Monday, October 22, 2012

Drawing in Mumbai

I'm really chill this time around in Mumbai. Spending a lot of time sketching and wandering around aimlessly, just admiring the beautiful architecture in this city. I love it here.

The locals are tremendously curious when they see me drawing. Everybody stops to look at my drawing and nearly everyone wants to take photos of the drawing, of me drawing, of them with me drawing. It could get on my nerves but I have decided to just accept I am a novelty here and be happy that I've managed to make a lot of people happy. Except for the street kids. They do still irritate me. Sue me. :)

Anyway. I'm in Mumbai til Friday. There are so many things to draw here! But most days I just pick a direction and wander. I like that a lot. I am feeling very zen. It's pretty awesome.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


A week in Arambol was just what the doctor ordered.  Holy cow, so relaxed it is fantastic!  If I come back to Goa again in the future I will likely return to Arambol.  Met some more great people.  And I wish I could have stayed longer but I needed to continue my adventures, and laying on a lounge chair on the beach (while nice) was not the kind of adventure I came to India to find.

So I am now back in Mumbai.  Because I am not yet at 100% (mentally I am, but I came down with something in Goa and it has sapped a lot of my energy) I am not couch surfing.  It would have saved me a lot of money, but I need the space and freedom to come and go at my own pace so I found a relatively inexpensive guest house in an area of Mumbai called Colaba and will be staying here this week.  A woman I met on the train was able to split the cost of the room yesterday.  And a couple girls I met in Arambol are also now in Mumbai so I am hoping they come here and maybe I can share the cost with one of them while the other two get another double.  Otherwise tomorrow morning (I am swallowing the whole cost of the room tonight because Nelly is leaving today) I will switch the the cheaper (but not comfortable or secure) dorm beds for the rest of the week.

Anyway.  I have a ton more to write about.  I met some guys in Arambol who are also bipolar, and had a great discussion with one of them about travel and bipolar.  I gave him my card and hope he'll ping me on Facebook because I am currently putting together a list of questions I want to ask other people who are bipolar about traveling and use these interviews in the book I am writing.

Also met a guy who will possibly be joining me at the camel fair in late November.  Awesome British guy, who is just endlessly entertaining.

I just keep meeting great people.  This is what I love about traveling.  And what I will keep in mind as I continue this trip.

Today I am going to head out with my sketchbook and draw the Gateway to (or of) India.  It's a landmark.  And one I want to put down on paper rather than just photograph it.  Anyway.  Internet time's up.  Time to go now!  I'll try to update more frequently, but won't promise anything!

(And yes, I am feeling better.  The antibiotics I am taking seem to be working.  But keep keeping your fingers crossed!)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

3 weeks in Palolem coming to an end

For a place I wasn't even planning to visit, Palolem has certainly been a very hard place to leave.  But tomorrow I check out of the delightful Seagull Hotel, say goodbye to the many friends I made here, and hop a couple of buses up to Arambol in North Goa.  I think I will be heading up with a group from here.  It all depends on if we manage to run into each other tonight and are able to make concrete plans.  I'm not going to stay up late again tonight, because tomorrow is now my last chance to watch sunrise here in Palolem and I don't want to miss that opportunity.

Until I have more time to write down full thoughts, here are the highlights from my stay in Palolem:

  • Ganesha festival - four nights straight of music and dancing in the street.
  • Dinner and drinks at Baba Little Italy with big group of new friends.
  • Jungle Juice - best drink ever!  Feni (Goan alcohol), pineapple juice, and lime juice.  Oh so so so good.
  • Frisbee on the beach.
  • Meeting three women on the beach selling jewelry and spending a delightful hour going through their stuff and trying on pretty things.  Invited for tea the next day at their house.
  • Hanging out with the owner of Ali Baba Jewelry and a bunch of his friends.  Drinking, smoking, and constantly having to whap whoever was closest and laughingly say ENGLISH! whenever they switched back to Kashmiri.
  • Late night bike ride to another beach and exploring under a full moon.
  • Playing cards and drinking with a group of Israeli guys at the bar.
  • Puppies!
  • Watching football at the bar with a great crowd.
  • Drinking with new friends last night and realizing that each of us came from a different country.  8 people, 8 countries, 5 continents.
  • Reached a new level with my meditation.  Need to think more about this and figure out what to do next.
So my current plan is Arambol til the 18th, then going to Mumbai for a week.  Then Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur.  10 days in Udaipur in mid-November.  Chance to rest up, relax, celebrate Diwali, and gear up for the camel fair.  9 days at Pushkar.  Then back to Delhi to finish out my trip, complete with a day trip to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal before I fly home.

I can still use help if I can get it.  Thank you so so much to everybody who has chipped in so far.  From small amounts to big amounts, it has allowed me to sleep comfortably, eat well, and stay healthy.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bipolar and getting sick

द्विध्रुवी Dvidhruvī
דו קוטבי
バイポーラ Baipōra

At home, when I tell someone I am bipolar, I usually get 8 out of 10 people responding with "Interesting! My friend/ex/second cousin fourth removed is bipolar too!" They have a context to place me in whether good or bad. But they have some inkling of what it means to be bipolar. And that it is a very hard disease to live with.

When traveling that number drops to somewhere around 3 out of 10, sometimes less. And I have to explain what being bipolar means. Many cultures are very dismissive of or not understanding mental illness. India seems to be one of them. A very nice guy I met while couch surfing in Mumbai saw me in the middle of a massive panic attack. His subsequent review of me on Couchsurfing described me as "a little emotional by heart." He had no basis to understand what it is like to be bipolar or suffer from major anxiety attacks. And couldn't understand why I reacted so intensely to something he found relatively trivial.

Last week I suffered from a near debilitating depressive episode. The kind where even the thought of venturing from my hotel room left me in a pool of tears so going for a walk was out of the question. Thinking about it I think it was just everything bad that had happened those first few weeks here all caught up to me at once and I couldn't bear it any longer. I had reached a place to stay put for a while so I had the time to completely fall apart.

I emailed the group of people I have been sending more private and frequent updates to and cried the whole time I wrote. I just felt so alone! I got immediate responses from Pasta and Kim and from my parents. Grateful to have people I can cry to when I need it.

Then the next day my boyfriend more or less broke up with me. By email.

It was just one thing after another. I fell apart over the omelet I had ordered for breakfast. I wrote in my other blog and I am grateful for all the comments from my friends there. And my best friend wrote me from Russia to tell me she loved me. I love my friends so much.

Ultimately, I chose the right place for this collapse. Not only was I here for the continuous four night street parties celebrating Ganesha that made me light up and be thrilled to have gotten to be here to witness and be a part of it but I had finally met a solid group of people and they helped me a lot. They got me out of my shell, forcing me to put on the mask I wear when I don't want people to know how much I am hurting but that eventually wears off when I begin having fun again. I opened up to them. They told me to go have sex. Sex would help. The girls suggested the hot Portuguese guy who was staying at my hotel. Unfortunately every time I saw him after that he was surrounded by these tanned young cute things and here I am sunburned and sniffly. Oh well. I have other options. *Grins*

I have finally, with help, reached a place where I can now treat this resting place as a reset button. Forget the emotional wreck that was most of my first few weeks here. Forget the boyfriend. From now til December 3 I have a clean slate. A better understanding of what and what not to do. I still have two months to marvel at the fact that I am in India! To explore. To dream. To discover. I still have the Pushkar Camel Fair to be excited about!

The depression lifted.

Then I got sick. *Laughs* I have spent the last few days drinking copious amounts of water, taking Sudafed for my poor sinuses, and trying not to do too much and taking it extra easy. Because I can't take either of the two anti-malaria pills (one gives me such bad dreams I can't handle it because of the bipolar and the other makes me violently ill) I am in constant fear of getting malaria and am always watching out for symptoms. But so far this is just a sinus cold. No signs of a fever or nausea or any of the other flu-like symptoms that would have me scurrying to a doctor.

So there! You see why I haven't written much lately! I don't have much to say about my time so far here in Palolem. Mostly my time has been spent reading, writing in my journal, meeting interesting people, laying on the beach, playing in the water, and eating really yummy food. But I do want to tell you about dancing in the street and puppies and the awesome people I've met. So I'll update again later.

Unfortunately on a low note - my food budget is dwindling. I'm down to 300 rupees to last me til Thursday. But that's enough for one simple meal a day plus water (I could save money by eating more street food type stuff, but my sister and others have strongly advised me not to do that so I spend the extra money for higher quality and safer food). I'll be fine. I am due to receive my refund from that tour company in Delhi by the end of the week. Once I get that I believe I'll be set again for the rest of my trip.