Monday, January 31, 2011

Oh my God! India!

Sunday, Jan 31, 5:00 am - wake up in London for cab pick up at 6 to go to airport.

9:30 - flight departs for Chennai. (11hrs)

midnight Chennai time - I see India for the first time with these eyes, from the plane window.  I think to myself, "I have done it.  I have seen India in this lifetime!"  Already, that is amazing.  I have not been able to sleep.  On the plane we have a choice of movies on personal screens - I get to watch Gandhi again, and it just keeps getting better.   I can't wait for India.

1am:  Touchdown in Chennai.  Moments later, I am officially in India!  Oh, my God!  I hang around the airport until 5:30 ish, drinking chai at the seedy restaurant.

Then... I am sucked out into the gut of Chennai.  The pollution is a thick fog that you can taste ( I can't believe I was critical of London.  It was nothing compared to this) and the noise of street traffic redefines cacophony.  I have to re-train my senses to learn that here the horn means "Just letting you know that I am here/ am passing you/ am driving on this side now/ am turning/ am making you see me in the dark" and not "Watch out, jerk!"  which I believe is it's American translation.  Oh, you also hae to learn not to look at traffic.  It'll just make you nervous.
I'm pretty sure that I got ripped off not on my first transaction in rupees,  but for sure in my second - I paid 150r for a auto-rickshaw to the bus stop about 2 minutes away.  The bus was 3.5 hours to to Tiruvanamalai (62r! - about $1.25) and I still felt like I was dreaming, since I never slept and was pretty tired.  It was a gross and beautiful ride out - covered in virtual soot, my nose and throat protesting the cloud of burning petrol and plastic that seems to permeate (not that there are any windows to stop it).  Not a single person on the bus spoke English.  They laughed at my shoes (Keen's with covered toes) but mostly ignored me. 

I can't stop thinking to myself, 'Oh my God!  Oh my God!  I am in India!  Oh my God!"

By 10:30 I had taken another rickshaw to the gates of Ramana Maharshi's ashram, where I will be staying for a week.  Again, 'Oh my God'

At this point, words fail me.  This is a dream come true.
The weather is perfect.  I am warm
I spent the day meditating, getting naps in my room, and hiking the sacred hill of Arunachala, seeing the caves where Ramana spent 20 years, collectively, in silent meditation.  It is the next day now, and I have been referred to the Tasty Cafe where they have good food and free internet.  But, I am eager to hike, to sit, to be alone, and to be still for a good long time.
Taken of me on Arunachala by a tour guide (who lives on the hill)

The tree from the cover of Robert Adams' book

View of Tiruvanamalai from the Hill

My enormous love to all of you.
Oh my God!  I am in India!  At Ramana's Ashram!  Oh my God!
My personal room on the grounds of the Ashram: I learn that this is incredible luxury for here - I am very lucky!


  1. Hey Robboe,
    Cool to see you've finally made it!
    It's been a balmy 18.5 degrees in the store, but I am maybe having a feeling it's warmer there.
    Look forward to seeing more of your adventures.
    Go safe, buddy.

  2. You bring tears to my eyes with your joy at being in India. Your heart-felt, soul-felt delight and reverent wonder at finally being in India is so evident. (Such sharp contrast, by the way, to what is going on today in Waterloo in the backdrop of its blizzard and mid-winter chill.) Ah, Rob – I look forward to future postings about this well-earned, clearly embraced adventure. Good energy to you. xoxo