Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back From India, I Think

I'm back. Sorta. When you go to the other side of the world, it takes a bit of time to readjust. It's about the clock, but it's also about life itself. I love my little home, my gardens and my cat. I love getting into my own bed at night. I love walking down the streets and looking at other people's gardens. I love the smell of clean clothes, and the feel of the cool breeze. I love the morning clouds and the afternoon sun.

And then I look at the container of Kashmiri green tea I brought back, and the green cardamom pods, (green is for tea, black is for cooking, I learned), and I'm transported back to the Himalayas. I'm whitewater rafting down the Lidder River in Pahalgham, or I'm riding a small pony up into the high meadows on a cloudy afternoon. I'm on a small, brown horse and my sister is on a larger white one. Our guide, Ishfaq is riding a third one. He is the only one of us who doesn't have a local man, holding the bridle of his horse. We pause in a vast meadow to take a few photos before climbing higher... There are gypsies who live in the mountains. They have no permanent homes. They live in tents. No computers, no hospitals, no schools. Just sheep, cows, and horses. We sat down and rested a while, listening to the wind. A Himalayan man came walking by. He lived in a small hut during the summer, several valleys away. He was walking over to where his cattle were grazing. He paused for a photo, then sat and talked to one of the men who was leading our horses. Other than the sound of their voices, we were in complete stillness. And then he got up and walked off. When I turned to look for him a couple of minutes later, he had vanished. So yes, I'm back. And I look around me in amazement at all the "stuff" we have here - our shiny cars, our movie houses, our manicured lawns and our manicured hands. I love all this stuff. And I also know that a simple cup of Kashmiri green tea with green cardamom and cinnamon will bring a smile to my lips. To make it, you put a teaspoon of tea into boiling water, break open a few green cardamom pods and add them along with a small chunk of cinnamon stick. Brew to desired strength. Strain into a teacup, add sugar, put your feet up and know that you are blessed.

14 comments:

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Its definitely a different world over there and it makes you appreciate a lot of things that are easily taken for granted before you make such a journey. Sounds like you had a great trip!

White On Rice Couple said...

Your perspective is real, honest and compelling.
I feel the same way when I return from Viet-Nam. My head feels cloudy, confused and selfish at how much we have here and how little others have. But ironically, they don't see themselves as having little. I think their lives are more enriched because of the simplicity.
Welcome back and I hope you'll be posting more about your trip. Thank you for the info about the green vs. black cardamom pods and your tea recipe.

jeanie marie kraft, L.Ac. said...

Love the pictures and the wonderful description. I can almost taste the tea.....

Welcome back. Thank you so much for the stunning necklace from Kashmir. I am wearing it right now. I am certain it must have magical powers!

xoxoxo

Terry B said...

Welcome back, Toni! A wonderful, thoughtful post, as always. I totally understand your joy at the simple pleasures of the familiar, but still thinking of India. Even though it's good to be home, we can be transported back to the place we've just visited so easily. We're back from just five days in your lovely New Mexico and keep thinking of it again and again.

anya said...

Welcome back! Behind the comfort 'stuff' we have at our side, we are prone to forget so easily life isn't solely about consuming, it might as well have something to do with experiencing - reality and simplicity. After such journeys one gets reminded to appreciate the comfort we have, and yet see it from a new - more profound - perspective.

Thanks for tips on cardamom!

toni said...

Mike - Yes, a different world - one that's richer in family life and poorer in "stuff".

Todd and Diane - When I was in Viet Nam a couple of years ago, our guide said something I'll never forget. He said that people can either be poor and happy or poor and miserable, and that the poor of Vietnam were, for the most part, poor and happy. I think it's easier to be happy when your food is falling off the trees, jumping out of the rivers and springing effortlessly from the ground.

Jeanie - wear it in good health!

Terry - Welcome back to you and Marion! One of these years, we should coordinate a trip to NM. There are so many places I can't name or explain, but could easily show you.

Anya - How true, how true! Somehow I feel that for me, living in southern California, this is especially true, as this is the land of "gotta have it all." As long as I have a rupee left to my name, I will travel. It's my destiny.

glamah16 said...

What a great post. Sounds like an incredible and calming trip. The more we travel the more it all makes sense and comes into perspective, doesnt it?

ann said...

Oooh, welcome back! That sounds like the trip of a lifetime. I can't wait to hear more about it (and see more pictures too, you know I'm a sucker for pictures)!

toni said...

Courtney - It was an amazing trip, for sure. And I find that travel is as necessary for me as food. This is a fascinating world, and I'm endlessly intrigued by it.

Ann - You will be seeing more, of course. And yes, you and I are BOTH suckers for pictures - I get it!!!

Nora B. said...

Welcome back...and yes, there are many things that we take for grated. Some of my relatives on my dad's side are still nomads in Yemen, and when my dad was still alive he used to remind me regularly of how lucky we are. But then again, who am I to judge, they seem very contented with their way of living.

take care,
nora

Cynthia said...

You are richer for putting the important things into perspective. Sounds like you had a great time. Welcome back.

Toni said...

Nora - Nomads in Yemen? Wow! You've got an even richer history than I imagined! And yes, it's hard to judge others' lives.

Cynthia - It's why I travel - because I'm truly interested in this world and the people who inhabit it. It helps keep my life in perspective, for sure.

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