The Traveling Yogini

Just a few observations from Day 1

Day 1: New York-Delhi-Rishikesh

The Scene
The Delhi airport was definitely a pleasant surprise.  I walked out of the plane and through the gate and it looked like I was back in New York.  No offense to JFK, LGA or Newark, this airport was much more impressive.  Completely immaculate, brightly lit and so quiet.  After traveling for 14 hours, I found it refreshing to have a small taste of a silent sanctuary.
Giant  hands showing different mudras are prominently displaced to welcome you into the country.  Customs check were quick and easy.  And after connecting with fellow retreat goers and our driver, we were on our way for an overnight car ride to Rishi.
And finally, the traffic! Whether its a small tut tut, a moped carrying 3 people without helmets or a giant truck that resembled a transformer, it is all a complete cluster fuck.  There are no definitive lanes so there is so much honking and swerving between vehicles.  They cut in front of each other, drive on the wrong-wrong side of the road and come so close to each other I think we’re about to get slammed…just complete madness! My father would have a heart attack if he saw traffic like this.  (Don’t worry dad…I’m not driving). My favorite part? The transformer truck! They are like monster trucks adorned with black lights, tassels, graffiti art, painted deities and fun colors.  I’ll try to get a pic to share soon.
The Smell
Upon leaving the airport, I felt a cool breeze and smelled a hint of burning trash and what I thought to be the sweet smell of cardamom.  My friend Tom already warned me about the smell of burning trash and how he, oddly enough, actually missed it.  So, to be honest, I found it rather comforting.  I had a glimpse of what Tom’s experience was like and somehow it drew me into India a bit quicker.  Still, from all the other stories I read and heard…I knew that pleasant aroma would not last long.
Soon enough, once we were in the heart of Delhi bustling in and out of traffic, I caught the waft of other unpleasantries. My retreat mates covered their faces with scarves and scowled at the stench. It must be a mixture of trash, urine, pollution and who knows what else.  I really rather not know.  The smell has followed us on our way up to Rishikesh tonight, obviously worse in the areas that resemble slums and easy to avoid when we are moving quickly.  I’m so glad we retreat to the mountains first.  Perhaps there will be more fresh clean air up there….wishful thinking.
The Svadhyaya
In Hinduism, Sanskrit & Yoga, Svadhyaya is the study of the self or self reflection.  For me, this blog will be a personal account of my time away and a way for me to share myself with those who will read it.
Here is my satya, or my truth, and full intention for this journey.
In India, I want to drink chai, eat dahl, saag and roti, practice yoga and smoke charras.  I want to learn more Sanskrit, study more philosophy and share these gifts with my students.  I want to see all different parts of this country and I want to revel in the beauty of it all.
In Thailand, I want to ride an elephant, go scuba diving and explore historic temples.
I want to eat something only Anthony Bourdain can find.
And in Cambodia, Laos & Tokyo, I plan to do the same.
A few years ago, I went on a 5 month journey to study abroad in Europe. I went to study, to experience culture, art and a wonderful “vida en Espana.” Unbeknownst to me, I also went to fall in love for the first time.
On this journey, I’d like to fall in love again but rather intend to fall in love with these countries, with the cultures and with myself.  I am so privileged, humbled and thankful that I am fortunate enough to go on an exploration like this.  After finishing business school, teaching yoga full time, hustling and being constantly on the move, I hope this trip will provide me the ability to listen and learn how to best take care of me.  I am ready to be broken wide open and find clarity for myself on this journey of life.
Thanks for reading!  Stay tuned for more!
With love and gratitude,
Denelle
P.S. I wrote this blog on the 8 hour overnight drive from Delhi to Rishikesh.  Here’s the view from Hotel Nirvana.  Namaste!
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