Good morning and welcoming the New Moon and Chinese New Year of the Fire Monkey. I am walking round the holy mountain of Arunachala, Tiruvannamali, southern India with some friends. We started walking at 6am and it’s a very powerful spiritual practice called Pradakshina to walk the 14kms around this mountain (we’re taking an auto rickshaw for the final 2.5kms through the town). It’s just getting light and we’ve been greeted by a big tribe of monkeys (nice symbolic start to the new year)… As we walk along the street, sadhus awaken on the roadside, mothers wash their babies, women milk their cows (who are licking their calves) right on the curb. Dogs are everywhere. Most of them are a similar breed – short haired, light tanned color. India becomes alive ‘right in our faces’ as we walk through peoples’ intimate worlds, their homes right on the roadside edge. I feel very humbled to be experiencing all these peoples’ lives. We pass many temples and people are up early making their offerings and receiving the Puja blessings. As we keep going, students are appearing, so beautifully groomed in their uniforms, waiting for their buses. We stop for a delicious chai and as we arrive on the edge of the town, we head into an air-conditioned hotel (ah the luxury!) for idlis for breakfast. So delicious and spicy. They are made from fermented de-husked black lentils and rice and are a traditional southern Indian breakfast. I wish you happy new moon and blessings on the month ahead. Bye for now. Lin

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