Activities on June 18 to 21, 2007
We took an out of town trip for three nights and four days. Our first stop was an Ashrum of Narayagu. We walked around and looked at the site, were introduces to the most senior Swami “teacher” and listened to lunch time prayer. We then joined the travelers and worshipers for a delicious lunch. Everyone was so very friendly and open, it is a joy to be exposed to it. We had a private meeting with the Swami and went to the book store to purchase books written by Narayagu.
Our next stop was a school and orphanage for Tsunami children. We met with some students, they danced and sang for us and we preformed for them as well. The children are just amazing and beautiful, dealing extremely well with the trauma they experience. The head Swami of the school met us and talked about the mission of the orphanage.
The final stop for the day was at the Ashram of Amma, called Amritapuri. Followers, worshipers, seekers and tourist from all over the worked come here to worship or explore their inner self. The compound accommodates many people in simple, monastic like rooms. We had dinner after checking into our rooms and a code of conduct is posted for everyone to view and to respect. We staid in the international guest house with western style bathrooms and Hindu’s stay in a separate building. Another building is occupied by hundreds volunteers that come from many part of the world.
After a good nights rest and nourishing breakfast we toured the Tsunami hit area and saw ruins as well as many newly constructed houses that Amma paid for. Next we met the children at the local school. Most of them lost people close to them in the Tsunami on Dec. 26 th , 2004. Some of them have contributed to a book that was put together by CSU students and Dr. Nair. We handed out books to each of the contributing authors. It was a great joy to be around the many children and it was sad to leave them. After lunch, which we took in the company of a volunteer (14years) from New Jersey. She had done extensive travels with Amma. To help our digestion we walked to the college on the other side of the bridge, the main land, where we met head master and were given a two hour tour of various facilities. A couple of researchers gave us a very interesting condensed presentation of a research project, funded by six companies, that monitors earth movement through sensors to prevent dangerous mod slides.
Our next scheduled appointment was at the chapel gift store with the lady from N.J., followed by a movie presentation about Amma and her many projects. This was followed by meeting with the project manager of micro enterprises and one of Amma’s assistance on the top floor of the hospital which is expending. The program gives loans to individuals, mostly Tsunami widows after going through vocational training to start their own micro enterprise. This is an amazing solution to curbing poverty. After a brief rest a few of us attended evening song and this was followed by a delicious dinner.
The last meeting of the day was with the Swami Jana, Amma’s right hand man, a very charismatic person. Instead of a presentation we had a dialog with him regarding religion, worship of gods, human gods and reincarnation.
The next morning we drove to the largest fresh water lake in India with a stop at an organic restaurant funded by one of Dr. Nair’s friends. In amazing, visually beautiful meal was served to us. Our host accompanied us to our accommodations, traditional Kerala style houses build on the side of the lake, simply gorges. We took a boat ride to a bird sanctuary on a Island, where we took a nature walk, exploring fauna. Our nest stop by boat was local fish market. Where most of us took great delight in mingling with the fisherman and viewing the varies spices caught in a lake. While we were there a local man brought a 50pound fresh water fish to sell at the market and out host purchased it for his restaurant. We also picked out what fish we wanted to the following day for lunch. When we returned to our historic cottages we were served chai, coffee, and fried bananas. Some students relaxed before dinner while others went with the compound owner to the acupressure treatment. And then freshly cooked meal was served to us sitting in the soft night breeze in an intoxicating environment.
The next morning was out first chance to sleet in, if so desired, and our first stop on the return trip was lunch at the same restaurant from the day before. We ate delicious food including the fish from the day before. Following a short ride, we stopped to watch an Indian family friendly movie. It was a cultural experience. Before returning to the campus we stopped for dinner at a beautiful restaurant. During the driving time we interact with our accompanying local social science graduates. This adds to our understanding of the language and culture.