More on India - Transportation, Way of Life and Visiting Amritapuri1/2019
In addition to the traditions and customs of India that I mentioned in my last post; there is the transportation. It is organized chaos. The steering wheels on other side and they drive the other side of the road. There are many tuk tuks like in Thailand run by a petro tank which the rule is not to smoke in one. They are like motorized golf carts fueled by petro. Everyone can drive next to each other so close and in between and weave beyond divider lines and use horns to signal they are on the move near each other. They don't hit each other and animals are not run over. They are such good drivers that you sit amazed at the driving skills there. The horn is not annoying but a customary signal.
The trains are always on time and so are busses from the English influences. When you shop for cookies or snacks; there are the influences of groceries of England there. They love their tea and coffee which is sweetened and steamed hot milk infused with it. Sometimes, if schooled in India; you have an English accent. The personal space in areas is very small when walking and everyone even the animals know not to get in the road during heavy traffic.
The train are old but solidly built and swept and fans are installed and toilets. There are people called the "wallas" mean a term in what they do for work. Like tea server/vendor calls out tea over and over again up and down train cars with portable thermos to collect rupees as they are the money there. Ghandi is on the currency. So the tea vendor is called "chaiwalla" (chai-spiced sweet milky tea). Then the coffee guy comes and he says coffee up and down called the "coffeewalla." There's a dish they serve in many forms called "biryani" spiced basmatic rice with veg, potato or meat. Other dry snacks are sold but not what I am used to the Indian snack shops in Georgia. Then the "sodawalla" comes and names sodas, Pepsi is common and the orange Fanta is called Miranda. This goes on for the entire train ride and there are sleeper bunks above and a server put fresh folded sheets and pillows at the beginning of the train trip. It's quite an ordeal.
There are temples everywhere and early morning rajas are on speakers. At the Ashram of Amritapuri there is the Kali temple. I learned from a Hindu that promiscuous men do not like her because she takes their heads off this Goddess of justice and clearing away what you do not need and wears it as trophies on her waist or neck or their limbs...so men behave...LOL. The Kali temple early morning meditation only for women recites the 1000 names of the Goddess and the ceremony with offerings and ghee lamps displayed on a statue of her with us going up to the front where a lamp is put with clay for each woman to wave three times in its essence the blessings and then you can put a pinch of the clay on your 3rd eye. There are poojas and flower ceremonies at the birth house of Amma and women and men sit separately. The other temple where poojas performed 4 a.m. is called the "Kalari" temple and other ceremonies with light ghee lamps as well are performed. The Kali temple is also a resource for classes, used items to buy and the clothing and gift store and volunteer tables of leaflets volunteers fold dressed in white.
We had the honor of seeing Amma working diligently hugging and advising people of all walks of life and they asked me to do a roll of giving the candy offerings into Amma's hand to give to those she hugged. The story is a tsunami hit their town and lots of people died and were homeless. The waters wiped out caused her to invest in building a bridge, homes and feeding the community. The compound has Ayurvedic doctor, pharmacy and areas of auditoriums for vendors of spiritual items are sold. Theres a prayer bead and bookstore of Amma as well and cafes for those tired of the free meals served and menus posted at bulletin board or purchase for a few cents food and drinks from the Cafe. There are spots outside where the metal huge sings with soap and scrubbers as when community meals or cafe meals are served on metal and you wash your own and dry and volunteers take and organize the plates, bowls, cups, glasses and utensils. The cafe has a system of a board that display the ticket number of meal to pick up. We enjoyed the yoga as chanting was involved with basic movements for everyone and also laughter yoga on the beach. There were other workshops and doctors and healers volunteered healing at Kali temple or the hospital if requested for free. There we snack shops and a fresh juice/fruit shake/smoothie stand and the coconut water man who had volunteers run the stand. There's no way you will starve unless you have a sensitive stomach to spices and the heat of the weather.
There are apartments for couples and you may get a mattress and pillow as the other single folks have to share with 3 other folks a room without any mattress or pillow and sheets are disbursed at check in and returned upon leaving. You clean your own room and everything is basic. Amma will work 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. as the Goddess infuses her energy to assist her physical body to perform her duties tirelessly with a smile. Bhajans and ragas played during the whole time and music shop where instruments are sold and lessons given. Met many folks been there 10-35 years wearing white and serving called "seva." People tired of the rat race of taxes, property, a car, rent and by the way $2.50 a day is what we paid for the couples apartment. They have a "seva desk." It is a highly organized and grown community. Wearing no shoes in temple grounds is always a given.
There are security guards around Amma and no one hugs her as they remove your hand and have you place one hand on her side to not put weight on this tiny angel. You are allowed to leave the compound but urged to return by 11:30 p.m. If you leave; you are required to give up your room as Amma teaches non attachment. The volunteers are encouraged non attachment when Amma says she will do a guided meditation at the beach and then changes last moment to auditorium. The resident volunteers are moved different rooms to emphasize non attachment. There are shop across the bridge into town but discouraged to roam at night and swimming is discouraged since the waves are energetic in the Indian Ocean. There are crows everywhere and exotic flowers that look like they are made of paper look delicate. Some beggars not so much and I forgot to mention no swimming in the compound beach at Amritapuri ashram. Some deformed folks are treated with kindness and very clean and walk in safety. However, over 21 countries were counted at Laughter Yoga class...it was so much fun. At Varkala beach you are safe wearing normal swimsuits and lots of meditators and yoga folks there. Tourists driving have no use of horns and forget to give courtesy notice if nearby to pedestrians or other transport around corners and turns.
It has been an experience to hear about the new president and that Hindus love him and Muslims do not as he is Hindu. Lots of government employees also love our president. We visited churches where Mother Theresa is with Mary and Jesus that was 500 years old. We also viewed the fisherman send their nets out in early morning and late evening bring in marlins, swordfish and other types of local fish for restaurants or fish vendors who can cook for you on the spot.Their idea of a good size fish is palm-size for eating. They are perplexed at the really large sizes of fish we eat. They cook the fish "kermeena" cooked with vegetables and spices in banana leaf was so delicious. If you ever wish to visit India; I hope I have inspired you. Enjoy explorations of new experiences.