The place is Rishikesh, India.
Its a hot and dusty day. I have just stepped into my second cow pat, and decided i have on the wrong shoes.
The place is busy, vibrant, it is the sour and sweet of life. Glittering goddesses step gingerly over rubbish heaps in shockingly beautiful saris, the colour of Magnolias, Lollipop bubblegum, Hummingbirds breasts, stolen emeralds and freshly cracked egg yolks that landed accidentally on a sidewalk. Its a place of contradiction, confusion and yet utter simplicity.
On a mission to find the shopping bargain of a holiday, i retreat into one of the shady makeshift shops, beckoned eagerly by the fore and middle fingers of an avid salesman.
Im looking for Pashminas, those beautiful sometimes handwoven shawls that women love to throw over their shoulders on those chilly Himalayan nights, best for the times when winter makes its way down early in gusty breezes from the frozen mountains, and summer bids her goodbyes to make us wait another year for her tender Indian kisses and cacophony of animal and plant life.
Im inside, the rows of tightly packed cellophane rustle as they are ripped out and thrown down on the cushions in from of me, torn from side to side as the shopkeeper opens each one up to show me various designs.
Paisley, silk,woven,stitched,sequinned,embroidered, any fabric you want, and any price you want as well.
But somehow when you are looking for one thing in life , you find another unexpectedly, and while shawl hunting, i stumbled across what can only be described as one of the best “Marie Biscuit moments of my life”
My teacher who led me to India, always spoke about the Marie Biscuit moment, its this…
A moment in which you are totally connected to where you are , present, in that second, with God or your higher power and in full appreciation of what you have right in front of you, in this case he used the Marie Biscuit as an example, and said, “If you can just sit with your Marie biscuit and cup of tea on your own and be happy, then in something little you have found something big”
My moment appeared unexpectedly , (after our store owner decided we needed perking and sweetening up as he was not winning us over) , in a frozen 50′s style aluminium milkshake cup – you know those ones you used to see in American movies at the diner carried by the waitress with the skates on.
It has foil carefully packed around the top, i open it, whiffs of cardamom and other spices hit me, i sip.
I have reached Nirvana or oneness with God.
Lime and Mango fuse in an ecstatic blend to both tingle and caress my palate, and the icy cold thick texture of the curds used to make a Classic Lime lassie, is simply scintillating.
I dont know how many shawls i buy, i just want to hang in that shop, bargain forever so my negotiator will order another set of lassies for his difficult western customers ( who have now been so easily persuaded with a bit of Indian refreshment)
So i could recommend a place to stay, amazing sights to see, things to do, and tell you about the wow factor of India, which is there.
I could say gosh, go find yourself in Temple blah blah blah, or speak to guru so and so, because thats what it will be just words, true meaning is found in experience, especially that of the heart.
If you ask me about what i would really recommend, its that you somehow, somewhere find one of these small moments, be it a lassie on a hot dusty Indian street, an evening Chai in an Ashram, or maybe a beautifully hand prepared Chapatti from a street seller,a glance from a lady washing in the Ganges,a sun sinking into a red blazing horizon at sunset, but India is full of these small moments, and somehow for me, this beautiful land and its beautiful people has a way of lifting up the small moment into the Sacred moment .
My first writing/travel piece, dedicated to Brett who made me sign up here and for his beautiful and consistent encouragement and motivation.