today will go down in history as one of the most magical days of my entire life.
have you ever watched a movie and second-hand experienced the actor or actress’s pure elation? their complete existence in the moment? their uncontainable smile, their infectious laughter? that was me today, i lived my movie.
I began this morning at 8am with a glass of lemon honey ginger tea. My blood is pure coffee when i’m at home, and while i would never switch my allegiance from coffee to tea, this gave my usual cup of joe a run for its money.
A small group of us- kush, peyton, kaitlin, bridgette and myself- checked out of our hostel room and enjoyed breakfast at a german bakery. now i can’t confirm if the baked goods were actually german or not- I’ve never been to a german bakery- but i can confirm that i did consume three pastries and two coffees. the bakery overlooked the gange river, which made moving from our table a rather difficult task.
eventually, when our pants felt less tight, we began our routine walk through the rishikesh street market. along the way, kush and i stopped at a travel agency to book two seats for ethan and me on the train to dharamasala. With our hostel and our bus ride back to delhi booked, the train was the very last thing left to do. as most things in india do, nothing went as planned. the travel agent informed us that the train we had been planning to take had been canceled, and every other taxi, bus, and plane service was full. if we wanted to go to dharamasala, our next earliest option would have been late the next afternoon, and mind you, it was a 13 hour bus ride.
normal isn’t the norm here- you learn to go with the flow. rather than panic, i left to contact ethan and devise a new plan. after returning to the german bakery to take advantage of free wifi (you’re crazy not to), ethan and i decided it wouldn’t have been worth it to go to dharamasala because we would have had one full day there sandwiched between two 13 hour bus rides. it was decided that he would stay in rishikesh to study yoga at an ashram and i would return to delhi via bus with the rest of my group.
now because school was on holiday this week, my homestay family had left for vacation- aka i had nowhere i could stay officially. the program directors were absolute angels and offered me an extra room in their house, which i had essentially decided i would take.
once the travel chaos concluded, kush, peyton, kaitlyn, and I ventured further into the market and scouted out an art shop we had passed on our long walk to the beatles ashram the day before. classes were offered for 200 rupees an hour, and what better way to appreciate the indian artwork than to be taught the actual art itself.
the experience was tremendously incredible.
within the first five minutes of sprawling out on the floor and outlining our designs, kush realized that she had left her glasses in the hostel, meaning she could’t draw accurately. I offered to make the walk back to the hostel with her, but one of the two owners insisted that he take us by motorcycle. it did not take us much convincing, as we all silently envied the motorcyclists and their passengers. Before we knew it, we were amongst the many other cars and motorcycles navigating the old, narrow market streets.
Kush, who is like my Australian mom away from home on the trip, required that I take middle seat. feeling the cool air against our skin and seeing the bright colored merchandise from the storefronts blur together was dreamy. at this moment in time, even 10,000 horns couldn’t have bothered me. Sometimes the spaces between cars were so narrow that kush and i had to pin each other’s knees against the motorcycle in fear of losing some skin.
After retrieving kush’s glasses, we were kindly dropped off store front with cups of chia tea awaiting us. “I’ve outlined your borders for you!” the other owner remarked, handing us the beginnings of our paintings. I’ve said it many times before, and i’ll say it many times again- the people in india have hearts of gold.
one reminder we were given hit me hard- “if you don’t see the big picture first, you’ll never properly execute the little details.” How true is that, both in art and in life? For me especially, it rings true in my travels. We must stop stressing over the insignificant parts and instead give our full mind and soul to the bigger picture. that’s when the magic happens.
fast forward two hours, and all sense of time had escaped the four of us. we had finally grasped the intricate technique and couldn’t pull ourselves away from our work. soft meditative music hummed in the background and a gentle breeze kept us comfortable. we were lost in the art, in the culture, and in the beauty of the moment.
after saying our final goodbyes to our precious teachers, we sprinted back to the german cafe, as we were thirty (innocent) minutes late to meet some of our group. Again, i sat by the balcony and found myself captivated by the beauty of the mountains around me and the river below me. when i tell you rishikesh is something special, i truly mean it. there i stayed, in such awe of the beautiful world around me that i sat there for the rest of the afternoon. I phoned my parents to wish my dad a happy birthday- it felt so fitting doing so in a place that my dad would have loved. I wrote some on my laptop. i made new friends. i even managed to pull myself away from the bakery just long enough to do some shopping.
in no time at all, it was time to head back across the suspension bridge that we arrived through and catch our bus. rather than take 10 peoples worth of tuktuks, we hired taxis to whisk us away from paradise and back to the real world. My sweet friend birdgette and i were able to book an ultra luxurious bus back to delhi for a fraction more than the bus the rest of the group was assigned. Although our bus left 15 minutes later than the other bus, i didn’t mind one bit because we made quick friends with a 21 year old from the heart of delhi and her parents. we hit if off so well that we’re now Facebook friends and i’ve been officially invited to her wedding in the upcoming year. emphasis on the getting invited to an indian wedding in india part. >>indian wedding<<.
ah, goals… i’ll take bets on the odds of me actually attending it on a future date.
on a completely unrelated side note, i heard a cow have a coughing fit while waiting for my bus, except i had no clue it was a cow having a coughing fit. it was the most atrocious thing I’ve ever heard. take note: never subject yourself to a cow having a coughing fit. trust me on this one.
By the time bridg and i boarded the bus, i was able to get back in touch with my parents and hear their sweet voices. I miss my family so much. I’m so lucky to have found a family here with the other volunteers, but i can hardly wait for the day i get to wrap my arms around mom, dad, and sg.
bridg and i sat like royalty in the front row, talking away in the night ride. she’s in grad school studying nutrition, and wants to be a clinical nutritionist (aka work with patients with eating disorders, aka me when i was 15 and 16). conversation went everywhere, and before we knew it, we had planned a trip to goa (southern indian beaches), and resolved to take a tuktuk straight from the bus to the airport. how’s that for spontaneous travel?
so here i am, sitting with my boarding pass to goa. one more thing to check off my bucket list- ultra spontaneous vacation