.I’ve spent lots of time checking out alternative places to live next time I am here, and there are many lovely places, with full kitchens and pleasant rooms, for even less money than I am paying here. But there always seems to be something missing, or wrong with the rooms. They are too far away from “town”. There is not enough sun. The boiler for the shower is too small which would mean a very short hot water shower as opposed to the endless one I take here in my room. There is no storage place in the room or there is not enough room to do yoga. The mattresses are not comfortable, and of course there is no restaurant in the place so I could not easily “eat out” if I don’t feel like cooking, or order milk if I forgot to buy or mine spoiled, or get room service when I feel like being pampered…the list is endless. And the truth is, many people want to live in these isolated places as they feel they can better get “into” themselves if they are not distracted by other people around, which is what you always have in a guesthouse as opposed to a private flat. Well, I’ve understood a lot from these contemplations and the truth is, except for the fact that I don’t have a full kitchen (which I realize is also a blessing as you will see below), my room is just perfect. In a quiet place but still in a guesthouse with all the advantages that offers me, my own rooftop with plenty of sun (which is good for the season that I stay here…would not be suitable in the hotter months), and everything else I could want in a room, I have, as well as lovely people here who take really good care of me. . This was NOT the room I had originally expected to live in here. When I arrived, I was told the room was given to someone else, but to my great surprise, the room I have now is MUCH better than the one I had reserved. (It is also much more expensive which is why I never asked for it, but I was given the room at the same price as the less expensive one I had originally asked for). Again…someone up there takes much better care of me than I could ever do myself.

1. The limited kitchen as a blessing: I sometimes find myself annoyed that I don’t have a real kitchen and have to improvise to prepare my simple meals. And I am very limited in what I can cook, as I have one pot and one frying pan, no counter top, no kitchen sink (I have finally figured out how to best wash my dishes using the bathroom facilities), and basically all I can cook is kitcheri, vegetable soup, pasta, porridge, pancakes, eggs, grilled cheese or toast with tahini, hot drinks…I cannot make anything more ambitious even if I want to, including chapattis and paranthas. And even these few simple things involve great planning and thinking things out before beginning to actually cook them. Measuring out of ingredients, peeling, chopping etc., in advance outdoors, making sure each thing is lined up on the table to be put into the pot which is on the gas balloon which sits on the floor and which I either squat over or sit in a chair to stir. I’ve gotten very good at all this actually and no longer find it difficult in any way. And then I realized that these limitations are a true blessing.

Knowing myself, if I had a comfortable working kitchen, I would spend a lot more time cooking as I did when I had a kitchen in Mcleodganj several years ago. And that involves shopping each day, carrying the heavy stuff home, spending money on expensive ingredients, spending LOTS of time in the kitchen making all kinds of lovely dishes, and even inviting people in for dinner a few times a week. And this is NOT what I want while I am here. I want things as quiet and simple as possible and being limited in my kitchen facilities, guarantees that things are kept to the bare minimum and as simple as possible while still being able to cook twice a day for myself. So, for me, no kitchen is actually better.

2. ISOLATION VS. PEOPLE – I find I have no difficulty being in a guesthouse with people staying in all the rooms, in an area FULL of other guesthouses also with lots of people. I can spend days in isolation if I so choose, and am never drawn to interact with others unless I really want to. It is not a temptation for me as I hear other people complaining and explaining that is why they MUST “get away” to appreciate their time alone. I have no difficulty being alone if I choose to. I don’t need complete isolation and quiet to meditate, contemplate, be mindful, or go inward. I actually like the feeling of knowing that people are around…I don’t need to be WITH them technically. For me this is perfect.

3. Time with ME vs. Time with Others and the blessings of India: I have finally realized that one of the greatest blessings of spending 6 months in India, away from all those dear to me, family and friends, is the balance it brings to my life which I would not have otherwise. Meaning: At home I spend about 75% of my time involved with other people. I enjoy this time spent with them, I do it joyfully and get great pleasure out of it, but it means that I have only 25% of my time left to be completely with ME. Continuing this on a regular basis would be very difficult and eventually I would begin to resent the intrusion of others on my time instead of the feeling of gratitude and joy I get now from the time I spend with others today when at home. While I am in India, 75% of my time is spent with ME, and the rest with others, including family and friends at home via e-mail, skype, phone, etc. If I spent ALL of my life in this ratio of self vs. others, it would also not be good, but for the six months I am in India, it brings perfect balance into my life in a very simple way.

So, as always, my life is truly blessed in more ways than I can ever truly appreciate.


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