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Entries about children

"Incredible India"

India living up to it's national slogan

sunny 85 °F

I have to admit, I haven't been very good at bathing in this bucket lately. Our last few weeks in India were emotionally draining as India's in-your-face culture, sights, colors, smells and sounds can be taxing on the senses. The national slogan of "Incredible India" certainly doesn't disappoint. Unfortunately, it's "incredible-ness" resulted in me moping around miserable and on the constant verge of a breakdown. Poor Micah has endured a lot lately!

We have since moved on to Nepal, but India did produce some amazing experiences. Dharamsala, home to the Dali Llama, and Rishikesh, where The Beatles wrote a majority of their "White" album, were spiritual playgrounds. I was in all my glory with fresh mountain air, yoga classes and an Ayurveda cooking and nutrition course.

We visited the magnificent, Golden Sikh temple in Amritsar and experienced eating shoulder to shoulder on the floor with 1,000's of Indians and their families on pilgrimage. The temple provides free meals, 24/7 with a volunteer run kitchen and feeds over 80,000 people a day. Everyone is encouraged to jump in and lend a helping hand washing dishes, peeling potatoes and serving chai. A short taxi ride out of Amritsar to the Indian / Pakistan border allowed us to witness to the spectacle that occurs nightly when the border closes. It's equipped with thousands of spectators sitting in grand stands, a dance party, flag waving, cheering and a showdown by the plume wearing, boot stomping guards on both sides. It felt like a sporting event.

About 2 of our weeks in India were spent traveling through the desert cities, and ancient sandcastle-like forts of Rajasthan. The highlight for me was a 2 day camel safari. To the dismay of our bums, we rode camels for 5 hours each day, breaking mid-afternoon to enjoy chai, chipati and dal cooked over a fire. All the while, our camels munched happily on the trees providing our shade. In the evening, we watched a beautiful sunset, with another chai in hand, over giant sand dunes before turning in for the night to the sounds of our camels chewing, belching and pooping. I made the ironic comparison of it seeming like we were sleeping in a planetarium. There were more stars than I imagined the universe to even hold. We awoke with our blankets surrounded by a complex highway system of footprints that was build by visiting Dung beetles over night. (I hope I kept my mouth closed while I was sleeping.)

Our next stop was the awe inspiring Taj Mahal. India showed us many of the negative effects that tourism can produce and it was most noticeable here. It has created an annoying scene of relentless rickshaw drivers, a two tier pricing system and souvenir sellers. Do people even buy snow globes anymore?! The Taj Mahal was beautiful but this is where dear India started to weigh on me.

My full emotional breakdown occurred in the holy city of Varanasi. The city is a pilgrimage site for Hindus. People come here to die and be cremated at the burning ghats along the polluted Ganga River. Every 20 minutes, another ornately wrapped, deceased body is carried through the people, cow and motorbike crowded streets on it's journey to the burning ghat. Personally, the atmosphere was very unsettling as death is something that is celebrated and not mourned in the Indian culture. It's very different from what we know. Our guesthouse was within 50 yards of the largest cremation ghat that burns 24/7 with multiple fires. I found myself feeling sick, temperamental, emotionally drained and overwhelmed. I tend to be the person in the room that becomes upset when I sense someone is unhappy. I think my body is too tuned into energy to be able to cope with the death, overcrowding and nightly celebration of singing and prayers that occurs in Varanasi. In addition to this, tourism has yet again reared it's ugly head with in your face touts, unofficial guides, boat drivers, drug sellers and children begging you to take their picture in exchange for Rupees. It was all too much and I spent a majority of the time jailed up in our windowless room.

After Varanasi, I couldn't escape India quickly enough. A 12hr government bus ride from India landed us in the quiet, small town of Lumbini, Nepal which archeologists have declared as the birthplace of Buddha. We've since called the more energetic city of Kathmandu our home as we've settled here for Passover. The Chabad House here holds the biggest Passover Seder in the world.

It's hard to believe we only have about 2 weeks of our trip remaining! This weekend we'll be heading north to start 7-days trekking through the Himalayas. I'm hoping to keep my remaining toenails in tact-I lost my 3rd one a few weeks ago with a shrug.

Now that my emotional state is on the mend, I'll try to be a more consistent bucket-bathing blogger! I've got new videos and photos to post as soon as we have faster internet.

Much love from Nepal

Posted by bucketbath 09:42 Archived in India Tagged children desert culture temple india fort bus the trekking river golden safari buddha varanasi fire ganga bath llama cooking camel nepal dali tourism motorbikes mahal taj dal experience yoga rajasthan kathmandu pokhara volunteer ghat journey stars cows beatles rupees sikh hindu cremation spiritual rishikesh bucket nutrition dharamsala souvenir ayurveda rickshaw chai lumbini sandcastle beetles incredible passover dung senses planetarium amristar emotional pilgramage chipati touts beggers governement chabbad seder toenails Comments (4)

Pink Granola

Helping and healing in Chiang Mai

sunny 90 °F

It's amazing how quickly 5 weeks of your life can pass you by. It seems like just yesterday that I was whisked away to the bus station on the back of motorbike, streaming tears as I waved good-bye to Micah. Now, I'm excitedly awaiting our reunion in India! There has been a bit of a problem getting my visa so I'm actually meeting him a week later than originally planned. In the meantime, I'm spending my time in Chiang Mai with a completely open schedule and nothing but rejuvenating, "me" time to kill. I woke up this morning and proclaimed to my roommates that I think I'll go meditate with the monks today. Chiang Mai is a "Pink Granola" girls dream. (The alternative is brown, dirty, hippy granola. Micah is borderline brown, I'm pink...with a few sparkles.) The city has a surplus of yoga studios, body and energy workers, temples to meditate in, vegetarian restaurants, and an endless number of shops to fully stock your fisherman pant wardrobe. I now own 3 pairs when I swore to Micah that I would NOT become that traveler! It's seriously like living in a dream world. I can fully understand how people pick up their entire lives and thrive on the expat energy here. It's magical.

I officially graduated from the 150hr Thai Massage course at TMC last Friday. Our last few days were spent practicing for our final exam and completing an internship at the Children with Special Needs Center. The experience at the children's center is one I'll forever hold in my heart. We started the morning studying different types of cases and discussing what massage techniques would be most beneficial. All the while, the children were peaking their heads in and out of the doorway, peering at us with excited anticipation. We were each assigned a child and informed of their specific conditions. I was given a 7yr old boy with Autism and ADHD. He was by far the most active and rambunctious child of the group- the karmic repercussion of the endless amount of energy I had at his age, I'm certain. He didn't stay on the mat for more than 30 seconds at a time. I had the help of an aid to keep his curious mind occupied while I worked on his restless feet and legs. Her novelty soon wore off and he was wanting to run all over the center. I attempted to pour as much love and calming energy as possible into his body's perpetual state of fidgety motion. At one point, we both became frustrated as the aid was practically holding his squirming body down. I felt so much sadness for his tireless, agitated spirit. I asked her to let him go for a few moments and he quickly scooted to the front of the mat with his back facing away from us. I watched as he sat completely still for 2 min and then suddenly crawled into my lap with the most loving hug I've ever received. As he sat nestled in my lap with his head on my shoulder, I worked down the energy lines on his back. In all, I probably only got in about 10 minutes of massage, but it's amazing what 10 minutes of having love poured into your body can do for the soul. I knew it made a difference when his tiny hand wouldn't let go of mine as he led me around the center to curiously gaze at the rest of the relaxed children as they received body work from my classmates.

Lunch time brought on a new world of excitement. We returned from the cafeteria to discover the children all dancing to popular Thai songs. My "Miss Joanie" instincts took over and I soon had a small group off followers. It felt amazing to be dancing in a group of children with such a wide range of mental and physical disabilities. We're all human and share the same love of body movement. It's so deeply ingrained and instinctual. It becomes therapeutic when we're able to turn off our sensors and let it out. Our frustrations, stress and worries manifest themselves into our posture, gestures and daily movements. It shows up in the form of tight muscles, tension, headaches, diseases, etc. You can visibly see the healing transformation of movement when you witness a child with a disability dancing. It's as if their troubled, earthly body is able to match their loving, soaring spirit for a brief moment in time. It's a shame we can't all let our self consciousness go and cut lose. It would save $1000's of dollars in therapy!

The entire day was full of successes for my classmates, the children and myself. I went home and was forced to have good cry because my heart was exploding with so much love and happiness.

I'm making the most of my last few days in Chiang Mai. I've had many wonderful, life changing experiences here. I'm excited to carry them with me and see how it enhances and changes the rest of this bucket bath.

To book your discounted "Pink Granola" Thai Massage click the Pay Pal link below.

$30/ 30min, $50/1hr, $75/1.5hrs

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My TMC diploma at graduation!

My TMC diploma at graduation!

Some new friends at the Children with Special Needs Center

Some new friends at the Children with Special Needs Center

Lunch time dance party!

Lunch time dance party!

Posted by bucketbath 23:29 Archived in Thailand Tagged children life love dancing thai changing energy special yoga journey body massage movement soul therapy needs cry adhd karma autism tmc instict restless Comments (2)

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