Tuesday, March 31, 2009

3 day trip to Slovakia :: hiking, babushkas, etc..

3 day trip south to Stary Smokovec, Slovakia with miss Summer.

Found nice 'privat' private rooms in people's homes we rented.

Went hiking everyday, over the rivers & through the hills...

until we reached this lovely mountain lodge chateau for lentil soup

the lovely miss Summer, my new traveling companion!
the lovely miss Summer, my new traveling companion!
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& bread lunch. and beer of course! here we found about a dozen

Slovakians sufficiently drunk at 4pm singing "Stairway to Heaven"

and celebrating their spring skiing vacation. They were having

the most fun that i've seen people have in a long time. well, since

stary smokovec charm
stary smokovec charm
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India where people specialize in smiling & having fun with simple things

in life. I found out that the mt. lodge DID have a room for rent & i really

wished I would have had faith & not rented 'privat' to instead stay way

up high here in the lovely mountainside. another time & place!

the mountain lodge we had lunch at after hiking 1.5 hours over rivers & hills
the mountain lodge we had lunch at after hiking 1.5 hours over rivers & hills
see more photos »

I long to spend days up in these quiet mountain shacks....hiking, reading,

sitting by the fireplace & drinking hot chocolate.

Speaking of..."czacholado" is a thicker pure chocolate drink that is my new

favorite, and apparently available all over Europe. like liquid dark chocolate!

me & Summer on top of the world
me & Summer on top of the world
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After Stary Smokovec, Summer & I took a bus to the border, another few buses

to Zakopane & spent a few hours there getting lunch & looking around. We bought

some local special cheese from the lady in my picture.

Very nice to get out of the concrete jungle again!

local country style restaurant in Zakopane
local country style restaurant in Zakopane
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Fresh air, among other benefits!

I just read that Krakow has, or at least did have, very bad air pollution

due to the low restrictions on industrial pollutants. or no restrictions!

Many building are stained black-grey from years of this neglect.

the cheese lady.  i promised i'd get one photo of a "Babushka"
the cheese lady. i promised i'd get one photo of a "Babushka"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

cobblestone Krakow vs. hiking in Zakopane

Poland :: cobblestone Krakow vs. hiking in Zakopane

I have been in Krakow a little over a month now. I have not been having the typical

tourist experience here, of that i am sure.

I never thought that Poland would be a place I spent more than a few days in my

but...keeping a the fresh respective of the New World.
but...keeping a the fresh respective of the New World.
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Europe travels. After six months in India I chose to ground out in Krakow, Poland - and not for a few days, but six whole weeks! I came to Krakow not because

Krakow is now known as one of Eastern Europe's hot spots & a very popular travel

destination. I came because I have a good close friend that has been living here

for 3 years who owns The Stranger hostels (www.TheStrangerHostel.com) and

me & chalkman...one of 100's artists put all over Krakow!
me & chalkman...one of 100's artists put all over Krakow!
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Outrageous Bus Tours company (www.OutrageousTours.com). I have been thinking

about investing in his companies & I wanted to see firsthand how they operate.

I came to Krakow because it was a good place to land in the Old World. A few friends here, cheap living & a truly "Outrageous" job offer! To travel around in their big red double decker school bus for the initiatory route promoting the tours by postering, flyering, & establishing relationships with all the youth hostels & other

a walk around Krakows lovely Planty (goes around the Old Town)
a walk around Krakows lovely Planty (goes around the Old Town)
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travelers we meet!

Zakopane :: a 2 day hiking trip to the Tatra mountains south of Krakow.

very beautiful area! big mountains that were still snow capped in April at lower

elevations. Hiked for a few hours first day then went back to our lovely

these south american flute players are everywhere on the globe!
these south american flute players are everywhere on the globe!
see more photos »

'privat' room in huge house (10 rooms?) with view of mountains ($12 each night).

watched Jim Carey movie "Bruce Almighty" for some stupid american humor!

next day met up with Roople's (met her on www.couchsurfing.com for hiking buddy)

5 friends from medical school (mostly canadians & americans, 3 gals & 1 guy).

the old town hall is now just a clock tower (used to be big building)
the old town hall is now just a clock tower (used to be big building)
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went on long hike, 5-6 hours, up snowy mountain trails, resting on snowy vistas

with larger than life views! made soup with one of the friends stove on top of a big

hill. good times in nature indeed! we hiked all the way into the city of Zakopane,

where we then took a cheap train back to Krakow 3 hours ($5).

the biggest main square in Europe...Krakow's Rynek Glowny!
the biggest main square in Europe...Krakow's Rynek Glowny!

A jolly good time in nature to nurture the mind, body, & soul!

Friday, March 13, 2009

India trip Oct 2006-March 2007 :: Delhi, Dharamsala, Rishikesh, Arambol, Auroville, Mumbai

** A big Journey always starts with the 1st step :: in this case Smelly New Delhi, India "" **

I traveled for 6 months around India Oct 2006-March 2007 meeting various gurus, rinpoches, lamas, checking out ashrams, meditation retreats, spiritual communities & studying yoga. ALso having fun on beaches, mingling with other world travelers, making music (both kinds!)& organizing a few music events, had a beautiful short-term relationships with Shinobi from Tokyo, and basically having the time of my life in Mother India !

Day 1 :: of a six month journey began at the Delhi airport at 3am. Luckily I was

warned by a website too get a pre-paid taxi from OUTSIDE the terminal

because the one's inside charge more. This was a good introduction to India

because everything is like this from what i can tell. More, especially if your a foreigner, unless you look harder & seek out the fair price. I took my late night

taxi ride about 30 minutes to Paharganj & was not impressed with the scenery,

or the driver's reckless driving! The scenery consisted of busy busy traffic for 3am with tons of black diesel fumes spued into the air. I wore a bandana around

my nose & mouth to help. My eyes were stinging after 10 minutes in Delhi, this city of 12.2 million people & a pollution that is one of the worlds worst. Everywhere I looked there was the ultra-poor aesthetic of poverty that i was expecting (run down dirty cement buildings, lots of garbage everywhere, burning

piles of plastic & garbage causing quite a stink). I was surprised to see the many homeless people sleeping in the medians in the middle of the road. On the cement in the middle of the road....yikes! And it didn't take long to figure out why everybody was honking like mad...on the back of most vehicles it says "Blow Horn" or "Horn Please". Grrrrrrreeeeeat! Encourage more honking! Guess when they're driving like lunatics on the fringe it is good to be honking like mad too?

At some point I want edit one to say "Horny Please Blow".

well...i was pleased to find my Hotel Star Paradise in backpacker mecca Paharganj region of Delhi. It was perfect budget motel for only 300 Rupees (hereby written as Rs). Quiet, clean, nice staff, safe.

Welcome to Paharganj Delhi!
Welcome to Paharganj Delhi!

Although next time i'd 'splurge' & stay at Hotel Sheraton for 350 Rs for a nicer room & their rooftop restaurant which iwent to twice anyway to escape the hell on the streets.

Ahh yes....to be a foreigner on the streets of India you are a walking flashing green neon $ sign! We must be...why else would they treat us like this? The 12 hours I spent in Delhi I was pestered at least 100 times! Probably 40x to come into a shop or buy some product, 20x buy travel tourism blokes trying to get

me to Kashmir, beggars, & other people that just started off with "nice ring" or "where you from" to obviously break the ice. My ice was broken pretty quick & now I don't know which Indians to trust. Some are sincere & just curious & friendly. Others are very very pushy & insist (in a somehow neutral way) that you

do what they are saying. One big trick in Delhi at the New Delhi station (i was also warned online about this before so did not fall for it) is for guys to come & try & take you to another tourism office to buy your ticket, which of course is more expensive & gets them a commision. they will tell you anything..."the main office is closed....being repaired..".

Very different here. Thailand-Laos-Cambodia (my only other Asia experience) was sooo different in that way. People were more

introverted & quiet. I think it's the Buddhism that 95% of those people are that kept things more passive. I like it that way, but will try to keep my patience here & learn quicker methods of saying no without getting rude myself.

I want to spend a few days in Delhi & see the Red Fort, Gandhi's memorial, the huge mosque, etc... but would like to have a friend to do this with. Tarun,

my good Indian-Canadian friend has introduced me to his friend that may meet

me later on in my journey back to there.

For now, i'm loving the Tibetan culture up here in Dharamsala in North India near Himalayas...home of his holiness the Dalai Lama! I went & sat down at his main Buddhist temple this morning & chanted with over 400 Tibetans for hours. amazing! i'm going tomorrow morning to see him in person & soak in the Tibetan vibes some more. i love these people! not to say i don't love the Indians...i love them too. But these Tibetan folks radiate such clarity, calmness,

gentless, compassion. It is very beautiful & I find there peace quite attractive.

I may stay in Dharmsala 2 months if I find a place to study yoga & massage, & volunteer work. It's not just a political refuge for the many Tibetans, but for

us foreigners too!

Om Mani Padme Hum :: Tibetans galore!

Dharmsala, actually up the hill in a place called McLeod Ganj, home of Tibetan refugees i

ncluding Dalai Lama & his monastary & temples. Beautiful mountain town

full of tourists, Tibetans, & Indians. Season July-November. starts to get cold

here in December apparently.

Welcome to Paharganj Delhi!
see more photos »


McLeod Ganj Tibetan monks
McLeod Ganj Tibetan monks
see more photos »

At night, you get woke up every now & then by the Dog Orchestra.

No...it's not a new band, it is an orchestra of dogs barking in a valley

that carries sound very well. I think i'm finally adapting to it, or my

earplugs are working better now that i jam them in my ears further!

Himalayan campout & hike!
Himalayan campout & hike!
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Friday morning I woke up & went to Dalai Lama's puja chanting ceremony

at 7-9am. I sat 40 feet from him on the sides surrounded by hundreds

of maroon & gold colored robes with Tibetan monks inside them. Everyone

chanting along with His Holiness as they call him. This was good timing for

me ontop of Mountain
me ontop of Mountain
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me since the Dalai Lama is not doing any public speakings & this was it

for my time here. Wasn't allowed to bring a camera in, so hopefully you

don't think i'm just making all this up! i was really there! not like seeing

him with 15,000 people at PNE stadium in Vancouver April 2004.

beautiful Indian singers
beautiful Indian singers
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I've finally found a place to volunteer & signed up at LHA organization

to teach conversational english with 1-5 Tibetans at a time every

M-F, 4-5pm. this will be a good way to get to know some Tibetans

besides helping them improve the language of capitalism, aka English.

Being sick & stuck in bed for 46 hours I realized I was feeling vulnerable.

Sick & alone in a strange new place can make ya feel that way i guess.

Kind of survival instincts really. Pre-historically & therefore genetically

humanity has had to be strong & alert to stay alive. If you were sick in the woods alone, you could be killed by prey or enemies. So...i felt myself

wanting some attention. I asked a tourist gal next door to me if she

had any antibiotics for this travellers diarrhea & turned out she was a nurse.

I got 4 tablets (forget the name) & took them over 2 days. She also

bought me bananas as I was too weak to walk & get some. There...

i felt taken care of & was thankful for that!

To get out of this alone feeling that surfuced temporarily (for we are never

alone in a world of 7 billion people) I decided to meet some tourist.

I've bonded with 4 other pals (Jess, Marc, Tim, & Ben) & have been

sharing lots of conversation, meals, & an overnight hiking campout trip.

The camping trip was truly amazing! We rented a tent for $1.25 &

took a taxi up a ways to the trailhead. From there we painfully marched

upwards for 2 hours , with lots of mini-rests in between of course.

This trail led us through a rainforest & valley with gigantic Himalayan

sized boulders & asian style trees! Fantastic feeling being out of the cities!

We reached the top just before sunsed, pitched the tent, & then...

guess what...had dinner at one of 2 rustic hut/cafes that operate ontop

of this mountain in a place you would have least expected it!

Woke up to a great sunrise & hundreds of sheep & goats roaming by us.

The hike down we passed about 40 Indian women wearing the usual

bright pink, yellow, purple sari's that were sitting down singing the most

beautiful music. I captured it on video that i hope to put online eventually.

I've realized that international travelling can dissolve our nationalism.

We are brought up in the West with heavy programs used in our educational

system (learning history of mainly the country your born in) & the media

that naturally are all directally influencing us in multiple ways. We grow

up knowing there is a world out there, but never KNOWING these other

people & places & living in our nationalistic ways. I hear that only 5% of Americans travel internationally. Maybe if it was a majority that did instead

there would be a different mindset. And this would in turn enhance the society & influence the politics & would bring more of an awareness of the foreign policies

that have & AND ARE causing severe damage to good people in far away countries. I believe that to be too nationalistic these days is fatal.

We are now the global village & need to council together more. International

travelling is exhilarating (when it's not exhausting!) from constant rememberance that we live in that very diverse world of cultures, and each

has so many beauties & knowledge to share & help us grow! It allows us to leave our jobs for awhile (come on...you can do it! you can always get a new

job or get re-hired!). It allows us to leave our neighborhood & really explore.

It allows us to let go, surrender, & feel true freedom!

and i am addicted to this feeling. apparently i'm not the only one!

Well, not much else to say now except that I'm eating lots of good food

at various restaurants 3x a day! only about $1-2 a meal!!!

I started a new song on my laptop I call "The Lama Rhythm" (samples from

Tibetans). I'm getting quite comfortable in my room with my tools/toys

(laptop, mp3/video player, books, etc..)

So, it's been a fantastic couple of days!

I'm having too much fun & it doesn't look to slow down anytime soon!

feeling at home ...abroad!

feeling at home ...abroad! ::

The global village is our new home. Take your heart with you all-ways & you will always be at home. Shalom. Shanti. Peace to the people. Power to the people. Build a steeple in your inner temple & worship continuously to be the best you can be.

well, things have been coming together for me here in Dharamsala this past week. I am feeling at home...abroad! Very comfortable here. Being up in the mountains with lots of trees, green rainforest environments, & now October weather getting cold in evenings...this is alot like back home in Vancouver & Pacific NW. For the first 9 days here or so, it was all about eating 3 big fantastic meals at various global restuarants (they have Thai, TIbetan, Japanese, Korean, Continental, Italian, Indian...) & this was a big part of my day. The food is $1 for a meal. $2 if you want a drink & dessert! back home this would be $10-15, so with the $3-5 motel rooms & this price for food....life is cheap. And the talk is cheaper! well, not really. Had some good talks with a few fellow Canadians, Americans, & some English blokes, some Aussies, a Swedish guy, some Indians (mostly shopowners urging me to come in), & many new Tibetan friends. Went to see Superman Returns at one of 3 local theatres that are run inside someone's cement garage (very bad movie...save your time & money). But the past week has been about me getting involved in the community & doing more than just partying & eating like alot of tourists do here.

Room i was to rent for $110 month, a nice room!
Room i was to rent for $110 month, a nice room!
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Finally found an Ayurvedic massage course & am on day 2 of 4 week intensive program. Learning Anatomy, Oils, mostly Ayurveda full body, Shiatsu, Reflexology, & other stuff. cost $250. would cost $2000 back home.

Relax your beautiful self!

My teacher, Shivadas, is from Kerala where this science comes from. I will be doing his yoga classes as well & have moved out of the Green Hotel & into one of his flats. There are 2 photos i will upload, one of him sitting near drums, & other of outside his & my room with his business signs.

Room i was NOT going to rent, even for $45 a month...a dump!  dirty cement & a wood board for bed!
Room i was NOT going to rent, even for $45 a month...a dump! dirty cement & a wood board for bed!
see more photos »

I've been doing yoga all week 2pm-4pm from this gentle older guy, Vijay at his Universal Yoga, but it will be more convient to do yoga with Shivadas right outside my room before breakfast, much healthier than right after lunch with a full tummy like i have been doing (a big no no... feel sorry for the people in my gaseous vicinity!).

I have been teaching conversational English all week 4pm-5pm to a group of 4-8 Tibetan people (some different people each day). This has been FANTASTIC! I learn from them, they learn from me. This has been a real good exchange & has got me really involved in the community. I"ve said it before & i'll say it again, these people are kind, loving, inquisitive, & gentle souls! Obviously, like any other people, there are all kinds of personalities & one should not idealize a group of people such as the Tibetans. I'm sure they have there assholes & jerks, but generally speaking, their stereotype is what i mentioned. In class, we have talked about things ranging from Tibetan Buddhism (their favorite subject), vegetarianism vs. meat eating (a very interesting subject with them considering Buddhism is against killing, but most Tibetan Buddhists eat meat due to traditions of survival on remote land & their history), world events such as North Koreas recent atom bomb test, China & their atheist view that Tibetans are religious fanatics & need to be cultured, etc... After class, I have been hanging out with this guy Dhorji, & sometimes 2 Tibetan 20something girls. (see photo i will upload, although nobody but me is looking at camera!). I am trying to learn some Tibetan jokes & have asked them to bring me some for homework! Some of these young Tibetans have literally escaped from Tibet by hiking a dangerous 21-45 days out of Tibet over the Himalayan mt range & to this community of refugees. If they get caught coming or going...3 months in jail & that includes beatings & torture by expert Chinese military aggression with no mercy.

My volunteer teaching English group.  Notice i'm the only one looking at camera.  fun group!
My volunteer teaching English group. Notice i'm the only one looking at camera. fun group!
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I hear that the Native Amercican "Grandmothers Council" of a few 70 something elders that i saw at Earthdance festival are here in town & giving a week of lectures on current affairs, earth changes, prophecies, etc.. I hope to meet up with them & help take photos to document their trip.

so...my days are like this & im loving it!

yoga class everyday 8am-10am, massage course 6 days week 10am-1pm. stuff my belly for lunch! English teaching Monday-Friday 4pm-5pm. after...hang out with TIbetan friends 5-6pm then...pig out some more for dinner! watch movie, or read, hang with others...

Big Buddha at the Main Temple of Dalai Lama's residence & Government In Exile.
Big Buddha at the Main Temple of Dalai Lama's residence & Government In Exile.
see more photos »

oh yeah....MISS TIBET pageant this weekend of all things! I think...it is cheesy like Miss USA & like other young Tibetans i have talked to....I will miss MISS TIBET pageant & choose to do something else.

Some author is in town doing a slide show called "Gurus, Ganges, & Goa" that i may go see so that I can get a better idea of places i want to go throughhis 20 years of travel experience here, and so that i can get inspired to do the same type of presentation with my photos, videos, & stories some day soon!

My Ayurvedic massage & yoga teacher Shivadas, who runs Kailash School of Yoga, Massage, Reiki in McLeod Ganj.
My Ayurvedic massage & yoga teacher Shivadas, who runs Kailash School of Yoga, Massage, Reiki in McLeod Ganj.
see more photos »

Last but not least...

some tips i picked up (some i already knew & was reminded) that i'd like to share for those interested ::

always sleep with your head facing to the East (the direction of the rising sun).

This allows the magnetic North & South poles to influence our bodies in a good way. If you can't do East, then South. Never West or North.

Shivadas school, his room, & my new room from outside.   We do the yoga on this marble patio.
Shivadas school, his room, & my new room from outside. We do the yoga on this marble patio.
see more photos »

best to drink water & drinks in between meals & never during ....for better digestion.

best to avoid white rice, white flour, white sugar (the 3 white poisons) and instead use brown rice, spelt/kamut/wheat flours, & sugar alternatives like stevia. White rice has no nutrition & sits in your tummy like a big gooey white ball that will give you a round belly eventually. white flour clogs up our system. white sugar, obviously is just pure taste & indulgence & is very hard on the bodies immune system.

best to avoid red meats as much as possible. some blood & body types seem to need meat more than others. just try & eat organic free range, meaning no drugs injected into the animals & not raised in super tight cages & animals allowed to roam free & happy (before being murdered).

best to eat light breakfast, heavy lunch, & light dinner (dinner around sunset best natural time.....not too late like most Europeans 10pm-11pm....and most definitely not before going to bed!

eat fruits in between meals as not to mix acids with alkalines! eating a mono diet of fruits is actually best. Bananas one day. Apples another day. not mixing them (this i don't understand why yet), but watermelon definitely on its own & in between meals as it does not mix good with other foods.

get regular massage to detoxify, improve blood circulation, improve immunity, help with sleeping better, release emotions, & RELAX YOUR BEAUTIFUL SELF!

that's enough for today. limiting my internet use to a few hours a week & trying not to be online too much when there is so much to experience & do outside of cyberspace!

Namaste (Indian Sanskrit for the divine in me recognizes the divine in you)

Tashi Delik (Tibetan for hello, please to see you, thank you, goodbye)

prayers for peace...many meaningful events :: McLeod Ganj/Dharamsala

prayers for peace...many meaningful events! ::

I'd like to quote some Yoga text to begin.

"Yoga works on several levels at once. On the physical level, it makes our bodies strong, balanced and light, and rejuvenates tired limbs. Internal organs are massaged & toned and vital glands like the thyroid and parathyroid are made to function properly. At the psychic level, we become more relaxed and more aware. Through the practice of awareness-in-movement, we become able to observe our minds and bodies, and to become less implicated in our inner turmoil. This growing awareness naturally predsiposes one to meditation. At an emotional level, we are able to release harmful emotional and psychological blocks through purification of the body. Emotional wounds leave traces in the body, in the form of knots, misalignments and tension. In the asanas, we release these physical tensions, and the corresponding emotions are free to rise to the surface and disappear. It is in this sense that yoga is a holistic science, and treats the individual as a psycho-spiritual and physical whole. Yoga works on all the chakras (energy points).
Yoga is not a religion, but it is a powerful technique of self-realization. It teaches us to live in the present without worry, stress or anger. We make peace with ourselves and from this inner harmony, comes peace in our relationships. This makes yoga of immense relevance to our age. It is Yoga's goal that you may find the true meaning of your life, and go on to make the world a better place."

our group went to visit "The Oracle"
Indigineous Grandmothers Council :: 13 Grandmothers from around the globe.
Indigineous Grandmothers Council :: 13 Grandmothers from around the globe.
see more photos »

Apparently us westerners worry too much. We live faster lives in our post-modern technogocial realities. Rushing here & there. Working too much.
Relaxation & emotional release, as well as physical exercise is SOOOoooo
important, and on a DAILY ROUTINE. This takes great discipline (believe me, i''ve been trying to find daily discipline for many years). But...whether it's yoga,
or swimming, or soccer, whatever....we need to DO our discipline daily.
I say this because i know of many people with depression & other unhappiness
that can be cured partly from doing this practice. They say, "practice makes perfect"! I asked a Tibetan nun doing a teaching at the temple here the other day about the millions of depressed people & how to solve it without pharmaceutical drugs. She said that Tibetan Buddhism says to practice everyday.
For them....it's chanting, meditation, visualizing peace-buddha-heavenly realms.
Only a routine can save us from despair & more suffering.

Indigenous Grandmothers with "The Oracle" of Tibetan Buddhism
Indigenous Grandmothers with "The Oracle" of Tibetan Buddhism
see more photos »

Not that i've been suffering (except when sick), but i've been trying to find a routine to increase my well being. My stomach ache & cold has
kept me from my previous morning yoga-breathing exercises & volunteering
teaching english, but now i'm recovered and about to get back into the swing of things again!

Instead, the past week i've been attending the amazing 4th annual Indigenous Grandmothers Council here. 13 Grandmothers, including an eskimo, Hopi, Mayan, Tibetan, 2 Ogalala Lakotas, African from Gabon, & a few others have been gathering daily for prayers for peace. Let me tell you...these women are not your average grandmothers. Most are practicing healers/shamans & hold a very strong presence & vitality. For 7 days they have been here, each sharing their own traditional ceremonies with about 150 participants....uniting faith & installing hope in our hearts.
This has been a truly special event. uber-special!
Two nights ago, i attended a Mazatec Huitla grandmothers ceremony
which was absolutely incredible. She brought medicine from her Oaxaca mexico region. truly amazing!

Agnes Baker Pilgrim & daughter doing First Nations prayer for peace!
Agnes Baker Pilgrim & daughter doing First Nations prayer for peace!
see more photos »

The following day...our group went to visit "The Oracle" of the Tibetans. He has been recognized as the reincarnated oracle who can go into a trance to answer questions for His Holiness Dalai Lama (some of you may have seen this in the movie Kundun). He had the greatest happy wide smile! He is in the photo with 13 Grandmothers.

The next big trip I attended was going to visit the 17th Karmapa at his monastary. This was a special treat as we got a private audience with him which is rare. He is recognized as the 3rd highest lama in Tibetan Buddhism. Dalai Lama being the 1st, & the Panchen Lama the 2nd, who is currently held captive by the Chinese atheists government who are trying to kill Tibetan culture.

Dalai Lama's summer residence
Dalai Lama's summer residence

Journey to the Golden Temple of the Sikhs :: Amritsar, Punjab

I decided kind of spur of the moment to travel the seven hours to Amritsar last Saturday. The aim...to see one of the holiest shrines on Earth on one of the most auspicious days to be there. The Golden Temple, like Mecca for the Sikhs of the world, on the day celebrating the anniversary of their first of ten gurus, Guru Nanak. Mission accomplished! Even though i turned down a dangerous motorcycle ride with Sivadas, I did not escape quite escape danger on this transit. You see...I had to do a bus ride which i've so far avoided this whole 6 weeks in India. The buses are uncomfortable, stinky, & known for some of the most terrifying & fearless drivers in history. On the way there we passed an accident involving an SUV trapped under a raging river where surely the people died. I decided to catch the safe & reliable train the 2nd half of this journey, but on the way home I did not have that extra security & luxury, braving the bus the entire way. On that trip home I did see the aftermath of an extremely bad accident involving a bus & diesel truck head on collision. Scary! Gee...you think it's all the crazy passing & driving too fast that causes these accidents? I will never understand why our age is in such a rush. Our ancestors enjoyed the luxury of walking & horse carriages. Couldn't we not just slow down our new automotives a wee bit & enjoy safety, comfort, & added security for a change?

2 young Sikh boys bathing in sacred water surrounding Golden Temple. Notice sword in hair that is one of 5 fashions of Sikhs.
2 young Sikh boys bathing in sacred water surrounding Golden Temple. Notice sword in hair that is one of 5 fashions of Sikhs.
see more photos »

Why put our lives in jeopardy so frequently? Do the busdrivers really believe that their sticker or statue of their chosen god or guru on the bus mantle will save them? I hope their prayers are answered, but hope even more that they will

A golden time at The Golden Temple!

just learn to SLOW DOWN. As for actually being in Amritsar at the Golden Temple...it was worth the horrendous transit there & back for one beautiful full moon day & night! After watching some tv in my medium range ($12...i splurged!) hotel the first night, I got up Sunday for sunrise at the temple. I was happy & surprised to meet up with Sivadas & new traveller friend Carmen who had arrived earlier than expected & randomly found me in the crowds. yay! Always nice to have companions, especially in this situation where we can share the experience of being constantly bombarded by curious Sikhs asking us the same questions : "Where are you from? From what country? What is your name?" We felt honored at first to receive so much attention. Like we were famous movie stars or celebraties or something! Not just shy youth, but older bearded Sikh gentlemen & their entire families would approach us & have their moment with these white skinned mysterious tourists who were visiting their holy site. The thing about Sikhs I quickly learned is that they are very generous, warm, & inviting. They actually offer free room & meals to all pilgrims who come to the temple. We took them up for a few meals. I've been reading a book "The Sikhs" to finally satisfy my quest for more knowledge about these people. I have learned that their religion is a newer one, beginning in the late 1400's divinely inspired by the first of their 10 gurus, Guru Nanak. He was an exceptional divine man who from birth was noticed to be very divine & deeply philosophical. He is quoted saying "Religion lies not in empty words. He who regards all men as equal is religious". "Sikhism went beyond the older established religions of India in its liberal & sensitive concern for the individual. In exalting the concept of caring for every human being irrespective of caste or creed, it replaced dogma and doctrine by a basic belief in truth. It elevated truth to the level of Divine Being. Sikhism emerged not as a synthesis of established religions but as an alternative to them." (pg 29 of The Sikhs) Also in that book I learned that not only did Sikh defy the Hindus caste system & defy their worshop of idols, but they took equality of women seriously (way before the feminist movement). They disapproved with women wearing veils, allowed widows to remarry, & even allowed women to become preachers. Sikhism believes God is all-pervasive, in nature & all beings equally. Another extrordinary virtue is that Sikhism tolerates other religions & does not say that theirs is the one true path & only one true god (as Muslims & other religions). Of course...for all this defying older religions..they were attacked. They were seiged by Hindus believing in the caste system, Mughals (Muslims) that were threatened by these "infidels & their infidelity" of not believing in their Allah (even know...truth is they are one of the same God & both religions & many others believing in monotheism can only all be right. One God is ONE GOD for crying out loud!). Sikhs were brutally attacked by the British empire before they left & even as recently as 1984 by Indira Gandhi who brutally sent the Indian Army into the Golden Temple killing hundreds of seperatist Sikhs in an outcry that got her killed the same year by her Sikh bodygaurd. I must say that Sikhs have become known as warriors, but originally they were a very peaceful community of truth seekers but through the above attacks had to become warriours to protect themselves from extinction.

A beautiful Sikh family.  One of hundreds of people who approached us foreigners to greet us in their curiosity!
A beautiful Sikh family. One of hundreds of people who approached us foreigners to greet us in their curiosity!
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My one day went by quick circumnavigating the complex, talking with people, & taking tv breaks in our hotel room. The temple itself is actually very humble in size, being that Sikhs believe that the real truth of their religions comes from their gurus & is immortalized in their Garanth Sahib bible, & therefore do not need to build massive ornamental temples to convince others of the greatness of their faith (unlike our western counterparts in the Christian & Catholic empires of the 16th & 17th century eras). Bigger isn't always better!

They even rolled out the red carpet for OUR entrance to the Golden Temple!  (joking...)
They even rolled out the red carpet for OUR entrance to the Golden Temple! (joking...)
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Don't worry...i havn't converted to be a Sikh & am not coming home with a turban & big beard (although some westerners have become Sikh, especially in the Kundalini Yoga movement which was founded by a Sikh), but I now respect & understand Sikhism & why it is so popular & how it provides a great balance within India & the worlds other religions. I am also thankful for visiting, although briefly, the lands of Punjab, where Bhangra music originated from. It is a region very rich in culture indeed!

Hairy Om's :: Rishikesh

Rishikesh. The "Yoga Capitol of the World". The city of ashrams & the holy Ganges River. A place where sadhus (the bearded, dreadlocked holy, & some not so holy men come to gather, chant, &...ask for money/food). The place the Beatles visited in the 60's to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Trancendental Meditation (T.M.). Wow. finally made it to this crazy place! Alot different than i imagined, but isn't it always like that? Expectations. Although...I'm not disappointed. I came straight to Laxman Jhula area, which is the furthest away from downtown Rishikesh & therefore the quietest. I landed at Hotel Divya & am very very happy there! I have a top floor 'penthouse' room at this nice, clean budget hotel for only $5 a night! The top floor has a new marble inlaid floor & a magnificent view of the Ganges River. I found this place from some random online searching & am thankful for having saved me a lot of searching around. This place has so many hotels..and ashrams! The choices a tourist has for studying yoga here are mind boggling. overwhelming. Luckily...my first day here I ran into a 3 friends from Vancouver (one i knew would be here, the other 2 a complete surprise), and one led me directly to MY yoga school.

my first real encounter with a snakecharmer!  Rishikesh.
my first real encounter with a snakecharmer! Rishikesh.
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Trika Yoga.


"Agama is a unique international school offering its students the secret spiritual path of true Integral Yoga in a modern form. Based in the authentic, esoteric lineages of Indian and Tibetan Tantra, Agama provides an updated and upgraded self-development system whose theory includes comprehensive university-level teachings in Yoga, combined with those of other sacred traditions from East and West (such as Taoism, Gnostic Christianity, Tibetan Buddhism, and Sufism). At the core of our teachings is the practice of an exceptional system of Kundalini-based Hatha Yoga and Laya Yoga, two of the most powerful elements of this age-old tradition. This is an approach nearly lost today which relies on energy awareness during Yoga practice to produce a highly accurate self-understanding of body, mind, and spirit. We focus also on meditation, healing through cleanses and purification, exploration of special topics in-depth through immersion workshop courses, and retreats. "

Trika Yoga School
Trika Yoga School
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This school is MORE than I expected to find! It is a complete path of Yoga. Embracing yoga not just as a physical aerobic exercise like so many schools wrongly do in the West (where Yoga had to compete with Jane Fonda & Richard Simmons & therefore evolved, or devolved into something else). This yoga system works on chakras while doing asanas, which is very different from any class i've ever attended. We have a class in the morning 8:30-11am (1st half hour is lecture), 4-6pm class, followed by 7-8:30pm lecture. That sounds like a very lot of yoga & you, like me, might think...woo...1 hour makes me tired, how could i do that? Well...this yoga is alot lighter than any i've been to. You hold the poses for 2-5 minutes each. I was sore the 1st day, but now am fine with their schedule. I look forward to classes & do not get that lazy feeling inside that i used to get. Most people in the West do not look further into the studies of Yoga. If they did they would find suuuuuchh a wealth of information. Trika school gives out papers of useful info each day that the evening lectures discuss, but the papers help clarify. Great teachings not even related to yoga, such as the Macrobiotic diet (more later), Tantra, music meditations & the basics such as:

Monkey picking his toes (not the one that stole my bananas!)
Monkey picking his toes (not the one that stole my bananas!)
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• Form, method of instruction, benefits and cautions of asanas (postures), pranayamas (breathing techniques) kriyas (cleansing techniques)
•Anatomy and the physical/mental benefits of yoga
• Subtle yogic anatomy and the Chakras
•Introduction to Ayurveda, nutrition, and the yogic diet
•Ashtanga philosophy (the eight-fold path)

These things can & do cure illnesses, depression, etc...

Simply by doing daily poses, breathing exercises, & cleansing techniques you can improve your life.

Typical India scene of the many stores selling many many trinkets that one does not need!
Typical India scene of the many stores selling many many trinkets that one does not need!
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This school is for me!

I intend to finally learn the Neti cleansing technique of using a special Neti pot & salt water to HEAL MY ALLERGIES. this is my big 'health problem' for the past 2 years. I believe it is an emotionally caused problem from my mother's tragic death, & a relationship that began to crumble around that same time. I will not get allergy shots for 3 years like an allergist specialist recommended , but will try this time proved technique instead. daily sinus cleansing, as well as a few yoga poses that can help.

Just an ordinary guy i met today!
Just an ordinary guy i met today!
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I will be here in Rishikesh for 3 weeks, instead of the 2 i planned. Train tickets to Varanasi & Bodh Gaya were not available for my 1 week there, so i decided to stay here & study at Trika. Although I will regret missing those 2 places, I prefer to have longer meaningful stays in places i like as opposed to 2 days here, 2 days there & all that bussing around! Besides, now I have more reasons to fulfill a 2nd journey to India (trekking in the Himalayas, visiting Nepal, Tibet, Rajasthan, etc...).

Today...i am fasting. well, kind of. I am eating a few bananas & drinking a few glasses of fresh orange juice. I have been trying (quote...TRYING) to fast once a month for awhile, which ended up being once a season. Fasting is extremely good for us to do on a regular basis! It's not just a religious fanatical ritual performed by Hindus, Jews, & Muslims! No, this is for everyone! Really. It cleans out the toxins in our system & improves our health! There is much to say on fasting & one can find a wealth of info online, but just a reminder or suggestion if any of you are curious...it is GOOD GOOD GOOD. If you can't do no food (i can, once did 10 day Master Cleanse), you can do a fruit OR fruit juice cleanse. Remember to drink 2-4 litres of water after, & go back to regular diet very gradually beginning with light foods such as soups & raw food.

Luckily...the monkey that stole my bag of 5 bananas & zoomed back up a tree didn't perform this feat today, or might have fought back! But, what could i do that day, but laugh & consider it a modest offering to the monkey who happened to share it with his little ones. I went back to the stand & bought 5 more, hid them in my bag, & on my bike ride back gave one to the sweetest old Indian lady begging on the side of the road. In return I got the biggest brightest smile i've seen in ages, and a prayer for me as well. how nice, & only for a 5 cent banana! i might have to start giving out bananas more often! Oh yes. The beggars. Rishikesh has about the same amount of visible beggars on the streets as Dharamsala, but they are mostly quiet & not approaching people. They simply chant, "Hari Om", or "Rama, Rama. Hello! Hari Om." I like this approach better.

As for my journal title "Hairy Om's". If you've been to India, you know what i mean. Hari Om is a chant that many Hindu's say that basically blesses God as everything. Everything is God. Here in Rishikesh there are many hairy Sadhus with long dreadlocks & beards. They usually wear all orange robes & have certain rituals & practices that Sadhus are known for. Such as...smoking charas (aka marijuana) to reach a high state of consciousness that they feel is closer to God. A meditation. So many of them have offered to sell me "good hash, good smoke, good marijuana mr." But alas, I am not interested & just smile & walk by. That reminds me...in India & many other countries you definitely want to be extremely careful buying that little herb known as marijuana. The locals don't get hassled for smoking it & you'd think it was legal here, but if the police catch a tourist smoking any you are about to giving a bribe, known as "baksheesh" to keep you out of prison. I hear $25-50 usually works. Even worse is when a crooked policeman or his helper fraudulently put some in your bags & arrest you! Anything for a buck. Unfortunately this happens quite often here.

Finally, i wanted to expand on Macrobiotic diets. It is a system founded by Japanese health nut Georges Oshawa that:

"On the simplest level, it means that individuals eat foods that keep them in balance with their environment (i.e., in a hot (yang) climate, more cooling (yin) foods are eaten, and vice versa). Oshawa outlined a ten-stage "Zen" macrobiotic diet in which each stage gets more restrictive. The diet is alleged to overcome all forms of illness."


Apparently, he cured literally tens of thousands of people with various diseases, all by changing their diet! At Trika yoga school, they have recommended we try the Oshawa diet #7 that consists of only eating brown rice, oats, buckwheat, millet, and wheat (all Yang foods) for 10 days! That means only those & nothing else except a little salt. This diet alone can rid you of many toxins & has cured countless ilnesses. The 1st few days can be challenging apparently, but after day 4 or 5 it gets easy (like my master cleanse fast of no food....you get used to it & actually enjoy feeling lighter). I won't be trying it now becuase i need food energy to keep doing my yoga, but will most definitely do this diet very soon.

Lastly, somebody found my travel blogs on this website & has asked me to write for a new travel series of books. And i'll get a paycheck! Yeah for www.realtravel.com

as for other stuff to do in Rishikesh, i may go white water river rafting, hiking to some caves where holy men live, ...not sure yet.

Hairy Om's & much love,


p.s. I have completed to new songs i've written while abroad that you can hear. One hiphop track, another breakbeat/dubstep:


More Hairy Om's :: Rishikesh

More Hairy Om's. More days in Rishikesh brought more travel blog topics. More interesting people, places, cows, & even a robot! So far my India trip has been about staying in one place as long as possible & not zooming around like an italian stallion spending 2 days here, 1 day there. I've gotten very comfortable in Dharamsala/Mcleod Ganj (6 weeks) & now Rishikesh (2.5 weeks).

Again, Rishikesh is a holy ancient Himalayan city where the holy holy Ganges River flows direct from the highest of the most high mountains on earth, & holy men & women come down from their caves & villages to teach yoga-meditation & the art of supernatural potentials that remain unknown for most of humanity. Even before the Beatles & Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, this was a center for serious yoga studies with a lineage of gurus teaching various styles, probably the most well known being Sivananda. Many of the sadhus (dreadlocked, bearded, orange robed men) walk around here. I wasn't able to have any discussions more than 1-2 phrases in English with them, but was able to get a few good photos with permission. Isn't this one guy looking intense? The paint on his forehead represent his devotion to Shiva, divine consciousness...and the opening of the 3rd eye (intuition, wisdom,..).

More days in Rishikesh brought more travel blog topics. More interesting people, places, cows, & even a robot!
mysterious sign of a dreadlocked holy man, with no explanation.
mysterious sign of a dreadlocked holy man, with no explanation.
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While walking across one of the two bridges I saw a dead cow with a flower wreath that had been thrown into the river as a burial. Of course in Varanasi you will see dead human bodies among other things in some of the absolute dirtiest, polluted water on the planet. Many, many Indians come to bathe in Varanasi in the holy Ganga as they believe it will give blessings, good luck, a good reincarnation, healing, and so on. Unfortunately I read that it is safe to have 500ml per litre of fecal pollution, & it has 1.5 million !!! Of course, in mystical India, many people have learned the lost art of 'mind over matter' and simply defy scientific logic. I believe it's possible & humans have potential to physically transform energy, but I have not learned this art yet so when I go to Varanasi someday in India trip #2, I will probably just watch others bathe & play it safe. The picture of the temple on the beach in Rishikesh is where I swam one warm November 16th day, and here the water is coming direct from the mountains & fresh, pure, & ....ICE CccccccOld! I lasted about 15 seconds! But now i'm blessed right? Hope so! I am having good luck on this trip!

an actualy real life dreadlocked holy man.  one of hundreds in Rishikesh, but the only one i asked & paid to photo!
an actualy real life dreadlocked holy man. one of hundreds in Rishikesh, but the only one i asked & paid to photo!
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I have mostly just been doing the Trika Agama yoga school 6 days a week, 4-5 hours yoga, 2-3 hours of lectures, & homework. In between I have had time to attend an aarti puja ceremony that hindu's do every sunset & sunrise on the Ganges River -songs, prayers, & flower-candle trays sent down the currents as offerings to God. There was one big one I attended that had a famous bearded mystic guru who came and did some prayers. Everybody in orange robes, singings songs of love & devotion. I didn't get any pictures of this unfortunately. To be honest...i didn't feel much spiritually from these ceremonies, but that is mostly because i don't grasp the complicated Hindu religion, don't speak Sanskrit or Hindi, & therefore enjoyed it more on a surface level (i just thrive on the cultural studies & novelty of being in new situations such as these). I did discover a small temple where 8-15 people or so go & chant various mantras at the same time, ringing bells, burning incense & a very timeless feeling. I meditated there 2 mornings & recorded 6 minutes of chanting on my mp3 player. I can't remember if I mentioned but...pssst...i have a secret! I got a secret mantra initiation at Trika Yoga school! I finally learned the ancient art of internal "unstruck" Nada Yoga mantra chants. silent chants that you say to yourself & receive a humming buzzing echo-reply back from the cosmos. very powerful i must say! if it's your cup of tea. if not, TV meditation will have to do, eh? Heck, it's what everybody else is doing. But those of ya that know me know i don't follow the trends. I go by that old saying that if you want to be succesful (or in this case healthy)...do the opposite of what the majority & mainstream are doing!

I moved to the Shiva Resort which is closer to my Trika Yoga School, with a very nice grassy garden & plants outside my room (a rarety here).
I moved to the Shiva Resort which is closer to my Trika Yoga School, with a very nice grassy garden & plants outside my room (a rarety here).
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As far as sugar goes I am following that saying. (get ready for a little more preaching...i mean...schooling) Upon arriving to Rishikesh, I got 2 of the biggest & painful zits (one above my lips, one inside my nostril) from eating too many treats one week. Well, i decided to do 2 weeks of no sugar, while i watched countless other travellers eating those delicious looking chocolate cakes, pies, & locals eating all the Indian sweets (even worse for ya...pure sugar & oils). I'm quite proud of myself for doing it. Felt good energetically. I finally cracked when I saw how good that German Bakery apple pie is...I had to have one! Now that I did...I feel like doing 4 weeks of no sugar & will go til X-mas til the next. Why you say? Why the heck not. All this sugar we are extremely addicted to is causing our immune system to crash, messing with internal organ health, making us restless, & has no nutrional value whatsoever. Purely a taste thing. And a chemical reaction (some say sugar is a drug?) that makes us high or hyper fo awhile. Oh & it gives many of us zits too which is a sign of dietary/environmental toxins trying to come out of our bodies! Last year I met this 60 year old woman that went 5 years with no sugar & had not been sick that entire time! She was the most healthy, radiant person i've ever met & I must say that she inspired me to someday attempt longer periods of time away from humanites favorite drug. But...uhh...i'm not that extreme & I do love my chocolate so...maye i'll do a season (3 months) sometime?!?

Delhi nights & crazy daze ::

Delhi nights & crazy daze ::

New Delhi : I came to India with the intention to avoid the big cities. Like the black plague, they keep spreading & spreading, & infect many millions of people. Delhi's growth is out of control. It is amazing that it all stays together & life functions in this kind of chaotic infrastructure of 12 millions bodies constantly coming & going. Perhaps the most difficult challenge here is the simplest thing in life...breathing! This place has too much pollution from autos, buses, & rickshaws giving off black fumes of not so lovely air to breathe (giving you a daily set of black boogers!). I hear the asthma rates are increasing exponentially at a very alarming rate. In fact, this is how I felt in New Delhi, out of control & alarmed. What's so 'New' about Delhi anyway, it looks anything but new here with old dirty buildings, trash everywhere, & everything looking like it's barely hanging together.

Frenchie Francoise's lovely tall skinny Mughal tower 2 bedroom house with rooftop we partied on tonight!
Frenchie Francoise's lovely tall skinny Mughal tower 2 bedroom house with rooftop we partied on tonight!
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But yet, the new conservative corporate government declares that "India is Shining!". The slogan chanted by all that are making money in the IT department (Information Technology, or more simply international call centres that go to low wage economies to save money), big corporations, large stockholders, & corrupt politicans. For them, "India is Shining" & that is exactly what they want to program in the minds of the 1.2 billion inhabitants of India & the rest of the world. But you take a look around. Maybe 1% of India is shining. Like this french photographer & journalist I met said, "India is dying, crying, & a few are shining". This is the title & topic of his current piece of work. It is a complex situation that happens in all capitalist nations where the rich get rich, & ...well...you know how it ends. He told me about the many small farmers committing suicide as their business dies & country grows with pains, while capitalists gains increase, but their furtile lands ceace to exist in abundance like the good ole days. Guess that's the evolution of a capitalist country (we all went through it no? America, Canada, etc..), and we know the communism scenario isn't the best creative solution because it's own problems of corruption & power imbalances arise. But yes, this is getting to political for a travel blog. I wish I could write more funny stuff, but my sense of humor comes out more in person, & I hope to increase my literary humor soon. These are serious things to consider though, & I didn't come to India to make up new jokes.

Delhi Jazz Fest band from Germany that was actually very good!
Delhi Jazz Fest band from Germany that was actually very good!
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So, that's my serious intro to New Delhi.

On my recent second trip into Delhi I spent five days in this massive metro, as opposed to my 1st day landing in India where I made a rapid escape to the lovely Dharamsala. Because I made a new friend up north who invited me to her home in South Delhi, I was able to get an insiders view into the good life of Delhi. Antigoni (greek name for a greek gal) has been living in Delhi for 3 years working for the WHO (World Health Organization) doing HIV education & other meaningful work. Actually, I arrived on the weekend of her 3rd anniversary party which coincided with her french boyfriend Francoise's b-day party (but i'll get to this later). Day 1 I showed up in Delhi on a train from Rishikesh (5 hours) about 4pm in the afternoon & took a taxi minivan (150 Rs) to her pad, talked, rested awhile, got fed some delicious carrot-beet-cheese salad & then accompanied her & Francoise to a play. It was AIDs Awareness week & the play was about an Indian young women with HIV in modern traditional India & how her boyfriend & family did not know how to communicate with her upon finding out her situation. It was well done & worth while to attend. The building complex the play was in is very post-modern urban architecture-some kind of government center for arts & culture. For our next event we walked across the street to see 3 FUNK bands play in a beautiful outdoor garden restaurant lounge setting (I capitalized FUNK because i love funk music!). Now I see why

they say "India is Shining". The two events I attended make you feel that way. The crowds were upper class Indian and international

mostly. I did not feel like I was in India at these two events, except when walking across the street getting a glimpse of the homeless sleeping in the medians of the roads (very common here), the large amounts of honking (also very very common here), & the rickshaws that you simply cannot avoid for a day in India (they are everywhere & make India function like the tick tock of a clock). It was here at this concert that I sat down on some cushions, glancing at a hooka, ordered some food, & talked to Francoise's photographer-journalist friend about India. I was inspired by his sense of adventure & the ability to make a career internationally with his chosen work in the freelance realms. I guess I'm doing a little bit of this now with my travel writings & book. Feels good making money in

another country. Frees up your previous belief that you were taught from day 1 that you cannot work in other countries unless

you get status, licenses, & other beauracratic paper trails. But alas, the path of an artist, a gypsy, a musician, a writer, a massage therapist, a craftsman, & many other trades cannot be traced. We slide through the framework & walk through walls like Neo from the Matrix. We are the invisible community worldwide that governments fear & want to find, & fine!

We find freedom in the new global village. Afterall, if there is no WWIII & things pass like Y2K & business is as usual, the world will evolve into ONE global economy. The prophesized New World Order, with one money linking all countries (like European Union, but this will be Earth Union), all people, all trades, everything computerized, perhaps even the surgical computer chip heard about in conspiracy theories.

But whatever happens, we shall overcome. The whole us vs. them game is almost over. Freedom will prevail. Humankind's lust for freedom is as deep as the need for love & intimacy. We must be free! With freedom, the world truly is our stage, we let go of rage, fly from the cage & run wild in the utopian earthly gardens of abundance. The New World Order is nothing to be afraid of because there is one thing about governments...they are not as powerful as they think. Their power is temporary & in the hands of a few puppets. Individuals can find loopholes in the system, "Chant down Babylon" & set themselves free. Especially alternative lifestyles where one leaves the system to grow their own food, lives simply in rural settings & becomes self-sufficient, sustainable, & lives off the grid & therefore outside the system. We always have a choice. We do not have to keep up with the Joneses, buying new cars every 3 years, mortgaging a house & living in debt for life. Unless that truly makes you happy & free, why go there?

Eco-villages, formerly known as communes have become a perfect model for the ultimate freedom & harmony. Sustainablity and Eco have become key words even in the mainstream. We are finally becoming a more conscious global village that will have no choice but to be ecological (afterall, it's logical to save our ecosystems instead of kill them off right?) & to be sustainable makes all the sense in the world, no? To grow your own fresh, healthy, organic food (yes, no pesticides, genetically modified chemical junk in this experiment). What a concept? Just like the days of old previous to our mad population growth & love affair with chemicals in the industrial age.

Yay for de-evolution! We will have no choice but to revert to the old organic methods that may not make as shiny & perfect looking produce, but in fact have a much higher vitamin & mineral content. Of course, we do have new methods of organic farming such as 'Bio-dynamic farming' & other permaculture methods that communes such as Findhorn have pioneered (they are famous for growing humongous sized amazing fruits & vegetables in the 70's that brought them worldwide fame. they have been one of the most successful communes to date). As for growing crops inside the 'urban jungles' of the concrete madness we call cities, it can & is being done in a large way. Cuba has led the world in this new movement back to organic growing & their metropolis of Havana has

abundant gardens on rooftops, parks, sidewalks (where we have grass to look at & for dogs to pee, they grow crops for the starving!).

I hope to go there someday soon & photograph & research this positive aspect of their play on communism for the people.

One last fact i learned before i get back to Delhi & India...the average North American consumes 30 times more than the average Indian. 30 times! we better start learning how to sustain off all that trash we consume, eh? That's why I like art made of recycled garbage, it just makes sense using what other people in our rich cultures throw away. I met one guy who claims he never buys anything when he moves to a new big city. He finds furniture, clothes, & everything to live simply by in alleyways as people throw out good stuff in mad shopping sprees.

Day 2 :: Started the day by teaching my first unofficial yoga class with one student, Antigoni. Taught her the Agama yoga I learned at Trika school in Rishikesh. It felt real good to finally teach yoga, after learning so much & becoming more comfortable with the poses. Afterwards I went with her & Francouise driving all over doing errands to get ready for their big party the following day.

Don't remember much that day except a blur of shops, cars, poor people, black smoke, & turning down a McVeggie burger

because I still don't like McDonalds & only use them to take craps in their bathrooms! At least they're good for something huh?

But to each their own. Oh & McDonalds in India of course does not serve hamburgers due to their ancient belief in saving cows

for milk, yogurt, & their amazing gifts they give humanity. Holy cows walk & roam the streets of Delhi & every other city in India & therefore avoid the untimely deaths so common worldwide. I do hear that they often die here prematurely though by eating plastic bags & other

garbage that suffocates them. Many people take cows to the vet for surgery to avoid this & save their lifes.

Later this night we went to the annual Delhi Jazz Fest & saw 2 bands. The first sucked. Cheesy light fluffy jazz with doo-wap diddly doo wap female vocals that all made us feel like we were on a cruise ship & 20 years older than we actually are. I like my jazz

either funky or dark & dirty. The second band was great though. They were from Germany & had a great blend of experimental

(even Radiohead-ish), dark to light, funky to ambient...very diverse. They had a standing ovation & two encores!

Day 3 :: I found myself teaching yoga again, now two students, uhh..friends really that just wanted to practice & allow me to review

what i've learned while teaching them some of this exciting super jedi yoga! Next we went to Hauz Khas Village & I began researching that neighborhood for 2 of my travel stories, one on the historic park nearby, & one on the artsy hip village shops nearby. It was divine timing that Francoise's house & rooftop party were in this area. Prrrrrfect! After checking out the ancient Islamic tombs of the Mughal

invaders of early 15th century Delhi, and checking out some funky original shops in the village, I went to the party. The rooftop was

filling up with ex-pats from all over the globe that live & work in Delhi. Alot of French, some Latinas from Mexico, D.R., & other assorted varieties of youngsters having a good time, sipping wine & eating cheese (this was a French party ya dig?) & alot of other great

food that people brought. Actually had the best chocolate cake EVER (seriously!) & decided to bend my no sugar rule for this (thank

goodness i did! it was worth it!). I didn't want to dj but about 10pm I brought out my mp3 player upon request & played some originals

& other songs. Dancing on rooftops is fun! Until the neighbors complain....then it's over, like our party. But that's ok, it was Sunday

& people had work the next day I suppose. Besides, we have to respect the neighbors & us being 'foreigners', outsiders in their land,

we especially must pay respect & not push too many traditional buttons of rules, regulations & conservatism that could upset the

status quo, dig?

Day 4 :: Antigoni had to leave Delhi for work at an early hour so I packed my bags (i hate doing this...just when i'm getting comfortable somewhere) & went to North Delhi's Tibetan Colony called Majnu-Ka-Tilla for 2 nights. There I refound my love of Tibetan people,

art, food, & buddhist temples (there are 2 there, but very small & humble). I bought a book I sent to my dad (this is a whole story in itself. India Post!!!), some dvd's, & used this colony as a place to launch on Delhi excursions for more travel writing stories!

I did some research one day on music shops in Delhi for buying musical instruments (which the publisher of the book, Connesseurs Guide to Delhi, thought was a good idea for me to research) and I also wrote one story on Majnu-Ka-Tilla.

Four stories now, in 4 days! Wish I could post them now but All Things Asian publishers will hopefully copywrite all 4 of them & then

they will be in the book, and I will get paid cold cashola!

Day 5:: I saw the Jama Masjid mosque, the largest Islamic temple in India, that is absolutely mind blowing in size, age, & beauty! I think it was made by the same master architect as Taj Majal, which I unfortunately will miss in this India #1 trip, but whatever. Buildings schmildings!

Just a hop, skip, & a grumpy jump away I was at the Red Fort seeing with my own eyes another very historic building of Old Delhi

made by the Mughals (i believe in 1400's) which the British eventually took over & used & returned to India hands after 1947 Independence. It is massive! I really enjoyed seeing the ancient original 1300-1400's books with Islamic writing & art in the museum inside. I love Islamic art & writing...it's so harmonius & elegant. I wish there religion was more understanding of all truths & not

so fundamentalist & extreme. They have contributed so much to India (and the world) in architecture, art, music, & other inventions.

I wish racist & ignorant people who don't understand the islamic people would look a little deeper. It's just the extreme fundamentalist that are causing all the problems (Islamic, & Christian!). What I don't like about the Islam faith is the way they categorize all non-believers in their faith as infidels, unholy, & outsiders. I feel this in their gaze.

I like how the Sikhs accept all faiths, all religions, all truths of one god. I believe in that. I believe tolerance, acceptance, & total

freedom are the way of the ancient past & the way of the future. No more wars for people's grammatical errors! God is God.

Everything is holy. There are many paths to the mountaintop , but they all lead to the same goal. Enlightenment, which some call

Heaven, Christ Consciousness, Samadhi, Nirvana, the land of Allah, Shambhala, ...

Many paths. All true. Please people, stop your fussing & fighting as ole Bob Marley warned you 40 years ago!

"we don't want Armageddon. Love will conquer all." (another ole reggae song by i can't remember who?)

Day 6:: I took a train from Delhi 2 days & one night & 40 hours later in Goa , spent night at Colva beach and 3 local buses for another 3 hours to get to Arambol where I am now & hope to stay for 1 month or so. Nice to get out of the cold north & cities to decompress & relax for my last 3 months down here in the tropical south!

Goa NYE 2007 :: Al Queda threats dissolve into tranquility!

Goa NYE 2007 :: Al Queda threats dissolve into tranquility! ::

Goa. the legendary tropical beaches of southwest India. the place where the Portuguese settled & colonized in the 1500's & made predominantly catholic & found financial & political control, until the 1947 Indian Independence which ended that & the larger British Raj control. Goa. the place where the hippies came beginning in the 1960's to getaway from the materialistic west, live for dirt cheap, & party on the beaches. Some have never left, & many have been coming to Goa consistently in all shapes, ages, nationalities, & sizes for a good vacation. Some have made it there home. Like me! Well, for one month anyway. I am already dreaming about coming here annually (and why the heck did it take me 12 years to get here? that's when i first wanted to come to India, & now this Goa scene is kind of overblown & not like 'the good ole days'). Prices go up for December & January. Sometimes double or triple the normal rates at hotels, beach huts, & restaurants.

38 hour 2nd class AC train to Goa. Met a russian older lady in my compartment who liked to talk. She shared her life story with me. It was nice to have a companion on the long voyage, although I found myself just wanting to read, listen to music, or watch movies on my little ole Archos 504 super-toy! Arrived around 10:30pm at some random city NOT on the beach & so I took a taxi into Colva (the nearest beach) and stayed at a family guesthouse room that I had called to reserve. Very nice family! Morning time went for breakfast & walk on the beach then took rickshaw to start my journey to the very north beach of Goa, Arambol. 3 buses & 3 hours later I arrived. That makes it sound simple though. 3 VERY PACKED buses & 3 VERY LONG HOT HOURS later I arrived at Arambol & then it got worse from there.

My friend Alex had reserved me a room & I was to call her cellphone to meet her. Her phone did not work & I waited at a restaurant with all my luggage trying repeatedly for 5 hours until darktime. I then locked up my bags with a chain & went to this reggae show where I thought she would be. Sure enough, by 10pm or so I found her & went to my new room. It actually gets rough again, as opposed to smooth, which I believe is what we prefer, no? Rough in the sense that my new room was very noisy & not quiet as I wanted. The family that owns the guesthouse had a store adjacent to my wall & woke up every morning at 7am sharp & began their shuffling. I am a lightsleeper & when I wake up, I'm up! Even if I try & go back to sleep, almost always..I toss & turn & give in to the day. 7am is not always when I want to get up, especially after late night music events. I put up with this interrupted sleep for 5 more nights then decided to change rooms. Problem was I had paid in advance for one month in this room. So, I manifested somebody that gets up at 5am for yoga, a woman named Paddy from Australia. Perfect! Next, I found myself the super-Shanti quiet room at Ludu Guesthouse up on top of this hillside where I hear ocean waves (100 metres to the rocky shore where the restaruants are) , palm trees in the wind, & crows for my wake up call. The soothing sounds of nature that are much more delightful than waking up to motorcycles revving. I like it here & am staying 1 month in this room at 300 rupees ($7.50) a night.

My impressions with Goa so far ::

Tropical utopian paradise where beaches, warm ocean water, palm trees, blue skies, sun, fruit & seafood are abundant.

The good life! I remember this. Oh yeah! From a kid travelling to Florida & California with my pops, I fell deeply in love with this lifestyle. The beach life is for me. Yeah, Vancouver has it's beaches but the months are so few each year when the weather is hot that we feel a natural anxiety that "oh know...summer's gone already? I have to wait another 3 seasons again!". I would love to set up a spring/summer pad on one of the BC gulf islands (i hear some get less rain & are in warm belts? Gabriola?), But Goa is year round hot. November to February are the ideal times to be here. March begins the monsoon season where rain will fall like waterfalls wildly month after wet month (makes the Pacific NW seem tame in comparison). Goa, of course is also a party place. The hippie generation of the 1960's made Goa a party scene where life was & still is cheap & simple. Back then it was rock n' roll psychedelic parties on the beach, especially full moon, & somewhere in the late 80's til now, Goa trance took over (for those not into electronic music, this is techno rhythm, with more repetitive bass lines & wierd sci-fi sounds. Other styles of trance include psy-trance, progressive trance, etc..). Nowadays the scene is not at it's peak (all scenes naturally rise & fall, like ebb & flow of the tide, up & down like a roller coaster ride). The people, drugs, & parties are still very much here, but the local governments have decided to tighten the ropes even more this year & the police are as corrupt as ever. The have six jurisdictions of police here in Arambol, & each team sometimes comes to the parties, clubs, restaurants doing music events to get their baksheesh (bribe). This year is the first they have made a 10pm noise curfew which is totally against human nature! I mean, 10pm is usually when most events start! It has caused small restaurants owners that cannot afford the big baksheesh (20k Rupees= $500 US) to throw late events a big loss in sales & potential for their venues.

More on Goa:

Many many Israeli & Russian young tourists (In India, but especially in Goa). They come here for many reasons, and one, perhaps as we all do in some way, is to escape our lifes back home & find some R&R on the beaches of Goa. First the Israeli's. Many of these Israeli's are here because as citizens of Israel they are required to serve 2-3 years in the military. Some have already served. Some are looking to leave Israel & avoid that mandatory service. A rare few are here for a short vacation, and believe in their duty to serve in the army & protect their country. One thing is for sure, the Israeli's, like the Russians, stick together in their groups, & stereotypically come off as being cold, distant, & not so friendly with the international community. I did get a chance to meet a few warm, kind, open-minded Israeli's & Russians while there though. Had a great dinner conversation with a young woman, Gabrielle, who taught me a new viewpoint on their perspective. She said that often Israeli's see layed back relaxed west coast american/canadians like myself as somebody hard to connect with. They judge us as being too relaxed to care about the international violence occuring & that if we were more involved & activists in the struggle like them, then we could relate. I see the logic in this, but it's just a clash of mindsets. We create our own reality. Yes, I feel lucky to have been born in a peaceful part of the world where war & terrorism has not been a part of my direct daily life (but post 911, it is very much apart of the global villages psyche). I am from the sacred lands of the Pacific Northwest. The last of the wild west where the pioneer's dreams of freedom & open space still exist to some extent. I play my role in being active in the community & world community I live in & ya know...I strive to be even more relaxed. That is the goal, no? Let go of stress, anger, judgement, contempt, seperateness, ...& realize our commonality. I would hate to see a future Earth that had the opposite goal!

Speaking of 911 & terrorism, when I arrived here early December '06 there were warnings by the Israeli government intelligence that Al Queada has threatened to attack Goa due to it's high volume of Israeli & other 'non-believers' here. The did attack a nightclub in Bali a few years ago, but I feel like this threat is a hoax by the Israeli government to get young Israeli deserters back to their homeland & back in the army!

As for the Russians...I only met two the entire 5 weeks in Goa. They were two beautiful 30-something ladies that sold the most dee-lish chocolate cheesecake every night at the Pyramids beach bar. Lovely sweet ladies (even sweeter cake!) who told me that Russians are so cold because of the cold communist government that programmed them to be that way...and perhaps the weather & geograpically isolated location as well. Being so isolated, you don't have to relate to a dozen other nationalities daily like Europeans. I wait, I met a third who was an extremely gorgeous blonde my age that I invited to my last music event but did not see her again. I will remember that smile though! May all Russians warm their hearts, soften their minds & smile like these 3 beauties!

Many new health problems to discover & "learn" from here in the poorer & more tropical parts of the world.

My third day in Goa I noticed that my nose was swelling. After 5 days of watching it grow bigger & swell up my eyes & giving headaches, I decided to see a ENT specialist. He diagnosed it as a Furuncle infection & said I am lucky I didn't wait til it reached my brain. I took antibiotics (1st time in Dharamsala for travellers diarrhea/flu, now a 2nd time) & it went down after a few days.

During my 5 weeks here I decided to finally get my Earth symbolic tattoo on my upper left arm in 3 sessions by this amazing Italian artist Enrico (charges half price cost back home). I co-designed with him a piece on my upper arm that is a lotus flower with earth continents, flower of life, water, & light beams. It is nice to finally get this body art done (5 years i've been thinking about it), but I must say that the beach is no place to get tattoos. You have to stay out of the sun each session for 2 weeks, & out of the water for 1 week. So...I only had 2 weeks of my 5 where I could swim. Next time I'll wait til a cold rainy winter Vancouver week to get a tattoo (I have one left to get on my right arm, AIR symbols containing the Haida Pacific NW black/red animal art of the Eagle, Raven, & Hummingbird in harmony with black air spirals & a non-traditional approach surrounding them. Hope to get when i go to Haida Gwaii, aka Queen Elizabeth Island from a native Haida tattoo artist). Now, my last days in Goa I received a very unpleasant red swollen rash on my groin that continued to spread around my belly.

Yikes! The doctor here said not to worry, "it's just an allergy", but...kind of bad timing for I am now off to a Zen 7 day retreat, and already underslept from the mayhem of last minute things here, packing, & such. My friend says this may last 10-14 days & could be a poison plant like poison ivy? At least I didn't fall off of a motorcycle or scooter like many dozens of people I encountered. I rented a scooter & drove one hour to a secluded beach further up north with a gang of 5 motorcyclist (I was the little guy on the scooter, they had the big bikes). It was nice being in the remote beach, but the roads were soooo bad & full of potholes, & the crazy Indian hectic driving even worse. After that...I mostly stayed at Arambol beach the entire 5 weeks. Well, I did go to the Saturday night market twice which is an incredibly colorful affair with live music til 2am, hundreds of vendors, not just typical Indian 'seen it before' items, but handcrafted original clothes, jewelry & such from the foreigner travelers & Goa immigrants. I also went for a long cycle ride with my good friend Sivadas from McLoed Ganj who took me to see Old Goa, ancient Catholic ruins from the 16th century & a massive church that's holding up good for 500 years old. It was nice hanging out with Sivadas again. Hung out with him & other new friends for NYE celebrations at the Pyramids. Oh yeah. The "White Pyramids" is a tiki lounge beach bar & restaurant run by Austrian runaways Andy & Max. I played music there four times over the weeks. I dj'd reggae, dub, & global beats, including the launching of my new project BiOniC LoVe SoUnD SySteM, which I played a mini 30 minute original set with live congas, tabla, me & German mc on the mic. Andy & Max said the show was one of the best ever. Over 100 people dancing up a storm almost my whole 4 hour set. Good times...and I even got paid 1000 Rupees each show (uhhh...that's really only $25, but buys 8-10 meals here!).

Well, all this time in Goa & no wild trance parties for me. I had the most musical inspiration at Pyramids watching live sufi persian

4 piece band with dulcimer, persian sitar, doumbek & arabic percussion, vocals, & a belly sufi dancer. They were amazing!

I'm doing a remix of one of their songs now. Loving the Persian dulcimer at the moment. Such a mystical instrument.

Goodbye Goa...thanks for everything!