Feeling Contented – Santosha

It’s a few weeks since my last update from the ashram.  I was due to be coming back to Glasgow later this month but this last week I took a decision to extend my stay here.  With so many travelers to the ashram there has been a lot of consideration about risk of coronavirus and last week the ashram stopped accepting new visitors and there is no public darshan with Amma.  This means there are a lot less people at the ashram – relatively speaking! – and so quite a unique and interesting time to be here I think.  I have been feeling like a limitless sponge over the past few weeks as I learn and experience more here and don’t feel like I’m done yet!!  So flight has been cancelled and I’m staying 🙂

I feel very fortunate to be able to stay – a lot of nationalities can only stay in India for 3 months at a time, for the UK it is 6 months.  There are a number of people that need to leave the ashram due to their visa requirements and for a while at least will not be able to come back.  As for everyone in the world it’s creating a lot of uncertainty but it’s time to put into practice putting our fears aside.

I’m missing everyone back in the UK so keep sending me your news.  It’s lovely to hear what everyone is getting up – I hear the hot topic is toilet roll shortages, please use it wisely!

We are moving into the raining season here.  There is a torrential downpour some mornings around about sunrise and it is quite humid.  I think the humidity is to increase.  When I arrived I could put laundry out to dry in the evening and it would still dry quickly, now there is a window of opportunity during the day to get it dry, if you miss this window it just stays damp!  And you have to do more laundry because it is so hot and sweaty!  The humidity is also an issue for getting my hair dry – that same window of opportunity!  It’s kind of just like being in Glasgow really but warmth with the wet!

Diet is also on my mind at the moment with me staying longer.  To be honest food is always on my mind!!  There is a lot of choice of food at the ashram – Indian and western options.  I mostly eat Indian food for lunch and dinner but I still can’t get used to curry for breakfast.  I’ve discovered ragi pancakes – ragi is a grain like millet and makes really good pancakes.  It’s got quite a lot of nutrients in it, including iron which is very much lacking in this Indian vegetarian diet.  I have it with some fruit – bananas, mango, papaya or pomegranate and some jaggery syrup.  Jaggery is used here instead of sugar but mixed in water makes it is a bit like golden syrup.  There’s plenty of lentils, chickpeas and beans in the curries but a lack of green veggies so spirulina is coming to the rescue.

In the evening you can get Dosa for dinner – a thin pancake stuffed with spiced potato curry & served with sambal (a sort of thin spicy gravy) and coconut chutney or Puri – a deep fried puffed up flatbread.  Here it is usually served with a chickpea curry.  I think Puri is absolutely my favourite thing at the moment, but it’s not the healthiest!!

There are a lot of snack options too – Samosas (yum), paneer or curry puff pastries, vada – a savoury spiced donut – I sometimes have with curry instead of rice

There is also lot of sweet food available in India but it’s very very sweet – coconut naan (a Danish pastry type thing with coconut and candied fruit. Ada – Cooked rice soaked in sweet stuff then wrapped and steamed in banana leaves.  Fortunately I don’t really like these, although I have been trying everything purely so I can tell you all about it.

Ragi Pnacakes with mango and banana

Puri

Samosa and paneer puf pastry

I would have more pictures of food but either I’ve eaten it before I remember to take a picture or it doesn’t look nearly as good as it tastes!

I have good food, sunshine and still have my comfy pillow – Santosha! (contentment)

Om Shanti

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