Searching for a Dashboard Deity

My Vegas Ganesha bringing me good luck on the road.

My Vegas Ganesha bringing me good luck on the road.

Toronto, Canada. 2013. Standing next to a large bronze, meditating statue of Shiva, the Destroyer, Maharani Emporium owner Rupert Lalla, tugs at a gold chain around his neck. He pulls the attached gold figure up from beneath his green plaid shirt. Bringing it forward so I can see it more closely, he reveals a tiny figure with an elephant head, human body and four arms in various positions — Ganesha.

I take this as a good sign since I’ve been grilling Rupert in his Toronto shop about this Hindu god and why Indians choose him for their cars as the preferred dashboard deity.

A bit about Ganesha

Totally fitting as a dashboard deity, Ganesha is the Hindu god of protection, wisdom and remover of obstacles. He also is the son of the god of destruction and recreation, Shiva, and the Hindu goddess of power, Parvati. Often called the easiest god to worship, Ganesha, according to Hindu belief, accepts any devotee’s prayers — whether formal or informal. Embracing Ganesha as their god of choice, residents of Mumbai hold Ganesh Chaturthi, an eleven-day festival solely devoted to the elephant-headed god.

A Ganesha statue outside a jungle elephant preserve. The electric green moss transfixed me.

A Ganesha statue outside a jungle elephant preserve. The electric green moss transfixed me.

In 2010, during a trip to Bali, I noticed that Ganesha was everywhere on the “Island of the Gods,” since the Balinese place him near entrances of buildings and temples. Stationed in the parking lot of an elephant preserve in the jungle, appropriately, was a large moss speckled volcanic Ganesha sculpture complete with a jewel-encrusted headdress. The contrast of the dark rock and the electric green moss on the statue all against the backdrop of the dense, vibrant jungle captivated me.

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The Unfortunate Photo: Checking out the floor tiles of the Taj Mahal

© Jane Whitmere

© Jane Whitmer

My friend Jane Whitmer was kind enough to let me use this photo of her at the Taj Mahal. Talk about trooper: Jane had bedbugs, Delhi Belly, and it was 120 degrees fahrenheit on the day she visited this Wonder of the World.

Here’s the Travel Oops Interview about Jane and her travels to India.

The Friday Funny Sign — Low-Cal Rooster or Anatomical Unit?

© Jane Whitmer

The sign begins so formally, and then…..

I almost think the “Aerated Drink” label is as funny as the “Diet Cock.”

Thanks to Jane Whitmer for this photo she took in India. 

The Travel Oops Interview (The Rickshaw Wreck)

For a Westerner, India seems ready made for a Travel Oops. Certainly, at the very least, visitors, inevitably, encounter the unexpected.

Jane Whitmer, a program manager who teachers a Nurturing Parenting class for the Family and Youth Initiative in Salida, CO, says her travel mantra is “Be open to the Possibilities.”

With that attitude, she traveled to India in the summer of 2012, and at one point, she even told one of her traveling companions, “You’re in for a ride now, Helen. This is India.”

A seasoned traveler, Whitmer had wanted to visit India for the past 10 years. After arriving there in June, her adventures included having a cobra rest on her head; meditating and doing yoga at an ashram; staying at a rickshaw driver and his family’s house; walking on a back road that included obstacles like irrigation channels, barbed wire fences and bulldozers; and riding on a bus that traveled via a one-lane road over an 18,000 ft. mountain pass — just to name a few.

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