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INDIA | Monday, 7 March 2016 | Views [241]

As my trip draws to its conclusion my enthusiasm for writing the blog seems to be wilting. This may also have something to do with the heat in Pune and to a change in my itinerary, having spent the last month, pretty much, either on an organised pilgrimage or spending time in two Buddhist Centres, Nagaloka and now Manusaki in Pune.

I have been in Pune several days now and have made interesting and enjoyable visits. Twice to a project working in a Catonmnent near Dehru Road and once to the Bhaja caves and to the retreat centre near there. On my spare days I have popped into Pune to visit the Ambedkar and Kelkar museums and today I took a stroll over the bridge to enjoy a traditional Indian/German Black Forest Gateau and fizzy drink whilst watching the traffic and people pass by.

Today, in fact, I feel really tired and hope that my energy picks up before too long. There seem to be loads of mosquitos in the centre and I don't like them!!! I still, however, feel that I am learning, most particularly at the moment, not to care too much what I imagine others are thinking about me (the emphasis is on the imagining aspect) or to at least notice when I am inhibiting myself by engaging in this activity.

My visit to the cantonment project was very enjoyable and extremely informative. Not only did I learn about their work, I was also taken great care of and treated with conisiderable kindness and consideration and got to meet and spend time with Savita and the team, visit a local slum where the gold/jewellery making caste lived and where I watched whilst copper and steel items were created in front of me. I was finally gifted a tooth pick, ear pick and tweezer (nose pick?) set. On my second visit I was asked to conduct an English class (I chose a Shakespeare sonnet as my starting point - a tad ambitious...), which was fun and interspersed with local marathi songs by the students.

My trip to Baja was prompted by Devamitra and I was so glad to have gone. Not only were the caves quiet, peaceful and beautiful but I also got to spend time with Ratanasambhava and Guhyacitta who had stayed as guests at Sukhavati a year or so ago. I never thought that I would be returning their visit, invited as we had all been. 

I also spent a night at the Baja retreat centre which is far larger, better equipped and beautiful than I had imagined. Once again I was hosted with care and grace, enjoyed great home made food (I'm loving chapatis) and went for a lovely walk in the surrounding hills with Ratnasambhava. One of the great things about the retreat centre, besides the beautiful countryside, is that you can see the Baja caves from it.

My trips also allowed me further motorbike rides and my first taste of local trains. On my first trip I really did not know how I was going to make my way out at my stop, so many were the bodies between the exit and I, but in the end I enjoyed the mad and eventually successful scramble. On my second trip I met a family from Rajasthan whose young son took to reading from my paper (the Indian Times), exerpts from the sports pages on T20 cricket. That was until another guy on the train pointed at and then proceeded to borrow the paper until he got off. India really is quite different. On the way back another friendly chap lectured me kindly on the similarities between our different cultures whilst unintentionally but consistently spitting in my face.

Tomorrow I leave to visit some tribal peoples where the Buddhist community is doing some work and where they will be celebrating Women's Day. Once back I shall head down to Goa as soon as I can for a few weeks prior to my departure. I have now been invited to an Inidan wedding on 27th March in Wardha so may try to rearrange my flight to go from Bombay rather than Calcutta-Bombay-London.

I should miss going back to Calcutta mind!!

I hope to have a great few weeks and then look forward to seeing my family and freinds!!! I hope you all have a good few weeks too...



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