I’ll admit it: when it comes to travel, I much prefer solo adventures.
Travelling with others and especially with people you’ve never met before is… well you never know how it’s gonna go, right?
There’s no real clue about who’ll get offended by someone else, how easy it’ll be making decisions about where to eat dinner or what to do with the day. Completely unintentionally, such things can become tension-filled.
So it was with a little trepidation that I flew south to Chennai from Calcutta, joining what I’d been calling the “group part” of my trip. Linda’s yoga retreat group: bought and paid for months before I’d left home.
Our group slowly assembled over the course of two days, just before our KYM studies began.
I came from Australia via Calcutta, Linda from the US via Varkala; others flew in direct from the US and one of our number even came from Sweden (via Bahrain!).
Initially, it was all polite hellos but probably our first Kingfisher session started to break down the unfamiliarity: holed up in that hotel room at the Raj, with our varying levels of India experience to date. It was a unifying moment.
That I had a delightful roomie (just as messy, late and noisy as me) was also a boon. Probably not for the rest of the group, though…
It wasn’t til the second week, I think, when we all began notice something special was going on.
Perhaps it’d been there from the start, but a delightful synergy was emerging… further cemented by additional Kingfisher sessions overlooking our lush swimming pool or up high on the second level of one of the cliff-side restaurants we favoured, such as Little Tibet.
Then, there was also the shared yoga challenges and joys; learning to keep each other’s secrets (Bhagavad Gita, John?! Heehee!); discovering the little things that pleased us all; and, where our interests varied and crossed-over.
Maybe it was also down to all that shared sweating in the humid, humid Indian heat? Those who sweat together, stay together…? Nah. Couldn’t be that simple, right?
Chemistry: usually something discussed as A Thing between lovers.
But it happens within groups, too (the chemistry bit) and it’s A Thing you just can’t plan for. It either exists or doesn’t.
This…energy of connection. It can be a bit like making a truly delicious meal. Add just enough ingredients. The right ingredients. Allow the mixture to marinate, sit, bake… whatever is required.
Then savour the interplay of subtle flavours, interacting like perfectly timed dance partners.
This was our group. Providing different support and companionship to each other as we awoke and faced the onslaught of sensory experiences that is India. Encouraging each other, and sharing our perceptions and observations… as much about what was going on within as anything we could see around us.
So it was through this lens of shared travels and new experiences, we slowly began to realise the dearness of our new friends.
Sometimes at the end of a group adventure, you say a fond farewell but inwardly sigh with relief to be alone again. For me it’s like that more often than not.
But these farewells weren’t like that at all.
I’m speaking perhaps on behalf of my fellow travelers but I feel very strongly that whether or not we meet again, each of us is better off for knowing the others.
Thank you, all. For being a part of my first trip to Ma India.