16 January 2016

Bye Thailand, hello India!

Hello, mother India! Today was finally the day to step into the unknown. A place I've heard so much about and treated with awe and respect seasoned with a dose of fear. Would it be too overwhelming? Could my stomach take it? Would I hate it? Or would I fall completely and madly in love with it and end up spending all my money and travel time between India and Koh Phangan? Well, now I have about 2 months to find out.

Surat Thani bus station. Tiny.
Yesterday evening I took the ferry from KPG to Donsak, a bus to Surat Thani and stayed the night in an affordable 200 baht dorm (Banana cabins, center of the peace since 2014, according to the sign outside) in the middle of nowhere. In the morning when even the sun was still sleeping (ok, it was at 6, so not super early, but still early for my schedule) me and an Ohio girl shared a taxi to the airport. Another last coconut and a short flight later I was in Dong Mueang again where I was delighted to find mr. Osprey waiting for me and proceeded to take the easy free shuttle bus to Suvarnabhumi. 

Eels happen when light is lit. Be very afraid.
Since I wouldn't have made it to my original Lion Air flight with the earliest ferry from KPG and needed to spend the night in Surat Thani anyway, I'd decided to buy some peace of mind in the form of an earlier Air Asia flight. So I had plenty of time to spare on Suvarnabhumi, which was pretty sweet. And even sweeter when, after desparing for something to eat and wondering where all the restaurants were hiding, I spotted an escalator to the floor below with lots of munchies on offer. Score! Well, food left a lot to be desired for but the mango shake was excellent. Another goodbye to mr. Osprey (and some nervousness after noticing the info poster that banned taking power packs (recharging batteries) on the airline I had chosen (Jet Airways)). I decided that my karma could take a white lie, so I told the check-in people that of course I don't have any such things in my backpack. Oops. Well, they didn't explode on the plane, so all good! An indulgent Cold Stone Creamery ice cream (coffee and coconut. Ok, but a bit bland - no Swensen's, which is my abso favourite) later it was time to head off to the gate.

Which is when it finally hit me. Oh my god, I was actually doing this! Koh Phangan and Thailand were such easy peasies and familiar territory that now it felt my Journey was actually starting for real. There were Indian people around and everything was already a hassle (extra security screenings and bag checks and stamps on boarding pass and whatnot). But even with the sugar coursing in my veins, I was calm. This felt like a necessary step. India had been calling for a long time and it was time to answer.

In storage: irons, office supplies, clothes pegs, cats
So, what did it feel like to leave Koh Phangan? Well, it didn't feel nice, that's for sure. If I didn't know I'd be back in 2 short months, I'm pretty sure I'd have been devastated. I just got into the flow of the magical island and now it was time to leave again? Not cool. I'd sang bhajans on the beach a couple of nights with the accompaniment of a harp, a guitar and occasional other instruments, watching the sun paint the sky orange and the stars light up around the grinning moon. I'd thought long and hard about redoing 1. level of yoga at Agama in May and definitely doing all the tantra workshops I could. I'd released more emotional blockages with breathwork. I'd done a relaxing ajna chakra activation session with the help of a synthesizer and hang drums. In other words: I was deeply in love with the myriad of spiritual and healing events the island is teeming with. It did feel like something was missing, though. A structure of some kind. But I'd made the decision not to dive into any lengthy workshops yet, so these 2 weeks were really just a dip in the spirituality pool, a soft landing into the trip. Now I'm ready to go deeper, live in the rhythm of an ashram for 2 weeks, which means among other things getting up at 4 am and going to bed at 21, and then do some more India. Maybe a reflexology course in Rishikesh and an ayurvedic massage course in Kerala. Or not. Time will tell. I'm so looking forward to all of it!

In the name of honesty and on the shadowy side of things, I must also write about the first anxiety attack of the trip. Yep, it came pretty soon, but on the other hand I'm glad it happened in familiar territory and not in India. We were having green tea and vegan brownies (sheesh, so many vegans here!) in Art Cafe when I felt my cheeks burning a little bit and G commented that I had a bit of colour on my face, maybe an allergic reaction? They also started itching a bit, and lo and behold, it took all of 2 minutes for me to be full-on in the grips of an almost hyperventilating panicky anxiety attack. See, I'm not allergic to anything. And the last time something like this happened to my face was when I had dengue fever, when the whole of my face got red and swollen. And yes, I'd been protecting myself from mozzie bites as well as I could, but of course there are always a couple that slip through the guard. I'd been surprisingly chill about all of it, but The Fear of Dengue Monster had been lurking somewhere in the subconscious and now pounced on my peace of mind full force. I couldn't do anything to prevent it, suddenly just boom, it was there. Luckily G was there to calm me down a bit, and I did settle down enough to drive myself home and rummage through my med supplies for some antihistamins. I did find some, but decided to see how the situation would progress before taking any. The thing is, I really wanted to avoid starting to medicate every little twitch like I sometimes have had a tendency to do. This trip is also about trusting the Universe and my own healing powers and applying the mindfulness and peace of mind approach to my often prevailing hypocondria. And boy was I proud of myself, when after meditating for a little bit (well, quite a while actually) I felt better, calmer and the antihistamins were still untouched on the table. Rational and calm Lilje 1 – worrying and anxious Lilje 0. Yay! And the redness did calm down by itself quite soon as well.

So, another lesson in dealing with my issues learned. Did I manage to avoid the anxiety attack? No. But did it pass much more quickly than previously? Yes. Did I end up blaming myself for being such a silly hypocondriac? Well, yeah, a little. But it what G said when I was shaking and panicking really hit home: “Now is the time to love yourself the most. Now is the time to be there for yourself and not run away or assign blame.“ It rang even truer later on when I reflected on the whole situation. I cannot always prevent getting anxious but if I could remember to accept the situation and accept myself in the situation, offering comfort and consolation and not blame or accusations, I think it would make a world of difference. Of course it's hard to remember something like that when I'm in the middle of the mind-whirlpool of “fuckfuckpleasenotnowIdon'twannabreakdown inpublicgetittogetheraaaargh“ but next time I'll try.

That's that. But hey, India! I'm, like, really here. The flight was smooth, and I spent a lot of time reflecting on happiness and what really interests me. Didn't find anything that new, but it felt good to greet the usual suspects: I love cooking and baking. I love the healing arts and exploring them deeper. I love feeling a part of something, like I belong. I love being useful to others. I love adventure. I love being independent and brave enough to do this by myself. But I'd also love to have someome to share these travels with at some point. Since I'm pretty sure that this trip will only be the beginning. On a lighter side, I also watched a Bollywood movie and giggled all the way through it like a little girl. India!

Airport biryani
So, here I sit now, on Indira Gandhi International airport. Outside the door is Delhi, but it is still at a safe distance, where I also intend to keep it. I have no interest in Delhi, actually, so I'd rather sit here on the concrete floor, blog and wait for 2 hours to pass so that my new SIM card will be activated and I'll have internet. I managed to withdraw some rupees which I absolutely love the look of, buy an adapter and have the first vegetable biryani (not awesome – airport food). My fellow yoginis will arrive from Berlin around 5 in the morning, so I still have 6 hours to while away. Probably won't even try to get any sleep, but we'll see. It will apparently be a rather gruelling drive to Haridwar, but perhaps sleeping in the car would still be easier than on the airport where the music is blaring and I need to entangle myself in my stuff to have peace of mind that nothing will be taken while I'm off in slumberland. So, probably just gonna watch some Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Or try to sleep. Or both.

Hippie camp at Delhi airport. Thanks, Vodafone, for the electricity!

So, this is Lilje in India. One more Level Up! Over and out.

 Next stop: Santosh Puri ashram, yoga and peace. Om shanti <3

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