do I think I am. I say a mixture between Vatta and Pitta so doctor gives me a questionnaire to fill out later. Then she explains my treatments for the next 3 days. First a deep head massage to allow the brain to be reactive during treatment, then a full body oil massage followed by steam bath for the upper body, Shirodhara treatment, the rice pounding with herbal milk for circulation and healthy skin, rice facial mask, herbal bath, oil application and the lovely “Nesyum” – medicine through the nose followed by smoke inhalation. So after the consultation I had some time so took a walk through the village and passed some shops which were still closed and eventually had to put my scarf over my head because all the villagers looked at me strangely, probably wondering why a nice girl from Tamil Nadu was wearing tracksuit pants and a tank top. So had to go incognito for a while. Because my treatment times had changed I went to the noon Meditation Yoga and boy was it good ! Was exactly like being hypnotized. The sense of calm and serenity and peace. The visualizations and the sensations your body goes through. The mind is definitely the most powerful tool. Lunch was quiet today and followed by my treatment which was nice except for the nasal detox part but definitely good for me judging by the colors that came out – green, yellow and white – disgusting ! Could have been a country’s flag 😉 Had to chill for 3 hours while I “soaked” and then went to supper which was quiet. Everyone seemed to be really tired and it was surprisingly cold which I think made everyone want to sleep. And sleep is what I did, and man was it good. It had been a long and tiring day but very productive and definitely worth-while…
Awakening before the sun does is getting easier as the days go by and today started with morning pooja and then morning yoga session followed by breakfast. My treatments were fairly early today so I had my last beauty treatment because, from tomorrow my nasal and head detox begins. My consultation was straight after my treatment so I had to sit there with powder where powder should never be and a face itching like hell. Felt a bit sick after that so had to take another illegal daytime nap but felt a whole lot better afterwards so went to afternoon pooja which was Swamiji’s last pooja as he was leaving to the monastery. Swamiji gave me my last spiritual lesson about the gender-specific aspects which Hinduism relates to, in particular the Shivalingum and even the conch. Also, when it comes to the conch, the air moving inside the chambers has the same vibrations as Aum does ! We also spoke about why we conduct certain poojas like we do. And it’s all about the 5 elements. Fire ( represented by fire ), air ( rep by incense), physical body ( rep by sandalwood paste or ashes ), space ( rep by flowers ) and water (rep by blessed water in a conch) and we spoke about how much of Hinduism is about visualization. He kept saying imagination but I’m pretty sure he meant visualization. Visualizing your problems being burnt away by the fire. Visualizing the Divine water pouring over you to clear your spirit. It’s the power of the secret, except thousands of years old. Then it was dinner time followed by a really interesting game of scrabble. Imagine if you will, a South African, an Italian, a Columbian, an Egyptian, an American and an Indian playing scrabble with a British dictionary-keeper. And seeing as though we were in such a holy place with such a mixing pot of cultures…what’s the first word on the board (courteousy of the married Indian aunty)….”Porn”….hahahaha. We were just hoping Swamiji didn’t walk past as he was quite nearby. And a cat ate my shoe !!! Can you believe it ? We arent meant to bring our shoes in so we leave it at the door and this cat got a hold of mine and ate everything except the sole hahahaha…strange little thing !
Seeing as I had a neighbour on either side of me now, Pietta from Australia on my right and Maha from Egypt on my left, I finally had a really great night’s sleep and totally ignored the squirrels running on my roof…A day here seems like a week and at first I hated it because it was such an adjustment to my previous days but now it’s definitely grown on me and I love it. Its good soul food 🙂