To my dearest friends, family and fellow culture cravers,
I can’t believe it, but this is the last ‘Postcards Home’ post I will write in India!! Where on earth have the past 6 weeks gone?!
This time next week I will be reunited with my best friend in Auckland, New Zealand. Excited doesn’t even come close to how much I am looking forward to catching up with her as well as, discovering and exploring a new country however, I am also gutted to be leaving my Indian oasis (especially now that I have discovered the chilled out cliff side area of Varkala, Kerala)…
The past week has been a busy one.
I began my week revisiting Cochin to watch the famous Keralan Kathakali performance, which unfortunately, was a slight disappointment (however Cochin was lovely so all was not lost).
I then headed further South to explore the ‘the Venice of India’, Alleppey, which is the central hub to the beautiful backwaters of Kerala.
Unable to afford a luxurious houseboat (*sigh*), we hopped on the next best thing – a canoe – and glided down the tranquil waterways past peaceful homes, villages and fishermen, witnessing the day-to-day lives of the locals who are lucky enough to call the backwaters their home.
After convincing three other people from my hostel to join me, the next day we headed a couple of hours further South to the Ashram of the Hugging Mother in Amrithapuri.
A hugeeeee complex housing over 3,000 people including nuns, monks, students, families and westerners (both live in and visitors), our two-day stay at the ashram wassss… an experience, to say the least.
Amma, the Hugging Mother, is an Indian guru who does outstanding charity work worldwide. After devastating natural disasters, she travels to the affected areas to feed the refugees, help rebuild ruined houses and restore faith in the locals by giving them a motherly hug – she really is an inspirational woman.
Witnessing the devotion the people who live at the ashram have for Amma was intriguing and chatting with people who had been at the ashram for months on end enabled me to learn a lot about Amma’s work and how she has influenced others.
Some speak of a spiritual awakening whilst others find hope and guidance through Amma and the ashram.
From chanting at 5.30am to self guided meditation on the beach at sunset, there is a set schedule at the ashram, which you can partake in as much or as little as you’d like. They also encourage you to take part in ‘seva’ if you are staying for a while, where you volunteer your time as a selfless act (the whole ashram is run on volunteers).
Due to a small case of the infamous Delhi belly, our time at the ashram was a little tainted however, we learnt a lot and saw a wholeeee other side to India. My travel companion said that seeing how dedicated some people were to the ashram was her first real experience of culture shock in India, which was very interesting.
I have spent the past six days in Varkala in the South of Kerala making the most of my final few days in India. Relaxing on the beach, doing a cooking class, getting a massage and giving a new kind of yoga a go – ashtanga, it has been absolute bliss. Tomorrow I will be heading to the capital of Kerala, Trivandrum before making my way up to Chennai for my flight.
Until next week…