• Evelyn Roberts

Hampi then Homeward

2011

Sitting on yet another Indian train watching an amazing colourful world go by ... bliss, and my broadband thingamejig works. Chugging into the heart of the East while chatting with the West. And here come that guy with chai and chicken lollipops (not kidding), finally figured out they are drumsticks.

Hampi is named after a goddess, an astonishing ancient city (26 square miles) with a rich and fascinating history, phenomenal rock formations, wonderful colourful village, waterfalls, lake for swimming. Located in Karnataka state, south central India. As quoted in a great book I just read (but there have been so many I don't remember which one); "I have been astonished into silence".

The highlight of my first day was being blessed by Laxmi the elephant, her trunk on the top of my head made my heart pop.

Watched Laxmi have her morning bath and "make-up" applied, precious beyond words.

Meandered through the village letting life take me where it would; it obliged me well and took me straight to Swati, a woman who took a similar journey as me as an independent, single mother of two. Far from voluntary on her part, and against such phenomenal odds in a society where everything is stacked against you. All that I faced pales to invisible in comparison to what she bore; new sister, tangible new perspective and a lot of smiling.

Hung out with my favourite kid here, Vikas (16); adopted him when he carried my suitcase up a huge flight of stairs, and tomorrow I've hired him for his 1st job as a guide. The very worst we can do is get lost.

All-night train to Bangalore tomorrow night, and then to meet our very own Neeti Ray on Monday.

There are 8 French people in the bungalow next to me; all chain-smoking and every one of them having quite violent coughing fits. I wonder if there is a connection? If I stay downwind from them much longer I will involuntarily lose my longstanding non-smoker status (in all categories).

Spent yesterday (before the night train to Bangalore) visiting the temples on the other side of he river (Kiskinda area) with Vikas and Manoj (rickshaw driver) ... my new Karnataka family.

The 1,000 year old Temple of Hanuman is supposedly on the site of his actual birthplace, and on the top of a hill up a rather steep 600 steps, and swarming with monkeys, of course. The priest there, Baba, was friendly and kind (gave us chai), and full of wonderful Hanuman wisdoms. I loved it up there so much, this may well be my personal Indian god. He loves red and yellow, and burnt his mouth because he thought the sun was a piece of fruit, and for some odd reason I can relate to this. He's very Mercurial and I've been having talks with Neeti about the Indian Gods and their possible correspondences with those of the Greeks, Romans and our own Astrology.

Then the Laxmi Temple - with the largest, most beautiful lotus pond I have ever seen.

Durga Temple was next, where all the local "lads' wanted their photos taken; and then we crawled over rocks and through caves to the "Cobra House", if not for my two intrepid enthusiastic buddies nothing could have dragged me there, but it was actually very cool. It is a very old underground completely natural temple, where Pujas are held, and apparently where a three headed cobra was once seen. Didn't see an actual cobra (and thank heavens especially not a multiple headed one). I do however have two (sadly crumbling) cobra skins in my suitcase that we found around there. It was certainly one of the most cautious crawling/clambering treks I've ever taken.

Went out on the lake on a coracle boat, and the oarsman showed us how he can spin it like a top, kind of fun (until the dizzies started). Watched the young and bold Vikas jump off rocks.

Said farewell to my new little family there, caught the train, and here I am now in Bangalore with Neeti and her husband.

A young man (about 18) traveling with his father on the train was really friendly and wanted to know all about my travels, so we talked for a while, and then as I was about to go to sleep he "knocked" on my curtain and asked if I was on Facebook. I had to laugh, it really is quite amazing what has been created on there. And yes, of course, “Hi, Sai, most happy to be friends”.

I, definitely positively without a doubt claim the "Total Ditz Award" for today March 1st, 2011. 12:20 am is NOT after noon - I missed my flight. Luckily rebooked for tonight, patient friends notwithstanding.

I'm blaming that Neptune square Mercury again; this is not the 1st time this has happened. An embarrassing confession.

On missing my flight this morning, I was informed I would have to pay $440 for a new ticket. Grrrrr, I thought, but them's the breaks, so grin and bear it. I am now about to board after the ever so polite airline rep informing me ... "I'm sorry Madame we have to charge you an extra 500 rupees (about $13) to change the ticket". A far cry from $440, and I'm now smiling.

Today is Tawur Kesanga (payment to the devil), tonight all over Bali there are monster images which will be taken to crossroads and burned.

Then tomorrow Nyepi, best day in the year; the world goes silent, no flights, no cars, no going out, with the intention of bringing peace and harmony back to the world. Oh, that the whole world could join in just once.

Living Archetypes; the evocation and destruction of the demons; after weeks of creating these incredible Ogo Ogo figures, they were raucously and loudly carried to the 4 corners of the village, then symbolically burned. Much arak drinking, gamelan, fire-breathing and general mayhem. You can still hear the revelry and fireworks in the village.

Tomorrow silence, the negative forces will believe no-one is here and go away, and the positive ones can peacefully re-enter

Tomorrow we have our first arrivals for the 13th Heaven and Earth Workshops event in Bali.

Astrological bliss just 3 rice fields away from my own little house.

My heart breaks and my blood oils watching a local rice farmer walk barefoot through his field tossing chemicals with his bare hands. Barely older than me, bent over and eaten up with arthritis or worse, he naively walks and breaths in a chemical stew he has been convinced will improve his yield and hence his, (their), prosperity. Monsanto and company - you are the devil.

Michael Lutin, our brilliant and hilarious astrology speaker, was just handed his very first mangosteen; his response: "sounds like a Jewish mango”.

Workshop ended; amazing week, but at the same time it was like being in a magical cocoon with a tiny window ... we all peeked out and watched the world so completely change as we ourselves basked and learned in both a literal and astrological Paradise.

Surreal.

Now California in 9 days.

Got that 3:00 am sleepless restless ticking brain preparing to leap back across the Pacific. Musing on the levels of comfort found in various relationships throughout life, the spectrum truly ranges from "barbed wire" to "down comforter"; lucky me off do see my extra plumped, fluffy goose feather Sisters in California.

My feet have become rebels; they flatly (pun intended) refuse to be put into anything remotely uncomfortable or inhibiting. I keep trying to coax/bribe them with reflexology and pedicures; but they reflexively and instantly kick off anything they don't like. I'm slightly mourning my strappy, impractical but oh so fun and sexy heels etc; the poor things are becoming lonely relics that I occasionally look at and sigh.

Last tropical storm for a while; I want to turn myself into a sponge and soak it all up so I can sip on it later.


Hong Kong airport: what a delight to be in such human friendly super comfortable airport again, like a giant crossroads on the planet (great people watching), caviar bar next to McDonalds, lots of ads indicating "it's our turn now" (for Asia in general), they may well be right.