“You must have confidence, madam, to live in India.” Lokesh, our driver in Rajasthan.

Lokesh becomes our second driver one week into the trip, in Jaipur, after his brother Hari’s foot is run over by a scooter.

Saris on the backs of motorcycles, sidesaddle, their backs to us, the man driving in front. Colored silk blowing in the wind, sometimes two or three children pressed in between. I realize, as I watch them pass, that I, age 38, am the age of the grandmothers, not the mothers.

Cows, dogs, bikes, cars, trucks, pigs, monkeys, and motorcycles navigate the roads.

Blow Horn. Use Dipper at Night. These words are written on the backs of trucks. Why? we ask Lokesh. Blow your horn and flash your lights so the trucks can see or hear you. Some people need to get places quicker than others, he explains. In our country everyone thinks they are those people, we explain.

On the subject of marriage- Arranged is best, he says. Your parents love you, they know you, they’ve lived with you for eighteen years, they want you to be happy, and will find you a good match. Love marriages rarely work out.

He slows to let us take pictures of particularly well decorated trucks, or camels, or elephants, or elephants in the backs of trucks, or camels doing the work of trucks.

Bahubali is the best movie. Parts 1 and 2. Lokesh tells us to find it and watch it. The most expensive movie ever made in India and his favorite.

He tells us about recent uprisings in towns close by. Tension between Hindus and Muslims runs high. A movie has been made that depicts Hindus in an unflattering light. Threats of violence towards theaters that show it. He agrees it should not be shown. We don’t tell him we actually want to see it.

He tells us which days of the week correspond with which Gods and Goddesses.

I have a sore throat after leaving Jaipur and he pulls off at a chai stand and asks them to add extra ginger to my chai.

On the way from Udaipur to Jodhpur, we stop at the Om Banna motorbike Temple on the side of the highway. Om Banna was killed in a motorbike accident on the site in the 1980’s and, after his bike was cleared by police, it mysteriously made its way back to the site three times. Thus, a Temple.

He explains that village people are the happiest people. Wake with the sun, go to sleep with the sun, grow food, barter. All traditions still going strong. But, change is coming, he says. Fast.

We pass field after field of mustard, wheat, and dill. The villages surrounding Udaipur are amazingly beautiful; with lush fields divided by low, stone walls.

“Tika, tika, tika.”

“A, cha cha.”

Spelled phonetically, both mean something like “ok” in Hindi.

I finally figure out that what look like two lane highways are actually three to four or five, depending. The traffic flows with a chaos that would bring US drivers and freeways to their knees in under one second. Horns and beeps a language of their own.

As I write this, we are hurling back to Delhi and blogging seems a better use of time than worrying about the possibility of dying on an Indian highway. Sometimes it is easier not to look. As the Buddhist saying goes, if there’s something you can do about it, why worry? If there’s nothing you can do about it, why worry?

And, as Lokesh says, one must have confidence, madam, to live {in India}. Dear Gods and Goddesses, all 330,000,000+ of you, please help me to integrate this wisdom into my life.

Namaste, India. Namaste, Lokesh.

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I was just trying to write something here for the first time in several days, but a wedding passed by the hotel, so I had to go and watch. And so it goes.

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Words, or at least the ones I know, seem an inadequate form for India. I want to touch it, wear it, hear it, eat it, smell it, and live it.

The compassion. Curry. Textiles. People. And the, literally, totally rocking Temples. Everyone I’ve met, from people on the street, to shop keepers, to drivers, discuss vibration, energy, and the Gods as if discussing restaurants or the weather. Spirituality is so interwoven with life, it seems impossible to separate the two.

And, why would we want to?

This morning, while eating breakfast, I watched as a wild pig, two cows, several dogs with pups, monkeys, chipmunks, birds, and people went about their morning routine, together. None with any more right to be there, in the intersection, than the other.

The fields surrounding town are full of mustard plants, blooming with yellow flowers. Our driver told us it will be harvested at the beginning of March and then it will get hot, very hot, through October.

Right now it is beautiful outside. Warm in the day and cool at night.

If you’d like a silver pendant shaped like a mango and filled with perfume, look for Mangoman’s shop in Bundi.

 

All photos taken in Bundi, Rajasthan.

Only a few days into my three week trip to India and already I am in love and in awe.

“My insatiable love of mankind.” That love for not only mankind but also animals leads to a seeming order within the chaos; one which stems from kindness, compassion, and faith and which is noticeable in all facets of life.

A driver, Amit, sent by our hotel to retrieve us from the airport, quickly becomes our friend and guide, touring us around and explaining with pride how his country works.

Namaste. Traffic flows to a symphonic conversation of horns and beeps, one big merge that puts traffic in Los Angeles to shame. We see the movie “Tiger Zenda Ha” at the local theater and people stand with pride as the National Anthem is played on screen before it begins. Vegetarianism is the norm. God is One. Karma.

I haven’t been here for long enough to even begin to sum it all up but those are some of my takeaways so far.

A country liberated by a man who taught that love is always the answer and that an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.

Watching my own country from half a world away, with its severe lack of compassion, I am struck by the kindness which has greeted us throughout our stay. As I sit on my hotel room bed listening to the morning call to prayer from a mosque not far away, the sun is just rising.

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IMG_1759I keep thinking about one year ago and am so happy it is now and not then! Not that it was bad, but… I pulled into LA with a car load of stuff last NYE, unloaded my car, went to dinner with friends, and returned to my empty apartment afterwards. It was foggy out and smelled unfamiliar. I woke on New Year’s Day, 2017, and assembled my bed so I’d have somewhere to sit.

Today, one year later, I went for a walk on the beach, after making breakfast and waking up late. I returned to that same apartment, now very lived in and full of furniture, and thought about 2017.

What a wacky year! Both personally and for the world. I told a story on stage to a bunch of strangers, took several classes, made new friends, performed improv on stage for an audience, and continuously felt like I was coming home to myself after taking a twenty year detour. I recommend that feeling!

As I look forward towards 2018 and backwards to where I have been, I see that each year’s chosen word has built upon the last and helped to get me to where I am right now.

2017 Adventure

2016 Faith

2015 Joy

2014 Happiness/Congruence

2013 Centered

2012 Confidence

And, while I continue to use each of these as a foundation, I choose LOVE for 2018! Love as the antidote to fear, just as adventure is the flip side of fear’s coin too. Love that can only be given and received once one has the confidence to know they are worthy of it. Love that comes from a centered place rather than one of neediness. Love that springs forth when one is happy and making congruent choices in their life. Love that is joyous and generous. Love that is given away with a faith that no matter what happens with it, the giver will be fine and that there is always more to give. Love that is entered into with the spirit of Adventure and Fearlessness.

As we look towards the future, with all of its possibilities, good and bad, Love is the only route I see. 7.6 Billion people on a tiny planet; so many differences, assumptions, misunderstandings, fears, traditions, religions, commonalities, languages, stories, songs, cuisines, views, and families. How can we look towards each other instead of away? How can we be of service and benefit one another? How can we open instead of close? It all begins with Love. We can do this. I can do this.

What is your word for 2018?

Happy New Year!

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While standing in front of my closet, throwing clothing onto the bed, I realized I was having my most perfect 2017 dilemma. What to wear when performing in an improv show and then going to a “festive attire” Christmas party after?

Improv-

Must be comfortable. Skirts and Dresses are out- One never knows what to expect onstage, especially when audience suggestions make up a good portion of the evening, and, should I happen to find myself a snake slithering across the ground or a summersault instructor at summer camp, I don’t want to be concerned that everyone is staring at my ass. Must not show underarm perspiration, brought on by onslaught of adrenaline, not temperature. Must hide vomit, should my nerves get the best of me. Must help me feel good so not to be preoccupied with “why did I wear this?” instead of answering “yes, and.” Hmmm- black tops, pants, comfy shoes. Ok.

Festive Attire Christmas Party-

Sparkles, skirts, dresses, and heels seem like the way to go. A costume change may be the only solution. Good thing I’m a costumer in my spare time.

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The fact that this is the major dilemma of my day makes me laugh. In improv, one always responds with “yes, and” as a way to move the skit forward in ways that only become clear in the moment, as suggestions and fellow improvers’ ideas are flying at you. It is the perfect way to get out of your head, away from any preconceived notions of how things will go, or how witty you will be. It is all about being present, listening, and then responding.

I began taking classes last winter, two weeks after moving to LA and into my apartment. And, it is only now that I see how that idea of yes/and and presence has permeated my 2017 and my life and, for that, I am grateful. I have no idea how tonight will go, but, I am already laughing and that is the point.

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