Sorry. This post is coming in late, for no fault of mine. I had planned to write this like a ‘live reporter’, when I was AT the Ashram on Nov 26th. But unfortunately, there was some issue on the site, I could not share images. I was not willing to complete the post without the images.
Anyways, so I had a very brief but eventful visit to the Ashram on nov 25/26.
After an eventless train journey by the Shatabdi Express from Delhi, I was welcomed at the Chandigarh station by Ranjeet bhai, waiting with the cab to take me to the Ashram. The 3+ hour drive to the Ashram was a fairly easy one. We stopped by at the world famous Amrit Dhaba for lunch. Apparently, scores of celebrities who visit the ashram, cannot proceed further, without tasting the food at the dhaba, as I was made to believe !
Reaching the Ashram around 3:45pm was just about perfect. After the smoothest possible check-in process ever, with the customary signing in the large book at the reception, I proceeded to my quiet room on the LG floor in the ashram. Time was just right for my afternoon nap.
I barely made it to the dining room for the afternoon tea and a walk around the ashram spent some quit and pristine moment by the Giri river, listening to the water below and the birds above.
Since it was not one of the major day, Swamiji’s Darshan and aarti were not on the agenda. I was looking forward to the eventful day on Nov 26 and was very much glad to take things easy. The dinner in the dining hall was simple and easy on the tummy. Made friends with one Milind bhai from Nagpur and we all exchanged our own stories about ‘how and when we got to know about Swamiji’ .
Nov 26 morning started early for me. I had an important item on the agenda before the morning Arti. I had planned to do 108 Suryanamaskar for the first time on that day. I had done 100 about a week back and this was culmination of a target I had set myself 4 months back. While the journey had been long and gradual, i had enjoyed adding 10 SNK to the count every week, having started with set of 10 way back in July.
After a comfortable sleep, I woke up at my regular time of 5:15am and was ready for my SNK at 6am. It was so amazing to do them, all of one hundred and eight without a break. For those interested, I recorded it all here : https://photos.app.goo.gl/FHegc8R53SS2oqyf9
After this, my next big challenge was to take shower. Yes, in cold water. I had decided to start taking shower in cold water on Nov 5 and had planned the one on Nov 26 to be my 21st. Yes, to certify that I had made it a habit. A few of my friends had scoffed at the act of taking the shower down south in Coimbatore and had challenged me to do so in winter up north. So the Ashram was the perfect setting to prove the naysayers wrong. No, unfortunately, to disappoint you, I do NOT have a pic of me taking cold water shower, but it was SOME experience. It was not freezing cold, honestly. Having lived in Tokyo for 10 years and experienced snow at many places, the cold was very much fine. But cold water shower in 10degree C was not easy, but I did it!!
After the morning Aarti and meditation, had simple breakfast at the dining room and took a walk around the campus and took some pics:
No prizes for guessing. I love chess and I was fascinated by the chess board out there. Vishy Anand could not come to the Ashram, otherwise I would have challenged him for a live game!!
Watching the sun set around the reception area, I took a few more pics:
After lunch, I decided to spend some time in the beautiful library in the Ashram. I was quite impressed seeing the book- collected works of swamiji at the counter. Did not realise there is such a massive volume of all his writings. Was great going through various books and the best part was the sunlight coming in through the large windows, an unbeatable pleasure in Winter afternoons amidst the hills.
After a quick, early dinner, we all proceeded to the temple for Swamiji’s discourse and Aarti.
The best part of the day was of course, the 1:1 meeting with Swamiji. After having read so much of his posts and known so much about him, spending those 3 minutes was probably a culmination of a year long wait. It was pleasure to present my book to Swamiji. He mentioned about having read about my book and my father through the blogs and appreciated what I had done for him.
Next day, right after lunch, I proceeded on the journey back home. Though the trip was brief, but it was full of nice memories: The pristine calm of the Ashram area, the constant flow of water in the Giri river below and the chirping of birds in the trees with the tall hills surrounding the ashram on all sides, one gets a diving ‘sukoon’ while being there !
Will cherish the memories till my next visit !