more monkeys, R & R
Greetings, Radhe Radhe, Hari Hari, etc......
We are still in Vrindavan -- Aaron picked up the cold I got shortly before leaving the States, so we decided to burrow in here for a little while to gather ourselves for more travel! Vrindavan is really quite pleasant, peaceful, beautiful. And Jai Singh Ghera, the palace ashram where we're staying, is a bit of heaven. There's a big festival on at the moment, so every day we're treated to classical dance, or music, or theater... yesterday also with showers of rose petals and all kinds of prasad (sweets which are first offered to the god, and then to the people). People are wonderfully sweet here, and we go to the temple a couple of times a day to listen to services, which consist of chanting, singing and harmonium, sitar, cymbals, and drums. Usually a woman in a beautiful sari gets up to dance at some point... and at some point the pandits open the curtains in front of the altar, ring bells, and make offerings to the Krishna & Radha shrine. We have seen the Krishna/Radha story reenacted about 80 times in the last week, in every form imaginable, featuring boys in drag and/or folk singers, dancers, middle-aged men with shawls on their heads, etc., etc.... there is so much joy in the worship here, it's lovely to witness. We were reflecting yesterday how amazing it is that this one story is really the central character of this town -- I mean if we've seen/heard it 80 times in the last week, how many times have the people who live here seen/heard it! It loses nothing in the re-telling, though -- in fact it gets richer and richer. The prayer goes on non-stop here. Today several people are sending prayers toward my mother Ellen, who is having surgery back home. So not only everyone who loves her nearby, but several people in a small town in India, are sending her all of our thoughts and prayers.
Last night Aaron and I visited with a wonderful family at the ashram -- Prakash and his wife Lakshmi and their three kids. They made us feel so welcome in their home, and Lakshmi gave me a bindi and some of the red powder that women use in the parts in their hair to show that they are married. She showed us how Aaron has to put it on my hair once, and then I can do it thereafter. This should make traveling around public places here a little easier for me! Aaron did portraits of one of the kids (he had done a portrait of the oldest one three years ago, the last time he was in India) -- they were really wonderful to us. Prakash runs the ashram here, and Lakshmi teaches school in a town about 30 km away.
Aaron is feeling better today, and the last remnants of my cold are going away too, so whenever it seems that my mom is stable and so on, we will make the trek southward to Kodaikanal, a hill station in the mountains in Tamil Nadu.
Hopefully today I can download the zillions of photos from my camera and post some of them here...
love to all,