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here are the first set of india pictures from one my first days in india. i'll post a few each day and that way it will be a bit like you were right there traveling with me. this set is from when cj and i met a gem seller in his tiny closet of a shop in puttaparthi (outside of bangalore). after a few days in india, i got the sense that everyone there fancies themselves a bit of a clairvoyant and in this fashion, our friend (whose name sounded so much like chipotle that we just started calling him that) greeted us by reading our palms and telling us which of our chakras were blocked off.

it's funny to me that i've had such an abundance of mystical experiences in this past year that i don't even want to listen when some guy off the street starts telling me that i'm about to come into a great fortune and will meet the man i'm going to mary this year. so cj was a little bit more into listening than me but he seemed harmless enough so we decided to visit his family's farm, about two hours away. the above pictures are of his girlfriend and our driver and the other scenery on the way out of town.

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on another note, i watched the documentary "fierce grace" which is about ram das (the author of "remember be here now" and a big radical yogi guy in the 60/70s who went to india and started his yoga practice when he was fired from teaching at harvard for doing "psychological experiements" with fellow professor timothy leary). a few years ago he had a bad stroke and as he was laying hovering close to death, he said he felt nothing spiritual, only saw the hospital lights above him. since then, he's been in speech and physical therapy and has had to come to terms with how this aging looks nothing like he thought it would. throughout it all he maintains (in a slow & awkward cadence filled with random but oddly perfect analogies and metaphors) that this stroke was a gift from his teacher marajaji to teach him just how much farther he had to go to get close to god.

the idea that struck me most from him is that our suffering is what brings us close to god. i think it's easier to feel blessed when things are going well. it's like we are doing something and being rewarded. but maybe it is the opposite. i met another man in india who told me that it was during the hardest years of his life that he felt most loved by god because he knew he cared enough about him to improve him. because if we don't suffer then we don't look within and we don't grow. i have seen in my own life that from time to time my happiness does dry up and then i need something meatier to sustain me and that is always a feeling of connection to life, a wide-eye awe of how big and beautiful and disturbing life is and how it is always the perfect teacher.

so on my second to last day of my cleanse when i woke up with a headache and worries about money and the future and if i am making a mistake by not wanting to go to grad school, i needed to remember it's good to have mornings like this. it's good to question, to doubt, to struggle, to flail and feel like a victim, because if you want it to, it will take you to a stronger place. and it's good to have people who have already figured some of this out--it makes my own figuring out feel a little softer.