Saturday, July 18, 2009

2009 07 18. Saturday.

2009 07 18. Saturday.

I woke up feeling good and asked about getting a ride back to the ashram. They said the next ride back doesn't leave till evening. That's just great. I can either pay out-of-pocket to get back on my own or twiddle my thumbs at AIMS all day. I didn't feel like hanging around so I grabbed an auto-rickshaw to Ernakulam North train station. Once there I got my ticket for an express train heading south to Kayankulam (the stop closest to the ashram). Fare was 92 rupees (about $2) for the 3 hour train ride (on the train no one ever asked to see my ticket). After getting my ticket I went to the surprisingly clean and neat little vegetarian canteen at the station and had a delicious masala dosha with sambar (20 rupees, about 45 cents). Then I waited about 1/2 hour for the train, chanting my mantra, watching the endless depressing rain, the crows picking at the garbage between the tracks and the sweeper ladies stooped over in the gray drizzle walking back and forth making a rhythmic "Swish Swish" with their stick brooms. I complain about the rain but, in actuality, anything that cools off south India is a reason for celebration.

The train is MUCH more comfortable than taking a car with its non-stop bouncing and blaring horns. And the train has a bathroom! Yay! On the 3 hour bus ride up they didn't stop for a bathroom break or even ask if I needed one. Typical. On the train were lots of people dressed up in spiritual clothes. Lots of long malas, vibhuti marks, sandalwood and kum-kum tilaks, mantra shawls, etc. Looked they were all going on some kind of pilgrimage. The train was pretty packed when I got on. I sat near a Indian couple with two young kids about 3 and 4 years old. One of the kids couldn't stop staring at me while his father was trying to feed him some Cheetohs. I smiled at the kid and pointed to the Cheetoh. The kid ignored my pointing finger and continued to stare at me. The father just smiled. He was a really cute kid with a shaved head and a big sandalwood tilak between his eyebrows.

I found a sleeper berth up high, climbed up and had a nice snooze for an hour or so. At one town (Chennugar) not far north from my stop *everyone* got off. Must be the pilgrimage site. I basically had the whole train carriage to myself then. I did some mantra and recitations and it was nice to be in my own space. Watching the countryside, feeling the breeze from the open window and enjoying the smooth train ride. The chai wallah came by with his usual call of "Chai-uh! Chai-uh!" and I paid my 5 rupees (10 cents) for a nice hot cup. And had another one when he came by again 15 minutes later. I hopped off at Kayankulam and hopped onto an auto-rickshaw to the ashram. About a 20 minute ride with lots of bumps and bounces and blaring of horns. In addition to the usual Hindu stupas (small structures with a statue of a Hindu deity) lining the road I saw what appeared to be two communist stupas, complete with hammer and sickle. I think Kerala is one of the last places on the planet that has an active and successful Communist Party. If I'm not mistaken, the Kerela Communist party controls the state government. And apparently they're pretty smart and work well with local businesses.

And then at 1pm I was home! Yeah! Felt great to be back at the ashram with all its familiar sights and sounds. I was just in time for lunch so I stopped at my room, dropped off some things and went down for rice, curry and buttermilk. Yum!

The whole trip to AIMS was basically a waste of my time and money (about 400 rupees travel costs to get back). The whole thing could have been handled with a fax and a 15 minute phone call. But when one of the yellow robed brahmacharis here tells you to do something, you kind of have to do it. Mukhunda is always very polite, but he has a strong leadership type personality and you can't really argue with him. The trip was, of course, also Amma's will so I was happy to go, even if it did seem to be a total waste.

I'll let you know how the cart turns out. May come back as some contraption totally unrecognizable and useless. I put a lot of notes on the drawing so hopefully they'll take the time to read them.

At the compost area Lakshmi the elephant is usually there, chomping on palm branches, bouncing her head non-stop and watching the workers walk by. When it started to rain during the work today Lakshmi got still and seemed to go into some kind of meditative state while standing in the rain. At one point she held a big palm branch over her head like some kind of umbrella. Cute!

About a week ago I got a little scrape on my right foot and it got a little infected. I showed it to the ashram doctor a few days ago and he said it was clearing up, just give it some rest and keep it clean. The foot was still swelling up a little so I was a little concerned. When I went to AIMS I showed it to one of the doctors there and he said pretty much the same thing; rest and keep it clean. After the compost work today, Aduren looked at it and said I should show it to one of the nurses. I went to the little ashram hospital and showed it to one of the western nurses. She was very nice and got me fixed right up; cleaning out the old scab and putting on a proper dressing with antiseptic. This tells me that for little scrapes and cuts, go see the nurses. They'll actually do something and not just say "Rest and keep it clean."

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