Chai on the Rooftop

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I’m sitting in the middle of a Dharma and Yoga Event in Orlando, Florida. It is clearly a Hindu festival as evidenced by the sea of brown faces, lilting accents and ambiguous head bobs. I am in heaven. My companion, the other white girl, is scheduled to teach a half hour yoga class and she is freaked out. I assure her that whoever comes to her class will be grateful and appreciative that she is there to share.

As I sit alone at our table waiting for her to finish I’m handed a menu from a local Indian restaurant. As I open it and peruse its offerings I nearly begin to cry. I miss Indian food in India. I miss walking up 5 flights of uneven steps to order a pot of chai on a rooftop overlooking the city. I miss coming upon a tiny cafe that serves masala dosas ALL DAY. The nuances in the spices from region to region. The tin cups that compartmentalize all the delicious offerings. I miss it all.

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Just then kirtan begins in the auditorium across from me. It starts low and even, much like the Muslim prayers heard at dawn in the cities. I would wake up early and stand by the open window to absorb the prayers as they were broadcast over PA. I had no idea what they were saying, chanting, but there was such a sense of reverence and my whole body would respond, tingling to my very core.

I miss India. The people. The food. The sense of spirituality everywhere. I’m home now, back in the states. Have been for 8 months, but a huge part of my heart has remained in India and everyday it calls me back. Some days the call is louder than others. This is one of those days. Surrounded by color, chaos and chanting with the help of the tabla and finger symbols I am swept away. I am, for this moment, in India.

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