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  • Writer's pictureCassie Stockamp

Snippets from the Ashram....

I taught yoga this morning at 5:30am to 260 kids from all over India! They are here at Kanha for a spiritual youth seminar, and I am gaining faith that the world will be ok... Very few of these kids have been exposed to yoga so we clapped and laughed and groaned together. A few kids came up to thank you me, and the last young man looked me in the eye and told me I was doing the Ohm sound wrong. I chuckled to myself as I knew that the way they chant Ohm here in India sounded more like AUM...It reminded of a friend that visited me after the last Monumental Yoga and he told me I was doing my Ohm wrong and that my mouth should form a round O and make no other sounds. I had been doing it like AUM... I thanked the young man (and the friend) for their advice. After class I asked Bala about the sound. Now Bala is a special young man who is studying energetic healing, and I thought he might have an explanation about the significance of the sounds. He explained how the sounds of AUM transmit different wave lengths which in turn awaken unique brain waves when the sounds are combined at the end. Fascinating stuff. I know there is so much more to the world we live in that what our five senses perceive. I think quantum physics has shown us that with the discovery of black matter - everything else that fills the void....

One mountain. So many paths...

I had met the baker the day before and told him I would be by around 7am to volunteer. We made Indian pizza dough and rolled out cookies. I watched him pour ingredients into the large commercial mixer, and when he reached for a canister I asked if it was baking soda. He held it up as I stuck my nose in it just as he was waving me off and said ammonia. The smell was so over powering it about knocked me to me knees. I watched him mix it in a small cup with salt and water and the chemical reaction caused a vapor to mist out of the cup. He poured it into the batter. Baking soda causes a similar reaction and is hard to find in India...The cookies are a slightly salty savory round biscuit that are quite tasty called Raadi. At the end of my shift, after a lot of laughter and hand motions, he called me a baker in broken English, and we laughed!

As we put the biscuits into the oven a fellow yogi and new friend from Romania walked by. We chatted for a minute, and she asked if I wanted to help make a raw vegan almond cake for the Italian restaurant. What - of course! We went up stairs and I learned/helped to make this most amazing mixture of dates, almonds, cashews, honey, fresh ground nutmeg - without a recipe - Yum! I then pressed the dough into a heart shaped pan, popped them out and covered the small treats in coconut. Bianca made a chocolate sauce out of bananas, coco powered and honey. I learned that she dreams of opening a raw restaurant, but doesn’t know how to scale it as she never uses a recipe. What a morning! We stood with the manager and roughly calculated the cost of the ingredients and determined a selling price of 130 rupees or about $1.90. It was a portion for 2.

And then lunch provided a valuable aha...

I had snacked on nuts and dough and wasn’t terribly hungry, but I knew I should eat as I had skipped both dinner the night before and breakfast that morning. I’m finding that heat and hunger aren’t compatible for me. I dine in the communal dining hall with the students and other meditators. We stand in line for our meal allotment which always includes one or two different kinds of rice. I waived off the second portion of white rice as I walked through the line and found a seat. I have had lovely conversations with strangers at virtually every meal and today was no different. Philippe/France and Jay/China joined me and Isyatya from India. When I got up to leave I felt a little sheepish as I had not cleaned my plate. There are signs posted about saving water and not wasting food.

The routine is that we take our plates and scrape any remnants of food into a barrel (which is composted), move to a wash tub with sponges to wash our tray, and then to the next large bucket and to another and by the 4th bucket the water is clear. The trays are then stacked to be loaded into a commercial washer. They’ve got this cleaning prep down to a pretty efficient process.

After sticking our hands into buckets of water sullied with food waste, we move into a large room that on one side is marked for hand washing and the other is for drinking water. There is a lot of hand washing that goes on as many people eat with their hands in India as they did in Sri Lanka. Another commonality is the removal of shoes, and entrances in Sri Lanka and India are littered with sandals. Everyone pads around in bare feet on smooth granite inside restaurants, bathrooms - all of it. I like it. I’ve scrubbed pretty hard and still can’t get the bottom of my feet clean so a pedicure will be on the agenda when I get home - lol!

And as I was about to enter the cleaning line - I was stopped. A man who was talking very excitedly in Hindi and gesticulating widely wouldn’t let me and a few others pass. I was confused and asked a man if he could help me. He looked at my plate and said, “Food is god. You didn’t eat all of our food.” I stood there not knowing if I had to go back and eat it all, and asked what I was supposed to do. He was a little gruff and said I would wait 5 minutes to learn my lesson to not ask for so much food and then they would let me in.

You know what... I stepped aside and waited, and learned my lesson. As I was walking through that line I should have only asked for 1/2 servings as I knew I didn’t need a full serving. Food waste is a huge problem in the US, and I just got called on it in India. Good on them! I will be more intentional with the amount of food I allow on my plate.

This morning I got a thumbs up from the lady policing our trays, and we both smiled. It’s all good.

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