Reporting back from Rajasthan

Diva Tour 2008

Tue, March 25, 2008

Well, the state of Rajasthan, as well as the cities of Delhi, Varanasi and Agra. All 10 of us on this year’s India DivaTour are still shaking the magic dust off our boots and remain bedazzled by all that we saw and experienced. Our trip was chock-a-block with Maharajh history, the Colors festival of spring, mind- boggling old forts, village time, and of course, Divas.  We got to meet with the Bal Rashmi Society, who we first connected with while shooting our India documentary a few years back. Their great work against caste oppression and the disenfranchised communities of Rajasthan continues. Fate got us all doing downward dogs along the holy Ganges in Varanasi (god ground zero) with an amazing yogi who took pranayama to new levels; Ruchira Gupta, and her organization Apne Aap – which combats sex trafficking and the exploitation inside prostitution – welcomed us to the opening of a school in a red-light district on the outskirts of Delhi. One of India’s premier chefs exercised her – and our - culinary prowess with delectable Dahi murg and Aloo jeera, among other dishes.
Hard to capture the complexity, the camaraderie, and the richness of the last two and a half weeks in a single blog, but suffice it to say, there’s already chatter about a next trip….South India, 2010 anyone? 
p.s. Stand by for photos.

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Though my physical self has hit the ground running since our return, my spirit continues to linger wistfully in India - still deeply absorbed in the recent witnessing of such a confluence of extraordinary beauty, hardship, tenacity, and grace.  I feel compelled to carefully sift through my memories of the many places and faces that filled me with wonder, of the observations spoken and thoughts left unsaid, of the belly-aching laughter shared and the few tears I shed.

As this mosaic of the many ways this journey to India has moved me slowly forms, there are a few disparate certainties that are already crystal clear:  Camels and camaraderie make for a jolly good time! There’s no telling to what lengths a woman’s adventurous spirit will stretch in the company of brave women.  The rising and the setting sun are far from banalities but events of great consequence to which daily reverence is due (Thank you Varanasi!)

Perhaps the certainty that most preoccupies me at present is the great disparity between all the gifts this journey to India gave to me and the little that I left behind.  That said, however, I know that this journey does not end with our departure.  As the Divas we met so gracefully demonstrated, there is no obstacle that can’t be moved or injustice put right in the face of courage, unwavering commitment and concerted action.  The time is ripe for creative consideration on how I might now in turn contribute to the on-going flourishing of Divadom!

Finally, to all you wonderful, “Good Lucky” ladies, it was a pleasure and privilege to share this oh-so-memorable journey in your company!  May our paths meet again… Namaste.

by Christine on Thu, March 27, 2008 at 10:47 am PDT

What an amazing and moving journey Adventure Divas took us on to India!  It lived up to it’s promise - this tour was women about women - which was my raison...........and we did engage with many women.......those who were socially active to improve women’s lives there......  Ruchira Gupta, who’s on a powerful, full force ahead mission to stop Sex Trafficking around the world; encouraging women to get identity cards, opening one room schools, educating against oppression.  Alice Garg and her large scale social work - creating beautiful schools for lower caste children; promoting women’s independence via small business loans and further education; and Samta Gupta , a woman chef in a man’s world..........  But it didn’t stop there - we met the local women in villages.  In Rajasthan, the women cover their faces with their saris in front of men (I had no idea of this) - but as we were a women’s group - when we would arrive - they would reveal their faces; show us their jewelry - which is intrinsic to their married lives and culture; and share their personalities within the constraints of the language barrier; communication between cultures.  Of course, we saw endless glorious temples, maharajah’s palaces, delicious meals and had beautiful accommodations.  We were blessed to have a wonderful local woman escort, Sandhya, who was a unique individual like the rest of us ......we learned and experienced that Hinduism is a philosophy, not a religion.  But it was the interaction amongst locals that made this tour special and made it happen for me.  Couldn’t get enough browsing and mingling.  It was a non-stop experience!

A huge bonus was the camaraderie between all 10 of us.  Our official Adventure Diva leaders, Holly and Ruthie were very easy going and fun - opening the door for us to be ourselves.  The experience shared with Ruchira Gupta bonded us immediately as did Varanasi; everyone was respectful of each other; and the ongoing tearful belly laughs were priceless and a gift.  As the palm reader said, we were most definitely “good lucky.”

Hopefully down the road there will be another tour with a similar mission and we will meet again.  Sending best wishes to all.  Cheers, Diane Toronto Canada

by Diane Roblin on Wed, April 23, 2008 at 8:13 am PDT

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