india, life, Lifestyle

India’s Secret

Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the Truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the Truth is still the Truth.

Mahatma Gandhi

After a few days exploring Hampi, the sleeper bus dropped me back in Goa and I suddenly found myself alone, in the dark and surrounded by stray dogs. With not a rickshaw or taxi in sight, luckily I found a friendly english man who was in the same predicament, so we decided to walk together towards Patnem.

I flung my back pack on my back and we chatted all the way to my studio apartment, without getting attacked by street dogs!

As the sun started to rise, I lay down on my rock hard mattress and dozed in and out of sleep. I had organised to meet Baba Ji later in the morning and I didn’t want to sleep past the time I had arranged to meet him.

Feeling half asleep, I wearily awoke to the sound of my alarm ringing. I had a cold shower to wake myself up, threw on some clothes and walked up the road and along the beach towards Palolem.

Baba Ji had become my friend and teacher and I was really happy to see him. We decided to get some lunch together, so I followed him to a nearby cafe. He lovingly sliced up a juicy over ripe mango and offered me some. Not liking the texture of over ripe, squishy fruit, I hesitantly ate it to avoid being impolite, while a group of westerners were looking on. I thought they must have been wondering what I was doing hanging out with an old bearded man who was dressed in a white loin cloth, nonetheless I didn’t really care what others thought.

Like a concerned father, Baba Ji told me the foods I should be eating and urged me to eat more mango so I politely took another piece while I waited for my meal to arrive. I always felt incredibly peaceful around him and I learnt something new each time I saw him. After a long chat and few laughs, I said goodbye to him and we went our separate ways. 

I was getting used to saying goodbye to people now but I didn’t realise that, that would be the last time I saw him.

I made my way back to Patnem by foot and packed my bags. My good friend had invited me to stay with her before she flew back home to the UK so I decided to spend a few nights in Agonda. I caught a local bus to the next beach around and walked along the searing hot sand, in an attempt to find her.

We eventually spotted each other and after a long embrace we caught up on everything that had happened since leaving Kranti yoga village. She was now staying at Sarvaguna Yoga Centre and undertaking Reiki training.

We walked back to the yoga centre and she introduced me to Keshava, who was the director of the school. I instantly got a good vibe from him and thought he seemed a lot more authentic than Kranti.

I spent the next few days hanging out with my friends and Keshava invited me to the fire ceremony and welcome dinner for the new yoga teacher trainees. I thought that was really kind of him to include me so I joined in on the celebrations, which felt like a gift from the universe and in some ways made up for the exclusion I had felt from being asked to leave Kranti yoga school and missing out on the closing fire ceremony!

I hadn’t been back to my room in Patnem for a week because I was enjoying my time in Agonda so much and I felt like I had found a new, more welcoming and authentic yoga school to be involved with!

Keshava had asked me if I wanted to teach anatomy to the 200 hour teacher trainees in exchange for a room and food and although anatomy wasn’t a subject that I felt confident in teaching, I agreed.

My rent was coming to an end at my room in Patnem, and with everything that had happened at Kranti Yoga Village, I didn’t really want to be staying in the area so I thought moving to Agonda was the perfect solution.

My friend came with me to Patnem to speak with Anna, the lady who Kranti had put in charge of dealing with me, however when we arrived she literally ran away as soon as she saw me. I followed her down to the beach shala and asked her why she wasn’t replying to any of my messages and she was really rude. Getting the money that was owed to me was proving difficult and she kept giving me the run around. So I ended up returning to Agonda, with my stuff still in Patnem and still no money to survive the last few weeks in India.

Eventually Anna decided to meet me at the gates outside Kranti Yoga Village where she handed me an envelope without looking at me. I could feel her animosity towards me and couldn’t wait to leave Patnem.

I looked inside the envelope and counted out the notes. They had paid me only half of what they said they’d pay me, however I felt glad that I had at least got something and I could now put it all behind me.

I loaded up a rickshaw with all my stuff, said goodbye to my landlady and made my way back to Agonda.

By now, my friend had gone back home and she had left me her room to stay in, however I was really nervous about having to teach anatomy! I had originally returned to Kranti Yoga, wanting to improve my anatomy knowledge so they had put me as the assistant anatomy teacher, but I still didn’t feel ready to be an anatomy teacher!

I now had money to pay for my own room so I decided to talk with Keshava and we agreed that I would teach drop in classes instead of anatomy, in exchange for food. So instead of staying in the room at the yoga school, I found myself a nice hut on the beach, which was in walking distance from the school and within budget.

I could now spend my final two weeks in India not stressing about being involved in an inauthentic yoga school that was ripping students off, I didn’t need to worry about teaching anatomy and I had enough money to be self sufficient.

I spent my final days sitting in on Keshava’s yoga philosophy classes, I joined in on Satish’s Hatha classes and I taught vinyasa classes on the weekends. It was a perfect ending to the ups and downs that I had experienced during my second trip to India.

On my last week Baba Ji invited me to go see him in Palolem before I left, but I was getting short of money because India’s Prime Minister had suddenly decided to take 500 and 1000 rupee notes out of circulation in an attempt to tackle fraud, which sent the country into a money crisis. Luckily, I had already spent most of my notes and the place where I was staying at was still accepting the notes I had left, however there was no way I was going to be able to withdraw money for a rickshaw from an ATM as there were queues that went for miles!

So despite him offering to pay the 500 rupees for a rickshaw to get me to Palolem I declined as I didn’t want him to pay for it. After all, he was a sadhu.

I would eventually come to regret not seeing him before I left, but that regret would later turn into a burning desire to return to India to see him again.

India had a way of churning you around and spitting you out. I had so many realisations on this trip. Realisations about what yoga was and where it was heading. India was somehow capitalising on the commercialism that is now deemed modern yoga and there weren’t many authentic teachers left.

Yoga was big business and there were many fake gurus and teachers, yet it still captured my heart in ways that cannot be explained. I wanted to find my guru and I knew I would return despite the challenges I had been faced with and the disillusionment I had experienced with yoga.

It wasn’t until the taxi ride to the airport that I realised how blessed I actually was.

The universe had provided me exactly what I wanted.

I was returning to New Zealand a lot more wiser and I was going to spend Christmas and summer with my family!

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