Day 20 (Day 7 of our Wonder-Bike Adventure) – 8th May 2018
Sun rises early in this part of the world and as its rays gently start blinking through the white curtains, we smile at each other happy to be here, despite the night’s tribulations, happy and at peace for all is part of our infinite treasure of Life.
We decide to go for an early morning walk on the beach and eventually another dip in the ocean.
We see a man crouching at the edge of the ocean’s soft surf and watch him washing his backside, which we assume to be a way of hygienically greeting the new day and make nothing of it.
As we start our walk on the sand, merrily enjoying the feel of the sand beneath the soles of our feet, we see a pile of red stool and wonder what kind of large dog might have been the author of this signature dung sculpture. As we keep on walking we see another and yet another and then again further on another man crouching and lo and behold! Realization strikes us like a thunderbolt! The red piles of stool are man-made! Apparently the men around here prefer to go to the edge of the ocean to leave their “mark” rather than use the bathroom which their houses now have and instead of at least digging a hole for their bowel’s refuse, they just leave it there, lying on the sand for the high tide to later on wash away!
So that’s what the strange smell must have been yesterday!!! The sand has this smell impregnated in it from days upon days, upon years and years of poo being non-challantly left on the beach without a care in the world… A tradition surely passed down from generation to generation, time and again – a tradition so strong that not even the advent of sanitation, toilets and running water has managed to erase, with the added surplus of current population making this habit a definitely “shitty affair”! 😊
We are mesmerized… or should I say shocked… well, humorously dumbfounded would maybe describe our reaction best. Laughter starts tearing out of our bellies incessantly and we laugh so hard that we cry, realizing how the dichotomies of duality can be so contradictory, making us believe we are in Paradise at one moment and then that we are standing on a huge toilet, all at once. Our initial idea of going for a morning swim fleets away like a boat in the mist of our laughter and we look at the sea with renewed insight as to the reason for its not so clear waters.
Actually it would make no difference at all for us to go for a dip in the sea, since yesterday we did so… when we didin’t know the hard facts 😉 But knowing them, makes a bit of a difference, though we realize deep inside it really makes no difference at all. Yet, we do not venture into the water again…
We become extra careful of our steps, minding each one, which makes our walk all the more focussed – a fine way of active meditation – total focus with a smile.
Suddenly along the way we see a huge pack of stray dogs with their litter and they start barking, frightened of our presence, immediately identifying us as strangers. We realize they are all she-dogs, fearful of anyone harming their little ones, so much so that one of them courageously comes up to us and manages to bite Pedro on one leg, though not hard – just a warning graze. I suppose since I am a female, they take no notice of me, they view me as a non-menacing equal.
What happens next is impressive. Young men spring out of nowhere and shoo the pack of dogs away and then, very concerned, they approach us to see if we are ok and are very worried about Pedro’s bite. Many stray dogs around here have rabies and they insistently warn him to take care of the wound immediately. We take heed, calmly, thanking them for their help, but move on, knowing all is well.
Some time later, when we are already at our cabin, Atul calls in to see if everything is ok. The news has already travelled up to him! We are amazed at the efficiency of this mouth to mouth information service, but we calm him down, letting him know it is somewhat inflated and everything is fine.
Anyhow, we feel deeply thankful that despite being on foreign land, we are taken care of with so much love. We really appreciate it and in our non-dramatic attitude receive only the best part of this care.
Love whispers: delicate and fragile like a flower, Love spreads its abundance unconditionally.
Our “plan” for today is to visit the estuary where three rivers converge to the sea, right around the corner, and then go to Manipal and visit the Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village that Atul has spoken so highly of.
Once again we get to experience riding on a thin strip of land with sea on one side and river on the other, with no helmets and a broadly smiling heart, allowing ourselves to take in the simplicity of this place, where temples are aplenty, houses as quaint and modest, nature is exuberant and peaceful and everyone is calmly going about their daily chores, in tune with the hot, humid weather.
We go right to the edge, where the land ends and rivers and ocean meet and meld into a vast expanse of water, becoming one.
On the way back, we stop at this beautiful white Hindu Temple, take off our shoes and go in.
Peace. It is always the Peace that I most revere at these places, out of celebration times. I find all places of worship, of any religion, to be equally peaceful for their very purpose – to honour the Divine, and in doing so, even oftentimes not knowing it, to honour God within each and every single sentient being and even beyond that, within all that Is form or formless. It is this all pervading, omnipresent blissful peace, the same one I feel in my Sacred Space in my Centre, that I feel in all places of worship. If only everyone stopped inside their own selves to honour the Sacredness within them, with the same devotion as this is done in Temples, all would indeed realize that there is no place where the Divine is not, living in honour of each other and thus in harmony and respect for all that Life contains.
On the other hand, All is Well in All of Creation and it matters not whether some know of their True nature and others are unaware, because the True nature of all that Is does not depend on knowledge and the pure perfection of this creation called Earth, allows for zillions of experiences, all flawlessly fitting each one’s evolutionary path. When each day I stay in this special place within me and contemplate the absolute perfection of all, I always feel overjoyed to tears for the sheer abundance of infinite possibilities, resting in my blissful harmony of surrender to the God that I Am also, happening moment to moment, as we Are all.
And so it is that on our way to Manipal, we come across this beautiful Catholic Church in honour of Our Lady of Fátima, a world renowned Lady that as legend goes made her appearance in the town of Fátima, just 30 km away from where we live in Portugal. When we travel, we realize the world is a large village where everything is interconnected.
Manipal happens to be a large city with many universities and as is common in India, many youngsters. Indian population must be amongst the youngest in the world… and growing. Hopefully these youngsters will soon become aware of the garbage surplus and gradually find cost-effective solutions to curb this growing economy related issue. I believe education will be key for this turnaround to happen, for no government can single-handedly change the habits of over two billion people! It’s around 20% of the world’s population in just one country!
Arriving at Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village is not easy, as it is not signposted but the GPS on the mobile clearly says it is here. We tentatively walk up to the gate to ask, and yes it is. Thank goodness for the advent of the GPS!
Apparently there will be a visit at 11 am. We are the first to arrive so we wait and admire the beautifully carved wooden portico we are brought to.
The guide warmly welcomes us and a few people start arriving. A young man approaches us, asking us where we are from and we engage in a nice conversation until the guide begins to speak.
We find out that the young man happens to be the son of Vijayanath Shenoy, founder of Hasta Shilpa, as he briefly recounts what it was like to live as a child in a house that was a Museum, with hundreds of people coming into the house’s private places each day. The reason for this is that his father, Vijayanath, though working as a banker all his life, had also always been extremely passionate about conserving architectural and cultural heritage so that the precious beauty of each epoch’s creations would not be throughtlessly destroyed. He began by using beautiful pieces of homes that had been torn down to build his own family home, back in 1990. He could not bear to see centuries-old homes being demolished and their intricately carved wood being burnt in the fireplace, so whenever he could he restored them to their rightful glory in loco. Whenever this was not possible, he translocated them to be reconstructed in Manipal. This is how in 1997 the Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village was born in Manipal, not only comprising reconstructed buildings, but also arts, crafts, utensils and tools, textiles, furniture and toys together with the documentation of lost classical and folk traditions. Hasta Shilpa has thus become world renowned amongst art and architecture scholars in India and in the rest of the world, being the object of studies that shed greater light into the history of the people who have crossed and lived on this land.
This man was driven by amazing passion and this place is once again proof that when one dreams with enough conviction, virtually anything becomes possible. Living proof that Life is willing to serve you when you are willing to Love it.
We thoroughly enjoy the 2 hour visit, listening with all of our senses, deeply impressed with the amount of dedication this whole complex exhudes. Each artifact speaks a story, each stone has a purpose, each building holds centuries of knowledge.
Thank you so much Atul, for guiding us to this beautiful site.
Fulfilled and honoured for having had this opportunity, our next choice is to have lunch in town to celebrate the day’s bounty.
We stop at a nice looking restaurant with air-conditioning and not only relax from the strong heat, but also once again enjoy a fine Indian meal… and a pizza, Indian style 😊
Back at our cabin we sink in all of the richness we have come to encounter so far, letting it settle into our cells and dissolve into the pool of existence that we are, making way for more… In India there is always more. Such an abolutely abundant country in all possible senses. As I have said before: Intense is the best way I can find to qualify the whole experience of being here, in this overflowing now moment.
Later on, after enjoying the sunset, we take a walk down the nearby village’s main street and eat some street food, trusting our bellies are now harmonized with the local concept of cleanliness, always being careful about the water that we drink, of course. Next time we must find a way of being more ecological and not having to buy plastic bottles on the go. I have heard there are some pills that are dissolved in water to elliminate bacteria. I’m sure that will be a good solution.
Brimming with joyful freedom, we are ready for our night’s rest and so is the thunderstorm.
Today, as yesterday, nature whips up a powerful spectacle, complete with power cuts and with the added bonus of a coconut falling on our roof and breaking the tiles, so that the rain can pour in at its own leisure. Once again we are fortunate for it not to have happened over our heads and for the water to be streaming beside our bed and not towards it. The muezzin once again chants from the nearby Mosque’s loudspeakers – the fifth prayer of the day. To us it seems like the 10th, since each time we are settling into our silence, here comes the unexpected prayer. When there were no loudspeakers I trust it would have been different, but then again, now is not then. We highly respect all faiths and do understand that without these loud reminders it might be hard for followers of the Muslim faith to remember to stop at the 5 right times every single day, but we ourselves could definitely make do without the loud chanting.
Since there is nothing we can do about the rain pouring in or about anyhthing else happening right now, we just cuddle together and allow ourselves to gently slip into sleep valley, knowing all is well in all of Creation.