Quilombo* in Colombo

The early morning drive to the airport feels surreal – my time  in India more like a dream. Once more I get the opportunity to observe traditional village life and routines from my taxi’s window: Old guys dragging themselves into the day wearing not much more than the traditional loin cloth. Guys’ conglomerations slurping chai in unison. The odd woman in her colourful sari carrying a massively oversized basket with food or water on her head.

At the airport procedures run coldly but smoothly. Not a single genuine smile. On the plane things get weird. It is full, yet I am the ONLY woman on board, apart from a few stewardesses. In all my many travels, this has never happened before. Indian culture seems to keep their women locked up inside for most of the time. I leave with very mixed feeling and a new sense of chauvinism that I hadn’t even experienced in the most traditional places of Latin America, that’s more typically known as ‘macho land’. Amongst many other insights, this trip has certainly awakened more of the warioress inside me. Kalima! It’s not ok how millions of women are still treated in the 21st century. It makes me angry, sick, sad – and somewhat helpless too. What to do for our oppressed, beaten, raped sisters?

Sri Lanka isn’t about to make this any better. The landing is as smooth as one can ask for – my awesome local friends picking me up from the airport, taking me out to delicious Sri Lankan welcome lunch, time to meditate in the local temple followed by a cozy family dinner back home. Next day starts of smooth with THE local yoga shala just around the corner – and fresh juice and reading time right next door. Like many yoga places in southern India, this too is run by Westerners. One realization from this trip is that whilst India was the land that birthed yogic and tantric traditions, they have been revived in the West. Locals, if at all, seem to have picked it up again from there – not from their long past ancestors. It is the world’s philosophy now.

Back to my sweaty, hectic Monday after-noon in Colombo. The Gangaramaya temple is one of the least Buddhist places I have come across. I’m not pretending to know everything about Buddhism, but it being the religion I can most closely relate to out of all, I understand that it is about things like renunciation of outer staff and needs, focusing on inner freedom, detachment from things, simplicity… The temple looks more like a serious horder’s place. It is stuffed from floor to ceiling with every conceivable Buddhist thing. I can barely breathe and feel so suffocated I’m almost in tears by the time I reach the exit.

At the bazaar it’s the typical masses of purely male, whistling street vendors molesting my peace: Disrespectful, ganged up, sleazy, inappropriate. Block after block, for miles on end the streets are stuffed with cloth and unnecessary cheap plastic items. The street is dirty, red sticky betel-nut juice mixing with the revolting smell of urine. After a while I realise that a local weirdo is very suspiciously and not all too subtly following me around. An hour later still unable to get rid of him, I’m starting to feel less and less cool about the situation. I almost throw myself at two lovely, innocent guys from Poland as they shoot out of an alleyway. They play the game after my brief explanation and luckily it seems to work. I’m out of here. South Asia won’t see me travel alone again – and big Asian cities have had me enough for now as well.

Heading back to my friend’s place, I am slowly finding my breath again and wonder whether all this has been orchestrated to make the journey back home more appealing. It’s time to start counting the hours till I will see my kids again. It’s been long, long enough to give one mama plenty of time and space for herself; one travel writer great content for her mind, blog and articles; one yogi plentiful gratefulness to connect with the land where yoga and tantra have their roots; and one yoga teacher so much fun, insight and pleasure sharing her passion with another group of awesome yogis from around the world.

Will you be part of the next transformational yoga retreat experience? All I can say is Costa Rica, 2020, watch this space. Namaste – thanks for following my journey. Likes and comments always make me happy. It’s not only to digest, but more so to connect that I write!

*Quilombo – Argentinian Spanish for chaos

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