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Our last days in India
'Some things in life are destined to be', I was told by a self-proclaimed monk, who prefers to call himself a wanderer rather than a traveller and who said he dreamt of the organic farm, where we’re staying, months before he arrived.
We have journeyed to the southern point of Trivandrum before our premature departure. You could easily spend a year in India as each state is so unique, but with the whole of Asia to explore we only put one month aside.
Our host, Valse, was supposed to teach us the art of meditation while at the farm but it turns out he was more of a salesman than a spiritual leader, with money filling his mind rather than inner peace.
It’s from Bhanu, the wanderer, we have learnt the most. He is living at the farm too and believes in spirits/ghosts, the importance of observing and the beauty of Korean girls. This big thinker taught us how to find our own method of meditation, which is harder than it looks. The hardest thing was staying awake, but when I did give way to tiredness I had some of the best dreams of my life.
Bhanu also enlightened us on techniques of booking transport. Before this we’d tried in vain to book a sought-after train ticket as ostensibly they were all booked weeks in advance. Bhanu knows the tricks of India so our last excursion across this magical land was on board the diesel-fueled engine of a seemingly mile-long train.
This transport passed through some breathtaking views; with rippling hills peering behind stunning water flows, Jacuzzi-like smoke bubbling out of red brick homes just being built, hundreds of bonfires made by people burning their rubbish stretching out across the dark landscape mirroring the stars in the night sky and wildlife; dogs, birds and cows all popping up at random moments.
Just as everyone was pulling out their blue-cushioned beds and switching off their electric lights, an ancient bard figure appeared in our carriage and started to sing an enchanting lullaby. With the most soulful voice I’ve ever heard, he made his way through two songs, using lyrics I couldn’t decode but from his tone I guessed he was singing about pain.
Bhanu also showed us the best places to eat, we arrived at a cafe serving unlimited fresh thali served on a green leaf. There is something very engaging about eating off this - the green sheen radiating back at you while you dig into your meal is a subtle reminder of where all food originates from.
We spent our last night in India at a hotel near Madurai airport on the east coast. Here we revelled in clean bed sheets, an almost warm shower and a TV showcasing Hollywood and Bollywood films.
We took a ten-minute rickshaw ride to get on our flight to Sri Lanka only to be stranded at the airport for 18 hours after our flight was cancelled.
It’s with a heavy heart I say goodbye to India. I’ll miss learning and eating the amazing things you can do with rice and being the tallest or at least average height in a crowd. I’ve realised it’s the taxi drivers, waiters, shop assistants and travel agents who are the real ambassadors of a country. It’s their personalities and their faces which show off the land to newcomers.
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