Monday, 30 January 2012

Fresh air, hot chocolate & trekking in Kodaikanal

Our last day in Madurai began with a fabulous breakfast of fresh dosas and boori served up on a banana leaf with the ubiquitous samber (a kind of orange vegetable curry sauce which they serve with seemingly everything in southern India) and the obligatory sugarey chai in a local eatery. We hopped in a rickshaw for the 4km to the bus station and boarded a local bus to take us high up inside the western ghats to the hill station of Kodaikanal. The journey would have been pleasant had not the bus driver sounded his ear-splitting horn every single time any traffic appeared - be it pedestrian, motorcycle, car or cow. This seems to be the style of driving in India, which is OK when you have a rather inoffensive beeper, but not when it is the deep bass of a very loud horn through the open air of a windowless bus. Our ears did not grow accustomed to the constant cacophony and it was a very uncomfortable ride out for the first couple of hours whilst we continuously passed traffic. Unbelievably, some of our fellow passengers actually slept through it. At various points on this journey I have not ceased to be amazed (and jealous) of Indian people's miraculous ability to sleep under all conditions! 
Enjoying 'hair dryer hot chocolate'! 
The bus typically took several hours longer than we had predicted but as we ascended higher and higher, seeing the land roll away and the landscape opening into panoramic vistas, we did not regret our choice to move out of town. As dark began to fall we wound our way higher through the hills and the scenes started to change - men wore ear muffs and blankets wrapped around their shoulders in addition to cotton dhotis, their breath misting the air. Small, slumbering children boarding the bus in the arms of their mothers had tiny little woolen balaclavas on their heads. We disembarked in the dark chilly night and found a damp dingy room in the incongruously-named Strawberry Park hotel. After donning literally all of the warm clothes we owned, we filled up on Tibetan food in a tiny little jewel of a restaurant - 'Tibetan Bros' - then rounded it off with a home made hot chocolate made in Indian style - by melting slabs of chocolate into a cup with an old retro hairdryer!
The view from our window - peeking out above the clouds
Sitting outside our room with a view
Having found ourselves a room with a view to rival any other, we moved the next morning to the local youth hostel where our cottage window literally peeked out over clouds. As I sat drenched in sunlight on our little patio, overlooking the azure mountain range I realised that this was probably what Wordsworth called 'the Sublime'. We had decided to do some trekking with a beautifully chiselled, handsome local guide by the name of Babu (which means 'little boy' in Hindi), to take us out for the day. Babu had assured us that we would be going "off the beaten track", but we didn't bargain for having to not only scale an extremely high vertical cliff face but also trek through solar forest undergrowth, cutting through twigs and thorns and spend a disproportionate amount of time sliding up or down incredibly slippy rocks, incurring impressive battle scars along the way. Although the going was tough, it was incredibly rewarding and Babu's knowledge of the land and the flora and fauna reminded me of the indigenous people of Australia, so intimate was it. During the walk he pointed out rhodedendhrons, wild orange flowers and a plant that only flowers once every 50 years!We cooled down by sliding down a natural waterslide created by rocks leading down to a waterfall and ate freshly plucked passion fruits from the husk along the way.  
Natural waterslide! 
As sun was setting we climbed up to Dolphin's nose rock - a flat rock which projects out over a 6,600ft drop. Although my body was shaking with vertigo I conquered my fear and climbed onto the top, trying not to look down into the gaping chasm which surrounded me. As I looked across into the landscape I was overcome with emotion and tears came to my eyes. Later on I learned that, below that exact spot there is an ancient sacred site. Babu and I stayed in step through the dark dusky lanes back to the village and the scent of lemons from the trees was overwhelming. Afterwards we found ourselves back at Tibetan Bros restaurant and in there was the attractive Israeli man who had been rooming next to us in the hostel. I knew he had been struck down with bronchitis for a week and had heard him coughing and hacking through the night. He happened to overhear me say in the restaurant that I "would give anything for a single malt right now". "Anything?" he asked, smiling wryly at me and looking into my eyes in the mirror opposite. Although I found him attractive, I knew that he was at death's door and I offered him reiki in return for a wee dram - I knew he had been ill and wanted to help. Later that night we did the deal - I got a class of Johnny Walker black label and he, my healing hands.  The next morning I asked him how he felt? "Better, different," he smiled. 

Eating fresh passion fruits  
Off the beaten track trekking gang
We liked Babu (and the trekking) so much that we decided walk to our next destination - Munnar - over 50km away across the mountains. And so we set off for a three day hike with a merry band including Easter and Louis, our new friends from the youth hostel,  and a troupe of travelling Israelis who were relaxing in India after the completion of their mandatory military service. The views were absolutely stunning, we stopped off at waterfalls to swim and refreshed along the way with more freshly-picked fruits. On the first day, after many kilometres of walking we reached the end of the first trek trail and were taken by rickshaw to the city for the night as sun set through the coconut trees. Having eaten our fill (more dosas and samber served on banana leaves) Liz and I managed a cheeky invite to Babu's hotel room to share a couple of beers, which thankfully lulled us to sleep through the heat, noise and the mosquitos of the dusty city night.  We slept in the clothes we had trekked in as we had not been able to carry pyjamas or packs.  

The view from the mountains
We were up bright and early to take a local bus out of the city, breakfast in a village (yes, you've guessed it - more samber) and spend the day ascending. There is something pretty galvanising about staring up at the summit of a mountain you're about to climb, so the English folks amongst us set off in earnest up the S-shaped mountain path, sweating in the sun. Meanwhile, our Israeli counterparts, intent on going as "shanti shanti" as possible, langoured behind. The day was pleasantly punctuated by another swim in a refreshingly freezing waterfall, Munnar limes and lunch in a village half way up to the top. We sat in front of a tiny local school and ate our home made cashew rice out of a banana leaf, flavoured with lime pickle and rounding off with bananas and chocolate as the local kids giggled and played in the background. 
Babu's trekking map

Post trek chilling at the Munnar top station 
Tropical fauna at the top station
When reached the summit and were pleased to find our bed for the night, in Munnar's cosy top station, where we were fed incredibly well (tomato rice, popadoms and yes - you've guessed it - more samber!!!) One of the Israeli girls began our meal with a traditional kiddush, ritually breaking bread and passing it around to all of our plates, performing a blessing as we ushered in the Sabbath day. The night took a turn for the raucous when, cuddled in blankets, we sat and drank cheap rum by the campfire, singing English and Israeli songs. After all that fresh air I slept incredibly well in the little stone cottage and was only awoken by the chickens and the kitchen staff commencing their work at about 05.30. 
We trekked across these mountains
Our bed for the night in Munnar top station
On the last day of our trek we walked out bright and early to the look out, to witness the distance we had climbed.  As we stood we could hear monkeys chattering from the forest. We took a jeep back the final few km and Liz and I were allowed to ride 'up top' on the roof for the first few mountainous bends, affording us a perfect view of the velvety green tea plantations of Munnar. 
Riding up top on the jeep
Munnar tea plantations

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Celebrating Pongal in Madurai, Tamil Nadu

A few hours after boarding the train at India's most southerly point, we landed in the dusty heat of Madurai, one of Tamil Nadu's 'temple towns', home to the famous Sri Meenakshi temple. Once we had schlepped around for a while with our backpacks on, we settled ourselves into a Hitchcockian Psycho-esque hotel (kitsch furniture, formica finishing) near to the entrance of the temple's West Tower. The immediately noticeable thing about Madurai was the omnipresent sound of car horns (and I thought that living in Hackney was bad.) Despite the traffic being as crazy as it seems to be in most cities, we took an instant like to it, found it easy to navigate and the people as characteristically nice and friendly as they had been elsewhere in Tamil Nadu.
Sri Meenakshi Temple

We spent the afternoon getting our bearings, wandering around and catching up on admin. There is something about the Indian way of life which means that what you might allocate half an hour to in ordinary life, you have to multiply by four here. And even then you might not be able to get things done. Everything seems to take so much longer than it should and Liz and I have often wondered where the hours go in a day when all you need to do is something as simple as send some emails, upload some photos and post a parcel. We finished the evening dining on the roof terrace of Hotel Supreme - each Indian town or city tends to have a unique quirk and rooftop restaurants seemed to be that of Madurai. We enjoyed ourselves up there, far from the madding crowd and the streets below. On the way back down, we popped into the hotel's Apollo Bar, based on the inside of Apollo 13. It looked like something A Clockwork Orange meets Space Invaders - I was sorry at that moment that I was continuing my abstemious behaviour post ashram as I quite fancied a beer in those space-age surroundings!   

A Pongal kolam on the pavement 
What we didn't know was that we had happened to rock up in Madurai just in time for the celebration of 'Pongal' or Tamil harvest festival when people give thanks for crops, nature and cows. We found this uot when a well wishes shouted "happy Pongal" to us in the street - then we couldn't stop doig the same, to the surprise and delight of pretty much every Tamil we came into contact with for the rest of the day! We learned that during Pongal, people draw colourful diagrams or kolams outside the front of their houses, clean and decorate their homes, cars and rickshaws with palm leaves. The famous dish associated with the festival is sweet pongal - made from rice, milk, dhal and sugar. We decided to have an authentic Pongal experience and so after an expensive buffet breakfast at Hotel Supreme (which was totally worth it for the famous cold coffee - my first proper caffeine since the ashram - yes!)  we took a local bus 40 km out of town to the village to the Alagar Temple. This is a huge, awesome building built in the Dravidian style - a mind--boggling kaleidoscope of colourful carvings, reminiscent of something that might have been built by the Mayans. The aesthetic also evokes a kind of East-Asian style but in fact it originated here in India and was. in fact later taken to the East. As usual in even the most remote places, the bus was completely crammed and we stood for the entire journey, squished between families dressed up to the nines in preparation for the pongal celebration in the temple, the ladies with fresh jasmine woven into their hair.

Dravidian style: Alagar Temple
The appearance of two white women in the village caused quite a stir and many families came up to ask our name, where we are from, to shake our hands and to ask us to pose for pictures with them, to which we willingly obliged. It was lovely to be out in the countryside and to be part of a real Indian celebration. One family came up to us to offer some 'apom' to eat so we sat with them in the shade of one of the main temple buildings and ate the lovely sweet buttery paratha-style snack out of a scrap of newspaper. The father of the family told us that we should take a further bus up to two other temples on the hilltop and come back down to the main temple for 4pm. So up we got onto another bus and headed up the hill with more Indian families surprised and happy to see us, sharing their food and allowing us to play with their beautiful children. 

Celebrating Pongal with Indian families

When we arrived, we meandered up the hill then queued for over half an hour to get to the tiny temple at the top. We were squished amongst lots of chattering, cheeky young Indian men and every now and then a monkey would dart past. We didn't know what would happen at the top, but as we drew nearer we could see people getting changed and could hear the unmistakeable rushing  of water. It transpired that the temple gushes with holy water and we got dunked when we reached the top! After offering puja and lighting oil votives at the inner sanctum we made our back down to the smaller temple where were only delighted with an impromptu musical performance of bhajans by a group of men who were chanting and playing drums and tambourines. Although Liz and I were careful to sit to one side with the women, one of the men noticed that Liz was recording the musical sounds and beckoned her over to sit with them. After a hot chai (poured again and again from one cup to another so that it was uber frothy and caused us to nickname it cupachaino) we made the descent back to the main temple for afternoon puja. On our way back to the noisy bustle of Madurai on the bus we reflected on a lovely, spontaneous day and were so happy to have shared a slice of Indian village life together, reasoning that if either of us had been travelling alone here we would probable have not taken the risk to go so far off the beaten track.
After being dunked in holy water!
That night, after being measured for a tailor made punjab set and a sari top by a local tailor (the thing to do in Madurai - a whole new whistle and flute for less than 15 quid), we hurried to visit the main Sri Maneeksha Temple. It was eerie and enchanting wandering through the temple by night as bats flew low around us.. Earlier in the day we had found ourselves invited into an Aladdin's cave of an antique and arts shop, sharing cardamon and cinnamon tea with the rather dashing owners (one of whom managed to get a Kashmiri carpet sale out of Liz). We had been invited up to their roof terrace to enjoy a fabulous view of the temple's  grounds and the surrounding region, including 'elephant mountain'. Even viewed from this aerial position, the star attraction Sri Maneeksha temple was too big to take in. It comprises 14 towers, the tallest of which rises to 170 feet. Apparently in times gone by you were allowed to climb to the top of the towers, until a a pair of star crossed lovers, forbidden from marriage due to caste differences, had  together plunged to their death. Since then , the towers have been closed to the public.
The tailor who made my sari top and punjab set in a matter of hours
Liz and I arrived just in time to wander through the temple's grounds, offer puja to Ganesha and witness the ceremonial procession of the deities, where priests and holy men paraded the effigies. However, crammed in between many westerners, clicking away with their digital cameras, Liz and I felt it somewhat artificial in comparison to earlier in the day, where we had experienced the warmth of local people, the joy and intimacy of a family celebration and the exhilaration of being dunked from head to foot in cold holy water. We were very thankful to have enjoyed pongal with the locals and the monkeys!
Offering puja in the temple on the hill

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Profound Moments in the 'Brighton of South India'

Breakfast in the station dining hall
After 15 days of asceticism and austerity in the Sivananda ashram, I finally escaped 'yogatraz', light of heart and even more so of body. The sun rays shone through the palms as I descended the mountain back to civilisation to take the local bus 1.5hrs down the mountains where I would be reunited with my friend and sometime Indian travel companion, Liz. A girl I had met in the ashram had tipped me off about Swami Isha Layam, a 'self realised human' who was living somewhere outside of Trivandrum. Apparently she had randomly met a gay couple from New York in a Keralan coffee shop who were on a 'guru tour' of India and had insisted that she go and meet him. She said that the guru was full of useful insight, so I had vowed to find him as part of my ongoing spiritual quest and ask his advice on some issues that had been preoccupying me. Once we had eaten a hot breakfast of channa masala in the train station dining hall (so quaint), we hopped into a rickshaw and out of town to find the ashram. 

Swami Isha Layam

Pupil of the Isha Layam school
Despite the fact that the taxi driver had assured us he knew where we were going, there was the usual confusion and much asking for directions before the rickshaw drew up outside a tiny ashram. We went inside and asked to be granted an audience with the guru. We were ushered into a grimy room where he was sitting cross legged on cushions, amidst a of racket of incense, statues, packets of sweets and ants. 


Me and Liz with the school children
Although his answers to my questions tended to be of the abstract nature, he did impart some useful insights - pointing to the differences between 'path' and 'goal' i.e. our goal should be the same although our path may be different and the vehicles or means of travelling it may vary. So for instance, when I asked him if my path should be in TV and film or in writing, he said that I may reach my goal (to be successful in a creative pursuit) through all of those means. The goal is the same, the paths vary - or we travel the same path in many different vehicles. We discussed the difference between positive and negative thoughts. Swami said that thoughts are just thoughts, neither positive nor negative. It is how you use the thoughts that matters. After an interesting session, in which we discussed his vision for a Global Energy Parliament, we took a tour of the local school that Swami has built. Apparently it started with one class, but as the children grew, more classes were added and more children joined and now there are around 100 or so receiving education there. 

In more secular matters, once Swami knew about the professional experiences of Liz and I, he got very excited and called for his colleague to come so that we could spend more time together and explore if we could help them in some of the areas they need support: digital marketing, web development and even music composition and film making (another Indian coincidence - Liz is a composer and I am a wannabe doco maker!) I was perhaps most arrested by the sight of this girl - after beginning her spiritual life in India in none other than the Sivananda ashram that I went to, she began her quest for a guru. She heard about Swami and, she told us that as soon as she met him, she chose to renounce her worldly life to serve and follow him. Meeting this woman was extraordinary. Although we discussed the achievements of Swami and the school and the global energy parliament in a normal fashion with her, she would not be drawn on anything in reference to her own life. She had given it up and renounced it. When Iasked about her family and how they felt at being left behind she simply replied "I try to not have any attachments'. She told us that she felt embarrassed to be before us as she was - she said that her skin was bad, she was ill (she had a terrible cold) and that she was losing weight for no reason. Swami didn't know what the matter with her was. There was no discussion of her going to the doctor. Her conclusion was that her body was obviously going through a stage that it had to go through, in order to continue her journey on the path of servitude to the guru. This didn't make any sense until we saw her with him. We walked over to Swami who was standing in the middle of the school, tenderly speaking with the little children that came his way. Suddenly, the pale devotee was filled with light. It was arresting to watch.

Once we were done with the intensities of Swami and his renunciate, we shored ourselves up with hot street food and fresh coconut juice and hopped on the train for the three hour trip down to Kanyakumari, the most southerly point of this enormous continent. We would also be crossing into Tamil Nadu, the fourth state I had reached in as many weeks. Travelling India by train is a great way to get around - you chug along at pleasant speed and both windows and doors are completely open, allowing you to hang out and witness snapshots of village life. The tropical south is deliciously watery and literally every other minute we passed a lakeside scene: men rearranging their dhotis after bathing, women washing, the proliferation of thousands of lily pads.  Everything is picturesque: little children running out of tiny cement houses or standing and gazing out from the mud and the banana leaves, coconut palms swaying in the breeze as sun sets.

Travelling by train is a pleasant way to go
 We arrived at nightfall to Kanyakumari, which on first encounter resembled a 'Brighton of South India' - a tiny little seaside town with countless shops selling ornaments adorned with shells and tacky tourist paraphernalia such as light-up Ganeshas. Despite this, we weren't hassled, surprising given that we were the only white people in sight. We thought that the many 'fancy shops' were aimed at the Indian population who come in their droves as part of pilgrimage to worship at the temple of Kanyakumari, which literally means 'virgin sea goddess'. 

View of the sunset from the train window
We woke up at 5am and sleepily followed the crowds down to the beach to watch the sun rise. We shuffled in amongst many Indian tourists, most of whom were young men dressed in black dothis, sporting bare chests, beads and tikka smeared foreheads. We got chatting to a group of such men who told us that they were undertaking Sabarimala, a complex pilgrimage that lasts 40 days. Once permission has been obtained by the pilgrims family, they must undergo many rituals such as bathing, trimming hair and nails and offering puja. Once the pilgrim has received his 'mala' he becomes Lord Ayyappa (the offspring of Siva and Vishnu in female form) for the duration of the pilgrimage and must abstain from all impure activity. I'm presuming that having obligatory photo calls with white girls must not be on the banned list - as usual, we were asked to pose with them for pictures. However, they were nice boys and it felt good to cross the cultural boundary with people who looked so strange and different and to have a human exchange. I think that they felt the same way. As soon as the orange-pink orb of the sun peeped up above the clouds, a round of whooping and applause erupted from the crowd, in a typically Indian sense of occasion. Kanyakumari is a significant place, not only because it marks the end point of India, but it is where three oceans mingle (the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian sea). The confluence of oceans is really very conceptual (how can you define water after all?) and many tourists may be disappointed to look out upon a vista where these man-made boundaries are indiscernible. However, legend has it that although the waters are the same, the sand is three different colours and those who look out across the vast nothingness can't help but be moved. So - three seas, three sands and also three religions are present on the most southerly tip of India - Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. 

Sun rise over Kanyakumari
Men undertaking Sabarimala
 An incongruous wedding cake of a building arises out of the ground at Kanyakumari and this is a memorial to none other than Gandhi, whose ashes were immersed in the waters here in 1948. Gandhi had previously visited the place in 1937 and his correspondence notes that the Kayakumari which literally means virgin sea goddess is as untouched as her own name - there is no port here and so the waters are largely untraversed. The fabulously whacky pink testament to this great man stands at 79 feet (his age at death) and there is a hole in the roof through which, apparently, the sun shines at midday on his birthday and for the rest of the year no rainfall will penetrate. This knowledge was all imparted to us by a twinkly eyed elder (for a fee, of course), who took a shine to chucking my cheeks and moving my hair out of my eyes (he was caught up in the devastating 2004 tsunami, which affected Kanyakumari and a memorial stands here - so was especially concerned with the importance of sight, having lost most of his in the waves). 

The Gandhi memorial 'wedding cake'
After sunrise we progressed to the temple where we witnessed the aftermath of what I now know as 'Eve Teasing' - a very angry Asian woman was screaming at a young Indian man and gesturing to the growing crowd that he had groped her breasts. The embarrassed youth now faced a gang of men, determined to step in and defend her honour. One boy even gave the perpetrator a swift right hook. The woman (good on her) did not let up and continued shouting and screaming until the offender was deposited at the tiny police office outside the temple. Liz and I both looked at each other and agreed that if we were a victim of such an act again, they we would respond as this lady had done. We have both learned that the best way to get results in India is to appeal to mens' sense of chivalry.

We deposited our 'chappals' ('shoes' - generally not worn inside at all in India and certainly not in holy places), then chose to queue with the other Indians rather than pay for fast track entry to the temple.  over Kanyakumari ). We were the only white people - and certainly the only women - in the queue. It seems to be the case with most leisure activities that only the men are present. So we were certainly an object of fascination, which was difficult for us as we were equally as curious to gaze upon our fellow temple goers but did not want to appear provocative. Due to the regulation of the Sabarimala and the fact that the Kanyakumari temple is a place of sacred femininity, men are not allowed to wear shirts. Liz and I found it rather difficult not to stare back too much at the hoardes of hunky half naked men who surrounded us. We found it rather unfair that men are allowed to parade around with their shirts off, meanwhile we, cloistered up in our conservative clothing have to keep our bodies (and our desire) under wraps! 

Crowds gather to watch sun rise
 Once we had queued for the best part of 40 mins, we finally gained access to the inner sanctum, which contains a representation of the deity, whose nose was pierced twice and light shone through. This is to signify Kanyakumar's virginity - apparently the usual practice is for brides to remove their jewellery so as not to irritate their new husband in the marriage bed! We offered puja (fresh flower garlands woven on thread by a local woman) and so were allowed into an enclosure in front of the shrine to pray. Having practiced yoga and meditation every day for 7hrs per day for the past 15 days I sank easily into a meditation and counted 108 mantras along my prayer beads - similar to the use of rosary you chant one mantra per bead. The beads are then said to become a circle of power as you chant, equivocal to one thousand chants. Once I had completed my chanting I experienced the now-familiar feeling of boiling heat that rises up in my body, the energy that surfaces once I have 'successfully' meditated. On exiting the temple we bowed before the shrine and were disappointed to find that, although it had hitherto been decorated in votive candle holders in the shape of female genitalia, sadly they were no longer in sight. But, as I was watching men light oil lamps, a little old lady gently annointed my forehead with ash and ritually poured the flame from an oil lamp into my third eye. I was overcome with emotion and spontaneously erupted in tears. It was a powerful and profound place. 

Taking the ferry

In the afternoon we took a rickety old rust bucket of a ferry over to one of the rocks about 500 metres off the tip of Kanyakumari to the Vivekananda memorial, which is where Swami Vivekananda is said to have swam out to, sat upon and meditated before achieving enlightenment. The boat also passed the Thiruvalluvar statue, India's Statue of Liberty, a memorial to the Tamil poet who wrote the Thirukkural, an epic poem on ethics. The statue stands at 133 feet, which denote Tirukkuṛaḷ's 133 Chapters and the show of three fingers denote the sections on Morals, Wealth and Love. Our enjoyment of these philosophical places was somewhat impaired by the excitable group of schoolchildren who were hanging off our arms, asking us what our 'good name' was and asking for photographs. We were like local celebrities!  

Thiruvalluvar statue
The school children were loving us!

In the evening we went back to the highest point of Gandhi's wedding cake and watched the sun set over the three oceans, squeezed once again amongst exicted Indian tourists and as we gazed out over the 3 seas, were filled with an overwhelming sense of profound gratitude for this moment. One extremely hot meal later (we forgot to ask for 'not spicy') and we were back in our very lovely hotel room (we splashed out at 650 rupees and got towels! soap!) ready to begin the next leg of our journey, venturing north up the ancient state of Tamil Nadu.

Kanyakumari: where 3 oceans meet
Watching the sun set

Gandhi memorial at sun set

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Ashram Photo Blog

There were so many amazing moments in the ashram and it is hard to explain them all. My  complete photo sets are on Google + but I thought that I would include some further images for you here, just to give a slice of my ashram life....

Joseph's yogic contortion ability at the ashram 'talent show'

Ganesha puja

Diagram drawn by priest to invoke energies

Prasad on a banana leaf

Rajesh the astrologer who read my chart

Demonstrating 'jala neti' - ritual nasal cleansing

Another nasal & throat cleanse with rubber length (!)

I'm am old hand at jala neti

Jack fruits in the ashram courtyard -  these are chopped for food

The panchakarma ladies
Shree, who gave me my daily panchakarma oil massages

Drinking the foul panchakarma purgation concoction

The Sivananda Institute of Health where I underwent Ayurvedic treatment

Me in the Head Stand, king of all the yoga asanas

Leaving Lakshmi womens dorm....

So happy to be free!

Shafts of morning sunlight as I make my descent back to civilisation

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