Day 8 - 14th May 2017
An ode to Love
“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother
of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.”
― Mark Twain.
When I told Sameer Somal, from Blue Ocean Global Technology, about my "The Power of Conscious Choice - Mother India's Magic" series, which I have been posting here since May, he shared this quote by Mark Twain about India wtih me and because it is so profoundly true, I share it here, on this day when I am blessed to be visiting one of the Wonders of the World.
You know, I was actually challenged more than once to not be here today.
First I was repeatedly told it was too hot and it would not be a nice experience.
Second Iman Kamel wanted to travel with me but was afraid she could not sustain the heat so decided to go to the mountains instead and would like me to come there too.
Third I tried to book a bus ride online and my payment didn't go through. Then train - the timetables available weren't suitable.
Fourth two friends and I tried to hire a car and driver to take us but they were asking for an absurd amount.
Fifth some people came along and said it had been a disappointment, not worth visiting... hummmm.
Long story short: I stuck to my own heartfelt choice to come and visit the Taj Mahal and these two friends (Lynn Hope Thomas and Milchelle Araújo) also did, so somehow they came across a friend who had gone with a driver who was charging less than half the price the first one we had been connected to was. We booked and that was that.
Then yet another friend pitched in too (Ula Collins), who was also being invited to go elsewhere but whose choice had always been to visit the Taj and experience the Golden Triangle of India - New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
We set off bright and early -3 am - so that we could enjoy the Taj under the pinkish hues of sunrise.
The driver was very calm and experienced - if you've ever been to India you know what the traffic here is like, if not I will tell you it is simply chaotic. No road signs or hardly any, no one stops at traffic lights at this time of the night, or mostly not, people even drive in the wrong direction sometimes and there are no markings on the road, the hooting is constant and it is virtually every man for himself. Amazing and fascinating too :) Haven't seen one accident yet! Truly amazing. The traffic in India has been described to me as "a river flowing" and I now see what this means.
We chirped merrily all the way, as ladies do and it created the loving environment one would expect from sisters at heart:) We even discovered Barbara Streisand was in our circle;) She didn't sing for us though! (Ula really looks like a young Barbara!).
Some 30 or 40 km from Agra the car suddenly came to a standstill. The driver was perplexed and we were in trust. Not even one of us could bring themselves to worry about it. In fact we were happily playing with the situation and Michelle started playing a song which had been sung yesterday at the closing session of the WEF by Lee Alison Sibley - We Shall Overcome (minute 25). We chanted along, laughed and enjoyed the moment...and soon the car was working again.
A sidenote here to reinforce that the car was not an old jaloppy, it was a fairly recent car with aircon and in perfect working order, as far as it seemed. The driver figured it must have been something electrical... or whatever.
We got to Agra at about 6.20 am. The temperature was mild, with a sweet soft breeze kissing our faces and the shady incadescence of a newly dawning day. The place was not busy yet and all was smooth and simple.
After going through the ticket dance and what not we finally caught our first glimpse of the Taj!!! Oh me, oh my, what a breathtaking sight of dazzling beauty... and the feeling of Peace... Undescribable.
We did the photo and one more here and there thing, which in fact I tend to run away from most of the time because it feels kind of like watching an awesome movie and keeping on pausing it to go and get something to drink, eat, to pee and what not. But I do love keeping a few photos though. Much as I love photography I prefer to just feel the blessing of being at each special place, absorbing it to the core of my bones.
The green grass, the magestic trees, the delicious scent of flowers, the beautifully sunlit marble in hues of pink and gold, the reflection on the water, the mystic aura of peace, the adjacent red bricked buidings, equally hand carved with precious skill and stone... it just all seeped into each breath in cascading abundance.
So much so that on the other side of the Taj, under an inviting patch of shade I simply had to lie on the marble floor and breathe, soaking in it.
What pure bliss! In no time we were all lying on the white and warm marble floor surrendering to the moment. After a while people started crowding around us and the guard
came to see what was going on.
We sat and relaxed for a while longer.
The experience itself, the loving company we were in, the gratitude we all felt... it all added up into such a perfect bundle of passion that I felt that my day was done, complete unto itself. I could wish for no more than this.
And so it is that as the heat level rose we were brought to our hotel where I have a single room by choice, so that I can enjoy the Peace of my Presence and just Be. Ula is also staying and Lynn and Michelle are going back to New Delhi so we embrace, bubbling with joyful fulfilment. Farewell my dear companions, we shall meet again soon, surely.
Spice Girls :) At the entrance of The Retreat
Wow! What a lovely place - The Retreat, it is called and as soon as we came in a lady came to us and rubbed our forehead with that red mixture people here use to bless and activate what is called the third eye.
Relaxed all afternoon and even had a go at the pool!
And you know what? I've been in India for 9 days and haven't seen one sigle cockroach!!! :D But have seen many cows on the streets. Cute, peaceful cows strutting about with nonchallance in their queenly status. Love it!
The shabby buidings and completely outdated hair salons, shops and so on... piles of rubbish and tuc tucs all over. Locals going about their lives, these people seem to never rest!
There is always something or other going on. The scent of incense mingled with curries and other spices, the noise of horns hooting for no reason at all most of the time, Muslim chants, Hindu chants, Indian music, orange, pink and red flowers, women wearing beautifully coloured Saris, men hassling us foreigners to buy, to hire, to take a ride, to eat... you name it.
And you know what? One falls in love with it all.
I must go back a little bit here to tell you just how amazingly simple and queenly my five days turned out to be when I allowed myself to receive what I had chosen. What I had chosen was: to receive all that India had to offer me, in absolute flow and simplicity, connected to the perennial consciousness of Oneness that this land has honed throughout mankind's existence.
And I did, indeed, receive it all, way beyond what I could have expected, considering I was on a rather short budget but ended up enjoying VIP treatment :)
Travel Pals India sent me the most surreal quote for the night in Agra and 3 nights in Jaipur, with train fares and driver and guide in Jaipur: around 300€ for the whole package, including breakfasts and a meal on the train from Agra do Jaipur, travelling in 1st class! And I got lucky twice, because not only was this a great deal but when Ula booked, they did not charge her for the driver and guide in Jaipur so she gave me half of the amount I had paid for that, which means I paid around 270€ in total.
No cockroaches, bubbling joy and the deep peace of my Essence all over my body, plus Ula's company which turned out to be an unexpected added blessing for her and for me.