November 25, 2013
Last month I was in India, Japan + Singapore - I thought I’d share with you a little about my adventures.
The first stop: New Delhi, India, for the Global Spa & Wellness Summit.
After 33 hours of travel we arrived to the Delhi airport to find that our luggage had not arrived; our suitcases with everything we needed for the next three weeks were still in Singapore!
So after filling out paperwork at the baggage desk, we wondered if we would see it again. It’s India after all, which means adventure + unexpected surprises.
India is a magical place. Anything, literally anything can happen in India.
We arrived to our hotel at dawn and our hotel, The Trident, was totally unlike any of my other experiences in India. Supremely quiet, with subtle sweet incense burning everywhere, glass-like pools of water, blooming frangipani trees ... the perfect place to land after such long flights + no luggage. (Luckily, our luggage got delivered to us around midnight that night!)
A swim in the pool revitalized my jet-lagged bones, a ritual that I would indulge in everyday - wake up with a refreshing swim in the silky water with a poolside meditation, flocks of birds flying overhead & the pool reflecting the morning sky.
I spent the first six days in here Delhi for the conference, then traveled with Lisa to spend some time in Bodhgaya & Varanasi. We moved seamlessly from five-star hotels to dirt roads & chickens outside our windows.
Some of the highlights:
A Diwali-like festival at the Taj Hotel with traditional Indian food, decadent rose petal ice cream, live Rajastani music, exquisite arrays of rose + marigold flower offerings, huge firework displays in the night sky + Bollywood dancing. All of us women wore saris + the men wore long shirts called kurtas.
I love wearing a sari - 6 meters of layered velvety fabric with sparkling jewels or patterns - it makes you feel very graceful + elegant. It’s one of the most beautiful + classy ways for a woman to dress.
The secret to keep it from falling around your ankles is the tight-waisted “petticoat” underneath, a simple cotton draw-string underskirt that you tuck all the folds of fabric into. Add a pair of gold flip-flops + sparkling bangles around your wrists and you’re set.
At the end of the night I kicked of my shoes + danced until my legs ached. I couldn’t remember the last time I danced like that, shaking off all inhibitions + letting completely loose, laughing + enjoying friends.
On the third day of the conference, His Holiness the Dalai Lama came to talk. His words woke up insight, joy + compassion in everyone present, but it seemed less about the words + more about the immense energy that blasted the room - that is his presence. I could feel it moving through my legs as I sat quietly. His effect on the crowd is tangible - everyone smiling, laughing, tearing up.
When he finished his talk we snuck out to the hall in order to meet him on his way out + to offer a khata. A khata is a white silk offering scarf - it signifies offering your pure body, speech + mind. Usually it’s placed back around your shoulders, signifying being given back your enlightened body, speech + mind.
In a whirlwind His Holiness walked by, surrounded by body guards; he took the khata I held out + placed it back on my shoulders. As he walked by friends of mine he did the same or touched them affectionately on the cheek. We stood + watched silently as he walked down the hallway - it was as if time stopped + hung suspended in the air - tears came to my eyes, watching people swirling all around him, this sweet-looking simple monk in robes, his presence as big as a football stadium, blasting everyone with love in the most gentle way.
When the conference ended we were invited to a friend’s intimate wedding - they’re from NY, but decided on a whim to get married in India, Indian-style.
The hotel set up an incredible traditional wedding with piles of flower petals - part of the tradition is to shower the bride + groom with petals.
It was so intimate - with only about 6 guests + the hotel staff. I’ve never cried at a wedding before, but something about this one got me choked up. The rituals were so touching + I was filled with love + wishes for the couple.