Saturday, January 26, 2013

Holy Cow!!

The 2013 S. India tour just ended. I was not able to keep up the blog while traveling. So, now is the time to catch up.

This first entry is a guest entry by Efrat, one of the women on the tour. She wrote this beautiful post about the first day of the tour.

outside of chamundeswari temple, mysore

It is not easy to find time to write as we ebb and flow and bob around...The days are full from morning to night, each with its own set of lenses in this kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, smells and constant motion. The trip from Bangalore to Mysore was a typical series of fast forward, shrieking slow downs at potholes, bumps and occasional narrow gates at a fence across the highway, and of course, constant horn blowing.

Bangalore, while fascinating in its chaotic frenzy, was good to leave behind for quieter Mysore and for meeting Samia and the beginning of the first chapter of my "Injia Adventure".

The view along the way was fascinating, city scape giving way to country with huge, dramatic rounded stone boulders for a while then mellowing into rice fields and water buffaloes as we moved further south. The 3 hour trip was into its 5th hour when we finally rolled into town and found ourselves in the magical Green Hotel where a majestic former palace and blooming gardens welcomed us along with beautiful Samia.

entryway at Green Hotel
The wonders that followed are too numerous to describe - the incredible market, the palace fully illuminated on Sunday night ( only, and for 1 hour only), and going to receive protective blessings at several temples with Kumar, Samia's goldsmith teacher who was our most gracious and incredible host and driver.

The story I want to put in       momentary limelight, is the plan to see cows painted yellow with tumeric, decked and decorated parade in the streets and then jump through a fire in honor of the harvest festival that was happening that day. Our anticipation mounted as we watched cows being washed and adorned. But when we came to the appointed field we realized that things were way too quiet to portend the climactic event.

decorated cow for Shankranti

After some inquiries and as many different answers and speculations as those asked, we understood that this day also happened to be the Day of the Bull    and cows jumping was incompatible with this (which goes without saying in this male dominated society...). All we could surmise is that the said event either already happened the night before or will happen the next evening. We spent the next day trying to determine if the latter might pan out.
The sun was setting. The field was empty. We were crest fallen until a few more inquiries had Kumar turning his vehicle around and driving us down a narrow alley where we were assured, the cows will jump.

The estimated wait time being 15 minutes, we rolled down our windows and prepared our cameras for action. In only a couple of minutes we were surrounded by throngs of young boys screaming and asking for chocolate, young mothers feeding their babies and men who just stood and stared. The crowd thickened, the wait became less clearly defined but we were going nowhere as the alley was completely blocked. Then we noticed that straw was being piled in the corner not far from our car and in the thick darkness we saw that cows were being brought into the crowd. We scrambled out to find a safe spot when a match was lit and all of a sudden there was flame and dust and dragging hoofs and slappings and loud calls. Mayhem. The last cow was dragged through the embers and it was over.


cow jumping over the fire
The crowd quickly regathered around us. We realized that the true spectacle was US... We posed for endless photos, shared our names and where we are from until finally being able to get back into our car and drive away giggling in disbelief.

A silver sliver of a moon appeared. We knew, the cow did jump.

But remember, what happened in Mysore stays in Mysore.

Much love and magic,

Reconstructed from report written a week ago. Please get ready for "Did the elephant cross the road?"

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Beyond Bali

It’s been a ‘take your breath away’ kind of few months. My life is with the wind these days and I am, once again, on my way to India.  After 2 months in Bali and 2 days in Bangkok, I am sitting in the airport, reflecting.

ceremony in Bali

ceremony in Bali

blue sunset, Bali
Bali is one magical land, where even the word enchanted doesn’t mean much.  I have found it to be a beautiful place to ground my wandering soul and make beauty with my art.  From the luscious green of the jungle to the bright green of the rice paddies, the gentle flow of the feminine steeps in to every bit of everything.  The soft rolling land and the kind people of Bali with their smiling faces and eyes, make me feel welcome. I often say the lush green reminds me of the place I was born, (Wisconsin) in the green of the summer. As I  think back on the last two months, my mind thinks nothing but positive thoughts, from jewelry making to journeying. But alas with my big love for Bali, I am still drawn to India.

It has been 14 years since I first landed in India. I have visited the same number of times. I am still excited about the energy it brings to my soul.  The vibration of Ma India.. boom boom.. Can’t wait to see you soon!