At 3am the Delhi airport is a sea of humanity The roads are a mix of new and prehistoric, and the air thick with dust, exaust, and puja fires. I'm whisked off to a fine apartment in Delhi for a beautiful home-stay with Jyoti and Sunthil. Their dog Shelly barks in Hindi but we reach a quick understanding and become best of friends.
On the way to the Jammu/Kashmir border, The roads seem in absolute chaos. It's terrifiying and hilarious at the same time, I do my best to defer to the back seat but have no choice but to ride shotgun for 14 hours. It's an impossible mix of vehicles, horse drawn carts, pedestrians, bicycles and stray animals. This can't be how it is, yet, it is.
We're heading to VaishnoDevi, a mountain top temple to Mother. In the backseat everyone is alseep. How can they sleep at a time like this? If I don't stay awake to jam on my imaginary brake pedal we're all doomed for sure!
There is an amazing skill in these drivers, not an inch of space is wasted, and the timing is precise. Suthil and Swamiji are masters of these roads. What seems out of control is actually a moving-meditation, one that I'll not try today.
A helicopter is arranged for our ascent, after a trek and crawl/shimmy though a narrow crevice shin-deep in freezing water, there are the natural deities. To have darshan is to be seen by her, and to hopefully take mothers blessings with you.
Words could never do these places justice. after an all-night harrowing drive from Amritsar, Haridwar is stunning to sleepless eyes. Against my doctors orders, a wade into the Ganges is refreshing and grounding. I wander the streets trying to buy a bottle of water, alas not a single shop will accept my 1,000 rupee note. (about $20) I'm so wealthy that I'm actually quite poor and thirsty. That's probably a good metaphor to stop at.
I'm flying off to Assam to a Shakti temple for Devi in the form of Chinnamasta and Tripura Sundari. It's where Sati and Shiva would meet for their trysts before getting married. I'm working on some pictures, hopefully soon.
I offer you all the amazing blessings these places hold.