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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love in Augusta, Part II: India - Pray

Wednesday, September 08, 2010 By No comments

This is part two of a three-part series. See part one here.

India - Pray

Gilbert’s next stop was India – and as we all have heard, the culture influenced Georgia girl Julia Roberts to become a practicing Hindu. How chic. Perhaps she ran into The Beatles while she was there.

Anyway, Gilbert chose the county for its meditative ashrams – and also because she was already a yoga devotee. Those same experiences can be had in Augusta at The Hindu Temple Society’s place of worship, and at a number of wellness centers around town.

The Hindu Temple Society is a warm, welcoming place. Boiling an entire religion down to some very simplified ideas, Hinduism believes that all religions are different paths to the same god. So if you desire a change in your religious practices, breathing in the meditative chants with Hindu practitioners might be a beautiful way to explore your own spirituality. No need to convert, and no one will ask you to.

Some of the symbolism may be unfamiliar (why all the gods, and what happened to their arms and heads) the message will resound: Live free of sin, and you will be rewarded with the spiritual knowledge of God.

Yoga classes can be found everywhere from the Augusta Jewish Community Center to Omni Health and Fitness. But not all yoga classes are the same. Look around and check out where you might feel the most comfortable. I recommend Deanne's classes at the MCG Wellness Center. But that’s just me.

And while we’re talking about India, why not take in some of the amazing cuisine available in town? There are a number of restaurants serving Indian cuisine, and its many regional variations. Be aware that a dish at one restaurant in the area may taste differently in another. Some suggestions: try the Lamb Korma at Bombay Central and the Prawn Balchao at Taj of India. When you’re ready to take on some spice, do it at India Café. The flavor is worth the fire – and they play Bollywood movies while you eat. Bonus!

As for language, English is the official language of government in India, so it's very easy to get around in the country. We can thank British Imperialism for that. But if you're interested in learning some of the more dominant of India's dozens of languages, look for classes or social groups for Hindi (considered the national language) or Gujarati (about 70 percent of the population speak it). I don't know of any formal language training for those languages in the area, but there are four Hindi classes offered by the University of Georgia. If you're the kind of person who took Latin instead of living languages, they also offer Sanskrit, the 6,000-year-old mostly-dead language of Hinduism's holy texts.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that a visit to Asian Choice on Agerton Lane (near Very Vera/India Cafe) is never a bad idea. They have anything you'd like to try, as far as Indian cuisine is concerned, and they also rent Bollywood videos. It's a fun style of movie reminiscent of the American musicals of the 50s and 60s. Ask for subtitled movies, not those dubbed in English (Don't just say "dubbed," because just about everything is dubbed in India). For newbies, I have an easy curry recipe here, and you can pick up a bag of frozen pakoras or samosas to go with it. A hint: anything too spicy can be calmed down by a dollop of sour cream or plain. unflavored yogurt.

Eat, Pray, Love in Augusta, Part III: Bali (Love) publishes soon.


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