Tag Archives: India

I am my mother’s daughter

My dad has been out of town since Thursday. My mother and I haven’t been alone together for this long in quite a while, as in by ourselves. Growing up, my mom and I didn’t agree on a lot of things. Day after day, I would promise myself that I would never do the things my mom did, or act the way she did.

The longer I was away from her during college, I began to notice that we have the same tendencies and mannerisms. I like things done my way. Everything has to be neat and organized. Randomly, I would go into cleaning sprees, making sure there wasn’t a speck of dust in my apartment room. After moving home from college, these habits continued. I began to realize that my mom and I are really similar, really really similar. Is this why we were never close growing up? Was I fighting a mirror reflection of myself growing up?

My grandma (mom’s mom) was with us for a few months after I moved home, and a few months after we got back from India. Watching my mom interact with her’s was like watching my relationship with my mom. I began to notice how she treats her mom the same exact way I treat her. It dawned on me, I am my mother’s daughter. Am I going to turn out just like my mom? Would my future daughter turn out the same way?

Looking back at the generation of women before me, I realize how strong and compassionate they are. They are the epitome of what a wife, mother, daughter, and sister are. I see what it means to be a woman–the sturdy backbone, the compassionate heart, the loving shoulder, nurturing hands. I guess if I end up the same way as my mother and grandmothers, I won’t be in too bad of a place. I mean, they’re all incredible ladies that I’m so fortunate to have in my life. They’ve set the tone for what a true woman should be.

I have begun to appreciate my mom so much more these past few months, and I literally don’t know what I would have done or how I would have turned out if it wasn’t for her. I don’t tell her this enough, but I love that woman more than life itself.

So, what’s the point of this post? Nothing more than another realization I’ve had in life that I know is going to help me in the future. It’s funny when things begin to make sense. Life always gives you clarity when you’re most prepared.

I (think) I’ve said this before, but the relationships we have in our life play such an essential role in our development. Are you learning about yourself? Are you growing? Are you becoming closer to your goal because of that other individual? These are questions I ask myself, but really need to ask myself much more than I do. Because these are the people that I want to turn to in times of need. These are the people I want to share my successes and my failures with. These are the people that are going to help me seek the Ultimate.

What better relationship than the one with the person who knows you best, whether you want to admit it or not. Family will always be your family at the end of the day, whether you like it or not. So mom, if you’re reading this, I love you. And thanks for being the best mom a girl can ask for!

I am my mother’s daughter.

Three Generations

Three Generations

Mama's Smile

Mama’s Smile

 

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final thoughts on Vipassana experience

By the end of the week, I was able to sit longer periods without hating the pain in my knees and back. The more I observed my physical discomfort, the quicker it went away, even if during that one moment of observation.

I can’t say that I had certain goals I wanted to accomplish coming into the 10 days, mainly because I didn’t know what to expect. But, I did learn some things that I’m deeming as important in my life journey, and will definitely play an important role in seeking the Truth.

1. I know I’m an emotional person. I react to every situation that comes at me. I now realize the extent to which this happens. How can I live a balanced life when I don’t even have a balanced mind?
2. I left Vipassana with a greater awareness of myself. I can definitely feel the sensations on my body, and I realize that they are there now. Do I still go in for that scratch on my nose. Yeah, a lot of the times, especially when I really can’t stand it. But, at least it’s not an unconscious act. I know that I am reacting. It’s not just another motion of life. Awareness-it’s a pretty amazing thing.
3. I left a huge grief in Kaufman, Texas. One that I wasn’t aware still hung tight to me. I realize that I let past situations determine my future sometimes, when it’s my current actions that determine my future. I’m learning to let go.
4. I have an attachment issue. To my friends, families, ideas, schools of thoughts. They’re in my comfort zone, and I’m scared to venture out. As much as I’d like to think that I’m open-minded, and as much as I am, I am actually very limited to what I am open-minded about. When it comes to spirituality, I like what I’m doing. Like I said, if I went to this pre-India, I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now. My world is being filled with so many new and exciting things, and it makes me so excited for my future, and the path I’ve decided to walk on. To become closer to the Divine, to have a real and fulfilling relationship with the Supreme involves so much more than I ever imagined, and I am realizing this a lot now. If I keep focusing on the one or two things that I don’t like about an idea, a person, a school of thought, I could be missing out on so much more that means a lot more. What is wrong with me!? At least this realization is coming now. Better late than never.
5. I want to live my life with so much love and compassion for all beings and creations that walk or sit this world.

At the end of the day, can I say that Vipassana Meditation is the technique I want to practice here on out? No, I can’t. It’s something I’m still learning about, and figuring out if it’s for me or not. But I can say that it has taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about what kind of life I should be living, and want to live. A balanced life. A neutral life. A positive and hard-working lifeA life filled with love.

I am so in love with life right now, and I am so in love with the path that God is sending me on. My friend describes it as scary, but I like to describe it as fun and exciting.

May all beings be happy.

Vipassana experience: part 1

So, I’m back. And, I think that I’m going to have split this up into a few parts, because, well, it was a lot of experience. I mean a freaking lot. I’m not really sure what the best route is to go through all the details, so let’s just see how it goes.

Like I said before, this course was a no talking, no writing, no reading, no communicating with anyone 10-day trip. And, seriously all I can say is that it was mind-blowing. Never have I realized just how crazy I am. I mean, I know that I’m crazy, I think we all do. But, when you’re stuck with yourself for 10 days, you realize just how crazy you are.

Let’s start with the first day, or as they call it day 0. When we walk into the registration area that afternoon, I’m feeling pretty confident. Like, oh yeah I totally can handle this. I mentioned in a post from India, how I try to meditate every day. I think meditation is such a great tool to use to strengthen your relationship with the Divine. So, yeah, I went in thinking that I totally got this. Boy was I in for a little surprise. Our first meditation started that evening after dinner. And it’s safe to say that I got little to none meditation in. The whole concept behind vipassana meditation is to focus on the reality of the moment. We are so always caught up in either the past or the future, two parts of our lives that we have absolutely no control over. It is so difficult to focus on the present. Go ahead, see if you can focus on your breath without intruding thoughts about things that happened yesterday or things you have to do for like 5 minutes straight. Seriously. It’s really tough.

This was the first time I realized how unstable my mind really is. I can’t focus. At all. Maybe, I would get in about 2 minutes of real focus on my respiration at a time, but my thoughts just wouldn’t stop. What was going on? I realized I am never living in the present. My mind is on turbo speed. Always. Woah.

The early days continued. 4am wake up gongs were terrible, yet easy to wake up to, and surprisingly I felt pretty fresh waking up that early, not groggy at all. Back to meditation. Progressing a little bit as the days went on. By day 2, I was able to hold my concentration on my respiration for longer periods of time. Cool! Maybe Mr. Goenke is right after all. With practice comes success. This isn’t so bad after all. One of the harder things was to not get frustrated at yourself at a seemingly easy task. But, just accept the reality of it.

Another phenomenon happened on day 2 as well. Towards the evening, right before the night group sit, I began to feel very lonely and isolated. The real-ness of not communicating with others and living an isolated lifestyle began to really sink in. I did not like it, and it is safe to say that I could not stop crying. So, here I am, sitting in the meditation hall, trying to concentrate on my breathing, but all I can do is cry. But then, an amazing thing happened. Basically what was going on, was a lot of past situations and experiences started coming back to me, that I never wanted to feel again. So I told myself, snap out of it, and focus on your breathing. That is what is going on in the now. I did. And I stopped crying. It was so incredible. The minute I stopped dwelling in the past, and actually focused on the present, I was able to let go of some huge weight that apparently had been dragging me down, and was just waiting to resurface. It’s awesome what focusing on the present can do. I was beginning to get what Goenke was saying about the past and future, and how we should begin focussing on the present.

This is all getting pretty cool.

new

When I came back from India a week ago, the first thought that came to my mind (besides the wonderful feeling of thinking how soon I’ll be showering in my own shower and sleeping in my own bed) was how my journey is over. It had been a great three months, but now it’s over.

And now, it’s 2013. I didn’t really think of resolutions or things that I wanted to work on. I thought back to the ones I made for 2012, and started thinking about where I fell short and what I could have done better. I went back to thinking about what my resolutions could be for the new year.

We make such a huge hype over the new year. It’s time to start fresh. Make goals that we want to accomplish that year, things we want to change about ourselves, etc. But, why do we limit ourselves to just that one year? Not only that, but then when we miss one day of not working out or waking up early, we sort of just give up. I mean, I do at least. I realized that this way of setting resolutions for that one year, it just doesn’t work for me. I can honestly say that I’ve never, to this day, lived through on any resolutions I’ve ever made in the new year. I even get a second try during the Indian New Year!

So, I thought about what I can do differently this year. If there is one (okay there were a lot, but here’s one that is pertinent to this situation) thing that I learned while I was in India, it was that the world isn’t waiting for you. Incredible moments don’t come to you. You have to create incredible moments for yourself, all the time. I was talking to two of my close friends on January 1, and at that moment I made the decision. I decided that I’m not going to sit around and wait anymore. Life is going by quick, I mean, I’m going to be 23 in May. 23! If I don’t start making my life incredible, it might be too late.

Here’s what I decided: to make a list of every place I want to travel to, every dream I want to accomplish, every lifestyle change I want to make, every relationship I can’t live without, everything. Everything. And every day, I’m going to put some sort of effort into living my life with incredible moments, instead of just waiting for them. The best part about this is, first, these aren’t restricted to just one year. 2013 is going to be a year where I begin to start doing something great for myself. I want to really do things that make me happy. I won’t beat myself up when I don’t do something one day. (I told myself I’ll start doing surya namaskars every day, even if it’s just one or two. Didn’t even start on Jan. 1.) I’m going to create incredible moments for myself. Second, incredible is defined by me. I no longer need an external reference to tell me if I’m progressing or not.

It’s going to take a lot of effort to accomplish the task at hand. But, the beauty of it, it’s not a “mission-accomplished” kind of task. It’s a journey.

So, here I am. It’s January 2, 2013, with a brand new journey at hand. I’m excited for what this year is going to bring. There are lots of new adventures to be had, so here’s to 2013–a year of hope, love, excitement, and many many incredible moments.

home

I’m home. It almost doesn’t feel as though I left Memphis 3 months ago, and it doesn’t feel as though I lived in another country for 3 months. 3 months is a long time. It’s a 4th of a year. It’s a long time.

Coming home never felt so good. Despite the setbacks of canceled flights and trying to find ways to get back to Memphis, I am so glad I’m back. At the end of the day, home is home. No matter where I go, or what city I travel to, the prospects of being able to shower in your own shower and sleep in your own bed are things I definitely call luxuries.

I’ve been home 2 full days now, and I’m still trying to adjust back to the cold weather (I came home to snow!) and get rid of this jet lag. We’ve basically unpacked the 8 bags we brought back. I’ve eaten taco bell and had brewed coffee (I’ve been living off of instant coffee for 3 months, and for a coffee lover, it does not taste good at all). I was even happy to come back to songs that really annoyed me when I left (ahem, hey, I just met you…). I didn’t forget how to drive either. This was all such a relief to me, because it made me feel like I never left. I was home.

However, I began to think back to India, and the millions, or possibly even billions, of people who don’t have a home. The ones that live on the streets or in shacks that may fall over any day. I wondered if they regard their block of sidewalk or the metal sheets that encompass them as home just as much as I consider my house my home. Is the feeling of “home” a universal feeling?

When I was little, I remember my aunt once telling what the difference between a house and a home is. A house, she said, is built by hands. A home, however, is built by hearts. I guess this concept resonates with me now more than ever. My home, consisting of me, my mom, and my dad. Our three hearts. So, I guess if we take that definition of home, you can create your home wherever and with whomever.

How great is it to be able to say that you have a home to always come to. How blessed are we? Incredibly. I wish that everyone in the world had the ability to say those words. But, the world isn’t fair. What can I do?

I’m reminded of the song “Home” by Philip Phillips.
“Just know you’re not alone. Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.”

Home isn’t confined to walls that surround you every night. Or by the people who you live with. Home is a state of mind. And I can try my hardest to make someone not feel alone, and help them feel like they have a home.

My journey in India has ended. But, I’m just beginning on my journey to figure out what this whole life thing is about. I’m coming back at the right time. I can’t wait to start this new year fresh and rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.

it’s time for the goodbye

Well, this is officially my last post from my 3 month long journey here in what I call the motherland-India. I am so excited to be hopping on a plane in less than 24 hours, and finally be heading to my home. But, a part of me hasn’t accepted that reality yet.

The past 3 months have literally been a roller coaster of emotions, experiences, thoughts, etc. I’ve learned so much about life and who I really am. I was lucky enough to have 4 amazing gurus to teach me as much they can in a short period of time about classical music, Sanskrit, Yoga, and Ayurveda. I’ve gotten so much closer to my family in India, and I can finally say I don’t feel like I don’t belong here.

I’ve eaten so much, I don’t want to see Indian food for at least 3 weeks after I get home (except for this one punjabi shabji my aunt is bringing me today!). I’ve literally shopped ’til I dropped. I’ve been in a car here more than I can say I wanted to. I rode on a train in India (from Ahmedebad to Mumbai). I did touristy things and took cheesy pictures. I partook in Navratri festivities, Diwali festivities, and Sharad Poonam activities. I’ve witnessed and experienced every range of social economic status–I saw what it is like to be extremely wealthy, and I’ve seen what extreme poverty looks like. I saw how ridiculous election time is here in Gujurat, and how angry people get when their candidate doesn’t win. I watched riots and protests on TV in Delhi after a young girl was gang raped on a bus. I visited beautiful temples that really represent what our places of worship should be like, and I’ve visited not so amazing temples.

I learned how to work a riksha and travel in the city all by myself. I know the streets of Ahmedebad and can find my way home if I get lost. I stayed in a village with no internet, a city that is growing faster than anyone can think, and in a megacity that is running out space. I saw the rivers and lakes of this country and more fruit trees than I ever have in my life. I saw that there are more animals roaming the streets of India then there are in the zoos of India. I watched Bollywood movies and memorized Bollywood songs that I can’t wait to bring back to the States. I talked in Gujurati, English, and shaky Hindi. I learned that the final price is never the final price here, and that you can always shave off at least 200 Rs at the end.

I found out that I am a very impatient person. I get aggravated easily. I learned that the only way to live life is to constantly be open to what your environment and surroundings are throwing at you. I realized that the Universe is always, always, giving you signs about where your life is going. And when those signs are being thrown in your face, grab them as quick as you can. I learned that the most unexpected people walk into your life and can make such a huge impression. I’ve made friends that I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t come.

I felt excitement, homesickness, loneliness, happiness, extreme heat, annoyance, over indulgence, pain, flexibility, and love.

Most importantly, I am content and at peace with myself. I’m ready to come home.

mumbai mumbai

I’ve made it to Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. Today, we took an all city tour of Mumbai! I’ve been to Mumbai on several occasions, but I’ve never actually seen the city. I know it’s super cheesy to do super touristy things, but recently I’ve been loving it. I mean, I love the hidden secrets of cities, don’t get me wrong. But, it’s cool to really see the history of a city. Surprisingly, I had a really awesome day, despite being on a bus for about 10ish hours, and going to some places that I didn’t think were very Mumbai-ish. We basically did a huge bus tour of the city. We visited the beaches that surround Mumbai (all Arabic ocean—the water is so gorgeous might I add), looked at various old buildings that are a part of the city’s history, and naturally saw some of Bollywood’s biggest stars houses (including Amitabh Bachan, Shah Rukh Khan, Rekha, and Salman Khan…also Kajol’s house I can see from my aunt’s house!).

The thing that struck me the most about this city was how you can really see how much of an influence the British had in this city. You can tell by just the architecture that is seen throughout, especially in South Mumbai where a lot of the older buildings are, and where the Gateway of India is located.

It’s also safe to say that I don’t think I’m used to such crowding, not even in big cities like NYC. There are people everywhere. Literally. One of my cousins told me every day about 25 million enter the city, including residents, visitors, people who work in the city, etc.

One of the biggest tourist attractions, or so I think, is the Gateway of India. It was created to welcome the first arrival of King George V and Queen Mary during the British rule in India.

I think the big thing I saw was how long influence can last. Sure, the architecture of Mumbai is something so physical, but it has left such an impression that it has become part of the city’s culture. It’s important to remember how our actions and words leave an influence around those we surround ourselves with, because it can literally become a part of who that individual is.

I don’t have much more to say. I am definitely exhausted from the day! Mumbai is such a magnificent city, and I wish I had more time to explore the city. If India is on your list of places to go before you die, I highly recommend Mumbai! Below are some pictures from the day!

Beautiful sunset over Mumbai

Beautiful sunset over Mumbai

Looking over the shore in Mumbai

Looking over the shore in Mumbai

Another building built during the British era.

Another building built during the British era.

Forgot exactly this building, but built during the time the British were in India--you can really see the influence just in architecture

Forgot exactly this building, but built during the time the British were in India–you can really see the influence just in architecture

Close up of the Gate of India

Close up of the Gate of India

Gate of India- built in 1911 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary to India for the first time

Gate of India- built in 1911 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary to India for the first time

blind faith

“Devotion toward another person, no matter how saintly, is not sufficient to liberate anyone; there can be no liberation or salvation without direct experience of reality. Therefore, truth has primacy, not the one who speaks it. All respect is due to whoever teaches the truth, but the best way to show that respect is by working to realize the truth of oneself.”
-William Hart in The Art of Live: Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenke

We were in Shreenathji about a week and a half ago. I have really mixed feelings about the trip, because it pokes a place in my beliefs that I have really strong feelings towards, and that is religion. I’ll explain the reason I was drawn to this specific passage in this book in a bit. But first, let me talk about my outlook on religion.

I regard myself as a pretty religious person. I read the Geeta, I say my prayers, I celebrate the holy festivals, what have you. But, I have made it a point in my life to really understand the true meaning behind everything I do. Sure, I don’t have all the answers, but I make the effort to ask people and trace the reasoning back to something. My parents have been awesome for putting up with me as well when it comes to this from the get go.

So, back to Shreenathji. It was definitely a experience I’m not sure I have the will power to go through again. It’s basically the city where Shreenathji (God) took human form. There’s this huge temple where He actually lives. That’s kind of a rundown. But, He has millions of followers, my family being one of them. Really we went to take my mom’s mom and my dad’s parents. It’s considered a holy city, and since they’re all pretty old now, my parents kind of wanted to give them this last chance to come and offer their prayers. And this is how I felt: the city was completely packed with people, it wasn’t the cleanest city I’ve been to in India, and I was able to actually see the idol for about 3.2 minutes TOTAL. You get shoved in and out in a matter of seconds.

And this is where my problem lies with the state of religion today. Please keep in mind that this is a strictly personal opinion, and I am not sharing sentiments on behalf of people. Anyways, I feel like we’ve really lost the essence of what religion is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be guidance along a personal journey to merge with God. It should offer you peace and comfort that you’re not alone in the world. It should encourage you to seek a divine life and try to instill Godly qualities within you. It’s not something that if you pay a certain amount of money you have a direct ticket to heaven. It’s not something that if you merely go to church, temple, or some sort of place of worship once a week you’re considered a “religious person”. It takes effort. It takes dedication. It takes love and compassion. We’ve become so quick to find the easy way out, that we’ve forgotten that there is a path that we must walk to achieve our goal. Can I really say that I live a religious life? We have faith in the middleman, but not in the Ultimate.

The beginning of my senior year of college, I had a realization where I began to ask myself, am I living a life that God would be proud of? Am I worthy enough to be called His daughter? The answers: no and yes. I am worthy enough to be called His daughter, because I am His creation. But looking back, I’ve done a lot of dumb and stupid things that would really embarrass Him. Keeping this in mind, I tried to fix the gaps in my life, so that I can live, to the best of my ability, something that He would be proud of.

To me, going to a temple where I can’t even sit in front of God and spend time with Him isn’t devotion. I will say, that you have to have a LOT of faith to endure Shreenathji, and I sincerely commend those men and women who go with loving hearts. Me, that’s not my way to show my gratitude. That’s the beauty of religion. It provides a path, guidance. But it doesn’t –or to me, it shouldn’t—have strict rules to follow, because my relationship with the Supreme is completely different than my own parents.

“Devotion toward another person, no matter how saintly, is not sufficient to liberate anyone; there can be no liberation or salvation without direct experience of reality. Therefore, truth has primacy, not the one who speaks it. All respect is due to whoever teaches the truth, but the best way to show that respect is by working to realize the truth of oneself.”
I wish I could tell you how many different people at different times have tried to explain this idea to me. The path is about the effort. You have to do to achieve. And finally, it clicks. The best way to show that respect is by working to realize the truth of oneself. 

Countdown to America: 12 days

relationships

One of the most important things that goes on in India is visiting family. I haven’t seen a lot of them in 7 years, and a lot of family I’m meeting for the first time! I really didn’t realize how big my family was, until I for real thought about it, while I was at my mom’s mom’s house in the village. There were new relationships and connections with my family every day. It was pretty cool, and way more than I can remember

I started thinking about all of the relationships I have in my life: friendships, personal relationships, family, co-workers, my relationship with my community, and yes, even my Facebook friends. Each one of those relationships play a very crucial role in my spiritual development.

A real relationship is where you are really truly developing into a better version of yourself, ultimately bringing you closer to the Ultimate. Just recently, my best friend and I were talking about how after our friendship rekindled essentially, we’ve been more confident in ourselves, are more optimistic, and are really just happier. This is what a true relationship is about. I think to my friends from college, Bridge Builders, youth camp, whatever situation, and how blessed I am to have found people in whom I can grow closer with the Supreme.

“The true soulmates, those who are really meant for you, they always show up, at the right time, and at the right places. You can’t search for these friendships, they just happen. A real friendship consists of more than social exchange and emotional support. In a real friendship, one plus one always exceeds two. Such friendships need hard work. You can’t plan on coming across such friends; you have to leave the start of such friendships to the chances”

This quote is from a book I just finished reading, “The Alchemy of Well-Being” by Indrajit Garai, and I think it sums up pretty well the essence of a relationship. People come into your life at exactly the right time, when you need them the most. And if they leave, then they’ve played the part they need to make you a better person. This last part is sometimes hard for me to grasp and understand. Why do friendships end? Why do I stop talking to people I once was so close to? Everyone who you cross paths with has a role they play in your life, whether it be to be your best friend, hurt you so that you are able to learn from the experience later on, encourage you to achieve your ultimate goal, to love, whatever. But, not everyone is meant to stay in our life forever. We can learn something about who we are from each encounter.

A relationship should be a mirror reflecting the image of who you really are, and helping you turn your flaws into perfections. Something that I’ve begun to think about is if I’m being a true good friend to those around me. I’m glad that I have so many relationships that really reflect the person I am, and friends who have my back, encourage me in all that I want to accomplish, and tell me when I’m being unrealistic or just dumb.

So, whoever you consider family or friend, love that person/group. They’re here for your personal growth!

“In a real friendship, one plus one always exceeds two.”

Countdown to America: 13 days

back for a day

So, we got back from our mini trip really late Friday night. All I can say, is what an excellent time I had. I don’t really know where to start to describe everything, or even if what I say in words on this post will 1. make sense, or 2. give my trip justice.

Like I said, we went to Somnath to visit a few temples in the area that are important in the Hindu religion. It was actually pretty neat. For those of you who don’t know, in Hinduism, we believe that God takes human form when society is in need of being put back on a path of good. When he takes a human “birth”, it’s called an avatar. There have been many avatars to come, but one of them, Krishna, is one most people have heard of. Anyways, 2 of the temples we visited were locations where Krishna spent his last few moments in His human body. It was pretty neat to see where He took his last steps.

We also went to Diu, a city that’s very island-like (actually, I think it is an island. If not, it’s definitely a beach). It was founded by the Portuguese, and is seriously one of the prettiest places I’ve seen in this area (granted, it was like an 8 hour drive, but whatever). There, we hung out on the beach for a few, and went to another temple, and just chilled. There’s an old Portuguese fort that we checked out as well.

On the way back, we stopped by another palace in Gondal (all these names sound very Lord of the Rings-esque. haha). Finally today, me, my parents, and my aunt and uncle took a day trip to this huge step-well (essentially, a well, but you can take steps down to the bottom) and a Surya Mandir (Sun Temple) about 2 hours away from Ahmedebad. Again, both places were so immaculate and beautiful (see pictures below).

All I have to say is from the past several days, is wow. If there was one thing I saw this past weekend, it was a whole lot of happiness. We stayed with a family who had 18 people living in their house. Their livelihood consisted of fishing. They lived a very simple life, but if there was one thing I saw, it was how freaking happy they were. They just felt as though they were so blessed by God, that not having things that I feel like I need (my iPhone, laptop, my 50+ pairs of shoes, etc) wasn’t even important to them. Talk about living a simple and humble life. Something that I’m over here trying to do, but am no where close to.

There is just so much history and culture in this world that I am so incredibly unaware of. I really feel as though life is too short to just sit in your house all day and not experience what’s out there. A lot of people know I am an avid traveler, and will take any opportunity that is presented to me to visit new places. I love long distance travelling. But, what I learned from this past weekend, is that you don’t have to travel far to literally experience a slice of history. The Surya Mandir is 1,000 years old, and it was just a short trip away. No one ever said that travelling consists of going to places every single person in the world has heard of. There are so many treasures in not-so-well-known places, like, Veraval (the small fishing community where we stayed this past weekend).

The new year is starting soon, and the first thing I’m doing when I get back to Memphis is planning out the next few months of places I can go and visit, even if it is just visiting a few friends somewhere, or going to some retreat. I’ve always found that my money spent on experiences rather than things gives me a better understanding of who I am, and I leave with a ton of awesome memories that I can put down in my life book. So save up a few bucks here and there, and go, get out and see something new!

Tomorrow, we leave for Udaipur and Shreenathji for a 2-day trip. I can’t wait, despite the early 5am leaving time. Another city to conquer and learn about, another opportunity to find out something about myself I didn’t know.

all the fishing boats at the harbor at the end of the day

all the fishing boats at the harbor at the end of the day

all the boats in Veraval

all the boats in Veraval

beach at Diu

beach at Diu

such a beautiful beach

such a beautiful beach

palace at Gondal

palace at Gondal

Adalaj Step Well

Adalaj Step Well

a small view looking up

a small view looking up

oh! hey mom and dad!

oh! hey mom and dad!

Surya Mandir

Surya Mandir

really intricate carving throughout the entire mandir

really intricate carvings throughout the entire mandir

just chillin at Surya Mandir

just chillin at Surya Mandir

If you’re not sure where to start your traveling journeys, check out NatGeo’s Best Trips 2013, including MEMPHIS. But, seriously. Great list of places!