Ramadan in India, and an adventure with a cow

Haji Ali — burial site of a Muslim saint.Haji Ali — burial site of a Muslim saint. It’s in the middle of the ocean. When the tide comes in, the walkway is underwater. People of all communities — Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Christian… visit to pay their respects.
Bombay, India.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been busy traveling around and having the time of my life! It’s been a wonderful, dizzying, remarkable, and an incredibly amazing experience. There really is something about India! I suggest you all put it on your list of places to visit at least once in this lifetime!

I attended a wedding earlier this week and ran into a friend of mine from NYC who had been there on Sept. 11th. I caught up with her, and became fully entranced by the beautiful Zoroastrian wedding ceremony. Had a great time dancing afterwards. What amazing drumming and music!

I visited Haji Ali, which is the burial place of a Muslim saint built in the middle of the ocean. You can only walk there when the tide is down, because when the tide is up the walkway is underwater. The great thing about this place is that people of all faiths go to visit. It was so nice to see Hindus, Muslims, Christians, other Americans, and even other Zoroastrians there.

As you may know, right now is the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. I am amazed to see people fasting from sunrise to sunset, even with the heat in India. In Bombay it’s still over 90 degrees and humid every day. These people don’t even drink water while they are fasting, and still carry on with their work and everyday lives. Now that requires some willpower!

I am in Pune right now, where it’s not so hot. And in the US it’s cold now, so fasting in cold weather is probably not as difficult as in the heat. In the streets of Bombay, they had set up tables full of fruit (pineapples, papaya, apples, oranges, dates, green coconut water, pears, guavas, pomegranates) for the breaking of the fast each evening at sunset. It’s pretty intense to just stand and watch people break their fast with the name of God and thanksgiving on their lips.

Haji Ali — burial site of a Muslim saint.I am planning a trekking expedition into the ghats in a couple of weeks. I am really looking forward to that. I am also looking into a jungle trek by elephant. I’ll let you know what happens. So far I’ve traveled around by camel. It’s fun…once you get used to the fact that a camel stands up with its hind legs first, so you get thrown forward.

My latest adventure involved a cow following me around because I fed it a banana and pet it for about 10 minutes. I proceeded to walk down the street and realized that this cow was following me. Then I stopped at street vendor to pick up some souvenirs and felt a wet nose in my ear. So after buying a bunch of bananas and leaving them with the cow, I ran so it wouldn’t be able to find me. As much as I would have loved to bring the cow back to my grandparents’ place, I don’t think the rest of the co-op society would have been too happy.

And speaking of the co-op adopting animals, I took that puppy back to the vet today and he’s doing fine. The kids are doing a very good job of taking care of him, and named him Boozo. I think I’ll take all the kids out for ice cream or some treat this evening. They’re all so sweet.

Stay tuned for updates about practicing ayurvedic medicine and TCM in India.

Greetings from India

Jasmine Patel with a chameleon found outside Meher center. Ahmednagar, India.

Hello from Bombay, India. I arrived here last night after spending a day in Bangkok yesterday. There is a Dengue fever outbreak there right now, so didn’t want to risk staying there too long since I would have been venturing into the country and forests to hike — and what better place to run into those Dengue-fever-carrying mosquitoes.

My two aunts and my grandparents met me at the airport last night. It was so nice to walk out of the airport and see them right there waiting to greet me. I could just feel their love so strongly.

Later, almost the entire community was there to greet me! They had a big feast prepared, with drumming and singing… it was a real blast!! I’m still in a bit of a haze and daze today. After two months in China with MSG-laden food, this feast was so awesome!

So it’s really hot here right now…but everyone keeps assuring me that winter is coming. It’s still over 90 degrees and I think 80 degrees is probably considered Winter. Aghhhh!! In a few days I’ll be heading to Poona for a week, where it will be a little cooler.

Jasmine Patel with a chameleon found outside Meher center. Ahmednagar, India.This morning I went for a little walk and how I wished I had my camera. Right there in the middle of a busy street was a woman leading a cow past cars, taxis, trucks, bikes, motorcycles, pedestrians, etc. She was selling hay and grass for people to buy and feed the cow. I had just eaten a banana, so I fed the banana peel to the cow. I also bought some hay for it too. And of course the cow also got a big hug from me. This place is going to be an animal lover’s heaven! I’d been feeling a little animal-deprived, but I think all the animals I’ll encounter here will make up for it.

About Jasmine Patel

Jasmine Patel, MSAOM, LAc has traveled to China and India to practice Traditional Chinese Medicine is a variety of clinical settings. In Shanghai, China she worked in an integrated Western medicine/TCM hospital and in India she worked at an integrated clinic which used TCM, homeopathy, Western medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.

Jasmine Patel, MSAOM, LAcRecent Bastyr grad Jasmine Patel had the opportunity to practice advanced acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Tui Na with local doctors in different parts of India. Her visit took her to Bombay, Pune, Goa, Ahmednagar and Udwada. She worked in an integrative medicine clinic there which was staffed by an ayurvedic doctor, a TCM doctor, a homeopathic doctor and an allopathic doctor. Jasmine writes:

This clinic is run by donations and all care is given for free. They all see the patient together and then together decide on the best course of treatment. It’s nice to see that these doctors had put their egos on hold and were genuinely concerned about giving the patient the best care. In most cases, a combination of therapies was used on the patient. It was interesting to see the TCM doctor and the ayurvedic doctor creating combined herbal formulas from the two systems of medicine.

Jasmine also writes about how spirituality infuses people’s lives so deeply in India:

When they open their stores and businesses in the morning, they burn incense, chant or pray. At a little temple right outside the train station I watched people leave flowers, bow down, or just walk by and stop for a moment, close their eyes and offer a prayer for a safe journey, or give thanks for a safe journey. Right next to the temple at a little mosque, the same thing was going on.