Monday, July 26, 2010

India-Day 47-Final Day

Here we are. My final day in India. It has turned out to be a great adventure. An experience of a lifetime, indeed. I have seen things that I never before even thought about. India is a magnificent place with so much majesty and wonder. I have thought a lot about what I have learned and felt here. And although I will never be able to express feelings into as detailed descriptions as I would like, I will attempt to summarize what this trip has meant to me.

1) It has been said too often: "Don't sweat the small stuff." When one is to ask what is "the small stuff", a common answer is "everything". Truly, I have felt this valuable lesson hold true in India. I felt it most as I worked with spiritual men like Jemal and Jaidara. Both of them are great men who have taken on the oaths to become monks. As I worked with them and the many other monks at the Ananda Ashram of Pune, I felt that life seemed more simple than it usually does. Truly, what in life is worth stressing or worrying about? Nothing. Frequently, we get so bothered by the small things that we must do everyday. Or frequently, is it not true that we get so impatient with others around us? Why? Truly, it's not worth it. The monks frequently must have disagreed with our methods of working or acting, but there was never a time when they ridiculed. They allowed us our own freedoms to try things, mess up, and then try them again. Meanwhile, they were always there to help. I just thought about how different this is from myself. If I am working with someone who knows little about a project we are working on, I all to often decide to do it myself, rather than teach them. I get annoyed at how slow they work. I know I have done this on film sets many times, when the fact is that we are all beginners at some point in our lives. We have no reason to get annoyed with that person who can't seem to figure out how to get it just right. Anger is never justified. Again, a valuable lesson from the monks.

2) I feel I learned a lot about spirituality in a different sense than I have ever thought of. I learned that we are all on a path of spirituality. This path began when we were born and continues even after we die. On this path, every human soul is striving at different rates. Some try harder and succeed more at become spiritual. Some don't have that spiritual drive, and don't excel towards God as much as others.
The amazing thing that I felt as I thought a lot about spirituality is the way that God works with every person, despite religion, culture, or race. Here I am in a country where the idea of God is absolutely different from the idea of God that I hold. But does that make them any less spiritual than myself? Absolutely not. There are saints, monks, priests, pastors, bishops of all religions who are doing everything in the power to follow God, which in all honesty, is more than I can say that I am doing. I am no heretic, you see, but I would say that there are people who are, on their own spiritual path, making greater strides toward God than I am. I would not say this is a form of righteousness versus unrighteousness, but rather working toward a common goal at your own pace. I know with all my heart that God loves each of his children. Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Agnostic, or whatever other belief we hold to, God works with us each the same and wants us to be happy all the same. I learned that we really are all the same.
3) No matter how much money we choose to give, it will never be as valuable as time. When I was en route to India, I got to thinking about what it was that I was going to do. I thought about how I wanted to help the people of India. A thought came over my mind that left me feeling more selfish and self-satisfying than I had thought I was before I left. The thought was that here I am, not a rich man, but a fortunate man. I was spending about $2000 of mine and my parents' money to fly over to India to have an experience of a lifetime. "Was I really doing it for the people or was I doing it for myself?" I began to think. If I was truly going for the sole fact of helping the people, why would I have not just donated all that money. Wouldn't that help them out better anyway? This thought taunted me often while in India until I started to get to know the people. I saw them for what they truly desired: love. In America, we are rich. In comparison to the rest of the world, we are millionaires. I thought about this, and I thought about why can't we just be happy? We never go without. We always have food on our plates, clothes on our backs, and a shelter to sleep in. Yet, there are so many people in America who are truly not happy. They are deprived of love. That same love that people in India desire. I saw this as I played with the children in the village that one day. Seeing them smile and run around made me realize that the time I was sharing with them, the feelings of love shared between us was more valuable than anything I could ever ask for. I will never be able to forget the little baby's face as she held onto my hands trying to walk or the boy who followed me around with bare feet in the mud playing soccer. Or the smile of the kids as we shared a piece of candy with them. They had nothing, yet had something so desirable, it left me yearning for more. I did not want to leave and as I think about life in America, it saddens me that experience like that are few and far between. I could have given that village the $2000 I spent to go to India, but would it have really improved their lives? Some people may still not be convinced, but I firmly believe that it would not have. For a short period of time, would they be able to enjoy certain pleasures that we have in America, but such things are temporary and not long-lasting. And I fear that such things would cause them to forget the truly joyous things that are found in their simple lifestyle. I learned, once again, that all the money in the world won't provide for your happiness. Spending time with someone nice who smiles and is willing to share a laugh will provide through life.

I guess those are 3 main points I just wanted to hit on. The thoughts, as always, are unorganized and weak, but they are comfortable for me. I enjoy expression through words and thought. I only wish I was more skillful at it. India was amazing. I don't know if this will be my last post or not. But should it be, stay tuned. This blog won't end. Although this journey has ended, there will be another one beginning. For life is not about the destination. It's about the journey. I love you all. Thanks for reading. Namaste.

Friday, July 23, 2010

India-Day 44

Last week, I learned that the Fifa World Cup is the biggest scam ever. In many countries, the media is completely monopolized and controlled by one person or one group of people. In Spain, for example, a certain mob boss controls 98% of the nation's media and is able to raise morale within the country. With an unemployment rate of 20% and an economy that is in the hole, Spain made a great contestant to win the world cup. Even on the national level, the amount of influence this mob boss has extends even as far as CNN to where they predicted Spain and the Netherlands to win far before the finals or even the semi-finals were decided. Even in the advertising during the world cup, billions of dollars went to the advertising of Spanish tourism. In international newspapers and television media, there were all sorts of ads selling Spain. And here's the clincher...anyone who watched the World Cup probably saw some pretty atrocious calls by the refs. The games were fixed from the beginning. The winners were decided and refs were paid off in order to ensure that those teams one. Indeed, quite the conspiracy. The important point being: America never had a shot from the beginning. They were doomed to lose.
So, do you believe all that? Personally, I don't, but a crazy Dutch man I met who hates the Holland team does. But he only hates them because they're in on the entire thing. He was a really cool guy. Genius. Pure genius. He spoke like 7 languages, and he is doing a dutch radio show here in India on spirituality. So, we got interviewed by him, being that we are foreigners and have had the wonderful privilege to experience a pilgrimage of sorts while here in India. It was an interesting interview, but pretty fun.
Bangalore is such a beautiful town. I have enjoyed being here far more than any of the other cities I have been in. We took a train in from Nagpur on Wednesday. Napur was a good halfway point between Bangalore and Delhi. And Kartik had to stop so he could give a presentation on renewable energy. The city has recently had some major coal plants wanting to come in. India, in a progressive sense, is attempting, like the rest of the world, to move towards renewable energy in the form of mainly solar and wind. Kartik shared in a media press release the benefits environmentally, as well as economically, of going green. While we were sitting in this press release, they actually had us, "The American visitors" stand up. Then, they had us walk to the front of the room, where they welcomed us by giving us a floral arrangement. It was really random, but nice of them.
Nagpur is a really cool city, but small by Indian standards. Really well known for oranges, or so we were told. I was really upset that we couldn't eat any. Unfortunately, they're not in season right now, so it was quite the bummer. We got to see some of the city. We went to a museum, which was really neat. All sorts of statues and art from anywhere between the 1 century and the 15th century. So rad.
So, we left Nagpur after only a day. We left and went to Bangalore. The trip to Bangalore was really uncomfortable. Although we were in a sleeper car, we arrived so late that everyone else had their luggage already under the seats stored. So, we couldn't really fit our luggage and theirs. This meant that I had to sleep with my luggage, so I basically set it on the bed and then snaked my body around each piece and slept there. It wasn't at all comfortable, but it was a bed, nonetheless. We finally arrived in Bangalore around 9 PM on Wednesday night.
Then came 2 days of Indian wedding madness. Such an extravagant event. It was really cool. Every ritual that they did had really significant meaning. For example, they have a ritual where the groom pretends to leave the bride. He decides that he actually doesn't want to get married. Then, the bride's father and brother try to convince him to not leave the wedding and to push through with the marriage. I don't exactly understand the meaning in all this, but it's really magnificent. The morning of the second day, the groom comes to the marriage with a parade of people. Everyone is dancing and celebrating. Unfortunately, we slept in for that part so we didn't get to see the grand procession. Nevertheless, it was quite the remarkable experience.
So the wedding was for Akeila and Vivek. Akeila is Ashok and Krishna's cousin. In India, basically anyone is invited to the wedding. If you are friends with someone who is going, you probably should go too. Basically, that qualified us. But everyone at the wedding was really nice. They welcomed us with warm hearts and delicious food. THE FOOD WAS AMAZING! Our plates were banana leaves and we ate with only our hands. The craziest wedding food I've ever had! But everything was so delicious. And it was all you can eat. I ate until I could really not put any more food in my mouth. It was awesome. Agh. I can't even describe it. I wish that you could have been there.
Overall impression for an Indian wedding: amazing. Probably too amazing for me. I could not imagine putting on a 3 day extraveganza for everyone. Seems too stressful.
Anyway, things are going well. I have recently fallen in love with butterscotch ice cream and Bangalore. It is such a nice city. Today, we went around to see some sights. We saw the capitol building and a really rad palace that belonged to some king. More like a governor, I suppose. It was really lidgit.
I am leaving on Monday night. That's crazy. It's going to be so bizarre to be in America again. I have become so used to India.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

India-Day 37

My time here in India is coming into the final ten days. I don't know why but time periods in the form of 10 days are so much easier to me than saying weeks. I always feel like when the 10 day mark hits, things get serious. I feel that I am actually moving on to something in a short time.
I must say, India has treated me well. So many amazing, magnificent things that I have been able to see and experience. Truly, it has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I feel like I have learned so much about people, myself, and the path of spirituality that people from all races take in order to follow God. Truly magnificent.
So, I'm in Dheli. It's a very crowded city. One of the most densely populated city in the world (according to wikipedia). Delhi is really rich in history. Well, I guess all of India is rich with history. Everywhere you go, there's something to be seen. But, Dheli is the place where Ghandi was killed. 3 or 4 hours away is Agra, the location of the Taj Mahal. There are several religious sites. I have learned that the farther North you seem to come, the more Muslims there seem to be. We went to a Hindu temple yesterday and right next door there was this Muslim mosque. To Kartik, this was very very surprising. There has always been so much turmoil between the Hindu and the Muslims that to coincide is really difficult, or so it seems.
We left Pune on Monday by train. The train was an experience, in itself. As we were driving to the train station, our car got a flat tire. We were running on a little bit of a time crunch, so we changed the tire super quick and went on our way to the station. Traffic was pretty bad, but we were able to make it on time. Not only on time, but we were early. Apparently, the trains in India are about as reliable not nearly as reliable as Japan. In Japan, I could time the train down to 30 seconds. was a different story. The train was running an hour late. There was confusion over this because Rahm and Kartik thought that the train was leaving from Pune. There should have been no other stops before it. So the fact that it was late seemed odd. Anyway, we hung out for a little bit at the train station, then made our way over to the platform with all our luggage. Loading the train was such a hassle. We have seriously more luggage than I think stuff that I own in total. Huge bags that wouldn't even fit under the seats or in the aisle caused lots of frustration between us and some of the other passengers. However, we finally got everything on, and moments later, the train departed around 6:00 or so.
So trains, I found, are really nothing too exciting. We were in the air conditioned compartment which was nice, but I think it made me sick! I've had a sore throat and cold-like symptoms ever since. I am pretty sure my body is so used to the heat that being cold like that affected me drastically. But yeah, I basically just hung out until about 10:00, cuddled up in my little cot, and then went to sleep. The cots are so small. My feel were sticking out into the aisle the entire night, unless I pulled my knees toward my chest. I slept decently, to say the least. I mean, what can you expect. All I can say is that it wasn't the worse sleep I have ever had. I have definitely slept a lot worse.
The next day was nice. Our train wasn't set to arrive until about 9 PM that night. So I took almost the entire day to read 1984. Fabulous book. I read it in high school, but didn't remember anything at all, so I read it again. It was great.
We arrived in Delhi and took 2 taxis to get to the place where we were staying, which is a house owned by Ananda.
We then took a bus to Agra where we saw the famous Taj Mahal. Honestly speaking, it was spectacular but not as amazing as some of the other things I have seen. I really liked it though.
After that nothing really went down. We are still chilling in Delhi. We have just been relaxing because it's so hot. We have gone to the mall to buy kurtas (traditional Indian formal clothing) for the wedding. Also, we saw the movie Inception. Seriously such a great movie. It was amazing. I highly suggest every one of you should go check it out. Anyway, I need to go to bed. Good night. We're heading off for Bangalore tomorrow. That should be a trip. I'll let you know how it goes. Namaste.

Monday, July 12, 2010

India-Some more pictures

Here are some great pictures from my trip. So that you understand a little bit about what the pictures are, you should read my post before this one. Love you

The caves at Ajunta. You can't really see it, but this is me standing on top of the mountain overlooking the canyon, river, and caves.
The half-moon of the canyon. You can see the really pretty waterfall.
Inside the canyon. This pictures was taken from the bridge crossing the water. You can see the caves in the distance.
I told Jaidara that I would catch him meditating.

Caves at Ajunta

The path on the caves at Ajunta

This is the inside of the caves with great acoustics. Ajunta.
Friggin' Monkeys!
You can't really see but there is giant statue of Buddha and a round acoustical room.

The outside of another cave at Ajunta

Here we are standing on top of the huge temple that was carved at Ellora. Atop this temple are room with giant towers that extend into the sky. This temple was carved from the top to the bottom over several generations. Each generation passed down the plans in order to assure that the temple was built correctly.

Another shot of the temple at Ellora. This is shot from the ground up.

The temple at Ellora.

The temple at Ellora

We played a lot of soccer at the Ashram where we were staying. This game we played right after a huge rain storm had hit us. It became known as the infamous "Mud bowl"

Vive le futbol

When it's all said and done, the men with the handprints took the V.

Celebrating a victory
Daisy Dukes- my fav.
Such a rad awning. It's crazy.
The intricate detail of every inch of the Ajunta caves. This is a step.
The man. El Sergio, the Godfather. Not really. He's a rad 23 year old monk.

Krishna and I

Shot outside of another temple at Ajunta

Each detail is so fine.
Statues of Buddha and other priests

One of the tiny monk rooms. "Ohhhmmmmmm"

This is the temple where the ceiling is painted like a tapestry.

Ashok and some hottie

Ridin' like a prince

Katiani wearing a sick cowboy hat and my shades
There's a lot of flies in India
Aaron calls the urinals in India "glorified bushes". Except bushes smell better

The temple at Ellora

The entrance gate to the temple at Ellora

A full shot of the temple at Ellora

The temple at Ellora

One day, Tom and I couldn't handle the flies anymore. We went on a killing rampage. 7 flies dead in less than 10 minutes

Ashweney's Dad
A family, out on a Sunday outing, frequently rides scooters. Family size scooters.

The village at the top

Hiking up to the village at the top of the mountain.

The crew. Not everyone, but Krishna, Jaidara, Tom, Aditiya, Ashok, and Aaron
A frog chillin in the banana trees.

Workin' it.

Ashweney, the cute next-door girl.

Ashok and I building a rack for the solar panels.

The group meditating at a sweet temple.

An actual Indian camel!

Ashok and Aaron

A rad temple we went to some weeks back. It was right on the edge of a mountain.

A local man selling corn on the cob.

The site where Hindu religion says that the 5 great rivers of India all come from.

Krishna at the site of the origin of the 5 major Indian rivers. The water is spitting out of the cow's mouth. It is considered a sacred honor to be able to drink water and wash your face with water from the cow's mouth.


A local 7-11 (no, not really, but the equivalent)