In March of 2013, I was awarded a Research-Teaching Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship to return to India to work on a new collection of poetry and my spiritual memoir and to teach at the University of Pune in the state of Maharashtra. Fortunately, Pune is also the location of the ashram of my spiritual teacher Ma Indira Devi. I’ll be spending April in Pune, at the end of which Jennifer and my boys will be joining me. We’ll stay a week in Pune, then travel to Dharamsala in the Himalayas, home of the Dalai Lama, where we’ll stay for the months of May and June in what appears to be a wonderful cottage in the mountains very close to the Dalai Lama’s temple. Every morning and evening, the monks line up above the cottage to do a walking meditation around the temple complex. We’ll be joining them! Then, in July and part of August, we’ll be back in Pune.
I’m so excited to be here, again.
Here goes my account of our journey:
Last Monday night, after 30 hours of flying, I finally made it to the Mumbai International Airport, at 11:30, p.m.–which is the typical time of arrival. On the plane-ride over, I’d had plenty of time to think and worry about getting sick again in India, as I did last summer. I was feeling a little ambivalent about coming. But I had this Fulbright Fellowship that I didn’t want to waste. So, after three long and mostly sleepless flights, we touched down in India. I discovered that the Chaptrapati Shivaji International Airport has been completely redone, redesigned with art from India’s ancient worlds.
After a bit of a worrisome wait, my bags arrived, and I walked out of the airport under the palms trees hoping hotel driver would be there waiting with all the other hundred white shirted drivers with names on signs. He was! Your hotel makes this bit of much-appreciated, late-night, magic happen. As we sped down the freeways and through the broken congested city streets, among the late night sights and sounds and smells of India, past all the hundreds of little shops boarded up for the night, my whole being just kept saying, “I love this place! I love India!.” I feel I must have lived here in past lives (assuming there such things as past lives). We got to the hotel, chosen by the Fulbright folks, nothing fancy, but nice and clean. I got checked in an went to bed.