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!