Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sadhana Forest - My Name is Mud

Sadhana Forest: A Small Piece of Heaven
(if you like gettin' dirty)

Digging holes and planting trees is what one does at a reforestation reservation.
Our huts. From our mosquito netted beds, we would peek through our windowless windows, gaze upon the rising sun, making way for the ideal wake up call.Having fun, swinging from the tree branch hairs. Just the beginning of the tree adventures.

My mother used to call me Bugs. Well, here's a Red Velvet Beetle. A stunning little creature making its presence known following a rain storm - and it rained plenty.

Monsoon in Pondicherry.
My sandals began to float away. Luckily, my friend and I were staying inside an internet cafe, and the owner was used to such flooding, so he had a long stick for prevention of such escapees.

Halloween at the Forest. I thought it be fitting to dress up as Adam - you know that story of Adam and Eve, right? There were plenty of Banana leaves around, and plenty of cute Koreans with big bows in their hair to keep me company while my search for Eve continues.Plantin' trees with the locals, singin' songs to the baby trees, gettin' dirty in the mud, and havin' fun in the sun. What the World Needs!
After long days of work and sweat and getting dirty in the mud, we would usually retire with an evening bath - in the Mud. This mud bath was the best - the BEST - and God knows how much I miss it.
More Trees, Big Trees - As a matter of fact, this is One BIG Tree. The Banyan Tree begins with its main trunk, the the branches grow out, then down, then into Earth to become roots, and new tree trunks. This is big, but wait for the Banyan Tree Seany and I discover - WOW

Puri - Get a Room, Statue!

Continuation of FreedomRenting a bike in Puri, cruising around the city, watching a peep-show at the Sun Temple,discovering a secluded beach, skinny-dipping in the clear blue, and becoming witness to yet another inspiring sunset, returning to the guest house which overlooks the deep blue ocean,and waking up bright and early for the sun to return.

A perfect day in Puri.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Calcutta - Durga Durga Durga

The Durga Puja
aka: Craziness In Calcutta

Meet Ritesh and Vivek. I stayed with them at their place for a week or so. They were too friendly with me and showed me how to enjoy Calcutta. We went out to see the craziness of the Durga Puja and had one of the greatest nights in India. Thanks guys!

The Durga Splash. All night, devotees of the Goddess Durga, or Mother Durga, the goddess of fearlessness and patience, representing the energy of the world. She is one of the representations of Shiva's wife, alluding energy to those to seek her power and wisdom. Weeks and even months before the festival, Hindus all around Calcutta gather to create a Puja for worship. Then on the last day of the Durga Puja, the devotees bring their puja statues to the River Ganga/ Ganges River, and push the puja/statue into the river. Sending Durga, and the other gods, to their freedom, noting that the River Ganga is a holy river. They are simply sending their gods back home.

We also partook in some authentic Calcutta side-street cuisine. Litti, or small doughy balls of grilled goodness, ended up in our stomachs as a mid-evening break before the craziness continued. Actually a Bihari style dish, this litti shop on the side of the Ganga River is one of the few places in Calcutta one can enjoy this small yet savory dish. I had two plates, if thats any surprise. Then we complimented this Litti with a "special" chai next door. Unable to gather what secret ingredient was actually put into the chai, I took it down with weary enjoyment and felt a little tipsy afterwards.

Now you see Durga, Now you don't. Enjoy the river, Durga.

The Durga Puja is a parade of the gods. Hundreds if not thousands of these statues built by the people would drive, slowly, their constructions to the Ganga to release the gods into the river. This means that if you had any other plans this night, and needed to get somewhere, you would have needed to leave several hours in advance to arrive. All through the streets, the many floats floating through the streets were shared by those viewing on the sides of the roads, as well as those drunk and dancing to the blaring music all through the night. As the people were heading to the river, Vivek, Ritesh and I went the opposite way, starting at the river and backtracking towards the center city. This led us to view all the floats heading to the river, partying or dancing with all the people in the street, and climbing aboard some of the floats and generating some pictures with Durga. What a beauty she is!!!

Hop aboard, one and all - Myself and a devotee floating with the God, Durga. Float on!

All the lovely people, where do they all come from? Where do they all belong?

Partying with red tikka on their faces - I too was graced with a red strip streaking through my forehead.

Women climbing up to pray to Durga, and receive her blessing.

Calcutta and an Ageless Time

Susmita, Beautiful Susmita
A smile that will outlive any other.
Hold her hand,
and maybe you will understand.

Poetry on the walls of the Metro.
They must have been writing this about the children at Mother Teresa's home.

The child ever dwells in the mystery of an ageless time
Unobscured by the dust of history.
There is a light laughter in the steps of creation
That carries it swiftly across time.
When peace is active swaping its dirt,
it is storm.
The breeze whispers to the lotus:
"What is thy secret?"
"It is myself," says the lotus,
"steal it and I disappear."

Good Job, Shipra, Good Job
For because of you, the world has flowers,
The World Has Flowers!

Hello Sister, and that must be Angel in the corner - does anyone see, Angel?

Inspection from the ageless time unto the baldness of an obscured history.
Cleaning off the dust of a barren landscape of past and future,
In order to view the everlasting smiles of those with the view.

To roam the places where only the ageless roam,
Searching for the secret no more,
The ageless laugh lightly as the truth unfolds itself,
like a lotus revealing itself to the unyielding world.
"Wake up, world, and see my truth,
For without my truth, there is no truth."
Says the Lotus, Says the Lotus!

Darjeeling - No Easy Way Up

The Darjeeling Crew.
Meet Phurbu, Sherab, and Tashi
For just over a week, I stayed with some friends from Nepal/Tibet. They rock! Their families are originally from Tibet, and my friends were born in Nepal and now study in Darjeeling, India. I met Phurbu in Marpha, Nepal, when I was teaching English. Across from the guest house I was staying at, there was a woman, Phurbu's mother, who owned a Tibetan shop. She introduced me to Phurbu, and about a month later I was in Darjeeling staying with him and his friends. They showed me around the town, introduced me to some high quality Darjeeling life and new foods from Tibet that I had never heard nor eaten in the past. Thanks for everything Phurbu and crew!

One cloudy and chilly morning, Arun (also part of the crew, below) and I woke up around 330am to hike to the top of Tiger Hill. We didn't see any tigers, but we definitely found a mighty big hill. There are no shortages of hills in Darjeeling, as Darjeeling is situated over 6700 feet above sea level. As we were walking up through clouds picking up a cold sweat, we noticed many cars and jeeps, which were taxi's, driving up to the sunrise spot where we, too, were headed. We noticed them noticing us, and we thought they were thinking that were were crazy for walking up in the cold and cloudy climate towards the famous sunrise destination. The drive would have been just over 20 minutes or so, while we hiked up for about 2 hours. As we approached the top, we noticed the same people who noticed us before, and they were now noticing us as they were driving down, but they had faces of disappointment. We knew why; the overcast of clouds had coated the sky preventing any anticipated glorious sunrise over the valley. We finally arrived - tired, sweaty, and now cold, but we didn't want to depart like everyone else, so we stayed for a little while. There was an indoor chai shop where we helped ourselves to two cups of chai and sweet sweet biscuits, and boy did it taste so good. We were now warm and our stomachs warm and happy, too. We stayed for just a little while longer, then proceeded back outside to figure something out. But we didn't need to figure anything out; when we went outside, not only were there no other tourists around, but the sky had cleared up. We could still see many clouds, but this time, the clouds were above and below the valley - allowing us to see Mt. Kanchanjunga, the third highest peak in the world. It was perfect. We had clouds, peaks, valleys and smiles. We chose not to take the easy way up, and sure enough, our hard work paid off.

A nice walk to some tea gardens where I enjoyed some internationally known locally grown tea.

Some festive attire as the Hindu's celebrated, well, being Hindu. Much of Darjeeling, however, is in fact Buddhist. People of Darjeeling speak Nepali as many migrated there for living and schooling. This was nice because I could continue using the little Nepali that I had learned while in Nepal.
Went to the Darjeeling Zoo and was pleasantly surprised at how well the zoo was maintained. Typically, zoo's in the developing world are not well kept, but the zoo in Darjeeling was clean. We saw some tigers, yak, turtles, and one nice treat was the Red Panda. They were so adorable and looked all fuzzy and fun to play with. Although, I don't want to imagine what they would do with their long and sharp claws if you did actually pick one up. Anyways, they looked fun to play with and were a good sight for the zoo.
This old man was sitting next to some prayer wheels and a local Buddhist Monastery, the oldest one in Darjeeling. I just thought this was a joyous picture, but don't tell him I took the picture, I'm not sure he knows he is now pasted on the internet. If one were to tell him he was online, I'm sure his wise Buddhist outlook would simply respond, "Is that so?" and turn away with a smile privy to those who only know.

Just a picture of some ugly ass bald guy in the midst of a number of Buddhist prayer flags.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chitwan - Rhino's Tiger's anywhere???

Unable to see any Rhino's or Tigers, I was able to see some baby elephants and even some Crocodiles as well. This is the skull of an elephant. Massive.

Elephant bathing. Getting this bath, which is more like a rough massage everyday. Lucky elephant.
A cultural program where people in the audience had the choice of participating in the final dance. Obviously I had to join in on the fun.

Kathmandu - Celebrate Women!

High Five! When I first noticed this girl, she was about to shed a number of tears; these same tears traveled down my face when we departed. This was a festival where woman fast for two days and celebrate by dressing, mostly in red, and dancing until they pass out - literally. Well, some woman passed out waiting in the long lines from dehydration. Troopers they are.

I stayed with a friend who lived in Kathmandu (below) and his neighbors invited us over to celebrate. These two girls are all festive with their many bangles coating the little ones arm and dancing and smiles all night.Meet Hrikesh. I stayed with him at his place for my two weeks in Kathmandu. Maybe I'll see you in Colorado, Hrikesh. This day was an awaking of the yin and yang, the black and white, life and death. Here you see life. All the women in red, happy and dancing until the morning breaks. What you don't see is the latter of the two. The main celebration occurred along the burning ghats. The burning ghats is where Hindu funerals take place. We sat on the other side of the river while observing the colorful women in red as well as the man draped in while robe being dipped into the river for a pre-burning cleanse. He was then carried to the pyre where the flames were lit, and he returned to the earth. A celebration of life and a mourning of death in one sight allows for the deep investigation of purpose in life. If we simply die after life, is our purpose just to die? Is death really bad? If so, is our purpose in life bad or negative? Why is death typically associated with negativity. Can we not embrace death and allow for a positive association to manifest from our loved ones passing on? What can we truly learn from this? Life goes on, the investigation continues, then we die. Simple yet beautiful, right? Why not?
Prayer flags coating all the trees along a Buddhist shrine.
Gotta climb a tree whenever a tree is climbable.
Buddha with the statue painted with puja's or prayers.