#93 - finally arriving in vrindavan

Vrindavan Travel Blog

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mark preparing banana lassi and halavah for me, during his seva
we got to mark's place around 3 in the morning, i think. i'm actually not too sure at this point. i was SO out of it.
there's a guest house right next to where mark lives, so i'm staying there & it's all good. i'll have to take a picture of my room....very basic - but really just perfect. and i have AC! (thank you SOO much mark!)

now i'm sitting in mark's apartment & he's cooking something that smells ridiculously delicious. i am so excited for the food in india! for some reason i was thinking i may lose a bit of weight on this part of my trip, but i'm already guessing that's not going to be the case!!!

today we're going to explore vrindavan and the many temples that are here. this is one of the holiest places in india & i'm really excited to get out & start experiencing it.
mark & govin


namaste!!! :)

_____________

today was really special.  it started by sitting with mark in his apartment as he did his daily seva.  he basically has a morning ritual of preparing food and offering it to krishna/radna.  (please note:  i am learning a LOT about his practice and vaishnavism so i may get some things wrong - it's a lot of info - but i will do my best!)  he made havalah (the thing that smelled delicious), banana lassi (yogurt drink) and cut up some fresh melon.  after he offers it by placing it in his temple for krishna/radna (krishna/radna is basically god & it is believed that god is in everything and that god lives in the home)  so he offers the food to this deity first & then we eat it.
mark & i enjoying our quinoa & yogurt sauce lunch
  the thing that really touched me about it was the whole ritual/process that mark goes through each morning to make this food and offer it.  when we ate it it was with a higher consciousness of the food & a gratitude for the food. his practice is really all about god and love.  it's hard to explain, but i will try to do my best as i learn more and experience more.

after our morning snack, he also made lunch.  we had quinoa & yogurt - with all these wonderful spices.   he did the same thing - offered it first and then we ate.

we had lunch with govin, the man who helps him with all sorts of tasks. he's from vrindavan & has a really nice energy around him - just seems like a really good guy.

then, we eventually made it out into the town.
the MVT guest house - my room!
  i had gotten up so late (i think around 10:30 or so) because i had gotten in so late.....that our day didn't start for awhile.  but actually, it was so hot out during the day that there really wasn't much to do outside anyway.  the temples didn't open until 4pm, so we just waited until they opened and then we ventured out.

i saw the temple that is across from where mark lives...it's a hare krishna temple.  very interesting to see all of the people, how everyone was dressed and what they did at the temple. there was music and chanting and lots of colorful outfits.  we left our shoes outside & i couldn't help but think of slumdog millionaire (we did get our shoes back when we came out!)!   the surrounding area is definitely very dirty.
MVT guest house
...but that's just what it is here.  we went to get a chai and sat on the side of the street.  i was definitely struck by how many beggars there were...i know that's going to be the case everywhere, so i just have to get used to it.  everyone told me that india was intense...but it's hard to really know what that means until you are here.  and man, it is INTENSE.  there are monkeys and cows wandering the streets, there are piles of trash everywhere, the poverty is very striking, there are many disfigured and sick people on the streets, people go to the bathroom pretty much whereever....it's all so crazy.  we took a rickshaw ride through vrindavan and i really felt like i was in a movie...it's almost too much to get my head around.
inside the hare krishna temple
  it's loud (so much honking!), busy (so many people!) and dirty (very old run-down buildings, etc)....but what is so interesting is that in the middle of all of this are these temples and these people who are dedicating their lives to god and to being peaceful and happy. 

we went to another temple and had a very special experience.  the swami (i think that's what he's called!) summoned mark and i up to come & sit with him, which is a big honor.  we went up on the altar where he was sitting and sat with him for awhile.  mark told him that it was my first day in india and he said how lucky i was and how special it was that i was here on this day at this temple. this temple has been there for 500 years with people praying for all that time.
outside hare krishna temple
..and here i was, on my first day in india and i was able to experience god and love.  he said it much more beautifully than that though...it was very touching.  they encouraged me to go sit up close to where radna was (it's a black statue with colorful clothing & ornaments, etc that is actually god - not a representation of god, but god him/herself)...they even offered me some of the water that they drink.  (i have to admit, i was afraid to drink it - but the guy who was telling me what to do was right next to me & i couldn't not take a sip!  i hope that's not the start of "dehli-belly" for me!!)

i need to run, but i will write more later....

okay, i'm back.  we went to dinner at this cute little outdoor restaurant with shaymdas & tulsi...friends of mark's.  then, back to mark's to hang out for a bit before heading to bed.

so two cool things that happened tonight - one, when i was reading my book i read a quote that said, "nothing happens that is not first imagined" (i felt this way about being in india...and my whole trip for that matter) and two, on my short walk back to my guest house room, i saw a shooting star!  so cool!


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mark preparing banana lassi and ha…
mark preparing banana lassi and h…
mark & govin
mark & govin
mark & i enjoying our quinoa & yog…
mark & i enjoying our quinoa & yo…
the MVT guest house - my room!
the MVT guest house - my room!
MVT guest house
MVT guest house
inside the hare krishna temple
inside the hare krishna temple
outside hare krishna temple
outside hare krishna temple
mark drinking chai
mark drinking chai
me drinking chai
me drinking chai
people that watched our shoes
people that watched our shoes
our rickshaw driver
our rickshaw driver
Vrindavan
photo by: peeyushmalhotra