I dream of India. The colours, the tastes, the smells, the sounds...an escape from my day to day reality.
I have spent a lot of my life traveling but have left so many places uncovered. My need to blend in often leads me to Europe where I can get away with French and English and attempt to blend in.
But I am hungry for something more. For somewhere that will push me out of my comfort zone, expand my mind and spice to my life experience.
I am hungry for spicy curries, brightly coloured saris, tall temples and busy markets. I want to learn the foundations of yoga and meditation. I want to experience a culture drastically different from my own.
And so I've started to plot a trip to India. Possibly for October/November. A birthday gift to myself. Meanwhile I am digging, researching, and reaching out for the right opportunities to complete my trip.
I don't want to walk into this naively. I have heard mixed stories about volunteering and how much good it really does. I have read that larger organizations charge huge sums, place volunteers in camps isolated from the local population, and that sometimes these short visits to 'help' can leave locals off worse than where they started. Meanwhile, it seems this isn't always the case. Some organizations seem to have really positive experiences on both ends and I love the idea of having a way to connect with more locals and to provide any help I can. I am especially interested in some of the women empowerment programs and am researching what might be the best fit.
Yoga and Meditation
Over the years I have practiced yoga on and off, and recently have found a lot of strength in meditation. I have never been a fan of 'bootcamp' yoga or any form of yoga that takes away from the mental practice and want to ground myself in the basics. I would love to find an ashram where I can spend some time evolving my practice and getting closer to my spirituality. I can't think of anywhere better to do this but the birthplace of yoga.
Since I plan to travel alone I am looking into all of the safety protocols I will have to consider. I want to do this smartly and safely. This means carefully plotting out my travels and living arrangements as well as preparing myself for culture shock and standing out like a sore blonde thumb. My friends have warned me that I will not deal well with the amount of poverty. I'm very sensitive so suffering. I will of course also get the necessary shots and learn to prepare myself to be careful to not get physically ill. My love of street food could mean trouble.
“There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won't go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds. It was as if all my life I had been seeing the world in black and white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor.” ― Keith Bellows
Have you been to India? Do you have any advice for this novice?