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Drugs in India …

I got the flu. Every muscle and every joint in my body is aching. It hurts so much I’m lying in my bed almost crying, comparing this pain with giving birth. Either I got a man-flu or it is as bad as it feels.

This was a few days ago. The flu hit me fast and furious and from one second to next I knew I had to go home. A friend helped me cancel that days social engagements and I started walking home, legs feeling like spaghetti, breath shallow, nose blocked and head being dizzy. I stopped by the convenient store for some food and the medical store for some nasal spray.

The body is an amazing living mechanism. It has so many intelligent functions. After all, it has survived for hundred of thousands of years. The human body sometimes malfunctions but if you look at its history one might say it has survived many attacks. Bugs and germs and viruses, all vicious and ugly and yet, humans continue to inhabit planet earth.

One of the secrets is that to an extent the body can fight its enemies. Like a flu virus or a bacteria. That is what happens when the body responds with fever. Fever above 38 degrees for a certain amount of time is needed for the body to fight the enemy.. So this is what I am going to do. I will let my body do the work while I feed it with food and sleep. No other medications required. For now.

But my blocked nose needs some help so I enter the medical store and ask for some. Oh, yes, the man behind the counter has the brand I’m asking for and we both smile with relief and happiness. And while I am there I can’t restrain myself from asking him, I might as well, since I have read so much about it. The issue that makes some people in india and some people overseas extremely rich.

Drugs sold over the counter not needing a prescription. At least not in India. Drugs like antibiotics as one example. So I ask the man in the Medical shop, how does it work here in India, do you sell antibiotics over the counter, not needing a prescription from a doctor?

Well, yes of course, he says. For most people in India it is very expensive to see a doctor. Instead they can come and buy the antibiotic straight away, he says with a proud voice.

India is unfortunately The country when it comes to usage of antibiotics. The meat industry is pumping the worst ones into the cattle stock that ends up on someones plate and on top of that the usage of antibiotics when people here are self medicating is huge. If this wasn’t enough, there are tons of cleaning products in the convenient store labelled ‘anti bacterial’. Either you want to clean your floor or your face, in India people buy these anti bacterial products which in the long run ruins our immune system. Indias population is on the verge of a catastrophe. But hey, why bother, when keeping the population uneducated in the matter makes some people very rich.

This is the consequence of some people, companies, feeding on other peoples fears.

Overusage of antibiotics and anti bacterials is a global issue not been taken serious enough and not being informed about enough. Antibiotics and anti bacterials also kill the good bacterias, the good ones that keep us in shape. Physically and mentally. So while one industry is feeding on our fears, the fear of being sick, by promoting us to kill bacterias in order to cure, a new industry is flourishing by selling us bacterias to add to our bodies. The saviour, The Probiotic. A paradox.

Anyway, I am much better now. I am hungry, which is a good sign. Now I will have breakfast. Good morning and have a beautiful day to you all.

And stay away from antibiotics and anti bacterials as much as possible. Only use them when really needed. Never as a precaution. If you are a meat eater you probably should try adding more beans into you diet and decrease your intake of meat.

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My room, my life, my people …

I found myself a room in Rishikesh. I love my room.

The building seem to be new, rumors say it was built last year. Considering it’s only first days of February, that means not long ago. It looks like no one stayed in this room previous to me. I might be wrong, but, so what. It’s not a big thing if I am the first one to stay here or not, but it feels like it was waiting for me.

The building is made out of bricks and plastered with cement, two of the new materials used for house building. Bricks holds both heat and cold. Unfortunatelly not the way one would wish. This morning we had 7 degrees celcius in Laxman Jhula, cold and humid The bricks and cement holds the cold which makes it even colder inside. When the weather here is hot, this building will be hot too.

People used to build functional houses made out of mud and bamboo. They are cool in the summer and offer some warmth during winter. But that is not at all a modern way of building houses so people suffer from cold and heat i a completely different way now. Being modern.

This building is built as a hotel. The owners live in the area on the ground floor which is the most common thing to do in India if you own a smaller hotel or business. On the first floor there are four exact rooms, squarish with two beds, one bedside table and two chairs. The bathroom is modern containing one sink, toilet and shower. The balcony is facing east offering some warmth these chilly mornings.

It is a thursday morning. I am standing on the balcony enjoying the view and the sun. Oposite my balcony is a school. I havent seent the children but I can clearly hear them. And their female teacher. I hear them loud and clear. When the teacher is teaching, her voiceis is in a shouting mode. School in india and a lot of other countries in Asia have the Memorising – Reciting way of teaching. Becoming an engineer is not different from going to primary school. It is all about memorising,

Memorising and never questioning what one is being thought. Such a different way from how I raised my children and the school I chose for them. Theory is all good but learning by doing, mixing theory and practice, using critical thinking and debating what is being thought is in my believe crusial. This is not happening in India. Nor in many other coutries in Asia for that matter.

There are some popular educations in India. At least when it comes to the parents liking and kids do as their parents tell them to do. Becoming a doctor or an engineer are two of them. The latter is a very theoretical education. You memorise theories but never get to do any experiments to try the theories. This is what I was told from a newly graduated engeneer.

So I stand on my balcony and listen to the voices of these children, I listen to their innocense and I wonder what they see for themselves in the future in this society which has so much theoretical knowledge combined with a high lever of authority.

Last days of january and the mornings are still very cold. This morning we had gale winds making it difficult crossing the Laxman Jhula bridge. The bridge was swinging, the power of the wind making me lean to my left to hold my balance. The weather is moody and we are all waiting for it to find its inner peace.

I walk through empty steeets. This is the best time of the day. Only a few chai stalls are opened. Most cows and dogs are still asleep and the monkeys are just waking up, making their distinct screaming noises. My favourit chai stall and second home here in Rishikesh is where. I am heading.

Rani is here today. Beautiful Rani. She has a special aura around her. It’s not that she is constantly smiling or doing anything special. She just has something coming from within.

Women in india don’t smile. It would be inapopriet showing anything that could be entrerpreted as an invitation. In Rani’s case that is so obvious she has to keep a distance to the men visiting the chai stall. Even though she is married and well respected in the community, she still is low key towards people she is not close to. I am one of the lucky ones she will grace with her amazing smile. Rani, my Indian sister.

I love this place, the chai shop where one can watch life happen. The ones who come here early in the morning are on their way to work so the discussions are a bit different from the spiritual ones later in the afternoon. The chats in the morning are more of a practical matter. Even Indians who are now fluent in English mix their speech with some english words which I am grateful for, then I can grasp the essence of the conversations bustling around me like flies. Issues are discussed, stories are shared, business partners are found, the locksmith having a chai just got himself a job, people coming and going while Rani is making chai.

Some stand, some sit, but we all try to keep warm. It is us, the humans, and one cow and a couple of dogs. All are welcome, we all stand close, trying to keep warm.

Since a few days back I have a new daily routine. I wake up early, put the kettle on, I arrange my writing spot with blankets, pillows, iPhone and keyboard, make myself coffee and then start writing. I do so for a few hours and then make myself a delicious breakfast containing two boiled eggs, broccoli, collie flower, tomatoes and roasted almonds. Then I either continue writing or I do some laundry, clean my room, enjoy the sun on my balcony.

Then I head down to the village across the bridge. Meet up with friends, chat, go for a walk, do some photography, and have chai and more chats. I have my second meal and at 5 pm I meet up with my pupil, a 17 year old girl I tutor in English. Then probably another chai and chat at the shai shop and eventually I head back to my room and I end my day in the light of a candle and the smell of an inscent.

 

 

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Back to Rishikesh …

I had two choices.

A. Going to a warm place in India, continuing the traveling part of this journey, meaning moving from one place to another.
B. Going to a cold place and staying put.

Thinking back and forth, exploring different possibilities, finally I decided to go for plan B.

Now I’m in Rishikesh and it truly is cold. Perhaps it feels colder to me since I’ve been spending a long period of time in warm or even hot weather.

It’s 8 am 18 th January 2018, 9 degrees Celsius with fair winds, and I’m having a coffee at the local chai shop. This is not any chai shop. This is The chai shop. For me it definitely is. It’s cold. Rani is a 38 year old woman running this chai shop with her husband Satish 40. I found them and the shop last year when I first arrived to Rishikesh. It had been a long journey from Kashmir, I was tired and I had had difficulties finding my accommodation in between the many tiny back always of the Laxnan Jhula part of Rishikesh. After checking in I decided for a walk as I always do when arriving to a new place, a good way to get ones bearings sorted. I walked 50-60 metres and saw this place on the right. It was sort pulling me in, it had personality.

I crossed the street, ordered a chai, sat down and more or less never left. For a reason not known to me, this is where I have met interesting people, Ive had great conversations and this is where one can observe life happening every day.

Even though this place can be packed with tourists it is still very local. Most foreign visitors are here for the yoga, the ashrams. The one month I spent in Rishikesh last year tought me that. Then I stayed at a hostel and newcommers often asked me: do you know a good place for Yoga? Next question would be; do you recomend any special place to go? Most people managed to get their days fully booked with different healthy activities, eating healthy western food at the westernised restaurants and caffees paying tripple or six times the price for a coffee or food they would have paid at the local place. My answer to their questions were without exception the same.

No, I don’t know of a good place for yoga. But I can show you a wonderful place for chai and a conversation.

They would all, without exception, get a bit startled and show big eyes not quite comprehending my answer. When one is so focused on the goal the road to there is sometimes missed out on, walked but not seen, seen but not taken the time to feel.

I never traveled when I was young but I remember all the stories friends told me, different times, different ways of traveling. Transporting oneself in a cheap way from one place to another involved hitchhiking or going by train. That also meant slow traveling, moving slow, seeing landscape changing.

Few people travel that way today and you have to bare in mind I have met quite a lot of travellers. There are a few who try to closs Europe to Asia on land, but most travellers are flying not only from one country to another but also within a country because they want to save time.

Saving time. The goal.

Seeing as much as possible. The goal.

At first, when I listened to peoples reasons to why chose flying over land transport I just nodded and agreed. But then I made a calculation, the time difference between an 18 hour train ride in India over flying same distance.

Train: train stations are always in the centre of a city. That is most probably where people are staying which means easy access to train. You board the train at 6 pm, you reach your destination next morning at noon and have most probably cheched in at your accomodation aound 1-2 pm. Lets say in total 20 hours of travelling of which most you spent a, interracting with locals b, sleeping c, seen the landskape change d, had the opportunity to see the culture and society from inside.

Airplande: one hour to airport, 2-3 hours at airport, 2 hours flight, one hour security and lugage, one hour transport to city centre. A procedure that looks all the same whichever airport one goes to. In total 7-8 hours which is the whole day and no experience from the transportation to add to your mind or heart.

When one is so focused on the goal, the road to there is sometimes missed out on, walked but not seen, seen but not taken the time to feel.

Once in a while, some of these western travellers would say yes to my offer and I would introduce them to my favourite chai shop. We would order a chai, my treat, and then I could see how they were sitting, anticipating, waiting for something to happen. I would try to start a conversation about random things and sometimes they would let go of the anticipations and get involved. Sometimes they would get bored waiting for something to happen, thank me for the chai annd leave. In a couple occations they would actually open up, engage in the conversation with me, with the other guests, get carried away and forget they were in a hurry, start breathing and I could see how their bodies relaxed. How they started being present. They would enjoy the time spent and even thank me for taking them. They would be the ones I would see there again, not because of me taking them there but because of themselves. They would be the ones who would reduce the amount of yoga sessions and increese the number of chai and conversation sessions.

The chai shop is an outdoor thing. A shack. A something. Everything and everyone passes by this place. Cars, jeeps, cows, dogs monkeys, tourists, motorbikes, babas, travellers, locals, skooters, vendors selling groceries or street food and occationally a cat. I made that place my second home in a way. One can just sit there and observe, watch, see how life goes on just in front of me. The colours are spectacular, both the one worn by indians and by foreigners. It’s like a firework passing by. I was so taken by it all that I realised people around me came and went. I was like the constant remaining in the same chair. Conversations and the people I conversed with changed. I listened to storries on why and where, what brought them here, for how long and how we had changed. The change within.

Rishikesh is close enough to New Delhi for a weekend getaway and far enough to escape the polluted air and the stress in the modern city. People come to live the simple life. Either for hiking to the temple or the waterfall, perhaps take a bath in the Ganga River or just sit and have a chai. Watch life passing by. Simple things.

I love that about Indians, they do know how to enjoy the simple things in life.

 

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Love yourself …

Traveling involves meeting a lot of people. co-travellers, locals, everyone being on the road for whatever reason. You get into conversations, you share stories and experiences, you connect. That is such a beautiful thing and the one that makes my world going, spinning. That is one of the things that makes me happy.

Connecting means your paths cross. For how long that crossing will occur, we never know. But today, in the era of social media and technology it is easier to maintain connected.

It turns out that people I have met are coming back to me with questions, how to deal with life, how to handle relationships. They ask me for guidance.

A while ago I met a woman, we talked, we shared, we connected. Yesterday she called me and she asked me for a piece of advice in a relationship matter. I listened to her and gave her my opinion. She summed it up with one-two words:

Self respect

Like most people, who are not restricted by their governments, I am on social media. Especially on Facebook. Every morning I check Facebook for news and interesting articles. As you all know there is a change in the making at the moment. Women are rising thanks to the #metoo movement. But even before that there were coaches and self help groups. For every one in need of it but especially for women. One thing these groups and coaches emphasis is the phrase

Love yourself

But how do you do that, what does that mean. Do I look myself in the mirror and say I love you, I love me? Do I really love myself just because I say it? And why do I love myself?

Why do i love myself?

How do I show myself the self love?

This morning I was sitting on my bed reading Facebook posts, realising that loving oneself is no different from showing anyone else love. The problem is that we seem to mix things up.

What is socially acceptable, what will people think of us, we don’t want to cause problem, cultural unwritten rules, values based on gender and lots of other things. These are some of the thoughts that make us behave completely the opposite of what we want and what is good for us.

Lately I have had people contacting me, asking me for advice when it comes to relationships in general.

I’m thinking of a woman who has been involved with a man but clearly it’s not working, the relationship has become more of a power play than showing love. She is now showing tendencies of being afraid of what he might do to her so she is constantly backing off, excusing her behaviour with ‘I don’t want to create a problem’.

But he is creating a problem for you and you are ok with that?

I’m thinking of a woman who has been seeing a man for a while. Dating light. She is really interested in him. He is good looking, when they met up he is listening to what she has to say, he seems interested in her, he wants to take it slow. She likes all that. But then there is that gut feeling of hers, poking her on the side. He can not make any promesses right now and meeting up is always on his terms. So I tell her, be honest with him, tell him what you want and need. Don’t wait for him to guess what you need. Be honest and express it.

I’m thinking of a woman who met this man whom she got interested in. They talk, or at least he talks. About himself. Most of the time it is about him. Once and again he stops with the words ‘oh, but how about you?’, she starts saying something but he interrupts, telling her about his experience in the matter. But she never tells him that he is interrupting her, she never makes an attempt to leave even though she is bored stiff by his monologue and lack of interest of her.

I am thinking that there will never be any words that will make me feel loved if the words are not supported by action. I would even skip the words in favour for the action. That goes for how others treat me and that goes for how I treat myself.

So how do I show myself that I love me?

Showing myself self respect in action. That requires honest answers to honest questions.

If someone is creating a problem in your life, be honest with yourself about it by being honest with that person. Telling him or her that this doesn’t work for you. These are your boundaries. Be honest about it instead of playing a game thinking the person will understand your taunt or insinuation.

If a person doesn’t show interest in you, leave. Don’t ask for that person to see you if he or she is blind. Tell him or her why you are leaving and letting them go, be honest about your intentions and your boundaries and leave. Don’t play games.

If a person is so occupied with themselves that they have no time for you, then they are not interested in you. Be honest and let them know about your boundries and why you are leaving.

Respecting yourself in action is how you show yourself love. It is a consious choice

Caring for yourself is as important as caring about the people around you. Being honest with yourself, knowing your boundaries and not being afraid of letting people knowing of them. That is self love and self respect. And that makes it so much easier to love and respect others.

Being genuine.

 

 

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I had forgotten …

Humans. We learn fast and we forget fast. That is definitely applicable to me. I have been away from india for almost four months and I had forgotten a lot of things.

The population in India is big. It is dense, it is packed and it is crowded. Today I realised why so many first time visitors feel overwhelmed when they come to india. Even though it is my third time visiting, this time it hit me too. Hit-Light, Light Hit but still it hit me.

If you want something you have to get it. With such a dense population there is a form of struggle involved when in comes some everyday actions.. This is applicable too if you want to buy a ticket then make sure you get to the counter. There is no waiting in line. Everyone rushes to the counter, pushing, trying to get a ticket first. And you can imagine if everyone is doing that.

But it works. Here in India it works. No problem. No one gets mad or angry or too offended. It works. The problem lies with me and all other visitors. If I had come straight from Bangkok I would have gone into shock. There you stay in line, wait patiently for your turn, let passengers get off the train before anyone attempts getting on, you always offer someone else to go first, there is a lot of bowing and in general a lot of generosity. And all this towards complete strangers. Delhi is different. It is the opposite and it is hard to explain if one has never experienced it. The overwhelming factor is very high.

So I arrive to New Delhi and realise I had forgotten about all the squaching, pushing, honking and all other things that makes big part of what is different and special with India.

My last visit to india started and ended in New Delhi. I sort of fell in respectful love. I saw the dirt, the chaos, the poverty, the wealthy people, the poor people, I saw the contrasts. I saw people living their lives on the streets. Sleeping there, eating there, raising their children there. Living a life. I felt such respect. That was last september mid october. Weather was hot, 30+ celcius. When walking the streets I always tried to find some shade, a fan to cool me, anything that would ease the hot hot temperature.

Yesterday, 10 january, I arrived to New. Delhi. Took the same metro to city centre, negotiated with same tuk tuk driver about the price to my accomodation, and he drove the same streets as last time. I saw the same people sleeping on the streets.

But this time the temperature was 9 degrees celsius. People sleeping in the streets, layers of blankets I would guess wasn’t enough to shield from the cold. I gave them a thought, arrived to the hotel, checked in and five minutes later I could have a hot shower.

You know the feeling when you have waited for something for a long time and suddenly it is a reality. That happened this morning when I was ready to leave the hotel, the joy and anticipation , I was on my way to have a proper masala chai. My hotel is situated in between, on. one of the tiny alleys in the Old Bazar district. It is cold, I knew it would be so I am literally wearing all my clothes to keep warm. The smile on my face slowly turned into a sad face, a sad face.

I had forgotten what real poverty looks like. But most important, I had forgotten what poverty looks like when it is cold. It is rough but it is also full of love. To see how people care for each other.

 

My heart is bleeding for the people here. My heart is full of respect for the people here. My heart is full of love for the people here.

So this morning I go for a walk, it is cold, so I too stand close to the chai stall and drink my chai. That is where you meet to enjoy the warmth from the fire under the kettle, the hot chai and one can have a chat with the others.

I remember now. I remember a lot of things and it is humbling. We all need a reminder now and then. It is good to remember.