Monday, October 06, 2008

Meet My Friend Jerry

The first line of this email indicates to me that posting this to my blog would be a welcome thing. My friend Jerry is an, interesting, guy. Jerry is a retired NYC fireman having suffered injuries, and in my opinion, serving as a hero in, the 9/11 tragedy. Since retirement, Jerry has spent a lot of time getting into Yoga and nutrition and traveling – spending a great deal of time in India. It is not uncommon for a group email to go out during one of his pilgrimages and what follows is the latest of those group emails. My dear readers, meet my friend Jerry:

Apologies for the group thing and please share with other family members. Hotmail only lets me mail so many at a time, etc... so please pass to husbands, parents, sons etc you know I know.

Really not much to write. Got into Delhi without any real hitches. Only spent about 24 hours there and was on a night train up the the foot hills of the Himalayas around Nainital. The trains are really cool. Theres a main hallway you go through which has beds to one side of it. These have only curtains (I'm describeing whats known as 2nd class AC (air cond)) in front of them, so it can get a bit noisy.... On the opposite side of this main hall is another curtain which has rooms behind them. HEre, especially if you can get a top bunk, you can get what winds up being your best nights sleep in INdia! Mostly joking. 1st class AC has rooms behind glass doors private for a couple.... but theres something to be said for going at things a little closer to how Indians live.... to a certain degree. I dont really want to ride with a bunch of chickens etc, but I also dont want tto go from 5 star hotels to 5 star hotels either. Middle way...
     Anyway, I had a cab prearranged for me to get me to where the train goes to (the end of the line, a town called Katgodam) and from there we went another hour or so north. The all night train ride was 525 rupees.... $12! The cab ride? 1000 rups. Even here ... gas prices! ANyway, the car got me close enough for me to make it to the ashram I'm affiliated with and I've been there (untils todays trek to put out an email) since. There's a puja going on celebrating the Goddess Durga and it feels very ancient. I feel pretty lucky to be a part of it. No pics unfortunately (maybe fortuantely, really) but its just a nice feeling being created. The locals are showing up in droves. They still get a kick out of the "Westerners" sitting in front of a murti (statue) of one of their Gods and singing a prayer in their own language. The kids especially look as if their eye brows might furrow right off their heads. Its only a small part of it though. Mostly I'm just an observer and get most of a kick out of just helping out around the place, cleaning this or that, just meditating on th enature etc... A tree is a tree a bird is a bird and thats where I connect to the spirit. It IS all the same. Th eviobe here just makes it easier to see.
     I'm staying in a room just across the street. No hot water, so I either have to drop a heating coil into a cold bucket in the AM, or wait until its hot in the afternoon. And its a bucket bath. In th emorning it is quite cold. I'll have on a short and long sleve shirt, a jacket, scarf and hat. During the day, its hot even in a short sleve shirt. It must change more than 30 degrees.... Mountains! ANyway, I'm up obsenely early here... in the 3 or 4's. I know. I dont know who this is. At home I was gettinmg to bed mostly past midnight! SO go figure? And its very simple. Lots of quiet time to meditate, then there are formal prayers which, being rather extensive, they only sort of suggest we "only" do the last half hour or so. A small breakfast, then some down time. The the puja to the Goddess begins. Like I said, you feel like you just went back 5000 years. Its neat. I'm not a Hindu, so I'm sure these people relate to it on levels I can only imagine, but for me it brings peace, and how can that be a bad thing? Who am I to judge? And th erest of the day unfolds in this simple way... there are times where nothing is going on and others when the ashram is doing something specific. With waking so early, NAP TIME has become my salvation(!) if I can get it. Its very necessary.
      Sounds a bit boring, but its really not. COming from the ammount of info we take on in America, its an unwinding process for me and its been very good.
       What comes next we'll see. Badrinath, a town IN the Himalayas is calling, but I havent gotten any clear news yet on whether roads I'd be taking are STILL THERE! Again, only half kidding. Besides the monsoon, the Indians said there was a very unusual ammount of rain this year, and at one stretch rioght before we came, it rained HEAVY for 3 STRAIGHT DAYS! So well see. If its meant to be etc...
         Otherwise all else is well. Monkeys are starting to show up looking for scraps. Cows come down th esteps and across the bridge to the ashram (havent seen them inside yet, I think they use the path behing the ashram to go up to the woods there to feed.
          Heard about the Mets (Anton, pls send this to Jeff?) So sad to end Shea on such a down note. MAybe I'll ask a few Sadhus to come back with me so we could put them in the bull pen! Cant be any worse!.... ANd on that note.... Again, apologies for the group email thing. Be back in a little less than a month. Time flying, and not...
          In Peace, Jerry 

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