March 11th, 2007

Hindu Disney, Auroville Vortex, & Westward

A very good week...

The full moon walk in Tiru was magical (and also my feet hurt).  When we came to the main road, we saw a thick stream of people, not strolling but kind of powerwalking.  Holy men & beggars lined the sides of the road.  The orange clad, dreadlocked sadhus were playing music, chanting, and clanking their cups for coins.  We started walking at 8PM and finished at about 1:30AM, including breaks for chai.

I left Tiru Sunday to meet folks at a guesthouse back in Auroville, potentially to travel onward with.  It was kind of a spontaneous decision, I wasn't sure about where I was staying (and quite unrealistically expected that it would be easy to find a room).  I arrived in Pondicherry after dark, and after a disappointing phonecall to the Auroville guesthous, I started walking through Pondy, stopping at each guesthouse along the street.  I walked for an hour and a half with my big pack on (if you lose your balance, you'll go down like a ton of bricks).  I walked through the part of town where liquor stores lined the streets.  It smelled like piss and all the men stared.  It was the first time I felt a bit of hate towards India.  No one was really bothering me and I've definitely been in way sketchier situations in the States; it was more hating not being familiar with my surroundings.  The only places that weren't full were the pricier hotels, and finally (at 10PM) I got a room a hotel where the waiters in the restaurant had bow ties (kinda pricy, but there was TV and hot water and I used the ceiling fan and the AC and got room service and lounged around naked and talked on the phone and in total it cost me less than $25 US.)  Posh living.  Watched The Three Amigos on TV (Hey McKenna, we could take a walk and you could kiss me on the veranda...)

I also stepped out to stroll around a bit (having found a room in a friendlier part of town.  I stumbled upon this sort of parade thing happening.  There were really brightly lit floats with deities surrounded by flowers.  It really reminded me on the floats at Disneyland, only instead of Mickey and Minnie waving, it was Brahmin priests performing puja and giving blessings, and instead of running on electricity, the floats were pulled by some Indian dudes.

The next day I returned to Auroville and met my folks at the guesthouse.  I was only planning to stay for two days but it ended up being six (I just left today).  It was super cushy living, and I was hanging out with an American/Irish/English crew and mostly forgot I was in India.  It's easy to get sucked in when so and so offers to teach yoga and the morning and someone else volunteers to teach qi gong in the evening.  Vedic astrology readings and energy meridian type massages were also floating around.  I had a reading by this amazing lady, and she told me a few things that really hit home...especially what she said about feeling alone in a group, having this split between crazy independence and really needing to be around people, which I've really felt a lot on this trip already.  I think I really just don't thrive in casual relationships, I prefer closeness and intensity and loyalty, which is not always possible, particularly when you're traveling.  In any case, I'm excited to be traveling on my own now, which is way preferable to being with others and feeling alone.  But this word 'alone' really comes up for me a lot, so I'll continue to figure that one out.

I got a bit sick on day four, with a temperature of 102.5!  So I stayed in bed for the entire day, which felt really needed.

Staying this week also gave me the chance to go see the Matrimandir in Auroville.  You can also Google this.  It is this big dome in the center of Auroville.  It looks like a giant golden golf ball, also comparable to the dome at Epcot Center in Disneyworld (What does it say when, instead of a themepark reminding you of life, life reminds you of a themepark?).  Anyways, it is supposed to be 'the soul of Auroville', and it's a very sacred, important site for people there.  It's a whole hassle to get an appointment, they make you wear special socks, and you have to be silent inside.  I was a bit skeptical, even as I entered inside.  Then I got to the inner chamber--really not easy to translate to words, but I'll try).  As soon as I got to the doorway, I felt a whoosh of energy (and also air conditioning--nice).  The room was low-lit, completely white, circular, with maybe eight pillars.  There were pillows to sit on.  And in the denter was a HUGE crystal ball with a ray of light passing through it from above.  It was otherworldly, really.  Everyone I talked to had a different comparison--I thought of the end scene in The Dark Crystal, when the Mystics and Skexies join and they become theose crazy lookin spiritual beings, someone else thought JRR Tolkien and Gandalf, someone else thought of blueprints transmitted from aliens.  Very mystical, very otherwordly, very beautiful.  The other thing about this place is that they only let you into the inner chamber for 10 minutes, then you have to leave.  Some people didn't like this, but I really did.  When the ten minutes was up, I had a good solid flash of how important it is to be in the moment.  For example, I had ten minutes in this exquisite place, and I will probably never go there again.  It helped me see how really important it is to be present.  

After a lovely spiritual moment, we all went out to stuff ourselves full of pizza, ice cream, and (it's true) some whiskey.  Pictures of the human pyramid will follow.  At any rate, it was a nice sendoff.

Today I took the bus and found that the Indian ladies were extra nice to me and the Indian men really didn't care.  I'm thinking maybe it's because I'm in the full on traditional dress.  This will be my new experiment.  So now I am at the train station and (!!) going on the train to Hampi.