PathNorth in India

 Yatin & LeAnn Patel and Don Bielinski in traditional clothing

Yatin & LeAnn Patel and Don Bielinski in traditional clothing

Earlier this month, inspired by PathNorth members Yatin & LeAnn Patel, 32 PathNorth members, Doug & myself took an unforgettable trip to India. 

We started in the vibrant and dense city of Mumbai, spending our days exploring the utterly crazy streets of the city and our evenings enjoying incredible meals with inspiring people. We visited Gandhi’s home, the overwhelming public laundry and a beautiful temple where we took part in a Diwali ceremony – each experience a vast contrast from the last. Contradictions were everywhere! Every morning we explored important topics and reflected on how the trip was expanding the way we saw ourselves and the world. 

 View of Mumbai

View of Mumbai

 Welcome in Jodhpur

Welcome in Jodhpur

Next, we headed to Jodhpur where we were greeted by the song and dance of what seemed to be an entire city of people. We were stunned and dumbfounded by our accommodations at the Umaid Bhawan, a palace that still houses the Maharajah and his family, and is more opulent and beautiful than we could have imagined. We listened to Indian bagpipers under the stars before guest Lalita Tademy told us the inspiring story behind her New York Times Bestselling books about her forgotten African American ancestors. We visited a 400-year-old temple and went shopping in tuk tuks. 

 PathNorth group in Udaipur

PathNorth group in Udaipur

Finally, we journeyed to Udaipur where we slept in a palace on the lake before visiting a village so remote we had to take camel carts over bumpy dirt roads to get there. We brought supplies to a group of children and their families with bright faces and a life so different than our busy world of noise and complication, we were amazed. We were inspired to fund a water pumping station for the school. 

 Ken & Monica preparing for their wedding

Ken & Monica preparing for their wedding

On the final night of the trip, we were fitted for saris and safas before boarding a boat to a wedding that was a surprise to both our guests and the bride and groom alike (Ken & Monica Seeger, naturally). We danced and celebrated with over 40 dancers and performers, 2 Bollywood choreographers, 6 white stallions and 2 giant elephants.

It’s of course impossible to summarize the beauty of the country, the richness of our experience and the complete mind boggling reality of the culture and what we learned in an email, but I hope that the pictures can give you a little glimpse of what we experienced. I’ve also attached a beautiful poem PathNorth member, Bob Franklin, wrote about the journey.