I have realized that there are certain initiation rites that must be passed through in order to partake on a pilgrimage through India.
Initiation #1 Riding the bus.
There must be a saying in India, about all forms of transportation which is, " you can always fit ten more in!" We are living at about 7,000 ft, in the mountains, and as you can imagine the roads are small, curved and unpaved, with numerous obstacles of cow, human, and the hundreds of vehicles that are going this way or that. I still can't quite tell which side of the road we are supposed to be on. Seth and I went to the Kangra Valley, about 1 hour away from where we were, to receive a special blessing from the Karmapa. The Karmapa is considered the highest Lama after the Dalai Lama. Twice a week he comes out of the monastery to give a blessing. Thus we needed to take the bus to get there. The picture below where I am laughing very hard, is due to the fact that we shoved into the bus and since there was no room to even sit or stand, we were placed on the large gear shift box next to the driver. I was literally at the front of the bus. I am finding that during these moments you just got to laugh. So what if we are hot, dirty, sweaty, scrunched, motion sick, it is all part of the adventure, and the great lesson of impermanence, as this too will pass.
I am so thankful to be traveling with Seth, we are having so much fun!! It has been so nice that he was here before me, and got the lay of the land down. I have traveled much by myself, which comes with it's own joys and challenges, but being with the one I love and trust has made traveling a whole different experience. It is so nice to be able to release control, let go of worries of whether or not you are on the right bus, because as long as you are together, you will make it through, hopefully with a smile on your face.
Initiation #2 Traveler's Stomach
Seth and I were having a light dinner at a Tibetan cafe, watching a contemporary film about Tibetans living in India, and the identity struggle they most go through, wanting to fight for their country, not feeling truly at home in India, and overall feeling very helpless and pretty hopeless about the chance to ever be able to go home again.
Seth had ordered a salad. Everything is pretty fresh and clean here, restaurants use filtered water to wash things, as in this area there are a large amount of Westerners, but I should have known better before I took a bite of a big Spinach leaf! That night it began, I won't go into the gory details, I just know at one point during the day after my hundredth time to the toilet that I turned to Seth and said, "I am not having fun anymore." I can not believe that Seth endured this experience alone, as I have never been more thankful for his presence in my life. Seth was the best nurse, he read to me all day long, as I lay there in distress. (Megan May, if you're reading this, you won't believe what we found at the Indian book shop. That's right... an illustrated copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagul!) He catered to my every need, including trips out to the communal porch outside our room, to tell our neighbors, a family of about 500 Punjab's, to be quiet! And in the afternoon, when I had the fever and chills, he rushed into town to the doctor's to get me a nice big dose of meds. So in the world of East I am once again thankful for the meds of the West, as on day two I am almost 100% better. It takes a good dose of sickness to remind us to be ever thankful for the health of our vessel, and to be incredibly thankful for the one's who love us enough to still think we are beautiful even after we have just exuded ungodly noises from the bathroom.