Friday, October 23, 2009

Birthday balloon art...YAY!

Happy 39th Ali!

Happy Shared Birthday Auntie Ali :)

as i'm sure most of you know, ali shares a birthday with her insanely adorable nephew, jonny. here's a picture of him at his reptile encounter birthday bash.

himalayan birthday

hey thanks everyone for the birthday wishes! i just have a few minutes at the icafe and my laptop won't connect so all my good intentions of blogging and emailing are lost. had a great day today. it was our day off and we did a trek high into the mountains to a temple and a lake. weather is perfect. another girl, rebecca, is celebrating her birthday today too so i'm not alone. it's my nephew jonny's 7th birthday so...happy birthdy, jonny!

i miss everyone and i saw all the facebook posts...thanks! i appreciate all the good wishes as i enter the last year of my thirties! i'm thinking of everyone lots and will hopefully be able to post soon. more to come!

[nad, so glad you found the blog. i've been thinking of're next! assiee & myra...thanks for that donut shaped cake! i think i know what happened to the middle;)

Alyssa's Cake and Birthday Wishes!



Happy birthday bestest travel buddy!!! Wishing you a wonderful day in India with many happy returns!!! I hope you like the cake!!! It's the Toblerone cheesecake that I wanted to make back in Beirut. Nancy asked me to make it for you!!! Hope you have a lovely time!!!

Lots of love, hugs, kisses, car horns, snickers bars and giggles....

Love Alyssa & Nancy xxx's


Friday, October 9, 2009

Little Yellow Ashram

9 October 2009 - Sivananda Kutir, Netala, Uttarkashi, India

Okay, so here's the ashram. It's my "day off" which means that after 6am satsung, 8am yoga and 10 am breakfast, we are free until 6pm dinner. Mathaji sent us off to the little town of Uttarkashi with the warning in a thick Indian accent, 'try not to eat...or in two days the diadea will come." I'm in an internet cafe trying to handle a maddening little tax problem that arose my first night in New Delhi. So...about life in the ashram... [bxA] Obviously it's beautiful up here. It's a tiny little ashram with just forty of us on the course and three teachers.
Everything is yellow. The walls of the ashram, our uniforms, our yoga manual, the sunshine. My favorite color.

These are my roommates...from Spain, UK and Japan. We have another roommate who came late so isn't photographed here. She's from Houston, Texas! Small world.

This is Swami Vishnu, a disciple of Swami Sivananda. There are photos of both of them all over the ashram. From what I've learned and observed, the two swamis were happy, funny guys and the Sivananda school is quite joyful. This is good because I've had a serious case of the giggles since I got here. Almost everything reminds me of the Millennium days since our first big sail took us from Thailand to India. All the struggles of travel remind me of Alyssa and I get the giggles all the time. (Alyssa, it started when I peeled a banana during the silent dinner session and saw the little squiggly part of the peel that ordinarily I wouldn't eat, but... and then there was the time i was in the shower - which of course was a cold bucket of water - and the gong for satsung rang so i had to rush back into my dirty clothes in five minutes while thinking "maldives shower"...and then there are the never ending toilet issues that seem to distress my roommates yet i am completely unfazed ...and the meals are always rice rice rice and more rice... and someone gave me the best gift ever: a block of dates.... I could go on for days. I'm always laughing.)

The environment is bright...the alters are painted yellow and have all the fun Indian gods adorned with flowers and offerings. It's really laid back, not at all like what I'd imagined. I never actually got to the India part of Eat Pray Love, but there's no one like what's-her-name in this Ashram. It's cool and fun and casual....and people aren't weird and trying to escape stuff....and no one is obsessing about the personal drama she obsessed about in the first section of the book.

Here's the satstung room where we meditate/pray and hear the lectures. This is after class so most of the people are gone. We are busy all the time - mostly chanting in Sanskrit then studying the chants later and having lectures on meditation. We meditate a lot too. There are two 2-hour yoga classes, but the morning is mostly lecture since it's a teacher training course. (No, I am not becoming a yoga teacher.) There is no time in between the meditations/chants, yoga, lectures and meals so it's go go go until we drop around 9pm.
Okay, that's all I can think of to tell you. Any questions?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Journey to the Ashram

3 October 2009 - Journey from New Delhi to Rishekesh to Uttarkashi, India.

the last few days have been mayhem and magical...

this was my super posh hotel in new delhi. photo was taken at 6am otherwise there'd be a zillion people, cows, bicycles, rickshaws, motorbikes and dogs everywhere.

this is rishikesh where i spent the's a little yoga town halfway between uttarkashi and new delhi. i read in an old dusty lonely planet at a tiny restaurant that the place became well known in the 60s when the beatles came looking for their guru - whom apparently they found because he's named in the lonely planet.

this is where the mountains became spectacular, about an hour into the 5 hour journey today.
my last communication with the outside world before entering the ashram includes (1) a maniacal exchange between me and two friends regarding a massive tax bill i received by email my first night in delhi, and (2) an email i got this morning from a guy with whom i went to middle school and haven't heard from since! I replied and forgot to tell him I'm dying to hear about his time in the middle east (in case he reads this). funny what comes up at the last minute.
i'll have a day off on friday so hopefully i'll post again, unless i decide to forego the internet altogether.
miss y'all!
ps shift key doesn't work on this computer

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In India

30 September 2009 - New Delhi, India - outside the Vivek Hotel, City Center

I made it to New Delhi...easy as pie. Had a fun leaving drinks in Beirut last Graffiti, the icafe-by-day-pub-by-night hangout in Hamra where Arezoo and I have become part of the furniture. Just before midnight Derek and Osama walked me back to my apartment where they observed me in travel-tizz mode. They were sweet, asking "where's your money? do you have your passport? your plane ticket details? you should wear your money belt...." They wanted me to put the money belt on right then, like somehow the New Delhi Danger awaited me on the airplane. I haven’t worn a money belt in years, but plan to for the train ride. I’m 36th on the waiting list for a seat on the train, so everyone keeps teasing I’ll be riding on the roof like in the movies…in which case money will be the least of my worries. I’ve been told most Lebanese aren’t interested in travel to India, which seems true since I couldn’t find one India travel book in Beirut, not even at Virgin Megastore. I've had several genuinely concerned Lebanese people lean into me and warn, "Why India? It's dangerous there. Be careful."

Photo taken at Relax Apartments, Beirut-Hamra, Lebanon, room 31.