Sunday, February 6, 2011
Last night was better, but not much. Still hacking, coughing, awfulness. But I slept better. Had two interesting dreams – one was an amazing song that I had to hum and record, the other was a dream that I was leaving Tiru – today.
So, following that strong inner prompting, when I woke up I used Amarjit’s phone to call Aurobindo’s ashram in Pondicherry – and they had rooms available. Amarjit and his friend John were going to be taking a taxi with a couple other ladies to have darshan with this saint who lives in Auroville, and I figured I would pack up and go for the ride – so I did!
It was a bit rushed, but it felt right. I needed to get out of TV. So, for 170R I came in this minivan cab with them, and am now sitting in a mango grove in the lawn of a home in Auroville, waiting for the saint – Aum Amma they call her. Pictures indicate a delirious, blessed out woman not aware of reality as we know it. She is the type that needs to be fed and taken care of apparently. At any rate, they were into paying all this money to come here and see her, I am just here for the ride. But it is gorgeous so far, and as much as I loved Ramana’s ashram, I really disliked most of Tv. It was just so unbelievably polluted, I didn’t want to breathe, let alone go anywhere. And of course my room was dismal. I’d had enough, I guess. At any rate, here we are. After darshan, hopefully I will get a decent room in Pondicherry!
|Aurovillian House where Aum Amma stays|
OK – that darshan was an incredible experience. We waited for well over an hour, then were guided into a tiny room at the back of the house. She was sitting there, eyes rolled back, hands in mudra, seemingly oblivious, with this giddy grin.
|Web Photo of Aum Amma|
Three devotees chanted, fanned, and offered her the flowers we had brought in huge bins. We wondered why we needed so many flowers, but she would reach out and grab a bunch and rub them on her, or throw them around all the time. Each of us, in turn, were told to approach her and kneel at her feet. When we did so, she would take us in her arms, kiss our cheeks, lovingly caress our hair, and look into our eyes with a distant joy. It was amazing fun, really. One of the ladies totally lost it and cried all over the saint – we wondered if we would have to pull her off or something. But, she got cheap therapy I guess – maybe getting rid of some early childhood issues in the embrace of unconditional love we all felt from her. At any rate, it was kind of embarrassing. Then, the saint hand fed us all some rice – it was hilarious. When she finally was guided out of the room, she threw flowers at us with remarkable aim – bang! Right in the nose for me.
All in all, it was a remarkable experience of India, I felt. Five of us getting crazy interactions in close quarters with a remarkable guru – it was utterly bizarre and thoroughly embodying the spirit of this place. I can’t say that I was spiritually ignited or anything, but I had a great time.
Afterwards, we drove into Pondicherry for dinner. The traffic was the kind that I had read about occurring in places like Delhi. This was real, big city, multi-lane insanity – the honking thunder storm or vehicles that a will make a pedestrian pray. The driver was good enough to take me directly to the guest house I was hoping to stay at – although we had to ask directions about 6 times on the way. But, we found it, and thank god, they still had a room!
|Aurobindo ashram Park Guest House|
|enormous Gandhi monument on beach|
Pondicherry! What a glorious contrast to the dismal squalidness of TV. My guest house is right on the beach of the ocean!!! My balcony looks out over the Bay of Bengal, and I stroll the shore as the sun sets. Wow. Now that’s more like it. Fresh air. Man - that makes all the difference in the world. My throat is still sore from Tiru, and is better already. I wake up having had an amazing sleep, and I watch the sun rise over the water. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that there is anything good in the world – but sometimes it is hard to imagine that there is anything wrong at all.
|View from my balcony ($8/day room)|
Current score after 4 days:
Mosquitos = 50
Rob = 6
OK – so mosquitos here are a little different from back home. They are a manifestation of evil itself. They are like ninjas, sneaking up behind you, vanishing into thin air as soon as you swat. I swear to god they know how to approach from the rear. And their bites don’t itch – they swell up red and hard and just irritate. In my first week I had none in my ashram room – so I was ok. I only had 22 bites restricted to the feet where the sandals didn’t cover.
But after the hell of that cheap room in TV – I managed to count a dazzling 16 bites on the left side of my face alone, and due to the shirt I slept in, another dozen or so on each hand. The worst is a patch of about 4 bites all on my lower left thumb. It is red and angry and won’t go away. I saw myself in the mirror for the first time in days last night, and it is pretty funny. The big one on my nose is particularly attractive.
At least I am in a proper hotel-type room now. Hopefully it can remain solitary.
|Aurobindo ashram old reading room.|
|Elephant with star of david on his forehead at downtown temple|
In the beach section - the old French Colony section of Pondicherry - it is interesting to see the odd person speak some French, as well as seeing road signs in French and English. makes things confusing, though, as every road has an old French name, plus another English name. Which one they use, you never know. I looked for Mission street for a while until I realized it was actually the street I was on: Rue de Cathedral.
Sri Aurboindo and the MNother have their names and images plastered over every building here - like good old Hindu gods. It is kind of bizarre, though - when he was more a scholar than a guru. But they are literally worshipped. This is India of course.
|Aurobindo Shrine - a crowd was here praying when I saw it.|
I am a bit dissappointed so far - I was hoping to get some serious studying done here - but the libraries are atrocious. No, really. I don't think there is a volume here later than 1955. I checked the ashram lending library, and it is like this. Then i sought out the public library - even worse. It is just a musty old place where half the volumes have bindings falling off. It is awful!
The motto in Pondicherry is "Take a break from Time." I like that - it makes you feel like you are going to get away from worry or something. But based on the ashram and library, this place is frozen in time - like at the moment Aurobindo died. crazy. Well, it is beautiful anyway. It has an old-world European charm to it and the prices are good. So, if I just hang out and read and write by myself for a while - so be it.
Oh, I have figured out that if you are staying in an ashram guesthouse you can get a meal pass which entitles you to 3 meals a day at the ashram (about 1 km away from the guest house - it is all spread out everywhere) and it is only 30R a day! yeah, that is like 60 cents or so. Not bad. So, I am going to try to stay in my guest house for a week - although they say that this is not allowed. I may be able to bounce from the 4 or so different guest houses - we'll see!