8 days in an ashram.

Ashram highlights

Lectures about not eating meat or dairy, or at least severely cutting down – This encouraged a group discussion after class about how much the meat and dairy eaters missed burgers, ice cream and cheese. And wine.

The oil and herb bundle massage at the Ashram – Imagine being marinated and tenderized, beat down with herb bundles, by an Indian lady wearing a cooking apron, while laying naked on a life-size wooden chopping board next to a stove.

Free Fridays – Fridays were free days where we got to go beyond the ashram and visit the neighboring towns. After what looked like a losing battle with a gang of rickshaw drivers, a bus pulled into town and a fast decision was made to jump on. The next scene was straight out of a Benny Hill episode as the 5 of us ran round and round the bus looking for the entry.

Blocked –
My digestive system stopped working in protest to the vegetarian diet. This lasted for 8 days.

Greed, hope and desire – are the enemies of inner peace. Not that we should be hopeless, just aware of the present without putting expectation on the future. It’s about the practice, not the outcome. The journey, not the goal.

Mosquito’s– Were eating Jennie and I alive (Jennie more) and we now looked like guest in a skin disease clinic rather than an Ashram and had become actively involved in chasing and exterminating anything with more than 2 legs that didn’t have a tail.

Talent show – Yes, there was an ashram talent show. On principle, I refused to participate in the talent show because I have no talent. My fondest and funniest memory from the talent show is when the Irish girls were getting the audience to separate into 2 dancing lines in preparation for some Gaelic dancing. I turned to Pablo, a young man from Spain and asked ‘Want to be my dancing partner?’, to which he responds a seriously ‘Nope’.

Massage instead of Meetings – What not to do on a business trip

Arriving into Penang, my boss and I checked into our hotel and switched our phones on only to find that incredibly all meetings had somehow been cancelled. We were only there for a couple of days so there wasn’t time to reschedule. Having come to South Asia with a goal to complete all appointments successfully, this turn in events would not be taken well or lightly back in the office. So we did what any professional would do, we lied, and communicated that everything was running as planned.

It’s not easy to lie. You have to back it up with some facts and you’re constantly paranoid. It would be suspicious if we came back to Sydney without any evidence of taking clients out. And we had all this free time to get to know the place. Plus we were tired from our previous stop in KL. We needed a massage.

The easiest thing to do was to use the hotels massage services, which on the invoice would only state the name of the massage parlour ‘Yasmin House’ . Yasmin House could easily be the name of a restaurant in the hotel. Secondly, the bill had to be enough so it looked like we took out at least 3 clients to this restaurant for lunch – a 1 hour foot massage followed by the 1 hour full body massage should do perfectly.

2 hours later (4 hours downtime in total for the both of us) I walked out of my room feeling light on my feet but my body felt scratched, and abused, from the old lady’s rough hands. To be honest I was feeling a bit uncomfortable with her technique. As I walked out of my room, my boss was coming out of his with a look of wonder etched across his face. ‘What happened?’ He just looked at me and shook his head, traumatised from the experience.

To sooth ourselves from the hard day’s work, we headed to the Ship Inn. We really needed a drink. And we needed to drink enough for 8 clients.