Dies ist der FriedensPilger-Blog
This is the peace pilgrimage blog

So good to walk on Mother Earth

Walking to Purola from Mori its so fun taking short cuts. One of them is a long one, where I lost the path after a while. I orientate myself on the sun. The mountain area becomes very steep. So I have to climp through the jungle in the hope that I don’t have to go down the same way. The soil is a bit wet from the rain 2 days before, so superperfect for being barefoot. Through sweating and enjoying climing the feeling is so strong, that we are just make for this kind of walking, directly with our feet palms connected to nature. Also a saying of Thay,  Thich Nhat Hanh, is very present:

Is a wonder to walk on water, but the real miracle is to walk on Mother Earth.

My barefoot walking is first time so strong, that I kind of ‚fly‘ the way – and I managed even a new barefoot ‚record‘ for myself. Around 25 km in a day from Mori to Sulani.

Coming over the last real pass internet connectivity is there again. Also a message from Annelie arrived regarding Uma Shankarananda Giri. Let’s see if she is in her hermitage.

Thoughts

Feet
I did 11 days without shoes, walking barefoot. For the beginning a good result. In fact, sure, I walk less km than with sandals. I will give myself more time … if it needs.
Every morning after waking up my feet is in a kind of cramp. Not a physical cramp but somehow a energetically cramp, which has an impact on the body level. Walking feels a bit painful the first steps, then it gradually gets better every minute.

Further on, my feet seems to have fungus, at least it’s visable, that there is some sort of skin problem. I have to see how people judge me or at least I feel judged. … In my opinion, a part of this is not illness anymore… its something, what comes out from inside, a old something, let’s call it karmic or so…. a fire from within, what’s has to express through the skin and then vanishes . But I must say, it’s sometimes on the edge, that I myself believe it, but knowing better to the same time ….. but there is no other way to do so.

Walking barefoot shows myself and other how wunerable we humans are….. and makes myself even softer?…. with myself, with others….?!

Rubbish
Swami Abhishek told me today, where to put the rubbish. Towards the river side. In fact there is no water flowing there, but it feels weird to do so. ‚The plastic we burn from time to time‘. I said ‚ but the plastic gets blown away, then it comes into the river, then into the ocean…. animals eat it….‘ Finally we talked a bit about trash. ‚There is no help from the government‘.
So it seems the whole India cleaning campaign is organized by the 28 states inside India. So in Himachal Pradesh the government is a bit more developed than in Uttarpradesh? Or does it has to do with city and countryside development?

Honestly. What would you do, if you would not know better? Would you store all the plastic? I guess not. But the good thing, help is ‚proparbly‘ on the way. Also on the country side. Awareness is already in the people’s mind, but they feel helpless without help from the government. ….

Skywater
Today evening it rained. Abhishek says ’skywater‘

Survival mode
Sleeping under dirty stinky dusty conditions activated my survival mode. After the night my nose keeps running and .y eyes are weeping in order to clean up.

Mori and Swami Abhishik

All day long I walk with flipflops. The nature is soooo beautiful. The river is clearly coming with its turquoise colour from the glaciers. Along the river beaches white and glittery sand and big stones, washed in the monsoon,  when the water level is so much higher. Green vegetation of all kind the mountains up. Tiny little villages every some 5 to 7 km. Just paradise.
And again. Coming from this paradise into a village like Mori. It’s just shocking again. In this village I can feel hardly a glimse of paradise. Nearly not imagable, that it is so close. It’s just surprising again and again. Just the second day staying here, I saw one restaurant, cafe by chance, which offers a tiny cute terrasse to the river side.
Again I end up in a temple, build by Swami Abhishek Giri. He is just 27 years old, rasta hair down to his knees with a superbig smile in his face to recieve me. He is a man with space inside, that I can feel. He has another guest, a man from the Uttarkhand government, helping with the local elections, happening these days. I look around. Swamis bed stand by a big fire place, where he does the rituals in the morning. In one corner I see a very grey mat, rolled together. Will that be my bed foundation? Again a dirty bed? Yes, it comes like that. My mat. On top I get another blanket, also smelling. On top of that a non smelling thin but warm blanket. And a bigger blanket to cover myself, again not smelling. I refuse to eat at night. Instead I feel comfy to just meditate at 8pm, sleep at 9pm. Television is running loud, Swami smokes Bidis and whatever…. I have ear plugs and a shawl to cover my eyes.
I sleep good, meditate early, and then, still during meditation he starts the Agni fire ritual. The whole room is in smoke. Eyes and nose is running and it takes hours, until they stop again.
Laundry – I do, but does it make sence to wash here? The next smoke attack will ruin all the washing effort. I pack the freshly washed clothes in a bag deep down in my backpack.
Swami Abhishek did build all the temple since he came here, when he was 20. His hair grows since then. The temple lays directly at the river side. Can’t be fit in better.
I flee from the smoke to one of the beaches which I saw the day before. Two times I fall to sleep. Relaxing time.
At the evening I decide, to leave the room before the next fire ritual in the early morning to continue my way. Whatever time that may be.

But it comes different. The fire ritual is very small this day. And the idea arises to write the blog. I stay.
During my writing he always interrupts me and tries a conversation, which turned out very interesting. Despite some communication proplems I understand, that he is able to stop all the work of his sences incl his breath and pulse, as discriped by the wise, which is the state of Nirvana to which all the yogis and seekers are aiming to. A state, where mind and body stops working. This state is a enlightment sign. Some years ago some doctors examined him while doing his praxis and proved it surprisingly right, checking pulse and breath which stopped for 5 or so minutes. Then after everything started to work again. Also in Vipassana the Buddha has discriped Nirvana as such, where all sences stop to work as the evidence of reaching the state of Nirvana.

I continue writing the blog. A afternoon break to catch some sun warms brings me an invitation to his home village more up in the mountains, just 7 km away from here. A friend of him will cook for lunch. I except.

Walking with Swami through Mori before heading of to his home village people pay respect to him. Lots of stops in different shops, an invitation for chai here and there… Lots of conversation. Car ride which follows has a lot of stops, too. The village lays further up in the mountains – and sure, a stop at the temple is on the way. Lunch is just so delicious. Potatoes with butter, vegetables and brown rice. The people here grow only brown rice and I learn, that it’s actually a extra sort.

On the way back we walk all way downwards through the forest. Earlier this day I saw a sign ‚Clean India‘. Because Abhishek said earlier, there is no help in this area from the government, I just wanted to check in there to connect him with a maybe clean up group. Finally we ended up in a official office and we discussed the issue. Seems, that people in Mori are not so much interested to improve there situation. An public toilet can’t be build because of not finding the right property. But there is a group further up in the valley, which collects already trash and the officials are on the way to buy a vehicle to transport trash and recyclable material towards recycle fabrics…. let’s hope… anyway, there is only one solution… to go for it!!!

Since 3 days no internet, so also from Annelie no further information where Uma is to find.

Which way

Coming to Tiuni, entering another State Uttarpradesh from Himachal Pradesh I can feel the difference. Electricity is not working properly, internetconnectivity poor, the first impression of Tuini at night, what a bazar, feels like only shacks here…. Again I got a hotel invitation. I just said to me supporters, looking around ‚in the middle of the cold night I appreciate a warm blanket, even though it’s dirty‘ not knowing how supersmelly it was by then. Anyway I slept deep and long, weeping out the ugly smell and dirt on the way next morning.

Due during the night conditions and the task, what route to take towards Dehradun it took a while to find a place inside me, where a decision could be done. 3 roads were optional. One, the bigger one , I anyway would not like to take. So, two left. One of them is through the mountains towards Moussouri. This is the one I prefered most. It’s through a nearly 3000 m pass. This road is narrow and about 10 km longer than the 3rd option. But I really have to feel into this. The 3rd road goes through Purola. Annelie, who 7 years ago, walked with me through Romania, and wrote a book about her experiences on that 3 month journey, also wrote some years earlier a book about Uma, a German women, which lives there, close to Purola. So, should I go see Uma because of Annelie’s connection or because Uma is an interesting person? Uma is now in her 80th and lives since the 1950th in the area somewhere around Purola in a Hermitage. Annelie also told me, she maid not be there , often nowadays in Punjab.  And not 100% clear, where to find her anyway. She mentioned two villages on whatsapp voice message I could not understand proparbly. I asked Annelie to write the village names down. No reply. Hmmm.
Anyway. I decided to take the way through the 3000 m mountain. Soon after, a guy talks to me, sensing that I was thinking. He said, that the way through the 3000 m pass is not allowed to foreigners, because of a military area. I could walk only 60 km, then the military area begins. Ok. Then it will be the road towards Purola.

I make my day, still barefoot walking shortly before a small village. The street seems to be more raff, so I have to wear my slippers a km before reaching my day goal. It seems, that after walking so many places in India, now I have to get to know more Hindu places. Because my night is again in a Hindu Temple.(I walked in Punjab through ‚Sikh territory‘, in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh I was often interested in buddhist places) Together with 6 or 7 other people we sleep in nice clean blankets on the floor there. It is a good and calmful, peaceful experience.

This third way is also so good. Nature so beautiful. Famous Hanol temple I reach  in the afternoon. To my surprise about 100 other people stay at the temple also at night. Dinner is served by the temple at 8 pm. This is always a torture for me. At 5 pm I get normally so hungry. In the Hanol village  there is no real food and no fruits to get at 5pm. So I have to wait. But at 8pm my stomache is just closed up. At 6 still open and hungry, waiting. At 7pm still open, hungry and waiting. At 8 pm no real need to eat anymore. But there is also no breakfast early, because people eat late. What to do. Ok. I eat at 8.15pm finally, with the risk that I can’t sleep because of eating late.
The blankets come from a store room, they smell a little moldy, but do I get used to it? We all sleep on verandas on side buildings of the temple. Here is Vishnu worshipped, today I don’t feel a real connection.
My barefoot shoes are now always inside the bag. The slippers I left outside the temple area. In the morning they where gone? At least not there where I left them. A shop keeper tells me to look at the dining house… not there. I come back to the shelf at the temple gate… oh, they are back. Somebody wore them. It just does not feel nice, that someone took my slippers, it feels this person wore them in a unrespectful way. It takes about 30-40 min. Then the bad feeling disappears. They are back again.

Hatkoti

The following days I ofter cried in the morning doing my first kms. Today it was because of rubbish laying around and also weeping out the smell from the night. Together I could say, tears are rolling out of eyes and nose because of clensing.

From now on people passing by, stopping for selfies….. some more, some less questions, happy to see me….asking, what kind of help I need, offering money or something to eat….
One situation besides many others. A car stops, he opens the window, says happily hello, namaste, opens his purse, with a warm smile and heart wave a hundred rupie flies to my side. Bye… so touching….

In the evening I arrive Hatkoti. Not knowing, to what a important place I will be introduced to, I meet Shubam and Happy who will show me around the following 18h.  Shubam is also a priest in this Hateshwary temple, where Durghamata (Mother Durgha) is worshipped. First I have to leave my shoes outside. Hmmm. I never had a problem with this anywhere, but because I have now this superfancy and expensive barefoot walking shoes with me, I can’t leave them outside (later, in other places I wrapped them in a plastic bag inside my backpack – in fact, this is also not allowed, also no animal pieces, like leather belts are allowed in any Hindu temple) Anyway, after a while we found a good solution and entered the temple inside area. This temple part, where Durghamata is worshipped, is at least 5000 years old, actually they said 5000 B.C., before Christ. I tried to check in the net, but I could not find a proof. Shubam told me, that experienced scientists often say, that this place is so unique and old, that they could not think of anything like this somewhere else. Only 25 years ago this temple was only surrounded by nature and farmland – I see beautiful pictures, now lots of buildings, partly hotels and shops a build close by. Shubam and Happy asked me, what I feel,  and, until the next morning I could only say, that I have no visual connection to all this Hindu gods and godess, but that I have a deeper connection through chantings and mantras, which I have practised. But next morning, sitting with time and company at Durgamata’s Temple I truely felt a connection from my heart to this place and to her and/or the worshippers. I really would have liked to stay in Hatkoti a day longer, but because of 4 weddings there, Shubam could not arrange something.

Coming back to the main road, I meet Ritzyy. He invites me for breakfast. As he understand my need for a rest, he immediately books a hotel room for me including all the food I will eat during that day and the next morning. In fact, I had to wait a few hours more, before I can really enter my ‚rest’room, because the room seems to be ‚busy‘. They always say ’some more five minutes‘. When I finally enter around shortly before 3pm I can still smell the ‚cigarette after‘ leaving a flavour. Also here, in the little bit more expensive room, the quilt has no sheet…..

Next day, late afternoon, my friend Steve from South Africa is suddenly on whatsapp, suffering from the city of Johannesburg. I just sent him fotos of everything gorgeous nature around me and we have a great dialog through multichatting. Even I take him visualy to my next host Rohit and his family and how it looked there,  close to Pabbar river. Here I have first time on the walk, a really nice clean bed. What a joy . Hot water included.

Nikhil

I feel a bit exhausted,  but because of the dirty blankets, I can’t stay for a relaxing day. So I decide to walk very slow. It goes downhill now for a lot of time towards Rohru. Here and there I sit down and at the end of the day I will have covered only 7 km, but I don’t care. I have to take care of me and my feet. Very nice and mindful.

While sitting and enjoying the scenery a car stops. The driver, Nikhil, asked the typical questions. When he understands, that I walked all the way from Germany, already 7 years, his face showed surprise. He left his car and I told him to sit beside me. I just don’t like it, when people ask questions, me sitting, they standing, and I always have to look up towards them. But he kindly sits down. We have a real nice conversation, I show him the article done some days before, Nikhil, assistant professor for tourism in Rampur,  leaves even a donation and says: I will start a campaign with you. I do not know what that has to say…. At the end of that day, I saw on Facebook an article about our meeting, that I walk all the way barefoot and that I like cleanliness. He asked the people to help me in any way. Already after a short time after publishing it was liked so often and people started sharing his article quite a lot of times.

This Facebook article will be shared 420 times within a week and liked 1900 times. Looking on his timeline I could not find any other post which was shared so many times.

This happening empowered me to walk the next day 16 km, all barefoot, my record with naked feet and 10kg backpack until now.

Coming out of nature into district capital Rohru I am overwhelmed by dust and polluted air. A very enthusiastic guy stopped me, a shopkeeper, did not know about the articel. Knowing this he immediately copied the articel and made it his… All the family was happy to have me, but I went, because the owner made himself feeling so important (and we were sitting in the middle of the dust)…… Also it was still a bit early and I did not reach the center yet. A few meters further I was stopped by some people, calling me 100 m back to there shop. First I did not want to go there, called them to the place where I was standing, they came… After some conversation I agreed with that request. The shop owner had a serious request towards me ‚How can I make my shop more attractive? What can I practically do?‘ Normally I can answer something like this only after working there for a while. ‚First you have to clean all the rubbish and dust from your property‘ Lots of shops in the city or even villages lay very close to the street and are kind of small, sometimes they look like shacks. But his shop has some little space in front. It’s a kind of bakery or cakery with some normal shop offerings. The offering area looks clean and need. ‚In the front you can have even some nice tables and chairs, maybe you start with just 2 tables, if it works you can have more‘ maybe 4 or 5 could work. ‚Use some colour and you can maybe even have some coloured flags to attrac attention. If you make your little shop nice, proparbly others in the street follow, situation will improve‘ And when I first came there I saw the empty property beside, which is with a tree and green, but full of rubbish ‚if this would be my shop I surely would clean up all the rubbish here. I would not care that this is not mine‘ and he would benefit from cleaniness because it would shine and lit up his shop. What I always miss, coming from a paradise like nature in India, while entering a village, that even after 100 m into human civilization area you dont feel nature anymore. The clean nature area beside him could change this. So his shop could be connected by the tree and greenery beside his property to nature.

Finally I ended up in a little hotel with smelly everything…… 😊

The first days

2 1/2 month I walk barefoot now. Now I want to walk also barefoot on the peace walk incl the 10kg backpack. I am exited if I can manage. From the village of Bhadrash (close to Rampur) I start walking the around 400 km ‚gab‘ towards Haridwar/Rishikesh. I am still in the Himalayas and have to cross some passes of 2000 and more meters, before I come to the lower areas. And I enjoy very much to be in the mountain areas. From Bhadrash I have to walk about three days up towards Sungri. Here are first some serpentine roads. I take a short cut. The second serpentine area I want to take again a short cut, but the locals say, there is none, but to me it seemed managable as far as I can see, and the road goes in  2km zickzacks. To take a short cut here, is a real short cut. After a while it’s getting up really steep and first time I have to wear my slippers. The stones are just to sharp. I am sweating and I ask myself the question ‚is that a real short cut‘ because here I have to walk also sometimes in zickzacks, it’s just to steep. I smell dead animals and later I see, that lots of cows have failed walking this way, to many skeletons. Finally I see a younger cow nearly on the top, somehow scared, but it is possible for her, with a lot of patience, to walk down again, step by step. I don’t know how to help her, maybe she even can find the way up by following me…. I very much hope, that she can manage, eather way.
The rest of the day I continue in slippers.

Next day I try for a while the new fancy barefoot shoes. They are to warm for now, I change to the slippers again, later barefoot. It’s a real challenge. But barefoot walking is so beneficial for my body system and my knee/hip… and it’s so fantastic to touch Mother Earth all the time. Barefoot walking only works by walking mainly on the front feet and is still a way to go, to do it always.

At the following night it is raining hardly, maybe the last big rain of the Monsoon. A wet street is always helping my feet. It feels so much more smooth, the street and stones feels softer. So all day I can manage to walk barefoot.

In Sungri I sleep in the government rest house.  Its on 2.400m. And here I have to face first time dirty blankets. They have even sheets, what is somehow rare, but haven’t been washed for a while. From one minute to the next the temperature sinks so rapidly in the evening, it feels like a wave coming – and I underestimate it, got a little cold.

For the next full week I managed to walk all the time barefoot.

Back home on the peace walk

The last day in Mandi, last day of ‚arriving time‘ back in India, I went to a river beach behind the market area. I see a man, bringing a bag full of rubbish, emptying it right there. I was a bit to far away to say something. I roam around there a bit. So beautiful with the big stones and sand in between. None of the close by houses have a restaurant or cafe. It seems, that people don’t realize the beauty and holiday relaxing apporunities of the closed nature in there city. Also more rubbish lays around the beach area. I sit down a bit. The water level of the river has been 4 to 5 meter higher in the last Monsun season. It’s recognisable in the trees at the river bed…. lots of bags and clothes and other rubbish are hanging there,  thrown in the river from other people further up.
A empty rice sack just ten meters away from me, invites me to do some trash collection. It’s always worth to do pick something up. If 10 people think like this, or even one person does a few times, the difference is visable or at least to feel. And Mother Earth is always greatful for it. After some very short time, a excited man come running towards me. He is a physiotherapist  and his mother saw me trashpicking. He is so happy, that I am doing this and reports, that a big group of people, about 200, organised Mandi, are doing trashpicking and cleaning up the city once a mounth. The government of India is supporting and actually supervising a ‚clean up India‘ project, which is officially specially announced these days in honour of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday. The goal is to clean up all India, educate people, initiate or better cultivate more the recycle opportunities, who are already existing, for that separate trash in glas, metal, paper, plastic and other categories. For now people can earn money by delivering recyclable trash to specific collecting places…. and so on. The exited man, now my friend, has informed one of the city instructures to do an interview with me. Meanwhile we are collecting rubbish from the beach side.
I think it’s a treasure,  to collect trash, because every time I bow down to pick something up, I bow down to Mother Earth to honour her.

The next day, sitting in the bus, I get to know, that every newspaper in Mandi printed a article about me, …. about this foreigner coming to Mandi, has nothing else to do, then picking up trash, can that be a example and inspiration to others?

After a while of driving in this bus, coming closer to the starting point of the peace walk (after the Germany break) (it’s actually a gab, which I had to leave because of Visa issues) the bus drives on a route, which I have walked last year, partly together with Aparna, I feel so supergood.

It’s so good to be back home – back home on the Peace Walk.

I arrived in India again

Two smooth flights brought me back to India. (In flight and changing flights in Istanbul reminded me of knowing some turkish ☺)

Coming into India, taking the airport train, still very clean – then changing in normal metro and busses to get to my friends in Mandi at the lower Himalayas – a whole day in  three different busses – the need of dignity is there – on all streets, in the busses and walking or travel otherwise on the streets – or living close to the streets – dignity is missing.

Walking barefoot will be a challenge…. I’ll, besides of walking for peace I’ll also walk for dignity.

 

 

Still help needed / Schedule updated

Steppps peacewalk still need your help.
Because its not easy to walk in the flat areas in India and Nepal your help is needed to walk together as a group.
Please join in the peace walk from this October on ….
Scedule is updated at ‚Termine und Schedule…. “ on the left side

If you cant come personally, you can help with

prayers

meditation

supporting in any way anyone on the planet, who works for a ‚better world‘

donations

Connect your heart with anyone on the planet, who works in whatever way for a ‚better world‘.
We are one big huge group.
Dont feel ever alone.