Frequently Asked Questions


“Thank you for giving me an experience of a lifetime. The wonderful and meaningful moments we shared together will remain in my heart forever. I waited years for this trip (saving your emails from year to year), and I am so happy that I finally got to live my dream of visiting India!” Batia, 2017



Will I get a taste of “the real” India?

Absolutely. You will have plenty of time to roam around, absorb the atmosphere, mingle and chat with the townspeople, and shop for delightful bargains and souvenirs.


In addition, we will have some very authentic experiences with the locals in their homes. We will celebrate the zany color festival, Holi, with our guide and his family in their home.


“I do not believe any other group provides interaction with locals like on this trip.” Aliza, 2012



What’s the weather like in India in February/March? 

Perfect: the days are warm and pleasant but not too hot and the nights are pleasant.


What about religious observance?

The itinerary is built in such a way as to enable us to observe Shabbat. The first Shabbat we will be in Jaipur.  For our second Shabbat we’ll be in Rishikesh. Each Shabbat, Dina will lead the group in Kabbalat Shabbat and in exploring meaningful ways to observe the Shabbat.   This year we will have the additional extraordinary experience of celebrating PURIM on our trip, miraculous events which, according to the Megillah, took place in an empire stretching from HODU (i.e. India!!) to Kush.  Bring costumes and your very merriest spirits to make this a holiday you’ll never forget.  

 

Dina considers Shabbat and Purim to be a unique opportunity to connect to ourselves and to explore our relationship to our own spiritual tradition as we travel in a country known for its multi-faceted spiritual traditions. She seeks to create an atmosphere in which each participant – whether observant or not – will feel welcome, comfortable, and curious about experiencing mindfulness in this context. 


Can I keep kosher?

Every restaurant has a varied vegetarian menu.  Whenever possible, we will eat at restaurants that are purely vegetarian.  When this isn't an option, know that Indian religious practices are very strict and require a complete separation between veg/non-veg pots and utensils, sometimes even the areas of the kitchen where each is prepared.  Non-religious group members may order from the non-vegetarian menu, whenever that is an option. 


Are the food and water safe?

We will not be eating "street food.”  We will eat in local restaurants but only in places that are clean and serve fresh food.  We will drink only bottled water (including for brushing teeth), and will not eat any fresh fruit and vegetables that can’t be peeled.


How comfortable are the accommodations?

We will be staying in lovely 4 and 5 star hotels, including a beautiful hotel that is a converted palace of former maharajas (princes). 


Do I have to share a room? Is it possible to get my own room?

If you are not coming with a roommate (spouse or friend), we will make arrangements for sharing rooms that are acceptable to the group, e.g. rotating roommates. If you would like your own room, you may pay the single room supplement.


What does the “mindful” in “Mindful India’ mean? And what does it have to do with our trip?


To be “mindful” means to be aware of what you are doing as you do it, to be aware of what you are experiencing as you experience it. For example, if you’ve ever fully tasted your food as you ate it, seen its colors, noticed the subtleties of its texture and tastes, you were being mindful, living fully in the present moment.


However, most of us are pretty mindless much of the time, functioning on autopilot, such as when we eat without tasting what we’re eating, or when we chat with someone while our attention is elsewhere. 



Why bother to be more mindful more consistently?

Because when you’re more mindful, you get more out of life, experiencing it more fully. In addition, research indicates that being mindful can help you stay calm and cool under pressure, sleep better, be more creative, focused, and calmer. It can also strengthen your immune system.     


Because India is a center for spiritual and meditation practice, it’s a perfect setting for learning all about mindfulness and meditation. Throughout the trip, Dina will interweave a gentle introduction to mindfulness practice and techniques, suitable for everyone, from absolute beginners to advanced meditators. And remembering to be mindful will certainly enhance your experience of India which is a feast for all the senses. 


See what mindfulness can do for you – during the trip, and quite possibly, even once it’s over.  


“[The mindfulness was] very meaningful and important. It gave depth and enriched the trip enormously.” Joop, 2017


                

“The Mindfulness is what made the trip so special. It’s a sightseeing trip and a mini-retreat at the same time.” N. 2015. 



Not sure about traveling with a group?

We know that many people are apprehensive about traveling with people they’ve never met before. So, prior to the trip, we make sure participants, to the best of our ability, have a chance to meet and begin to get comfortable with one another. We hold one or two pre-trip orientation meetings at which we provide comprehensive information about the trip, and answer all questions you may have. We discuss rooming arrangements.  Dina gives a brief introduction to mindfulness. We nosh together and begin to get acquainted so that by the time we board the plane, we are well on our way to being comfortable with one another and are off to a flying (!) start. Those joining us from abroad receive all the materials plus summaries of any such Israeli-based meetings, and are integrated quickly into the entire group in meetings held as soon as we all gather together in India.


“Mindful India exceeded anything I could have hoped for. The organization was superb and the participants were great travelling companions. It was less a “vacation/trip” than a major life experience.” Janis, 2015



“I had a wonderful time; the trip was well planned, the leaders were amazing and it was really good to meet new people. Was also great traveling with good friends. Really looking forward to the next trip – we are there!” Shelly, 2017


     

What about shopping? What are some bargains?

There is fabulous shopping throughout India. You will find gorgeous fabrics, whether you are looking for tablecloths, bedspreads (bring metric measurements, not feet and inches!!), saris, or pashminas. You can select a swath of fabric and have an outfit made up within several hours that will be delivered to you at the hotel. There’s a wide selection of jewelry, ethnic art, music, and books to choose from, in every price range. You’ll have plenty of free time to explore the markets. India is a shopper’s paradise! Even if you don’t know how – or don’t like – to bargain, by the end of the trip you should be haggling like a pro, and possibly even enjoying it. Remedial shopping and bargaining tutorials provided!  


How much time will be spent on buses/trains?

We will be traveling by chartered, air-conditioned tour buses and we’ll also have the exciting opportunity to enjoy comfortable, air-conditioned train travel. Following is a list of the length of travel time for inter-city travel (note that duration listed is approximate):


Jaipur - Agra : 5 Hrs. 

Agra - Delhi : 4 Hrs. 

Delhi - Haridwar Train: 4.5 hours

                                           

Tipping: 

Tipping is included in the cost of the trip. Our Indian Escort will take care of all the tipping on our behalf during the trip (to the porters, guides, drivers, etc.)

This does not cover tips for meals which are not included in the cost of the trip or anything extra that is not part of the itinerary. 


What about immunizations? 

It is suggested that you meet with your family doctor or a doctor who specializes in travel. (There is a travel doctor in Jerusalem who has the most up-to-date information regarding immunizations. We will be happy to provide you with contact information for this doctor, whom we highly recommend). In Israel, the Health Ministry has a travel department that will advise you as to what immunizations are recommended. These usually include:

- current Polio and Tetanus vaccinations. 

- Hepatitis A and B.

- the vaccine for Typhoid Fever. 

However, because we are staying in good hotels, some of these may not be necessary.


While malaria prophylaxis may be recommended, the time of year we will be traveling to India and the areas we will be visiting reduce the risk of exposure. Most of the members of our previous trips did not take malaria prophylaxis, though some did bring along medication to take in the unlikely event of contracting the illness.


Some of the immunizations are actually a series of shots, spaced several weeks apart, so contact the Health Ministry early enough to get the process started.


Visa fees: 

Visa fees vary according to which passport you are using for travel. For example, bearers of a US passport pay much more than those with an Israeli passport. The visa for Israelis costs about 280-300 NIS. The Israeli travel agency dealing with our airline tickets will handle the visas and health insurance.  


“I am not exaggerating when I say that this trip was a life changer for me. Your hard work and caring, Rachelle, Dina, Hillary and Sanjay, were obvious all the time and made this possible. My heart and my being are so very full with every moment of this adventure. India and its people have touched something so deep in me and I am truly grateful.” Nava, 2017



“This was a transformative experience, India from the inside out, due to the authenticity and off-the-beaten-track choices. Great integrity, sensitivity, and passion went into the planning by the group leaders. Thanks for making this trip such a standout.” Helena, 2012.


 

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