We’ve been in India for a few weeks now, in Garhwal, the first range of the Himalayan foothills. It’s chilly.
We’ve visited SRSG ashram in Rishikesh, spent the day in Haridwar and for the last week we’ve been camped out and bundled up at my mom’s vast white house in Dehradun.
We’ve made offering into the sacred river Ganges. We’ve marveled over gorgeous fabric, gems and statues. We’ve bounced around in taxis, and discussed the rogue elephant attacking cars on the Rishikesh road. We’ve told stories, made fun of my brother-in-law’s hat, reminisced, argued, watched weird Bollywood music videos, laughed, consumed heroic amounts of chai, and generally just gotten to be a family.
I had great plans for this portion of the trip. I was going to write an article about the International Yoga Youth and Children’s Retreat going on at SRSG. I was going to interview my dad. I was going to interview a traditional Welsh storyteller I met at the ashram. I was going to track down my old horseback riding buddies. I was going to write about my family history with social work, go through old photo albums, visit some historic sites, spend time at the school we run, do art. I was going to be productive.
I did none of these things. India is the great destroyer of itineraries.
I’ve walked in the gardens, consulted (fruitlessly) on how to deal with the monkey menace, meditated in the little hut on the corner of the property, gotten as many hair oiling/head massages as I can coerce my mom or sister into giving me. I’ve gotten up to speed on The Land War In Asia in which we are embroiled. I’ve reconnected with my few friends here. I’ve struggled to adjust to the changes in India.
Now we’ve all pulled out our bags and boxes and started cramming our stuff back in. My sis & bro-in-law leave for Delhi in the morning, Urban & I leave the day after that, the nieces the day after that. Tonight we sat around and read our old Asterix and Tintin comics. Tomorrow this great house will start to empty.
We are not going home though.
Urban and I are headed to Kerala, the southern-most state in India. There, we will explore the backwater canals in a houseboat, travel up into the hills and stay on a tea plantation, then head to the beach to do nothing for a week.
After I see Urban off in Delhi, my mom will meet me and we will head east. I’m not sure what to say about that part of the trip. We will visit a friend’s ashram in Orissa, but that’s sort of a detour. The real purpose of the trip is harder to explain.
When I “became a woman” i.e. started menstruating, my father took me on pilgrimage to two of the primary Kali/Shakti temples: one in Calcutta, one in Assam. On that journey, I was dedicated to the Goddess. Now, I’m going back.
At least, that’s the plan.
Let’s see what actually happens.