Friday, 30 March 2012

The magic of Rajasthan and laughter

Ok so, the beach again, I can certainly see a pattern emerging here but hey, what else is a girl to do after two weeks of sheer hardcore discipline!! I had arranged to meet a lovely young lady whom I met in the ashram in varkala.... Little did we know then that we would be partners in crime and constant laughter for the next up and coming month.. Much of our time together was spent from beach to beach, rising at seven in the morning to do pranayama (breathing techniques) yoga on the beach, a few cartwheels into the calm morning ocean all followed by a massive breakfast, the subject of our motivation!!! The beaches varied, we started in Gokarna a very chilled place not too unspoilt by tourism. Each beach, connected by a walk over some headland had a scattering of beach huts and restaurants. Life here was easy and slow, everybody would be stoned 24/7 and as a source of amusement the odd drug affected old man dressed only in a flapping sarong would stumble freely up and down the sand throwing his arms around and well, just generally looking a bit nutty, priceless entertainment. Next stop Palolem in southern Goa, a completely different atmosphere from Gokarna, more of a holiday destination but Lou and I thought it was time for a bit of partying. March 8th was to be 'Holi ' festival in India....Holi is a religious spring festival celebrated on the last full moon of the lunar which lasts for two days. It's the beginning of a new season, a time for enjoying springs colours.. The atmosphere is filled with excitement and joy, the strictness of social norms is lowered and basically everybody goes crazy!!!!..
On our usual walk to our newfound perfect yoga spot on the beach we appeared to walk into some colourful chaos. Hundreds of jeering, cheering men covered head to toe in coloured powder were piling into the sea fully clothed like a big happy colourful riot.
After our morning routine, we were ready and armed with coloured powder and set off hop foot to the beach ready for action, we waited, we watched but all that happened was a few boys finding a good excuse to smear colour over us western girls in our bikinis, what a disappointment...we decided that the evening would definitely consist of colour laughter and dancing so we got our glad rags on and set off for silent disco... Maybe I am a little behind times here but, silent disco, what an amazing discovery. Lou and I proceeded to smear ourselves, each other and anybody else who crossed our paths with colours before sticking on those headphones and dancing non stop until the very early hours of the morning..without a doubt, dancing, laughter and colour put together creates the perfect life therapy.
After more beach lounging and just one more silent disco it was time to bid farewell to the south and begin my journey upwards, destination Rajasthan..
My city stop off in Mumbai, at first, wasn't as bad as the previous ones. Having heard many horror stories about this city, I was pleasantly surprised. A two hour walk to find a guesthouse through the hussle bustle of morning business and a very pungent fish market all with my house on my back gave a good insight into a small part of the city..Although Mumbai is an incredibly busy metropolis, throughout the day spent there I found a certain charm to it. Unfortunately that charm didn't quite spill into the next day... I had woken up all out of sorts, wrong side of the bed and had a long journey ahead of me. It was hot, I was down and sent from here to god knows where to get my bus. No one would give a straight answer, when indians say yes a huge percentage of the time it means no or don't know.. I was lost in this sprawling metropolis. I remained calm and held on to a little bit of trust remaining inside me and once, finally on the bus, in my tiny but big enough for me bed space I settled down, watched the sunset drenched scenery rushing past through the open window and a sense of security crept back into my soul and an air of excitement swirled around my head for my new up and coming surroundings.
Udiapur, I fell in love. A city set upon a massive lake. My guesthouse roof top looked upon hundreds of charmingly beautiful matchbox buildings with textured walls, crumbling colour and carved windows. Below, on the steps leading down to the water the ladies would be doing their washing, from dawn until dusk, slapping the wet clothes against the concrete creating a loud banging noise which echoed into the atmosphere. The small streets were filled with smiley people, bursts of electrical colour from the ladies saris, doorways and windows surrounded with intricate, colourful and happy folk indian art and of course an abundance of the forever wandering and still amusing to me, holy cow.
I spent a week in Udaipur. On my birthday I created a small gathering In the guesthouse rooftop restaurant which turned out to be fun and as a birthday present to myself I took full advantage of the cheap dentists and had my forever nagging root canal fixed..the rest of my time was spent with my new found friends, the French boys with whom I didn't stop laughing with for the next ten days. We reluctantly decided to escape the charm of Udaipur to the smaller, more rustic and less effected by tourists Bundi which also held its own charm. Here we explored and ventured further out on a motorbike ride to a waterfall and although dry at this time of year, the pool below was a total oasis, the beauty of nature buzzing all around along with a highly inquisitive local family, totally stunned with our presenceabout 15 gathered around aged from 6 to 60 with their dark dark eyes fixated on our alien presence, pearcing through our skin and seemingly into our souls!!! Although just slightly irritating after a while it also stirred some amusement amongst us. The journey back from the waterfall, during sunset through some of the smaller villages will definitely stick in my mind and provoke my favourite memories of magical Rajasthan. Ladies dressed in the most stunning bright saris carrying huge silver earns of water upon their heads with pure elegance and grace but mixed with such strength, the greetings and the smiles, the shouts of "hello, what is your name" with such sincerity and eagerness from the children, the older generation men sat in squat position, randomly on the side of the road, the bright fiery colour of their turbans set of against their clean white clothing, the scents shifting between the strong waft of growing garlic to the sweetness of jasmine and motorbikes swiftly overtaking us, the female passenger sitting side saddle proposing a mysterious yet somehow flirty glimpse through her veil and the goats...hundreds of the quirkiest creatures trotting along the road being herded by immaculately dressed older ladies..As we approached the main town of Bundi an abundance of eye catching, bright powder blue matchbox shaped houses were in full view set against the crumbly monkey palace set on a steep hill..The people in Bundi are so friendly and there is a huge amount of art and creativity, as there is in all of India..
I entered Rajasthan feeling somewhat blue with a hint of grey maybe but the vibrance and energy of this magical environment soon burnt through those lingering clouds. If anybody chooses to visit India this is a destination with many nooks and crannies that should not be missed.....
It was tough saying goodbye to my French boys but the show had to go on and I held very fond memories and deeper laughter they headed off to the Taj Mahal I climbed upon yet another sleeper bus and headed off for Rishikesh... The yoga capital of India, mmmm! Well more about my opinion on that in my next post.

This part of my journey had many ups but it also had a few downs. What I have learnt or perhaps confirmed is that smiling and laughter can definitely help turn negatives into positives. I have always loved to laugh and I can't express how important I think it is in life to be able to have a good old roar
!!!! It may be difficult to do sometimes but have a go, it really does work!!!!

Namaste. Xxx