On my own: Part Two
I arrived in Kolkata late, close to midnight. I had been traveling in this one particular outfit I bought in Cochin: indigo blue dress with high waist a billowing skirt, checked and solid...it felt Parisian and it made me feel like Anne of Green Gables, a (red head)character in a novel series we read growing up. I always get nervous arriving in a new city. I have to tackle that communication with the cab drivers and the swarm of people trying to get you to go this way or that. The taxi driver did and didn't know where we were going. The guest house had given me very specific directions and the cab driver asked sveral times: we made it. Here? At first, I didn't believe this could be it but the driver called the man in charge and someone woke from their slumber on the floor to let me in. It was such a strange residential neighborhood but Camila had recommended it so I assumed it was close to her apartment. All checked in and I ask for the wifi password. They didn't have wifi. It doesn't work and I feel a reaction of frustration and determination that can't be expressed because the man doesn't speak English and its late anyhow. I had to succumb to my need to sleep over my desire to check in the internets. I slept well. I had only had a day and half in this city and I wanted to get up and get the day started... But between making plans with Camila and doing laundry, I didn't leave the hotel until close to noon. Camila said she would pick me up at 3pm and I will attend a meeting with her. I wanted to visit the Oxford bookstore, recommended by Ramona.
I took a rickshaw, negotiating a better rate after three tries and delightfully snapped pictures from the back of my ride and oohed and awed at this new cities streets. Even after almost a month of being in India, I was entranced with the bright colors set upon the grey/dirty backdrop. I was dropped off near the bookstore but instead headed to the park close by. Parks are some of my favorite places to visit in a city... Where people go to picnic and children play... And in India where a goat herder and his herd bask in the sun. Women do laundry in a dirty lake and the ground is covered with garbage. I still loved it. People stared at me as much as I smiled at them. A young woman laying under the shaded tree, called out saying nice clothes and for a moment I felt guilty or strange. I had purposely brought less western clothes so I could purchase traditional wear. Today, it was bright yellow pants and a purple and white top. I am sure I had a bindhi on my third eye/center of the forehead. I replied thanks. The bookstore was magical and I got lost in the aisles upon aisles of bound stories and mysteries. Speaking of mysteries, they had brown paper covered books, with a short description in marker, and a suggestion to go on a book date with yourself. When you unwrap the book, you find out which one you purchased. I got "a love story." I also went upstairs and had a small lunch and tea, while reading "The Little Prince." I made my way back to the hotel to meet Camila only to find out that she went to another hotel with the same name and the one I was staying in wasn't the one she knew so we had in fact missed each other. So back in another ride to find her in a neighborhood very close to where I just was. Ugh. Alas, navigating streets with the language barrier can be trying and when we arrived (I was very late) the man didn't have change... So I bought cigarettes.
But he pointed me in the right direction and I made my way to meet my friend.
I rounded the corner to see Camila and another stunning woman waiting for me and together we went for tea. They both complimented me on my style and how I fit right in, in India. I love it here, I say. And I do. There's an errand or two to run and along the way, Camila and I stop and look at clothes and she tells me about her life in India and we laugh about how ridiculous it is that we live 10 minutes from each other in Brooklyn but I had to come all the way to India to see her. We stop at a temple and we both are blessed. We speak about the law of attraction and she coaches me on manifesting what I want in a pattern. She makes it sound so easy like I'm just not using the right words. I promise to be more clear :) she asks me what I want in my partner and I keep saying what I don't want. She explains that this keeps the patterns and the pathways of the brain concentrated on the negative or the past so it revisits and stays the same because it's familiar. I need to say who this man is, be very specific and pave a new way for the universe to provide me with the perfect match.
We made our way to a friends house where we meet her husband, Erhan and his friend visiting from NYC. I have met said friend a couple of times and like the last time, he doesn't remember meeting me. This time I don't care but I do remember caring more in NYC like his lack of acknowledgment said something about me. This time it said something about him. The small room was full of Bangladeshi friends sitting on the floor. We sat down and drank and ate. It was someone's birthday and someone's bachelor party and at some point music played silly songs and the boys danced around. It was sweet. The host's mom was there and late in the evening, she served the main course and I couldn't refuse the plate of mutton falling off the bone, rice and salad. It was amazing. Camila and Ehran convinced me to stay for the weekend; I could stay at their place and change my ticket and go see a concert and enjoy Kolkata more. I got so excited. It was another moment where I had a ticket, a plan, another place to be... But I couldn't rearrange without losing a lot of money and also questioning the reasons why.
So I left the next day, without seeing the shiva temple and without really enough time to absorb the city I had taken so much care and time to come visit... Why so many plans? Why so many tickets? Why am I always doing?
The next stop was an ashram, and I knew that I wanted to stay in the city so I could twirl and drink and be a city gal. But I had made a commitment to spent two weeks there to deepen my practice, to quiet my mind and to hone in my breath. So I left Kolkuta and headed to Chennai. And then took a train to Madurai. This overnight train was much cleaner, faster, and easier. I didn't make any friends but I slept the whole way and arrived back down south kind of close to where I had been just two weeks before with Vidya. It was super early and the sun still hadn't granted enough light to determine where I was so I paused and waited in a waiting room, cleaned my hands and face and when I felt grounded enough, I found a rickshaw to take me to the Sivananda ashram.