I’ve noticed that tensions appear to exist between Indians and Westerners in the Ashram. For instance, my experience of the Indian food servers is that they are generally short tempered and unfriendly when dealing with Westerners. As I spoke to the music shop assistant the other day whilst booking a harmonium class he painted a picture of problematic Westerners that he has to regularly deal with. The locals in the surrounding areas also tend to have a standoffish, unhelpful approach that is markedly different to my experiences in Kanhangad. I suppose that tensions are not unexpected given the huge amount of people who visit and/or stay at the Ashram. Where there are people there are dynamics. Where there are people from different cultures, there are even more dynamics. I did however think that there might be more of a cross over as per Anandashram, but there isn’t. Indians don’t mix with the Westerners, and vice versa. I think that is a shame, but as always, it is what it is. I believe the mistrust/dislike mostly develops from misunderstandings – I witnessed an altercation this morning between a Russian and one of the Indian serving ladies over a Rs 2 error in the bill. I’m sure a lot of situations like this take place. It’s very easy to tar and feather an entire culture based on a few bad (and often trivial) experiences. It’s interesting for me to observe and recognize the times that I have done this myself. I need to let go of judgements, and in that regard Amma’s Ashram is an excellent place for me to be. Nix and I made an agreement to avoid saying anything judgemental about anybody at the Ashram today. I’ve been presented with several opportunities to put this into practice already ;) It’s a good practice and one I need to imbibe more thoroughly and continuously.
After my mid-morning Seva Nix introduced me to Chett, a South African she met who has written a book about his experiences at Amma’s Ashram. He is the first South African I’ve met in India. He told me that several South African women arrived at Amritapuri couple of days back but left the very next day as they didn’t gel with the way things were. That would be why I haven’t met any yet then.... I think that to give a new place a fair trial, it’s necessary to stay more than a few hours. South Africa needs more good vibrations so it’s a shame they left without generating or receiving any themselves. Chett asked for my help in setting up a blog to complement his book, so we did that in the Bhajan Hall over lunch. It’s amazing what you can do with a mobile phone wifi hotspot ;)
We’ve been using the 22 flights of stairs walk in our tower block as Ram Nam time. We quite enjoy singing as we go up and down the steps, even if we do get some odd looks from other residents in the building. I’m missing my harmonium practice. Sitting on the floor holding down a chord and singing “Om” for 5 minutes is good for the soul. It’s a simple, enjoyable exercise which puts me in a good headspace. I’m also missing the practices at Anandashram. Whilst it’s good to experience the flexibility at Amma’s Ashram, I find it beneficial to follow a more structured schedule to deepen and strengthen my practice.
We’ve booked our tickets to Indonesia and will be heading there on 2nd April for a couple of weeks to connect with our Tasmanian friends Lisa and Ron. I’m looking forward to experiencing a new country....