Art, Culture, and Ocean Conservation . . .

In Bloom

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In Bloom
April showers have brought May Flowers and adventures galore!

May you be feeling refreshed and renewed where ever this letter may find you.

 

~ : Ali Luminescent Happenings : ~

Speakeasy Dollhouse -THIS Saturday May 5 and Monday May 7th

TICKET GIVEAWAY!!!!!

Saturday’s show is daytime from 4pm-7pm

Monday nights show is 7pm-11pm

I have a 2 free tickets to each show to the first person to reply to this newsletter with the show they prefer!

Thanks for being on my mailing list! I love rewarding YOU!

More about the show!

I play a 1920’s Bronx Italian Speakeasy Hostess in Cynthia Von Buhler’s “Speakeasy Dollhouse.”

Get your order of canoli’s before they sell out you Big Six!

http://speakeasydollhouse.blogspot.com/

A true tale of bootlegging, mafia, infidelity, and murder set in Prohibition-era New York City. The speakeasy is our dollhouse and the actors are our dolls.

The story is based on Cynthia Von Buhler investigating her own Grandfathers murder mystery and possible ties to the mob. To better explore the murder and the events leading up to it, Von Buhler has created an elaborate speakeasy dollhouse set in her art studio. To take it one step further, the artist has now created an immersive theatrical experience to go along with the sets and her own investigation. The play stages these events in a historic Lower East Side speakeasy set up to mirror the dollhouse sets. The actors aren’t visually distinguished from the audience, so both become players in the life-sized speakeasy dollhouse.

Flow market! Sunday May 6th

I will be Vending at the Floasis! Did you know I make all sorts of crazy creations? All that glimmering faery booty you see installed in my hair when Im upside down and backwards on fire that never falls out?! Thats right ladies and gents I have worked something out through my years of creating custom looks I decided to start making looks I can share with the general public lathered in my lil secrets and treasures. Since I can’t be there to hold your hand while you get ready (unless you win my makeover on the Hello!100 Kickstarter) I decided to make clip and go full on hair pieces and unicorn horns!!

This Sunday I will be vending Custom Unicorn Horns and Dance & Hoop tops at the Flow Market!

The Flow Market is a place for spinners to play, learn, share and grow! In the FLoasis, the Vendor tents will be full of toys, clothes for spinning, and food and drinks for sale! There will be an open spein area to try things out. Please bring your own props to play with too. Open spin jam on both nights for experienced and insured spinners who have taken safety class.

Attending is free and taking classes are cheap. Check out FlowMarket.org for more info.

The Floasis 1342-A Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, New York, NY 11221

Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 12:05 PM Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 12:05 AM (ET)

The Flow Market is both saturday and sunday. Im only vending Sunday (because I have that play I mentioned above on Saturday) but feel free to check it out on both days. . . or to hang out with ME all weekend* 🙂

UPCOMING EVENTS:

HELLO!100

A Spontaneous Dance for 100 Hoopers: An Epic Tale of True Love

HELLO!100 is an amazing project of epic proportions that I am honored to be a part of created by my dear friend and collaborater Bex Burton which offers an accessible opportunity for hoopers of all skill level to perform in a unique hoop happening, a free-to-the public live performance for Figment audiences, and inspiration for all who experience HELLO!100 that True Love exists.

We are raising funds to film this proper (FROM THE SKY!!!) and NEED YOUR HELP! Please visit the kickstarter for more information and custom prizes for your generosity. We are only half way to our goal. Please support if you are able every $1 helps! Thanks!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/senseofmotion/hello100

HOOPFEST NEW ENGLAND!

July 5th-July 9th

To all my Hoopers and flow artists on this list I will be teaching at Hoopfest New England! Im really excited to share some new choreography with you and take your flow to the next level. Im also super stoked to be teaching along with such an awesome team of inspirational hoopers!

http://www.hoopfestnewengland.com/

Dreams of the Last Butterflies

and I mentioned it before- but keep your eyes peeled as this chrysalis tears open. I soon will have a 9 ft wingspan!

http://dreamsofthelastbutterflies.tumblr.com/

Oldie but Goodie!

and a lil gem for those that made it all the way to the bottom of this mailing. A Converse commercial shot by Amanda Laws in 2007 only 3 weeks after I first moved to NYC. Enjoy!

http://vimeo.com/40109983

Thank you all for being on my mailing list! Look forward to keeping up with all of your wonderful adventures!

See ya down the rabbit hole!

xo

-=ali*

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Blossom Bliss

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Frolicking in springs grand event with blossoms bursting everywhere. Tickling your face, your nose, and the whimsy that lies within each of us. Thankful for free day at the Bronx botanical garden and for all of natures glory. Bumblebees and birds whiz zing by, sweet streams with a rare sighting of a native beaver in the daytime, gentle breezes, picnics on bedrock along river sides- the river- sweetly cuddled in between yellow daisies blanketing its shores. The smell of grass and the childish fun of rolling down soft green grassy hills. I’m so thankful that their are so many places in NYC where nature rules and thankful to myself for taking the time to enjoy it.

Gentle snow globe style bundles of blossoms cyclone by and all I can think is that this is what dreams are made of.

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The Return

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Sleepless and satisfied I have returned to the US of A. 4am wakefulness allows for thoughtful recollection of my recent journey and passage back to NYC.

2 days ago we boarded a bus in Sri Lanka at 2am- we were lucky enough to get seats- many people had to stand the whole five hour journey. I was quite surprised that the bus service in Sri Lanka is 24 hours and highly utilized by the locals. Driving there is insane- but we had become accustom to that. The only seat left actually was the front seat lolol with the direct view of the road. I slept away in my lil zen place I go when I no longer have control and know the view may be stressful. I slept soundly sitting upright on this bus seat weaving and barreling in and out of Sri Lanka traffic. Sometimes when the bus would lurch Justin said I’d jolt awake throwing my arms up over my face like we were going to crash- I had no remembrance of these moments and am thankful for it. We made it to our transfer, took another bus- this one filled with 50 school girls in their uniforms and giggling so cute at us. Then a tuk-tuk to the airport- I emptied the sand out of my shoes from when I fell asleep on the beach the night before.

The airport went smoothly except for my hula hoops. I left America with 17 hula hoops and am returning with only my personal stash of 6 lol they are collapsed down and small enough to fit in the overhead and typically NEVER a problem for me- buuut in Sri Lanka this was totally a problem – they said it was a pipe- and could be used as a weapon. This military man snarled at me squinting his eyes causing a deep crease in his blue barret. One hand on his gun and one finger poking at my chest he insisted my hoops were not coming on this plane and that i could not board until they were discarded or checked. Customs is a long way away by this point and I have maybe 30 minutes before my flight. I was strong face to face with this evil man but once I turned away and started thinking about how my lil hoops- not wrapped or padded- only tied together with my lil stretchy lace string were ever going to make it with thousands of pounds of luggage being tossed on them – I started to cry. I travel all over the world and always take my hoops as my carry-on- if for some reason they don’t fit I gate check them and they are gently hand carried. I was pissed, annoyed, and scared that my hoops would never be seen again. I started sniffling my way back downstairs to see what I could do when an airport representative approached me, explained that this man is notorious for being evil and apologized for his attitude. I explained that I was scared my hoops were going to be destroyed going through checked baggage and they reassured me they would be okay, they even ran ahead through customs so that I wouldn’t have to get back in line after and did all the paperwork and tagging for me and brought me back upstairs so I didn’t have to wait again in the security line either. They were actually really nice and my hoops did arrive unharmed. Thank Goodness!!! I was amazed and oh so thankful.

Next stop Bangkok! We got a cheap room went to Mr. Yim’s – who makes my favorite green curry in all of Thailand. Ran around the night markets and then at 5am went back to the airport and flew to Hong Kong.

Now….we were to have a ten hour layover in Hong Kong on the way in- but our flights were changed- so now we have a 6 Hr layover on the way home and we absolutely planned to make the most of it. Our good friend sent us some pointers and I left my carry-on bag at the cloak room in the airport. Justin and I hopped on a double decker bus and jaunted into Hong Kong. What a beautiful ride!!! The China Sea, huge bridges, mountains, high-rises, gondolas, wow. This small excursion was super worth it. We emerged into the city that was every Chinatown times 1000 and paid homage to the OG. So cool. Wish we had more time but thankful for the glimpse.

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We returned to the airport for our final flight home. No other hangups with my hoops or fire gear ( which was also in my carry on
In the previous encounter- but metal doused in kerosine- no problem – hula hoops on the other hand . . . ) and our good friends scooped us up at the airport cushioning our landing hear in NYC. And tadaaaa we are HOME. Lolol.

I love New York City so much, and like the moon to the tide, the longer I’m away the more it pulls me back- but the real truth is that I love my community here in NYC even more. Places will always be there to visit- even NYC won’t change too much while you are away- but the people that make it what it is are priceless and irreplaceable.

Sea Turtles love

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Up, up and away. Up through and over the big puffy clouds where santas reindeer play- I whimsically look for the shadows of whales in the sea below.

Sri Lanka went by fast. It’s so funny- when you spend months away on end- it starts to feel like the end will never come and then, in the blink of an eye- it’s all over and your homeward bound. Sri Lanka is undoubtedly beautiful, interesting, and a place to return to. I would have liked to spend a bit more time in the interior but the coast was aptly rewarding.

One night while we were having sunset drinks a huge mama sea turtle swam up out of the ocean and started making her way to the tree line. The server at the restaurant made an announcement requesting that we ignore the turtle so that she will lay her eggs. He said- “She is tired, she has swam a long way, she is pregnant lady- give her some space.” Turtles pilgrimage back to the very same beach they were born on- sometimes 1000’s of miles to reach their mark. This beach was just an empty piece of beautiful coastland until about 2-3 years ago. So its no surprise that this is the third turtle we have seen enter the beach in the past few days. Raja, the man advocating for the turtles said this one is about 20 years old. We were very happy to hear someone spreading smart ideas regarding peoples behavior around the turtles as the night before the coast guard was spot lighting them and letting people smoke near the newly hatched young. Turns out turtles aren’t all that Raja cares about, he is also an avid conservationist for whales and dolphins and runs one of the best whale watching tours in Mirissa- taking care not to scare or chase the whales so that the blue whales will continue their year-round patterns around Sri Lanka.

There are also HUGE lizards here in large numbers. Some were black and yellow and 2 meter/ 6ft long! Monitor lizards, iguanas, chameleons, and several other species I did not recognize were all over the country side along with the peacocks, kingfishers, eagles, crows and ginourmous bats flying across the full moon. Justin and I even went to a snake farm! It’s a snake conservation center and snake bite treatment center. We watched in awe as the man tamed the cobra that was striking and hissing at him only minutes before. We got to hold multiple snakes and see some scorpions and tarantulas.

Despite sone of the wildlife being poisonous- Coconuts and traffic were the biggest dangers- unannounced a coconut would plunge from tree to roof several times over. We were fortunate to not be hit by any- however it’s definitely a risk. I suppose rip tides and waves breaking really close to shore are also some things to look out for.

The one thing I wish for Sri Lanka is to not become too overdeveloped. They have an extraordinary landscape and are in the face of a budding tourist economy but you already see large parts of jungle being torn away to build more guesthouses. I hope they can take a nod from Costa Rica- and preserve their Eco-tourism, put limits on land development, and extend the longevity of their natural beauty. I also encourage travelers to always carry their own water bottle and a filter. Sri Lanka drinks their water from the tap and only began “manufacturing” water due to the demand by tourists. Knowing what we know about plastic and it’s ever growing presence in the world I believe it’s every traveller’s responsibility to leave a place better than they found it. So try not to use plastic and leave no trace. The plastic bottles are only being brought in for us. I am hoping to draft up these thoughts and send them to the department of tourism of Sri Lanka to encourage them to preserve Sri Lanka’s natural beauty as that is the big draw for tourism moving forward.

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Sri Lanka

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Visiting Sri Lanka has been really nourishing at the end of our trip. The land and waters are clean and sparkling, the people friendly and smart, the food spicy, flavorful, and aplenty. Yellow coconuts provide tart treats and the waves are the waves of every surfers dream. Huge monitor lizards run alongside the roads with peacocks showing their lovely tails to the ladies. A country recovering from a 30 year civil war, blossoming in the wake of bombs, guns, and the boxing day tsunami. Many people lost loved ones on that day- Many stories of brothers and sisters washed out to sea.

The Ceylon (Sri lankan) people have big beautiful eyes green to light brown and HUGE beaming smiles. Their language- Singhales – has 60 characters. And the script is comprised of intricate rounded characters.

They drive like bats out of hell- the road is small and often fits three lanes of traffic in whatever direction people choose to go. Driving is no joke around these parts and tuk-tuks jut through jungle roads with swift ease.

One night when returning from a late night gathering our tuk-tuk driver offered to take us to get some baked goods. It was almost 3am and we were shocked that anything would be open. He drove us straight into the jungle and up some mountain roads to a very yummy smell- FRESH LOAVES of BREAD!!! Cooking in a brickoven, pastries galore- some with berries, fruit, and sugar, some super spicey with peppers- but best yet- ALL WARM!!! They all just came out of the oven. He gave us a tour and let us peak at the next round of delights that were about to rise over the fire.

One night Justin and I were meandering down the beach admiring how bright the moon is when we found a group of people marveling over freshly hatched sea turtles!!! On the full moon the babies hatch and make their maiden voyage from sand to sea. We even had some big mama turtles come up to shore as if to check on their babies. So cute!!

I wasn’t sure what to expect of Sri Lanka- I thought perhaps it would be more like India or more like Thailand- but it truly is it’s own unique place with rich culture, a 89% literacy rate, and a lot to explore.

Tonight is the full moon and their local festival here in the seaside town of Mirissa. Time to go watch the men get dragons and angels painted on their backs and join to the parade!

Xo

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A Day in the Life
in Chennai (feb 28, 2011) I feel like I just visited 15 thousand
different universes. We dug around this gritty lil city of chennai
and found soooo much. From multi-colored and lively shanty towns,
to old time city lost in the 20s, to the elaborate labrynth style
staircased, mosque-topped high court we ran around collecting
treasure and finding adventure every step of the way. We even found
a chai shop that served grilled cheese sandwiches. SCORE!! How we
got to these places was even better. In the true sense of adventure
we were aimlessly wandering chai shop to chai shop. First,
understand this, chai shops in India are the tiniest nooks in the
wall with enough room for a propane burner, the person making the
chai, and maybe a table and two chairs. Sometimes there is a jar of
cashew cookies. The chai is served one ounce at a time for 5-7
rupees (10 cents) sometimes it’s just a dude carrying a canister
and selling it where ever he is, sometimes it’s a bigger shop with
3 tables. They vary but this is the baseline- they usually have
some type of pretty tile and a crew of regulars hanging around out
front. So, where was I? Oh yes, we were aimlessly wandering chai
shop to chai shop when we crossed under some railroad tracks and
saw a sign for the station. Chennai is actually working on creating
a subway but does currently have some above line tracks. We had not
yet taken the train and decided to check it out. Chennai does not
have the best infrastructure- there are open sewer pits in parts of
the city, there are buildings with no bathrooms, there are many
many people that just go on the street- sometimes you are walking
and there are foul foul smells and flies- so you start walking
faster only to realize you are barreling head-on into a worsening
situation – you have walked into a neighbothoods chosen toilet. So-
it’s important to watch where you step for sure- anywho- there is
this train track and we start to follow the way to the entrance
which unfortunately began at a sewer pit but luckily the wind was
in our favor. We approach the station and it’s this old bombed out
station. There is no attendant, there are no turnstiles, gates, or
ticket collectors- we walk up the stairs and the walls are coated
in beetlenut (a red nut people chew like chewing tobacco and spit
out as they please). Then we enter the station. It was open and
airy with a huge rounded top like the stations in Europe. It was
actually really nice and a good break from the afternoon sun. The
train came and the doors are nailed open and the windows have no
glass. Many metal straps hung from the ceiling like stirrups
hanging off the side of a horse. There is even a special car for
ladies in the event they are traveling by themselves (women in
India traditionally travel with a male escort or with groups of
other ladies). We hung out the side of the train car taking in the
city at full speed with an aerial view soaking up the breeze being
granted to us by modern day mechanics. It was glorious. We took the
train to the end of the line and then began to walk. I could see
the mosque topped spires poking out over the skyline and as we got
closer I saw many people of all religious attire freely walking in
and out of the grounds. I encouraged Justin that we should go check
it out. Cops swarmed the place and I have a knack for acting like I
belong and making my way into situations like this- but Justin and
I really stand out in India lolol. We are typically the only white
people around and despite taking on Indian style dress- we can’t be
missed. Justin is twice the height of most Indian men (and often is
at risk of hitting his head on everything). So, sneaking into this
heavily guarded building is totally not happening- however after
visiting a few entrances we learn that we can get a pass. It’s a
high court and it is in session. That’s why there is so much
enforcement. Soo we go through the means necessary to get a pass
and then whimsically made our way along the most beautiful, clean
and treelined campus in all of chennai. It seemed like a fairytale
land compared to the rest of the city. Spiral staircases, huge
arched balconeys, we turned the corner and the hallway was full of
twenty desks each with a typewriter going full speed as people
translated court documents and assigned fees. Judges trompsed
around in gusty black court robes and crows came to visit us from
the treetops we were neighboring. I really wanted to climb up to
the top of the mosque-like domes. I don’t know what it is in me-
but I really enjoy heights. My internal instinct is always to climb
to the highest point, to get to the roof, to the tallest branch
that will support my weight etc. we already had been told upon
gaining access to the building that we were not to enter the
buildings or take photos (all though I did sneak a few and as you
can infer-we were already inside the buildings) so Justin convinced
me when I reached the partially locked door in the stair case
leading higher in the building that we should probably NOT keep
trying to go farther. I was reminded to years back when we were in
Berlin at this grand cathedral and I somehow snuck into a back
staircase and dragged Justin up the scaffolding and we literally
ended up on the outside rim of the largest basilica of all of
Germany lolol. There was only plywood balanced between bricks and
3o ft angels and us overlooking the carnival of winter and St nick
that was Berlin. It was epic and I love scenes like this- however I
was grateful for the scenery we had been granted and didn’t push it
(any further than I already had lolol). Once we retired from the
high court we accidentally made our way to George town. Many Indian
cities are organized by districts- so a district of optical stores,
a district of light fixtures, a district of vegetables and so on.
Justin was looking for some copper goods so we wandered through
these epic and full-on market places at sunset through the streets
weaving in and out of bull drawn wagons loaded to the sky with
goods, rickshaws, motorbikes, bike rickshaws, and dudes pulling
platforms on wagonwheels with their supply. It’s bonkers and
beautiful to watch and be part of the chaotic flow that is the
market place. We made our way to the copper district and ended up
in the middle of Moorga Puja- the celebration of Moorga at this
huge temple in the center of the city. We were digging through
copper when we heard a marching band and drums in the street, as we
came outside to scope the scene twenty people were heaving this
huge float for the god Moorga down the street -it was laden in
flowers and carved horses and- dragging a generator. We followed it
out into the street and watched in awe as the traffic just made
it’s way around the huge commotion- no big deal- fireworks started
erupting in the sky and glittering down onto the street, the crowd
cheered and danced and played. The ceremonial leader blessed the
onlookers after performing the puja and everyone ran to the flame
to be blessed and get some vihbouty for their foreheads. We
followed the scene back to the actual temple and checked our shoes
with the chappas gate, purchased ghee lamps and flowers for
offerings, and joined the huge pilgrimage line to pay our respects
to the many gods housed within the Moorga temple. Hindu temples are
such wonderful places. I feel welcome and people are kind and
thankful you are there. I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to
give thanks and praise to the many aspects that each god and
goddess represent. I love the ritual. The cracking of coconuts, the
lighting of campfur and incense, the ringing of the bells. The
symbolism and the spirit. I truly enjoy the temple experience. Once
we completed the temple circuit we made our way to a rickshaw- I
got a kick out of watching this gypsy family watch their widescreen
flatscreen tv which they hid under a tarp. The evening markets had
all closed for the night and all the families that lived on the
street were cooking on an open flame right on the sidewalk. The day
had led them to a good bounty and the gypsy kids, always naked but
happy with a lil string around their waist, offered me up a handful
of food with big smile as I walked by. Sharing is definitely
paramount in the Indian life and I love that too.

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2/27/12 At the
end of a busy street just before the seaside stands a church where
St. Thomas, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles is buried. It is one of three
churches in the entire world that houses an apostle. Inside you
find our lady of Mylapore ( the Indian version of Mother Mary)
wrapped in a saree and wearing a golden crown. She is enshrined in
an intricately carved case and surrounded in a mosaic of flowers.
In the very front of this basilica styled cathedral is a 30ft
wooden carving of the lord Jesus Christ hanging on the cross
floating on a lotus flower flanked by peacocks and lit with LEDs.
Indian woman poured in placing their newborn babies on the alter
and reaching to touch yet another of their gods- Jesus Christ.
That’s one of the great things about India- even in the face of
Catholicism polydiety worship is a-okay and in techno color. We had
a really great day in chennai visiting temples, shops, dentist
offices, tailors, and amazingly sweet lil chai shops. Flavorful
spicy and fresh Indian food filled all the spaces in between. I
love the way they squeegee anything they can’t sweep in india-
water on the floor, food on the table- a squeegee is the go-to
tool. They are made of colorful melted plastic and are super
efficient. We capped off the adventure with a well-haggled rickshaw
ride home through the forever stretching markets and storefronts
that make up chennai.


2/25/12

I leave India in five days and already I am beginning to miss it. Like a lover lost I start romanticizing the way the red dirt sinks into my skin, the sharp smell of mothballs, the horn richochetteing off the inside of the bus, the money-takers whistle that let’s the driver know everyones aboard, the shrines and offerings in every nook and corner, the cows and their straight forward looks as they take whichever path they please. In the heat of the day I wrap my saree over my head to block the sun and the smell of fresh jasmine swirls around my face from the individually tied blossoms hanging in my braid. Ill miss the five people doing each part of one job step-by-step where anywhere else it would be the work of one. The man hand stitching my parcels at the post office, the tailors and the silly look they give me as they whirlwind wrap sarees in the blink of an eye around themselves with a cheeky smile, the “which country?” question that is screamed from buses, whispered from rickshaws, and yelled from fields. The pride of each town and state that every Indian person beams with. It’s incredible and humble and glorious all at once.

We spent the day in Coimbatore, a busy Indian city in Tamil Nadu, and had quite the adventure. This is not a tourist town and I almost caused several accidents just from the shock people experienced over seeing someone white. I wore my saree and everyone said it was “Super!!” with big thumbs up. We took the bus today just because it was hot and we were tired of walking. The bus driver was insistent on my telling him where I planned to get off rather than just taking my money. When I confessed I had no destination at all the woman around me burst into giggles. The busman smiled and surprisingly gave me some change. There was a woman weaving flower blossom garlands together and when I went to purchase some the girls standing next to me bought them for me as a gift. It was so sweet. When I didn’t have a hairpin another woman on the bus gave me hers and the two red roses that she had also been wearing. I was so humbled and thankful by how beautiful this culture is. Eventually we exited the bus got some chai and then took the bus back in the opposite direction. We stopped in bookstores and found a rockin market. People were thrilled to see us coming through the stalls and showered us with free samples, free chai, tilka (the red dust/paste for your third eye), and compliments. Everyone shouted “hello!” in their best american accent as we went by. We were a big hit in the market place and caused quite a jubilant scene. It was good fun. Some homemade chocolate made for a good daycap and now its time to take a night train Chennai.

Devotion

2/19/12

After a 28 hour voyage I arrived at ISHA (www.ishafoundation.org). A night train, a 6 hour layover, a day train and a bus across India up into the Vienijeri foothills (the total in cost came to approximately $9) completed my journey.

It was a busy day, the day before Mahashivaratri, and many people were arriving here to attend a concert with world famous musician Siraj. He played a traditional Indian instrument (durge? Ill look it up and add it for you dedicated readers later) and is the 21st generation of his family in the lineage of this craft. There were thousands of hand-lit candles burning behind him and it was a beautiful night.

The Isha Ashram grounds are spectacular. Well maintained, well placed, open, airy, spiritual, charged- it is the first ashram I have been to that feels how I imagined an ashram would feel. Granted I’ve only been to two ;). Truly, it is probably one of the most presently active spiritual spaces I have attended. I have been to lots of temples, cathedrals, churches, covens, etc- but really none of them were like this or were fully functional and participatory on this scale of devotion to the message the living guru, Sadhguru, is sending out. The ashram is open to all religions and ways of life and puts forth a message of living to your fullest potential. You can go to their website to learn more
( http://www.ishafoundation.org ). It is a slightly strict environment – general rules include that you are to be covered down to your ankles and shirts must cover the shoulders, men and women are separated, even husband and wife are asked to refrain from hand holding and hugging out of respect for the brahmancherries (monks) that live here. No smoking. No drinking. Meals to be taken in silence. No photographs etc. Even with these limitations in place I still found it to be a pleasant and moving place. It really was not too much to ask considering what was being offered.

Each building, offering, statue and space is consecrated and carried out with noted intention. Sounds of people doing their personal practice are everywhere. Bird calls, dog barks, and breath sounds ( all utilized within the different meditations ) fill the dorm and most other shared spaces. And the level of devotion literally seeps from each and every opening. I enjoyed partaking in their daily activities bathing in the theetikum- this vast water-filled hall emerges as you slowly descend a staircase fit for the Roman Empire. A bathing pool with a solid piece of charged mercury bound in copper, wrapped in a snake holds space in the middle and a waterfall plunges down the far wall. An epic mural creates a universe above you and slats of sunshine pour down at the right time of day. Experiencing the sound initiation for the incredibly charged (and emotionally, visually, acoustically, architecturally pleasing ) space the Dhyanalinga was another of my favorite activities. A 25 minute sound meditation open to all twice a day.

As far as India goes in general. I relish the moment each day when the sun drops behind the mountain and a cool wave of breeze sweeps the land. I love sunset and watching the bats start to flitter about. I never tire of the impeccable knack the sky has for changing full color spectrums within a moments notice. I love the smell of fresh jasmine blossoms in my hair, arranged in offerings on the ground, and tucked into the folds of my saree. I actually really get a kick out of the times when India reminds me of Burning Man and thankful I have learned how to deal with the dust, art cars, and psychedelic buses- the concept of radical self-reliance also comes in handy.

I adore how everytime I think I wrapped my saree right out of the 50+ times I have wrapped it- I am constantly stopped by Indian woman who smile, click their tongue and bobble their head at me and then kindly start unwrapping my ongoing learning process and re-tuck each and every fold of this 6 meter fabric. Wrapping a saree is truly a sadhana of it’s own – everytime I do it I learn something new, everytime I think I have it down I learn that this is only the beginning. Throughout life, throughout travel, throughout dance, I am constantly reminded that I truly need to just be where I am at and that I earn nothing from skipping ahead and no matter how badly I want to be at this other level, other place, next level up- that I am only prolonging the process of getting there by not being in the space where I am at in this very moment in time. It’s a lesson I am faced with over and over again- and I am thankful for it. . . Even though at times it is not what I want to believe and it can be harsh to accept- it is the only truth. And when I give in and let these true masters of saree wrapping teach me a thing or five I know I am better off for it. So intricate, such a devotion. Each and every act here is an act of devotion. The dance, the food, the sarees, how you place your shoes, the way you sweep the grass, how you greet each moment- India is such a devotional place that you really can’t ignore it.

Thank you Mama India I appreciate your lessons.

2/18/12 “Quick! quick!” the driver says to me and hurls my
bag into the bus I run along side and grab hold of the door as I
jump aboard. My perfect Indian exit to this tranquil sector of my
trip. The buses and cars weave through trees, mountains, unmarked
streets, and surprisingly arrive at your destination. India is just
like that- there are times where I think, “oh man, I’ve been had”
this is not possibly the way to where I am going and low and
behold- it is. Trust. India is a lot about trust and a lot about
haggling. If you know the true fair price then everyone is an
honest man and that is what you will pay. If you trust that you can
get from one place to another- then surely you will arrive. Street
signs are practically non existent, landmarks repeat themselves or
disappear completely. Dirt roads, foot prints, stars, the sun. . .
Trust. . . they will get you by. Indian people are also quite
helpful. It is common for even the taxi drivers to ask anyone on
the street “Galgibaga?” or wherever you are going and the locals
will give you precise hand gestures for your next few moves. If a
place (bus, restaurant,etc) is crowded the ladies always make space
for me and one another. The women here are gentle and kind. Often
if sitting alone I am quickly joined by mothers and children. My
dance program was AMAZING. I took extensive classes in Odissi dance
for the past 14 days straight 5-7 hours a day with Chantelle of
Daksinadance.tumblr.com My teacher is a beautiful dancer as well as
a great teacher and created a wonderful curriculum for me while I
was here. Exercises, form, music and rhythmn theory, mudras, and
choreography were taught and practiced and polished as possible for
our short amount of time. I learned so much from this experience
about myself, discipline, and dancing for the divine. It was great
that it was in unison with a tantric yoga teacher training as well.
In my down time I got to participate in excellent yoga classes. A
much needed release for my hours of dancing, pujas, meditations and
it includes lectures on the history of all yoga throughout the
world. Each day as I sweat and pounded the floor with my feet in
the sculpturesque form odissi is based on I felt myself move deeper
and deeper into The dance. Even on days when I was tired, by a 1/4
way into my exercises I was reinvigorated with life and light and
power. Each day you pray to the Lord Jagganath and thank the earth
for letting you stomp upon her- before and after the dance. So, it
was really moving for me to put this kind of devotion into
something. To genuinely put forth the devotion and then complete
each and every step as it is intended to be portrayed, as an
offering for lord jagganth, subhadra, and Bramhamiem. I have
arrived to Margao with a few hours to spare to pick up yet another
saree ( which is so beautiful but adding another 6 meters of fabric
to my luggage is not so ideal) before catching my train. I have
quickly become family at this house of intricate threads and beads.
I have come back several times and the ladies get so excited I am
here and instantaneously begin dressing me up in all if their
delights. They do my hair and hold my hand and bust in on me in the
dressing room to intricately fold my saree into the “new style.”
and they are just so darned sweet and cute. They bring me tea, they
let me leave my bags, they make sure everything I buy is tailored
just right- this is by far my favorite saree shop I have
encountered in all of India. And trust me- I have been to A LOT of
saree shops in my short time here. There is no website but if you
are interested in coming here please send me an email and I will
give you explicit directions. I’m excited to catch my train and
cuddle up in my sleeper car and be sung to sleep by the sweet call
of the chai guy announcing his goods through the train. I look
forward to the next steps of this amazing adventure as I make my
way to Mahasivaratri.