How to describe the past week? How to put Kerala in words? It is the wealthiest state in India, with a history of communism. The people here (in my experience) are dignified, some of the darkest in India, the women are known for their meticulous care of their hair with coconut oil and their robust bellies…the men for the most part still wear longyis……scenically, it is a shockingly green landscape, with coconut trees towering over rice fields, cows with healthy shiny coats lazing around in the fields…walk through any village and it seems that every plant growing in the roadside gardens has a purpose…black pepper, papaya, coconut, guava, tulsi, ginger…and it is definitely the place that I have been to with the most amazing coconuts, and they are used for just about everything imaginable: coconut oil for cooking, hair oil, body lotion, coconut water for drinking, leaves for making crafts…the smell of coconuts wafts in numerous times daily, its presence dominating Keralan cuisine (a great thing for me!) After Shoonya at Isha, I decided that instead of staying at the ashram for the week between Shoonya and BSP, I wanted to leave to get a little headspace…and I think it was a good decision. I had been wanting to get back in touch with Narayanan since I left Tiruvalla in January, and so I called and he instantly said I could come anytime. So I arrived on the 18th at 9am at Thiruvalla, and he had to go to a different village that day to teach yoga so I was left in the loving hands of his family, whom I couldn’t really communicate with but that didn’t seem to be a problem. In Kerala, and definitely at his home, it seems that time stops for me. We spent the next two days built around our yoga sessions at 7am and 4pm, he and his family showed me all sorts of Keralan tricks in the kitchen, from the coconut grating device to all the different spices and oils. We visited his Ayurvedic doctor friend who is a major Amma devotee…the neighbors took great interest, the lovely 4 children who sat on the neighboring rooftops to partake in our yoga sessions, laughing delightedly at every movement and antic…I took a 36 hour break to go to Amma’s ashram, and the morning of the 20th Narayanan took me to the bus station and waited with me in the rain until I got a bus to Kayamkulam…leading up to it, I kept asking how much I should pay for the yoga classes and my stay at his house and he kept saying he would tell me when it was time. And he threw me on the bus and wouldn’t accept any money…
It was a great idea to spend some time at Amma’s again, get an energy recharge you could call it…I view it as sort of a love and heart energy recharge and boost, and a foolproof way to have insightful conversations with likeminded people. Didn’t fail this time –met Chloe from Aix-en-Provence and we had many great chats and laughs over Amma’s pumpkin bread, butter jam cookies, and ginger oatmeal delights (!! Why is it that Amma’s and Sadhguru’s ashrams have some of the tastiest food in India?! Lure me into spirituality yes!) Also great to reconnect with Krishnan who I’ll spend some time with in Dharamshala in the coming weeks.
I went back to Narayanan’s place after visiting Amma’s, since it felt right. So two more days of the yoga, wandering around the lush green fields near his house, drinking tender coconut water…amazing. Gayathri, the 10 year old granddaughter constantly appearing with smudged Kajal, a very smeary sticky black makeup made from ashes if I understood correctly – a big fan of origami. Tangamani, the elegant wise grandmother, always with a content calm smile. Everyone trying to feed me something every two hours. Narayanan’s childlike joy as he tried to use chopsticks (72 years old and he’d never seen them in real life before).
Also, it was a great opportunity to let the recent experiences of finishing up Japan and going directly to Shoonya sink in.