Wednesday, March 15, 2017

India & Love

Dear Friends & Family,

We are traveling in India with Sarwat & Shailesh, Hamang and Shikha, our hosts extraordinaire. We visited the last few days at a fancy place in the north en route to the desert. where tents will be our abode for several nights.  I am looking forward to the quiet, the starry sky and cool nights. 

For my birthday we dressed up & went to a castle for dinner—candlelit under the stars, a private setting on a terrace where a thali— or traditional indian dinner-- served by a small bonfire with doting staff, was serene and other-worldly. We’ll fly to Delhi & drive to Agra to go see the Taj Mahal before heading back to Mumbai at the end of next week. Traveling with Indian people who are now American, but grew up here, was probably the only way I was ever going to experience India. Their love of their motherland, welcoming and generous family, alongside insider understanding and cultural knowledge has brought understanding and appreciation we'd be hard pressed to find on our own. And of course spending some open ended time with people we love has all woven together to create a relaxing and adventurous time.

Heading out for my birthday dinner, wearing my very first sari
As an itinerant homebody, in some ways I dreaded being away for nearly a month, but I seem to be holding up just fine. Each day I am taking in the overwhelming contrasts of beauty and poverty, colorful saris amidst heaps of garbage, cows, goats and camels and even the occasional  hulking elephant wandering in the city streets, seemingly happily grazing on trash piles and rubble!  On a drive earlier today, scores of miniature monkeys lined the roads, begging for food, carrying babies  on the chest and jumping on our cars! The sight of 3 or 4 or 5 people on a motorcycle, helmuts nowhere in sight, ladies sitting side saddle with meters of sari materials potentially flying in the breeze, creates a countryside dotted with color, zipping by as we drive past the random ramshackle stalls next to the golden temples, everywhere foods piled high, treats frying in woks the size of a bean bag chair, trucks loaded with people 15 or 20, hanging on by a loose handle, cows sitting on the road near the edges or in the middle, chewing, chewing, trucks painted by hand with bright colors and hay stacked precariously high and wide teetering down the highway; honestly, I am not sure what holds it all together. The first world has crashed into the developing world here and there is no making sense of most of it. 

And here in this mayhem and beauty, I have completed another rotation around the year and turned a solidly growing number of 57....and happy, happy to be alive! Thank you for your kind wishes to celebrate the day! I swam for an hour this am in a warmed-by-the-sun infinity pool, overlooking the mountains, to the sound of so many birds I have never seen before. As I wrote about in a new year’s message about Paul baking his first time ever leg of lamb, I wondered what my “leg of lamb”  would be as I cajoled us all to find something new to try, novel to experience. This is definitely one for me.  After 2014, I have made sure to stay in the habit of saying YES to experiences in life, especially ones Paul wants to do, and like this, ones I have never even considered! He is a perfect partner traipsing everywhere with me,  both on this earth & in this heart. 
Sending love and light with my palms together.

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