Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vipassana - Rehab for Poor People Part 2

The official agenda for the day was as follows, but I should have really added Tiger Balm Ladies midnight, mental, chanting, washing of her clothes between 3.00 and 3.30 am and her pill taking and medical cream applying from 9.30 till 10.00 pm but I haven't.
4:00 am
Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am

Meditate in hall
6:30-8:00 am

Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am

Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am

Meditate in the hall
11:00-12:00 noon

Lunch break
12noon-1:00 pm

1:00-2:30 pm

Meditate in the hall
2:30-3:30 pm

Group meditation in the hall
3.30-5.00 pm

Meditate in the hall
5:00-6:00 pm

Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm

Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm

Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm

Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm

Question time in the hall
9:30 pm

Retire to your own room--Lights out

In total we were required to spend over 10 hours a day meditating or in layman’s terms, 10 hours a day sitting on our arses! I was sincerely worried that my bottom would alter shape by the end of the course!
On the first official day whilst walking in the pitch, black morning to the Dhamma Hall the unthinkable happened, my flip-flop broke! Now a meditation course without easily exit able footwear, is like Jesus with no beard or going snorkeling without a snorkel (probably a better example) it’s just wrong, but being my fathers daughter, I managed to fix my flip-flop with a hair bobble and grip. Yes, I looked like a tramp who couldn’t afford a pair of functioning flip flops, as no one had even had the opportunity to see them in their original form, but I was happy with the result. As I entered the hall, I noticed a few of the girls looking at me with sympathy, maybe it was because of the poor state of my flip- flops or maybe they had been witness to the happenings that went on in my room the previous night, either way I could tell they felt for me and I was grateful.

The same as the subsequent session the tape was played, starting with indigestion noises chanting, Goenka (the teacher on the tape) went on to ask us to concentrate on our respiration and told us if we worked diligently and had an ‘equanamous’ (I don’t know what this means or how to spell it?) mind, we were ‘bound to be successful’. Once again I found my mind wondering, this time I was concentrating on peoples morning hairstyles. The scrunchie and plastic hair clip dates back to a time when everyone knew the dance moves to ‘Saturday Night ‘ and the ‘Macarena’, you finished your sentences with the word ‘Not’ and Power Rangers was the best thing on TV, (Kimberly, the pink ranger, and Tommy, the green ranger, were just meant to be together right?) and that’s probably where they should have stayed, but not in India, oh no, they are all the rage! There wasn’t an Indian female head without a bedazzled clip or multicolored scrunchie holding back their luminous locks! I felt rather left out with my non- tangle, brown elastic band, 10 for 1.99 from H&M! I spent the whole two hours looking and anaylsing these hair accessories, and before I knew it, it was time for breakfast.
Oh lord breakfast, the food in general wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, however after getting up at the crack of dawn I was willing to eat anything, even the slop we were presented with. The food was typically Indian and I wouldn’t be able to tell you the exact name of the dishes but what I did know was that it was healthy, vegan food and if I achieved nothing more than weight loss from this experience it was going to be worth it. We were required to queue up in the long hall with plastic seating and tables attached to the wall. We were given a metal tray, cup and little bowls to put our tit bits in. I sat down and started eating my, errm, food and sipping on a cup of Chai, after initially burning my fingers on the metal cup I started to really enjoy it. I've always been a fast eater so therefore finished my food light-years before the others, as it was the first day I was reluctant to leave the hall before anyone else so watched the long line of ants running across the wall until I felt it was the right time to leave, they were my lunch time entertainment!
After a break we returned to the hall for the mammoth 3-hour meditation session, with just a five-minute break half way through. I thought I would really embrace the opportunity that day! I entered the hall first, adopted my cross-legged position and started concentrating on my respiration, within a few minutes I was feeling a tingling sensation on my upper lip, I was pleased with my progress! I was totally in the zone, my mind was calm, peaceful, equanamous, everything it was required to be, until a local Indian girl dressed in traditional sari started burping! I turned around in disgust hoping she would get the picture, I was not alone, everyone starting turning around, but it did nothing, she continued. We soon realized that this was to become the norm, she obviously had a problem and I named her Burptrude!
As the time passed, although disgusting, Burptrudes continued burping became a part of meditating life, as did the terrible pain that I was experiencing in my buttocks. To ensure I could rest my bum in the main break times for the longest amount of time possible, I would be the first out of the meditation hall, first into the dining hall, quickly finish my food then get to my room as fast as possible and lie down. These precious moments were like heaven, even on the skinniest mattresses in the world! The other bonus was that I was fasted kid in town and Tiger Balm Lady was the slowest, I would have the room virtually to myself at these times which was great as I could catch some Z’s. When I could smell her coming I would lock myself in the bathroom and have my bucket bath, quickly get changed and then it would be time to get back to the Dhammah Hall. 
For me the second day was the hardest, I really wanted to leave so I decided to speak to the teacher, I waited in the queue and was overhearing people talking to him about spirituality and pointing to their faces showing wear they were getting sensations. When I arrived I asked him if I could have my phone back, ‘I’ll be alright if I could just send a quick text’ I said, he didn’t understand a word I said and replied saying ‘If you have a pain in your leg, you can move it but try harder next time?’ If I wanted to leave it was going to prove more difficult than I first thought! In the end I did a bit of meditating and I told myself if I stayed another day, I could reward myself with washing my hair, random I know but it seemed to the trick and I didn’t crave home for the remainder of the time I was there.
On the evening of the 3rd day I got back to my room and inspected it for creepy crawlies, scorpians and snakes as I did every night and noticed the blood thrirsty savages waiting for me, not one, but three Mosquitos had made there way into my Mosquito net! The words of Goenka rang in my ears ‘You will not kill a living creature’ but these were Mosquitoes, potentially Malaria carrying mosquitoes, in my eyes it was either me or them, if there was a Great White Shark in my bed I would try and kill it, I had no choice! Just before I made my move I felt a hand on my shoulder, it was Tiger Balm Lady, we had a moment, she looked at me right in the eye as if to say, no! If any killing was going to happen tonight it wasn’t going to start with us, not in this room, not on the eve of the 3rd day! Before I could burst into song in style of Walt Disney animated classic, she grabbed a makeshift fly swat and starting beating the living daylight out of the net and the three mosquitoes- how could I have read the moment so wrong? Once she had finished doing her worst she looked at me, we had another moment, I thought it was best not read this one, I got into bed and went to sleep – scared.
Click here for Part 3


  1. ha ha ha! I was hoping you wouldn't keep me waiting for the second installment about your equanamous trip! I also have no clue with that word means, but figured I throw it in for good measure. I also denied myself the usual joy of googling the unknown… if I don't know the meaning, I can use it any time I want! LOL.
    I read the first part of your trip while washing floor rugs for my Mom at the local laundromat… the 3 elderly ladies sitting across from me were puzzled as to why I was laughing out loud!
    First Tiger Balm Lady and her strange early morning routines…now Burptrude! ha ha ha! Perhaps you were lucky, at least the gas wasn't coming out her other end!
    Day 2 and you were reading to throw in the towel? LOL! Can't wait to hear if you made it for the whole duration… but I'm guessing you did? You've been MIA from the blog for the appropriate amount of time… can't wait to read more about this. Can't help but wonder how close to zen you can really get after sleeping on the equivalent of a Cosmopolitan magazine with Tiger Balm lady going nutzo all night just a few feet away!

  2. HA HA, I love the cosmopolitan magazine analogy, wish i would have thought of that! x Reading it whilst washing you rug, love it! ha Glad you like it, despite thier faults i think i was lucky with tiger balm lady and burptrude else the blog would have been more about the spiritual side which isnt funny! Next installment tomorrow! x

  3. Ha, that brings back more memories. "...bound to be successful.... bound to be successful." How often does he repeat himself! And it sounds like malaria watch has risen to a whole new level now.

  4. LOVE that you named everyone! When I first went to India, I took a girlfriend and on our adventures we named people as well... "Sam" was mid-twenties and wore a batman belt and helped us get from a hotel to a rickshaw in Varanasi through a maze of buildings, "Santa" was the driver of said rickshaw and completely had an over-done rickshaw with a blasted radio, mini t.v. and about every garland and diety you could imagine, "Oliver" was the front desk of another and we even had a picture of him holding our mini-companion, a tiny stuff tiger.
    "Edward" (Eddie, affectionately) was a car driver who took us down 3 hours of hairpin turns down the mountains, then got a flat 4 kms from the airport.

    It's hilarious moments of the juxtaposition of old and new, clean and dirty, beautiful saris and scrunchies, traditional and modern, rich and poor... it all makes me love India, and giving everyone very English nicknames, the best.

    You have a big fan of your blogs over in north-west America. LOVE it.. you finally gave me a real voice to how insane/wonderful adventures in India really are. I'll publically post my own blog following my wedding in Delhi in November. :)

  5. @Sharell, ha ha ha! You are right! Never had Malaria watch felt to real!

    @Kelly, thank you for your note that is really lovely!! Ha, ha I love naming people I've done it all my life, I've always been terrible at names, when I used to write minutes in meetings it never used to be Mr Harris said this or Mrs Burns said that it would be Nice handbag lady said this, Bald head man said that! Make sure you give me the address of your blog, got a feeling its gona be a good one! x

  6. Thank you for your blog! It is hilarious! I will be attending a 10-day Vipassna here in San Francisco in July (hopefully, as I am still on the waiting list). My first time as well.

    Keep writing! You entries always make me smile :)

  7. Kabir, thank you. Serioulsy I dont know if you have read my latest entry but take a comfy cushion with you to sit on as you are sitting for a long time and ailments can occur!!


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