Lola Bites Back: And Other Inspirational Tidbits

Location: Bissingen an der Teck, Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany

Laughing all the way...

Monday, December 31, 2007

New year, new learning opportunities…

Last night I dreamt I was in the ocean. I was wearing glasses and watching a huge wave coming toward me. I quickly removed my glasses, took a deep breath and prepared to dive under the wave…but the wave didn’t come, so I took another breath, and then another, ready for the wave to crash over me at any moment…but when I opened my eyes, there were no huge waves. Only little ones and very far away.

It's a perfect metaphor for the uselessness of worry.

At the moment we’re in a nice, modern Indian city called Udupi, in South Karnataka. We came here so I could go to hospital…my eye infection has proven to be a stubborn beast, but I’ve just come from the doctor and the news is good, I think. He told me it was nothing, that all I need to do is put hot water on it three times a day and within a month it will go. So the wave is not so big after all..

Tonight the plan is to camp and cook fish on the beach, and tomorrow we’ll head back to Gokarna where I’ll spend some days of relaxation (yogasana and sunbathing) in mental and physical preparation for the journey back to Delhi. I’m a little nervous about the cold but, well, I’m turning out to be pretty adaptable.

I offer to you all my best wishes for a wonderful new year. May it be a year of new experiences, new learning, new opportunities… It’s never too late to change direction, and the changing year is a good time to take stock.

Am I content? Am I the person I need to be? Am I living up to my potential? These questions are forefront in my own mind. I am far from perfect, but as a first-year student at the University of Mother India I am only beginning my education, which means I can have patience with myself. In time all things will come.

“Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu” "May all be happy in this world and may all have good health"

All my love and best wishes for a safe and peaceful holiday,



Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Going Off The Radar..

Until the 4th or so, maybe a little more. We've finally rented a motorbike and tomorrow I take a change of clothes and a toothbrush and off we go..first stop, Jog Falls, a waterfall on the map. After that? No Program!! Aha ha hah aahahahahah!!!

One thing we are hoping for is to see the Dalai Lama on the 3rd for some teaching in Mundagod (Karnataka). It seems like the perfect way to start off the new year...

All my love and best wishes for the New Year,
until soon,

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in Paradise

Internet constraints make me a bit out of touch. I apologize, but assure you that the Christmas spirit is pumping through my veins in the last days and with a smile I am thinking much about my family and friends and sending love and wishes of peace and health to all..

I realized in the last days that Christmas - as well as the other major holidays in December of the major world religions - is a reminder that we need to seek the spiritual path in life. It may sound cliche, but to my ears it is the simple truth. There is no higher pursuit than to strive for the ideals set forth by all the major prophets of the world, including Jesus. Compassion, love, tolerance, patience...I may sometimes forget these ideals and lose sight of the greater purpose in my life, but slowly slowly I seem to keep moving forward. And this is why I'm here, right?

Gokarna is a holy place and I am fortunate to land here for the holiday season. I've been practicing yogasana and swimming daily. Yesterday saw the full power of the full moon; a magical, mystical, full-light miracle of nature. Unfortunately I've been pumping myself full of antibiotics in the last week, in the hopes that I can stamp out this eye infection once and for all. Which means that sun bathing is strictly off-limits. But I am eating extraordinarily well (great, cheap, fresh Indian and western foods available plus all the masses of fresh, sweet delicious papayas, pineapples, oranges, bananas, dates, and lemons you can dream up) and quite relaxed, taking everything in stride.

Gokarna is a family place, a place for you to spend your holiday, a place that feels like home and attracts many long-term travellers. I can easily imagine spending a long time in this place and am looking forward to the opportunity. For now a one week motorbike trip around the area looks to be in the cards, but I'll keep you posted.

with all my love
and all my wishes for a peaceful and loving holiday season

PS: I know many of you are immersed in the commercial chaos of the Established West, a scary labyrinth of hectic schedules, televisions, chemical foods and prescription heart goes out to you, as I myself consistently failed to get through the holidays without an annual nervous breakdown. I can say only that maybe it helps to remember all the blessings we have. With a little faith that a little determination we can all find the peace and health we are meant to and deserve to enjoy in this's only a matter of time if you really want it.

PPS: Oh, and the liver flush...didn't happen, not while I'm taking mass antibiotics at least. But stay tuned on that one.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Urine Therapy is for Everyone!

Gokarna has a wonderful feel to it and it's the first time I feel no antagonism or cynicism that poisons so many incredible places on the tourist circuit. It's a small dusty town that looks to me like it could be a film set for an old western. There is a nice mix of western tourists (hedonistic beach bums, yoga people, western babas, Indian babas, Indian pilgrims, Indian tourists) and local peoples, who are mostly Brahmins - the highest caste in India and the caste of the priests. The feeling here is one of peaceful coexistence. Even the ocassionally overzealous rickshaw walla can't spoil it.

I have everything I need here. A holy water spring, a room near the ocean for 50 rupees a night and plenty of delicious Indian food: 25 rupees for the best thali I ever had and 12 rupees for the best masala dosa. What more could I possibly need?

The Arabian Sea is another wonder to behold. While it's true that God is in all things, it is especially true (for me at least) for vast bodies of water, so the awe-inspiring view of the coastline from the rocky cliffsides comes as no surprise. Yesterday I sat on the cliffs and chanted mantra as the sun set and the wind grew. Not one person crossed my path in the two hours I was there. It was like another small rebirth for my soul; a reminder that I carry God within me at all times and that even though I may veer off the path at times, the path can never be lost.

Fred has gone to Bangalore to catch his flight home on Monday and for the next few days at least, I am once again alone. We had a great trip, from Mysore to Bangalore to Hampi and finally Gokarna; it was one month but it felt like much less. But I admit it feels good to be on my own again, free to follow my intuition, practice silence and challenge myself in the creatively painful ways I love.

The hillsides that form the cliffs over the water are my favorite vista here so far. The cliffs seem to be made of black volcanic rock, mixed with red soil and bright golden yellow grass blowing in the breeze and I feel a bit like Julie Andrews to roam around them. Yesterday we visited the local baba who lives in a cave marked by a small white flag on the hillside. He examined me (squeezing my hands and wrists, checking my tounge, ears and feet) and told me there was "no power." He told me to eat vitamins, chant mantra, and - perhaps most important - to wash myself. He then performed a puja for me, wrapping a blue yarn and orange thread intricately around my left wrist while chanting mantra. It was an intense environment and everyone felt the need to keep silent. After my examination I had to leave the cave for a few moments for some air.

I have found here a connection back to my days in Rishikesh. I am feeling much more aware of my health (and lack of it) and the need to take better, more regimented care of my body. Each time I meet a holy person and each time I have an examination, I am told by the practicioner that I that I lack strength. In addition to this, I feel the truth of this intuitively. I also know what I can do to change it, but the healing process will take time and patience and apparently I have not yet evolved enough to accept the challenge directly...

That's why God sends me people like Carlos, my neighbor and the soul who first welcomed me to Gokarna. Yesterday I asked him to recommend me a doctor - as my eye infection has not gone away and it's been more than a month and my eyelashes have fallen out and I'm getting a bit impatient with the whole thing - but he suggested I apply urine instead. Now, I already know that your own personal urine is a wonder drug, and it's the destiny of us all to begin using it for its curative properties. You don't have to agree with me, but someday everyone will appreciate the restorative powers of urine. I have known about this for some time but have ignored it for obvious reasons. Urine is stinky and I don't want to drink it or apply it to my skin any more than you do. But I've also known that the day would come when I would have to get over my revolsion, and that day has arrived.

One thing I can say about urine therapy is that it gets you to pay close attention to what you are eating and drinking. A well-hydrated body eating a balanced mix of fresh foods will have pleasant urine. If you are drinking your urine or applying it to your eyes or skin, this will become important to you and you will want to drink another glass (or six or seven) of water each day. Mmmmm..water. Convential wisdom (among natural health practicioners at least) is to cut out dairy and eggs as well as sugar and coffee or tea. No problem, eh?

Speaking of water..did I mention the soft, warm, gloriously salty sea water? It's like a giant bathtub - God's bathtub - where you can float effortlessly for hours disinfecting yourself of toxic western mind programming. God is Great indeed.

Working out the karma, step by step

The other day Fred and I set out to walk the three or maybe four kilometers to town along the beach. Just after we set out, my chapal broke (flip flops I bought in 1997) and I found it my own personal karma to have to walk without them along the volcanic rocks. It was real pain, but there was nothing to be done, so I just tried to tune it out. Toward the end of the hour long walk I was getting anxious to have my chapal fixed. Yes, anxious. The next days I limped while my foot healed up a bit. I think it was an important experience for me and I'm glad it happened, though I can't say much more about it.

Tomorrow I am planning a liver flush. It will require a modified diet (no fat) with no food or water after 2. then a series of salt water drinks followed by a half cup of olive oil and immediate sleep. The salt opens up the channels running through the liver and the oil eases out the small stones that block them. Next morning I will examine my loose stools and count the stones. They come in five colours. I am hoping to pass at least seven.

Okay, enough blahhhhh for now...there's a glorious beach and sunset to behold and I still need to fill up at the holy spring (a hippo's head) before I settle in with my flute!

Before I sign out, I must say happy Birthday to my favorite nephew! I look forward to the day when I can get to know him. In the meantime, here's to a wonderful holiday season! A time to remember and appreciate the family and friends we are blessed with.
Thank you and God bless you all,
until next time,

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Let the Adventures Begin!

The passage of time is a fascinating experience here in Mother India. It has two equally powerful aspects; on the one hand it flies by and on the other it lasts forever. Was it really only one year ago that we moved out of our flat in DC? Because it seems like three or four, and I've certainly got enough stories to last a lifetime. Something tells me that the adventure is only beginning..

It's SO GREAT to be 30!

My two weeks in Hampi flew by, but they were packed with adventure. Rocks and temples and monkeys..oh my..this morning I said goodbye as we crossed the river in a boat at sunrise. What a life! From there it was a rickshaw, a train, another rickshaw, a bus, another bus, and finally, a long walk in the dark to the last guest house on the beach where I was greeted warmly by Carlos and Elena and shown to a tiny room with a straw mat and a cockroach. Elena took me out on her motorbike and dropped me at an Indian restaurant where I enjoyed a wonderful dosa (lentil pancake thing with coconut chutney and veg sambar) and a coffee for 15 rupees. Oh's a good life. I am filthy and exhausted, but my day of travel was mostly uneventful (a good thing) and I am quite sure that my many guardian angels were watching over me.

Tomorrow morning I will set out on a 9 km walk to find Fred. He's in a hut on the beach somewhere but it's too dark at the moment for me to find him now. He will be heading stateside next week after which my German friend will join me and we will head south to Kerala (aka God's Country!). Also I am starting to think that I can maybe make my way back to those islands before I return to Delhi..but it's a long shot and only God knows for sure.

In other developments, Fred has convinced me that my summer will be best spent in Germany, where it is legal for Americans to work (Eureka!). I must admit that the thought of spending another monsoon out here does not thrill me anymore. And for some reason I've met loads of Germans this year, so finding places to stay should be no problem. In which case, it will be essential for me to continue my study of Yoga and yogasana in Rishikesh after my holiday in the south concludes. And it means I will finally have the chance to visit the Swiss Contingent (Congratulations on your Ph.D.!) and her new French amor, as well as a possible meeting with my dear Vince in Berlin, aka the greatest and cheapest city in Europe..

So many possibilities, so many dreams, so many reasons to thank God for a wonderful life. If I died tomorrow it would be a life well-lived.

All my love,
Dana Maria

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Falling Off The Radar Feels So Nice..

It's been a true holiday here in Hampi. Fred and I met a couple of very unusual German journeymen and we've spent the last week on the other side of the river swimming at the lake, climbing around the rocks, visiting the Hanuman Temple (579 steps!), eating loads of delicious bananas and coconuts, exploring ruins, lounging on the rocks at the waterfall and walking walking walking many kilometers each day to each of these wonderful places, shanti style along dirt roads and banana fields. Being in the nature is, for me, being next to God. And each spectacular sunrise and sunset fills me again with gratitude and appreciation that my life is of such high-quality. I can only conclude that my past lives were extremely virtuous..

These journeymen (wandergessel) practice an oral tradition going back to the middle ages. They travel solo with only a handful of belongings and look for places to practice their trade - one is a bricklayer and the other a roofer. At first glance they look like they might be Amish, or Orthodox Jewish, or old-style cowboys. I've never met or imagined people doing this and their simple lifestyle with it's many rules and guidelines inspires my respect. There is, of course, much more to the tradition but my brain is on holiday mode and the prose is not flowing whatsoever.

Last night we slept on the rocks at the waterfall, an eerie moonscape of a place that defies description. Away from the rickshaw wallas and electricity, we sleep at 9pm and wake at five. How I long for the solitude and inaccessibility of an island! I feel my most natural in this environment, and I'm much healthier, energetic, peaceful and natural now that I am far away from Delhi and the western pace of office life..

Fred left for Gokarna yesterday, a beach in North Karnataka, where I will meet him in some days. I still have another day at the lake and another day on the motorbikes before I'm ready to say goodbye to Hampi, a truly astonishing place that I could easily enjoy for several weeks more.

I had been a little sad that my holidays would be spent alone this year far from the islands, but now it appears my German friend (last seen in the village with Maria) may join me for a motorcycle trip through Kerala! This last week has reminded me again that I need to be very careful who I choose to spend my time with, seeking only those people who inspire me to be better, and through God's grace I am well-stocked!

In the last days it has occurred to me that I am concluding my first year of travel, and in many ways it feels akin to being enrolled in a graduate program - graduate school for "life." Mother India has many things to teach me, things I will carry with me throughout my life. Now that my first year is coming to a close, my introduction to life on the road is nearly complete. And next year promises to be an exceptional one..

hugs and kisses,
a smiling, sun-tanned, rock-climbing, banana-munching,

ps I got bitten by a greedy monkey!! At first I was quite annoyed, but I somehow managed to forgive and forget, and the infection was very tiny anyway.. :) I guess these things have to happen some time!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Oh, The Places You'll Go..

Hampi has one of the strangest, most magical landscapes I've ever experienced. Ancient ruins from the Vijayanagar dynasty (1200-1600?) are literally everywhere, from sprawling temples to tiny little structures perched precariously atop giant rock formations, all of them constructed from massive granite blocks. Add in the banana fields and coconut palms and it really looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book!

Yesterday Fred and I rented small motorbikes to go tooling around the area and I'm afraid I've been bitten by the bug...motorbike is one of the best ways to explore India and I've known it for a long time. I was a bit hesitant at first, slowly working my way up to thirty kph, then forty, then fifty...the roads here aren't great so you can't go too fast, though it can get a little hairy in towns and cities where the "wobble and tip" factor goes way up. But it's mostly open roads out here so we cruised along like old pros, weaving our way through herds of cows and water buffalo, goats, and even little muddy baby pigs. In the smaller villages we got swarmed by hoardes of squealing children who ran after our bikes. We must have waved and said hello to a thousand people yesterday, all of whom responded with huge smiles and waved back. I was on a real high, realizing that I've never experienced a more friendly place in India than Karnataka..

At some point we ended up in a town called Kampli where I was excited to find a chemist (pharmacy) to refill my eye drops and infection pills. We roamed a bit and quickly discovered a street procession of drummers followed by a huge truck painted with gods and goddesses. Suddenly we found ourselves wearing orange ties around our necks and leading the procession through the streets, loud snare drums piercing the air behind us. The entire village came out to stare at "the foreigners," lining the streets and rooftops and filling up the shops, many of them smiling. The sun was intense and we got "tikka-ed," my own word for the ritual of smearing red paint up the forehead (a "tikka"). A tiny old lady "adopted" me, walking by my side, holding my hand and periodically slapping and hitting the men who tried to approach me. The experience was overwhelming to say the least, and though the entire thing lasted maybe one hour, it seemed like five. Just as I thought it was time to go, it turned out Fred had been "advised" to leave, so we bowed in thanks and made our escape, taking refuge inside a nearby chai stall where more people gathered to peer in at us.

Twice now we have caused such a stir in tiny villages that we have been "advised" to leave..we've decided that the villagers just can't take it - i.e. fighting each other to have a photo with us - and if we stay too long things can quickly get out of control.

Later on we found a little dirt road and decided a little off-roading might be fun. We bounced our way along in the middle of a huge banana field until finally we happened upon a little old man sitting and munching bananas. I said "road?" to him and he offered me bananas. First one, then two, then fifteen. Fred and I ate as many as we could, took a couple of photos with the kind banana man and headed back to the paved world..

At sunset we sat in the Saraswati Temple (my chosen Goddess) and I thanked God for keeping us safe during our motorbike adventure. What a thrill it was! So much in fact that now I'm considering to buy one (40,000 RS/1,000 USD gets me a really nice one) so I can explore much, much more of this crazy land.

Very Poorly Behaved Monkeys

The other day I sat on the top of a rock mountain and shot a little video of the cute monkeys nearby while Fred wandered off to take pictures. First there was one cute monkey...then five...then suddenly there were thirty, and they wanted my watermelon! I narrowly escaped with my watermelon, swinging my water bottle and shouting, only to notice that one of them had Fred's watch. I screamed for him to come back and get it but he was nowhere to be found, so I decided I just had to scare the shit out of the now-not-so-cute-monkey so he would just drop it. I took a deep breath and headed straight at him, roaring and waving my arms angrily. He responded with bared fangs and hissing sounds (they are SO scary!!!) but I won...he finally dropped the watch and backed away! A big thank you to Morten, the hi-larious Danish boy who taught me how to scare monkeys. I do believe I'm learning something out here!

Can't linger now, internet is slow and expensive...

Big love to everyone,
God bless you all,