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How to travel solo in India: Interview with Chiaki Nakashima

What does the idea of “a solo woman traveling in India” surface for you?

When I met Chiaki, we were both, waiting for the local bus to our yoga ashram. A Japanese waif of gentle yogic smiles, she challenged my notions about what it is to be a solo female traveler in India. Chiaki didn’t boast the extensive list of a world traveler nor was she avoiding the challenges of navigating the local terrain in the way a native would; yet, she was tackling India solo doing it in calm stride.

How the hell was she doing it?

June 26, 2011 11
dharamsala, dalai lama posters
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Five Gurus of my Yoga Teacher Training in India |Dharamsala

After a month long yoga bootcamp at Himalaya Yoga Valley in Dharamsala, I finally graduated. Woot! Muscles aching, belly battling waterborne parasites, while hurdling through two asana classes a day and intensive schedule of studies and teaching practicums… It was a lot! Along the way, you accept your body’s shape-shifting as your foreign environment molds you– injury happens, bad diets take form (carb-loading cause you can’t eat veggies), India initiates you with horrible toilet habits.

But good things come from it as well…

June 12, 2011 13
10 things to know about staying at an indian ashram, sivananda ashram campus, ashrams in india
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Eat, Pray, Love… 10 Things to Know about Staying at an Indian ashram?

At 6 AM. the morning fog was lifting off the lake. Devotional music poured joyously over the loudspeaker of a neighboring temple and echoed eerily, as fly-by birds bore life to the serene setting. Sitting in silence I felt the sun spreading it’s rays across my body with an exquisite orange and gold. I inhaled….OM.

June 2, 2011 49
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12 Tips for Finding Budget Accommodations in India

I’ll be honest– finding a place to crash is one of my ugh parts of traveling solo in India. It’s literally draining.
Budget cradles here spell the need for an open-mind, with a crowbar of willpower and let’s face it– India is not as cheap as it used to be and the room you get doesn’t always match the higher rupee you’re paying!

Obviously, the rules of the game and standards of house-keeping are different here.

May 29, 2011 19
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I’m visiting who?… Who is the Karmapa?

Who are we seeing? I asked

The Karmapa.

My party of yogi friends chimed in.

Who?

The name didn’t stir recognition for me.

His gaze was intense for such a young-looking face.

Piercing. Penetrating, as if he could see right into you…

May 23, 2011 7
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How to Eat with your Hands in India

How do you feel about eating with your hands?

Culturally awkward?

For westerners, it’s a cultural taboo to “play with your food”. However, here in India it’s culturally feasible to do so.

My initiation into eating with my hands occurred when I met a pilgrimage family in Gokarna. They kindly invited me to eat with them in a food shack by the beach offering free food for worshippers. Foreigners aren’t allowed in any of the temples in Gokarna so I was hesitant to enter. Nevertheless, the family encouraged me on.

May 10, 2011 24
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Gokarna Travel Guide

Dear Love,

“Life is a stage”… so the saying goes. But when does the rehearsal end and the real show begin?

Who am I today? Heroine, damsel in distress, drifting gypsy, lost soul or adventurous pioneer?

Traveling in India, I witness many stories unfolding around me. Various characters and scenarios emerge. Some cross my path weaving me into their story– as if I’m a silent destination along their journey. Others, pass by with an air of chaotic brevity, barely skimming my body by a hair’s touch. All part of my story; part of my theater.

April 28, 2011 7
bottled water creative commons, lots of bottled water creative commons
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Buying bottled water in India: An exercise in blind faith?

In India, purchasing bottled water doesn’t always ensure safety.

When I entered a guesthouse cafe in Hampi it was filled with fellow travelers. Food-wise, I felt a little safe. I walked past an employee sitting off to the side, with a line of empty water bottles and what did I see?… He was filling the bottles with tap water and recapping them!

April 14, 2011 17
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