Day dreams are goals.
Night dreams are conflict resolutions.
I have used both
To enjoy some magnificent adventures.
My trip to Europe
with my Girl Scout Troop at age sixteen.
I worked to earn the money for it.
Which was a life lesson gift.
My love of travel was a day dream.
So I made it come to pass
by my work in the Travel Industry.
My dream to take a trip around the world
was a day dream that came to pass in 1999.
My dream to become an artist was both day and night dreams.
They came to pass while living in France.
The conflict resolution was to get a separate life.
I got one as an artist
And have continued from that time on.
I thank my French husband for inadvertently
pushing me away and into the visual arts.
That was a true gift.
I first exhibited my work at the
Grand Palais in Paris in the 1990s.
My last fulfilled dream
Was completed in March 2015
By taking a trip to India.
Let there be more and more trips to that
land of enchantment.
My current dream?
To inspire others
To feel enthusiasm for life.
Janet Brugos, July 2016, Oakland, California
I fly through today to tomorrow.
Do entrances /exits
Take on special meaning?
Way in / way out
L’entrée / la sortie
Departure / Arrival
Depart / Arrivée
The first time
You enter a building,
A relationship Or a country You pause.
That moment of entrance
burns your senses.
Eyes find focus.
Ears hear symphonies.
Touch smooths out difference.
That moment of exit
Enables A Dream To Linger And Inspire.
In the lobby of the Prime Deluxe Balaji Hotel in New Delhi, the wind swept in and delivered one wiry, handsome, remarkable man known as Ravindra A broad smile spread over his face like the sun breaking out of a rain cloud. As we had talked by phone the night before, I was expecting a positive personality but what I saw was a man who lept onto the world stage, ready for any situation that life offered.
I had been traveling nearly three weeks in India and the stay with Servas Hosts Ravindra and Shyamali in Noida had been arranged over a month ago. Servas, http://usservas.org is an organization that promotes world peace by enabling individuals of different cultures to meet and converse.)
We moved swiftly out of the hotel into the small street where dozens of auto rickshaws were standing. Ravindra asked how much. I believe the driver replied 150 rupees. Ravindra hand flew up in a gesture of negativity, “No.” We stated to walk down the street. The Auto Rickshaw driver cut us off blocking our way. He accepted Ravindra offer of a third of the original amount. Wow. I thought to myself. I had been seriously overpaying. (150 Rupees = US$2.40, 50 Rupees = US$0.80)
We headed off to the metro station that did not require making a connection to get to Noida. The metro car was packed with people. Ravindra’s eyes flashed and he started making gestures to the men sitting in front of where we were standing. One of them jumped up to offer me a seat.
Off at one of the Noida stations where Ravindra retrieved his car. Shortly after we were at his house where I met his gracious wife, Shyamali. Both Ravindra and Shyamali made me feel so comfortable like I had known them all my life.
That evening, we went into New Delhi to an art gallery reception where Ravindra knew most of the exhibiting artists. I then realized that he was a well known artist in Delhi and beyond. He introduced as an Contemporary Artist from San Francisco. I had fascinating conversations with a number of artists and greatly admired the marvelous art. I thought I had died and gone directly to Art Heaven.
The following day as Ravindra drove me to the metro station so I could visit the Akshardham Temple, his car stopped in the middle of a busy intersection. We both got our as vehicles swirled around us .
The last evening I was in Noida, Shyamali and I went to Ravindra’s studio in Greater Noida where over 90 artists have live/work studios. It was huge. Three floors and all with very high ceilings. He holds curated exhibits there frequently. One had just closed. I was able to see Ravindra’s sculpture and paintings both of which I really liked. The first two floors can be either work space or exhibit space. The third floor has two bedrooms. Each floor has a bathroom and the top two floors have kitchens. I was nearly in shock as my studio is quite small in comparison.
I was also quite content that Shyamali went to the studio as she often is at home caring for her frail and elderly mother. She was glowing happy as we chatted of art and matters of the world
“You know, Janet, I help a mentally challenged boy by teaching him how to make clay models. Here, have a look at these.” Ravindra pointed to a long shelf filled with excellent models. “First I do one as an example and then he does one.”
I added compassionate to my growing list of Ravindra’s qualities. Up to that point I had his attributes: artistic, energetic, helpful, assertive and very open. We had some similar experiences in that he had lived and created art in Italy and I had lived and created art in France.
A short time later, a number of artists arrived. We had snacks and drinks and conversed in-depth of art. I then visited several of the other artists’ studio and saw their work. It was all so wildly contemporary. I saw block prints, mixed media, screen prints, oil paintings and watercolors. I think I may have gotten bruises from pinching myself asking if this were not a dream.
On the day I was to leave India, Ravindra took me to New Delhi to see some of the major art venues of the city. While in one of those venues on the third level, we noticed an office chair partially blocking one of the artworks.
Ravindra asked the Security Guard, “Why is that chair placed in front of the art?” The guard just shrugged.
Next Ravindra moved the chair to the doorway of that exhibit space and then out into the hallway. I believe that someone from that venue approached Ravindra to speak with him privately. I did not hear what was said but the chair stayed in the hallway.
I totally was in agreement as the chair was in fact a distraction to seeing the art. Clearly placed there by someone who did not have a clue about art. Add speak up for Art to the attribute list.
Drinking Chai sitting on a wall by a sidewalk near some of major art venues. It was a pop up chai drinking venue–that is everything was brought in cups, thermos. It was most delightful. As we were chatting and drinking someone recognized Ravindra. They had a brief conversation and I was introduced. Afterwards, Ravindra told me it was someone he had not seen in 30 years.
It seemed wherever Ravindra was there was action. He truly is an amazing person, eccentric as are most of my friends.
Oh, it has fallen right in that pile of wet leaves. It’s fragments of some old paper. Maybe tissue paper. Whose is it?
Wait, it is a letter from Christmas past. No, that is not possible. Pasts don’t write letters. But letters write pasts.
Some of the words are obliterated. . . . It looks like. . . .
My mommy is so sad. Can you bring her a
cuddly,soft toy? So she does not have to sleep all by herself in that big bed. Maybe a fish would be good.
Daddy liked to fish but now Daddy is gone. I don’t know where Daddy has gone but Mommy says he is never coming back. She says he is in a better place like over the rainbow.
Thank you Santa. I have been an extra good girl ever since Daddy flew over the rainbow. Is that where you live Santa?
I hope you found the brownies I left.
From Millie with the long brown pigtails.
I wonder what time zone this was from? Who is or was Millie. I guess I will have to imagine her life.
Sometimes you feel you have lost something really important in your life but in the end it provided the motivation to change. I remember a time in my life when I had moved to Honolulu to be with a new partner. “The man” and I had met the previous year and he had made several trips to Colorado to entice me to move to Hawaii.
My daughters were freshman and junior in High School. My older daughter had just returned from being an exchange student in Denmark. I discussed at length with my daughters the possibility of moving to Hawaii. We talked about the pros and cons. I told them to let me know what their decision was. I emphasized that if they did not want to make that move, we would not. The next morning they told me, they were good to go.
We left Colorado on a snow swirling December morning. When we arrived in Honolulu, it was 80 degrees fahrenheit.
I was able to buy a car soon so my next project was to get a job. Easier said than done. I was told, most companies do not hire anyone who has lived in the Islands less than one year. I needed to support myself and my daughters. What to do?
Then I was contacted by a major airline to be considered for the position of Sales Representative. Subsequently I had several phone interviews about that position. I assumed they thought that I would be a good fit for the job as I had previously worked for an airline and also for travel agencies.
I was thrilled to be invited to Chicago for the interview. In Chicago, I met a number of the other applicants who had previous experience as Sales Reps for drug companies or insurance companies. I thought that because of my “inside experience” I would be the better candidate.
But no, I was not chosen. I did not get that word until a week after my return to Honolulu. I was disappointed. I was quite intrigued by the job description requiring Sales Representatives to be willing to move every 2 to 3 years. I thought I was qualified for that as I had already lived in San Francisco Bay area, Colorado Springs and in the environs of Paris, France.
I was disappointed but I kept saying to myself that something else even better would happen in my life. I looked at myself in the mirror and made an evaluation. Not bad looking, not movie actress material, but I had a fresh look and a positive disposition. I shook my finger at myself in the mirror and said:
“Watch out world, you may have given me this strike but I will break out one of these days and do something extraordinary.”
What I did decide was that my current relationship was going nowhere, so why stay? Why stay in a place that was so limited in cultural things like great museums, concert venues, an active group of artists. If these things existed there, I had not found them.
As my current partner liked to lie on the couch and watch game shows, that was no life for me. I walked the beaches for hours each day. I had the most fantastic tan you can imagine. Also my teenage daughters were not overly happy there either. They were attending a public high school where for the first time in their lives they were in the minority. The three of us were a family unit. I really wanted our life to be more meaningful.
So after the “We had so many fine applicants for this position, but unfortunately you were not one of them.” (Or words to that effect) That letter, that rejection letter motivated me to make a change for the better. I decided to move back to the San Francisco Bay Area which I had always considered home.
The four month stint in Honolulu was a learning experience for all three of us. When we arrived back in the Bay area, I gave myself two weeks to find a car, a job and a place to live. I wanted to find a good high school with excellent standards for my daughters who were quite bright. They both had been in “gifted programs” previously.
We landed at SFO (San Francisco International Airport) and we were off and running. I got the car right away. I had job offers from a travel agency in San Mateo and a travel agency in Marin County. There were good schools in both areas. In the end I chose the job in Marin County where I had lived before. I found an affordable apartment in Kentfield. Redwood High School in Larkspur had a very good reputation.
Finally, we were settled. Or were we?
“You ain’t been blue” is how it starts. I recall as a teenager playing that record (a disk with grooves that when encountered with a special needle produced sound) over and over again. I would dance and dance around the room singing with the music, getting dizzy and singing louder each time it played. But with every new start I would need to place the needle back to the beginning. The more times I did that, the happier I would become. It was so wonderful that I felt my feet lifting about a foot off the floor as if I were flying.
Once I confided that to my mother. She told me. “You must have been dreaming.”
I never thought that. Perhaps it was some type of trance. After about 20 rounds of Mood Indigo, I felt so well, so free and so completely clear in clear in my mind. next, I would open the dormer window to look out over the Kenwood area of Hyde Park. It was quite a good view of all the old Victorian homes. Some had carriage houses. Ours had a two car garage. It seems many years ago the carriage house had burned down. It was so wonderful to have my own private room.
For many years, the third floor of the house on Kimbark Avenue had been rented. About a year ago, the renter moved out. As I was the oldest, my parents offered the third floor bedroom to me. It even had a bathroom next to it.***
I really loved having my private space. I loved to listen to lots of records. Mood Indigo,was my definite favorite. I also had time to read poetry from my father’s leather bound complete works of Shakespeare. So many poems I totally loved like “Let me not to the marriage of free minds admit impediment” . At that time I was a timid, quiet girl who preferred to be alone with my imagination when I was at home after school and on the weekends. I loved to have Mood Indigo take over my mind and my body.
*** Thinking of that gesture many years afterwards, I don’t really understand why. Maybe the rest of the family did not feel the way I did about Mood Indigo.
Jaipur was the first city in India where I arrived on my own. I had opted out of an overnight train from Varanasi to Delhi with a connection to another train to Jaipur. I was concerned about what would happen if the train were late which is so often the case.
From Varanasi to Delhi I went by plane, a fantastic experience which I will relate later. On from Delhi to Jaipur by car was a visually stimulating experience but more on that another time.
One of my joys in Jaipur was just riding in the Auto Rickshaw and seeing the sights of people on motorcycles, people doing ordinary things but wearing inspiring clothing and doing double takes as I saw camels pulling carts and rickshaws. I even saw an elephant as the Auto Rickshaw driver maneuvered his way around the large pachyderm which was heavily made up with an image of a lotus flower on her face. My camera was too slow to catch that but I did get one of the rear and tail of the elephant but I will spare you that. On my way to the Anokhi Museum, I passed a group of school girls dressed in their blue and white uniforms. They seemed amused to see me in the auto rickshaw and turned to smile and wave. I found that quite enchanting. I was being welcomed to this city by everyone.
Auto Rickshaws are the main way of transportation, there are also shared rickshaws with very low prices and many, many motorcycles. I cringed many times seeing a family or four on a motorcycle with none wearing helmets. On the plus side I did not see one auto , motorcycle or auto rickshaw accident the entire time I was in India. Drivers are incredibly focused and drive much closer to another vehicle than I am used to. Auto Rickshaws are basically a three wheel vehicle like a golf cart with a tent like top, no windows. In the front is the driver’s seat in the middle but often has a friend or other passenger on either side. Then the back seat is a bench seat which is adequate for two adults or two adults and one child. It often holds as many as six people in the back section. Behind the seat is a place for luggage or groceries if needed.
My reaction to riding in them started with me holding on to a bar that separates the front and the back seats with my knuckles being completely white from clenching so hard. But here in Jaipur, I did not even hold on. I let my body relax and just moved with the many swerves to avoid cows, motorcycles and pedestrians. Once I even found that I had fallen asleep briefly. What a long way I had come. I still did not like the dust, auto fumes that continually swirled around. I found myself wearing my sunglasses most of the time to protect my eyes. I used a scarf over my face as did many other passengers. I did see others (natives) who wore surgical masks but not many.
Talking with Auto Rickshaw drivers was another education. Those whose English is good, can command higher prices. In India, driving an auto rickshaw is a good job. The drivers I spoke with talked of their family and their homes. Some told me things about their religious holidays and told me that India was very open to all religions. Another driver seemed to have a strong prejudice against a particular group saying they had far too many holidays. Was that a real prejudice or was it just because the many parades on religious holidays make it difficult to drive?
Time seemed to pass quickly even as I saw Biral Mandir Temple, Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and the Water Palace on my first day.
The second day was another treat seeing Anokhi Hand Printing Museum in a lovely renovated building with many of the original stairways and great examples of hand printing.
I stopped in at Village Textiles to see a demonstration of Block Printing, a large array of fabrics, rugs, all types of table coverings and cushion covers. I ended up buying a few small items. It was somewhat overwhelming but I was able to have a cup of chai and resist most that was offered. I had the feeling that the prices asked depended upon who was buying. I loved the experience.
The final stop of the day was to the Paper Factory which was a real highlight of both the day and the trip. A representative of the company gave me a grand tour beginning with making the pulp and all the steps to come up with the finished product either art paper, gift wrap, lamp shades, boxes and stationery. I was quite amused as it seemed like a place from a few centuries ago until I spotted one of the workers on a cell phone.
Jaipur was my first stop in Rajasthan. What a marvelous region.
Servas is an organization whose main purpose to promote peace in the world. Servas facilitates the meeting of individuals from different cultures by having a host and guest component. The organization checks into each new member applying to see if he/she would be up to the task of hosting such international guests or or to stay in the homes of others. You can apply to be a host or to be a traveler. Here is a way to not only meet but get to know someone from another culture. My feeling in travel is that I learn as much about the country from those who live there as I do from seeing the physical sites. As a guest you are not to expect your host to pay for personal items or to buy tickets for you. As a guest you are not to pay for your stay but certainly to reimburse your host for items purchased on your behalf. With Servas you are expected as a host to show your guest the area or how they can do it on their own. As a guest you are expected to have conversations with your host.
When I was active in the Esperanto (International Language) movement, there was Passport Servo which had allowed members to request to stay with other members or to host other members. I hosted many from a variety of countries. I also stayed with other Esperantists in Austria, Australia Brazil, France, Peru and the UK.
When I had the opportunity to travel to India, the thought came ringing back to me. I want to meet the people who live there, not just taxi drivers or merchants in a store.
For information about Servas see: http://www.usservas.org/
For information about Esperanto see: http://esperanto-usa.org/
In Sarnath, not far from Varanasi, I met Dr Jain who runs a small guesthouse. Saroj, Dr Jain’s wife made wonderfully delicious vegetarian meals. Both made me feel so welcome and comfortable. Dr Jain and Saroj are so very kind to everyone they meet. It is something that you sense immediately. I only spent one overnight there but I still feel the effects of the caring people I met and talked there. Dr. Jain seems to be catalyst for bringing about necessary action that will help others. Specifically to enable both girls and boys to have an education. Many families can not afford to send their children to school. Also to set medical clinics to provide for those children’s health needs. These are outlined in detail in the link below.
Others, I also met in that one brief afternoon at Dr. Jain’s guest house were a woman concerned with care of the cows. It appears that though the sacred cows can wander where they will, there is no one who supervises their care. It is in fact quite frightening to see cows wandering the streets and even on the highways. I met another person who was interested in seeing if some of the many stray dogs all over India could be adopted by families. I may not have mentioned this but in every city I visited, I was surprised by the number of stray dogs in the streets. They were often lying on the pavement. I was not sure if they were asleep temporarily or permanently.
In Udaipur, I stayed with a lovely Servas family. The wife of the couple was also an artist but additionally had taken on several projects of her own. She told me that in India, private schools were now obliged to offer 20 percent of their enrollment to underprivileged students. She told me that these children spoke only Hindi at home while all their school classes were in English. So, of course, it was most difficult for them. Renu is teaching them English and getting reports back of how well the students are doing. The children she is tutoring seem to adore her and realize what she is doing for them. Renu is also active in getting a garbage collection service organized in her area. I was quite appalled that all over India there are patches of ground that are covered in paper trash and waste.
Note: I will be writing more of my experiences with my Servas host the family in Udaipur in the near future.
In Noida, not far from Delhi, I stayed with another Servas couple. Ravindra is an artist and sculptor so of course, we had much to discuss.
But his caring came to the surface, when he told me that he was tutoring a fifteen year old student who had mental challenges. Ravindra was teaching the boy how to make clay models and showed me some of the boys’ s work. How wonderful for the boy to see something positive he had made. Ravindra’s wife, Shyamali acts as a full time caregiver to her elderly mother who lives with them. Shyamali told me that her mother had a breakdown after the death of her husband. In India it is quite hard for widows but I think things are much better now than in the past.
More about these wonderful Servas hosts when I write about Noida in the near future.
I still marvel at the extraordinary kindness of the people I met in India.
The impact that Varanasi made on me was extreme. I was moved by the spiritually of activities along the Sacred River Ganges. I had been aware for many years that Varanasi was the site of the dead being set a drift on the Ganges. What I did not know was the preparation that was made for each individual human to be sent on his or her last journey. At first I was appalled by the thought of this, but then I let myself venture in to accepting another culture’s tradition of honoring their dead.
We had the opportunity to rise early on February 21, leave the comforts of Homestay at 6:15am to venture down to the River Ganges. We boarded small boats moments before the sun started its climb towards daylight. The sense that we were seeing where preparations were made to the deceased before they cremation. Once cremated, the remains were then set off on a bamboo frame for their final journey down the sacred River Ganges. What we saw that morning was the place but not the preparations.
The cycles of birth into this world and death from this world are usually not at the top of my consciousness, but here in Varanasi, they were. Activity was everywhere on the banks of the Ganges and on the River itself. Young boys doing yoga on bright orange mats, men and women bathing in the Ganges and people on shore praying resulted in a spiritual jolt for me. I sensed that each living individual was embracing the joy of a new day. In many ways the whole scene was a form of meditation. I became one with the moment, the hour, the day and the place.
Now about general impressions:
After the difficult night train journey from Agra, Lenore, my niece, and I were relieved to arrive at our accommodation, Homestay in Varanasi about 7:30pm on February 19. A former residence had been converted to accept overnight guests in private rooms. Our room opened up to a type of courtyard. The dining room was hub of activities. We had the option of joining other guests in the dining room for breakfast which was included or for a cost the other meals. The meals were delicious prepared by Malika and the ambiance was great. The portraits hung in the dining room only added to its charm. Our host, Harish Rijhwani, was also a travel agent. He helped me obtain tickets to Jaipur, a hotel in Jaipur and onward train reservations to Udaipur and Delhi. He was most helpful and he took my budget into consideration.
All in all my stay in Varanasi was wonderful but, of course too short.
I did go on to spent one additional night in Sarnath but I will relate that soon.
I suggest you check out the link below to get more details of our Varanasi stay: