We took a little field trip from the ashram in our last week and headed out to the Durga Hills overlooking the border between Karntaka and Tamil Nadu. We were told to assemble at our regular time (5 a.m.) and to be ready to go, preferably in clothes that would not shock the villagers we would be traipsing by. [I have a small suspicion that Padmishiri Didi was speaking to me when she offered that directive. Of course, I was there at 5 a.m. with the two other Westerners. Yeah, 25 days in and I still think that when Indians say a time they mean that time. We got moving around 6. [There is me living and not really learning.]
Several people had been moaning about how far the ‘trek’ was. I was curious. Bearing in mind that I was born with an aversion to hiking [“Mo-o-o-o-m… this is not a walk! This is a hike!” was the line that peppered my youth. “No, Ames, really, this is only a walk…”], the word ‘trek’ did pique my interest. If this was a trek, I am ready for Everest.
I am not ready for Everest [though this kid… wow!]
Suffice it to say that the walk was both brief and flat and ended with some really fun granite on which to climb. I could not help feeling a little like the gang when they got out in Cuckoo’s Nest or Girl, Interrupted… I don’t know if I mentioned it in a previous post, but there is no leaving the ashram once you come in until your program is finished, you check in but… kidding. Anyhow, once set free, the silliness abounded. We were led astray initially by “Sound Baba” – our resident Rainman (srsly) but we all made it to the rocks and there was much giggling and goofing and goats, a little asana, many commands from Umesh [“See me Didi, SEE.ME.”] There were some local kids there too, and eventually even breakfast was trucked out to us. [Take that, Base Camp.]The childlike nature of my ashram mates was not lost on me… Immature? I am not sure I would call it that, but there is something decidely different in the way that the locals interract with each other; girls keep to one side, boys to another, there is lots of squealing on one said and horseplay on the other; you can take a guess to which is which – though you would likely be wrong. It is fascinating to behold.
Part of a wedding celebration was taking place in the village which we peeped on the way back, reveling in the lovely morning. We were back by 10 a.m., that’s what a good early start nets you, and everything in Prashanti looked a little brighter. The experience was refreshing and entertaining and a beautiful way to start the day. To wit the complainer had this to say: “I’m a little pissed, I mean why weren’t we doing this, like. every week?” And I had to just look at her and think, “Damn. There really is just NO pleasing some people.”