The Traveling Yogini

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Part III- Bruce Willis and Alice in Wonderland

So if you are Bruce Willis traveling in Nepal chased by imaginary bad guys, you will drive your car down/up the mountain on a 6 ft wide lane, ducking the Gold decorated and Tika wearing cows, goats and dogs, the kids hanging from the bamboo swings (you have to wait until they stop fighting on who's turned is next), the buses with the over flowing people (dangling from the door, over the roof and holding on to the mufflers), the motorcycles carrying the whole family (2 kids on the gas tank, dad, one behind dad, mom, the family goat on the left side, and the honored family chicken on the right side), and of course the other cars chased by the apparently same bad guys. Now if this is not enough excitement for you, try having the car die on your driver and you have to help him push it....(really! and I paid for this)

Now you finally make it to your destination, wet pants and 500 additional grey hair....
Welcome to Alice in Wonderland:
First stop down the rabbit hole is Changu Narayan- A stone laid 4ft wide alleys village inhabited by 100 people. Since it was still Tihar, the middle class homes were lit by candles and the upper class homes were light by Xmas lights singing “ Hari Laxmi, Hari Krishna” on “ Jingle Bell” tunes. The kids go from home to home singing until you come out and give them money. When I say they keep on singing, they really keep on singing...

Second stop is Patan- a small scaled city where all the restaurants and hotel doors lock up by 9PM. Many Buddhist and Hindu temples interlaced together in one courtyard if not within the same temple.

We are talking a country here where 12th century temples, shrines and homes are in everyday use. As you walk around admiring the beautiful architecture of the temples/shrines, you will stumble on beloved/holy cows, goats, sheep that can't be used for sacrifice, but are part of the temple blessing....how did they get that job, I don't know!.

It seems so far to me that Temples usually are big structures with a courtyard, built by King Blah Blah in his golden days to outdo his opponent King Yady Yady. Meanwhile shrines are little brick huts above the ground or a hole in the middle of the street (where you could fall into it) with a statue of the god placed in the middle; they are built by Grandpa Sagar Devi the 3rd. in honor of piece of land and ass that the gods granted him last week.

If any of you have studied anything about Buddhism and Hinduism, you will know that they are as different as Chiken Masala and Chicken Enchilada, but bless their hearts here, they are all combined into one happy family meal.

Gotta run.
TTYL

PS: Bon Appetite in Nepali is "Vagina"....Don't ask!

Part III- Bhuktapur timeless town in 21st century

i woke this morning at 5:30 by the chanting and singing of women and men in Bhuktapur Square. It's like the black Baptiste church at home, they got the trombone, the clapping...the whole shebang. It is really really nice. Of course yesterday, I had a cow mooing under my window.
So my travel companion for the next few days, Simon- the Brit, turned out to be a really nice guy. Not the serial killer I was worry about! He is an ex-Jehovah's Witness, ex-chef and currently ex-builder, who is traveling Nepal since beg. of Sept until beg. of March. We stopped at " Chemist" pharmacist when we first got here to fill up on Antibiotics. They are like the "Dollar Store" at home for Medicine. You name it, they got it. The same Antibiotics that I paid $45 at home are $0.85. Crazy!
Anyway Bhaktapur (City of Rice) seems to be a timeless town, very narrow cobblestone roads linking a string of temples, courtyards and monumental squares. The rice are laid down to dry in the streets. People are gambling in the corners and everyone is betting. There are shrines and temples all over the place, so you are always hearing the ringing of the bells (I believe to call the gods) and the chanting. It's very neat town and quit hilarious mixture of modern life and 100s of years tradition. The 16th century shrines with the tacky plastic clock on top.
So we were wondering how many of us here traveling alone in this mystical country and what are we looking for! Is it enlightenment? I figured I m screwed since I can't tell the difference between " Rabies" and " Rabbi's". But maybe we are looking for contentment (Santosha)! It's a place where you are content with what you have yet you strive for more or something like that. There are people here sleeping in the street at night, all bundled up next to each other, yet they seem to always smile and their faces are clear of that angry frown that you see on most people at the Macy's in the mall. So who do you rather: simple, content and sleeping in the street with your buddies and family around you, or, living in a million dollars home, cocktail parties and still lonely!
Light is out. Write more later

Part III- Scratched by a monkey

You guys are awesome. None of you said " Rasha, what the hell is wrong with your writings!" I just realized reading back my last email that I have been missing letters, words and jacking up sentences. Think of it as a crossword puzzle. I write and you try to figure out what the hell I am saying.
Sorry guys, but I write either really late at night and by then I am exhausted or early morning, which means, y'all are screwed as I am not a morning person. Ofcourse it doesn't help that the keyboards here are slightly different with some weird characters and some of the letters are in different spots.
Anyway, so this morning Simon and I go to visit Swayambhunath Temple. It is the most popular and recognizable Buddhist temple in Nepal. It was soooo cool. It's a cool combo of Hindu and Buddhism worshiping at the same place. Now what's interesting, other that's being over 1500m above sea level and you go up 365 steps (for the 365 days), is that there are monkey all over the temple and they are sacred. It's believed that they guarded. So there are cats, dogs, pigeons, eagles, monkeys and humans walking/flying in this huge temple...super super cool. Now being a paranoid American and my mom's kid, I don't touch any of these beings. Now my partner, being a Brit, snotty and making fun of me being super clean and paranoid (compare to him), he got scratched by a monkey. The man touches anything and everything that crosses his path..Honestly!!! So being a " manly man" (or whatever) he didn't say anything until I saw blood on his back and he confessed that the damn monkey scratched him. Please pray for me that I won't be traveling with a Rabbis infested Brit.
Guys, why do you do that! I swear to you, we will never think any less of your manhood if you confess to : 1- Being lost (We walked through the landfill trying to get back to our hotel); 2- Being injured (by a damn monkey will might give you rabbis!)
Anyway, we got back to the hotel and I gave him some of my first aid kit stuff.
You know what's funny is that I don't understand half of what he says to me and I don't think he understands me either....He keeps on saying " we are going to Bhaktapur" and I kept hearing " we are going BACK to Tapur) and I have been looking for Tapur all over my guide book Ok! so I am not really the coldest beer in the fridge, but I do my best.
Talk to you soon.
PS: " Mammon" doesn't take pictures. She keeps everything in her "Memory Camera". So now she will never visit India as she has been there in 1972 and she doesn't want to disturb the images in her Camera. Sure why not!!!
PSS: Giving kids balloons instead of cash or candy is a brilliant idea. They had the sweetest smile of their faces. Thanks Paul.

Part III- Namaste Quirky Katmandu

Namaste is the greeting here in Nepal used for Hello and Goodbye. It means I bow to the Divine in you. What can I say! I am already in love with this place. It takes a quirky one to know another. Kathmandu is the capital and it's the biggest, most polluted and crowdiest city in the country. Yet people are kind, funny, surprisingly clean (shit! anybody is> compare to Bombay). Nepal got the 10 highest mountains in the world. Something about me must scream "Idiot":

- I got hosed by another holy man today that I ended up paying him 20Rs, and he sprinkled me with the holy red and orange spice. Now I am all cleansed up and ready to go.....where I don't know, but I sure am ready.
- I bought a pre-paid phone card today for my cell phone to realize later that's Nepal only numbers. Nice!
- I have committed to travel for 1 week with an English man who seems to fart all the time.

Idiot or not, I am starting to relax here and enjoy Nepal. It's a lot more relax. What a huge difference between here and Bombay! I was told by a Nepalese that India stands for I, Never, Do, It, Again. (ok! so it's a> local joke).

On the way to Nepal I was thinking that when I return to Southern India and it sucks like Bombay, I am either hitching it back here or to Indonesia. What the hell, it's not like I got a job or a home to go to!

You meet funny people when you travel alone. It's really hilirious:

1- I saw a Snake Charming man. He actually played the flute and the> snakes where dancing. It was awesome. If I could just figure a way to download the damn pictures. (Internet here is really slow by the way)
2- I have met Olly, the Scottish Belch-er, on my first night here. He has been to Nepal on and off for the last 5 years. He goes back to Scottland to make some money so that he could return to Nepal, where he teaches high school English. I think that's very sweet EXCEPT for the Belching thing.

Guys, as my friends and I love you, please remember that belching is not attractive. The man must burped at least 25 times in a period of 1 hour for godsake!

3- I had a dinner and few drinks with "Mammon". It's the French word for " Mom". I don't know the lady's name except by "Mammon", whom got her name from my new English friend, Simon (I tell you about him in a> sec). She is from Switzerland, early 60s, smokes up a chimney while using her inhaler and visiting Nepal with her " friend". Apparently she doesn't like her gentleman " friend" much. She didn't want to call him boyfriend, he is just a " friend". I guess we all have been there at one point or another, huh!. The funny thing about" Mammon" is that she had a painting modified because she didn't like the letter " S" in the artist signature. She said " I couldn't sleep with a crazy letter S in my room". Okie dokie!

They are extremely spiritual here. I guess to live in harmony (aside from the royal family and the Maoist fiasco), you have to be really tolerant. So the houses here are really really close. So even in my nice ($20/night) hotel, I get to wake up the the ringing bells, songs and prayers at 7AM in the morning. Not bad since I pass out around 10:30PM. So I am writing now while jamming to the traditional music and incense is> burning around me. It';s really cool :-).

Can you tell that I am falling in love with Nepal !

Anyway, I was told it's safer to trek with a partner than alone. So in advertising in " Rent me a man" bulletin board. I found a Brit who will take a trek with me in the next week, before the big trek at the end of the month. This way we could split the cost. He seems like a nice guy EXCEPT of the farting thing.
What is it with European men! (I have few copied on this, so they will kick my ass, I know) but they are quite comfortable farting and belching all over the place. What the fuck!!! So we had dinner and drinks with> bunch of people last night and he was sitting next to me. The first few, I thought to myself " No! this is not what I think it is! can't be".

Denial my friends is a great path to take. So we will see if it's really true or not.

Talk to you guys in a week or so.


Lots of love
Rasha

Part III- Namaste Quirky Katmandu

Namaste is the greeting here in Nepal used for Hello and Goodbye. It means I bow to the Divine in you. What can I say! I am already in love with this place. It takes a quirky one to know another. Kathmandu is the capital and it's the biggest, most polluted and crowdiest city in the country. Yet people are kind, funny, surprisingly clean (shit! anybody is> compare to Bombay). Nepal got the 10 highest mountains in the world. Something about me must scream "Idiot":

- I got hosed by another holy man today that I ended up paying him 20Rs, and he sprinkled me with the holy red and orange spice. Now I am all cleansed up and ready to go.....where I don't know, but I sure am ready.
- I bought a pre-paid phone card today for my cell phone to realize later that's Nepal only numbers. Nice!
- I have committed to travel for 1 week with an English man who seems to fart all the time.

Idiot or not, I am starting to relax here and enjoy Nepal. It's a lot more relax. What a huge difference between here and Bombay! I was told by a Nepalese that India stands for I, Never, Do, It, Again. (ok! so it's a> local joke).

On the way to Nepal I was thinking that when I return to Southern India and it sucks like Bombay, I am either hitching it back here or to Indonesia. What the hell, it's not like I got a job or a home to go to!

You meet funny people when you travel alone. It's really hilirious:

1- I saw a Snake Charming man. He actually played the flute and the> snakes where dancing. It was awesome. If I could just figure a way to download the damn pictures. (Internet here is really slow by the way)
2- I have met Olly, the Scottish Belch-er, on my first night here. He has been to Nepal on and off for the last 5 years. He goes back to Scottland to make some money so that he could return to Nepal, where he teaches high school English. I think that's very sweet EXCEPT for the Belching thing.

Guys, as my friends and I love you, please remember that belching is not attractive. The man must burped at least 25 times in a period of 1 hour for godsake!

3- I had a dinner and few drinks with "Mammon". It's the French word for " Mom". I don't know the lady's name except by "Mammon", whom got her name from my new English friend, Simon (I tell you about him in a> sec). She is from Switzerland, early 60s, smokes up a chimney while using her inhaler and visiting Nepal with her " friend". Apparently she doesn't like her gentleman " friend" much. She didn't want to call him boyfriend, he is just a " friend". I guess we all have been there at one point or another, huh!. The funny thing about" Mammon" is that she had a painting modified because she didn't like the letter " S" in the artist signature. She said " I couldn't sleep with a crazy letter S in my room". Okie dokie!

They are extremely spiritual here. I guess to live in harmony (aside from the royal family and the Maoist fiasco), you have to be really tolerant. So the houses here are really really close. So even in my nice ($20/night) hotel, I get to wake up the the ringing bells, songs and prayers at 7AM in the morning. Not bad since I pass out around 10:30PM. So I am writing now while jamming to the traditional music and incense is> burning around me. It';s really cool :-).

Can you tell that I am falling in love with Nepal !

Anyway, I was told it's safer to trek with a partner than alone. So in advertising in " Rent me a man" bulletin board. I found a Brit who will take a trek with me in the next week, before the big trek at the end of the month. This way we could split the cost. He seems like a nice guy EXCEPT of the farting thing.
What is it with European men! (I have few copied on this, so they will kick my ass, I know) but they are quite comfortable farting and belching all over the place. What the fuck!!! So we had dinner and drinks with> bunch of people last night and he was sitting next to me. The first few, I thought to myself " No! this is not what I think it is! can't be".

Denial my friends is a great path to take. So we will see if it's really true or not.

Talk to you guys in a week or so.


Lots of love
Rasha

Monday, October 16, 2006

Part II- Bombay in more details

My mind is too full from the excitement of the last 3 days. So I am just going to dump whatever is coming to mind regarding the last 2 days so that I could add into my diary later.
Day 2: Elephanta Island and the train station
It started at 9AM where I met those 3 wonderful ladies in my way to Elephanta Island. There you get to visit the 450 to 700AD caves of Shiva. Shiva is the god of transformation (The destroyer). As life goes from birth to living to dying to back again, the Hindu present it through 3 faces of the Divine: Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the sustain er and Shiva, the destroyer. Supposedly, they are the only caves where Shiva has his eyes closed for Eternal contemplation. If you are to contemplate something for eternity, what would it be?
How about " Will stilleto shoes always be in style"? (The sadist who started it, should burn in Hell forever)
Then we walked and walked and walked and spent forever at the train station to get the girls' tix for the rest of their trip and since I will be doing so in December, I figure, it would be good to learn. Now, let me tell you about my train station experience here:
1- The head wobble thing means NOTHING. Not yes, not no...but maybe " I m following" or maybe " you are a dorky foreigner and I will just amuse you to get 100 Rs "
2- Don't bother with " Thank you" or " Please". They are no existing. I think when used seem, they seem to annoy our Indian friends. They don't use them and don't know what to do when you say them. In response you get a blank stare. Cher told me that's not rudeness, it's just a culture thing.
3- Everyone spits here. I am not really sure what they are spitting, but they are, men, women, kids, even cows....everyone does. It is huge here that they have signs that says " Don't spit indiscriminately". So watch out when you walk as you may get hit by one.
4- Getting tix take forever. So bring in your magazines, lunch and blanket to enjoy the afternoon at the station.
The food here is amazing. These people throw almost any kind spice you could think of into the food and the combo 70% of the time, is really good. I say 70% because there is some funky stuff that you want to run from.
Day 3: The Bazaars, Ghandi's house, Mahalaxmi Temple, Haj Ali Mosque
Today was very intense. Not sure if it was the crowded places we went to or all the intense emotions we have experienced.
The Bazaars are tiny streets with everything under the sun is being sold. As soon as we got there, a man shorter than me (I am pretty short) stocked us for almost a whole hour to have us follow him into his silk shop. He tried to be our guide while we were lost in the Electronics and fake flowers section. He would jump into the conversation, comment on any words we said and even pulled out pictures of his family. We were taking bets on what he will do next. It took multiple trials to get ride of him until finally I couldn't take it anymore and had to yell at him. I felt really bad, but my god! the man would have followed us back to the States.
Ghandi's house was so amazing. It showed him at different parts of his life. How could one person have such influence in the world! I guess Hitler did and so is Einstein. But who else have led a nation and liberated from the most powerful empire except Ghandi! The man was so humble, so peaceful and so loved. So here I am walking around the museum and it's showing different parts of his struggle and life in through the Board stories ( the one with story and small figurines- I don't know the official name for them) and I bust out crying. What the hell is wrong with me! I am blaming the damn Malaria pills. It's like a freaking Faust, on and off....
Mahalaximi Temple was very very interesting. She is the goddess of prosperity and wealth.. So here is the 3 of us and 1000 other Hindis visiting her. The temple was beautiful, but out of respect, no pictures are allowed. You take off your shoes at the entrance, get a bowl of offerings (flowers, fruits, cloths, your pain in the ass significant other's head etc), bow to her and give it to the 2 naked men by her shrine and they give you the bowl back with flowers.
Haj Ali's Mosque was very very intense. Not the mosque itself, which was Ok. I have seen gorgeous ones in Egypt, but it's the path to the mosque. The mosque is about 1/4 miles in the water, so along the pier is all these people living in the streets. They are a mix of extreme poverty, amputated bodies and they range from children, old people, young people and handicapped. People walk in the middle and throw money at them. The thing is, while it is very very very sad, you also see acceptance in their faces. Contentment is not the right word, but none of their faces reflected anger or resentment. They sat their singing and calling the name of God, (In different versions and different religions), and their was ....again the only word comes to mind is Acceptance.
After that intense scene, the girls and I went to lunch at an Indian restaurant, then chilled at a coffee shop to say goodbye. Each to their own path tomorrow.
Sorry for the long email and thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you.
Love
Rasha

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Part II completed- Rasha goes to Bollywood

So Bollywood is India's version of Hollywood. I assume the B stands for Bombay. Bollywood movies are 3.5 hours and contain all your heart desire. It's " Hamlet" meets "Moulin Rouge" with a little "Titanic" thrown in and sure why not, let's add "The last Samurai". The heroin always marries the hero who kills the bad guy at the end even though it takes the bad guy 5 min to die.

First things first, the mystery hotel turned out to be a place in heaven, keeping in mind that now my perception is all jacked up. " Ascot" hotel is simple and clean.

Bombay overloads your senses. For me, I found myself running indoors every now and then to recharge before I go out again. Your nose will go from incense, curry, cologne, sweat, urine to mystery spices.Your eyes see gold, silver, rain of colors, black and white and total darkness to blindness from the sun. Emotionally you will experience the insanely rich, the dirt poor, the middle class, the no class and the untouchables (Special class in India where they are lowest of the low).

Check this out:

High Tech India: you find guys here sitting on the side walk typing on their computers as if they are in their living room, mind you that dogs, cats,cows, people, cars, bicycles and birds pass them by....and nothing rattles these boys.

Love in India: This is true love my friend: A man was lying on a woman chest and she was picking lice out of his head and killing them. (Screw flower and poetry. Lice is the key).

True Friendship in Elephanta Island: A man was lying down on a high fence while his friend was standing beside him. The friend had his fingers in the guy's belly button (I am not sure if he was cleaning it, playing with it as form of relaxation) Either way, a total comfort and peace was on their faces.

Guess what! there are other crazy lone female travelers out there. I have spent the last 2days with 3 nice ladies before we each take off on her separate path: 2 girls from France, 1 girl from Utah and me. It was awesome.

Meet Cher: Cher is from Utah. She is a Vegetarian blond short hair glass blower who is picky about mints (Don't like Mentos, don't know Fox Mints, Listerine strips are great, but not chewable, Tic tac will have to do as we are in India). Cheri is super super cool. She has a great sense of humor, very kind heart and a wonderful being. What I have learnt from her:

1- To meet people, you need to stay somewhere simple and cheap.

2- You can live on $5 day or less in India

3- It's wonderful having someone around with the same sense of humor to laugh with.

Meet Samira: Samira is Moroccan decedent from France who is very picky about her Coke ( Pepsi is terrible. Do not even consider Diet Coke, in restaurant get Coke in cans and never get it from the 1L bottle. But if you buy your own at home,then it's ok). Samira is pretty, well traveled and very sweet. She has a beautiful smile. What I learnt from her is:

1- Bargain, Bargain and Bargain

2- Be tolerant, yet firm

3- We are who we are; and if they don't like that's their problem.

I didn't get to really spend much time with Marin. But She seemed very sweet.

So Bombay reminded me of a dirtier Cairo, however more colorful and more mixed faith. Mosques, Temples and Churches are right next to each other. People here seem to accept their fate with a lot more tolerance than we do in the States. By Haj Ali Mosque, there were 4 men with no arms or legs, lying down on the ground in circle calling the name of god, over and over and over. Then 2 meters away, a man was selling CD to bunch of tourist and he was playing the music and they were all dancing. It seems that people here accept the life they were giving alot more than we do. They could either turn their back on each other and only see their own; or they could look into the eyes of another being to see all the faces of the Divine.

Anyway, Bombay is done and it was three days too much for me. Tomorrow part III starts in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Love

Rasha

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hello, let me know if you like this better than email. Love you.
Rasha

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My first entry

Hello world