By lucky fate, strange karmic forces, or a sheer miracle, I have arrived in India. The air is heavy and smells like woodsmoke and curry anointed in body odor. There are cows weeding their way through garden trash outside my window at the ashram. A seven-year-old boy is playing tag in the hallway as his parents attend a ceremony downstairs with Guruji. It really is quite wonderful.
It was dark and raining when the tiny plane touched down in Indore. Outside the airport, I was greeted by a scrawny man carrying a sign with JESSIE BLOUNT scrawled in faded pink magic marker. My heart leaped; I had finally made it. I hopped over to the man and he led me to a group of other men. They were whispering and fumbling in their pockets with gold ringed hands. Their shirts were stained and too tight. Suddenly I thought, what if this is a huge scam? What if this ride will be my last? No one will know if I don’t get to the ashram. Hah! If there is an ashram. Maybe it’s just some creeps trying to profit over crazy westerners. My body will be lost in a ditch where passerbys drop their mango peels.
But I got in the car with them anyways. And I wasn’t too far off the mark; the taxi ride (as with every ride in India, I am beginning to learn) was quite life threatening. Indian drivers do not seem to notice the line dividing two lanes of traffic. Furthermore, stop lights, right of way, and following space are not of any importance. Yet Sanju, my driver, asked if he could “be friend to me.” He even daintily kissed my hand after dropping me off at the ashram.
There are about twelve of us studying yoga at the ashram. Everyone is from around the world: my roommate is a Thai woman living in Vietnam. My next door neighbor is a twenty-something German girl from Dubai.
We woke up this morning around 6:30am for personal meditation. Guruji came around 7:00 and we began yoga practice. Three hours melted away in meditation, breathing exercises, and Guruji’s cheesy encouragement. “Come, come, come!” (which, translated from Indian English to American English, means “calm, calm, calm!”) “Fooooocccccuuuss! Focus on your third eye. Focus on the energies!”
It was pure, unadulterated, yoga greatness. I ate it up.
I have a strong sense I am meant to be here. Whether it’s the all the cumin I have been eating or something totally different, a force has pulled me here and a curious light is keeping me here. I’ve been reading Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, gloriously recommended by Austin Totty. Its bits of wisdom and adventure anecdotes have been keeping me going. This particular passage spoke to me:
“Personal calling is God’s blessing, it’s the path that God chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend.”