This Is India – Part 6

941040_10153849465839557_5983224730819678058_n

January 18th – 19th, 2016 – Delhi, India to Ottawa, Canada

After texting with NJ a few more goodbyes I was at the airport in Pune ready to do my last internal flight before heading home.  I was an expert at stuffing as much as possible into my carry-ons to avoid the excess baggage weight.   Meanwhile, at the Pune counter, another helpful young man insisted he try to pack more things into my carry-on!  Oh my goodness not again, those unmentionables 😛  Maybe this was a way for them to see what foreign girls carry in their suitcases!!  So here we go again…apparently he was able to get even more things into my carry-ons so in the end, I was grateful and embarrassed.  This Is India.  Same security water bottle story repeats itself in Pune except this time they want to see what’s in one of my carry-ons.  Oh wow, I have to unstuff this thing and search for a little statue I bought.  All my things were everywhere and then they wanted to see what was in my make-up bag.  The guy was funny because he held up my eyebrow plucker and asked me what this was used for, I was laughing so hard he started laughing too.  Why is the airport such an adventure for me?

On the plane I sat next to a little boy around 4 years old and his dad.  The boy was pretty chatty asking me questions like where am I going, am I all alone, touching my hair and smiling.  I entertained this little boy for about an hour and then the dad said his son rarely talks to anyone.  I was shocked and happy at the same time 🙂  For some reason kids open up to me, I don’t know why.  Then….. in the aisle over was his wife and I only realized that when I looked up and made eye contact with her.  She was not impressed with me having fun with her son and talking to her husband so I had to stop talking and entertaining.  Is This India?

The eagle landed in Delhi and I was meeting another blogging friend before heading home.  I had many hours to kill so it was nice to have a visit with one more person, Srinath Krishnamoorthy from Kerala, India.  Please visit his awesome blog SrinathKrishnamoorthy because not only is he a fellow blogger, he is a published author and his book is flying off shelves and running out at book fairs across India!  The title is “Hope We Never Meet Again” I am currently reading it right now and it’s a great page turner.  You can buy his book on sites like Amazon and FlipCart and I highly recommend reading it.  Very big thank you to Darshith for introducing me to Srinath’s blog months ago because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be meeting Srinath today.  Thanks Darshith 😀

DSC00879                 DSC00882

After getting my luggage and getting organized, I talked with Srinath on the phone to find out how we will recognize each other.  I said I’m the only foreign girl standing outside near gate 3 at domestic arrivals terminal 3 😉  Sure enough we found each other!  Srinath is a ball of energy with such inspiration when he talks.  He was at a Delhi Book Fair during the weekend and over 250 copies of his book sold out and he managed to save one just for me.  He gave me the book and personally signed my copy right there.  I was so thankful and happy to meet him and he said this is the first book which is leaving India to another country!  How amazing is that?  He also gave me several bookmarks that I could pass around to my friends and family which I am currently doing now 😀  We talked for almost two hours about life, quotes, tough times, writing, finding a publisher and I explained my reasons for coming and my personal history to him with tears of course.  Srinath is very understanding and also has a big heart just like all my other friends.  He said I need to write my story, get it out I can write a book about my experience and said it might be possible to co-author with him one day.  I was extremely interested and motivated when he said this and yes I still am Srinath!  I’m going to work on this and keep you posted for sure my friend.  Originally we were supposed to meet in Pune but couldn’t because of Srinath’s busy schedule with promoting his book but it worked out to meet in Delhi after all.  Srinath, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for meeting me at the airport and encouraging me to write my story which I will do.  It was an absolute pleasure talking with you and hearing your thoughts, feelings, insights and perspectives on life.  These are the types of conversations that I love because they connect us, we’re all dealing with something therefore we’re all connected.  We just need to show up.  This Is India.

It was time for me to check my luggage and Srinath had to go.  We said our goodbyes and again me being the emotional one, but by this point, it was ok and the people at Delhi airport were like family to me now since I’ve been there so many times in the past 3 weeks!  They knew me by now 😉

I went to the Air Canada ticket counter this time and checked my heavy suitcases in and when flying International with them, you are allowed 2 complimentary bags.  No more excess baggage and no more Rupees.  I watched my bags zoom across as I waved bye bye to them.  I saved my ticket stubs from most of my flights and had to take a pic to show you!  Here’s my famous luggage which is very flashy because I purposely bought something that would stand out so it wouldn’t get lost.  Mission accomplished on that one.

DSC00856              DSC00872

I went to eat at a restaurant and then texts and calls were coming in from my India friends wishing me bon voyage which was so sweet of them.  I stayed in touch until I got on the plane at 12:45 a.m. on January 19th.  I felt sad leaving them but so happy I was able to have this lifetime experience full of great, great memories.  I’ve been enjoying writing about this trip and I thank all my readers, followers new and old for joining me on this trip via WordPress.  Like Darshith said to me, if it wasn’t for WP I wouldn’t have had these friendships, experiences or this trip and he’s right.  WordPress has changed my life and it can also change yours in so many ways because so much is possible.  If you want something bad enough and there’s a wall facing you, jump over it, knock it down do whatever you need to do.  When there’s a will there’s a way.

I flew back to Canada connecting in Toronto and landing in Ottawa.  The temp was -30C and lots of snow was on the ground.  Big difference from Pune at +30 C just a few days ago.  My great friend Helene picked me up at the airport with a winter coat for me to put on for the ride home which was so nice of her.  Merci beaucoup Helene!!

I messaged everyone back in India that I made it home and it was freezing here.  This Is Canada.

IMG_20160121_122848                DSC00876

Some questions I’ve been asked by my friends and family since I’ve been back:

Q:  How was the food?
A:  Amazing, I loved it all even the spicy food

Q:  Did you get sick?
A:  Nope.

Q:  Did you have a culture shock, you must have had that?
A:  No I just went with the flow had an open mind and heart because hey This Is India.

Q:  How was the weather?
A:  Great!  Always between +18 C to +32 C depending on where I was (jealousy…) and no rain

Q:  How was it meeting your blogging friends?
A:  So inspiring and so much fun, they were my highlight that’s for sure

Q:  Were you able to meet ChicWithMessyBun?
A:  No unfortunately not, her mom became sick so we had to cancel.  Both of us were sad but understanding.  Next time we will have to meet.  Miss you Bhavya!

Q:  How was the Retreat?
A:  Awesome, I loved everything about it

Q:  Did you take lots of pictures?
A:  Yes, probably close to 500

Q:  Would you go back again?
A:  In a heartbeat.

So Srinath, in honor of your book, I Hope We DO Meet Again!  When I come back I’ll visit you in Kerala like you insisted and I hope I pronounce it right!!  That was so funny learning how to say it like a local with you.  This Is India.

 

Much Love,

Jenny ❤
xo

Advertisements

This Is India – Part 5

12605385_10153931743105956_7647441659870886750_o

January 15th – 18th, 2016 – Pune, India

I’m getting to know the Bhubaneswar airport very well now too.  I am becoming proactive telling the ticket counter in advance that my luggage will be overweight and I will need to pay the excess baggage fee.  I don’t know where this lady was all along during my trip but the one who checked me in to go to Delhi and then Pune asked if I would like my bags to go directly to Pune!!!  “Of course!”  I screamed!  This was going to save me big Rupees in Delhi and the hassle of having to get my bags and do the line up!  I asked her why I wasn’t able to do this all along because I made this request on the first voyage and she said she didn’t know but she would do it for me.  This woman is my hero and a saint; I told her this about a hundred times!  This Is India.  So then it was me and my water bottle going through security again.  See you on the other side 😛

I was sitting beside a man on the plane who was asking about my trip and if I was with anyone.  I explained my life history in a nutshell to him and that I write blogs here in WordPress and I’m connecting with my close friends from the online blogging world to in person.  He was in total shock and asked if I ever considered the fact that some of these people could be ex-cons or dangerous fake people.  Plus I should be aware that people hide behind screens and change their identities in order to manipulate other people and create trouble.  He suggested I carry some pepper spray to protect myself!  On one hand this guy was right.  There are definitely people like this in the world but on the other hand I knew my online blogging friends like family.  None of what he was saying was true and never even crossed my mind.  But to an outsider, this seems pretty strange to see a female solo traveler going around India to meet online friends in person.  Hmmm…… but hey this is India and I know I’m in great hands.  Not only that, I’m going to see a sweet friend of mine, NJ (her blogging name) Neerja and her hubby Dinesh.  Both of them are engineers but work at different companies.  You can check NJ’s awesome blog at AmeTalk.

I made it to Delhi airport, went to my connecting gate and for the first time in my entire trip, I had a flight delay of two hours.  This was a bit of an inconvenience but at the same time, I could go and eat 😉 I know my way around here now and I’m starting to feel at home.  Finally I boarded the flight to Pune had another meal and made it safe and sound.  My luggage also made it and I got a pre-paid cab to go to my hotel The VITS.  I called NJ to let her know I arrived and both of us were starving!  She said she would meet me at the hotel restaurant when I got there.  We saw each other and our arms stretched out for miles giving big hugs after.  It was so amazing to see her in person what a beautiful smile she has.  I met her husband Dinesh and he is also extremely kind and generous.  All three of us are so chatty and always laughing, we clicked instantly!  It felt like a reunion even though it was a meeting for the very first time.  We made plans for the next day to see each other since it was the weekend and Dinesh would be picking me up at the hotel to go back to their place after, on his motorbike.  We said goodnight and off we all went smiling ear to ear 😀

20160115_235658

The next day I got ready and Dinesh came by to pick me up.  I was excited to go on the motorbike but I also remembered how the traffic was 😛  I held on tight to Dinesh’s backpack while we rode through the streets.  Some were families of four people without helmets on a bike and texting on their phones!  This is India.  Heads were turning looking at us we laughed and Dinesh said not to make eye contact with them to reduce the gazing so I kept my eyes in front.  We reached their very nice flat which is the top floor of a nice condo complex with a great view of Pune.  NJ and I sat and talked for hours.  We exchanged some gifts I washed some of my clothes and then I watched NJ work her magic in the kitchen making veg biriyani.  The smells of a home cooked meal were so great and seeing all her spices was so much fun.  Here is what bay leaves should look like.  They are the size of my hand!  This is India.

20160116_141605             20160116_141547

We planned to go to Osho Ashram that day but since we ate lunch late we decided to go tomorrow instead.  This meant we could go shopping and then out for dinner later on.  NJ and I caught an auto-rickshaw to go to a nice shopping district and I bought several souvenirs there with the help of NJ talking to the merchants about the prices.  She’s so good!  It was fun walking around and then we had a break in Starbucks and talked even more.  It was getting late so we got an auto-rickshaw to meet Dinesh at a restaurant near my hotel and their place.  Dinesh is a non-veg like me whereas NJ is veg.  Both Dinesh and I ordered something to drink with our meal, I had a glass of wine and he had a beer.  Alcohol isn’t consumed by many in India but that glass I had was so good and it was nice to have it with someone.  After supper it was late and already time for bed but wait….now there were three of us and one motorbike.  They said to get on we will go tripling even though it’s usually not allowed at night!  So with Dinesh as our captain, NJ in the middle and me behind holding onto both of them, we made it to the hotel safely and illegally 😉 Whew, what a great day.  This is India.

20160116_215754

The next morning Dinesh came to pick me up again on his bike and we went back to their place for lunch.  NJ was up early working so hard preparing lunch and supper for us ahead of time because we were heading to Osho Ashram and Park that day.  Before lunch she made the best Masala Tea that I’ve ever had and she is quite famous in her family for this amazing tea.  Both of us talked about food for hours and before we knew it, we were hungry and it was time for lunch.  NJ made Kadi with steamed rice and a carrot/cucumber salad and she is the Master Chef 🙂

20160116_164745              IMG-20160130-WA0000

After lunch we caught a cab to go to Osho Ashram but when we arrived it was closed.  However, Osho Park was right beside so we were able to walk around this beautiful green setting, click some pics, look at nature and talk and laugh for more hours!  I was learning so much about relationships in India and how arranged marriages work because it’s so different from here.  It was very interesting to know all the details that matter for a couple to meet and then all the details that go into a wedding.  In this park there were young couples in love and it was cute to see them hand in hand, taking selfies.  When it was time to head back, Dinesh called a cab with his cool app on his phone and it arrived within 5 minutes!  This Is India.  The technology is amazing here because engineering is such a huge profession, Canada can learn from you.

20160117_160044     20160117_171601

20160117_175647

After reaching their place, we had supper that NJ previously prepared which was stuffed eggplant, gram flour and capscum and the famous chapattis.  I was so full after and I had one very happy belly.  We had to say good bye because I was leaving the next day to take my final flight to Delhi.  I’m still bad with goodbyes, it was hard to leave.  NJ and I gave big hugs again and then Dinesh took me back to my hotel.  I thanked him for everything, he was so kind, generous and fun it felt like I knew them for years.  When I reached my room NJ sent me a message after saying she missed me already which made me miss her more!  I had such a great time with you NJ and Dinesh, thank you for everything, your hospitality was top notch and forever memorable.  I really hope you can make it to Canada someday and I really hope I can make it back to see you again.  As I said before, India has the biggest hearted people who are so welcoming, loving and giving.

This is Dinesh and NJ and This Is India ❤ 

12605535_10153931778895956_1470692457851669593_o

Missing you,

Stay tuned for the final chapter….

 

Much Love,

Jenny
xo

 

This Is India – Part 4

20160114_130610

January 13th– 15th, 2016 – Bhubaneswar, India (again..)

The Dehra Dun airport is the smallest one I’ve been in so far.  The same procedures happen as far as paying for excess baggage, going through security in the ladies line up, watching my 2 litre water bottle go through the scanner to be photographed again.   BUT….this time when my bottle reached the other side, a guard asked me to take a sip of the water in front of him.  My jaw hit the floor.  Now I was feeling more Canadian having someone being suspicious of my water bottle.  I twisted that cap off with a huge grin and gladly took a big sip.  He seemed to grin back at me and waved me off like I had passed the test.  Yayyy!!  This is India.  There seemed to be more foreigners like me in this airport because in Rishikesh it’s a big outdoor adventure town and people from all over the world go there to do things like bungee jumping, white water rafting and more.

When I arrived in Delhi I wanted a coffee so I went to the food court on the upper level.  What on earth did I see but a whole lot of pigeons flying and walking around in the food court!  For a moment I felt I was at the beach with the seagulls back home.  Here is a picture of Mr. Pigeon strutting his stuff in Delhi Airport.  This Is India.

20160115_141008 (2)

My connecting flight from Delhi to Bhubaneswar was great and the thing about flying within India whether it’s a two hour flight or more, they feed you.  Not just peanuts in a mini bag, a hot meal with silverware and it’s included in the price of your flight.  This is India.  This also makes me very happy 😛

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to check into the Mayfair again because they were full, but I did stay at another great place called The Swosti Hotel.  The staff were great but nothing compares to the Mayfair.  I got in late so I wasn’t able to see Darshith that night but we were able to text so that was great.  He was working the next day anyway.

I woke up early the next morning and got ready to go out and be a tourist seeing temples and doing some more shopping, just to add more weight to my luggage!  The hotel hired an auto-rickshaw driver to stay with me for the day and be by my side while shopping.  Now I know how celebrities feel.  I have to admit I felt safe and nervous all at the same time but it was all good.  The driver was really nice and the first thing we did was go shopping.  It was a bit strange having someone watch and wait for me while I looked around in stores and he even pointed things out for me to buy!  Walking around with him produced many stares and gazes from people but there was nothing I could do.  After buying several things it was time to drive around in the chaos and see some temples.  After all, that’s what Bhubaneswar is famous for are their temples  🙂

20160114_112147        20160114_122819

20160114_122909        20160114_133131

20160114_123253

They were all very beautiful and peaceful.  I felt more spiritual and calm just being there, it was such a great feeling.  These were some of the reasons I chose to do this trip.  I found it interesting how serene I would feel while visiting the temples and then how chaotic I would feel getting back into the auto-rickshaw and the traffic!  This Is India.  Cows are considered Holy in India and they roam the streets in the traffic, I don’t know how they stay safe but they manage to do it thank goodness.  It’s really nice seeing them like this.

After a day of going around, I went back to the hotel to eat and rest.  When Darshith finished work he came by for another visit and we picked up our conversation where we left off and laughed and talked a lot which was so great.  It was nice having a second chance of meeting again but we only had that evening because I was leaving the next day already.  It was time to say good bye again and we all know how good I am at that!  Not.  This time I was actually better than the other time so I was slightly improving.

IMG-20160115-WA0001             IMG-20160115-WA0000

When I think about why I was in India, sometimes I have to pinch myself.  To get a new start and connect more with my blogging friends there.  Through blogging in WordPress you get to know people by how they think because it’s reflected in how they write.  Their thoughts and feelings dig deep inside you leaving a unique mark on you that’s just from them.  I have many of these connections and marks with all of you and I think it’s important to say that it’s a friendship kind of love because we understand and appreciate one another.  Being appreciated and understood are what we all crave and we can achieve that here.  Love is not always attainable; yes it’s wonderful to be loved but more profound to be understood.

The next day I am off to visit my lovely friend NJ and her hubby for a few days and I can’t wait 😀

I had a great time feeding my soul in Bhubaneswar again.

This Is India.

Stay tuned, to be continued in Pune….

Namaste,

Jenny
xo

 

This Is India – Part 3

20160111_134753

January 10th– 13th, 2016, The Sattva Spa and Wellness Retreat, Rishikesh, India

Here we go again back to the airport!  I flew from Bhubaneswar to Delhi and then Dehra Dun so I could reach The Sattva which was going to be my safe haven and place to let go of stress.  But first, let’s go back to the airport…

After checking in I loaded my luggage onto the belt and watched the numbers climb like my scale at home.  Before they could tell me it’s over, I said it first.  They directed me to the location to pay for my excess baggage which I did and suddenly I was having flashbacks of math class which gave me heart palpitations 😛  I couldn’t even imagine what the end bill would be after all the airports I’ll be going through.  I was not allowed to check my bags all the way to Dehra Dun, they made me get my luggage in Delhi and do the entire process and payments again there too.

That’s where things got weird.

At Delhi there was a kind young man who tried to help me decrease my excess baggage weight by shifting some things into an extra bag I had.  He quickly unzipped my flashy colorful suitcase, I burst out laughing and turned 50 shades of red because I completely forgot about things in that suitcase…ahem…unmentionables and my bathroom bags were flying around and getting stuffed in a bag by a complete stranger.  I thought men were shy here?  Apparently not everyone.  His intentions were good trying to save me money and at this point I didn’t care what he saw, I was on the same mission he was.  Then I thought, wow, this is India.  I thanked him, paid him some Rupees and I was off like the wind to security.  Yes you guessed it, another line up of ladies and gents and I watched my water bottle sail on through to the other side.  My goodness, this is India!

Being a female foreigner solo traveler, I have many strikes against me as far as being a target or having several people gazing at me and I mean long gazing.  I just carry on and do my thing 😀

After arriving in Dehra Dun it was dark outside and I had a driver waiting for me from the retreat.  It was another 1.5 hour drive to get there and the roads were twisty, unguarded and full of fallen rocks.  Monkeys also lined the roads and they were just hanging out watching the cars go by, honking their horns of course.

The staff at The Sattva were very welcoming and offered me supper right away in my room with some Masala Chai.  Yum!  The temperature was cooler, at night it was +3 C and in the day around +16 C.  After going to bed early and having a great sleep, I woke up in the morning and opened the curtains to see my view.  I thought I was in paradise and I suddenly felt very peaceful.

DSC00822               20160111_133909

20160111_091557              20160111_131312

DSC00826             20160113_103834

The package I took was called The Rasa and it included yoga and meditation each day, 3 vegetarian meals per day, 2 spa treatments per day every day (that’s right) and many other perks.  I really enjoyed the yoga and Ayurvedic treatments which consisted of full body massage and scrub, hot oil local treatments, hot oil hair treatments, head massage and foot massage.  After every treatment I would lay in the steam room and then take a shower after.  This is definitely India.

I wrote in my diary that is pictured at the beginning which was a gift from my dad for Christmas.  Each day I have been keeping track of my goings on as well as my thoughts and feelings.  This was a great place to let the stress go away and never return again.  I was completely on my own during this time and I had the chance to reflect on what I want and what I don’t want in my life.  There’s a quote I wrote awhile back and lately I’ve been looking at it daily to help remind me how to be strong.

“Sometimes you have to give up on people.  Not because you don’t care but because they don’t.  A person’s actions will tell you everything you need to know.  Love yourself enough to say goodbye to those who don’t make time for you or know how to love you back.  Let go of what hurts, even if it hurts to let go.”  ~ Jennifer Juneau

Unfortunately, I received some sad news during this time and the mom of my very close blogging friend Bhavya became sick and needed to be in hospital.  This meant Bhavya had to fly home to her mom and be with her which was completely understandable.  Both of us were sad that we couldn’t meet because we had been texting daily about this visit for months.  I urged her to go and we would keep in contact which we did and still do.  Her nickname is chicwithmessybun and her blog site is called Pages From My Diary.  Please check her out she is such an amazing girl.  We will see each other soon honey bun, I miss you.  Xoxo

I was able to juggle things around with my flights and itinerary and I decided to go back to Bhubaneswar to see some temples that I didn’t have time to see before.  I told Darshith I was coming back and he was happy to hear that so we planned to meet again at some point during my second unexpected visit.

I felt completely rejuvenated and relaxed after being at The Sattva.  I met other single women who were guests there from USA, Italy, Peru and Mexico and we would usually see each other over breakfast outside by the pool.  The staff were so helpful and respectful because they would allow you to roam around on your own schedule and just connect with nature again.  I read my book Brida quite a bit and did some journaling to clear my mind.  I was so happy I had this added in the middle of my trip because it was exactly what I needed for my mind, body and soul.  Here is a picture of my yoga instructor who had the nicest voice and was really great in teaching me new yoga moves.  The other picture is the adorable spa girl who did all my treatments and put me in a trans.  She has the best fingers and hands in the entire world and I am forever grateful to her.  I highly recommend this beautiful spot if you get the chance to go.

20160112_092928    20160112_093050

20160113_085500

Time to endure another adventurous rocky road drive back to the airport with my excess baggage, water bottle and peace of mind.

Stay tuned for part 4 out of 6….coming soon….

Much Love,

Jenny
xo

This is India-Part 2

IMG-20160109-WA0031

January 6th – 10th, 2016 – Bhubaneswar, India

I’m at the Delhi airport two hours in advance for my flight to Bhubaneswar and apparently I’m not the only one!  The crowds are huge and I have no idea what’s ahead as far as line ups go.  The ticket counter told me when flying Domestic you are only allowed 15 kg for luggage weight.  This was bad news for me because of my own lack of research and I was allowed 25 kg when I flew International.  Therefore I paid big Rupees for my 18 kg excess baggage weight and not only that I had many connections ahead and my shopping spree had only just begun!

Then came the security lineup.  The one thing I am still amazed with is watching my full 2 litre water bottle glide on through security and make it to the other side without questioning!  In Canada and U.S. we are only allowed 100 ml to pass through since 9/11 happened.  Not there.  Also, when you walk through the scanner there’s the Ladies line and the Gents line.  All ladies go behind a closed curtain to get scanned and padded down while men are not.  In Canada everyone is out in the wide open all together but hey, this is India.  Delhi airport is the world’s number one airport and is also known as a silent airport which means there are no overhead announcements or last calls for boarding flights.  Therefore you hope and pray that your plane is waiting for you even though you are late because of the line ups!  I ran to my gate like a mad woman to board the plane and made it to my Air India flight to Bhubaneswar.  Finally I could relax…until I was seated in the plane and they announced there would be a delay in taking off because they were waiting for “engineering clearance.”  What???  I was just hoping to get there soon and in one piece.

I was on my way to visit my great friend Darshith who is a fellow WordPress blogger and writes about inspirational and motivational subjects and sometimes “random thoughts” as he puts it. He also includes song picks at the end of his blogs which is really fun to see his choice and then listen to it.  Check out his site Smiles Here and Smiles There.  His comment section is the best because it’s not just comments, sometimes its conversations and that’s what connects people and it’s how I got to know this funny and very kind person.

20160108_222545 (2)     IMG-20160108-WA0000

I made it safe and sound and checked into The Mayfair Hotel and Resort; a beautiful place complete with 7 restaurants, a pool, tennis court and many more amenities.  The staff at this hotel were amazing, very friendly and would always make the sign of Namaste.  I really enjoyed my time there playing tennis, sitting by the pool, reading, eating in all the restaurants and chatting it up with the staff.  The temperature was +30 C and I was in heaven after leaving freezing temps back home.  When Darshith finished work we would catch up over supper laughing and talking about anything and everything but mostly about blogs we liked and followed.   It’s so much fun being able to talk in person seeing each other’s mannerisms, smiles and hearing the laughs.  Darshith also brought his friend Binay to visit one time and he’s a fellow WordPress blogger his site is The Green Coder, plus he’s a member of The Blind Ride group.  It was great to meet you too Binay.  One thing we all have in common is that we LOVE chocolate 😉

20160107_104721      20160107_134512

20160107_104432      20160110_074516

On the Saturday we had a full day to go and explore around the area and we went to visit the famous Konark Temple and a beach on the Bay of Bengal.  We hired a cab from the hotel which meant the driver was ours for the day for a specific rate.  As we explored, the driver would wait and when we were ready to move on he would take us there.  It was another Adventurous drive and we had time to talk a lot because the ride was 1.5 hours to get there.  When we reached Konark Temple we walked the grounds which were very beautiful and peaceful.  Darshith previously wrote two blogs called The Blind Ride about this very place and it felt surreal being at the spot I had only read about.  We captured several pics and then it was off to lunch at a nearby restaurant where we ate outside.  We had Paneer butter masala, rice, dal, vegetable curry mix and papad.  I love Indian food so much I was having the time of my life and my belly was super happy!  Many people are vegetarian in India and I enjoyed eating like this during my trip even though I’m a non-vegetarian.  After lunch we headed to the beach and I brought my bathing suit in my bag but when we got there, nobody was wearing a bathing suit!  Everyone was fully clothed so I didn’t change into mine because hey, this is India.  I went in the water anyway and we clicked many pics that afternoon.  There were some shops set up nearby and I was able to witness Darshith shopping and making deals with the merchants like Piyusha did in Delhi!  It was great to watch and I was thankful I was with him for this part.

IMG-20160109-WA0025     IMG-20160109-WA0019

IMG-20160109-WA0045                IMG-20160109-WA0051

After we got back we exchanged gifts and Darshith bought me a gorgeous vest with the help of his sisters which was so sweet.  This was very nice because it was a group effort and I really appreciated that so much.  Thanks to all 3 of you, I love it!  The final thing was saying goodbye, I think I’m the worst person when it comes to goodbyes, they’re not my thing with anyone.  I’m much better with hellos 😛

IMG-20160109-WA0000          DSC00845 (2)

I really enjoyed my time in Bhubaneswar at the Mayfair and the generous Indian hospitality surrounded in nature.  Darshith, my time with you was Awesome, thank you very, very much for being my tour guide and entertaining this Canadian girl, it was great to get to know you more in person.   You were so welcoming and I felt so peaceful.   After all, this is India.

Now you have to come to Canada Darshith!

My next stop is at the spa and retreat in Rishikesh but first I have three airports to get through in Bhubaneswar, Delhi and Dehra Dun along with my giant water bottle and excess baggage 😀

This is India 2016

Stay tuned for part 3/6, to be continued….

Much Love,

Jenny ❤
xo

 

 

 

This Is India 2016-Part 1

20160125_170324

India has always been on my list of places to travel to but I never dreamed I would be going there so soon and for the reasons I did.

Last year was bittersweet for me and in a way, a blessing in disguise.  I became single and heartbroken in one realm and an emotional writer in the other.  I discovered when your heart cracks open that’s when the light gets in and compassion can easily flow through your veins and arteries.  I began to blog about my experience and the things I was dealing with in my life.  As it turned out, many others around the world connected with my thoughts and feelings.  My biggest fan base are from beautiful India and so wise in their words, thoughts and feelings.   I felt drawn to them and our hearts instantly connected.

When I felt better I made the decision to give the gift of travel to myself for everything I had been through in 2015 and connect even more with my blogging friends from WordPress in India and in person.  I made a reservation at a spa retreat there and booked the flights to see my friends in January 2016, as a solo traveler.

Welcome to This Is India 2016.

January 1st, 2016 at 3:30 p.m. EST – Canada

My friends Marie-Claude and Sam came to pick me and my 3 suitcases up and drove me to the airport for my 6 p.m. flight from Ottawa to Toronto to Delhi, India.  We had just received 30 cm of snow here and it was cold, -15 C and all I could think about were palm trees!  The flight from Ottawa to Toronto was uneventful and then I had to mentally prepare myself for the 14 hour flight from Toronto to Delhi.  I had many things to help me survive like books, music, in flight movies, my eye mask, and of course the food on the plane which consisted of 3 meals and snacks!

January 2nd, 2016 at 8:55 p.m. Delhi, India GMT

After 11, 965 km, I finally landed in Delhi and I was tired but so excited!  I was hoping my luggage made it which it did.  Wheeww!!!  I had arranged a hotel shuttle service to pick me up and luckily they didn’t forget about me.  I bought an India SIM card for my cell phone at the airport and switched it immediately so I could be on that plan and connect with everyone right away.  I love technology!  After clearing customs and security I went outside and found my driver to the hotel holding a sign with my name on it.  Driving in India is a blog in itself.  Let’s just say I thought New York City cabs were scary, this was something totally different that I will explain as I go along.  Just to give you an idea, there is a middle line down the road but after that, there are no lanes and horns never stop honking.  For some reason though, accidents rarely happen and traffic seems to self-align in every case.  I was amazed to say the least and then I thought hey this is India.  After checking into the Holiday Inn near the airport I went to my room and crashed on the bed.  I was grateful for making it here by myself and navigating to my hotel in one piece.  Then I slept for 10 hours!

January 3rd – 6th – Delhi, India

One thing I noticed since my arrival is that almost everyone working in the hotel is male.  I know this might seem like an odd observation and comment but it’s because in Canada it’s a real mix.  The hostess at the restaurant was the only girl I saw.  Even the housekeeping staff were men!  The second day I was there I heard a doorbell at my hotel room???  Outside my door was a young boy who worked at the hotel asking if I had any laundry to be done.  I was amazed at this adorable gesture and my thoughts again were hey, this is India.

After recovering from jet lag it was time to get outside and explore the city so I took a cab to Connaught Place and met my first blogging friend Piyusha!!  We clicked right away, laughed and talked a lot while drinking coffee in a Starbucks!  Shambhavi met up with us after and all three of us were great friends immediately.  Time to do some shopping!  I have to say Piyusha is definitely the Queen of shopping, especially when it comes to bargaining with the merchants!  She will not accept any bad deal and I was eternally grateful to be shopping with her being a foreigner and all!  I never laughed so much and it was so great to see her in action.  Shambhavi is a very good shopper too and knows a lot about the history of Indian traditions and festivals and I learned so much as we toured around Delhi.  We all piled into an auto-rickshaw and it was time to get some awesome street food at Dilli Haat!  We ate Aloo Ki Tikki, Gol Gappas with aloo channa masala, sweet chutney and spicy water, Chicken Manchurian with noodles.  YUM!  We exchanged cards, gifts, hugs at the end and we felt so good about our meetup.  Just as a side note, everyone calls me Jenny in India…so cute 🙂

20160104_115725

I met another fellow blogger and friend Chandrajit and we had supper while talking about life and blogs.  He is a very caring person who has a big heart reserved for a special person and it’s great to be able to help support him in this.  Many bloggers write about life, love, loss, gain or whatever thoughts cross their mind which is the beauty in blogging.  He remembered my birthday from December and bought me a cake which was really nice of him.

IMG-20160104-WA0018

I had hoped to meet up with Kriti and Darshith in Delhi but the timing didn’t work out unfortunately.  I had plans to meet Darshith next so that was okay after all, not to worry 😉  I wish I could have met you Kriti!!

Delhi was a vibrant city to explore the temperature was around +19 C.  Great for a Canadian girl in January!  Some days it’s hard to see because of the smog and that’s because of the population.  The new driving rule in Delhi is the odd/even schedule so depending on what number your licence plate ends with is the day you are allowed to drive your car.  Again, this is India.

So far so good seeing Delhi these first few days.  I was treated like a celebrity in the hotel restaurant because being a female solo traveler people are chatty and ask a lot of questions.  Some brought me free food and things to try without me even asking for it which was very nice of them.  People in India have the biggest hearts and I love it.  Now I’m off to the Delhi airport again to make my next tour on the East Coast in Bhubaneswar!  The staff at the airport will get to know me well with all my future connections!  Maybe they will be saying “there’s that Canadian girl again..”

Stay tuned and to be continued….

Much Love,

Jenny 😉

 

 

The Beauty of Solo Travel

IMG-20160109-WA0007

How brave are you?  Have you ever dreamed of taking off and traveling to a new and exciting place?

Alone???

I’m here to tell you that it’s possible and I did it.  I just got back from a solo travel trip to India for 3 weeks and I would do it again in a heartbeat ❤

There are many benefits to traveling solo and I’d like to share what I found with you.

  1. It’s empowering. You gain self-confidence very quickly and your world opens up even more, literally.  Not only that your common sense becomes greater
  2. TIME. You have it all to yourself and it’s what everyone dreams about having more of.  There is no need to share an agenda, you can sleep, eat and do what you want when and where you want.  You also have the time to reflect on your life and discover things about yourself you never even knew.  It’s a great time for personal growth and development
  3. Teaches you patience and flexibility in unexpected situations and you become more accepting of others and their way of living. Your mind and heart opens up to the Universe
  4. Your problem-solving skills will sharpen even more. Getting around town becomes a fun challenge on your own and suddenly you are listening to your intuition more, I also became more spiritual
  5. You gain a new perspective on life and become grateful for everything you have
  6. You love those around you even more
  7. You begin to lower your expectations of how things should be and learn to go with the flow more. Your positive energy attracts positive people
  8. I found people to be very approachable with me and I was to them. I was being treated like I was some kind of celebrity for the first time!  I received many freebie things like food along the way, great conversations, advice of what to see in the area.  Very friendly people are out there, you just need to flash a nice smile sometimes 😉
  9. You gain respect and admiration from those around you for your courage and if you have kids, you are setting a good example for them because they see that anything is possible if you want it bad enough
  10. You make wonderful memories with wonderful people around the world and nobody can take this experience of a lifetime away from you

There will always be some people who will try to deter you from traveling solo but you have to remember they are projecting their fears on you.  Some said “you are a single woman” (yes), “it’s going to be dangerous” (how do they know), “you should go with someone, not alone” (that defeats the entire purpose of solo travel).  My response, I booked my tickets, packed my bags excessively and boarded the 14 hour flight from Toronto, Canada to Delhi, India on January 1st, 2016.  What a great day and way to kick off 2016!

For me, this was a trip of healing for personal reasons and it was to see my close blogging friends that I have a strong connection with in person who are all over India.  Piyusha, Shambhavi, Bhavya, Darshith, Neerja, Dinesh, Chandrajit, Srinath, Kriti and many others I couldn’t meet were the many reasons I had to go.  I felt like the Universe aligned and brought me to WordPress so I could write my thoughts and feelings out there and attract such amazing people into my life.  Then it was so generous to give me this opportunity to travel and meet everyone in person, making our connections stronger than ever.  I am so grateful and if I can say one thing, I will say this; listen to your wants, not everyone else’s around you because it’s your life, not theirs.  At the end of the day, you need to live it.

How was it?

Amazing, inspiring, life changing, delicious, fun and a must for everyone to do once in their lifetime.  India is a beautiful place to go and heal your soul because it’s a spiritual and peaceful place but at the same time a chaotic one that not only changes your mind but also your perspective on life for the better.  This was my way of pushing the “reset button” or “refresh button” on my life so I could come back home and continue to help others and myself in a healthier way.

One of the most beautiful things I learned from life is that in order to find yourself, you need to lose yourself first.  And sometimes in the middle of nowhere is where you end up finding yourself, for me it was in India.  By listening to your intuition it will give you answers but in order to hear it you need to get quiet and alone because it’s only a whisper inside you.  Reflecting on this will guide you in the best possible direction that is right for you and that’s called soul speak, which is the beauty of solo travel.

So much love to everyone in India, thank you for the visits and memories and because of WordPress this was made possible.  I’d like to change the name to WorldPress, FriendPress, LovePress, FunPress, DreamPress, InspirationPress, I think you get the idea….

Much love to you,

Jenny
xo