One good day – Rishikesh 2016 (diary insert) 

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This seems like as good a day as any to begin to tell a story, one with no beginning or end…for as long as I am alive it will never be finished and when I do pass there will be no one to complete it…or perhaps my travels in India will take me so far into a forgotten place that I’ll just go missing for a while…in India, anything is possible!

It was symbolic to find out after I had booked and purchased a ticket back to India that I would be arriving on the first day of Navratri – celebrations in honour of the 9 incarnations of the Divine Mother – but the whole of October includes so many more important dates and ends with Diwali! And so I have endured the most deafening noises of crackers and shooting and bomb sounds at any moment which have sent my heart racing and stun all my senses. The kids are very involved in lighting these and I wonder the total of injuries they suffer and hospital visits from this dangerous play and past time.

Without a kitchen food has taken a back seat in my life. I find some days will pass just snacking on nuts and fruit and maybe a small late lunch meal before taking the sunset walk back to my end of town which is nestled into the side of the mountain, quiet and overrun at least twice a day with monkeys. The lane in which I’m staying is a short walk to the water’s edge and it’s here along the banks of the Ganga that I start my Karma Yoga in the mornings.

After 3 weeks in Rishikesh my face is becoming known with the locals and I’m understanding the strains small business owners are facing in this deteriorating town. Season has started, shops are dirty and failing and stock is low in some cases with there being not enough profit to do the purchasing in Delhi’s markets, a hub for small business traders all over India.

My entrepreneurial spirit is so full of ideas which is useful in my case when I am having to analyze and answer my own questions like, what am I doing here, why and for how long?

Yesterday I experienced something completely different. Usually I will complete a hand or foot treatment and move on but there are some mentally challenged people on the streets here which suffer from more than what the eye can see and after spending a little more time with one such man I realized I was in for a gut wrenching morning. After completing hands and feet I swiped the back of his neck with a wet wipe and presented to myself a cluster of fully grown lice. I immediately removed myself from the situation and wrapped my own head in the scarf I was wearing and went to some of the nearest shops for lice shampoo, cream and comb. Just thinking about the experience makes me itch!

I reunited with the mangy man and escorted him to a nearby temple space adjacent to an ashram where many sadhus go to rest and lie down. I was advised that this was not the place to do the treatment but it was urgent and there was no were else private enough to begin cutting all his hair off. I had him seated and bending over the tub whilst, with gloves on, I began to cut the matted and tangled nests which had been home for so many nits and lice for a very, very long time…it was excruciating to put myself through this disgusting ordeal and I kept thinking If I don’t do this who will, love all men, love all men. It was so infested that the scissors got stuck in the sticky mess which made me shudder and heave. Through all this resentment for the life that was in front of me my heart just kept opening wider and I didn’t care who stared at me…I didn’t care what anyone else thought or felt.

I tried to burn the small pile of hair afterwards but was met by a well-dressed young Indian man who proceeded to point at me and tell me how bad I was. After efforts to communicate in a civilized manner with so much judgement and condemnation towards me I left my accuser with the repetition of words, love all men, love all men!

Every day is interesting, full and rewarding as well as lonely, isolating and daunting but I find peace in knowing I am spreading love and am intent on making my ‘ripple’ here wider.

We don’t know what is after life but I’d like to think my soul goes to a place where it not only connects to a higher self but becomes a part of a bigger body, a form that completes itself and one that inherently needs each one of us for it to function. One Absolute whole.