Taking my mum to India; to experience a healthy lifestyle amongst the intensity of a third world country, I of course wanted to plan a stress free trip for her. However, the culture shock of India its self can make the simplest activities stressful for anyone.
I had made an itinerary and discussed ideas with a friend who had already been there. As much as I wanted to branch out and try new things, I thought it was best to stay on a path that someone had experienced already (I did not want my mum getting sick). Starting off we arrived at our accommodation for the night, a hostel! This would have been fine if I was on my own and hoping to meet new people but I threw my mum in the deep in straight away (unintentionally). She did not mind and even ended up making conversation with a few fellow travellers.
My sister had told us to experience a train ride, I do recommend this for young travellers but at the time it seemed to make more sense to grab a taxi; for the added privacy and security for our bags. I almost regretted this decision when we were half way through our 7 hour journey. Mum was bracing in her chair from our taxis erratic driving. (near misses and horn blasts happen every two seconds in India.) Mum dropped off to sleep on a steady clear road and I was hoping and praying for her to sleep as long as possible to get through what seemed like a fast a furious episode, with less hotties and five times the amount of traffic to squeeze through. Mum said she felt like Tom Hardy! I would also have more trust in Vin Deisel to be my cab driver, I don’t think he would be falling asleep at the wheel which is exactly what our driver was doing!
To experience India, is to experience sensory overload. The minute you walk out into its organised chaos it drains you of energy; cars honking, cows, dogs, donkeys crossing your path. Your senses work on over drive, your eyes flicker at every movement and vibrant colour, the smells confuse you as you breathe in something delicious but then it is combined with the vulgar stench from the rushish, waste, pollution that comes with the poverty and over population.
Amongst this, in each encounter we had with the locals, they were more than happy to sit down with you, share a chia and help you to understand the importance of kindness, compassion, and give you a deeper understanding of the world we live in. It broardens your mind, especially when they are living in this chaotic world and yet are able to find peace.
We traveled for a short week to jaipur, argra and then on to rishikesh for one month of intensive yoga teacher training.
Jaipur was amazing, the spiritual history and architecture blew me away. Our rikshsaw driver guided us for the two days that we spent there. He was so kind and helpful. He took us to some of the main tourist attractions but also helped us to find authentic experiences. This included an elephant park where we were able to relax with the elephants, paint our storyies on them, shower with them, and take a trek around the acres of land learning the positive energy that elephants hold, their calm nature and the history of elephants in India. Our tuk tuk driver ended up taking us to most of his families factories and jewellery stores. Mum and I laughed when we realised we where just providing an income for his whole family, we did not mind. At first we were a little worried that we were being overcharged for the 7 duvet covers, 2 pashmina, sarees, 3 blankets, two pairs of pants. Considering we went in not wanting to buy anything but Indians are good at sales and making you feel like they have done you a favour. We were happy with our bargains as at the end of the day even a little overpricing still ends up being incredibly cheap with the exchange rate.
Next stop Agra, of course the taj mahal, however I think you only really need one day here to see this and dine at a roof top restaurant with a beer in hand and the taj in sight.
From Agra mum wasn’t to keen on taking another taxi ride so we looked at a better option…the bus it was! A 10 hour bus ride; being the only westerners on board. This happens alot, you feel like your the only tourists travelling in India, until you see fellow tourists in the crowds and eases your mind a little. The over night bus took 1o hours with two 1 hour stops in between for a squat style bathroom and chai stop. CHAI IS A MUST! Try so many chais as they are delicious and everyone makes them a little bit differently. I may have even loaded a few kgs worth of it into my suitcase 😮 . The bus trip wasn’t as hectic as the taxi, I think the fact that mum couldn’t see the on coming traffic and we had a Bollywood film to entertain us helped. we arrived in rishikesh at 4am. Greeted by Vikal who set us up in our rooms to prepare for the month of intense yoga training.
Wow, this place is a spiritual door wide open located at the foot hills of the Himalayas. I could not fault rishikesh in anyway, the home of yoga indeed! With signs next to each other, overeach other,cms across from one another promoting yoga school/classes, reiki, massage, cooking, music, astrology, jewellery making, hiking, rafting, safari trails anything you wanted to learn or experience you could most defiantly find it here.
As I am a vegetarian and don’t drink much alcohol it was not too hard to adapt to the fact that you could not find either of these in the city (meat and alcohol are forbidden in the city). All though our new found abstinence made us feel entitled to some delicious deserts now and then. There is a restaurant with alcohol and meat a little while out of town if you are in desperate need :p some of the group did as a celebratory drink at the end of our course. The school facilities were very basic but this is all you need when you are unlearning your conditioning and focusing on your body and mind, trying to be completely present while you are here without distractions. Shopping became one of these distractions on our down time, it’s so cheap! I recommend doing all your Christmas shopping here! My friend Erin certainly finished her shopping for the year, totalling at 25 pairs of pants!
A friend and I from the course decided to get a better understanding of reiki when we had the opportunity to, completing our level one and two degree in reiki, I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to open there heart a bit more and explore the energies and chakras that are talked about in yoga and meditation to a higher level. Mum also tried some emotional blockage therapy, this is where they push on certain points that we gather our emotions in and try to work them out (almost likes knots in a massage). This was very painful for her and could only handle a few classes, she compared it as being worse than child birth! However, one of the girls from our course found increasing benefits from consistent treatment. If you are interested in reiki watch this space for my reiki review.
After having some amazing experiences it was time to say good bye to everyone. Fellow course mates were now close friends with the yoga in the beautiful Himalayas foothills being the perfect place to form connections with like minded people.
In the cab ride home, the driver also seemed to be in the newest episode of fast and furious with, more aggression on the road and more near misses! Mum was so calm, she said “this is really scary but my heart isn’t racing any more.” Her smile and glowing skin made this trip 100 times better. The fact that I was able to explore India, dwell deeper into spirituality and share it all with my mum, I feel so blessed. I made some amazing friends, but also got to know my best friend a little better. To watch her confidence grow, watching her dancing the night away, watched her strength in yoga increase even when she was doubting herself. Teachers commented on her being a great inspiration, we all would find motivation from her as we felt tired during yoga, feeling like giving up, but looking over at her still going strong gave us strength too. I feel India made a big impression on me, but an even bigger impression on my mum.
Below you will find my suggestions if you are wanting to head to India.
- Sweet Lassi (Not salted I made that mistake)
- Masala chai (lot of the in different places)
- Gulam jumin (sweet treats to die for)
- Palake paneer butter masals (bear in mind curry can be different everywhere you go.)
- Rishikesh resturants Litte Budha, freedom cafe, gaga cafe, ragistani bakery
Things that will make a big difference if you take with you:
- Toilet paper, (they will change you for toilet paper an hand washing in some public bathrooms around India)
- Flash light (some areas are not very well lit up and it truly does come in handy when the power cuts out a few or more ties a week.)
Also check out my review on rishikesh yog dham, Yoga school.
If you have any questions just message me through commenting below or through my Facebook.
<3 Rachel x