Thursday, December 25, 2008

Rishikesh: Getting Bent in Ashrams

So to catch up...Upon arriving to Rishikesh from Haridwar, I passed by alot of interesting people walking up to the ashram. The poverty here is just like everywhere else (bad). However, I saw one man in particular that I will never forget. He was sitting in a pile of black garbage, that appeared as if a bomb went off around him and everything (including him) was burnt and covered in black sulfur. His posture was relaxed while in the midst of all the garbage surrounding him. As I passed by, he was sifting through this garbage in a way someone would look through their pile of mail for the day. He was totally composed, content, and happy but heres the part that got me...His front bottom teeth were hanging out of his mouth all in tact together but dangling out of his mouth. Perhaps maybe thats what he was looking for in his tarnished possesssions?

So the whole ashram thing...The reason why I came to Rishikesh and ultimately India; Getting Bent in Ashrams.

The center is huge and was very nice, for India that is. My room is up a long steep hill with lots of gardens/foliage to entertain my eyes on the way. Its like a 10 minute walk into the main town and the scenary is very beautiful. The buildings are newly painted and everything is quite clean. The weather each day is a hit or miss. Most of the days it is cloudy and chilly then every once in awhile the sun decides to come out and it gets quite warm. The nights are freezing in my room. But that could be a result of being sick (because I was quite often here) or just not having enough to get warm with.

The minimum stay there is 15 days and the day starts at 5:30 for morning meditation and throughout the day we have 2 meditation classes and 2 yoga classes. The classes are an hour each, the rest of the time you can spend it as you want, in the ashram or out. We got 3 meals a day plus chai once a day. When I first arrived I thought the food was absolutely horrible. Utterly horrible. (Its funny, just when I think Ive had the worst food in India, it gets worse) I got sick the second day and there are contantly bugs, hair and rocks in the food. However, either I adjusted to the food or its got more tastier as time went on because it didnt make me gag the longer I stayed there eating it. To be quite honest, I didnt even bother with the bugs, rocks or hair towards the end. Its best to just eat it and try not to notice.

The meditation classes are good and the yoga for the most part is pretty intense. There are 4 teachers at the ashram (all men how rad is that?) which all rotate every few days. 2 teachers are really good, the other 2 not so much. Their instructions are a bit vague and they just bend you into really intense poses to push you, but I think they push alittle too hard, I am suprised no one has been injured because they push you beyond your bodies limitations...I dont know how I feel about that, but they are the teachers so I do as I am instructed, while following what my body says, but at the same time pushing myself. This is the main reason I came to India for this intensity but not to hurt myself in the process. Ive gained back so much flexibility that I have lost from not having a steady practice for several months which feels wonderful. When I first arrived I could sadly not even bend over and touch the ground anymore, now my palms reach the floor again. Ahhh feel so good.

The ashram was quite a social gathering. Lots of foreigners so free time was spent with the people you met.

Dhiren was my neighbor to my left. He is indian, from delhi, aspires to be a movie director and actually directed a music video with a crew of about 150 people before coming to the ashram. Very kind man, when I was sick the second day, after he overheard that I puked in my bed (while sleeping I had no idea until like 5 hours later) he gave me his sheet and helped me put my dirty sheet out to air clean. He spoke very good english and we talked alot about different hollywood movies. When I was sick he offered for me to use his computer to watch movies,
"Would you like to use my computer and watch a movie? That always helps me when I am sick."
"Yeah that would be so nice! What movies do you have?"
"Scent of a woman...Hotel Rwanda...Shawshank Redemption..."
"Yes, have you seen it? Its a damn good film."
"Yes I have many times, no need to look any further Shawshank it is!"
So there in my room I sat watching Shawshank Redemption and for the briefest of moments I totally forgot about my sickness, how cold I was and actually that I was in India. I was totally absorbed into this movie that I havent seen in years and was so grateful to be watching it, in India. That movie is so inspiring and uplifting, Im sure that is what cured me for the next day I felt alot better almost 100%

My other neighbor is a man named Rory. He is from Australia about 23 years old but has the mentality of a 16 year old (most of the time) and constantly reminds me of Chandler from friends. This is in no way a bad thing. Hes hilarious and we get along quite well. I spent most of my free time with him.
One day he asked me,
"so when you think of me what do you think of?"
a long pause, I close my eyes
"when I think of you, I see you walking in a park with your hands in your pockets, head up to the sky, whistling the muppet babies theme song."

A few days after I arrived an older australian lady named Bernice came to the ashram. She talks with a thick Austalian accent and looks like a hippie from the 60's. She wears purple circluar sunglasses just like you would imagine a hippe would wear.
She was talkign to me about her last road trip in her van and I said,
"I could totally see you living out of a van all hippie free spirited and stuff"
"Yeah thats what I did for many years with my ex husband!"
It all makes sense now :) We immediately got along quite well. We started talking at lunch one day and then planned on coffee right after lunch. We talked alot, I talked to her than anyone at the ashram. She works as a probation officer in Australia and also does some side work with drug and alcohol treatment. I could immediately relate (given my past) and hers was quite similar. Aside from that, we played chess alot (she beat me twice!), talked about each others favorite books and even ended up swaping a few books between us. She gave me a book and on the inside page it had the person who bought the book, who he gave the book to, and in chronologiacl order it showed how it ended up in my hands. Intitally upon recieving the book I thought, "awesome! another book to mail home!" But after seeing that interesting way to share books, I thought I must live out this legacy, and actually started one of my own :)

The last person I want to talk about is a 24 year old guy from Holand named Martyn. Our personalities matched very well. We connected with music. He plays bass and like me, he could listen to anything from Metal to Soothing New Age to Jazz to 80's dance hits. He took Dhirens old room so we were constantly were showing each other different music.
"dude you have to check these people out...listen to this bridge right here and how it breaks down afterwards!"
"niiiiiiiice, thats like these people, listen to this!"
This went on for quite some time...
It was funny whenever I would see him regardless if we were in the yoga hall or outside drinking chai, I would always say long and drawn out,
"what up gangstaaaaaaaa"
making guns with his hands up in the air he would say,
"Yo yo homie!"

One of the days Daniel from the Vipassana course in Jaipur ending up calling me and we met up with some people from the Ashram to go rent some scooters and mob them around town. So there we were, 5 foreigners blazing through the streets of Rishikesh blaring our horns! Oh man what an expierience. By the loving grace of God I made it alive and in one piece, I had my doubts at first, ahah im not gonna lie. I didnt think riding a scooter would be so difficult, and it wouldnt have been, if I wasnt in india that is...We rode away from streets and got up to the mountains with the glorious himalayas around us and the ganges river below us, this was such a wonderful expierience. It was quite a challenge not to get distracted by the amazing beauty infront of me while operating my scooter. It was such a blessing the past few days before this have been quite cloudy and cold but that day the sun came out and it was such a beautiful day. After riding in the mountains we went to a waterfall where we had to hike up a few miles to get there but as soon as we did, we all stripped down to our underwear and jumped in the ICE COLD water, started splashing each other, throwing each other around and for those few minutes I connected and embraced my inner child and had a blast of a time.

My Christmas at the ashram was an awesome expierience. Christmas Eve after meditation class I walk out of the hall and see there are strands of lights on a bush nearby. I said outloud to myself,
"Christmas lights?!?!? Thats so rad!!!"
There couldnt have been more then 3 strands in total, and thats when it hit me. I sat down infront of that bush and realized Christmas for example, is not about how many lights you have to decorate, its about the lights in your heart that make Christmas beautiful. I sat by that bush until dinner, just totally stoked that there were Christmas lights, I was so thankful, I never thought there would be Christmas lights in the ashram. These three strands of lights had more beauty in them than all the lights combined on my street during Christmas. After dinner I just went to my room to finish off my Christmas Bible readings. Christmas day was like any other day at the ashram but after the evening yoga class I scheduled massages for me and a few other people. The massage cost $8 and lets just say Im glad it was not any more...Its like they pulled people off the street, gave them a 2 minute briefing before the massage and presto! You have a massuse. Keep in mind, you cannot expect much in India, youll be disappointed if you do ahah. Nonetheless it was very needed from the stress ive been piling on my body the past 10 days. When we got back to the ashram we ate and there was annoucement that there would be a dance party and bonfire for Christmas. There was a firepit with a roaring fire and a indian imitation christmas tree with lights and balloons as ornaments. It was the most pathetic imitation of a Christmas tree but to me it was like it was made of solid gold. Before we all started dancing a few of us at the Ashram made alittle secret santa deal going on. I potentially ruined the game because when we drew names, I leaked out who I had and Rory overheard and as a result they felt they were able to figure out who had who. But Rory saved it. He told me who he picked and what he was going to buy him.
"Yeah Im gonna buy him an axe, you know just alittle pick axe" I didnt think anything of it because come on, its Rory...So when it was time to exchange gifts I gave it to my secret santa and Rory hands a gift to me, I was so dumbfounded and he says,"Merry Christmas buddy!!" He had me fooled, completely. He kept the spirit of Secret Santa alive.
"I bought you an Osho book because I saw you reading one earlir, some chocoalate cake because you need to gain weight, and some incense because your room smells like SHIT DUDE!"
I was speechless, in that ashram the spirit of Christmas was so strong, I cant put it into words the feelings I was expieriencing. I was so thankful to be where I was and to be with the people I was with. They totally helped fill the gap of emptiness I felt being away from my family on Christmas. I gave my favorite book, "The Art of Happiness" by Tenzin Gyatso to the person I drew. That book has helped me in more ways than I can count, so naturally it was the first thing I thought of to give. I hope it helps her just like it has helped me. So after the gift exchange we walk back to the party and all the workers and teachers of the ashram were all dancing. Shortly after everyone in the ashram was shakin their toosh. The men highly outweighed the women in number and for the first time I saw a 5 to 1 ratio of men dancing than women. Indian men love to dance! It felt great to connect with that dancing fool in me because even if you have no rythm it doesnt matter to them, so long as you are trying.

New Years was nice as well. After the evening Yoga class we all decided to goto a restaurant in town called "The Little Buddha". It was notorious around town for its chill atmosphere, good food, and that you can smoke pot there. Initially I was a bit torn on going or not..I didnt want to spend my New Years surrounded with pot smoke. I told myself,
"I have to get used to these situations. I cannot let them stop me from interacting with people. Just as I want to be respected for my decisons and lifestyle, I must respect theirs. Be happy with whatever situation life puts you in Cody."
So off we went. The place was bumping reggae the whole night, had shrek on the T.V. infront of us and had almost any dish you might want on their menu for a decent price. Being a meal outside the disgusting ashram food, I indulged. I had 2 plates of pasta, a block of chocolate, hot milk, and for dessert "hello to the queen". Ive seen this dessert everywhere in India, and never knew what it was. Its always the most exspensive dessert on the menus, so I decided to go for it. Oh man. Im glad I was introduced to her! It was a HUGE sunndae with delicious ice cream. The ice cream actually tasted like real ice cream!! ahah. It had cherries, dried fruits, chocolate syrup, bananas, and chocolate cookie crumbs at the bottom. Oh it was so delightful to be full off something other than rice, dal and peanut butter sandwhiches. After we walked back to the ashram where it was exactly like the Christmas party just no Christmas tree. Once it hit 12 we all went around wishing eachother a happy new year then went to my room after where we all talked for about 20 mins and then we all headed off to bed.

Rory and I left the ashram the day after. It was like the last day of school, it was a bit sad to leave the rock, bug, hair filled, putrid food behind, but more importantly the people. We all exchanged info, and made plans to go white water rafting in the next few days, so its not goodbye atleast. The town is so small here Im sure Ill even run into them in the streets.

Rory and I went to another ashram where we are sharing a room for a fraction of the cost we spent at the other ashram, there is just no food included. Works out perfect because I want to eat what I want for a bit :) The room has shared bathrooms, which are suprisingly only mildly disgusting, and alot more comfortable beds. Its just wood planks with a thin mattress but ironically it is very comfortable. The yoga classes are a bit slower which is also a good change. My body is telling me to give a few days rest which is exactly what Ive been doing.

Rory and I last night walked down the cold, silent, pitch dark roads with blankets wrapped around us talking. So we arrive at The Little Buddha again and to my suprise, they had FRIENDS on the T.V.! I was so stoked to see that! There was hardly anyone in at that time so there, I spread myself out, laid down on their nice padded sitting areas surrounded with pillows and blacks all nice and warm watching Friends. So stoked, you have no idea. After that they had seinfield and who's line is it anyway. We were there eating and drinking for about 2 hours. It was so comfortable and nice, our walk home was even darker and colder than the walk there but being bundled up in my blanket talking to my friend Rory, I couldnt have been happier.

So for the next few days I will be taking it easy. Ive been looking into yoga teacher training courses but the ones that are open are too exspensive and the reasonably priced ones are booked for most of the year. Initially thats what the money for this trip was going towards but figured I could learn here. However most places are booked and the style I want to learn only really gets taught back in the states, so many its best to wait it out I suppose. There are some beaches close to where we are staying, I got a few books to read, and so much good food in town, Im probably gonna be a bum for the next few days and I will enjoy every minute of it.
But then again, dont expect anything. Things are liable to change so quickly and you must drop your attachment to what you wanted, and roll with it with a smile on your face. I could stay here for months except I spend more in this town than in any other town I have been in so far in India and I got the Kite Festival coming up in Jaipur in a few weeks but I think I might just come back :)

I hope you all had safe, happy holidays surrounded with your family and friends.
Be happy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Haridwar: Prayer For My Family Down The Ganges

So I typed out this great ellaborate story about my time in Haridwar and the internet cafe I was at decided to stop working right at the time of publish! All my work was gone! BOGUS!

In anycase, so to recap..

The rest of my day out of the course, Soni and I went looking around for The Bible, given it was Sunday you would think the churches would be open but no...No luck again. So after that, I met with Varun where we went and got coffee and I got some tasty veggie sandwhiches.
"Cody, do you just want to go somewhere where we can drink our coffee and just talk?"
"Sure Varun, that would be nice."
Varun couldnt think of a place to goto so I suggested the rooftop of my hotel, he was stoked on that idea so off we went. We talked for about (no joke) 5 or 6 hours. We talked alot about the kite festival coming up in January that I am really looking forward to attending. Varun told me everything about the festival and even described how to fly a kite and at one point he showed me with a real kite.
Varun jumps from his seat as if it were on fire, runs to the balcony and somehow managed to see a piece of string floating, grabs the string and starts pulling it until a thrashed lost kite is revealed.
"Yes! God listened to my prayers! Ok Cody, I can now show you everything you need to know about kites"
And so he did. I am well prepared for the festival in January and am really excited. What inspired me the most about the kite festival was seeing the movie Kite Runner. Its a foreign film about two young friends who have a deep passion for kite flying in India which transmitted their passion into me! :)

So there we sat, drinking, eating, talking and I happened to notice on the table beside us a set of books and to my recollection there it sat, what I have been looking for ever since I landed in India. The Holy Bible. I run down, find Saleem and tell him,
"Saleem!! I have been looking for this for months! Is it yours?!?"
"Yes Cody, I read it often but you can have it if you want."
"Are you sure? I dont want to deprive you of this..."
"Yes Cody I am sure you take it."
Stoked I finally got my hands on a Bible!

So before my bus left, Varun left and I gathered my things and headed for my overnight bus to Haridwar. The bus ride was like all the others. Not so bumpy but full of a chilly sleeping area, and having to pee every couple of hours. I get to Haridwar and I am greeted by the beautiful Ganges River. Its the holiest river in India (and also the most polluted in some parts) however Haridwar is right at the begining of the run off from the Himalayas, so the water is crystal clear.

I spent my day walking around, eating tasty food and reading. I crashed early thanks to my hot shower!! Stoked! My first hot shower in weeeeks!!! Needless to say I sleep like a baby that night!

The next day I wake up early to goto two temples in Haridwar, the most norotious ones there. Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi. Both of which you have to ride a cable car up a huge mountain to get there (how rad is that?!) You could have walked up the mountain but you are repeatedly warned about prasad stealing monkeys! No way! How is a monkey going to steal from me!? Anyhow, inside there are shrines to different gods where you go and offer prasad (food offering), money or just your sincere prayers. After the first temple, the cable car was out of order so I went on the view sight to eat some bananas I had brought with me. After finishing the first one I peel my second one and as I look up there is a monkey 2 inches from my face (no joke) with a look on its face similar to the look on the monkeys face in Aladdin when he sees the genies treasures. He kept leaning back and forth on the railing, eyes perched wide, mouth open, getting ready to leap for the banana at any second. I chuck the banana aside and make a run for it in the other direction. When I come to senses with what happened I start laughing hysterically, "Beware of the prasad stealing monkeys!" Now I understand what they meant :)

So after visiting the temples, it was time to read and crashed early. I tried to see the evening ganga aarti (ceremony on the ganges river) but I was too late, so I went back to the room and crashed.

The next morning I woke up early to go see the Aarti (ceremony) on the Ganges. I woke up at 5 am, walked down to the Ganges, and waiting until the sun rose before I began my own personal aarti. The sky had a purple haze to it, it was unlike anything I have ever seen before, so when the sunrise looked right, I bought a boat of flowers with a candle in the center and floated my prayer for my family down the ganges. This too was something that was on my "MUST DO" agenda when in India. It was absoletly beautiful. Seeing my candle lit prayer of flowers float down the ganges against a purple hinted dawn was a feeling unlike anything I have ever felt or witnessed before in my life. Waking up to freeze my butt off for almost two hours was a small price to pay for this truly magnificient site.

After that I grabbed my stuff, and headed down to the bus station to grab a local 1 hour bus to Rishikesh.
"When is the bus to Rishikesh?"
(The man points to a bus that is taking off)
So I run to get on another bus. I love it, so much fun!! On the way to Rishikesh I saw HUGE statues of different hindu gods (Hanuman and Shiva) on the way. HUGE! Bigger than some building in the US! Fantastic!

After arriving in Rishikesh I start to walk to find my Ashram. I walk for about 2 hours and after many back tracks, stops, and questions I finally find the ashram. What a relief I was so winded from lugging around my backpack for a few miles up hill in the hot sun. I check in, and set my stuff down. I will write about the (Ashram expierience when I am done there)

We are able to leave the Ashram (which is how I am able to write right now) but dont intend to leave once I get done with this entry. I went into town to use the computer and ATM and somehow got managed to buying guess what? More books...The addicition continues...So anyway, the minimum stay is 15 days there, so I will be there until atleast the 31st (if I dont decide to stay longer), so do not be worried if you do not see an update for a few weeks.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.
May your holidays be safe, and full of happy times with your friends and family.

Be happy!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jaipur: I Finally Got Sick In India!

I love how doors close on you in India just for a better one to open later.

In Pushkar, my private tourist bus got cancelled and I had to take a local bus.
"There was a problem with your bus, no one told you?"
"Your bus has been cancelled"
"Ok so when is the next bus?"
"You can take a local bus to Ajmer then take a local bus from there to Jaipur now or wait til tomarrow for another private bus"
So I decide to talk to local crammed cheap bus, the gentelman walks me over to the local bus and in the midst of him telling me what to do, I find that someone is posing next to me and someone taking our picture. Once I realize this I turn around and give the most outrageous smile and pose, then say
"Paang rupia!" (5 rupees)
The look on his face was priceless, he was dumbfounded that a westerner would play the same tactics as the rickshaw drivers here ahah But then I smile and off I go. I had to run with my 30lb backpack on my back to get on my bus. How fun! Ive always wanted to run for a bus, as weird as that may sound...

I was foruntate enough to get my own seat and my backpack had its own as well. I turn around and ask the people behind me,
"Does this bus go to Ajmer?"
"Yes. Where you go from Ajmer?"
"Oh us too! You follow us, we will make sure you get on ok!"
These two very kind and hospitable people were Varun and Sahjeed. Two teenage indian men my age who quickly became my friends. They spoke very good english and we ended up talking the whole way from everything about movies, to computer games, to music, to their profession (accounting how ironic right?) to anything. We strangely had ALOT in common. We get to Ajmer and the bus leaves in 2 minutes from Jaipur, we hop on and we are off. Every step of the way, they made sure about 30 times that I was with them and was ok.

Once I arrive in Jaipur Soni picks me up and takes me back to my hotel. I get a good nights rest and the following day I spent the whole day with Varun. Sahjeed did not make it, he had to work. Varun and I got some really good coffee where he paid for me, upon arguing with him he says
"no no no this is indian hospitality. please Cody please"
After that we went to a gaming cafe and played a computer game Counterstrike. NEVER EVER Did I think in India I would be playing Counterstrike but there we were it was awesome. We then went and got some great food and some tasty sweets for dessert. Then we sat on some stairs and talked more and more, this man loved to talk which is great because I love to listen to every word he spoke.Then he took me back to my hotel. This whole day we were riding around on his motorbike. So much fun! I love riding on the back all crazy through the streets of india horns blaring, the different smells, the air on your face, so much fun.

Upon arriving in the hotel I go talk to Saleem (the cook) and he makes me a special dish for dinner. Upon dining on the rooftop this is where I met Dominico. A old hippie stoner, who I carried on great conversations with while he smoked probably 10 joints. I then go down to my room and retire for the night and I had no idea what was in store for me...

I FINALLY GOT SICK IN INDIA! I never thought I would be excited to type those words but I am so grateful for any expierience I have here, so bring on the sickness! I was just stoked because Ive gone two months without any sickness, where I thought I would be sick everyday..I was awakened 2 hours later, with feeligns in my stomach similar to my sickness in San Francsico last year where I was vomitting for like 5 days straight. And thats exactly what I was doing, among other things which I will not name...I felt death was surely coming soon! hah it was horrible...All of this and I have my course starting tomarrow...

I try to get some sleep (I ddnt at all, I watched news on Mumbai attacks and indian soap operas) and morning time I get a soda, water, mix the two takes some pills and Soni gets me some bananas.
"you no go to Vipassana right?"
"Ofcourse I go."
"You can barely walk you are so weak Cody"
"I dont care. I didnt come to India to wallow in sickness in my hotel room. I am going to Vipassana even if it kills me."

I pack my back and with every ounce of my being I drag myself to the course. I would be better off If I left the course because of my sickness as opposed to not even going.

This course was 10x more challenging than my first one. It was not full of bliss like the first course, not at all. First off, two weeks was not a long enough break between such intense courses. Second, I started it off so sick that I could barely lift my backpack, let alone sit for 12 hours a day. (Its strange how quick I recovered there, I was better within a day or two.)

One of the great things about practicing Vipassana is that is shows you how you create your own misery, so you can stop it. We all are the origin of our happiness and misery. Its not outside ourselves. Our whole lives we are taught to look outside ourselves, never within. During this course it showed me how in many ways how I create my own misery and how I multiply it. At times it was quite disheartening. But another one of the great things about Vipassana is that upon showing you your destructive habit patterns it also teaches you even mindedness in the midst of suffering so it doesnt multiply and ways for you to change your habit pattern of reaction to unpleasantness for planning your future happiness. I realized I have alot to work on to stop creating suffering for myself, but my motivation is so strong that I will never give up on working on it. Everyday I strive ardently to better myself and will never stop.

Then my birthday came on the 5th day. How interesting...Not able to tell anyone that it was my birthday or hear happy birthday,or get sung to, and let alone spend your day dealing with your problems and working in yourself in the midst of lots and lots of discomfot. However, I couldnt have wanted to spend it any other way. My birthday food was absolutely horrible. The food in general was just horrible. It tasted like things you would find in your local hardware store in the paint department. Literally. The WORST indian food I have ever had. But I was grateful for every bite and ate it like it was the best food Ive ever had because I was so hungry. To compound the issue being an old student, you get no dinner. New students get porridge and what looks like a rice popcorn and chai. I got lemon water. I always thought it was impossible for me to sleep on an empty stomach, but each night I was so exhausted it was no problem. You have really no physical activity but I am drained like I did a tri-athalon each day. But in anycase, speaking of their chai, it was not good! My first cup of bad chai! BOGUS! Its ok, instead of Chai I had hot milk, which was absoltely delightful in my ice cold mornings after my ICE cold showers. I looked forward to his hot milk more than my lunch, believe it or not. Ok so, the center was HUGE. The hall held probably 200 people. Then there was a Gold Pagoda where there are individual meditation cells that is probably6 6 by 10 feet, pitch black, and a cushion on the floor. This is where I spent the majority of my time meditatiing. The meditators all had interesting traits to spice up the group meditation sessions. There were monkeys all around the center but instead of red faces they were black, and not nearly as awesome to watch. Quite boring. Then, all around the center there was peacocks. So awesome! Ive never seen or even knew peacocks could fly! That was quite the sight.

So upon arriving I was a bit disappointed, I didnt see any charecters like the last course. Everyone looked quite normal. But I was so wrong once we started meditating the charecters came to life!

Lets start off with the farting. My favorite subject. There were two men. One infront of me and one seat to the right, literally, and the other in the back (Jos which I will talk about later) and both were so unbelievable loud, and so frequent in a given hour they farted probably 10 times. A constant struggle not to bust up in the midst of the silence.

Then behind me, there was a man I called Buba Sparks. He was a plump indian who would clear his throat so loud that I would shake in fear everytime he did. Since there were alot of meditators at the center, space was an issue and you were inches away from your neighbors. So each sound of my neighbors was right in my ear so this throat clearing was deafening. That combined with his constant burping, was quite a distraction indeed.

Then there was MR. Smacks to my left who would smack his lips so loud it was like he was meditating on food and felt he was still eating in the hall, but wanted everyone in the hall to know he was eating. He would also spit chunks of his food out, in the hall. That is Mr. Smacks.

Then the most patience testing was Mr. Sniffles. The day before the course begins its mainly a discourse, and during the discourse about the course he sat next to me. This man did not believe in blowing his nose. His nose was so congested with snot, but he still tried breathing through it, constantly playing with the snot seemed to be his goal. Lucas (who I will talk about later) offered him kleenex but he denied it. So during each group session he would be storting or playing music with his snot every 5 seconds, I kid you not. Also, Lucas told me ahah one time during meditation he would lift up his arms life he was flying and one time doing this, he felt back on his head ahahahahah He wore a white lace dress (that I would expect on a grandma), with jeans underneath, and white socks with red toes. Interesting. His facial features looked more asian than indian. Actually, looked like Vinces asian friend Ted now that I think of it. It was sad, ss the days went on, more and more people moved around him to where towards the last few days of the course he was sitting all by himself because people couldnt stand his sniffles and flying. Understandable.

Then the best of all, Mr Wiggles. He sat next to one of the farters and he was directly infront of me. He would quite often during meditation start shaking so violently and rapidly and breathing so heavily I thought he was having seizures. One night he was shaking so violently one of the assistant teachers came over to him, talked to him and he was moved to the back to not distract the neighbors so badly. When I heard and saw this, this was so hard to hold back my laughter. This was the funniest, I hope his condition wasnt medical related.

All of these people I am extremely grateful they were put in my life and in this expierience. Granted the majority of the time I was VERY VERY irritated with these people, but they are means of practicing compassion and tolerance towards people like this.

Upon the probably 150 male participants there were probably 20 foreigners. less than 10 spoke english. Here are the ones I connected with the most.
"So I am going to my bathroom and I lift up the toilet seat and I see this big black log in the toilet, and I say to my self I dont remember that turd...So I get a stick and I poke it and it was a snake! A snake in my toilet! So I tried to get that bastard out with my stick to play with him." This was Lucas. He was from Argentina and lives in Spain. He looks like a mixture between two of my high school friends. He had long blonde hair and spoke with a thick spanish accent. Funny man, that toilet story was so funny to hear.

"Yeah I had dreads before this but I had an Ayruvedic treatment where they drip oils down your forehead, very pleasant, but the oil wouldnt get out of my hair so I had to shave it all off." This was Scottie. She was from Lousiana and I am completely convinced she was my twin. We hve the same major, same life story, same life ambtions, life views etc. Wow, how awesome this girl is. She is going to Rishikesh as well tonight, We want to go White water rafting in Rishikesh hopefully we can. Awesome girl.

Then there was Jos from France. He now he lives in Australia. He has the same build as me, has dreads to his butt, talks with a thich australian accent, and smokes more pot than cheech and chong combined.
"Yah befur da course I smok 150 grams of pot in 2 week, I take break fo course."
He was a charecter. He has been travelling around for about a year, intially with his wife and kid in france, then he went to India after where they went home. Hes a house painter and lives in a hut. This guy also set the record for the longest, loudest farts in the whole meditation center. It was hilarious, where he like most, thought nothing of it.

Then there was Daniel from Australia as well. When we saw each other we both looked at each other and said,
"I know you from somewhere...Weve met before but dont know where."
Its crazy, I know I met him, I dont ever forget a face and never forget a conversation if we carried one out, so we must have just been passing each other or something but we both remembered each other. I still dont know from where. We also made plans to meet up in Rishikesh to ride some motorbikes around and "chill out" as he would say. It was funny, on the last day, we wanted to "chill out" together for the day there was a bus leaving the center and Daneil says,
"dude Cody! Go get your stuff and lets hop on the bus, it leaves soon!"
"to where?"
"who cares, lets just go"
"im down"
I run get my stuff, he tells me to get on the bus hes gotta get something so I get on, and realize that I do not have my pad on me, scottie has it because she was writting her info in it I plunge out of the bus as fast as I can get my book, hop on the bus and it takes off. Daniel is no where in sight. He calls me up later.
"Thanks for getting on the bus without me!"
"Dude, you told me to get on the bus so I did."
"yeah well...lets meet up today"
Hopefully we will meet up today and get some food like we planned, if not there is always Rishikesh.

So today I managed to make it to my hotel, use the internet which I havnt havd the privilage to do in 2 weeks which is a blessing. Thank you all for your emails on my birthday, it meant more to me than you will know.

Soni was here.
"So what you do today?"
"I need to find a Bible. Its Sunday are the churches open?"
"I hope so."
Before my course we sent the whole day looking for an english copy of the bible. No where to be found. Same with today. I would have brougt one with me if I thought it would be this difficult to find it here. I want it to read in my Ashram in Rishikseh. I am stocking up sacred texts from as many different religons as possible to read in the Ashram so I can read what they have to say. I feel the paths to God are many, but the final goal is still the same. I want to hear them all. For I feel none is wrong, and not one is the only right one.

After doing the errands with Soni, I called Varun.
"Cody dude what is up with your phone I called like 100 times."
"I dont know what you mean, Im calling you from it right now"
"It didnt work for me, You need to pay your bills."
"Varun it sounds like your the one who needs to pay the bills my friend."
"Oh ok Cody, lets go get a beer! I havnt had one in like 2 weeks."
"I havnt had one in 4 years ahah but you can have a beer, I want one of those coffee drinks we had when we hung out before!"
"No beer?!"
"No Varun, you can. By all means enjoy yourself."
"Ok I pick you up in an hour"

So today I will probably spend the rest of the day with Varun and at some point I hope to meet up with Daniel for some good food. In any case, I have a bus tonight to the yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh (which is in northern india). I have made plans to stay at an Ashram for the holidays. Everyone on the otherhand is going to Goa, a city along the southwest coast to party it up, but I want to spent my holidays with my face buried in different holy scriptures and my mind and heart in self development. That sounds slpendid!

In any case, I if I dont talk to you happy holidays to you all. Please spend as much time with your friends and family as possible and be truly grateful to be in their precense. Friends and family are so precious. I will be thinking of you all, sending you my love.

Be Happy!