The Intermittent, Irreverent, and Irrelevant Thoughts of an India-phile

04 Jan 2011 ::

It seems that once again I am hurled into the hurly-burly world of Asia, and India in particular. I have shared with you my occasional forays into the beguiling cultural experience that is India, and so, dear reader, I invite you to come along for the ride one more time.

This is the first time that I travel for work reasons or should I say as an unpaid volunteer. The origins of this trip are rooted in the last one: Karen and I met and befriended a delightful former monk, and yoga teacher, whom we fondly refer to as Swami-ji, as per his stature in the spiritual life of India. Somehow we got caught up in his helter-skelter life of teaching and empowering the impoverished of the world,  a non-stop whirlwind of a man full of passion for the less fortunate. So infectious is his spirit that I signed up to be a fund-raiser. It’s something I have been successful at doing for several decades, but this time for an altogether different purpose.

His visit with us in the summer – a wonderful six weeks of mutual nourishment – led to my desire to continue the work we had started. Somehow we will transform his one-man show into an organization that can continue in perpetuity. It already is a force to be reckoned with – spanning the globe with projects throughout South America to help street children, to schools, orphanages and vocational centers in India. It’s all brought together with his devotion to Kriya Yoga – the most ancient of all the yoga practices. I have to admit that something so disciplined has evaded my indolent life – never would I believe in, or practice, something that would so obviously be good for me. But we change – so now I am a budding yogi… or some such.

I had a yen to join Swami-ji’s 2011 annual pilgrimage to India, and his generosity was such that he extended an invitation to pay for my trip – I just had to get to India. So harnessing the awesome power of my credit card – which rewards my spending excess with Air Miles – I have managed to use these ephemeral points to get all the way to Bangkok . The theory is that I will jump a sampan, barge, ship, bus, donkey or even a plane to bridge the last few miles to the great sub-continent.