Reverse culture shock is a real thing, and I experience it every time I see a clean western washroom. I experienced it the first time after 6 weeks in Rishikesh still. We went to the Dewa Retreat for dinner. This is a moderately posh hotel, somewhat unheard of in what I remember from my last visit to this holy city. We had finished ordering from the wide selection on their menu (any selection would be wide after ashram dining) and I thought it might be nice to wash my hands before we eat. I had been out on the town all day, who knows how much sh*t (literally) I had on my hands. I ask the waiter for directions and make my way through the door. The smell that hit me when I walked in! Can you guess what I smelled? Nothing. There was no smell of street cow poop, no smell of lack lustre Indian plumbing, and no smell of over abundant perfume attempting to cover up any smells. The toilet flushed. The luxurious liquid hand soap smelled of fresh clean mint. And there were paper towels to dry my hands. I didn’t have to use my obviously filthy clothing to dry them off. As I exited, I wondered if I should come back the next morning to give myself a bath in the sink. I opted not for fear I would look too desperate.
Traveling really helps me remember how good I have it here in Canada. The freedom. The cleanliness. The space. India really is a magical place. They have a different way of looking at life. There’s no rush (although the constant car honking may make it sound otherwise). The people there get things done in one or two Indian minute (which can be 1-1000 realtime minutes). Many of them have much less than we do and manage to keep a smile on their face and a much more wholesome outlook on life. I think some of it may have rubbed off on me and I hope to hold onto it for a while.
I would like to send my gratitude to those who made this experience possible and positive.
My partner who held down the fort at home and was there on the other side of the phone line to listen to me. Thank you my Mattmatt. You got to hear the big, the bad, and the ugly while I kept my brave face on for my colleagues at the ashram and here on my blog. It wasn’t all roses and butterflies through the training and you listened. You are the most amazing man I have ever met. Plus, you kept the house standing and got rid of the man musk and tuna can smell before I got home :p
My mother for being more supportive than I have ever felt from her. She has always told me how great I am and how proud she is of me, but never has she seemed so positively interested in my travels. Her go to behavior is to worry, as mothers do, but this time, though I’m sure she worried, she amplified her interest in the experience rather than the “what ifs”. She was able to be present, right there in the moment with me. She’s a little yogini and she doesn’t even know it. You don’t need a yoga mat to live your yoga. Thank you mommy.
My father for being able to share in my adventure through long distance phone calls and for his generous support. The yoga family wishes you had been there with me but we all understood you had other things to take care of back home. It was strange not to have you with me during this yoga adventure. It was really my first yoga adventure away from home without you.
My “in-laws” for being the best puppy grandparents Oscar could wish for and taking him in when Matt got too busy at work. I wonder if maybe Oscar is disappointed I’m home. The wonderful long walks at Blackburn will happen much less often now that he’s back to his downtown living.
To my friends back home for keeping in touch with me through sporadic internet connection. Your long-distance support was invaluable to me. I am a friendly social introvert who struggles with making friends. I spent my first two weeks locked up in my ashram room (with an amazingly understanding roommate – best roommate award!) to help me ground down and get used to my new environment. Having you guys to listen to my days helped me more than you know, it would have been real lonely without my besties.
To my understanding students, letting me leave for 2 months. For the fantastic substitute teachers who held down the fort. To everyone who showed their support in their own way.
Things I’ll miss about India:
– The amazing people I’ve met… because I did finally open up and make true friendships
– The banana samosas, the upama, and the masala chai (recipe blog to follow!)
– Yoga at arms reach… Oh wait, I’ve got that covered!
– Dairy products that I can digest
Things I won’t miss about India:
– The honking cars… I love silence
– The eye gazing… I can do without those transformational experiences
– Randomly crying… that’s still not out of my system. I find my eyes leaking when I get my hair washed at the salon or when I’m asked what I want to eat on the plane.
– The smell of cow poop
It was a terrific adventure filled with learning, new friendships, yoga galore, time with my teachers. It was fun, it was boring, it was long, it was short, it was emotional, it was cleansing, it was dirty, it was. It simply was. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I loved every part of it. I even loved the parts I hated. I’m so happy to be home.
Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! I look forward to seeing you on (and off) your mat in the Happiest of New Year!
I’d like to close this adventure blog with the same way I opened it, because it’s always time for yoga.
Atha-yoga-anusasanam – Here, now, is the teaching of yoga (Yoga Sutra 1.1)