I said I would write a little about what happened in the time between Nepal and India, so here goes…
Jesse and I left Nepal to travel to Croatia, a world away from the life of Nepal. I arrived super sick and went to hospital for some tests, but was all clear and was soon able to head down the coast to Pakostane, where we would spend the next 2.5 months working on a children’s summer camp there. Children came from all over Europe and the world, as one of the older counsellors, I took on the older girls cabins, mostly on my own (which I enjoyed) and was also head of Drama, and dabbled in the music, dance and synchro swim (?!) side of things. I LOVED the kids I worked and lived with and my activities. In a two week session I would devise and write a play for whoever turned up to drama, then cast teach and direct it, along with singing, dance, synchro swim and occasionally sport (eek!) classes in between. Crazy. But I loved getting that creative side of myself out again. Unfortunately, Jesse and I didn’t feel as fully supported and trusted?, I guess I’d say, by the management as we’d like, so we left a little early. Jesse went back to Zagreb to hang with our awesome friend Grant, I took a trip semi-solo and semi accompanied by new friends down the incredible coast of Croatia.
We were itching to get back to the realness, authenticity and cheapness of Asia! So we devised a plan to work our way there. From Zagreb we to a train to Belgrade Serbia which was awesome and seriously an underrated area of Europe that you should visit! Awesome atmosphere, interesting history, and still way cheaper than its EU incorporated neighbours. After Belgrade we took a cheap flight to Istanbul, which we explored for a few days, before heading down to the coast of Turkey for sun and adventure with some new found camp friends. After 10ish awesome days of exploring tranquil rivieras, coastal islands and ancient tombs carved out of sheer rock faces, we head back to Istanbul by bus to catch a cheaper flight to Sri Lanka. And that’s how we got back to South Asia.
We headed straight to a meditation retreat in the hills around Kandy and loved it, we spent most of our time in Sri Lanka in such places. But we also visited some of the stunning mountainous tea district in the centre of the country, and the incredible tropical beaches down south in this lush, diverse and oh-so-friendly country.
And then that brings us back to India. Oh, India, India, India.
After 2.5 ish months here now, we’ve visited quite a few places, but there’s always so much more to see in this formidably mammoth country. My heart forever dwells with the beautiful, loving and pure hearted children and carers we met and lived with in Pondicherry. I hope never to return to the dusty, crowded, yet lonely city of Jaipur all my life. I could sit for hours watching the coming and going of tourists, sadhus, brides and pilgrims on the ghats of Varanasi, where time passing shows a new body lit on the funeral pyre, and the last kernel of the previous body flung into the Ganges. One can’t helped but be simultaneously mesmerised and repulsed by the unending constancy of change, the restless, ceaseless energy of life all around, and all too clearly, dwelling without shame or self consciousness in the spaces between the life, the clear, quiet, patient reminder of death.
So we feel drawn back to meditation again, back to a safe, quiet place for some contemplation. We’ve been in Sarnath for almost 2 weeks, but opportunities for quiet in India are at best, laughable. Even the monasteries we’ve been staying in have been directly next door to function halls hosting Indian weddings, which between the music and the fireworks, give one the impression of living between a nightclub and a warzone. And of course somebody wants to chant at 5 or 6 am, not quietly to themselves, but broadcasting across the entire town. Bless them, they only want to share!
But as amazing and lovable as India is, I do look forward to being somewhere everything isn’t just so damn hard. Ferrying forms back and forward between counters at the train station only to find out the train is booked out for a month, and having to throw handfuls of vitamins down your throat to get some nutrition becomes just hard work after a while. Life is cheaper here, but at what cost?
So we will wend our way westward…edging all the while closer to the South-Eastern portion of Asia…