I have been in India eight days, and already I have had a small lifetime's worth of experiences. Right now, I am at the internet spot across the road from the Sri Ramanashram in Tiruvannamalai. It is an old ashram settled at the base of Mount Arunachala, a mountain thought by many Hindus to be the earthly manifestation of the god Shiva. Tiruvannamalai is a rather small town with a big ashram and a HUGE temple, a pilgrimage destination for many Hindus, as well as other spiritual seekers.
In Chennai, on Christmas eve, I prayed in the tomb, beneath the basilica, where the remains of St Thomas are interred. In Pondicherry, I was blessed by an elephant (after I fed him a banana and a lotus blossom), I was also able to stroke his velvety trunk. I watched the sun rise pink over the Bay of Bengal while drinking strong, sweet, Indian coffee. In Auroville, I was actually able to meditate inside the Matrimandir, a privilege usually only given to residents of Auroville (traveling with a connected Swami has quite a few benefits). And I drank chai with a handsome Kashmiri, who had a silver tongue and the eyes of a devil! Oh yes, and so far I've managed to survive some of the most terrifying traffic in the world. HONK!
The food is wonderful and spicy (even breakfast), though it does take a while to get used to eating with no utensils, only one's right hand.
India is beautiful and awful - terrifying, comforting, wonderful, peaceful, and disturbing. It is truly a land of contradictions.