Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Losing it all in Jodhpur & Pushkar

The blue city of Jodhpur,an 'Evertonian's delight!'
No sooner had we beaten a path out of dusty Jaisalmer, than I realised that I had left my flip flops behind at the guest house.  I know you're thinking "why the heck is she talking about flip flops?", but stay with me on this one. You might recall that in both Goa and the ashram, I was repeatedly being told to "let go" of my earthly attachments, that the universe would provide so long as I trusted and surrender to this possibility. Living the London media lifestyle where everything in my life was perfectly scheduled and controlled by none other than me, this was a difficult concept for me to grasp. Put simply, what I was lacking in, was faith. The first time I attempted to put having faith into practice was in the ashram. 

Siva temple at sunset c/o 'FotoSol'
One morning as I rose for a forbidden trip out of there with some other renegades for a pre-sunrise temple visit, I came downstairs at 5am to realise that my flip flops were not where I had left them the previous night. I hunted and hunted and inspected around 500 other pairs of flip flops left outside various dorms in the ashram but I could not find my own. Despite my best efforts and that of other people urging me  to "let it go", not to worry - because they would come back to me and if they didn't, it "didn't matter" - I could not. As the day wore on I became extremely irritated about the missing flip flops, so much so that I could barely concentrate on my yoga.  Now I know this sounds melodramatic, but you have no idea how much I love those flip flops. Black Havaianas, size 39-40 - just perfect for my sized 6.5 feet. While your immediate response might simply be "buy a new pair", it's not that simple in India. Nothing is simple here. 

The cows in Jodhpur took no prisoners... 'FotoSol'
About an hour into our bus to Jodhpur, I realised that I was once more missing my precious footwear. Suddenly, a calm smile spread over my face and I told myself that the universe would bring them back to me. A quick call to Ashraf confirmed that, completely randomly, he had decided to go to Delhi the next day and his train would go via Jodhpur, at which point it would stop for half an hour and he could bring the flip flops. Incredible! Not only had my spiritual development  markedly improved, but the universe had delivered. And a good job too.. for our arrival in the beautiful blue city of Jodhpur brought with it several other revelations of wordly loss... My beloved sony HD movie camera, only recently purchased had been rendered completely broken by grains of desert sand that had lodged in the zoom. My padlock had gone. My torch was missing. And yet readers and yet...I greeted this all with the same beautific calm smile, telling myself that they are only things, and things don't matter. I can get by. I feel that I have made such progress. 

Me and Liz ramble into the fort c/o 'FotoSol'
Sadly, I do not have many photographs of this leg of the trip, but I truly felt loved, blessed and blissed. I was still basking in the glow of meeting the gorgeous people we had met in Udaipur, not least the R.E. and Fa and So changed their travel plans to continue onwards with us. All was well. We spent an evening wandering around the incredible Mehrangarh fort, although I was sad that we missed the Hands of the Sati, the tiny hand prints of 15 young women who had committed ritual self harm by immolating themselves in spite of it being illegal, to demonstrate their grief for the dead Maharaja Mansingh.The fort itself is gargantuam - a mind boggling maze of beauty. In the dying sun we and prayed to Lord Siva in a tiny temple at evening puja. All of the time I had been praying to Siva... little did I know what he had in store for me...                      

Atypical blue house in Jodhpur c/o 'FotoSol'
The next day we wandered around the bizarres of Jodhpur, the beautiful blue city - an Evertonian's delight! Liz and I got measured up for the traditional colourful Rajasthani dress especially for the wedding that we would be attending in Mumbai. We dined that evening with a lovely Italian couple we had randomly met in a guest house whilst making a booking, before dashing to the station to meet Ashraf who would reunite me with my flip flops. What an experience that was! Arriving late to the station, we were the only white people and certainly the only women there. Hundreds of people lay sleeping under blankets on the platforms or outside the station. Every time we looked up, a crowd of men had shuffled closer to us, their inquiring eyes turning away as soon as we met them. But when we looked up again, they had shuffled a little closer - pantomime style - and soon we were surrounded. We met Ashraf, shared a chai and I got my Havaianas back. Thank you, Ashraf. Thank you, Universe.  

Liz flying over the lake on the zipline 
Jodhpur was a bit of a whirlwind, the denoument being flying over the city on a series of ziplines, blinded by Yves Klein blue. Yes, I was pooing my pants, but channeled Hanuman the monkey god and threw myself off a series of aerial crevices, over rivers and the turrets of the fort. What a wonderful, exhilarating way to view the vista! I'm sad to say that we barely scratched the surface of Jodhpur but had to move onwards in a kick-bollocks scramble, dashing off in a rickshaw trailing sari silk, we very nearly missed the only bus outta there. Why does everything take so long to do in this country?

Me and Liz, at the centre of it all in Milkman guesthouse

According to the Lonely Planet (!), Brahma dropped a lotus on the ground, and Pushkar appeared. It is indeed a truly beautiful jewel of a place. Liz and I had attracted a rabble of new friends along the way and soon became ensconced in a crazy hippy guest house 'Milkman' owned by an Indian family, with dogs and children running amok, accompanied by David the Israeli, the Italian couple we met in Jodhpur, some German hipsters and a couple of English girls. Here we felt that we were full of love and radiating light, attracting like wherever we went. 

Beautiful Pushkar Lake
However, in spite of ridding ourselves of our attachments to physical objects, we still felt that we were carrying around some emotional baggage. I suggested that we undertake a cleansing ceremony and so the next day, we walked with David and the German boys (who, despite being hipsters were wonderfully open minded) to the Savitri temple on a hill overlooking the city. We cleansed the area with incense, cast a circle - ringing a bell to ward off evil spirits and placed the elements at the four compass orientations. We then called in the energies, held hands, meditated and spoke affirmations. We had previously written down all of the attachments we wanted to rid ourselves of and ritually burned them, releasing them with grace and asking that this, or something better, would manifest in their place. The flames burned interminably with a dark intensity.. There were definitely some powerful emotions on those pieces of paper... After a further meditation and affirmation, we undid the circle, took prasad and rose water, then we embraced one another, heart to heart. As we descended the hill, I felt lighter and, on impulse, walked into a tiny little kitsch Indian barber shop and asked him to shave off some of my hair. After the ritual, that little symbolic act of 'letting go' to the thing I attach my strongest sense of femininity, felt fitting. 

Lord Shiva, ever-omnipresent
The rest of Pushkar passed in a beautiful daze, although letting go of all of those attachments brought some subconscious scum to the surface. Doing all of this spiritual work isn't always easy on the old emotions. But nonetheless, progress had been made on faith front. Now I just have to extend it beyond flip flops, to cameras and work up from there - eventually to the ability to have faith that the bigger things in life I crave will come to me. 

From small acorns...

Liz and me - works in spiritual progress! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to talk about your journey, my daughter is in that area now and I read about what I always hope is positive. And your short story about you was positive. Thanks!


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