Kindness on the Road

It’s impossible to note all the kindness we are receiving at any given moment.  It would blow our minds to realize the constant flow of beauty, brilliance and intelligence which flows through everything – from planetary orbits to the orbit of electrons in our bodies.

As my journey abroad begins, I know I will experience a myriad of visible and invisible kindnesses.  My first obvious encounter was at the Chennai Airport  – my first port of arrival in India.  An Indian traveler had gotten off the same plane and as we moved through the airport exit process, he treated me to no less than 9 acts of kindness!  It culminated with him gifting me 1000 Rupees ($20 cad) for a taxicab when we realized there was no ATM at the airport.

The next acts of kindness came from Maitreyi – a woman in Chennai whom my friend Delaney had connected me to via email.  I’d met Maitreyi briefly in Vancouver a few years ago but we never had the chance to speak till now.   She arranged a room for me to rent in Chennai and then spent 2 days with me!  We had yummy dosas (Indian crepes) for breakfast and then she helped me accomplish some of my errands and interests:  buying local clothing to blend in, getting an Indian cell phone, seeing a classical Indian dance and music performance and learning a few words of Tamil…

Montage of our visit in Chennai:

Tamil is the main dialect spoken in the state of Tamil Nadu.

On the second day, my wonderful new friend Maitreyi took me to meet the kids she works with.  They live in the slums and as part of her personal project, she has been providing positive experiences and helpful role models for their enrichment.  We took them out for lunch and I quickly fell in love with them.  They were so friendly and sweet.  One of the boys even insisted I take his portion of dhal when he heard how much I enjoyed it!

Montage of the kids:

Maitreyi is the teacher and founder of Arkaya Yoga and she comes to Vancouver each year to teach her classes.  I will announce her program before it begins so that you can check it out if you feel called.  She told me that she teaches the philosophy of yoga, as well as the physical practices.  Her grandfather was her first teacher and she has been steeped in the yogic lifestyle since childhood.

My next destination was to the Sreedhari Ayurvedic retreat centre near Thrissur, Kerala in south-west India.  I flew to Cochin airport and was picked up by the retreat centre’s driver.  The drive was harrowing and I had to practice surrendering to the driving style here.  With extreme boldness, he passed cars via the opposing lane so that every few moments, we faced oncoming trucks and buses at highway speeds.  Thankfully, there were no head-on collisions and I even surrendered enough to nap on the late night drive to the retreat.

The next morning, I awoke to see the beautiful Peechi River flowing nearby and the guest cottages made of brick nestled amidst the coconut palms, exotic trees and medicinal plants.  It was 6am and time to take my first herbal concoction. There would be a regular schedule of cleansing herbs, vegetarian meals and Ayurvedic treatments in the following weeks.  However, my moon cycle started after one treatment so I was informed that we must stop the program until menstruation is complete.  Instead, it seemed that my fate for the first week here was to connect with Vasudevan, the founder of this retreat centre.

He has extended much kindness and has taken me to:
– a temple festival at Chemputhra that involved the congregation of over 44 elephants dressed in gold finery
– a tea plantation on the Western Ghats range where the estate owner has donated land for a proposed research centre to study Ayurveda’s effects on cancer and the successful work of one particular doctor
– Periyar wildlife sanctuary where we took a relaxing boat cruise and saw a wild elephant, boars, deer and monkeys.
– Fort Cochin for a look at the historical port where the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British once ruled.  Its beachside boardwalk is very reminiscent of our beloved seawall in Vancouver.

Short Video: Western Ghats

Short Video:  Fort Cochin

Here in a remote village area of Koottala in Kerala India, I have been blessed to find a dear soul friend in Vasudevan.  Right from the first day, we got along famously and enjoyed great conversations.  At age 65, he is full of life force, brimming with vision, ideas and projects.  We are strikingly similar in mindset despite vastly different upbringings, lifestyle and culture.  He comes from a long line of Ayurvedic practitioners and was formerly trained as a Hindu Brahmin (priest caste).  Perhaps we have been connected in other lifetimes but most certainly in this life, we recognize each other as kindred spirits!  We are already collaborating and dreaming up potential joint projects.  Regardless of how things will turn out, it is always a gift to experience such resonance.

Sweet Universe, Valarae Nanni!  (“Thank you very much” in Malayalam – the main dialect of Kerala)

If you liked this post, please share it!
woohoo says:

Sweet Jenn, thank you for staying in touch and checking out the little montages! I will check out the link you shared… xoxoxo

woohoo says:

Dearest Jane, It was wonderful to meet you just before i left for my trip! xoxoxo

woohoo says:

Thanks so much John! I think you’d love it at this retreat… so beautiful here…

John says:

Thank you for the beautiful updates. What an adventure!! Looks like so much fun!!!
<3 <3 <3

jane says:

i loved this beautiful post.
so happy for you and blessed to read and share part of your travels.

Jenn Strom says:

Dear Mermaid,

It sure is a pleasure to sit here at 9am on a very rainy, cold Vancouver morning and dive into India through your eyes! Your short photo videos with sound and music are wonderful to experience. Thank you for doing all that work to take us along on your adventure with us as it unfolds!

I want to share my friend Joshua’s site with you and others who are interested in your journey. Last year he took a trip to India where he too relied solely on his guidance in every situation, and when he came home, he wrote about all the insights he got from his practice:

And if you go to “Home” and then into his photography site, he has some Nat Geo-worthy, gorgeous photography of India on the site too.

Enjoy your day, and thank you for the gift of the sights and sounds that surround you on the other side of the world Woo…

XO Jenn

Hazel says:

It doesn’t surprise me one bit that the beautiful, loving hearts of 2 of the significant Associate Artistes of were meant to connect in such a special way & met the Arkaya Tr…ust children living in the slums as well! ♥ As it evolved, I spent the most meaningful this past Christmas with the children – I have more photos here: If you feel the soul urge to find out how you can touch these children’s lives & want more videos, photos & stories of these children Maitreyi so compassionately nurtures or get in touch with the founder & yoga teacher trainer Maitreyi Yogacharini , please visit her site: or her FB group :