And we’re back! India, land of colours, smells, rituals and food, multifarious and overwhelming, familiar but strange. It’s been two years since I set foot on this soil, and I must admit I had a slight apprehension about returning. Last time I was here I had completed my yoga teacher training in Goa and spent two months practising my teaching on anyone who would let me at Soul & Surf. Friends, guests, randoms, Adams. I was excited and nervous about my first teaching job in Sri Lanka, and by the time I left I was ready to give India a miss for a while.
So last year I didn’t come, and concentrated solely on Sri Lanka. I am only here in Varkala, Kerala, for three weeks, and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about being back – a little nervous about meeting all the staff here, who had established their own version of the Soul & Surf I knew, and I also had a nagging feeling that I would somehow feel as though I was going backwards, that I should always choose to travel somewhere unexplored.
But I needn’t have worried. Three days in and it feels like I was never away, the familiar joy of wandering to a cafe on the cliff, lazily ‘working from my laptop’ (read: procrastinating on social media/reading my book) drinking fruit juices and iced coffees, snacking on masala poppadoms, pakoras and momos.
The garden at Soul & Surf is even more inviting and beautiful than ever, the food fresh, colourful and tasty, and the people equally as brilliant. I spent the whole of yesterday aimlessly wandering around tourist’s paradise North Cliff, drinking chai with my friend Latif – who Adam bought my engagement ring from – and admiring Tibetan trinkets and Kashmiri rugs.
And the best thing? I get to hang out with these weirdos.
There is so much to look at and take in here, a sensory overload, and Indians are certainly not frightened of colour. I love it. It is busy and crowded, but you can lose yourself in that crowd, and I find so much pleasure in the simple act of watching people and listening to the same conversations we have all had. I sometimes like to sit and imagine what people’s stories are, why they are here, how they came to find Varkala; if they are running away from something, or trying to find themselves, whatever that means. And I wonder how I seem to others, if they are imagining my story.
I had dinner with my friend Jen last night, who is writing her memoirs (she has the most interesting stories.) And she has inspired me to be better at keeping an account of my days. I will never be a diary-writer, I am far too lazy for that, but I have an idea that I might just be able to stick to, and maybe one day will give me enough material to write a little story about my travels.
So I have bought a tiny diary, and I will try and make a note of the best thing about my day, every day, just a little bullet point to jog my memory. And if it means that I cast a rose-tinted glow over my life, is that such a bad thing? As sporadic as these journal entries are, hopefully they too will help me to remember these amazing experiences I am having, and remind me that even the uneventful days are perhaps not so mundane.
So I kick this off here:
The best thing about my day today was catching up with my friends Jen and Rob in a restaurant I have been to many times over the years, Marina Bay, and I ate Paneer Butter Masala and Garlic Naan, and had a very strong vodka and pomegranate cocktail.
It was lovely, thanks.