During the afternoon, we headed to the Munda tribal village on the outskirts of Ranchi. The projects in this village are overseen by Matrichaya graduate, Bacchan Devi. Bacchan is a shining example of the ever widening circle of women. When she heard about Matrichaya, she thought because she was uneducated, she wouldn’t qualify. Details
The day began with a visit to the Spoken English and Computer Literacy programs for girls. Each is a three-month program. These are introductory classes, and the current group of students has had only had one week of classes. All of the girls are from impoverished families. Details
The Pushkar Fair, also known as the Pushkar Cattle Market or the Pushkar Camel Fair, is a world famous event. It is held annually in the month of Kartika (October/November) ten days after the festival of Diwali. The Pushkar Fair is one of the largest cattle markets in all of Asia, and a major attraction for visitors to India. Details
Today is a day that all of us have been looking forward to since signing up for this Indian adventure. As we enter the Vatsalya building, we are again greeted by the lovely Jaimala. Today is a workshop day, so the women are sitting on the floor, sewing, measuring, and marking fabrics with Executive Director Colleen Cline. Details
On Nov. 9, after our visit to the Taj Mahal and on our way to the Agra Fort, we rode through an agricultural area with miles of recently harvested flat land, providing a respite from clamorous and congested Delhi. We saw no villages or houses, just the highway and farm land. In the middle of nowhere, a restaurant appeared, where we had a buffet lunch. Details
The Amber Fort in Rajhastan is yet another architectural marvel. We were all stunned by its beauty, design, and engineering — the result of almost unlimited resources. It was constructed by the Hindu Kachhawaha, who were allied with the powerful Muslim Mughal Empire. It was built in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh I on the remains of an 11th century fort.
This morning we drove to the outskirts of Jaipur into the countryside and down a rugged dirt road to the orphanage run by the organization Vatsalya and directed by Jaimala, who has an MPH from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Details
The astonishing white dome, barely visible in the hazy morning sky, rose above the deep red stone wall. Just this preliminary glimpse of the iconic Taj Mahal was sufficient to bring a collective gasp of awe from our group. We had waited in line for an hour and a half and that moment made it all worthwhile.
We piled into the bus at 6:15am for a short ride to the Taj. Our most excellent guide, Sujata, secured our tickets and we joined the already lengthy line. We had heard the day before that the sky would be hazy in the morning, but we decided to take our chances, As we came at last to the red stone gate, the Taj Mahal was framed in the arch like a mirage. I was surprised to find, in spite of the growing crowd, that each of us could capture that moment on our cameras unobstructed.
Now the Taj could be seen in all its splendor. In the gauzy light, the Taj seemed constructed from the sky itself, floating above the earth. We spent quite a bit of time photographing the Taj and each other in front of the Taj, interspersed with long moments contemplating its ethereal beauty. We also had a group picture taken before making our way down the steps onto long path to the world’s most famous tomb.
We were up and out of the hotel by 6:45 a.m., headed back to Kairali spa for morning yoga in their beautiful garden. Our instructor, Swami Ganeshanand, is the founder and leader of Ananda (Bliss) Yoga. Dressed in traditional white guru garb, he moved us through an energetic practice focused on quick repetitive movements synchronized with powerful exhalations to detoxify, energize, and open the body and mind. The alignment cues were minimal – and as a yoga therapist – I was worried about the members of our group with lumbar and shoulder issues. My sense is that the acute focus on anatomy in the U.S. is a point where East and West diverge. Perhaps the truly integrated practice is a place where the traditional practice, with its emphasis on spirituality and energetcs, meets the modern view of wellness.
We ended with a lovely guided savasana, listening to the urban birds singing their Delhi morning songs. As we came to standing – Swami Ji announced that we would be ending with Laughter Yoga, throwing his arms up into the air and releasing the most contagious laugh I have ever heard in my life! We all joined in, arms extended toward each other with the Swami at the center of our circle. “It is important every day to laugh”, he said. “It releases stress and warms the spirit.” Wise words from our wise teacher.
Our DFW adventure officially began on Nov. 6, Wednesday, with everyone arriving throughout the day.
We met at Grace Home – situated in a trendy area of South Delhi – and a small group of us shared dinner and got to know each other. After breakfast on Thursday, we gathered together and shared our experiences with DFW. Taryn Walker, trip leader, also asked that we share an attribute we bring the group, and something we would like to work on personally while traveling in Inda. Details