For me time here at the ashram has been a kaleidoscope of people and feelings. In these 17 days, I have met and made some wonderful new friends; everybody has a story, baggage, fears, a past, and a future that they are trying to work towards. It is really so wonderful when you can be around a person and not be judgmental; yup she is a hippie and finding God, or he just talks too much, or anything. Point is to just stand still, and hear and see people just simply for who they are. Everybody at this place has their guard down, are bare, and you see them at their most vulnerable. What of anybody else, my own son Amar has being going through some interesting introspection, and a lot of the memories I will take from here are of him.
My craziest memory of Amar here so far is of him hopping around madly from foot to foot like a crazed Ninja trying to stomp out thousands of large ants that invaded his room. And, wrapped in a green sheet/shawl, walking on the verandah for 30 minutes listening to Tchaikovsky on his iPhone. And I am not supposed to write this, but his struggle with the ‘loincloth’ that he has to wear for the treatments - this one has me in splits most days. For somebody who does not like to be touched, this is a 180 degrees shift, because all they do here is massage in one way or another. In his own words: “I feel embarrassed, rubbed about everywhere, water everywhere, oil everywhere, chest hurts when I lie on the hard table, and I slither and slide all over. My underwear is oily and disgusting, like I ran into some slime creature from Star Wars, the water turns gray when I dunk my underwear in the bucket.”
Let me tell you that Amar has a lot of resilience, and he has the capacity to be alone with sporadic needs for socialization. So in a way, he is almost the ideal candidate to experience a longish period of isolation. If he was asked to paint an ideal life situation for himself, it would involve living in a Japanese style home, minimal fuss, super speed Wi-Fi, a TV, and all the latest gizmos associated with gaming devices. Food is little more complicated because Amar’s palette is restricted to very few foods; he ideally would like to drink miso soup, eat sashimi, sushi, ramen, udon and Jasmine green tea. He could be locked up in his Japanese haven for 3 months with an occasional social outing, and he could go through 6 detox programs in a row and not make a fuss.
Food! What can I say about the food? For a spoilt Bay area resident, eating a pure vegetarian South Indian diet non-stop is very very difficult. The breakfast is usually Idli or Dosa with chutney, lunch is brown rice with a veggie curry (sambhar -usually in the ‘ghia’ zucchini family), and dinner is Chappati with one dry veggie and leftover sambhar from the morning. Being used to a multi-cuisine repertoire, it is hard to carry on with the simple vegetarian fare. Amar has always been a picky eater and will not even go close to anything that resembles a vegetable, so he is left with the option of only eating dry idlis, dosa or chappati. He has downloaded his frustrations on me a couple of times, and I told him that it was totally his call and I would not judge him if he wanted to bail early. The doctor has promised him a 30 lb weight loss in 3 months, so Amar is motivated to stay and finish the protocol.
Personally for me, I have made friends here with all the visitors and residents, and actually have a ‘social’ life that (sadly) does not involve wine or yummy restaurant outings. Today we went sightseeing to see this 1200-year-old temple about 60 miles away. Besides the fact that it has amazing architecture and carvings, the fact that the place has withstood the ravages of time and attracted visitors for over 1000 years is mind-boggling. When you stand inside such a place, close your eyes and imagine the history of such a place, you get goose bumps. This place had crazy energy and even though I was feeling sick (motion sickness), I just sat there in one corner and absorbed all that I could.
Time is an amazing concept, and yesterday at the temple it overwhelmed and saddened me. It is powerful, it is Omni, and it runs our lives. We are under the sad little impression that we have all the time in the world to change our life, or manage the story of our life. Unfortunately not, Time allows you many things you need -except Time! You are along for the ride and not driving the vehicle. You cannot jump off at your favorite stop where you were euphorically happy, and you cannot avoid the bumpy path that comes up. It’s your own personal ride, not even the person closest to you can share the same exact experience.
So moral of the story is - that it is pointless to carry your emotional garbage along, imagine if you were dragging a large heavy suitcase with you everywhere, every moment – exhausting! Plus, you lose the joy of being in sync with people/events riding next to you. What lies ahead around the next curve in the road is pre-decided. So just take a deep breath, accept the fact that we are all here temporarily, gone tomorrow. May as well make the best of everything today and live life Kingsize :-)