Continuation of the story Lost written for Writing 101 Day 4 : A Story in a Single Image
24th September 2015
This day has been the most eventful day in my life ever! I had no idea that in less than 15 hours of landing in this madcap, eccentric and totally wild country called India (and I mean that in the best possible way ever!) that things would start to happen for me!
This morning, I was feeling a bit odd if you ask me (no, it wasn’t the food or the water though I’ve been warned enough that you need a strong constitution to be able to handle any street food here!). I was at a tiny roadside tea stall having my very first cup of masala cutting chai (which by the way, was really quite amazing!) and an odd feeling passed through me. An odd restlessness that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
I decided not to dwell upon it but concentrate on exploring a country that I had only heard stories of from my late grandfather who was born and raised here until the age of 15. My first stop was a yoga ashram situated about 10 miles away from Mumbai. By the time I arrived inside the gates, it was already close to 11am. Almost immediately, I was struck by the land’s tranquil atmosphere that can only be described as sacred in nature. The grounds were covered with beautiful landscaping and gardens but I was most struck by tall trees everywhere whose branches and leaves were swaying in time to the tunes of the cool breeze. Several cuckoo birds could be heard singing to the melodious rhythm created and the urge to sit down on a bench located under one of the trees, throw my head back, close my eyes and soak in all the peace and quietude was greater than the need to sight see.
Nevertheless, I made my way to the main building which was quaint and cozy with red shingled roofs. A visitor’s coordinator greeted me warmly and after a few minutes of small talk, offered to show me around. The massive canteen adjoining the main building was empty but wafting smells of something delicious being cooked in the kitchen were reminding me that I had only had tea for breakfast. The rooms at the back where the students resided were basic but quite clean and comfortable. Finally, I was shown the grand meditation and yoga hall which was built as a pyramid structure that creates a high-energy environment to release stress and tension in the body. The students inside were seated in lotus positions and chanting Om in long drawn out low hums.
The class ended just a minute later and the visitor’s coordinator invited me to join a trial class for beginners which was just starting in a few minutes. Of course, I didn’t need to be asked twice because I wasn’t quite ready to leave the holy bubble that was this ashram. The next hour was spent learning a few basics of Pranayama, Dhyāna and Yogasanas (breathing techniques, meditation and Yoga poses).
Now comes the twist in the tale. After class, I found myself having lunch in the ashram’s canteen with one of the oldest patrons of the yoga ashram who lived close by and visited almost every day to recharge his batteries. He introduced himself as Mr. Deo and over a delicious satvik meal (A vegetarian meal meant to purify and rejuvenate the body and prepared with seasonal ingredients but strictly without onions and garlic), we chatted about this and that. He had retired many years ago but his sons managed the family business of garment exports. I told him I worked in a PR firm back home in London and handled digital media for several clients.
About half an hour passed by peacefully and we sat chatting for another twenty odd minutes before I regretfully made my apologies about having to move my sightseeing to a museum for the afternoon. As I was about to walk away from the table, Mr. Deo stopped me and put forward a request that I couldn’t quite comprehend at first. Mulling over it for about 10 minutes while he explained his offer in great detail, I responded to him with a one-word reply that still surprises me because I am usually not a spontaneous person!
I mean who could have thought that I, Sarah, a twenty-six year old girl on a three-week backpacking trip to India would end up living with a wealthy Indian family and agree to teach English to slum kids? I knew something worthwhile had to come from my Literature degree other than just journaling and blogging! And somehow I knew that this crazy yet charming country’s vibes definitely had something to do with it!
Off to bed now! Have got a big date tomorrow with a classroom full of little kids!