India was a place I always told myself I wanted to go, but year after year it got pushed around, forced to the back burner by the priorities of life. When my girlfriend came to me and said, I want to study Yoga in Mysore I knew this was our chance. Within days we walked into the travel agency and purchased our tickets, 6 months before our departure date.
The truth is, if we didn’t book them early, we may never have, and then another year would pass us by. It was the first time in my life that I felt as though I could commit to something that far in advance and let me tell you from experience, it felt wonderful.
When I look at some of my most productive friends, they are always making plans ahead of time, good plans, interesting plans and they stick to them. Me, I’m more of a day by day, week by week kinda guy, so I’m glad I had the forethought (and the partner) to recognize my weaknesses. And now here I am, in India, finally.
From the plane, Bangalore looked a lot like any other city – an ocean of lights stretching beyond the horizon – but after we landed and the doors opened, I knew we were somewhere unique. A security check followed by customs check, left us standing by our luggage. We booked a hotel and walked out of the airport, stepping into India for the first time. The smells were so thick I could taste it on my tongue, breathing it in heavily and then spitting it back out on the streets. It took some time to get used to.
The culture shock was enough to keep me awake for the first three days.The Delhi Belly I picked up has since gone into dormancy, so I was feeling pretty good. Hampi is the place to be if you like to Boulder.They got temples here from 3000 years ago, of course they are overrun with monkey bastards; they are worth the visit all on their own. Across the muddy river you will find a place called Goan Corner, this has been my home for nearly three weeks, climbing, resting, writing, reading and eating. Not a lot going on, some mini adventures here and there, like the time a monkey stole my clothes, or when the Rickshaw driver left us an hour and a half walk from town because of a dispute, or maybe the time I avoided getting mugged, or swimming up at the lake, which may or may not have crocodiles, (nobody can say for certain). But all that aside, it’s climbing, breathing and taking it all in. Being comfortable with a change of pace, dreaming about that one move you just know you can stick if you dug a little deeper and taking the time to get to know new people, world travelers. Stretching is pretty important here as well, the yoga feels good, it’s so warm here that your muscles are always bendy and you will want to take advantage of that with some Ashtanga, about an hour per day. It’s a good chance to let the blisters on your fingertips heal.
Last week I went to Mysore for a break. My girlfriend Lydia and I rented a scooter. They don’t look like much and I never imagined I would climb aboard one of these dainty machines as motorcycles always carried more manhood. But alas, there I was cruising through town and beeping my horn. The Indians use their horn for every single thing.Horns for turning, horns for passing, horns for stopping, horns for looking, horns for gliding. It can be a little much in a city of 4 million people with streets packed tightly bumper to bumper and tire to tire. But I was able to make sense of the driving techniques and after a few blocks felt quite confident on the roads. What threw me off (and I never did get used to) was seeing cows roaming the streets, walking through intersections as though it was an open field, goats too, pigs and chickens, everywhere, and all of them eating garbage. The mayhem is hard to freeze. There is so much happening it’s impossible to capture it all in words or even in a photograph, it must be lived.
Now back in Hampi, things are much slower. You can walk or ride a bicycle pretty much anywhere you need to go, but the begging is still relentless. Today, I need to go climbing. My friend Paul and I are hitting up the double arête, a classic line of nearly perfect proportions. Next week we are off to Badami, a crazy, dirty little town of unlimited sandstone and then on to Goa for a swim in the ocean. I feel as though I am at a theme park sometimes, a carnival of sorts with roller coasters and spinning contraptions. I paid my money for my ticket, boarded the plane and stepped into the ride of a lifetime. It’s been 6 weeks since arriving in India and we have four more to go. All I can do is smile and hold on tight.