In the simplest explanation I can muster up, I saw India. (more photos here) Not the oppulent India, but the way most of the country lives. Our guide, my meditation teacher Ramaa Krishnan, showed me and 35 amazing women, the raw, real India. We traveled by plane, train, bus, bus, bus, rickshaw, elephant, camel and bus. We were the first non-Hindus to participate in a pind daan ceremony in Gaya - and we made the news. We meditated under the Bodhi tree where Buddha became enlightened and then again in the Buddhist ruins in Varanasi where he gave his first sermon. We witnessed nine cremations at one of the burning ghats on the Ganges by boat and said good night to the Mother Ganges by fire ceremony. Some even soaked up the spiritual wonder of the sacred river by taking a dip. We danced with wedding parties in the streets and then in our own sarees at our party in a palace. We shopped and bartered in markets and learned to navigate the hawkers. We ate enough dal and naan for a lifetime and bought organic spices on our bus. We walked the Kama Sutra temples in Khajuraho and the last steps of Gandhi in Delhi. We touched Shiva's lingam in Varanasi and received blessings at countless ancient Hindu temples throughout the country. We awoke to the Muslim call to worship and visited their mosques. We stayed at a magical palace in Jaipur, peed over porcelain holes and carried toilet paper in our purses. We fed dogs and avoided monkeys and got sneezed on by cows. We took countless photos of the people as they photographed us back too. We recorded the wonder of their simple lives along the road as we drove for miles and miles and days and days, and despite their lack of plumbing, garbage cans and clean floors to sit upon, we noticed their sweet souls through the eye contact they insisted we make.
Despite all this, the most meaningful moments were those where we connected as soul sisters on this journey. Thirty-five women from the other side of the world, assimilating what we saw here with the lives we live there, understanding as best we can the opposition of these worlds - and within each world - and finding a place deep in our hearts to hold both.