Posts Tagged ‘why i love india’

Magical Udaipur

January 21, 2018

Here we are in Udaipur!  The last two days have been an eyeful and a complete delight. Neelesh is our guide on this trip and he is doing a great job of taking care of us, keeping us safe, happy, healthy, entertained, and informed.  I have been to India a number of times and I am always learning something new.  India is so diverse, mind-boggling, and fascinating.  I am so excited to be a part of Spiritual India Journeys and to be able to share this journey with the tour participants!

Holy Cow!  The cows in Udaipur roam the busy roads.  Cars whiz by and take all precautions to drive around or past the cows with the utmost care and caution.  Cow is Mother here in India.

Cow is S-A-C-R-E-D

She gives and gives. She nourishes.  She is gentle.  She gives milk, yogurt (curd), ghee (clarified butter), and fuel (in the form of dried dung which becomes fuel chips for cooking or keeping a home warm).

In Hinduism, cows are thought to be sacred, or deeply respected. Hindus do not worship cows, although they are held in high esteem. The reason has to do with cows‘ agricultural uses and gentle nature. Hindus rely heavily on cows for dairy products, for tilling fields, and for dung as a source of fuel and fertilizer.

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The friendliest and kindest people in the world are right here in India. Below is a photo of a child and grandmother in Udaipur.  Adults often draw kohl around the eyes of children, especially in Rajasthan, in order to beautify the child’s eyes and also, along with a large dot drawn on the child’s forehead or cheek, to help protect them against the Evil Eye.

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A delicious South Indian meal in Delhi before we left for Udaipur:

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All the photos in today’s blog are from yesterday. Today we took a ferry boat just like this one below to an island in the middle of Lake Pichola in Udaipur. More photos from today to come later.

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Dancer’s Pose in Udaipur.  As of today, I posted the last of my 56-day Yoga Challenge Photos on Instagram.  It’s hard to end the challenge!  I will probably continue to post a few more while I am in India and post the grand finale when I am at the Taj Mahal!  It’s been a fun challenge!  I will most likely put all the photos together in a collage and post them on this blog, too. A great big thank you to everyone who helped photograph me.

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Our guide Neelesh loves movies! He told us that the national drink of India is chai (tea).  And he said that if you see people drinking chai and talking, laughing, or engaged in an ardent conversation, you can be absolutely sure that the topic being discussed is one of the following:

  • Cricket (the national sport)
  • Politics (of national interest)
  • Bollywood (because Indian movies are in the veins of the people of India!)

So the topic moved from sports to politics to Bollywood movies.  Neelesh had a job in Delhi some years ago as a movie reviewer / movie critic.  He loved that job!  He got to go to many movie screenings and then wrote about the movies.  He said the movie vouchers he received from work had “0 Rupies” written on them and he always found this curious because he found the movies to have such an enormous value.

Why are Bollywood movies so popular in India?

Every Indian person grows up watching movies.  1,340 movies are released every year in India. This surpasses the number of movies produced in the USA.  For three hours or for the duration of the movie, people have the opportunity to live the life of the actor!  Movies are close to the heart of every Indian.  They know certain scripts by heart, they know the lyrics to every song, and use certain lines from movies to greet one another, to joke around, to tease each other, and to get points across to one another.

As Neelesh was telling us about movies, he became extremely animated.  His happiness was contagious.  I asked him who his favorite actor is. Without a moment’s hesitation, he shouted out his impassioned answer, “Akshay Kumar”.  It took Neelesh all of five second to tell us the following: “Kumar is from Delhi.  He is 50 years old and he is the fittest guy in the movie industry.  You know, he is a stuntman!  He’s absolutely amazing.”

At the end of this tour, when we get back to Delhi, before heading to the airport, Neelesh is going to take us to the movie theater to see Akshay Kumar’s newest film, Pad Man. (No, this is not a typo! I thought Neelesh was saying Bad Man, but I looked it up and the movie is called Pad Man.)

Imagine Neelesh’s excitement when we saw Akshay Kumar’s photo on an enormous billboard at the Delhi airport:

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Lastly, I just had to take this photo for my sister Zina. She’s a hair stylist and owner of an organic hair salon in Salisbury, Maryland.  This guy had just finished cutting someone’s hair and was more than happy to pose for me!IMG_3034

http://www.frangallo.com

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Part II: Lured by Rajasthan and Taj Mahal

August 20, 2017

Part II brings you dreamy images of Rajasthan, India.  This tour with daily yoga includes visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra.  Please enjoy the photos.  The photos below were all taken by me except for the first two (the tiger photos).

Journey to Rajasthan, Delhi, and Agra takes place from January 17 — February 3, 2018

This tour is led by Arvind Singh, organized by Kelley McHenry, and offers daily Hatha yoga, which I will be teaching.  In today’s second post, I am sharing a few of my favorite photos from travels in Rajasthan, Delhi, and Agra.  We will be revisiting the places below in the January 2018 travels. These trips to India will be the last I will be offering in India, only because I hope to offer yoga retreats to various areas.

Registration is open through the end of August 2017.  There is plenty of space for you.  View Full itinerary

One of the most exciting places we visit is Ranthambore National Park.  The park is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.  If we are lucky, we will see a tiger.  The photos below are from a few years back.  These two photos were taken by a tour participant on one of our trips with her lovely Olympus camera (so I call these two photos “Rebecca’s Tiger”).

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Ranthambore National Park and Keoladeo National Park are two of my favorite nature visits on this tour. As of the last count, Ranthambore is home to 34 adult tigers and 14 cubs.  Both Ranthambore and Keoladeo are World Heritage Sites.  Keoladeo is considered to be the richest bird sanctuary in the world.  It is located in Bharatpur and is home to 366 species of birds.  Below are a blend of photos from both national parks:

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And a bundled up Arvind-with-bird-upon-head on an early morning chilly tiger safari outing to Ranthambore:

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Another highlight of the trip is the visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Agra, the Taj Mahal.  It is massive and one of the most beautiful buildings on earth.  Arvind tells the love story behind the Taj Mahal and explains the vision behind the construction of this mausoleum so perfectly.  The first time I saw it, I was so moved by the sheer force of the site before me that I thought my legs would buckle to the ground.  I believe one must see and experience the grandeur of the Taj Mahal at least once in a lifetime!

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When I think of Rajasthan, I see colorful saris, turbans, and the warm faces of the desert people.  It is an otherworldly and welcoming part of India. L1280618

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Where else do you find a “Blue City”, vast palaces that stand out like glistening jewels in a desert landscape, and immense astrological palace observatories?

Jodhpur the Blue City

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Imagine doing early morning sun salutations on the terrace of your hotel as a pink sun rises, awakening and lifting your spirit:

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I love the photo below with cow, auto rickshaw, and outdoor pots and pans.  India is, at times, wonderfully mind boggling.

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I had to do a little climbing to be in this photo.  India is all at once complex and simple, ancient and new.

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While in the desert, the camels await you.  They make a most humorous sound.  The first time I heard a camel, I asked aloud, “What’s that sound?”  A nearby woman answered me in a matter-of-fact tone, “That is camel, madam.”  Look at how the camel is watching me do Ustrasana, Camel Pose.

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India is 1,344,664,943 beating human hearts! 

There is an India population site where the numbers keep augmenting before your very eyes.

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10 Reasons Why I LOVE India!

June 2, 2012

This blog entry was written on June 2, 2012.   Obviously, as seen from the title, I love India.  And, I love the responses I got from this blog post.  Two of the responses, from Indian nationals who stumbled upon this blog post, are very moving.  Here is one, from someone I never met.  It is so darned sweet, it moves me every time I read it:

I love you man! I have been in States for four years, I feel like crying every time I remember my India.  May you have an amazing life life like no one else ever had!  I love you!!!!

And the following response really made me happy.  India gets a BAD rap from the news media!  We hear much negative news coming from India. To be fair, bad things happen even in our own country!  And many good things happen, too, in our own country and in India.  Below, this person is appreciative because I honestly have good things to say about my experience in India:

I feel happy to read this blog. Finally I hear a foreigner saying good about my country India. Thanks a lot for visiting India and I am happy that you loved your trip to this country. I am an artist from South India. Try to visit southern part of India in your next trip and I hope you will enjoy the culture followed in South India as well 🙂

So I am inspired to re-post this particular blog from 2012!  Together with Spiritual India Journeys (http://www.spiritualindiajourneys.com/), I will offer yet another tour with daily yoga (taught by me) in Spring 2016 (March 19-April 3, 2016) !  This time our tour takes us to South India.  Can’t wait!   If you are interested, please contact me and sign up before the end of this month.   The photos below reflect Delhi and Rajasthan.  Photos reflecting South India will be posted next Spring while I am there!

10 Reasons Why I Love India!

  • I love the great diversity of the people of India-ethnic, cultural, linguistic, historical, and religious diversity.  People in India are very curious and friendly.  The language that unifies all of India is English, making it a bit easier to navigate your way through India and connect with various people you meet along the way.

Man in Delhi

  • Because it’s so deep and so rich, you can’t get to the bottom of India.   You can see customs, rituals, and artifacts over 5000 years old.  India is mother to yoga, which is also over 5000 years old.  When I practice yoga in India, I feel like I am merging with an ancient force that I do not yet fully comprehend.   Yoga has always been a powerful practice for me and that experience seems to be intensified ten-fold in India!  If you love yoga, you must experience yoga in India!

Shavasana in India!

Meaning behind the eyes of Shiva: The Eyes of Shiva destroy all that is dualistic. The powerful gaze of Shiva annihilates evil. The eyes represent “all seeing wisdom”.

  • India pulses, surges, vibrates, and makes you feel alive.  Arriving in India, more than any other country, you feel you’ve entered a strange and wonderful world.  Your senses are overloaded with colors, shapes, sights, sounds, smells, tastes!

Sunrise boat tour along the Ganges River, watching the most ancient of the world’s cities awaken to honor the river goddess, Ganga.

  • The richest and the poorest live side by side.  Our minds, which are normally orderly, are trying to classify, try to make sense of it all.  In the process, suddenly you can’t help but let go.  In India, we abandon ourselves to a pure non-analytical experience.  You end up opening yourself up to something entirely different. India breaks you out of any need to cling to order and predictability.
  • India is a photographer’s paradise.  I saw so many beautiful faces, smiles, fabrics, colorful clothing, textiles, patterns, ancient and intriguing temples, and temple art.

It’s like…I can’t believe I took this photo!  She is so beautiful and lights up the place!

A photographer’s dream: Bharatapur/Keoladeo Bird Reserve, India

Keoladeo National Bird Park!

  • Shopping in India is fun.  You can bargain for the right price and everyone comes out happy.  The range of items that can be bought from carvings, textiles, fabrics, jewelry, to clothing items is mind boggling.

This guy could sell a camel in Seattle! He was that good. Plus, his merchandise was exquisite.

  • India is changing faster than any other country in the world!  Internet and high tech companies are springing up everywhere. India boasts one of the largest movie industries in the world.  People are excited about these changes and hopeful for a  more thriving economy.

Going downtown? Camel, sir? Or motorbike? Camel cheaper, sir. Motorbike faster.

  • People live and breathe their spirituality.  The idea of the divine exists everywhere in their lives and permeates every moment of the day.  Ritual marks most every aspect of their lives and it is fascinating to watch.

Aarti- the nightly ritual of saying goodnight to Mother Ganga (the Ganges River is seen as the Great Mother) in Varanasi

Smoke/incense represents the element AIR. All elements are offered to the great Mother Ganga, the source of all life.

  • The concept of “Family” is ever so strong in India.  Families are loving and warm.  Children are respectful of their elders. The family unit is strong.  Children are ADORABLE!

So beautiful!

This little girl was with her brother and daddy.

Happy faces peek out from the back of a van.

  • I can’t believe I am saving food for last!  Indian food rocks!  It is so tasty and a total feast for your taste buds.  As long as you drink filtered bottled water  (that means brushing your teeth and rinsing using bottled water and not letting the shower water get in your mouth!!!) and eat at restaurants where your food is carefully prepared (as we do on all of our the tours), your tummy will be happy and your taste buds will celebrate the foods of India!

A melange of heavenly tastes!

Pureed Spinach! My favorite of all Indian dishes!


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