Yoga Chicago, USA

Incredible India, Part 1

By Sharon Steffensen

In the March–April issue of YOGA Chicago we featured a review of the Kumbh Mela, a festival attended by 100 million people over the course of several weeks, held every twelve years, in Allahabad, India. My niece Kaletis and I had gone to India for the month of January and spent five days at the Kumbh. But we had many other adventures, which I am chronicling here and in future issues; this installment is about the beginning of our trip.

Although I love to travel and have been practicing yoga since 1968, India was not on my bucket list, as they say. There was no reason not to go, but I admit, I am squeamish about certain things. I like being in nature, but I don’t like rats, bats, mice, or even moths. So a few years ago when Kaletis asked if I’d go with her, I thought, “well, okay,” and with the Kumbh Mela approaching, I wanted to see what 100 million people looked like, which could happen only in India.

For the first two weeks, to save time, we hired a driver, Ravi, who had been recommended by a friend who had used his services. Ravi and his 20-year-old son, Akash, picked us up from the airport in New Delhi. Even at 10 p.m. the traffic was heavy with lots of trucks (that are not allowed to travel the main roads during the daytime in New Delhi). But I was concerned that Akash was not paying enough attention to his driving as he kept turning around to talk to us, even when going around curves. I became so nervous, I finally said, “Shouldn’t you be paying attention to the road?” Then I realized it was his father who was driving–with the steering on the right.

They dropped us off at the Cosmo Hotel. We had hoped to take hot showers, but the water was cold, even after running it for five minutes. We learned later that it takes 15 minutes to heat up, but even then, we would hesitate to waste so much water in a country like India, where water is scarce.

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