India Now and Then

That one wave by the yogi stayed with me. I was impressed by this devotion to what he believed in…his courage to live a simple life in its purest essence. I wondered about his strength and obsession. There was a raw, wired, sensual energy coming from him.

Mostly what impressed me was the thought that if I am open to suggestions to improve my life, my life can change. No matter if the suggestion comes from a strange place, by giving it a chance it could  help to improve my life.  Change from suffering to well-being by a snap of a finger.  Literally from hot to cool. I was left with a sense of joy and a new-found sense of freedom.  My footsteps felt lighter and swinging with the flow of life as I continued on my path.

Forty years later, India is to me “Mother India.” The contradictions are life itself. It all blends into each other–no matter what color, race, religion, what class or status. The world became smaller through the Internet and communication possibilities.  One thing stayed the same on my many visits to India; the chai served at the train stations and on the trains is just as good as always and is a life-sustaining substance–delicious.

Spice Tea in India

Indian spice tea.

Take two to three teaspoons of Assam or Darjeeling tea leaves, crush some cardamom, add 6-10 cloves, a couple of vanilla sticks and some snippets of ginger. Throw it all together into a pot, boil with half water and milk. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and once it’s boiled sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar over it.

This drink is as rich in taste  as India is in all its colorful traditions. Enjoy it.

A wave is worth a thousand meditations

Have you been to India? What stands out in your mind?

One memory that I’ll never forget was when I saw a family carrying the dead body of an old man on a stretcher passing the decorative water basins. The man had died of dehydration. The people walk for miles to get water from wells which are not even remotely sanitary.  Entire towns  are suffering from a lack of water supply while at the Taj Mahal the water was part of the art and luxury of the Maharaja‘s  celebration of his great love. Later that day, walking to the markets, I was on a busy road where the cars were stinking and  noisy, taxis honking, three-wheelers, donkeys and chickens shared the road.  The sun was in its fullest position sapping my energy. I felt eyes on me and wondered what was going on.

On the opposite side of the tree-covered road a yogi sat under the shade of one tree. He was covered with a piece of red fabric around his loins. His hair was white with ashes on his face and chest.  His protruding breast bones marked his body to be an Ascetic.  He sat in the yogi position on a leopard skin fur. He created the borders of his square space by drawing symbols in crayon around him. His eyes were as black as coals.

His grey hair stood out like rays of the sun around his face. He stared at me and waved with a  minimal movement of his hand. He made a sign that indicated I was not to walk in the sun but in the shadow on the side where he was sitting. It was the  simplest gesture and yet so meaningful. I never forgot it…that  a man of his consciousness and sacred state would communicate with me in this way. I took his advice, crossed the road and felt better .

My First Passage to India

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My first impression of India was a contradiction. I visited the beautiful palace of love, the Taj Mahal.  The home for the Maharaja’s great love stood there in all its glory like a huge piece of finely carved jewelry against the pale blue and  pink sky.  The fog coming off the Ganges in the early morning sun made the Taj Mahal sparkle.  In front of the Taj Mahal there were long passages of elaborately tiled water basins filled with the clearest water.  Sparkling water fountains framed by freshly watered green grass carpets on both sides led up to the huge entrance gate.  I had traveled for hours in a non-air-conditioned train to Agra to visit this wonder of architecture.  I was in awe–but I was also sticky and tired.

I was told to visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise to avoid the brutal heat of the morning hours. Sleep was not refreshing anyway, because even at night it did not cool off during this time of the year. The Agra hotel where I was staying  ran out of power intermittently.  The noisy air-conditioning was just as useless as the shower with its three drops of water.  There was no way I could make myself look pretty while visiting one of the most  romantic sites on earth.  At least a blue and pink brocade voile blouse which I bought at the street market  in town cheered me up.  At least I would have a little glamour from the fabrics of Agrar while I gazed at the splendid Taj Majal.

Greek Healing Tea

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On the  Island of Alonissos, one of the many small islands of the  Sporades, there are over 350 healing herbs.  The Greeks love their Turkish coffee but they all believe in the healing power of  herbal teas.

In winter take the “Mountain Tea.”   A sturdy little bush with branches have a flowering bud. Break off the buds and dry them in sunshine.  Break up the dried buds, boil in water and let simmer for about twenty minutes.

Pour into a big cup with a touch of honey.

It will help to heal bad coughs, even bronchitis, and  protects the body from damp weather.