My friend, Yeardley Williams wrote this. She was on the trip to India with us. She said it better that I could, so I asked her if I could send it to you. I posted a group of favorite pics on my blog, which can be accessed below. I am home and ready to work!
“I have just returned from an incredible 3 weeks in India, touring the palaces and forts of Rajasthan, going on tiger, wild game and bird safaris in 5 different national parks, cruising the Ganges at sunrise and sunset, participating in a Hindu Puja or prayer ceremony, visiting ancient temples, and seeing the truly beautiful and amazing Taj Mahal, again at sunrise and sunset. India is an overwhelming awakening of all one’s senses and an education in ancient history and how it survives today on the subcontinent. It is a complex country and must be taken as a whole while pondering the individual parts. We stayed in 5 star hotels and jungle lodges even while immersing ourselves in the life of the cities, national parks and countryside. Below are some impressions that are still with me:
What I will miss about India:
Being bowed to every morning and bowing back – the respect for life and all living things; the graciousness, good will, curiosity and big smiles of the Indian people; contentment combined with energy; an amazing diversity of interesting faces.
Beauty – of the countryside and the national parks; the elegance and beauty of women in colorful saris, vermillion parts, bindis, bangles and gold jewelry; colorful turbans of the men; the richness of textiles; the ornamentation and embellishment of temples and palaces with jewels, glass, mirrors, tiles; lusciousness of fruit and vegetable stands; marigolds, roses and dahlias; silk merchants in ancient alleyways marketing sumptuous fabrics; patterns, textures and color everywhere.
The vibrant history, culture and art of the subcontinent – learning about ancient cultures like the Mauryan, Gupta, Chandela and Mughul empires and the British Raj.
Diversity and intricacy of Hindu, Arab, and Indo-Asian architecture from palaces and forts of Rajasthan to the temples at Khajuraho to the Taj Mahal.
Learning about the interesting beliefs, religious practice and mythology of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
Marveling at the chaos of cows, dogs, camels, buffalo in the middle of the streets sharing space with cars, colorful decorated trucks, camel carts, auto rickshaws, people powered rickshaws, horse carriages and many, many busy pedestrians.
Natural world and wildlife – seeing 6 of the 1200 remaining tigers in the wild, a leopard, jackals, sloth bear, wild boar, langurs, deer and antelope like chital, sambar, nilgai, blackbuck, barking deer and swamp deer, crocodiles, and an amazing array of colorful and rare birds too numerous to name. Tracking a tiger on elephant back. Learning to identify alarm calls when a predator is approaching. Driving through teak forests, sal forests, banyan and ghost trees.
Our incredible guides and naturalists who were so knowledgeable and eager to share their love of their country – its wildlife, history and traditions.
A strong sense of the spiritual which undergirds and grounds everything. I don’t think it is possible not to be touched by the Indian desire and hope for truth, peace and enlightenment and a release from the chaos and cravings of the world. The sacredness and connection of all living things are palpable.
In summary, this is a marvelous destination for the adventurous of mind and heart. I highly recommend it!”