Sweatin’ in Cochin

Hi everybody!

I am still in Cochin in Kerala state, having the time of my life.
It was so hot these last couple of days but now it's much cooler – and I am in an internet cafe with AIR-CONDITIONING!
Imagine that!

I know I have been slacking with the personal emails, but you cannot say I do not put the extra effort with the general emails.
So here are some more pictures, just in case you are missing me.

The first is of me driving a Rikshaw in Hampi. Rikshaw drivers are a unique form of human beings. Every time you hire a Rikshaw you need to be prepared. A Rikshaw driver will always know how much to charge you for a ride, even if he has absolutely no clue how to get to
the place you want. Many times he will demand a different price than what you agreed at the beginning of the ride, and of course the Rikshaw-meter has one price for Indian citizens and another for tourists (we pay four times as much).
A sense of humor is obligatory.

The second picture is me sitting with some Babas at Hanuman Temple in Hampi. You need to cross the river on a tiny tiny raft, that reminds you of Moses from the Bible. Then you need to climb some 600 steps (590 to be exact, we counted) to get to the temple.
When we arrived, all the Babas, dressed in orange, were having lunch and smoking Chillums.
The view from the top is a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

The third picture is from Sera village south of Mysore in Karnataka state. As you know, many Tibetians immigrated to India after the Dalai Lama fled the country. Sera is one of the villages where these Tibetian refugees live.
The difference between Indian and these villages is astonishing. The streets are so clean there, the people smile and they don't talk to you (i.e. "Rikshaw, Rikshaw, you need a Rikshaw?").
Heaven.

As always, I have put more pictures at my cyber photo
album at:
[…]
Some pictures are also at much better quality, and the map is always updated.

Lots of love from South India,
Shahar.

Heading South…

[10/1/2002 Cochin, Kerala, India]

Hi everybody!

Just a quick update for those of you keeping track:
The last couple of days I have been to Mysore, keeping on track and heading south.
Mysore is a big city so it is way too noisy to stay in.
I went to a village called Sera, which is actually a Tibetan refugee village.
It's amazing to see the difference between the Tibetan people and the Indian people.
The village looks like another country.
So clean, so quite, so peaceful.
It's difficult to comprehend this is still India.

Anyway, This morning I arrived with two friends, Ronit and Oren to Cochin.
My neck is killing me from the 10 hours bus drive – nothing that a good shower wouldn't fix.

Those of you who smoke cigarettes should know that there is actually a fine here if you smoke on the street.
But that's just for Indian citizens. Go figure.

Anyway, I plan to spend here a week or two and then continue south. Apparently, there's a lot to see here, so I'll explore and report to you.

By the way, if you have no idea where all those places I'm telling you are located, and you are too lazy to open an Atlas – go to:
[…]
I have put there a travelling progress map.

Lots of love from sunny India to cold Israel,
Shahar.

Hampi Evidence of Having Fun

[Sunday? 5/1/2002 14:15 Hampi, Karanatake, India]

Hi Everybody!

As promised – some more pictures of me having fun.

The first was taken in the morning after a full moon trance party at Vagator beach, Goa.
A bit different from parties you probably know.

The second is here at Hampi, just outside of my guest house.
Cows are just a thing you need to get used to in India.
Especially notice when a bull is running wild in a narrow alley.

The third is me at Ugra Narasimha statue. Hampi is filled with old temples and statues.
They say that there are as many Gods in India as there are people.
I guess that every person here is an incarnation of God himself, in some way.

Lots of love from Karnataka state,
Shahar.

The Road To Hampi

[2/1/2002 19:13 Hampi, Karnataka, India]

The road to Tiparary may be long,
but the road to Hampi is B^U^M^P^Y.

So, everybody!

Hope you all danced and celebrated New-Year's well.
After Goa's New-Year's party I left to Hampi with two friends, Elad and Yossi.
We arrived in Hampi in the state of Karnataka after a 10 hours drive on the most bumpy roads I have ever seen.

A quick riddle:
Where am I?
1. The sleeper bus gets cancelled.
2. The travelling agency offers no alternative.
3. You end up hiring a Jeep driver for 4 times the amount you should have spent.
4. You try to sleep sitting up for 10 hours with no luck.
5. In the middle of the way, you stop for dinner and the driver vanishes when the check arrives.
6. You stop at 6 different point and the soldiers are looking for alcohol – not drugs.
7. At one of these stops the driver brings a soldier for safety reasons to drive with us.
Yes! You're right. I am in India.

One last thing –
Following are 14 things I learned after 10 days in
Goa:
1. MDMA
2. "Lekases"
3. Filter
4. Chewing Gum
5. Mineral Water
6. "Boof"
7. "Mitpotsets"
8. Munchees
9. Excta
10. Joint
11. Space Cookie
12. Hush Brownies
13. Bang Lassis
14. Chillum
If none of those things ring a bell – don't feel bad.

That's it for now,
Lots of love,
Shahar.

They told me…

[Goa, India 24/12/2001 19:50]
Hi All!

They told me that Goa is packed with tourists… It is not.
They told me that Goa is filled with Israelis… It is not.
They told me that Goa is filled with drugs…

I arrived to Goa yesterday morning after a 16 hours bus drive.
It was a sleeper bus so I slept all night.
I came with two friends from Pune, a guy, Elad and a girl, Sharon and we stay at a house just on the beach.
It costs us 250 Rupees so that’s 8.5 Shekel per night.

Goa is the name of the state and we stay on Anjuna beach.
I will stay here for a week maybe and then move to Arambol which is another beach.

The scenery is amazing, it’s a bit difficult to grasp that this is India.
You would think this is the Carribian.

Anyway, I’m enjoying myself here.
Everything is Shanti Shanti.
The prices are a little high because of the high season.
Oh yeah, Marry Christmas to whoever of you who celebrates.

Anyway, I finished the Reiki course. It was the most powerful experience I have had so far.
The teacher, Niranjan is an amazing man and he has his own truths and he dispenses them, no matter what you might think of them.
They do sound silly at first, but then you realize most of what he says is true.

Anyway, every place I arrive to is the same deal:
I am too overwhelmed by the sights and the culture that I do not take a single picture the first couple of days.

Oh yeah, it is so HOT in here. I almost melted yesterday.

That’s it for now.
EMail you soon,
Love,
Shahar.

Salt Showers

[Sunday 16/12/2001 14:40 Pune, India Time – Email #3]
Hello everybody and a late [Happy Chanukah] to you all!

I am still in Pune, India – but not for long.
I have finished two weeks of my three weeks Reiki course.
Tomorrow I will be initiating the new course starting, opening the new students’ Chakras…

My Reiki teacher Niranjan, is really amazing. He has his own understandings on life and he is not afraid to share them, no matter how silly they might sound to Westerners.
For the past week I have been following his advice and showering in sea salt only.
Yes, you read correctly. Apparently, sea slat in the Reiki energy world is
supposed to absorb all negative energy. According to Niranjan, if you shower with salt, you don’t need to use any soap, shampoo or deodorant, because you will not smell. Oh yes, bad smell comes from thinking negative
thoughts and manipulating people.

As soon as the Reiki course ends, that is this following Saturday, I will be on my way to my next destination. Probably Goa, but I am not certain – might be Hampi.

And now to the pictures attached:
After developing nine (9!) rolls of film after only one month of traveling, I noticed something I was not aware of:
I have almost no pictures with me in them. I have loads of awesome pictures of all the beautiful people I have met here, but something like 4 or 5 pictures that actually
include me.

I apologize for that, and will try to force myself to give my camera to other people too. Attached are 3 pictures:

The first is of me and Rabbi Betsalel at the Beth-Chabad house here in Pune. I used to go there almost every evening when the Rabbi was here. Now he left for a two months vacation in Israel and the house is just not the same without him and his little kids.
It is still a great place to eat Israeli food and meet Israelis, though.
What do you know, I even put on the Tefilin a couple of times and went to the Synagogue here in the city.
It’s the damnedest thing: a huge synagogue with only 15-20 Jews coming on Saturday night and some time along the way they got it mixed up – so you find the
women here also wearing a Kippa.
Yes, a Kippa, not a Kisui Rosh or anything. Strange…

Me and some of the Reiki course students doing our morning self-healing
The second picture is of some of the students (and me in the black shirt) of the Reiki course, doing our morning self-healing.
Everyday and every night we need to do this one and a half hour session which involves channeling energies through each and every organ in our body.
The course stars every day at 09:00am (Indian Time…) so some of us gather at 07:30am and do the self-healing together with Reiki music.
What is Reiki music? Reiki music is soothing music with a nice bell ringing every 3 minutes to remind you to change position.
At that particular day I put on my camera on the tripod the guys from my workplace got me as a farewell gift and put a sign that asked the students that came late to press the camera button.
That is why you see all of us at authentic Reiki positions (me for instance, thanking the Reiki energies after finishing all the postures).
The Reiki temple where we learn is such a beautiful place to be in, it is a shame we need to do the self-healing with our eyes shut.

The third picture is of me, Yaron and Ora ([Mom]: notice not everyone traveling in India is a 20 years old drug smoking kid). They are from my course and we are all
having our breakfast. Yaron has been traveling for a long time now and has taught me and Ora to eat food from the stands on the streets.
That specific morning we ate an omelette. It is made with fried onion, tomatoes and
parsley. It is really delicious and served in a roll.
Our favorite morning dish is rice, cooked with peanuts and hot peppers, served with a twist of lemon.
Yes, of course you get the dish wrapped in a newspaper. Like everything else, same-same for food.
Everyday Yaron brought more because more people joined our breakfast, until the guy at the food stand gave Yaron a whole pot.

Anyway, today is my one day off from Reiki so I have some errands to make, including getting my hair cut.

Just a quick hello to people:
[…]
And to all the others – please bare with me. I am
having a good time and do not have much time to
compose personal emails.
But I will try to improve my ways.

Lots of love,
Shahar.

Iron Time

[Sunday 25/11/2001 Pune, India – EMail #2]
Hello Everybody!

When you need to emphasis here that you are serious when scheduling a meeting – you say [“Iron Time”]. That is to differentiate from any other time, commonly known as “Indian Time”, that is, if you feel like it, show up – if you don’t – no one would hold it against you.

Things are great here in Pune. A famous Reiki Master was rumored to start a 3 weeks Reiki course in the Pyramids, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to attend, since I will be in another course at the Osho Commune Center (a.k.a. Osho Ashram).
But, as always, as you look at the world, the world looks at you. Turns out, the course starts 3/12/2001 – so that means two things:
A. I will be able to attend
B. I only have a day off, with no schedule planned, that is tomorrow.

Due to that I will stay here in Pune for a month, and me and my traveling partner have split-up, and she moved on.

I really want to just think you all for lighting up my computer screen, every time I check my emails. It feels so good to know that people care and put in the effort to write.

I may not reply to everyone due to lack of time, but I
promise you that every email is read and saved.

Love you all,
Shahar.

Ha Cha from Pune

[Tuesday 20/11/2001 17:42 – Pune, India]
Hi everybody!

Yes, yes, I am fine.
I arrived at Bombay (Now called Mumbai) on Sunday night (actually – 03:00am Monday morning) after a 4 hours (count them together: one… two… three… FOUR!) hours delay at Milan.

Mumbai stinks! It's everything everyone warned me about and even smellier!
I picked Hilit (my travel partner) at 08:00am Monday morning at the airport and after a quick shower we took a train to Pune – 5 hours south of Mumbai.

[For all you people that have been to India – as you may know: Pune is what used to be called Puna – as Mumbai is what used to be called Bombay. It's all
political milage the India politicians want to earn as part of leaving the British history behind.]

But, let's keep focus…
Talking about focus: I must be in a culture shock because I only took like 4 pictures. It's just not that comfortable to me. I plan to observe the people and I feel that until I get comfortable with the different mentality, I will only take some courtesy pictures, just to prove I was in Pune.
No need to ask… I did _not_ take _any_ pictures in smelly Mumbai.

Ha cha…

This is it for now. Oh yeah, I baught my first _ever_ orange pants – a picture soon. Please don't print it in multiple copies on the company machines and do not post it all over the [company] building. Thank you.

Lots of love,
Shahar.