15 Jan 2011

A secret prayer has been listened to and answered. 

Now after a long walk in the desert, an oasis. Blessing. Refuge.

A certain vibration reached its terminal and stands still. Now it starts to heal.

Sweet silence inside. No demand. Contentment.

Om Shanti Shanti Shantii

14 Jan 2011

Beautiful trip along the Narmada

We took a beautiful trip to another Ashram yesterday, which is about 3 hours walk from our Ashram along the river. It was amazing. Everything about the day was special. The stunning views, the colour change of the Narmada, the complete silence, the cute pink Ashram we stopped at where they fed us nice pakora and finally Narmada Shankar's Ashram.
It's a cute little Ashram in the middle of the jungle, where they have their own fruit and vegetable garden. Bliss. We had a very tasty lunch there where almost everything came from their own garden. 
Will probably go back and ask to stay for a couple of days there as I got completely fascinated with all the different vegetables they grow. We tasted turnips and carrots straight from the ground. As you can imagine, as a food lover, I was in heaven. Below are some shots I took. Happy days to all.

And the picture below is from today. The sunset reflecting into my room.

8 Jan 2011

Per mamma e papa'

un abbraccio grande con tanto affetto


Beautiful Ganesh statue on the island
Yesterday I went for a walk right after lunch and after walking through the jungle past the school, I reached the temple below, where I sat and meditated for a long time. It's probably been the longest meditation I've ever managed as when I got back to the Ashram 3 hours had gone by. I also chanted Asato ma satgamaya 108 times and Om namah shivaya 108 times. I felt amazing.


5 Jan 2011

Good morning everyone, just a few more pics before I go teach. Om Shanti

making chapati outside of the kitchen

my colourful room seen from the veranda

my colourful indian clothes drying in the sun

colourful drawings made by the school girls with sand paints

the upper level of the ashram

by the narmada river on the other side of the island

a few of my students

lovely lovely lovely Gopal

Quick picture of Abishek and I

4 Jan 2011

Happy days

School children during the 3days sport event

The Narmada river at 6pm

Sharad and Gerhard

One of my new adopted children

Happy New Year. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Days have been going way too fast than what I had expected and after a few days I started teaching at the school I actually found myself organising a Teacher Training for all the local teachers. So I have been holding weekly workshops to teach the local teachers how to teach and how to engage students with innovative techniques. It's been quite tough but so rewarding and enjoyable. For the first time in my life I actually felt I was doing something for a TRUE cause. Volunteering work just gives back so much more than you give. It's a paradox.
It's funny how last year I thought I had made the investment of the year in buying my flat in London.... then after my first workshop here I actually realised that my last year's best investment was taking the TESOL course and become a qualified English teacher. Why? Because I am now able to pass on this knowledge and really HELP people who actually will benefit from this more than anyone else. This was the best £1,000 spent in my life and I am SO glad I took the course and then finally left my job and came here (more on this subject later).
It's not easy to teach in a rural town like Omkareshwar, but this is also what makes it a very rewarding challenge. The town is so remote that the school struggles to find good teachers who are willing to come here and teach for little money they can offer. There are about 400 kids in the school and lots of them, of whatever age they might be (could be up to 18 or 19 I think) do not know how to write or read. Still, it's been amazing walking into class everyday and see their sincere smiles and will to learn. It's simply priceless! This is something you don't get in the west for sure, where most kids are little brats who are already worried about what latest technology they want at an age as early as 7.
There are of course frustrations, like in every job, but in this case, not like in most other jobs, you get the REAL gratification in the end and that is the fact that what you did HELPED people in need as opposed to enriching yet another multinational company out there.
On another note, it's been a very special Christmas and New Year's Eve. I actually came to India during the xmas holidays to avoid all the fuss and consumerism that comes with the festivities and found myself celebrating the real Christmas. Can you imagine? Out of everyone, a skeptical person like me, who has always rejected Christianity... hmmm. What made this a REAL xmas was the fact that all we did was sit around a beautiful fire by the river, with all the kids and guests of the Ashram and chanted in honour of Jesus birthday. Swami Gurusharan and Swami Mangalananda sang and played their harmoniums so amazingly and all kids were dancing. It was just beautiful. Then at midnight, a few of us stayed around the fire and chanted the very powerful mantra for the well being and happiness for all human beings (Om asato ma sadgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, mrityor ma amritamgamaya). There were no presents involved, no stress with gift lists and mad shopping trips and no alcohol. It was the true xmas that should be celebrated everywhere... the birthday of Jesus.  I guess what amazed me was the fact that although pretty much everyone around is a Hindu here, they still observed a tradition as such as xmas AND they observed it with honesty.
The food was amazing too! Special lunch, special dinner, nice treats from different guests like the chocolates for the kids that Benedict (a guest from Sri Lanka) brought. The kids were happy and the atmosphere was even more magical than usual. You could really breathe love. So uplifting.
New Year's Eve was equally special if not more actually. Again by the river with a big fire but this time a bigger crowd. Most teachers from the school were there as well as lots of the students from outside the Ashram. Again lots and lots of beautiful sacred live music. Lots of signing and a group meditation at midnight, to wish a good year to the whole world. It was just incredible and we danced a lot. All the local girls were dressed nicely and danced sooooo well. The sky was full of stars and it really felt like time had stopped. On this occasion though I really did wish my parents and brothers were with me. They would have loved it and they would have been as moved as I was by the whole experience. I really missed them and I started crying a lot while chanting the Asato ma sadgamaya mantra. Maybe next year I can bring them too.
I will attach some photos shortly in another post, if the slow internet connection allows it!
Good night and Happy 2011. BUON ANNO A TUTTI CON GRANDE AFFETTO.