If anyone thinks tromping through India will be like traveling any other country, think again. Here are some things I found useful on my trip. Here are 5 Travel Must-Haves for India:
I was finally entering “India” again, after a month-long sojourn into a world of Himalayan calm, yoga and Tibetan Buddhism (Dharamsala hardly feels like India). Was I ready to free fall back into the masala mania?
While the traveler in me was excited to get back on the explorer’s road; the solo gal in me was dreading it. Having found roots for a month in my yoga-family coccoon, I wasn’t thrilled with going back to solo-roughing it.
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?
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…
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.
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.
Who are we seeing? I asked
My party of yogi friends chimed in.
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…
What photos have the most meaning for you and does having your picture taken, have meaning for you?
I was wandering through the town when a moustached Indian gent recognized the camera strapped around my neck. He wanted me to take a picture of him in front of the town’s central bathing ghat, so I did.
How do you feel about eating with your hands?
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.