This is the second part of my travel experience in India. If you want to start by reading the first one, click on MY FIRST EXPERIENCE OF INDIA .
At this point in my story I’m just back from an evening tour on the Ganges. I’m staying at the lovely Rivatas Hotel in Varanasi.
HOW OLD ARE YOU?
While I’m waiting for the elevator at the Rivatas, I’m joined by a family. A father with his son, and what I guess are his parents. I smile and say hello to the little boy. This is something I often do when I see little children. He turns out to be shy and hides behind his father.
All five of us get into the same elevator, and once inside the boy’s father asks: “How old are you?”
This is normally not the first question you get from people, so I’m a bit surprised, but respond as always by saying: “I’m twenty-three years old (which I am in my mind), but my body’s been on the Planet for sixty-eight years.”
His looks closely at my face and says: “You are very well maintained!”
Just then the elevator stops at my floor, so I don’t get a chance to ask him what he means by maintained. Usually, that indicates a person, that has had cosmetic surgery, botox or fillers, or stem cells injected into their face.
STILL MY VERY OWN LOOKS
None of the above applies to me. My looks just show how my body has gracefully aged. I have all my life been exposed to the weather and winds of Iceland, whether in daily life, while ski-ing, hunting, salmon fishing or hiking. I’ve washed my face with water twice a day, for as long as I can remember. I’ve used organic creams more or less since 1990, and never used much make-up. When I use make-up, it is of organic origin. The only non-organic cosmetic I use is my Lancome lipstick, which I’ve had a hard time parting with. I will however soon have to, as my colour is going out of production.
A VISIT TO A PRIVATE HOME
The next day we fly back to Delhi. We head for the hotel, and those of us who have shopped for Indian clothes change into them. The group is invited to the home of Mr. Gupta. He’s the owner of Paradise Holidays and has graciously invited us for a cocktail. It’s difficult to imagine a grander reception than the one we get there. As the gates to Mr. Gupta’s garden open, we are met by a musician and two young female dancers. Rose petals are scattered over our heads and we are adorned with decorative ribbons around our neck.
The host invites us to explore every room of his home, to see how his family lives. The women get to try on saris and the men turbans. We dance to Indian music, encouraged by the hosts and the native dancers. I sense the honour bestowed upon us, and everyone in the group feels privileged to get to visit a home like this one. As a parting gift we all get a mug with pictures of India and Iceland.
THE LOTUS AND AKSHARDHAM TEMPLES
On the itinerary on our last day in India is a visit to the Lotus Temple. It is the Bahá’í House of Worship, and is open to people of all religions. It is a beautiful structure and the architect who designed it has won international awards for it. Temperatures can run very high in Delhi, but the petals of the Lotus and the water around the Temple, leave it with a pleasant temperature inside all year round. Inside there is neither an altar nor any symbols. It’s just a lovely place for contemplation and a quiet meditation.
Next on the agenda is a visit to the Akshardham Hindu Temple. It is one of the masterpieces of Indian design, where symmetry reigns along with beauty and overflowing decorations. I’m in awe of everything I see there, and as one cannot take photos inside, I buy a picture book to take home. I also buy some Moringa tablets, which are recommended by our guide Tarun Kumar. I’m always open to trying something new to support my immune system.
GANDHI, THE SYMBOL OF INDIA’S FREEDOM
It is in a way, very symbolic to end this India tour by a visit to the Gandhi Monument in Delhi. He played such a big role in India’s freedom from English rule, pushing on with persistence, until the last Viceroy finally resigned in 1947. Following that India became the largest democracy in the world in 1950.
Freedom fighters are not always appreciated by everyone they believe they are fighting for. Once India became free, so did Gandhi, and was invited to live in a friend’s home. He used to come out into the garden every day to speak to people who gathered there. Unaware of a threat from his own people, a man in the crowd walked up to Gandhi on January 30th 1948, and shot him dead.
Gandhi’s memory lives on, his life work lives on and he still serves as a role model for others.
THE FOOD WAS DELICIOUS
Before the trip I had been a bit worried about what kind of food I might get in India. Once there, I realised there was no need to worry. The food turned out to be delicious at every restaurant and hotel we ate. The restaurants don’t label their dishes as GF (gluten free). They only label the vegetarian dishes with a green dot and the meat and fish dishes with a brown dot.
In order to be on the safe side, should any of the dishes I selected contain gluten, I always took 1 capsule of Digest Ultimate and two of Gluten Digest, from NOW before a meal.
This is the first time I use Gluten Digest, and I was surprised to discover how well it seemed to protect me. I had no digestive issues, and no abdominal pain, save for once on the tour. This was in spite of the fact that I broke my own rules and had some of the delicious garlic Nan bread they make. So as it happened, the trip turned out not to be gluten free at all.
FEELING GOOD AFTER EVERY MEAL
Feeling good after every meal was a great experience, one that I had not expected to have. Using Gluten Digest seems to work wonders for me, although I’m aware, that what works for me may not work for others. I do however think, that it’s worth trying, at least while travelling. At home you know you can stay gluten free, because you shop for everything yourself and live in a gluten free home.
After a day or two in India, I felt that my measures were protecting me from the food intolerance I have. This meant I was relaxed at every meal. I even think this relaxed state may even have helped my digestion more than anything else.
NOT FEARING FOOD
The fact that I did not fear the food, did not dawn on me until I wrote this blog. In the past I have so often been afraid of food. Like many people with allergies, I’ve been filled with anxiety at the very thought of dining out. For years I always thought how sick I would become afterwards – and I did, because thoughts are so powerful.
On this trip I had no fear. I selected from every buffet what I thought would be best for me, feeling confident I was making gluten free choices. I stayed with my oatmeal every morning at breakfast. The dessert buffets were of no interest to me. I ate small portions and I enjoyed everything I ate. That was a great feeling.
RELISH THE INDIAN THALI
I love vegetarian food, so I was excited to hear we would be having a genuine Indian vegetarian experience in Varanasi. This was at the Shree Shivay restaurant. Everything about eating there is special, from the way the waiters are dressed, to the food and how they served it.
The Thali they offer is an Indian meal, made up of various dishes which are served in small katoris (bowls). The bowls are made of copper, as well as the actual plate. The Thali dishes offer all the 6 different flavours of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate. According to old Indian tradition, every meal should be a perfect balance of these 6 flavours.
Before the meal a waiter walks around to each person with a bowl, and pours water over the hands, so you can have clean hands before the meal. Once the hands have been washed, the katoris are filled with delicious food. At the end of the Thali the waiters come around again, so hands can be washed.
YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE
– SO YOU TRY SOME THINGS ONCE
I’m always tempted to try special local food, when I travel, even though it may contain some ingredients that could cause a reaction in my body. Vishal Mahajan, the group’s guide, taught me in Agra how to prepare a Bhalla Papi Chaat.
It’s a bit like a starter, originating from a popular street food. It consists of small cakes made from wheat flour, on which you put different toppings and spices, and then end by putting yoghurt sauce over everything. It was yummy – and I’m glad I tried it.
I did however skip the famous street food from Mumbai, the Vada Paav, which is a potato burger with marsala sauce and chilli. That’s left for later – if ever.
Before I left for India, I had heard from some friends that had been there, that they never wanted to go again. So I thought: OK, I’ll go this once and then never again – but at the end of the tour I was already thinking about my next visit.
The rich history of the country, the mix of various religions and cultures, the monuments dating back to the 15th and 16th century, the new monuments, the immense population, the chaotic traffic, the smiling faces everywhere and the ever-present greeting: “Namas’te!” made my India experience an incredible one.
BALANCING THE BODY AFTER A TRIP
Bringing my body back to balance again after a trip like this one is always a priority, once I’m home again. So, the day after I returned, I started on my very own cleansing program, to clean and replenish my system. It does wonders for my body, as it has for the more than fifteen hundred people I have coached through the program, in the last four years
I also got right back to my exercise program, although I did several of my exercises every day while traveling.
Life keeps getting better, and I love being able to travel the world.
You’ll find me on Facebook as Runa The Icelandic Health and Lifestyle Coach.
Sending you Love and Light
Runa the Icelandic Health and Lifestyle Coach
Photos: Most of them are taken by me – other photographers are listed under each photo.
Runa Bergmann is a Keynote Speaker, published Author and a Health and LIfestyle Coach. She has successfully been working in the personal development field in Iceland since 1990.
>> Feel free to contact Runa