(Tamil for Welcome!)
My dharma name is Sama which in both Pali and Sanskrit means a “tranquil state of mind” or “evenness”, but my friends call me Lindia because I have traveled to India yearly since 2005. They know that India is my second home. I believe it is my true home.
India as a travel destination is an acquired taste but as soon as my feet hit Indian soil in 2005 it felt like I had come home. Over 50, I had never been overseas in my life but I went to India alone to study Yoga. As soon as I stepped outside the Chennai airport at 2 AM the feelings were visceral and primal. I hesitated, stopping to drink everything in with all my senses, the sights, the sounds, and yes, even the smell — a damp, cloying smell mixed with green and smoke and diesel fuel that attached to my skin like wet cloth. I felt like an animal that you finally let out of its cage and it smells the outside air for the first time…the nose twitches and the hair on the back of its neck rises. Like that animal, I stepped into my freedom and never looked back.
There has not been a single day since that early Indian morning that I do not think about Ma India. Not one. Not even when I returned home from my third trip in January 2008 with virulent salmonella food poisoning. I flew 18 hours from India sicker than a mangy Indian street dog — I almost passed out in the Chennai airport before I even got on the plane. But as soon as I got home I started planning my next trip.
I am a former moderator of IndiaMike.com, a site with over 30,000 members, each with their own story about India, and most, I’m sure, with a love/hate relationship with India. One of my Indian Yoga teachers told me that I’m a native now — that the first time you go to India you’re a little scared and apprehensive; the second time you love it and you want to stay forever because nothing is ever wrong; the third time you begin to see things as a native does — the good, the bad, the horrible, the indifference, the enthralling, and the enchanting, India in all its glory. Instead of asking me “what country, Madam?”, people now ask me, “do you live here, Madam?” Sometimes in Calcutta I am mistaken for a Bengali and I take that as a compliment.
Once I wrote: “India has her hooks in me like an old lover — an old lover who you’ve told yourself that you never want to be with again but who keeps re-appearing like a hungry ghost tapping on your shoulder, and no matter how fast you run you can never escape him because he is a part of you forever. You know this and you hate it but you love it all at the same time.”
India nourishes my heart and feeds my soul and I need to visit Ma India as much as I need oxygen to live. I realized on my second trip — a mere 6 months after my first one — what coming to India does for me — India integrates me, takes the Yin and Yang and pulls it together into the One that gives me peace. It is hard to explain but when I realized it, it physically felt like two halves melting into One.
The stories in my travel blog, Ma India, My India are not about your India or her India or his India. The stories are about MY INDIA and I count the days until I am in her arms again.
If anything I’ve said has piqued your interest about India, use the CONTACT page to tell me you are ready for the adventure of your lifetime! You can read a review of my 2013 Yoga retreat here.