This is my post on mydestination.com based out of London, England, UK
Elizabeth Kovar | June 24, 2013 | Reply
India, the beautiful and chaotic destination, is a country that one must experience to appreciate its culture and lifestyle. I started my journey with three weeks to backpack around the country.
After a minor bump in the road, getting scammed, I proceeded to explore the country with an open heart and a drained pocketbook. But that pocketbook still had enough money to start my trip off right in Jaipur, at Anokhi handicrafts. The Indian indulgences of tapestries, pillow covers, handbags, clothes and every woman’s favorite, jewellery, flooded my pack. The local post office wrapped my precious presents in newspaper, slapped a label on it and sent it off to America with high hopes that a ball of newspaper could make it safely to Ohio.
Proceeding to the Taj Mahal my eyes were stunned with beauty. The grand piece of architecture looked similar to a canvas painting. I could not tell if this was real or if the 42 degree weather created a desert oasis in my corneas.
Southern India impressed me the most; from mouth-watering dosas to friendly locals. As an American, I enjoyed the semi-western influenced Mumbai that was similar to a dirty New York City, with site-seeing and luxurious shopping. Goa is every liberal-hippie’s dream. From riding on motorcycle taxis to sunbathing at Baga beach, there were plenty of mangos and sun for every traveller. Life was alive before and after sunrise and sunset. From ocean shoreline morning walks to beach party evenings, there was no time to sleep in this Portuguese influenced town.
Bangalore presented life differently than the beach towns. Everyone dressed in suits and ties, this Silicon Valley was a place for a good cup of chai tea and lush botanical gardens.
No Indian experience is complete without studying yoga. I spent six weeks studying Ashtanga yoga at the Ayurveda Yoga Retreat and Hospital in Coonoor. I explored the mind and body like I never have before. Coonoor is part of the Nilgiri Hills where the air is pure and mountains are covered in green tea bushes. Visitors will not believe they are in India, but yes it’s not an optical illusion, but an untouched, pristine part of India that not many travellers visit. Each day, yogis and retreat guests were treated to magnificent Ayurvedic, vegetarian meals that were prepared with herbs and produced from the retreat’s organic garden.
My mind transformed into a lotus flower as my body turned into a pretzel. I was high on life and chai tea. India’s strong will educates travellers to live their dreams and passions. I found appreciation for the western culture (especially for the abundance of toilet paper in public toilets!). For those who travel to India, some people return home the same person. As for me, I returned home as an eastern westerner and waiting for the day that I can return to India to claim the piece of my heart that I left behind some time ago.