I sit at my computer, wondering what crazy post to share with the world next. And it strikes me- why not tell the global community how little moments can make life all the more sweeter and richer and more beautiful?
A couple of weeks ago, our school had organized a trip to Chinmaya Ashram, as part of a ‘Pride of India’ initiative for youth. For those of you who don’t know what an ashram is, it’s sort of like a hermitage. Or a place which strives to achieve a sense of simplicity and positive communal living.
In the short span of two and a half days, I did things I’d never imagined myself doing under ordinary circumstances. As part of a team-building activity, we had to crawl through mud, commando-style, flop about in murky waters, play coconut rugby and participate in a blindfolded Follow-the-Leader kind of challenge. It was fun, I admit, despite all the shortcomings and the slush 😉
We had many spiritual discourses that did not strive to promote one particular religion but emphasized on moral values, patriotism, how happiness can be found within and not in material luxury, how relationships are important but one shouldn’t build one’s life around them, and many more. I got a chance to listen to opinions and lectures about philosophical thoughts, such as what comes after death and what the point of existence really is.
One of the best parts about the entire trip was the concept and implementation of seva (service), wherein each team was assigned a specific duty such as serving food or cleaning up after the discourse of the hour was over. The feeling of instant gratification one gets when they do something nice for other people is beyond compare, but I think that’s just me getting all sappy. 😛
Another one of my favourites was sitting in the small clearing in the centre of the ashram that we dubbed ‘Central Park’ because, well, that’s what it was. Either in the early morning when the dewdrops slide off the trees and the air is cool, fresh, unpolluted by the dust and grime of city life, or in the evenings, when the Sun is just on the verge of setting and the atmosphere is just so mystical and peaceful, surrounded by friends around whom you can be you…it does bring out a sense of camaraderie, I suppose. Especially since we found a knife and some other mysterious evidence that we concluded to be the residue of a murder.
Our family has never been overtly religious, so we don’t frequent places of worship as often as many of the people here do. Yet I chose to inadvertently participate in an aarti at the Ashram temple one evening, and I found it thoroughly misinterpreted. When you sit there, surrounded by trees and the fragrant incense, your mind fixated on the idol that serves to symbolize ideals and notions, and when you hear the first notes of the bhajans and aarti prayers, for a moment you feel that all life is connected. And you don’t feel the need to be somewhere else, just for those few minutes.
During one of the nature walks we took whilst on that trip, we were encouraged to maintain silence throughout, in order to fully appreciate the beauty of nature. We ambled along into some paddy fields and a lot of us got our feet wet, but the view before us breathtaking. There were these cliffs and hills that stretched on for a few miles, looming tall and dark and shrouded with mist. We could even spy some waterfalls in the higher reaches of the hills! It was spellbinding, I tell you. However, it was the rainbow that made us gape in wonder and take in the glorious air. A perfect seven-colour semicircle making a delicate arch against the sky and the grass.
As I sat there, I was so overcome by emotion that I was silent for most of the walk back. I don’t know what the emotion was exactly. Have you ever felt this tingly wibbly-wobbly feeling in the pit of your stomach and the backs of your shoulders, that took over your throat and head and made your heart thump wildly inside for no reason? It’s not because of a person or because of a thing. It’s just…inexplicable.
There’s also one incident that I don’t wish to discuss as of now, which made me realize how lucky I was to be surrounded by people who cared. I’m not used to having friends who are scared for you, who cry for you, who want to protect you. That sounds like another leaf from a cliche soap opera, but I would say if you do have friends like that, keep them close enough that you feel like you have help when you require it the most. Ensure you’re not alone.
There are many other such moments that I wish I could convey but it’s hard because you’d have to be me to understand them fully. I’d like to conclude this post(pretty long one at that) with a few pictures my friend took while we were trekking.
Thank you and good night! I hope this post wasn’t too heavy and I’ll be back soon with the aforementioned experiment!
The Nerdy Snickerdoodle
P.S We weren’t allowed gadgets on the trip so we couldn’t take more photos.