Behold The Asian Elephant Blessing at The Kundrakudi Temple near Cheiitinadu, southern India. In an awesome exchange of energy, for a small batch of bananas and a few Rupees, I experienced what I've dubbed The Laying on of Trunks, perhaps a symbolic method of invoking the Hindu Holy Spirit. From elephant benedictions to fire ceremonies along the Ganges, exploring ancient temples to taking part in ritual Poojas, from visiting the homes of saints and ashrams of yogis to swimming in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, the last minute trip turned into a life-changing odyssey. Much to say of my extraordinary experiences in !ncredible !ndia (!!), “The cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, grandmother of legend, and great grandmother of tradition,” per Twain.

Connecting excitedly with my meditation teacher Shinzen Young upon my return, Shinny explained: "There are two groups of people in this world - those who have lived in India, and those who have not." Three weeks of residency was all it took to get it, and a ten-year visa good through 2028 certifies that The Republic of India was personally not one and done. Having misssssssed the dancing cobras of Rameshwaram, I'll be back. And I know a guy. That said, a walk down a side-street in Varanasi would feel like a movement back into the middle ages. And a visit to Temples in Kumbakonam felt like stepping back into prehistoric times.

The trip was organized by learned Vedic astrologer James Kelleher and led by the venerable Rajiv Tomar of India's Mystical Journeys. More on those cats shortly, especially the latter Bengal Tiger as I like to call him. Having traveled little, truly getting started now, mid-life, the small slice of new landscapes I've experienced have helped me to develop new eyes. And as far as I can see, exotic lands have their rituals and traditions, their foods and ways of seasoning life, their understanding of their relationship with creation and The Creator. But at the heart of all nations - at the center of the center of the earth’s myriad of belief systems and many creeds - are its folks, its relatives, its sentient beings. And India’s appear world-class. From South Haven. Michigan USA by way of Mahabalipurnam, Kanyakumari, and Tiruvannamalai, India, more shortly my good people.