Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Rishikesh Yoga Teacher Training Centre, February 1, 2023

I woke up to-

It’s lovely so I left my door open. I could see the trees really moving just off my baIcony so I thought there must be a wind but then the movement stopped and I realized they were monkeys out there. I quickly shut my door because they would be in my room in a second and I don’t know how I would get rid of them!

My 200 hour teacher training course includes-

The schedule is from Monday to Saturday.  Sunday is a day off.  I think we get daily supper but it’s not on the list.  Maybe we are too tired to eat!

What they’re going to teach me and hopefully what I’m going to learn-

Seems like a lot!  I checked out from the hostel at the last minute – 11 AM and walked to the school. It wasn’t hard to find but of course I missed the signs and walked further than I needed to - the story of my life. I stopped in Mamma Mia CafĂ©, which is part of the school and had a really good breakfast – poached eggs in a mushroom, tomato, pesto sauce with dark, dark brown bread.  It might’ve been the best breakfast I’ve had in India. Meanwhile, the owner of the restaurant, who is also the owner of the school, came in and introduced himself. He took me to the lobby of the school and I got registered as well as welcomed with a garland of marigolds-

and a ritual-

where you get water from the Ganges put into your palm and you rub your hands together to cleanse them. Then you get more water put in your palm and you drink it and then rub your hands over your head to cleanse yourself.  Next you get some tikka mixed with flower petals and rice put on your third eye spot.  Welcome to yoga school in Rishikesh!  

I am trying not to make hasty first judgements but I really have to ask myself if I am as weird as some of these people seem. One young guy was sitting in the lobby with his hair in dreadlocks, with full headphones on petting the dog and going on and on about how this dog could sense they were kindred spirits. Everyone is a lot younger than me except I did see a woman who might be close to my age.  I hope to meet up with her soon.

I paid and was shown to my room –

The room is nothing special but I have a balcony facing south so I can sit in the sun.  The view isn’t that great-

but as I sit here, I keep wondering if it’s possible to gather all the garbage up and if someone would come and take it away. I will ask the owners and if so that might become my project.

I found a liquor store on google maps that was 3.4 km away and as it was a beautiful day I started walking. For a while I walked along the shore of the Ganges -

Rafting is popular-

A home along the road where the owner is sleeping.  You can just see his feet-

Eventually I made it to the liquor store and bought a couple small bottles of vodka and a beer. I sat on a short wall to enjoy the beer while it was cold, right in front of a couple police officers. Because I am white, I can just about get away with murder.  In no time an Indian was visiting – his wife and children are in Israel where he also lived until his marriage broke down. Now he works for a local rafting company and talks to his kids every Saturday. He was drinking some kind of local hootch and we were having a good visit but then the police came along and told us that we couldn’t drink there.  I felt like a homeless hobo sitting there drinking my beer and of course there wasn’t another woman in sight. All these men come on scooters, buy bottles and leave.  It’s a very busy gold mine!

I came home on a tuktuk,  bought a bottle of Coke – there is no Coke Zero, and found a bag because I’m not sure if I’m allowed alcohol in my room.  I’m 61 years old and so if I want to drink alcohol I am going to regardless of the rules. Eating vegetarian for a month will be bad enough!  I sat out on the balcony in the sunshine and watched the new students arrive. This is a huge school which has four different studios that will have close to 20 students in each. I am lucky because I am in the building where we eat and speaking of eating, lunch was OK. It wasn’t too spicy and there were fresh vegetables so I am hopeful.

All information regarding school will come on a WhatsApp link. Tomorrow is our purity ceremony to start the program. I do not have white clothes but they have a white T-shirt I can use. I am looking forward to meeting the other students in my class!  

Udaipur to Dehradun/Rishikesh, India, January 31, 2023

Once again no hot water this morning. That’s very disappointing when you pay for a private room but TII!  


My cab arrived on time at 7:30 and by 8:15 I was at the airport. What a modern place!  By simply walking through a door I left the chaos of India and stepped into my normal. Unfortunately because of fog/smog in Delhi, my flight was delayed and I think that Indigo uses the same planes for all the short flights so that meant that all flights were delayed all day. I didn’t mind though because my iPad was charged and I had  downloaded The Lincoln Lawyer so I watched it all day.

I had an interesting visit with a security guard toting an AK 47 at the airport in Udaipur. He length of his day depends on the arriving and departing flights so usually he starts at five in the morning and is finished by nine or ten at night. He goes home to a wife and a three-year-old. She does not work because as he said who would cook my supper? When he asked me what I was up to, he looked at me really puzzled and said so you have the next while of your life planned out. I nodded and he said we don’t do that. We think about today and that is all and if tomorrow comes we think about that day and that is all. Hmm.  I know that being in the moment is the way we are “supposed” to live our lives and I agree but at the same time I need to have a plan; a plan that I work towards.  For the man I spoke with today, his life is about survival. He works for 11 months - 7 days a week and takes the 12th month off. Maybe if a person doesn’t have enough money to be able to do anything other than survive, then you better live in the moment but if you dream about the future, as long as you are not forgetting to enjoy the moment, I think that’s how you can get ahead. I’m not sure but at my yoga school we do spend a lot of time in meditation and maybe by the end of the course I will have some answers!  Another thing, he was shocked when I told him I was 61 as he thought I was about 45. Are all Indians blind? He said that a 61-year-old woman in India would be in a wheelchair, and I did see a few.

I also visited with two young boys who were dressed very smartly in their school uniforms. They were going back to their boarding school, the best boarding school in the world according to them, in Dehadrun. They were 13 and 14 years old and had been home for a semester break. They love the school because it’s like sleeping over with friends all the time and they do not miss being at home with their families. Rich kids!

The young woman I sat beside on a plane was going back to medical school. She looked about 12.

Because we were late departing, the first flight gave us a little gift bag that included a juice box, some spicy trail mix and a cookie. Normally on these flights you get a glass of water.  They must have run out because the second flight we got nothing.

An interesting observation is that by the time we have deplaned and are at the luggage carousel, our luggage is there. Always. That’s pretty amazing!  In fact, in Delhi where you have to walk about 20 minutes to get to the carousels, my bag had already been taken off and was in a neat row on the side waiting for me to grab it.

At the Dehradun airport, there is no negotiating for cabs. You pay at a booth and they assign you a driver. I like that except it involves a middleman so it’s more expensive. It’s like the cab I took this morning. At the hostel it would cost me Rs.850 but at a travel agency down the street it only cost me Rs.700. 200 for the travel agency, 500 for the driver. The problem is it’s hard to find your own taxi driver because cars are unmarked.  Costs are okay, everyone has to make a living and it’s not like most people are rolling in it.  

Tonight, the drive was on a very windy up and down road that follows the Ganges.  I’d love to see it in the daylight.  No one dims their lights and some don’t have any, but my cabbie did a great job. He didn’t speak much English so only answered the questions he understood. Fine.  After about 30 minutes, he was ready to kick me out at a pedestrian street. Google maps was showing my hostel was still a long way away so I made him follow the route. When I got out I had to walk up probably 60 big steps to get to Shalom Backpackers.  That was hard wearing a 15kg pack.  I always think that’s what everyday would be like if I were obese. Why do people do that to themselves?  It’s so debilitating.  Anyway… I have a lovely room and I can hear the Ganges so I think I must have a view from my balcony. I will know better in the morning.

I thought a beer would be a nice way to end the day but the server at the restaurant gave me a look as if I’d asked for his head to be delivered on a platter. He said the nearest beer was probably 4 to 5 km away! WTF?   I went for a walk and discovered that my cabbie was right. If I had gotten out where he suggested I would’ve had an easy, short, downhill walk. That’s another example of what has happened to me in India. I don’t trust anybody and this time it cost me a struggle!

As per usual, I’m hoping for a great sleep and I’m very excited about tomorrow. I’m looking forward to some structure and being able to stay in one spot for a while. I hope I am not disappointed.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Udaipur, India, January 30, 2023

I had a very lazy morning because I binge watched Firefly Lane. I had downloaded it on Netflix and noticed that it was expiring on the 31st so there were nine episodes to see.  I watched some last night and finished this morning. I really liked it. Then I tried to have a shower and let the water run for one hour but it was still cold so I complained and they said they’d move me to a different room and get the electrician in. (When I got back from my exploration, the electrician had fixed it so I didn’t have to move.)

Anyway, I walked about a kilometre to a local fabric market looking for-

I saw it in a very short blouse and was told yesterday to go to this certain market.  Once there,  a man said they probably had it at their big shop which was a five minute ride away so I hopped on the back of his motorcycle and away we went.  I didn’t find what I was looking for but I did get to see more of the 7 artificial lakes around the city-

I then wandered on the other side of the lake-

There are lots of murals and 2 bridges.

Natani Ka Chabutara which is apparently an historical place is on an island-

City Palace-

Because it was Ghandi Day - he was shot on this day in 1948, the beer store was closed so I had bananas instead.  I have booked a cab for 7:30 tomorrow morning to take me to the airport for my 10:40 flight. I’m going to Rishikesh to begin my yoga and I’m very excited. I definitely need a break from this tourist business because I am tired of sightseeing. I hope after a month in one spot I will have the energy to play tourist again in March.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Udaipur, India, January 29, 2023

I was asleep by nine and had a great sleep except for the weird interruption about two in the morning. The manager came in with a guest because somebody was in the wrong bed and they turned on the lights and talked really loud. Indians! Luckily I fell back to sleep and had a relaxing morning visiting with the two brothers from Indore.  One is taking his MBA and the other is a system’s analyst.  There are nine of them here – siblings and cousins and they were going outside of the city today. I asked what time they were leaving as it was already 10 o’clock and they said 9 o’clock!  I said well you’re late! Are your people sleeping in? They replied that no the others were waiting on them.  I looked at them kind of funny and they replied that it isn’t often they get to visit with a foreigner so they were enjoying the moment!

By 10 I still couldn’t get into my private room so I went exploring. My first stop was Jagdish Temple which was built in 1652 by some Singh.  It’s in Nagar style which is a style popular in Northern India.  One significant feature is the temple is built on a stone platform with a staircase leading up to it-

The outside is a carved masterpiece-

Inside there was music and chanting-

At the altar, people were praying to the idol Jagannath who is lord of the universe.  He’s made of a single black stone with four arms, flowers and finery-

My next stop was City Palace which as far as I can tell is an art museum.  I considered a guide but unless they speak clear English, with their Indian accent the words all run together and I can’t concentrate. I did get in for cheaper though playing the old card –

The palace was started in 1553 and took over 400 years and 22 different rulers to complete.  As rulers changed, so did the style of architecture creating a fusion of Rajasthani and Mughal styles.  It’s 800 feet long and 100 feet high with 11 different palaces inside.  It’s made completely of granite and marble and the balconies, towers and cupolas contain mirror work, murals, wall paintings, silver-work, coloured glass and inlay work-

The Tripolia Gate built in 1725-

There are many courtyards built in zigzag patterns to slow invaders from easily entering-

The views of Udaipur are also good-

The Zenana Mahal or Women’s residence-

Ivory carved doors-

Peacock Square-

has 3 peacocks depicting the seasons- summer, winter and monsoon- 



Wall paintings-

Coloured glass and mirrors-

There’s a museum with many instruments including a sitar-


Patralekha Surasundari was carved 1000-1100 A.D.  She holds a pen in her right hand and dips it into an ink well that is held by her assistant. She probably has a palm leaf in her left hand where she was writing –

Chain mail-

Lakshmi- Narayan 1100-1200 A.D. shows Vishnu with his lover Lakshmi.  His hand is on her breast.  We know this is Vishnu because of the gada (mace), the padma (lotus), the chakra (discus) and the shankha (conch shell)-

More screens carved from stone to allow the women to look out without being seen-

Maharana Bhupal Singhji (1930-1955) signed the Instrument of Assession to join the Union of India in 1948.  This ended British rule-

He also commissioned the sun-

Golden spires on the rooftops-

indicated the lands were independent of foreign rule.

Indian households have a temple space for prayer and worship with the family’s patron deity enshrined.  Krishna is in the cradle and he represents femininity.  Chauth Mata, Shiva and Parvati are worshipped by women for a good prospective partner, health, welfare and a long life.

Now I’m not only forted out but I’m castled out.  No more!  

Walking home- He was pounding the pots-

Something lost in translation I think-

I met a tailor who was supervising five or six men who were busy sewing. He took me across the street to his shop where he showed me the orders he had, enough work for at least a month. He has 45 seamsters  working for him in different locations. What an entrepreneur –

They are everywhere-

Making samosas-

I checked in and was very pleased.  Now I hope my neighbours respect the 10 pm curfew!

Tomorrow I am going to check out a market for some fabric. I saw a shirt I like but it is too short and it’s a tie up one in front but no one has any other styles or the same fabric. One shopkeeper suggested this particular market so I will go there tomorrow. Other than that, it’s going to be a lazy day!

  Cancun, Mexico to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,     December 31, 2023 I was up at 4:30 and walking to the bus depot by 5:30.  I wore my headlam...