As I sit down to write this article on my experiences in India, the sweet smell of incense and a whirl of colors are going through my mind. It truly was a grand experience to speak at the 41st annual conference hosted by the Indian Institute of Oriental Heritage. My fellow colleagues and I were given awards of excellence in a very regal and ceremonial fashion, Indian style.
The colleagues I connected with were the very knowledgeable Sasha Yungju Lee, who practices Chinese Astrology and Chinese Feng Shui. She’s Korean and puts her cultural style into her interpretations. She and I were the only women to receive awards, among many men. It was an honor to be with her and we became fast friends through our travels.
My other esteemed colleague was Dr. T. Selva from Malaysia, who practices Indian Feng Shui, which is called Vasthu Sastra. He speaks all over the world sharing his unique perspective on his craft. He was a gracious guide to both me and Sasha, since he knows India quite well.
The conference was held in New Delhi, which is like the New York City of India. So I decided to go to Goa first, which is like the Hawaii of India. Goa is on the ocean just south of Mumbai and was the perfect place to get to know an old-fashioned part of India before I was thrown into the big city. This is where I discovered the colors of India. I realize that it all starts with the spices. The powerful golden rod is from turmeric. The brilliant red is from chili peppers. The bright green is from cilantro. Of course spices and food are the basics of Ayer Vedic healing. Those intense colors are the dyes for their bright and stunning colors in their fabrics. For any of those of you who know me personally, I have a very definite color palette. Oh my, India has all my colors. I would wear a bright saree with lots of bangle bracelets every day if I could. Somehow, it won’t work here in Tucson. Darn!
What did I do in Goa? I walked on the beach, ate lots of fresh seafood, danced to rhythmic techno Indian fusion music and talked to people from all over the world. Most people were from Europe and not many Americans. I went to a spice plantation and saw spices growing on trees, like, cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorns and cloves. It was so wild to pick a clove off the tree. I also got a very intense Ayervedic massage, that was not like any massage I’ve ever had before.
Goa felt like a big farm to me where the animals rule. I rented a bamboo tree house at the cozy Michele’s Garden little hotel. Michele was the best and I would stay there again without a doubt. It was like living in Paradise! One morning, from my balcony, I saw a peacock in a tree, in my backyard. You don’t see that every day. Here are the animals I saw in Goa: Water Buffalos, Cows (lots of cows), Bulls, Dogs (lots of skinny dogs), Goats, Squirrels, Roosters, Chickens and Peacocks. Yes, I drank fresh milk each day from cows and Water Buffalos for my tea. It was the creamiest, best milk ever. My stay there was so fabulous that I cried when I left Goa.
Balancing the nature of Goa with the intense population and smog of New Delhi, was the best way to see India. Someone asked me what India smelled like. I have to say that it was the sweet smell of incense, which was burning everywhere next to a statue of Ganesh. So I’m left with the bright colors, the smell of spices and incense and the feeling of an ancient culture trying to merge with the new world. My hopes are that the sweet smell of incense and the brilliant colors of spices will win.