I have settled into the rhythms and pace of life here and no longer chaff at the “differences”. It doesn’t hurt that the weather has cooled down a bit and the humidity has dropped appreciably as well. So what to talk about….
Because they intentionally keep distractions to a minimum it really does force you to step back and slow down – not just physically but mentally as well. I am gradually getting rid of a lot of the “noise” in my head. Such a novel sensation and one we very seldom have an opportunity to experience in our frenetic world. Worth it for that alone in my opinion!
I have become accustomed to the food – it simply isn’t that important and for me to say that is something indeed as most of you know. I believe I will have to include more vegetarian dishes in my repertoire when I return home, although I hope I can make them a little bit more flavourful!
The French musicians have started an afternoon music class and yesterday was my first session. They are teaching us the Indian Musical Scale and how to sing Ragas and meditational chants. It is beautiful haunting music and I am really enjoying it. I can actually – sometimes – carry a tune! They are very patient and kind and don’t make us feel like complete idiots. A lot of the initial work is simply holding a note and learning how to breathe – at the end of an hour and a half I felt like I had done about a thousand sit-ups! Whew!
Last night we fired up the generator and watched the first half of “Gandhi” in honour of his birthday. It ended with the 1919 massacre in Amritsar in Jallian Wala Bagh by General Dyer, which we visited while in the city. Nasty, nasty business! I hope we will be able to watch the second half tonight. What really struck me in watching it, were the scenes where Gandhi travels across the country by train to try to understand India. Apart from some superficial changes, the countryside does not look any different – the cities certainly but the rural areas haven’t changed a great deal.
I finally made it down to the Ganga in company with Puja – a Canadian woman who has lived in the ashram for the past year. It runs clear and cold here and we had hundreds of minnow sized fish around our feet as we stirred up the silt a bit. Across the river is a large national park with wild elephants and assorted other wildlife. Apparently they are frequently seen on our side of the river as well, especially the deer but so far I haven’t had the pleasure – it would be very cool to see an elephant meandering through our gardens – probably pretty destructive though!