I am sending you all greetings from India! I am embarking on a life long dream, to visit the ashram of my teacher, Neem Karoli Baba, and to share the experience with my satsang sister, Rudrani. Well, no matter how much we were warned that there was no way to fully prepare ourselves for the experience, we were still hit with a shock of sensory overload! The numbers of people, the poverty, and the opulence, the animals on the street, the colors, the smell, the driving, the patience, and the kindness of the people, all greet you in a flash of mixed emotions.
We are 4 days in now, and we are finally adjusting! We spent the first night in Delhi, and spent a good amount of our time getting an international phone and data plan lined up, so I could communicate with all of you. Before I left New York, I had researched the best restaurants in Delhi, and made reservations at Indian Accent and Bukhara. We went to Bukhara, because Indian Accent is in South Delhi, and we were too tired to drive 45 minutes to a restaurant. Hopefully we’ll go there when we return to Delhi on our way out. Bukhara is a beautiful restaurant in the luxury ITC Maurya Hotel. They had a limited menu, but offered a vegetarian thali dinner, which is a full meal, consisting of many small sampling of the chefs choice, along with dal, bread, and dessert. Usually, a vegetarian thali it is served with rice, but not here, which was a good thing, because I didn’t end up leaving the restaurant uncomfortably full, which is what happens when I order a thali in New York!
The next morning we did a little shopping before heading out to Agra, where we thought we had a reservation for a moonlight tour of the Taj Mahal. We had made this reservation over a month in advance through our Agra hotel, but received an email that morning informing us that they made a mistake. The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday’s, so they don’t have the moonlight tour if it falls on a Friday. Somehow, they had overlooked that small detail when we made our reservations, so we needed to adjust our plans. The hotel felt very bad about their mistake, so they offered us compensation by upgrading us to a deluxe room with breakfast, purchasing tickets to the Taj Mahal for us, offering to drive us at 5:45 am, so we could see the Taj Mahal at sunrise, and giving us a massage. We were very happy!We left Agra the next day for Vrindaban, which is known as Krishna’s city. There are over 5,000 temples in this one town, dedicated to Lord Krishna and his wife Radhe, some of them dating back more than 5,000 years. Many of the roads are too small for a car to pass, so we hired a 3 wheeling vehicle to take us around, and show us many of the ancient temples. We were instructed not to wear our sunglasses, because the monkeys will swoop down and grab them off of your head or out of your hand! The monkeys are everywhere, like we have squirrels, but they have no fear of people! The level of poverty and living conditions are hard to imagine, with people and animals going to the bathroom in the street, and the accompanying smells that follow are everywhere. It is a harsh reality, but no one is starving. Anyone who is hungry, can get fed at one of the many temples offering prasad (blessed food), everyday. It is a heart wrenching place, but one that is filled with many sadhus, travelers and seekers, both local and from around the world, strong in their beliefs and spiritual practice, longing to bask in the love of Krishna. It was quite an experience for us! We are now on the road to Kainchi, looking forward to staying in one place for a week, meeting Mataji, the mother of the ashram, and developing a rhythm for our own practice.
Before I left for India, I pre-recorded for you an interview with Ashley Hunt-Martorano, the Co-Chair of Citizens Climate Lobby. While Citizens Climate Lobby focuses solely on climate change, I wanted to have Ashley come on to talk about how climate change will affect the future of our food supply. Since our food is so closely linked to the environment, it’s impossible for the warming of our planet to not have an effect. Citizens Climate Lobby is working hard to push through Congress, a carbon tax policy that charges companies who are using fossil fuel, and then returns to the consumer dividends to offset the increase in prices. Should this policy become law, the true costs of the impact of fossil fuels will be felt by corporations, while creating incentives for alternative energies to become more prolific and competitive. To learn more about Citizens Climate Lobby, listen to our interview and go to their website at citizensclimatelobby.org
Until next week, many blessings and sending love from India,