Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breath, Grief and Gratitude~

My lesson in life is to live in the moment.....sometimes it comes down to each breath. Which can be difficult when you realize you are actually holding your breath.....

I have returned from my epic adventure of India just less than one month ago. So much has happened, much of which I am not ready to share. I have been told there are silver linings in all things. I believe the silver lining for me now is to realize all that is beautiful in my life and how fleeting this precious life can be. To embrace and love the people and wonders that surround me. Witnessing the seasons that miraculously unfold no matter what is happening in one small human's day, even when I feel the world must be standing still, it never is. In this regard, I am indeed rich. It is Spring, filled with boundless beauty...even when surrounded by denial, this is undeniable. As my heart feels too heavy to acknowledge joy, I look and there it is, the vibrant colors of Spring seeping thru my grief clouded consciousness.

I know that the paralyzing grief I feel due to the knowledge of my Dad not being long for this world is only selfishness of not having him in my life any longer. This knowledge does not offer relief.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jet Lag

Jet lag is an interesting occurrence. I believe I experienced it both coming and going but with the excitement of arriving to India I was able to muscle thru it. Returning home is a different matter. So much is happening around being home and before I arrived I planned to jump right in with both feet back into my life. But the couch is all I have been up for entertaining.....

Of course one's body is out of wack. When I think of it, traveling over 400 miles per hour over vast tracks of land and ocean, being thrown back half a day with the time change, not sleeping for days and the dehydration of it all....it warrants a few days of being a non functioning, tired and sleepless zombie. I am coming around. Yesterday and today I feel more myself and tomorrow will be ready to tackle the load of things to do before the full steam ahead season begins for 2012. I am really lucky to be able to take a break, step away from my life and see such spectacular wonders of the world and then return to the world that I Love so much here on Fire Fly Farm fully ready to embrace my life. I have my sister and her amazing family to thank for the trip of a lifetime. Without all the help of the Lovely Kuskovskis my trip would have been a fraction of what it was if not completely non existent. I miss them so and am overwhelmed with gratitude.

As I am crawling out of my stupor, I look forward to seeing you all very soon. I am back!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Epic adventures of Mumbai airport

I did have a little forethought about luggage....First I thought I could have two bags on my way home....after packing and one bag STILL being too heavy and then realizing that I only had one free checked bag, I decided to just put everything into the colossal bag Matt and Jess lent me and just pay the over weight fee instead of both overweight fee AND extra bag fee. The bag seemed WAY too heavy and after not being able to find a limit to HOW heavy the overweight bag could be I figured I would just go with it. FYI: There is a weight limit and mine was about double that.....and if you have to pay for an extra bag or heavy luggage fee, add yet another hour to your departure time to the airport...

Not being able to sleep, I hung out with Jen and Vladimir until time to leave for the airport after midnight.
First of all to fly in India you need a piece of printed paper with your itinerary if you cannot print your boarding passes off. You cannot enter the airport without it.....I dragged the bag thru the airport. At the check in there were only 10 people, half of them being large parties flying together, I figured this would go quickly. Not exactly. Almost an hour later I made it to throw my bag unto the scale. I believe there has never been a bag this heavy ever attempted to be checked into the Mumbai airport with the reaction I received. After much discussion about how to make this work, a young man was assigned to me to figure this out. He loaded a push trolley with the bag (WOW! Why didn't I think of this earlier?!) and off he went, me tagging along, finding a tattered old box, finding tape, helping me repack, finding a shrink wrapping department, then he said wait here....he rushed off to weight everything to make sure and then we approached the ticket counter again. Just in time, I thought I was about to dissolve into a pool of sweat. Then I was told they were unable to take credit cards to pay for my extra bag (or in my case, box) so I would have to go to the business office. At this time, my carry on tote ripped in half with everything pouring onto the floor. No worries they have KLM plastic bags!! I took three for extra strength and now feel like the bag lady. The young man loaded my carry on stuff and wheeled off to show me this new spur of the adventure. The business offices are at a completely different area. It was approaching an uncomfortable time to my flight now and the young man realized this too because he was almost running. I jogged along beside him as he kept nervously turning his head to make sure I was with him as we wheeled down a very long and very dark corridor as it was about 2:30am now, my flight to leave at 3:05am. Running down this endless, dark hallway, I was thinking, you HAVE to be kidding me......a woman with the same bewildered expression that I must have had was leaving the office with her attendant as we entered. Three people were in there and they seemed all in training for what happened next. I kept a calm expression but on the inside I was not calm. Finally, I had some papers that they told me to hang onto that would prove I did pay for this extra bag, as I wadded it up and crammed it in my pocket and ran back down the corridor I was wondering if I would ever see my luggage again.

Now I approached a line for immigration, and was asked for a piece of paper, oh, that one.....found it and quickly, now shaking, filled it out. As I stood in line a person was calling for the Paris flight, I waved my arms figuring it was about to leave and I had immigration, security and a bus yet to take......as I was waving my arms I ducked under the tape. DO NOT EVER DO THIS. Just wave, do not move. So instead of being able to easily slip under this tape and be directed to a short line, I had to clammer over everyone else in line and their luggage to then be directed. The same with security.....in the security line they were again calling for Paris ticket holders and as I waved, they told me to clammer to the head of the women's line and this all but started a riot with the angry women I left behind me. Not wanting to miss the flight, I forged ahead. Finally, now I am in the line for the bus to take me to the plane with other people who were on the flight so I could breath again knowing I would make it. The flight was running a little late, WHEW.

Being an international flight I ordered a glass of wine as soon as I was able. Not drinking much on this trip in India, this was all I needed.
Now I am sitting here in Paris, 9:30am, nice and calm at my gate in PLENTY of time and someone is playing lovely music on a piano. My adventure is not quite over.....I will have to collect my luggage in Detroit to walk it thru US customs to check it again to Maine. Jen mentioned not being able to use luggage trolleys....THAT will be interesting.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Henna Heaven

In yoga class this morning, I asked the instructor if she knew anyone in the area who did henna art, a quick call on her cellphone, she asked if 4pm would work... YES!!

Neeta came to Jen's flat and performed her fabulous henna artistry on my hands and feet. I LOVE IT!! I have had henna parties in Maine with my girlfriends and have done belly henna at Motherblessings but have never had anyone do any on me. I am now not only planning a sari party.....there will be a henna party this Spring as well. I quickly remembered why I always had henna parties outside in the sun while enjoying cocktails. A little messy but not too bad, I was the one making the mess, not Neeta.

I am thrilled to have this to take home with me, I keep looking at my hands and smile...
It will be an exciting yoga class tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sula Vineyard

We took a family trip to Sula Vineyard over the weekend. A bit of a rough trip, we were all car sick, Maks having the worst of it, actually getting sick, poor guy. He was a trooper and as we cleared the last mountain pass, things seemed brighter. As we approached the vineyard, a calm was in the air, it was absolutely stunning. Mountains framing an endless lake that met over 2000 acres of pristine and perfectly kept grape vines. It was incredibly impressive. Happy to get out of the car, we roamed the fabulous grounds of the hotel, swam, had a wonderful lunch and then prepared to tour Sula Vineyard and Winery. This is the largest wine facility I have been in. Again, the size and equipment was impressive for such a young winery. It appeared to me during the tour that they are catering to an audience that does not know much about wine. We had a great time, had a chance to taste a few wines and stomp some grapes. The grape juice was fabulous.....and the return ride back to Mumbai was MUCH more gentle!

Street Crossing

Interesting day....I picked up some tailor work that I had done with my sari, found some lovely chocolates and bakery to surprise Jen and Maks (Valentine's Day) and then was hit by a moped while crossing the street. I am all right, just a large welt and nasty bruise in the works but the whole thing had me furious for a little bit. Had to walk it off.
Now this is the street that has three "lanes" marked going each way but actually has six lanes of vehicles (mopeds, motorbikes, buses, trucks, cars, cabs, rickshaws....) careening and jostling each way down the strip of road, horns blaring the whole time. The moped driver said he was really sorry but he was using his horn. This almost had me laughing. It doesn't matter that everyone is blaring their horns at ALL times, I am deafened by horns and that it is then all right to hit a person instead of using the brakes. Hmmm. After many angry words and arm flaying from both of us, he drove off after we obviously were not going to have a way to settle it. He actually said he would drive me to the police station and motioned for me to hop on the moped. He didn't realize how crazy that was after he just HIT me, yea, like now I was going to go for a ride with him.
The irony of all of this is that I actually made it across the road and walking along when I was hit from behind and two other people were kind of a buffer....
I am not short of story material, that is for sure.....

Monday, February 13, 2012


Goa is incredible. India is such a vast country in every way. Goa offers breathtaking beaches, crazy busy beaches, turtles, spice plantations, conservation areas, elephants, colorful markets, rockin' night clubs and very friendly chatty people. The waters are blue and warm but not too warm, sandy beaches and a place to sit and enjoy the best food I have had in India and a cold cocktail everywhere. My favorite place was Brittos, one of the original restaurants on the beach and came highly recommended, which I know why, it was fabulous~

The absolutely lovely bungalow I stayed in was on Baga Beach which is like the tropical beach on steroids. I arrived and it was full peak crazy, boats zooming around dragging people on tubs, parasails everywhere, nets being thrown out by people fishing, tables and umbrellas out with young men trying to encourage you to have a seat at one and enjoy a drink or maybe some food? The beach was lined with these restaurants and available lounge chairs. I walked a ways and found a quiet strip of beach that became my place to be and swim.

I met so many young men who felt obliged I guess to walk along with me and learned so much about the ways of India for these young men. I hadn't met people who were so open and talkative until Goa. They all commented on how quiet they thought I was, which of course I thought was funny. I enjoyed their stories.

After dark the lounge chairs disappear to be replaced with clothed tables, chairs and candlelight for evening cocktails and dining. I enjoyed this, sitting so close to the waves that they lapped my bare feet while enjoying a nightcap and watching fireworks....

Anjuna market was a BLAST. It is known to be a touristy market but I had to experience it for how famous it is. The largest market I have seen and right above the beach. After dark it switches to amazing music. I listened to an incredible sitar band, and on the other side a young woman in complete "hippy" attire rocked out to Janis Joplin songs. I met people from all over India and Europe.

I visited the Arya Cashew Factory where we saw the whole process of the cashew from harvest, roasting, shelling, scraping the skin, many quality control sorting and the final nut ready to eat. Each step done by the individual nut by the hands of women.

The next day was the organic Sahakari Spice Plantation and Elephants. This blew me away. Not only have I learned an incredible amount regarding the local spices, I was able to hear the extraordinaire stories behind the three elephants who reside there. The Elephants migrate and at times will be separated from their herd. There are people who monitor this as best they can to prevent poaching. They bring the elephants to the place they are migrating to and work for five years each to reintroduce them to a herd. If they are rejected, then they are brought to Southern India to the temples where they are treated like gods and hand fed by the women who tend the temples. They will remain the god of these temples or be able to roam conservation areas like this spice plantation. The conservation areas will not take more elephants then the land can maintain. The elephants work a few days a week giving short rides and get washed by us, and then give us a bath, which is a complete riot. I have always dreamt of being this close to an elephant so I was beside myself with excitement and joy.....

I Loved Goa!!