A note on my three blogs

A note on my blogs

(1) vio; in love with india - this one is the main blog about my Indian adventures, which started in 2005. I don't write much on this blog these days because I prefer to write privately in the confidential blog. But check out the categories and the index to figure out your way. I have kept some older posts not about India but which I still find interesting or relevant in Old words. Also check out my new, fun category Only in India in which I post photos of funny, unique, Indian situations...

(2) vio; sounds of india - this is my blog of sounds, because India wouldn't be as incredible if it was not so vibrant and just so full of incredible sounds!

(3) vio; confidential - this an extension of my main blog in which I post entries I do not want to reveal to the entire webspace for privacy or sensitivity reasons. You must receive an invitation from me and then accept the invitation to be able to read it. You may email me if you are interested in receiving an invitation.


Friday, 21 December 2007


In Pondicherry/Auroville now. Art residency for two weeks. I was happy to meet B'ee & Michael again, though the time on my own was definitely for the best. I feel refreshed and confident and thus more independent.

So we are here for a week, in the beautiful company of theatre artists. The place is beautiful and clean, the food -again- marvellous. There is nature and red earth and lots of neem trees around us in the garden, with papaya trees and orange trees and banana trees and lots of other beautiful things that freshly land in our plates everyday. There was LOTS of rain for the first two days (a cyclone nearby) but it is over now. sunny again but generally cooler than in Kerala, which is nice.

So there is nature and quietness to inspire us, and a theatre and instruments we can use a few hours everyday. I play lots on my violin, I sing a little bit, we have played and sang and improvised together. Though I don't know what we'll come up with; it is a little funny for me with two rather talented professionals. I have a violin and a voice to play with, but I am a virgin, to say the least! But I take it as it comes. I open my heart and see the love grow; for with love there is no effort. We have been asked to give an intimate concert on Christmas Eve but there is no pressure for me. I will perform if I feel ready and I will not if I don't. There is a lot here for me to take the opportunity to use, even if it is only the beautiful floor of our room for my head - and shoulder stands.

Auroville is just nearby, well we almost are in Auroville. I have no idea what will happen next - as usual...

Today I was blessed by a temple elephant. I put a rupee in his nostril and he touched my forehead with his trunk. i don't know what it means but it made me happy.

Oh and it's Christmas - but hardly believable here really.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Amma's ashram (more)

Only eight days here in the ashram but what seems something like a month, considering all that has happen in my head and in my environment.

It is not just the two hugs that I received from Amma. These were rather odd actually, and I didn't feel much that I could perceive. Here it's the whole ashram life that has been incredible. The moods I have been in, from extreme negativity and scepticism and wondering what the hell I'm doing here, many the first three days, to - within minutes - a complete reverse of the situation. The stories and experiences from the people I have met here. And what people, what variety, from all walks of life, such different people, but with each so easy to speak to and open your heart. Because this place is full of love. I only have thirty minutes to spend on the computer because there is a queue, and I feel overwhelmed with all the things I want to say.

I was meant to come here. I see it clearly now. I have learnt a new meditation technique which feels like it came to me. I have met two new friends I feel I have known forever, and I am to travel to Auroville tonight with them. An incredible 74-year-young French man, and his young "brother", also French, within minutes of meeting them they had adopted me.

A day after tomorrow I will meet with B'ee and Michael again to go to the art residency for two week (in Pondicherry) where we are meant (?) to play music together and offer a performance at the end of our stay. It was the only certain plan we had when we came here to India, so I am eager to find out what will happen during these two weeks. A hell of a lot, too, surely. I also wonder how it will be to see B'ee and Michael again, after such time apart from them - I have almost forgotten about them. But I will be positive I am sure, I clearly needed this breath of fresh air and detachment from them. I just don't know how different it will be between us all. After the two weeks, I don't know, but I have a strong will right now to stay in Auroville with my two new french friends. We will see.

Back to Amma's ashram, an incredible place, amazing to see how drawn every individual is to this saint woman. I witness (surprise) myself to be drawn to her too. I have been close to her, I have had jobs to push people close to her in the queue to make the darshan line go smoothly. I hardly know how to describe it, one has to witness and see it: 14 hours of hugging non-stop. And there was the bhajans, devotional chants lead by Amma too. So much energy and beauty, like a concert every other night. This ashram is bathed in music at very many hours of the day. One is very free here too, smokers can go out and smoke even. The food is incredible. So clean and safe, and I didn't take any supplements and my stomach is super clean and happy. Yoga classes, music classes which Life has prevented me to take.

Another clear thing here is that life is completely unexpected. Everyday I had an idea of what I was going to do during the day and life (Amma!?) made it completely otherwise. Every single day. And when I had decided I wanted to stay away from Amma, she clearly called me nearer her, so that four days in a row I was close to her for around an hour. Or more. For darshan or for doing seva (selfless work or service) in the darshan queue or for just sitting near her and watching other people receiving theirs.

An incredible place. Completely incredible... And the view, and the stretched out Arabian sea and the millions of coco trees... And masses of love floating around above all...

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Amma's ashram

So I have spent 20 hours on bus & train on my own, travelling alone for the first time in India. There were times when I was surprised at myself for not freaking out. But I love the place, I can't help it, as if it was a distant home somehow. I cannot describe. I am so happy.

And this morning I arrived at Amma's ashram, alone in my auto-rikshaw. I had to ask the driver to stop at a funny procession thing, apparently a youth festival, with three decorated elephants with people on it. I was amazed. More elephants. But I didn't want to get distracted and on we went to Amritapuri, home of Amma.

We were driving incredibly close to the coast, the Arabian sea. And there were desolated huts and houses and workers, and dead coco trees, and then I saw the Amma Tsunami Fund signs all across the street and realised that this place, too, had been hit by the tsunami and I could see some of it. And I could experience it. And then my eyes went big with astonishment.

When we arrived at the ashram I was taken by a serious-looking guard up to the international office to register. The office was above the temple, beautiful yet not too shiny or over the top, and lots of people in white were working selflessly. It seems there was joy in there eyes. How bright and open the eyes of the guy at reception was, I must say I freaked out a bit. Then I was taken to my room, or more like a flat, on the 11th (!!!) floor of the tower block. I was gobsmacked at the view up there, on one side the Arabian sea stretching out, on the other the masses and masses of coco trees. And there is a river passing by and a bridge, and it is all incredibly gorgeous. I am awaiting sunsets and sunrises...

I share my room with a Finnish girl, dressed in white too, who has already followed Amma on her travels for six months. Her mother is sharing the room too but she is away for two days. I only have a mattress on the floor as they had to make room for me, because Amma is arriving tomorrow night and there are lots of people here. It is funny how everybody is talking about this woman, completely in awe. Yet, there is a sense of freedom here, you don't have to follow the routine, and although you are advised to take part in selfless work (seva) about two hours a day, we were told that we don't have to do it. I am yet again amazed though: my Finnish flatmate had just taken me to lunch (gorgeous European food which will be wonderful for resting my stomach) that a woman came to her to ask if, as her seva she could help out on care work shifts with a woman with arthritis coming from Germany tonight. "I have worked in a nursing home", I said, and so I have my seva all set up: care work, exactly what I've been doing as my job in the UK. I should have 4-7pm shifts, too, which should consist of helping the woman out during darshan and setting up for bhajan "near Amma" (or did I understand right? We shall see, we shall see...)

Anyway. It's all a little surreal here. Rather overwhelming I must say. There will be yoga classes for me most morning I hope, and on Monday I'll try a harmonium class. I just found a book on violin, too, with bits on Indian music. I am so happy I have made it here on my own. I cannot compare this experience with the Shivananda Ashram which felt so odd and "not quite right somehow". I am so happy I am here, and I am so happy I am here alone to make it completely my own experience. I wonder what will come out of it, but somehow I feel a lot of positivity and potential already. But shush.

Amma is coming tomorrow night. Everyone says it will be crazy. I keep asking my way round to people, there are some very interesting people here indeed, and such an incredible variety; brahmacharis (monks and nuns), families, travellers and passers-by, people who live here but work outside, volunteers, teachers because there's also a college here, lots and lots of people from all over the world, but also lots of Indian people too, which is nice. And there's recycling facilities and maybe I'll find some selfless work in that to see how they recycle plastic bottles into other things. And there's the ayurvedic clinic, ayurvedic astrology, etc. etc.

Overwhelmed is the word, but I am quite comfortable in my discomfort (or should it be disbelief?)...

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

From Kodaikanal to Kollam

We are now in Kodaikanal, some 2000 metres high up in the mountains. It is lovely and cool here, it was even cold when we arrived two nights ago. I have been wearing my jeans and my sweater and scarf, and I have indeed been enjoying it VERY much!!! This is also a good reminder that it is now December, and indeed, winter. So easy to forget most of the time in India...

I have been a little disrupted in the stomach lately, but the wonderful essential oil pills from my dear health food store back in France have been working wonders, so I am alright now... Still, I was very pleased this morning to enjoy a brownie, an egg sandwich, and a ginger cake for breakfast. Pure bliss, that and the no-sugar, no-milk, BLACK coffee that tasted like the one I make at home... I clearly needed that.

I will be taking the road alone for about a week from today. My orientation skills are too poor to catch up with the boys', that with being in India and all, I have been a little (read: very) passive here. It puts pressure on our relationships, and it has been a little difficult to handle. It is a pattern I always recognise in me but the extreme context has magnified it. I could see it so clearly, but it was hard to rise up while I was 'down in the pit'. It could go on no longer, and it burst out yesterday, and so I have decided that I have to go alone for a bit. To regain some self confidence. And to have a little bit of fresh air; it was difficult but I feel hugely lighter today from making the decision already. Being in India doesn't help of course; I was going to travel India ANYWAY with or without the boys, but it was all too easy to me reposer sur mes lauriers whilst I was with them. It is not easy everyday. There is a lot of insecurity I have to deal with, too, lots of issues that come up every day. That is all the meditation. Today I feel good and I am very grateful for the difficulty.

This morning I have been mostly alone and it has proven fruitful already. I am comfortable in India (well, most of the time anyway) - obviously I also LOVE the place very dearly, there is no question. So I will take the road alone; bus and train are booked. Tomorrow morning I will arrive in Kollam, and then I will spend a few days at Amma's ashram. Amma will be there from 10th December. I have to do this, I have to visit this place. There should be more yoga classes, and music classes too. And Amma and perhaps a very magical hug. And a whole new environment to explore on my own, an environment I am very curious about indeed....

It is amazing how much you can unblock in just a few hours or a night when you accept and let go. I already feel so much more spacious, positive and light than yesterday. And when this happens, life is quick to confirm it to you, too...

Monday, 3 December 2007

Today i saw an elephant and my face lit up like a child

Today we arrived at Madurai. The train journey was wonderful. The landscape, that earth so orange married with the intense green of the trees amd leaves; the colourful delapidated yet beautiful houses, the rice fields with lots of goats, and the colourful workers, passing by. And the Indian men who sat with us in the compartment, they were so friendly and they talked to us so much about themselves and their cultures making sure we understood it better.

I am slowly getting used to my environment, my new habits healthwise, there is more trust too that I will be OK, less paranoia about stomach bugs and malaria, and so with it comes more energy to focus and the positive, to enjoy the people, and how I love those people, and the bright smiles of the children - the children, when I see them and they ask me for my name, I remember why I so much want to work with and help them, I hope in Calcutta...

There is so much to make my smile and eyes bright here. And today, in Madurai, when we arrived at the hotel, the hotel-man told Michael that we should wait here and in half an hour an elephant would come to be fed. When Michael told me this I quickly forgot about it because I didn't quite believe it. And then I saw this massive beast come towards us, and I felt my eyes suddenly growing very big, and my mouth dropping, with a huge smile on it. The man was guiding the elephant towards us, and they fed him with lots of Indian food like humans eat, chapati or those coconut bread things and I forget the name of these things now, but they are delicious. And when the elephant came to drink, the man put the whole steel pot in his massive mouth and I had to pinch my eyes for fear that it was going to swallow it, but no. And we saw his huge tongue and tusks, and eyes, and wrinkles, and how precisely he could move his trunk to take the small pieces on the floor like it would take it with two fingers. It was so bloody close to us! I was like a little child, looking at it so carefully all the time, that I actually surprised myself -- I knew, in theory, that I loved elephants, but I was witnessing my own behaviour and wow, I do absolutely love elephants! :D

India is always full of surprises. We never know how the day will unfold, where we will end up, how, what we will do, who we will meet, what lesson we will learn. It unfolds in front of our eyes and we have no choice but to live the meditation, to live the present here and now, to be completely drawn into the adventure, moment after moment...

And here I am a happy smiling child.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Tenkasi, off the tourist tracks

Already a week with no internet. Time flies.

Since last time we have been spending four days in the Shivananda Ashram in Neyyar Dam near Trivandrum. It was good but too many occidental people there taking a training course, and some aspects are a little westernised - sort of, to keep it super-brief! When we left we were glad to see local people again. Still, we couldn't really complain; amazing food, a lake with super warm water to bathe in, breathtaking landscape, yoga classes twice a day, chanting and meditation, talks, a meditation walk at 6 in the morning etc. oh and we took part in a puja, too. It was good to put our bags down for some time and look after our bodies - especially necks and backs.

Now we are in the mountains; it is lovely and cooler, slowly on our way to Chennai and Pondicherry. We have left the touristic tracks - the last two towns, Thenmala and Tenkasi are not in our guide books, which is nice! One of the staff at the ashram commented that it was nice to see travellers as opposed to tourists! It is lovely and rural, and people seem even more happy and surprised to see our white faces. Always happy to help for sure. Now we are in Tamil Nadu, and so the language has changed yet again. The script looks more round and squared, and it sounds a little different. But everywhere we go we make sure we know how to say thank you.

Healthwise everything is still fine, though B'ee and I have had a weakening cold in the last couple days - I am recovering already though - I am still surprised at how well we do, but we feel more relaxed and used to how to take care of ourselves now. Yesterday we found amazing ginger wine which has helped my cold a lot, and there's this amazing fruit, the amla (gooseberry) which is used in lots of tonics (my favourite is chyawanprash - a gooy paste a bit like molasses with lots of herbs and vitamins and yum) - it helps for our health, too!!