After three days in Kochi where I tried to sell stuff to make money, almost impossible in India where everyone things you are so rich you must actually bleed dollars and piss pounds, i abandoned the exorbitant price hiked town after a handful of overpriced dinners and booked a train back to Kudle beach. Or I tried to. I went to Ernakulam, waited four hours for a delayed train and ended up in Mangalore having missed the connection. Then I took a seven hour bus to Gokarna. Then a rickshaw then I worked down the path in the pitch black but didn’t fall in the ravine. YEAH! But, hey India and I did get to see a bit more of Karnataka (and made a mental note that Udupi really doesn’t seem worth the effort) and also see A LOT of roadworks, essentially the road from Mangalore to Gokarna is just one huge 7 hour roadwork, which is fun, when youre on the cheap bus which doesn’t have ‘suspension’. You might as well ask for a ticket to Gokarna please sir and a couple of shattered vertebrae, because that’s what your back feels like by the end.
So Kudle, kudle kudle. All dreams coming true (I wrote 60,000 words) and hammocks (I bought one the same shade I want my future living room to be,lol, like I’m going to afford a living room) and then I decided I needed an Ashram.
An Ashram or some self-control to put down the readily available beer and calamari and smokes and write some more. You know, be the person who finished the novel in India. Not the person who almost finished and then gave up and drank beer. And as much as I loved lolling on the beach, I wanted something else.
In an ideal the world I’d have headed to one I’d recently heard about, however unfortunately that one is near Haridwar, which is near Rishikesh, which is north of Delhi, aka thousands of kilometres from where I was in the cold and rain of Himachal. Okay so I wanted space and peace but less than I wanted to buy socks. (I hate socks)
I had the whole of south India to choose from! Thousands of square metres of space! So I narrowed it down three options. Sai Baba in Bangalore. Don’t like Bangalore so no. Auroville in Pondicherry, after my first and only experience of beloved Pondy, um no, also apparently its likely to expensive and booked up. Thirdly and Finally and the most sensible option was Amritapuri.
Amritapuri. The ‘backup plan’ because I always have one, the name I’d casually, jokingly thrown around with abandon because it would never happen. Ever. On the practical side it’s ‘only’ four hours by train from Kochi airport. Well a train, two rickshaws, maybe three and a bus journey or two from Kochi airport, but hey, same state atleast?!
But, really? Was I in the mood for second chances? Nope.
Well I guess if I hate it I can just go to Varkala? Right? Plus I am going to actually write… I mean. It has pepsi and chocolate and from what I could remember really nice vegan gluten free pancakes. Plus Amma was away, right?
Amma was away.
I get there. (oh if only it was that easy – in short, robbed on train and then half of my face swelled up)
And guess what. Amma is back. Well almost. She’s back the next day. But, you know, now I’m here I guess, and there’s a smoking pit! Unofficially there is, and by smoking pit I mean place you can smoke as opposed to a place where they ritually sacrifice westerners in homage to Amma aka Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. Because in fairness, I think last year given the option I’d have gone with The Temple of Doom over returning to Amritapuri. But now I was there. And Amma came back and well. I guess I changed my mind.
Seeing the sweet little Indian lady with the glittery nose stud cocooned in white robes, if you blotted out the insane people chasing after her and trying to touch her, it all looked okay. Plus think of all the humanitarian work. All of it. The colossal amount she has persuaded people to do and to give all because of hugs. Saving the world with hugs.
And then she did impromptu darshan in the Kali Temple. And I got a hug and I felt. I actually felt. I felt something, and it took a while. And then I realised it was complete and utter reassurance. Like a big ol pat on the back that said ‘You’re doing good kid. Trust yourself’ which is what might have happened if she were a cowboy and we were in Arkansas, but we were in Kerala and she was a sixty year old cutie pie dolled up like the baby jesus. Who made people weep. Uncontrollably and made people yell and shout and dance and all because of hugs. So I emailed my actual Mother and told her where I was and that I wouldn’t be online every two minutes, although she was used to it because of Kudle. I then had to email her the day after as I realised I’d sent her the website address and the website address made me look like I’d joined a cult. I think it may also have made my mum google what ashrams were because I’m pretty sure she has no idea but you never know. So anyhow, I went from Kudle to Cuddles. And I thought that was quite an amusing way to start the year. So I figured I’d blog about it. Then remembered how long it took to load gmail and figured I’d type it and upload it later. Et voila.