Earlier, in March of this year, I saw a tweet (yup, a tweet) from VegNews Magazine about joining them on a trip to India. I assumed the link led me to a contest entry. Nope. Instead it was an organized trip to India through the magazine and VegVoyages. A completely vegan trip to explore Northern India. I don't know what got into me but I immediately sent an email to reserve myself a spot. I got a reply back with instructions to put down a deposit. Without hesitation, I paid. And I never looked back.
I did have some trepidation about how the heck I was going to afford this trip (though it was quite affordable) but instead I focused on what I was committed to as opposed to how I was going to get there. I worked extra hours every chance I got and ended up raising a good portion of my trip. That however, took months. I was too busy/tired for my regular yoga practice (oh the irony) and too busy to blog or do anything else. Social life? Non-existent. But, I paid my full trip, airfare, vaccinations and everything else that came along with it. (And still paying for some of it.) It all worked out quite easily in the end.
Then finally, the trip came. And Oct, 8th 2010, I was off to London. Yes, London. I had a 10 hour lay-over before heading to Delhi. I've never been to the UK (or out of the country much for that matter) but I knew I wasn't going to spend the 10 hours at Heathrow Airport. So I didn't. I rushed out of there fast and hopped on the Tube. Exited at Kings Cross Station and headed to Vx aka the Secret Society of Vegans. The only place I knew I wanted to visit. All I had was an exit and an address. It didn't take long to find. I lounged at the Vx Shop, wandered around SoHo and basically just took in a beautiful London evening. Then it was back to Heathrow to catch my flight to Delhi.
And so I arrived at Gandhi Airport just after 10am on 10-10-10. I was greeted by Zac and Singhji of VegVoyages and my incredible, unforgettable, life-changing adventure through India began. It's too big of a trip to completely detail or do justice here. (2 whole weeks!) Instead, check out the itinerary. It was action packed everyday!
It seemed like every moment I was in awe thinking, how did I get here? The entire trip was as if I was in constant prayer... in gratitude. My senses and my heart were like enormous sponges. Taking it all in and growing bigger and bigger to a level I never thought possible. I fell in love over and over with the scenery, the culture, the people, the sights, the animals and the FOOD!
There is nothing like India. I was told by the more seasoned travelers that you can travel anywhere but India will change your life. I didn't quite grasp the full effect of that until I came home. Besides awful jet lag, coming home was equal parts happy to be home and heavy sadness to leave. My heart feels like it is still there and I need to go back and get it. Much like being homesick.
Then there are my travel mates who are some the greatest friends I will ever know. Every one of them, beautiful. Of course, the friends we met along the way were equally amazing. Then there were the sights! My breath was taken away at every turn. Every place topped the last. Same goes for the food, every meal was better than the last.
Oh and the opportunity to give was every turn. I had taken lots of snacks from home to travel with. I ended up giving most of them to hungry kids in the street. We also gave some of our time at 2 elementary schools, a woman's college and 2 animal hospital/sanctuaries. One of my favorite days was volunteering was at Animal Aid in Udaipur. Much like my beloved Animal Acres here. I gave love to paralyzed dogs, walked amputee dogs, brushed crippled cows, donkeys with broken limbs and played with orphaned calves. A truly rewarding day spreading love.
There was also the yoga, the grand palaces, little villages, the Gandhi museum, ancient temples and a charming mausoleum called the Taj Mahal. I've never seen anything like what I saw in India. From the gorgeous palaces to the poverty stricken tiny villages, to me, they were all beautiful. I still wish I was there. In my dreams, I am still there. Still in the country that has captured my heart.
I wish I could go into ALL the details of the trip, like the most epic traffic jam ever, hanging out with royalty in Kishangarh, Badrajun and Udaipur, taking the Indiana Jones-style jeeps out to the sand dunes to watch the sunset, having lunch with the Bishnois, attending ceremonies in ancient temples... You see what I mean, and most of that happened in one day!
Going on this trip has given me so much clarity about... EVERYTHING. In the 3 weeks since I've been home, now that the dust has settled, I have even more perspective on my life and what I want from it. One year ago, I never would've thought that this trip could have happened. But look at the transformation in my life! From just starting the simple challenge of giving something every day and extending compassion to others... From simply being love on a daily basis. To where I am now.
"Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request, and everything your heart desires must come to you."~Mahatma Gandhi