Love Yourself

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mamallapuram - a lovely seaside village

“Only the self can raise the self;
the self is the help of the self.
Only women can raise women.” Mahatma Gandhi


I hold the vision that you are all well and enjoying the beauty with each day of this wondrous abundant New Year.

My inherent wisdom guided me to come to Mamallapuram, a small seaside fishing village south of Chennai on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. Tanya, my niece, has been here for the last few weeks helping out at an orphanage. It was good that I trusted my inherent wisdom to arrive here as she could use having some one-on-one time with Auntie V. The people here call everyone auntie or uncle. I got to be the real thing. It has been a blessing that we could spend this time together. She really is a treasure and delightful company. I admire her courage to travel on her own here in India.

First day was beautiful weather. We enjoyed the beach and the dance festival. There are real gypsies here. My new friend Jon tells me this is where they originated from. They sell their wares on the beaches. Lots of fishing - so a good place to eat curried fish. This place has been discovered so now there are many tourists here. Too many for me. Sand and sun will do that.

Scattered around the village are many stone boulders with carvings. From dawn until dusk, one can hear the rhythms of chisels chipping granite down to make beautiful carvings.

The first evening after attending the dance festival, I was wandering the street. I turned around and saw an older gentleman sporting a Crocodile Dundee hat. He was rather friendly and we engaged in conversation over tea. Jon is from Holland and has travelled the world as an international journalist, an artist and now a sculptor with a mission. He has been coming to this very town for the last 30 years. Inspired by a comment his daughter made while recovering from a serious accident, “Will I ever find peace in this life”, and enforced when he attended a charity concert in which Barbara Streisand before singing her song “Somewhere” dedicated it to, “memories of all those good men whose lives have senselessly and violently been snuffed out like a candle”, Jon decided to create a peace park filled with sculptures of people that have contributed to peace in some way in the world. These include: Mother Theresa, Gandhi etc. Jon uses the local artists to carve. To date, 23 out of 60 are complete. The park will be called the Jody Lee Universal Peace Park – dedicated to his daughter.

I met many other interesting people that come to Mamallapuram to stay during the winter months. They say they love the quaint places, people and of course the good weather.

The following day I took in an early yoga class and then decided to head off to Pondicherry by bus to visit a friend and pick up a guitar.

I wandered the streets (this is getting to be a habit) looking for a bus stop and a handsome young man gave me a lift on his motorcycle to the main road to catch the bus. I see many of the women with the colorful sari’s riding sidesaddle on the bikes so I was glad to have the chance to do the same.

I took the 1.5 hour bus ride to Pondicherry to visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and a friend of mine has been living and working there for the last 50 years. The ashram was closed when I arrived so I went to find the music store that had been recommended to me. Turns out it was on the same street some blocks away. I found an acoustic guitar that I purchased. I had started to learn to play last year but of course one has to practice every day to get anywhere. One of my new year's gifts and also as I head into my 50th year, I have made a commitment to explore more of my artistic and musical side. We shall see how much there really is.

Most people get around by bicycle as you can see there are many to choose from. Or better still you can go by elephant?

I thought that Pondicherry was much smaller and was amazed to see how large it had grown. It is a city with a French flavour and very busy. I am not as attracted to the city as much as I thought I would be. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is one of the best-known and wealthiest ashrams in India. It was founded by a Bengali philosopher – guru and his chief disciple personal manger "The Mother”. I was introduced to this ashram and philosophy from one of my teachers who had been there over 25 years ago. It is located in the old French Quarter. The streets are cobble stone and quite wide. I did manage to find my friend Kamal - that was a fun adventure.

The ashram is spread out over a large area. It has its own infrastructure which has grown organically as it requires. My ashram friend is working in the knowledge center teaching computers. He was delighted to see me and gave me a tour around, including a visit with his family. I know my friend through emails, which was an introduction from one of my teachers who had worked at the ashram about 25 years ago. Here is a view of the seaside walkway in the French quarter taken from one of the ashram buildings. Shhhh do not tell anyone!

The French Quarter is full of quint buildings so different that the other parts of India.

We had a great visit, shared some tea and a delicious rice and vegetable dish. My plan is to head back here for a few days before moving on. I took the bus back to Mamallapuram arriving after dark and just in time to see another local dance performance.

That night it poured rain so I decided to have a sleep in day and get caught up on writing the blog. The power kept going out so it took the whole day to get that sorted out. Tanya and I went for a south Indian meal for my birthday. I have decided to head off and blow this popcorn stand. Rain, mud, mosquitoes…no thanks. At this point I am not sure where I will go. I still have the chance to head north to Katmandu, to Auroville, Pondicherry or south to Kerala. Let's see where the inner guide moves me.

Until then, have a wonderful day and I will be in touch when I know where I am going next. I leave you with words from The Mother.

Be Like a Flower

A flower is open to all that surrounds it: Nature, light, the rays of the sun, the wind, etc.. It exerts a spontaneous influence on all that is around it. It radiates joy and a beauty.”

Drawings like this one are created with special chalk and placed in front of business and the doorway to homes. Very pretty, creative, festive and welcoming.

With love and deep peace - Valma Ji

1 comment:

Hai Baji said...
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I have created this amazing life, attracting incredible women into my space. All of these women are unique and ready to live their real life too. My definition of success is like a river flowing with freedom, magical adventure, creativity, curiosity and recognition. My personal mission is to travel and create an enlightened world by spreading the light of consciousness. Everything that I choose to BE, DO and HAVE meet this mission and every day in every way I remember who I really am. I love my life!