Maru Iku 5.11.2010

Maru Iku or going in Circles
Yesterday we came from Delhi to Mumbai to catch our flight back to Japan and today we go from Mumbai to Delhi to transfer there to the flight to Kansai Airport. It’s like turning in circles, back and forth.
After more than 2 hours of delay, back in Delhi. Now waiting for the plane to Kansai – via Honkong. Well, things have their own timing in India, but sometimes it’s just way too relaxed or just tiring as today.

Diwali Airport
Linux on the road
It’s the first time I used a Linux system on a laptop for travelling. I got a EeePc, put 2GB of RAM inside and installed MintLinux with Thunderbird, Opera etc. So far so good. Daily stuff worked fine, but I couldn’t transfer my photos from the iPhone to the EeePC, although I installed some software which was supposed to do the job. So I still need to figure out how this is supposed to work. I also got the Vodaphone stick to work, but I couldn’t receive SMS, somehow Betavine is not working as expected. Receiving SMS is important, as they usually send you passwords and billing reminders this way. As long as the EeePC is packed, it’s size is nice, but unpacked the keyboard as well as the the screen just feels way to small for everything. One can read and write as long as nothing else is open, but for using a three pane window layout for Thunderbird the screen is simply too small. Another thing which bothered me quite often is the size of the keypads and the layout of the keyboard. It’s done like for tiny little girly fingers and not for such big fingers, as I’m equipped with πŸ˜‰ Particularly the cursor keys are so near to the shift key, that I quite often hit the wrong key, which can have some unexpected results :-0 For me the biggest disadvantage is of course that I can’t use 4D with Linux. This time I didn’t intend, but there’s always a next time πŸ˜‰

Mumbai 4.11.2010

Back in Mumbai

Back where we started, at the Jewel of Chembur in Mumbai. We thought we are on the safe side, after we bought bus tickets to Delhi the same day we arrived in Rishikesh. While we were waiting for the daily bus it turned out that there is no bus today! At least we got the money back for the ticket, but we had then to take a cab to Delhi. These 250km were a tough ride, the road is bad and traffic … better don’t ask. In Dehli we stayed in a Hotel called Prince of Polonia, a friend of us recommended it to us as a clean and convenient place, with a pool on the roof, next to the breakfast table πŸ˜‰ Looking from the roof, ruins in between living houses and a huge dust-cloud over Dehli, nearly covering the sun. I’m so lucky, that I don’t have to live in such a polluted environment.
When I tried to book a train to Mumbai, no more tickets – it’s Divali in India, the festival for Ram and he decided we have take a plane. GoAir was late and we had the first time to pay for sandwich in the plane! The cab ride to the hotel was a bit like a special stage on a rally, more tiring than coming to Mumbai and the copilot was asleep πŸ˜‰

Divali Colors

Rishikesh 1.11.2010

2 days ago we arrived in Rishikesh, one of the famous cities on the river Ganga. As Mahatma Gandhi is the father of the nation, so is this river the mother of India. There are a lot of myths about this river and every Indian likes to have a bottle of this sin cleaning water at his home, in case someone dies. The bus ride was either bumpy or curvy, but not at all dangerous as some reports imply. We took a private “luxurious” bus, which was really luxurious for Indian standards πŸ˜‰ The bus reminded me to those buses, with which I was going for skiing in Germany when I was a young boy.
These last days before traveling back to Japan we are spending in a real nice place in Rishikesh, with hot-water shower working any time we wish, a nice bed, which doesn’t smell to mold, new towels and even toilet-paper. What a luxury! The place is quite new, it’s called Sanskriti and we heard it opened just a year ago. Our friends from Israel highly recommended this place to us. The food is excellent and ayurvedic, there is Yoga every morning here and people are very friendly. If you are not on a tight budget, give it a try, it’s probably one of the best places around.

Bridge over Ganga at Rishikesh

Rishikesh also has a different price niveau than Baghsu, a banana lassi for example is here 60 RS, in Baghsu it’s 35 and better πŸ˜‰
Today we also attended a Trika-Yoga class. This morning session was all about vajara-asana. Interesting introduction with a lot of useful information about this asana. One aspect of vajra asana is the connection of anahata, the heart chakra and ajna chakra the third eye, so connecting mind and heart and developing a diamond (vajra) body. Usually asanas are taught to prepare the body for extensive periods of stillness, this teacher is holding asanas pretty long, like in Yin Yoga, to make asana itself a meditation. Patanjali says, asana is a comfortable body position hold steady and a asana is mastered if it’s hold for 3 hours and 49 minutes. If I’d try to do that with even the most simple asana, I’d probably need to see a doctor or even the hospital after πŸ˜‰

Tonight I heard from the same guy the best “how to” for doing visualization. You grab a pingpong ball and hold it 20 cm on the height of ajna chakra, the third eye in front of you, then you study the thing until you have remembered it and then you try to visualize it with closed eyes until you can clearly see it in front of your eyes. Very simple and sounds pretty effective.


Bye Bye Dharamsala 28.10.2010

Last evening in Baghsu
Baker Street in the background music from the past so will be this place here tomorrow evening. To the times of Baker Street no one can go back, but we can come back to this place πŸ™‚
Today we sent already books and some other stuff back to Japan, which worked out quite smooth and we needed only a bit more than 2 hours to get the stuff packed and sent. In India packets must be packed an sealed either on the postoffice or a “packing service”- The nice Tibetan guy from the little Tanka shop next to the postoffice in Mcloudganhi packed and sealed our stuff really in highspeed – thanks for that πŸ™‚
On the way back we got some more “omiyagi”. In Japan it is custom to bring little present, when one comes home from abroad, these presents are called “omiyage”. More important than the packing is the wrapping, Joy Hendrik wrote a book about it, “Wrapping Culture”. Culture in India is very different, it’s very vivid, open, people are singing often. It smells different, sometimes it stinks and some meters further on the nice smell from some incenses are in the air. Weather was wonderful and we could see the snow on the mountains which came down a couple of days ago.
Internet finally works again, the people from Vodafone even called me, looks like service is good in India, just a bit slow πŸ˜‰ We also rebooked our flight from 2nd to 5th of November, which worked out in the end very smooth – for those interested, we booked via and took their insurance.
Tomorrow we will travel with the nightbus to Rishikesh and we will be back in Japan on the 6th.


Internetfree Time
So my SIM card for the USB stick is still blocked and Vodafone-care is pretty careless. Luckily the SIM card for my phone doesn’t make any trouble. For the moment I can connect to the net only when I’m around a WiFi hotspot, like at the Moonpeak Coffeebar in Mcleodganj. Besides the hotspot these guys got also some good coffee, bread and other stuff to eat. Nice music playing and next to it is the Vodafone shop, so I’ll wait until the boss comes back, who hopefully is able to fix my blocked sim card. Meanwhile I enjoy a nice espresso with a drop of milk πŸ˜‰
If you ever come to India, better go for a prepaid sim card at the place where you’ll be around most of the time. India’s mobile phone system is organized quite federal, which makes you pay roaming fees, if you are in another state than the one where you got your sim card from. Nice for the phone companies though.
I also have to admit, that I’m not in a big hurry to get connected every day. Internetfree time gives you a different kind of freedom, freedom to read a book for example and I’m reading 3 books in the moment πŸ™‚

The TTC is finished and now?
So, the Yogalife TTC is over, I got my paper and may call myself a yoga teacher now πŸ˜‰
What remains is a trace of melancholy on one side, as all the nice people left quite some time ago, either to some other place in India, like Rishikesh or Goa or back home to their daily life. On the other side I’m happily digesting all the valuable input I received through this training. It’s not only all the practical hints and tips for corrections of postures or different alignment for different body types, but also a lot of theoretical knowledge, which we partly only touched on the surface as the time for everything would have been way too short. Currently I’m looking a bit deeper into Yoga philosophy and history. Numbers mentioned in books, how old the tradition of Yoga is, often seams to me simply to big. I just can’t believe that 5000 years ago at the end of the stone age, some people were following a yogic lifestyle. There might have been shamans, but until now I couldn’t find any information, which would convince me. So I need to dig a bit deeper to not become a myth and tale teller πŸ˜‰ Anyway sorting out the history questions will consume much less time, than getting deeper into the yogic philosophy as that goes much deeper down the rabbit whole than the question, what’s the sense of life. Doing and investigating Yoga is like taking the red pill and letting go the blue pill, with everything what is connected to it.

Halleluja, ehh?
In the afternoon I go with Sanja again to the lectures from Chamtrul Rinpoche. Last week it was about Dream Yoga. Pretty interesting. He says this practice can help controlling consciousness and controlling it while entering the state of Bardo as well. Bardo is the state one enters according Tibetan Buddhist teachings, when one dies. Sometimes highly practices people can also dissolve in a rainbow body after they passed away and all what remains are their cloth in which they passed away. This week Chamtrul Rinpoche will teach more about the 3 stages of Bardo, so I’m looking forward to get some more insight and understanding about this, which looks so strange to me.
Tibetan teaching is so much different than the Japanese one. When someone passes away in Japan, he or she gets a Buddhist name, called kaimyo and it is believed that the person will become a Buddha and enters the pure land. Not so in the Tibetan tradition. Karma, the result of your actions or better of ones motivation to do something, is quite strongly stressed. Therefore a lot of practices are connected with purifying this karma and you’ll find here a lot of wheel of life tankas in the shops, which are not so often seen in Japan. Buddhist tradition is present in Japanese society in a much more subtle way, than it is in the Tibetan society. To me going into the rainbow looks much more appealing than entering the pure land, which reminds me on a Bavarian song about Alois, a guy from Munich sitting all day long on a cloud and singing ‘Halleluja’ πŸ˜€


Toilets and Politics

What did I read on the news today? well, if Salam Rushdie would like to kick my ass … but hygienically conditions in India are not really on the same level as I’m used to in Europe or Japan. Usually I don’t have to bring my own toilet paper with me and some toilets are hard to enter without wearing a gas-mask πŸ˜‰ imho India still has a long way to walk. A lot of Indian people I speak with, are not really happy with their politicians – ok, politicians are anyway a bread of its own, therefore I won’t extend that subject now πŸ˜‰

Healing or not?
Dharamkot is really amazing, you can heal yourself here either with ayurvedic medicine or spiritually with Yoga and meditation or you can poison yourself with whatever the market has to offer. Today I was sitting in a pizza place and scanning my notes from the Yogalife TT and observing two young Israelian girls rolling, or better to say folding their joints. The first mixture finished on the floor, but after that they became more nifty and one joint followed the next one sometimes interrupted by a pizzabite once in a while. I just smiled into myself remembering myself in the past and going back to my notes, trying to remember different adult learning types.

From next week on we have to teach in groups of 3 a full season of 90 minutes, I’m really looking forward. The week after everyone has to teach one session alone.
The training is really as good as it can be in 4 weeks. The program is tough, it starts every morning at 6 and we usually finish in the evening after 7. Though it is not only tough, but big fun as well thanks to the great people who found their way up to Dharamkot. Teachers are great as well and we meanwhile became friends. However, they are still our teachers and they do their job really well πŸ™‚Savira, Sanjeev and Poonah from Yogalife


Quite some time passed since my last notes on our journey to India. We settled a bit down now here in Lower Dharamkot and those rainy days kept us calm and not to busy. We also started each a ajurvedic treatment at Dr. Sibys clinic, which will still take some time What I find really annoying in India is that people just trash their rubbish right away on the street. Everywhere is dirt, pet-bottles, paper, shit from cows and dogs and who knows from whom else. Given up cars, trucks sometimes ripped down to a sceleton, half finished conrete ruins. Although it looks like richer states in India are much more clean than those with less money. Wealthy people are obviously more clean … at least on the outside. Tibetans are really teaching a lot, there’s all the time something gonig on here. Tibetan and philosophy courses at the library and different teachings in some monastaries. So we started attending a lecture sesseion about the 4 noble truth by …. Rinpoche. It is very interesting to hear after such a long time again some teachings about this fundamental topic. These are actually not news anymore. The Yogalife TT started nearly 2 weeks ago and we are now pretty much in the middle. People and training are great. I hope I will have some time tomorrow to write some more ….

11. September 2010

The last days were just crazy, finally we arrived in Dharamkot, a village a bit up from McLeondGanj, also known as Upper Dharamsala. Yes that’s the place were the Dalai Lama resides.
Let’s start from the beginning … last time I we were sitting in the Ragdhani Express from Mumbai to New Dehli and I started breading out what I call an aircon-cold. The nasty thing in hot countries is, that you come from a sauna like atmosphere to a 15 degree ice cold fridge to have dinner inside. The train itself is very recommendable, if you are not coming “cold” to New Dehli. We thought ourself to be on the save side, as we had tickets for that afternoon train to Haridwar. So we were a bit hanging around, leaving our backpacks in a tourist office and visiting some shops. Around noon we came back to the station and were told the train to Haridwar is delayed for at least 9 hours … so we had to reconsider and the guy from the station sent us to the Government Tourist Office. There we booked a hotel for overnight and took next day a taxi, which is still much cheaper than an airticket to Dharamsala.

The hotel Karat87 is not really recommendable. Stuff is not really friendly and our room was directly above the hotel bar and they played amplified tabla there… urrrrsai….

In any case, NewDehli is a big city and people living there told us all the time, the city just makes you sick.

McLeondGanj is called little Lhasa by the Tibetans and we buzzing through the city a bit today. People here are quite different, they don’t run after you and push you to sell you something, on the other side negotiating a better price is more difficult. I will post some photos the next days. I still didn’t recover fully from that aircon-cold.

Bye Bye Mumbai

Transending the academic spirit
I’m a day late or so πŸ˜‰ Anyway I’m not sure how I will keep up-to-date the next weeks.
Yesterday we visited another cave, Bhaje Lena, even older then Karle Lena and most impressing a Stupa gallery. We could also see how monks were living and meditating, in small little caves, carved out from the rock. We were then all sitting down in front of the main stupa in the meditation hall and chanting, which untied the whole group and gave a complete different odour to it than the atmosphere of an academic conference, it was like we were transcending the academic spirit of duality to some kind of unity.
Another miracle happened, my phone services all the sudden started working again, which gives me now the time to write here in the hotel room.
The return to the bus was then as wet as the day before, with the difference, that we all were better equipped with umbrellas and raincoats πŸ™‚
On the way back we still had tea in some highway stop and a nice talk with Tenzin Palmo, who is very strong promoting a good education for young Tibetan nuns.

Good Bye Mumbai
now while I’m writing this, we are already sitting in the train to New Delhi. It’s hot and rainy today, that’s why Namai Sensei didn’t went out, so we still had lunch with him at the hotel before we departed by taxi to Mumbai Central Station.

Traffic in India looks on the first look like total chaos, everyone is horning and everyone is going, but nothing happens. But actually it just looks like this, there are some rules, traffic here is more like a game, like horn, horn: hello, here I am and where are you, let’s swim in the crowd, horn, horn and that’s the way how it goes on all the time.
Coming and going

all the time people pass by. Hope that will calm down during the night in the train.

Now let’s see, if I an connect again and post this for you … in the moment it looks like being pretty slow πŸ™‚

Karle Lena – a wet Trip

So now the conferene is over, we entered the social program, which brought as the day before to Lonavala and the Purohit Hotel. The poverty in India is really scary. Approximately 60% of the people are living in slums and I’ve seen slums before only on the TV or in the movies. To see this makes me sad, but people smile directly in my eyes, holding the hands of the kids makes them happy. Seeing the monks in robes with us, makes them worshipping them. This attitude of mind is so different than in Japan or Europe, where I’m at home and it leaves a feeling of embarrassment in myself and some hidden tears in my eyes. It also makes me feel so greatful, that I’m able to do all these things right now.
8 o’clock breakfast and after a meditation session led by one of the monks, who has a lot of experience, which one an feel through his vibrancy. Explanation about mindful breathing, practice and a Q&A session took all the morning and after lunch we started our trip to the Karle Lena cave.
All these days in Mumbai it was not raining, which made us forget, that we are on the end of the rainy season in India, therefore we were not really equipped for that what was coming now. It was raining, not only raining like we know it from Europe, it was heavily raining and we got wet down to our bones in a couple of minutes, well and our cloth are still wet, while I’m writing here in the hotel room. But anyway. it was worth the effort. This cave, carved out from the rock by Buddhist monks in the 2nd century BC were really impressive.