Monday, September 19, 2011

Goodbye for Now

I recently read an e-mail from a friend, fellow Couch Surfer, and a follower of this blog that gave me reason to write to you all today.  She mentioned that when we had stopped writing, she worried that something had happened to us.  I am here to announce to anyone who was worried:  we are not dead.  We are safe and sound in Columbus, OH.  I had sort of assumed that most people just knew that we were coming home.  Upon further review of the list of followers, this is clearly not the case.  We apologize for not telling you earlier.

I always felt bad about not having written a proper sound-off from this blog, which for 2 years of my life kept me connected to so many of you.  So here it is:  Thank you all for reading and commenting!  The time we spent abroad was life-changing in so many ways.  We are better people for having done it.  I'm hesitant to say a final goodbye, since we very well may go abroad again in the future, but I will leave you with a quote from T.S. Eliot that sums up how I feel about our return to Columbus, now that we've been back long enough to make us really feel right and home in the world:

"The end of our exploring will be to arrive at where we started, and to know the place for the first time"

Goodbye for now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Golden Temple

This blog was actually written on November 14, 2010.  That really wasn't that long ago, but it feels light years back.

In our travels, we’ve seen a lot of golden buildings and even a couple of the Golden Temples.  But this one takes the cake.  As are most buildings covered in gold, it’s very beautiful.

The real beauty of this temple doesn’t lie in the gold plated edifice floating serenely on a sacred pond (The Pool of Nectar), but in the people who care for and visit it.  It’s a Sikh (say “seek”) temple, but all are welcome here.  When the pilgrims arrive, they are treated as guests and shown the utmost hospitality.  We were given a place to sleep, as many meals and as much tea as we required, and a truly welcoming atmosphere.  Although a donation of your choosing is requested, all of this is given freely.
A class on their way to the temple.
Sikhism began as a reaction to the caste system, and one of their central tenants is that all humans are equal.  This belief is expressed in various ways, one of which is langar, in which a diversity of people sit side by side to share a meal provided by volunteers in a community kitchen.  Between 80,000 and 200,000 people stay and eat each day, but the entire process is efficiently run by volunteers.  Anyone can join in to help with the food prep or the dish washing.

Everyone awaiting their food
This was way more delicious than it appears
Huge pot of pulao.  The cook gave us each a handful to try then shooed us into the eating area
Pots of Chai (tea)
All over the world, I’ve heard a lot about the ideals of peace and equality, but it’s rare that they manifest themselves so easily.  That’s what’s truly remarkable about Amrit Sarovar: while you’re here, you can feel a real openness and peace among the members of humanity. 

You might have noticed everyone is wearing a scarf or turban.  That's because everyone (men and women both) is asked to cover their hair as a gesture of respect.