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India, February 1 - 21, 2013

My three weeks in India were marked by contrasts. Fine dining and high-end shopping in Delhi, amidst the backdrop of smog and 24/7 traffic. The majestic, unparalleled richness and beauty of the Taj Mahal, with beggars outside making the streets of Agra their home. Walking among the millions of pilgrims at the Kumbh Mela, all on our spiritual quests, and all suffering from sensory overload. The rediscovered temples at Kajuraho, covered from top to bottom in hand-carved images. Images of mundane tasks, grand celebrations, humorous parodies, spiritual worship, and erotic fantasies--take your pick. I think of those temples as ancient satellite tv.

Aside from all that, what I will remember and cherish the most are the brightest smiles and sheer joy in the faces of children and adults alike, waving as we made our way through their small towns and villages. How could they be so happy toiling from morning to night for so very little return, living in half built or half crumbled homes? I believe their secret is santosha, contentment. They don't "need" the latest smartphones, new cars, meals at five-star restaurants, or designer clothes. Those things have no meaning to them. They are content in knowing that they will have food each day, a little or just enough. They will have their family and village to support them. They will have their humble dwellings to protect them. They will be capable of weathering any situation that comes their way.

Thank you India! For teaching me a valuable lesson. Thank you everyone! For supporting and encouraging me to pursue this most wonderful adventure, fifty years in the making.

Namaste (नमस्ते),

Dale Kukielka