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My morning started a 5:45am. Before heading to class I walked over to a little street vendor for a cup of chai. This is far from Starbuck’s domain here, so imagine a man with a Bunsen burner, heating chai in a pot by the side of the road in tin cups. I waited with the local farmers for it to boil. I desperately needed a double shot to-go (not really a concept here), so I had the man fill my water bottle with the hot milky tea (yeah, I know plastic bottles shouldn’t be heated, but I’m living like a monk here, so this is my little “danger” for the day).
I walked to class looking up at the foothills of the Himalayas just soaking up the views and the musty smell of spice and incense, reminding myself how fortunate I am to be here.
I did a 2 hour ass-kicking vinyasa class before breakfast, and then a 3 hour class in yogic philosophy before we broke for lunch. Before moving from one section of class to the next, we chant OM OM OM, OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti which sounds just amazing when the power of 25 voices come together.
After lunch, in desperate need of another shot of chai, I headed to my little street vendor, but stopped first to buy oranges from a man selling fruit on a cart. He gave me a taste of a nasty fruit I’d never seen before, and after one bite, I was ready to toss the rest, but I came across a cow who wasn’t interested in taking anything from my hand, so I dropped it on the ground and went on with my oranges to find my tea man.
Ten minutes later I was standing in front of the tea stall, enjoying my tin cup of chai, just watching the world go by. I see my little cow moving quickly toward me, weaving through the crowds without taking his eyes off my bag of oranges. He came up and nearly knocked me and my tea over, poking at my bag, and clearly insisting that he wanted more fruit!! Who knew cows could be so aggressive?
So I set down my tea, peeled an orange and feed him, piece by piece. Then he wanted the peel. Then he wanted more fruit. My tea was getting cold. I peeled a second orange, and feed him while sucking back my tea. Then again, he wanted the peel. I finally had to leave my tin cup still half full of tea, as my little cow friend was nuzzling his narley bug infested head into my side now, and getting a little too romantic for my comfort level.
The funny thing is, hours later I’m on the same street, at an internet café typing this, and guess who’s sitting outside giving me puppydog-cow eyes????
The moral of this story, if you’re carrying a bag of oranges, don’t stop for chai if there are hungry cows about, and the next time you eat a steak, remember, your meal was once a fruit-loving creature with a little personality, and needs and wants, just like you and me.
Back in the classroom, our lecture is interrupted by a visitor coming through the back door. A monkey stood there for a moment, assessing the situation before moving up toward our seating area. Before I could marvel at his social bravery he had swiped a bag of fruit from a classmate’s purse, took a quick dump on the floor and then dashed out the door. Only in India.
So my day was long, and our last lecture ended at 8:30 tonight. Most of it was completely in the dark as the electricity at the ashram, heck in the whole country, is intermittent at best. You get used to it though, much like the lack of toilet paper and hot showers. But there are things you do get here that you can’t get anywhere else; like waking up the sounds of monks chatting, or the constant sweet smell of incense (and occasionally pee). This area is so rich with prayer, song and ritual that the vibration is on a frequency you can actually feel with your body. It’s incredible in every conceivable way.
I firmly believe, the world needs to see India in all her glory before technology completely lifts it to a higher economic state, as it will surely loose some of its charm.