If you would like an insider's trip to India, Neel is your guide. He was very accommodating and flexible in designing the trip around what places or types of experiences you would like to have. Also his wonderful family were instrumental in making arrangements and hosting us with a genuine, heartfelt welcome.
Neel seems to have boundless energy and joy; many morings he was up at dawn and had 2 cups of tea by the time we crawled out of bed at 8:30. Thus, for your preparatory discussions with him, I recommend that you discuss what you know about your endurance, especially for long un-airconditioned road trips, overall energy/health and ability to handle heat with lots of clothes.
We enjoyed and learned alot from his private yoga classes designed to meet what he so correctly saw as our needs. They kept our minds and bodies engaged, gave energy for the day and helped us unwind in the evening. I also greatly appreciated the sometimes mobile chanting lessons in the Yoga Sutras. It was one of the most intense and unique practices in concentration and listening, I have ever had.
We saw a lot of temples, which allowed us to see first hand the Vedas in action. This was mind blowing for a long time yoga student and reader of scriptures and commentaries to see the attitudes and beliefs in daily life all over the country. They aren't just nice ideas. They live and breathe! I also appreciated being able to witness many unusual (at least to us) events at temples, from exotic musical performances to pampered live animal idols to statues so real, so old and so incredibly crafted from gigantic pieces of rock, it feels like a sophisticated Stone Henge.
It was also great to tour organic ayervedic farms and see that this art is alive and well and its products are cheap and available everywhere. I highly reccommend getting an ayervedic massage along the way-you will be in bliss for a few days after!
Finally, we really appreciated not staying at posh and isolated places, which would drain our bank accounts, but having a chance to stay in cheap, clean places where everyday folk stay. Pulling into local restaurants to have lunch off of banana leaves or staying at an ashram were very memorable and unpretentious. We felt like we experienced real culture everywhere we went. Shopping also was a fun adventure. Customer service was incredibly helpful everywhere and goods were very cheap. Traveling on the cheap was not without some challenges and mild discomfort, but kept us on our toes and felt like an adventure. Everywhere we went people were kind, open, generous, funny and helpful. We even excahnged impromtu performances with a group of 13 year old girls who became our new fans!
Overall if you want to see the real India, not some sterile resort, and have an extremely memorable, challenging, suprising and fun time, go with Neel!
Allegra Gulino - Senior Yoga Teacher, American University, Washington DC