Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First stop: Berlin

Berlin is a very special city to many for many different reasons, to me it is special because this was the very first stop of my travels, and the people I met there became very dear to me. I was both excited and nervous, I have to admit. I didn't know what to expect from the city, its people, or the ashram (temple) I would be spending a considerable amount of time. I think it is important to know that prior to this trip I have not spent any time in an ashram, so whatever I was getting into was all very new to me (at least in practice).

So what does a regular day in the ashram look like?

For starters it begins very early in the morning, even before the sun comes up. Normally we wake up around 4 in the morning, get dressed in devotional clothes (picture below), and attend a ceremony called Mangala Arati. As I learned over the course of my time visiting different temples, each temple sets their own time. In Sweden, for example, arati is at 6am! A whole two hours later!

I didn't quite know how to put this Gopi Dress properly (notice how off the scarves are in each picture)

After the mangala arati we have some time for personal meditation and japa chanting. The latter has become a personal challenge since I am quite slow and I struggle to chant the required 16 rounds. It is supposed to take 2 hours to accomplish but it takes me many many more! 

After the meditation and arati are finished we take prasad, or prasadam (offered food) at around 9:30am. Remember we wake up around 4am, so it is around 5 hours of empty bellies until breakfast time. Meditating and reading vedic literature are best done when the mind and the body are clear. For the newcomer, this is quite the task, and one can hear the symphony of growling bellies as the morning progresses. Morning fasting is normal for those who make waking up before sunrise a habit, and they are also quite active and energy and surely more productive for those of us who were used to college life. Before, I would probably be going to bed this late/early if there was a project or essay due the next day.

Clearly there has been a major change between having a college life and a spiritual life. Life after graduation for me has taken a 180° turn. Has anyone else's life after college taken a major turn?

I will be back with more!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blog expectations

Before I began my journey I had planned to update the blog as often as possible in order to keep everyone who reads it informed and for me to remember the details that easily fade away with time. Unfortunately, a few things came up and I was not able to do so. I managed to write a few posts, but too few for my liking. First, there was the issue with the internet connection, then the discomforts of not having my own laptop where I could work more comfortably. I brought an iPad instead, and found that working with it is not as efficient as I would have hoped.

This brings me to over a month of my travels later and very few things written about my experiences in the different ashrams I have visited.  I will write a post for each of the countries I have visited so far: Germany, Sweden, Spain, Czech Republic and Hungary.

I made a two-week stop in Puerto Rico, working with a professor and her daughter from Amherst.

The news I have is that I will be staying in India for 6 months rather than 2 months, and as you can image I am more than excited to be in India for this long.

So what comes next? The latin American portion of my journey. I will be making a stop in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru! 

I made sure to bring my laptop with me, so expect more news from me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Technology, my friend / Mi amiga la tecnologia

Finally I´ve gotten a hold of a laptop and I want to share and post as much as possible. In order to do this I must go back to the beginnning.

As some of you know, I left for my journey on June 26th at 7pm, and arrived in Berlin the next day at 2pm. It sounds like a whole lot of hours traveling but thanks to time differences my time in the air was only 9 hours. Which was no so bad. I slept a bit, and was even able to get some vegetarian food on the plane (cheese lasagna) which was a pleasant surprise (when I traveled to Costa Rica this past Spring break my choices were chicken or beef).

So far I have spent my time in Berlin, Sweden, and Mallorca. Berlin has become a sort of home base because I always return to Berlin, and because the people that live there already feel like family. I haven't left Berlin yet and I already feel like I will miss this place, a lot.

Two things about technology I have realized: I need the comfort of using my own laptop, and I need a tripod (I was surprised to find out that after a few weeks of intense camera work, my hands are exhausted, especially my right hand, that or I'm getting old).

On a side note: typing on a German keyboard (or European keyboard of any kind) is more challenging and a bit more annoying than I had thought. There are minor differences between the American and the European keyboards that are not as noticeable. A few things are out of place like the question mark or the apostrophe, but having the Y and the Z switched up slows me down quite a bit.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lots of pictures...coming up soon!

I've already filled a 16GB memory card with photos and videos and I've only visited 2 countries! As soon as I get a computer I will be sharing and spreading the love. Also, I created a Facebook page for my travels also called Between Two Worlds, for easy sharing, but there are no pictures yet unfortunately. Soon I will be able to share more with you more often. So hold on to your chairs! I'll be back with more!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Talking to strangers can be fun

This will be another short post (since I have not found a way to successfully upload pictures from my iPad to the blog) BUT I wanted to share my 12 hour train ride experience from Berlin to Gothenburg, Sweden. As a heads up, the pictures I got I think are great, though some windows (because they were dirty) did not allow for great quality. But imagine beautiful green countryside landscape from three different countries and a train that rides on a ship to cross the ocean, and the fun that can come from talking to strangers and you got yourself a happy camper that did not sleep or read on said ride because she was having great fun getting the know other fellow human beings. I even got myself two beautifl tiny fans (two adorable little girls from Uzbekistan) who smiled at me pretty much the whole train ride, and insisted on taking pictures of me on my camera. I met a Canadian boy who was on his way to continuing his Europe trip, a Swedish Jazz musician who walked with me through the streets of the 'in the process of renovation' Copenhagen, and a couple of German kids who were on their way to meeting their grandparents in northern Sweden. There is a whole lot more to share, but this is just a sneak peak for now. I will try to find a kind person who can lend me his or her computer and share all the love with you all.

Experiment of the day: talk to a stranger and get to know another fellow human being, you will certainly be pleasantly surprised! Haribol! 

--- Esta va a ser una nota pequeña, ya que no puedo subir fotos desde el iPad, pero queria compartir con ustedes mi viaje en tren desde Berlin hasta Gothenburg, Sweden. Este viaje duró 12 largas horas, pero sepan que la vista desde mi ventana era maravillosa, eso hizo que el largo viaje valiera la pena. Otra cosa que hizo que mi largo viaje valiera la pena fue la gente que conocí durante esta travesía. Conocí y conversé con un chico de Canada que al igual que yo esta viajando y conociendo Europa. También conocí a un musico de jazz con el cual conversé sobre muchas cosas por horas y unas niñas hermosas de Uzbekistan.