Monday, 22 February 2010

Bent invasion (ohh naughty)

Back at school
(As ever click for whole load of new pics)
After a week away it was back to the school. Within the hour I’d milked the cow, sung and danced tribal songs, learnt to play the drum, been invited on another schools camp and generally tired myself out again. This continued for a while longer until it was time for a holiday again. This time with the folks and my little sis.

As you can imagine there were lots of hugs and smiles, but plenty more besides.

Within 30 minutes we found ourselves on a perfect beach being welcomed by dolphins, and as the days progressed saw wildlife galore on a safari, stayed in a treehouse 40ft above the ground, were welcomed to a wedding, another engagement party and a Festival at an ashram. Helping at school, visiting the tribal village Chembakoli M&D&Nat will sleep for the next month.

Either my luck is hereditary or the closeness of family meant it rubbed off on their arrival. Every step taken led us somewhere new and wonderful, surrounded by people who radiate love and affection. This luck was only emphasised by the unfortunateness of some of those you see along the way.

Beggars, victims of severe disabilities or injuries. We had to drive round a guy lying on the road looking like a child pretending to be a dead cockroach on his back with his arms and legs rigid above his torso – only difference being that this man was dead and allowed to lie on the street with no help at all (another victim of the Indian roads - highlighting how dangerous my cycling through India was – no one stops when they hit people as the villagers are known to come out and savage the car and occupants if the victim is one of their own).

Then you see those making the most of what they’ve been given – disabled and blind, a band came to the ashram and sang and played music that made your emotions rise and fall like a ship riding a storm ridden ocean.

Nat is back at school but Mum and Dad decided to stay at the Ashram – I wondering whether they'll ever leave India?!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Super Cool

Taking the few lessons at the school and having to make a decision whether to sign up for dinner the night before was starting to get too stressful for me so I packed a small day pack and headed for the coast and some spiritualisation and cuddles with Amma – the ‘Mother Hugger’.

I mentioned I’d been doing some stick martial arts on the beach. It’s quite beautiful and graceful – like dance – but you do get a few more bruises and fat lips!!

It started with 2 of us (Lucy – awesome, me – bruised) then numbers started to swell.

One particular night Natalia (Ukraine beauty) and Rafi (India beauty) came and said they’d join us after laughing therapy. What? Laughing therapy. I couldn’t miss this. So 5 minutes later I was with some equally bonkers folk on the beach and we laughed for five or ten minutes (I think it was the first class I’ve excelled at???). Rafi and Nat are bundles of energy that seem to light up anyone they come across. I then returned to stick feeling thoroughly invigorated. Even now I am laughing – it works!!

The next day it was suggested that we meet at 4 and give sweets out on the beach – spreading love and happiness. I’d just bought a orgasmatron (head massager thing) so brought that along too. So we traversed the beach bringing smiles to peoples faces and sweetness to their bellies – whilst promoting laughing therapy later in the afternoon.

That night I’d been asked to lead a class in Animal balloon making (the second class I have excelled at). Monkeys, elephants, guitars, flowers, it was beautiful!! About 15 people came including Rafi and Natalie – such a compliment.

The next day I was off to see Amma. A spiritual leader all over the world – she gives her energy in the form of a hug – I had to check it out.

Entirely sceptical, Kathleen (Geordie originally from Hong Kong) and I stepped into her Ashram. Temple like thingy watsit. Lots of westerners and a few Indians were there. All dressed in white, looking like their farts don’t stink, and looking down upon those who arrive with animal balloons all over their new bamboo stick dressed in every colour under the rainbow with feral ginger beards. (Yes Kathleen has one too)

In a strange way it looked serene and we whipped out our paperatsi cameras to capture the moment.

“Please put your cameras down and delete your pictures or you’ll have bad Karma.”

Some hard noised women (let’s call her ‘Bitch Face from Hell’ or ‘BFFH I’) in white was clearly not impressed with us.

“Forget about it” I told Kathleen. We knew it was going to be a bit like a circus and had kept telling each other that we were there only to experience one second – the hug.

We entered the hall where she performs her Dasham to be greeted by wonderful live music and gorgeous food to fill our bellies after our long journey, and then joined the huge queue. We were allowed to queue with the Indians as we were just paying a day visit and not planning to stay. Something which had turned up the noses of those in white further.

In the queue I whipped out the Orgasmatron and proceeded to spread some Danesh (my new Indian name) love. Even those who aren’t being touched smile and laugh watching. But no. ‘Not allowed – you are obstructing my view of Amma” – we’ve pissed off ‘BFFH II’. Amma’s a spot in the distance at this point but after 2 hours we were getting close and I was getting excited – hence louder. Add to this the fact that I’d made Amma a bouquet of flowers out of balloons and once again I was being told off by BFFH III, IV, and V. These guys are so at peace!!??

All the BFFH’s (I, II, III, IV and V – plus a lot more) are fighting each other to be part of the entourage that sit behind Amma – struggling to get a spot within about 5 metres of her and then digging in with tooth and nail not to be pushed aside by another BFFH whilst slowly pushing knees and elbows into other peoples backs to get that inch closer as the 1000’s of people came to have their hug. I was wondering why we were there whilst we passed in front of these people – all this for a second – 2 seconds if she takes a liking to you.

Finally it’s my turn and I get onto my knees as everyone else does and then handed the flowers to her beaming face (later Kathleen heard that she’d asked for them to be taken to her room - awesome). She put her arms around me and I have to say – it felt wonderful (but I do love hugs). She sang soft Mantra into my ear. Surely my time was up but she was still holding me in her arms. I started to feel awkward as eyes bore into my head but it was too nice to let go. Then someone I’d been chatting to told her that I’d cycled from England and she let go. I stood to leave but was forced back to my knees by hands behind me. She touched my head, then fed me chocolate, putting it into my mouth as if I was a Greek God. She then summoned everyone around to give me a a cheer and a clap. Wow wow wow!!

Finally I was allowed to get up and I self consciously made my way back as Amma spoke to one of her colleagues who then came up to me and told me Amma wanted me to sit next to her. So people (BFFHs) were pointed at and told to move to allow me through and next to Amma to share our energies.

Bad Karma my ass!!

Stop Thief

People warn of the potential for thievery in India. Slum dog millionaire reiterates the risks faced. I think, ”What a load of rubbish”. I don’t lock my room at night or when I go out, I have left my bag open with all valuables visible outside my room in busy cheap hotels by accident, my wallet fell from my bag and about 5 cars stopped to tell me, cleaners come into my room with 1000’s of rupees (months of salary) lying on the bed amongst the mess, wallet, passport also, and they just stack them all nicely and I’m sure the idea to take it doesn’t even enter their heads.

I got it into my head that everyone was honest and decent.

So I was devastated to be blatantly robbed whilst on the beach. I left my bag open on the beach with my wallet in, SLR camera, video camera, $200, 10,000 rupees. I was planning to do some stick martial arts so left my bamboo rod next to it.

I was only away from it for maybe 1 minute. I was just having a look at the fishermen and when I got back it was gone.

I searched everywhere, asked anyone nearby if they’d seen the scoundrel who’d taken it. I could see its imprint in the sand so hadn’t somehow got disoriented. After hours of fruitless searching I had to face facts – my stick was gone forever. (Everything else was still there)