Monthly Archives: December 2011

Salt Water

He was working closely, hands following the outline of the edge he was cutting, hands well
practiced. This was only a recently begun part of the work and he approached it with optimism. He
recalled, as he worked, the hours spent on many of the other areas and the fondness he had attached
to each. The most recent he had named Faith and each attempt had been charged with energy. This
new place, though only poorly started, he had decided to name Hope, and worked his hands and the
tools rhythmically as he envisioned the break through. It had been a long time.

Of a sudden, a piece broke off and flew up into his face, hitting a muscle and the eye flew open!
What flash of light! What explosive move from darkeness to light! The second eye followed
sympathetically and the revelation was complete.

Before him was a vista of life and nature, rich with trees, flowers,winds,water, other living
creatures. Though he looked all around himself he could no longer find his tools nor the
workspace, Faith. The air was fresh and bright. A gold globe of  light and warmth reached into him charging up his spirit.
Swet scents and sounds flooded his senses. He folded his hands giving thanks.

To his left he was startled so see another person sitting beside him, quietly
looking out into the living world before him. And on the far side of the sitting man was another
person, huddled down and mumbling, not looking out into the world.

The quiet man spoke. “It is good to finally see you. I had suspected there was someone there all
along though I was not able to see you. I could follow the patterns in the view where the
clearness was disrupted, each holding place for many months before moving on to another spot and
beginning again. I decided you must have a capacity to hide yourself while you worked and that one
day while you rested I might more clearly see you.”

“It seems I have been with my eyes closed all this time and failed to see all the beauty before
while I worked to dig through from that dark cell to light. And who is that one beside you?”

“Ah, a tight and mumbling one, racked by fear and worry. He can look out at this great panorama
but is quick to panic and retreat. I keep him close to me. It comforts him and I can sense the
pain he endures. I can do nothing to change his life but I can acknowledge his plight with
compassion.”

“Have you always been here?” he asked the quiet one.”Always? I cannot say but I am here.”

The three sat quietly watching. He began to make out a vast sea of water spread across the entire
horizon, a backdrop to the natural wonders before them. The air was filled with animal songs and the
winds played the leaves in stocatto rythyms.

Elizabeth looked over her shoulder to check on her parents. They were sitting further up the beach
on blankets, enjoying glasses of wine and munching on sandwiches. She needed to make the best of
the time she had left. Using a small plastic shovel she dug in the sand shaping the Sand Palace
visioned in her mind. Moats, walls, towers, palace and viewing balgony looking out to sea. Not
far in front of her the great ocean lapped up the sand – moving to tickle at the tips of her feet.

The shovel hit something deep in the sand. Dropping the tool she sieved the sand with her fingers and raised up into her hands three small figurines – one quietly sitting, one crouched down and one who seem to be looking earnestly around. With delight, ELizabeth placed the figures on the balcony of the Sand Palace. The waves moved closer.

He could see the waves on the edge of the wide expanse of water. The waves pushed forward with powerful energy and then at the last moment like a leashed animal halted, turned on themselves and went back. The energy atracted him and began to summon his heart. He could smell the salt ands feel the warm spray. He longed to be washed over, the heat from the water invigorating the cold conrners of his body too long lost in darkness, the wave washed closer.

The waves washed up over his legs and body. Retreated. Returned.

Retreated. Returned. Swallowed him up in a warm salty extacy.

“Elizabeth! It’s time!”

Off to the the Bengal Sea

 

We reluctantly left Amma’s on Dec 20th and took an overnight train to Pondicherry on the southeast coast of India.

we were fortunate to have booked our room back in August at the same place we were before as it is not expensive, very clean and a part of another ashram – the one started by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in the mid 1900s. We will be here for 3 weeks.

Our room faces the sea – the only thing between it and us is the meditation garden and a huge boulder wall/protection that was put in place after the tsunami in 2004. the crash of the waves is our constant companion – one which i like very much.

David and Kelley are living in a little bungalow in Auroville which is an international community started by the Mother in the 60’s in an effort to see what is needed to bring people of the world together to live in peace and harmony. it has flourished and has added many benefits to the area such as reforestation, schools, ecological projects, garbage and recycling initiatives, and preservation of the local arts, music and languages.

David and Kelley have found 2 places to volunteer. the one where they will spend most of their time is a Bamboo Research and Production Co-op. they make furniture, clothing, jewelery and more and need help in all areas. the funds raised from the sales go towards a local childrens’ camp in the summer and a weekly Childrens’ Day which gives about 50-60 kids the opportunity to learn their tribal and traditional arts, music language and just to play – which children often do not have the opportunity to do. we often see young children sitting on the ground with a stick or leaves, playing by themselves. David and Kelley are looking into importing some of these products to Canada and selling them at craft fairs – letting people know where the funds are going.

For Joseph and I – these 3 weeks are an opportunity to study. Joseph has done extensive research and reading on the writings and thoughts of Sri Aurobindo so is very happy to be at the source of all the writings.

today is Dec 24th so David and Kelley are coming into ‘town’ on their rented motorbike and we will spent the weekend together.

Peace

Amma’s Ashram

I’m a little behind here – a couple of weeks have gone by since we left Allepey….

After a wonderful time – spent mostly on the beach and enjoying the waves and sun – we are off to our next stop – Amma’s ashram. This is about 3 hours further south on the coast.

instead of driving to the ashram we opted for taking a leisurely ferry (5 hours) through the waterways, canals and lakes that are a part of the topography of this part of India. we were dropped at the bridge to Amma’s ashram.

BELOW – ferry ride pictures…

these men are ‘herding’ ducks on the water = probably to market.

Here is Kelley – the woman who can sleep anywhere – anytime……..

we ferried down the middle of this row of fishing nets

 

here people are unloading fish from their small fishing boats into the truck which will take them to the villages that are not on the water.

Amma’s ashram is built on her family home property and has expanded over the years to some acres with temples, open air ‘auditorium’, 3 apartment buildings (between 5-13 stories high), canteen (both Indian and western food), cottages, hospital, ayurvedic clinic. about a mile away are the university and medical training institute she built – where all education and treatment and training is free.

her humanitarian activities are far reaching and address the needs of the region – whether it is housing (after the tsunami), education, medical aid and also throughout the world. she sent $1 million to the Katrina Relief fund. there is a not so small booklet that describes what she has accomplished. But the amazing thing is she did not set out to ‘do’ any of these things. her intention is to be an expression of divine love and service. with her purpose in place at a very early age – all these other things have come forth.

the ashram has rules (quiet hours, no photography) which make this a very peaceful place. there are no vehicles, so the constant noise of traffic and beeping horns is absent – oh what relief that is!

thousands of people come every day – some stay for a day to receive darshan (darshan literally means – notice or attention) which in Amma’s case is a hug and a little message she whispers in your ear. it was so amazing to be in a place with thousands of people – quiet, slow walking, lots of opportunities for meditation, yoga, chanting and seva (selfless service) the ashram has only a few employees so all the work to maintain the activities is done by those staying there. David, Kelley and Joseph spent 3 hours a day preparing food for the meals that are served. (thousands a day eat at the ashram for free). they cut mountains of vegetables and fruit, along with about 30 other volunteers. I did housekeeping and so went every morning to get my room assignment and my bucket of cleaning supplies and cleaned rooms.

Similar to Unity Village – once I get there, I do not leave the grounds – i just enjoy the atmosphere. this also happened at the ashram – i had no desire to go to the beach or the villages – just slow down and enjoy the presence of the intention of this place.

Vicki and Moses

David’s photo and joseph’s caption…..

Alleppey

Last week we arrived at a small Indian town very near the southwest tip. we are staying at a beautiful homestay – in the typical construction of this area and with the amazing hospitality we find everywhere. the beach is at the end of our little road and we go every day for a swim. it is very hot with no shade, so we did scout down another beach about 15 km away that was supposed to have some shade.

joseph and david just came back from an exciting outing – gotta go for show and tell. will be back later with more …and pictures of these fabulous beaches!

BELOW

yep – the beach was everything that was promised. pristine, shady, great water and fresh coconuts available on the beach

BELOW

here is our homestay, typical Kerala style house with tile roof and large courtyards and balconies – gotta catch that breeze!

BELOW

temple near our home

Trees of Kochi

Kochi has many of these magnificent trees throughout town, bordering parks and along the shore. their canopies are unbelievably large and spread over the grass, creating shade and nesting places for the myriads of tropical birds.

i tried to get some shots  of the trees alongside things like rickshaws and people in it- to get some idea of how enormous they are.

Girls Day

 

 

 

 

 

Eating and Walking in Kochi

we have been here 2 weeks now and have settled into a great routine that gets slower by the hour. We go out and have some brekfast, do stuff around town, head back to our rooms for a siesta in the hottest part of the day and then go out around 5 pm and stroll back downtown for dinner, a walk on the seawall, come back and relax, read or play games until bedtime.

Joseph remarked that we have probably been gone for about a month now (we left Courtenay on Oct 26) and I had to break the news to him that it was already December……

David and Kelley are not vegetarians and have been eagerly awaiting the coast so they could enjoy some fresh sea food. last night Kelley went to the shore where the fishermen bring in their daily catch, and bought 2 kilos of huge prawns for about $3.  oh – they stuffed themselves!

the eating on the coast is fabulous – even for us vegetarians. the fruit is sweet, naturally ripe, juicy and different. we have found our 2 favorite kinds of bananas  (out of the 4 or 5 varieties available), eat a pineapple a day (no sore mouth from whatever it is ‘they’ do to the pineapples we end up with in Canada), coconuts both young and ripe, amazing oranges, and a couple of new fruits that i cannot remember the names of. fresh cashews (not roasted or salted) fresh peanuts – yum!  well – i see it is lunchtime, so enough for today – i’m off to enjoy another amazing delicious fresh meal……….

one of our favorite meals is called thali. it means ‘plate’ which usually means a banana leaf as seen below. first you wash your hands. then you get a banana leaf. men circulate with small or large pots of rice, 10 different kinds of curries, coconut chutneys, mango pickle, papads, sweets etc. and using their ladles, keep putting stuff on your leaf until you say: enough!

with your right hand you mix a little of each ‘dish’ with some rice and stick it in your mouth. you can see David expertly doing this below….

Cochin is situated right where a lagoon/lake meets the Arabian Sea. the lake goes back miles into the interior and parallel to the coast. the tides sweeep in and out since we are at the ‘mouth’ . there are many fishermen working this body of water and there are using this style of net fishing which was brought here by the Chinese centuries ago. since this a popular place to walk for tourists (Indian and non-Indian) there are also many people selling all kinds of things: bracelets, fruit, fish, kites etc. the following pics are scenes along the ocean shore and walkway.

Below is mainstreet Kochi – you can see one of the magnificent trees in the background. these enormous trees grow just inland from the shore and and some scattered throughout the town where the parks have left room for them.

What rupees will buy

50 Rupees ($1.)

a 20 minute rickshaw ride – that would take us anywhere we want to go around here

a large glass of soda water with fresh lime, an ayurvedic additive and ice cubes(!) made with filtered water

a bag of cookies

an unbelievably delicious pineapple

15 sweet bananas

3 parrotas (chapati-like flat bread, but way yummier)

 

5 or less Rupees (10 cents)

ticket for a 20 minutes ferry ride to the next island

ticket for a ferry to the larger city of Ernakulum

bus ticket to anywhere within 10 miles

traditional kerala breakfast (idlies, puttu, sambar and chai)

 

100 Rupees ($2.)

cheese omelette, toast, fresh fruit (papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and banana), masala chai

simple cotton pants

cotton shawl

2 hours of time on the internet