My eyes are opened. I’m fully awake. This is what life in India is about. No fancy Bollywood movie, but rough life in rural areas. A real life documentary pur sang. Still I’m waking up each day. With every moment. Not only because the boys of the orphanage pass down my window chit chatting in turbo speed Kannada language to go to their morning meditation at 6 am, when I’m working the sleep out of my body during my yoga practice, but also because the Indian way of living keeps on surprising me. Sometimes it touches me so much that it makes me completely silent. No words can describe what this being here does to me, but I can tell you this. If you want to experience life as it is, in all its facets, this is the place to be. It shines like a rough diamond with the blinkering of an inner soul that almost hurts the eyes.
No other place where I would rather be right now. It took me a little while to get here and some obstacles to take, but it’s all worth it. After some days of rest and reflection in Bangalore because of a broken toe which got infected, last Sunday morning I could finally make my way to Chamarajanagar, the village where Deenabandhu Trust is situated. I was lucky that somebody could drive me there, since the option bus-train-bus would be an expedition on itself, which was not so wise to do for me given my foot. Anyway, according to the people in Bangalore it would take us about two hours to get there. Now I already know that awareness of time is very relative and it didn’t surprised me that we finally arrived after almost six hours. Which also could have been four to be honest, but I think the man who drove had some kind of short-term memory problem. That’s to say, we had stop at least twenty times to ask for the way to Deenabandhu. Each time he nodded Indian style (so you never know if he got it or not) and then after 100 meter we had to stop again, where the same story began. With story I really mean story, because Indians like to talk a lot, especially when they have the feeling they can teach you something, which can take quite some time. By the way, awareness of direction is also something personal I’ve noticed… And of course we also had to stop during the trip for some cows that were crossing the road and they are absolutely not in a hurry too. Nobody is. Take your time and life as it is. So we did quite well actually according to the Indian standards and I’m proud to tell that I’m progressing every day.At the point at which I thought that we were never ever going to make it to Deenabandhu, driving around on a hilly bumpy road, two children came running out of a house and were asking us where we were going to. They ran in front of the car, showing us the way to the orphanage, where the boys of Deenabandhu’s Boys Home warmly welcomed me. In the blink of an eye, they pulled me out of the car and showed me their homes. Akka akka, look, this is my bed. Akka come. Akka look, this is what I made. Akka! Akka? I lacked hands, arms, eyes and ears for all these beautiful diamonds that wanted to show me their world. In the same time they were showing me a pure openness for which my heart completely melts, especially knowing where they come from and where they’ve been gone through at such a young age. Although I’ve seen some orphanages in poor areas before, this one is very special in its kind. One that shines so bright of love and acceptance, that it will open your eyes forever.
So each meal I’m sitting there. In the dining hall, on the ground, surrounded by dozens of little boys. I sit and cannot stop watching this wonderful show they presenting me, drenched with wise lessons. Praying for each meal to Annapurna, the Devine mother of abundance, showing their gratefulness for the gift of food. The helpfulness of the bigger boys, making sure that every boy gets enough to eat. The way they’re emptying the plates with their little hands. The cheerful smiles they’re sending me in between each mouthful. It makes me smile inside, even more when I see that there’s always enough food for everyone, also for the starving boys who can’t almost keep their patience, with their hand raised up in the air, asking for more. And not to forget the enormous hospitality they’re showing me, giving me all these extras, which me sometimes gives uncomfortable feeling. Because being here, makes me realize that I don’t need that extra chapatti, that piece of fruit or a special cup of tea. The unconditional love that I feel coming from the children is already so nourishing and makes me very humble at the same time.
After my yoga practice in the morning, I’m fortunate to wake up again during my runs near Deenabandhu with Lokesh, who introduces me to all the facets of Indian life. Lokesh, being a diamond himself, with a Deenabandhu history, is for me a great example of how you can overcome obstacles in your life by doing your best, with the right intentions and a warm heart. He grew up in the Boys Home and left a couple of years ago to Mysore for his bachelor studies. Now, at the age of 21 he’s back and helps prof. Jayadev, the owner the orphanage, wherever he can. In January 2015, he’s going to Germany with a scholarship to do his masters. His whole being is one radiance of enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Besides our lovely runs in the morning, a good preparation for the Kilimanjaro climb in February, he also takes me to the local market to buy some fruit, shows me every place he knows in the area and teaches me everything he knows about the Indian culture. Always with the same smile, always yearning to learn about my culture, about my way of living and the things that I do. Walking around together in the neighbourhood must be some speciality for the local people. They look, giggle, talk and even a vicious policeman came the other day to ask Lokesh where he was going with me and what we were going to do and why. It doesn’t seem to bother him. He takes life as it is, with a big smile and a belief in what he’s doing, whether it’s his thesis on the existing ants in Karnataka or drinking a coconut with me on the corner of the street on our way back from the market.
These first awakenings make me very much aware of the fact that even when they are covered by dust, filth and red clay, some diamonds have the capacity to shine trough all layers of human existence. When they are provided with the right nurture, they can flower and grow. We’re in this together. Being a human being is being a small matter, but if we connect through love and compassion we can reach great things. We can help a child to reach the sky.
Chamarajanagar India – October 2014
This year I’m going back to this wonderful place and to volunteer as psychologist and yoga teacher and will be celebrating my birthday with all the orphans in a big yoga event that I will organize that day! And I have one big wish for my birthday this year…to raise as much funding as possible to give back to the country that gave us the gift of yoga!
Join me in starting a sustaining revolution of giving. Help a child to reach the sky! Together we can make a difference. Just a small donation will go a long way to helping me meet my goal for Yoga Gives Back.