Day twentyseven: Modesty

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Two more days to go and I already had to say good­bye to one more of my favorite peo­ple: Cora from Ireland of Subar Juicebar fame left this morn­ing to Varkala, right after sat­sang. Speaking of sat­sang, today I sat and I sang the Universal Prayer in very bro­ken Vietnamese with Bau and the Japanese group. Afterwards I ran into her at the Reception and we had lunch togeth­er as we dis­cussed our pop­u­lar­i­ty (or lack there­of) with the oppo­site sex. Bau, a very pret­ty and intel­li­gent girl, claimed to be use­less. :) Aaah, fake mod­esty. How Ashram-y.

At the Talent Show, Nataraj watch­es a per­for­mance as I take an emcee break.

Lunch was rice and yoghurt — a wel­come change. I’m think­ing of ways to keep tonight’s Talent Show, which I’m emcee­ing, man­age­able and fun — 15 per­form­ers have signed up, and that’s already bor­der­ing on too many.

Nami ran up to exchange email address, and her Hello Kitty ener­gy bright­ened up my morn­ing. And lat­er at the bou­tique, I got the chance to be a chival­rous kar­ma yogi when she tried to buy 5 packs of kleenex and got ridiculed by Ananda for being a “Japanese shopa­holic.” Whiny, whiny, whiny mocked Ananda as the already tiny Nami tried to dis­ap­pear into her T-shirt. Khalas Ananda!

Now tak­ing a brief break at the Health Hut, I write in my jour­nal (these words) and wind down after kar­ma yoga before my sched­uled meet­ing with Bau and Nataraj to medi­ate and trans­late (Japanese-English). I’m with Hiltrud (from Freiburg) and Kat, dis­cussing books, authors, and peo­ple who think they’re God (god-like, divine, omni­scient, what­ev­er), such as Sai Baba (guru at an ashram Hiltrud stayed at), Jonathan Donahue (Kat’s friend and singer from Mercury Rev, of Deserter’s Songs fame), and me.

Line of the day:

天国vs地湖のちがいを教えてくれる国(インド)。[India teach­es me the dif­fer­ence between heav­en and earth.]

– Bau as we wait for Nataraj at the recep­tion.

Bau and I talk about hap­pi­ness and con­tent­ment until Nataraj arrives, and then we walk into his office. The prob­lem: Bau wants to prac­tice yoga at her own pace (she’s a “stretch­ing and dance instruc­tor” back in Vietnam and is, as I men­tioned pre­vi­ous­ly, jaw-drop­ping­ly flex­i­ble), while Nataraj wants every­one to fol­low the sched­ule to main­tain (self-)discipline at the Ashram.

Afterwards as I head off to my yoga lec­ture, she promis­es to come to the Talent Show to “watch me emcee,” and I say that’s like turn­ing on the TV to watch the com­mer­cials.

Everything today feels top­sy turvy, inside out, upside down, which is quite appro­pri­ate for my sec­ond-to-last day at the Ashram. Speaking of top­sy turvy, Udayan helped me bal­ance my head­stand at the lake­side class.

Headstand? Pah! Piece of cake.

(You have no idea how much I’ve want­ed to say those words.)

Dinner was lentils and cous­cous-like ground corn — our favorite dish, Corinne and I. That was fol­lowed by an impromp­tu meet­ing and chat with Kalyani and Corinne out­side the Dining Hall about tonight’s Talent Show pro­gram. Kalyani also talked about life at the Ashram, its joys and sor­rows (one of the old­er res­i­dents had died ear­li­er today), all in the same semi-detached man­ner. Curious. Fascinating.

The Talent Show itself went well, with lots of vari­ety. Dance, song, mag­ic, poet­ry, “yoga duets,” and insults.

Afterwards all the feed­back from friends, col­leagues, and staff about my emcee­ing was glow­ing­ly pos­i­tive, with the excep­tion of one ATTC stu­dent who called me igno­rant, racist, and blas­phe­mous (!) for not includ­ing him ear­ly in the pro­gram.

With a pat on the back Nataraj asked that I not take it per­son­al­ly. Of course, I did not. My mind was already miles away. Om tat sat.

Ananda does her “Healing Dance” (don’t ask).

Sadashiva watch­es Ananda per­form.

The Talent Show did not lack wiz­ardry.

Janaki, whose brain­child this skit was, laughs in the back­ground.

These two boys are instruc­tors from Mumbai.

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