|From Ranakpur I headed to Mt. Abu, the only hill station in Rajasthan. At an elevation of about 4000ft it is a bit cooler than Rajasthan making this a popular summer destination. As now is not summer, it was much cheaper and less crowded than normal, according to the owner of my hotel. On the way up to Mt. Abu I met an Israeli guy who had a hotel reservation and needed someone to split the room with. Luckily, he was an electrical engineer, as my camera had sort of half broken my second day in India, so we went to the TV repair shop for him to solder something to something to fix it.
A few days here then I locked up my bike on the roof of my hotel and took a bus to Mehsana about 3 hours away. This whole area doesn't even come up on the radar of tourist guidebooks as there is not much to do here. Off the tourist trail was of utmost importance to me as I came here to do a 10 day meditation course. The technique of meditation they teach here can be found throughout India and the worldwide, but I feared if I went to a beautifully landscaped eden full of eastern european beauties in white robes, well I'd be distracted from the essence of the course. The course was wonderful. I am not sure if I can do it justice here by writing about it, so I won't. Feel free to ask me about it next time I see you if you're interested.
After ten days of silent ten hour a day sitting meditation you become bonded with the fellow students around you even though you've never spoken to them. All that peace and quiet and peeling of layers of my onion brain made me not want to climb back on the bike saddle to face the chorus of Indian bus horns. Fortunately, a fellow student named Kalpish who lived 2 hours south invited me to his house where we could relax and visit Mahatma Gandi's ashram and house. The pictures of the mudflaps of a rickshaw are from Kalpish's motorcycle which we used to cruise around town. It was fun to travel with a local. I felt like I was peering behind the scences of a movie set.
After a good day in Ahmedabad with Kalpish and his family I took an overnight bus to Diu, a small island in the Arabian Sea that used to be a Portuguese colony. Kalpish talked me into visited here as he went here for his honeymoon a few years ago. The reason he went to the meditation course is because his wife is pregnant. Indian custom says that a wife must live at her parents house for the month before the delivery of her first baby. So, being home alone with a mind full of anxious thoughts he got his brother to cover for him at his cell phone shop and headed to the meditation center. He was an excellent host and we had a great time. Once I get back to Mt. Abu I'll head to Jodupur, where another student lives who said he'll put me for a few days. Please help me keep this cycle of kindness going. If you see a foreigner clutching a map upside down in your city please buy the guy a cup of real coffee.