Monday, November 1, 2010

Swami Rama's hospital and rural development

30 October 2010 Saturday

This was another day that turned out different than I expected.  It was mainly a trip to the hospital which Swami Rama had founded, but it was not just a trip to a hospital, but sort of a pilgrimage to another place Swami Rama was involved with during his life, and a ‘worship’ of him.

See photo album India 2010 #9 Hospital and Rural Development

The day started out as usual – a walk from 7 to 8.  Abe joined Alice, Llyn, and me, and we went right (north?) out of the gate, toward the barrage or bridge, instead of left (south?) as we had done the first day.  We walked up the main road, again seeing people rising, kids going to school, milkmen with huge metal containers or white plastic ones, cows and dogs wondering about or sleeping, some tea shops opened, a carders shop getting ready, crows squawking about, hovels and pakka or real houses.  Finally we found a side road to the right (east?) which went through to the Ganga river.  Got to his banks and could see the barrage not too far further upstream.  We walked along the wide road to the barrage, and I started taking photos of the bridge and the traffic, until a guard pointe out “Photo keechna mana hai” sign – “Pulling or taking photos is forbidden”  Most substantial infrastructure like this barrage have similar signs and prohibitions.

I didn’t cross the bridge with the others since it was already 7:35 and  I wanted to get back for a shower and shave before 8:30 breakfast.  Same sights, sounds, and smells on the main road back as I returned.
Breakfast was normal with similar food as the day before – dal, cooked vegetables, chapatis, and cha, I rushed back to my room to collect my clothes to be washed – stuff them in a plastic bag with my #14 room number on it and a list of my cloths.  Then went up to the Office and gave them the bag, as well as did some work and made connections on the Internet – I asked other selectors to order some history books as well as a religious studies requested book.  In the evening when I again had an Internet connection – Deej mentioned that Obama had paid a surprise visit Friday night to Charlottesville, though Deej had not gone to see the President, and that she was headed to Richmond with a friend for shopping Saturday morning.

With the bus leaving at 10, I rushed back with my laptop and left it there and then rushed back to get on a small 14 person bus, which was to take us around, through Rishikesh, up through a wooded area, and to a medical hospital campus, whose address is Dehra Dun, even though it is about 20 miles from the core of that city.   We arrived at the Arya Veda clinic around 10:45 and sat at a long table, headed by an Arya Veda woman doctor who explained the purpose, patients, and the ailments that were treated at the clinic.  Jeanie had some skepticism about it as usual.  We saw the treatment rooms where there were soft mattress massage tables and a box for herbal steam treatment – as well as patient recovery rooms.  They assured us that serious aliments were treated by Western medical procedures in the hospital.  We saw, but did not go into, the training hospital.  Rather we went to the Rural Development Institute, where a young woman with very good English told us about their programs in the hill areas with health, water, and craft programs in Uttarkhand state.

Next we went for lunch, which was unique in that it was self-serving, buffet style – all our meals are served to us at the Ashram.  I avoided the nice cucumber salad and onions, and the watery raita, but some others loved the raita.  Inconsistently, I took and ate some fresh cayennes.  Otherwise it was the usual vegetarian meal.
Finally we visited the book store and gift shop and some of the women bought a few clothes, and Gail bought the little comic book Ruskin Bond had written.  Right next door was  a meditation center and photo gallery – with walls of 7 rooms devoted to photos of Swami Rama, playing tennis, traveling abroad, etc.  It cracked up our young couple, while Joanne sat in devout meditation.   Then off to a trip home around 3 pm.

Free time with Internet and other things until supper at 7 pm.

The “Yoga for Daily Life” session followed at 8 pm.  A young Indian with pretty good English, Vishnu, taught the class, and I took notes, but embarrassingly drifted off to sleep about 8:35 pm for about 5 minutes – Kathy kicked me awake and I was able to pretend to list the rest of the lecture. We learned about the 5 parts of Yama (non-violence, etc celibacy).  But Vishnu got confusingly tongue tied trying to explain how Krishna’s killing 1 million people was not a sin for him, a topic and other ideas he could have easily avoided and made the class still quite productive. 

Coming back to my room, I quickly got to bed and continued my sleep I had started in the class.  So, another full and different day – not really connected with the Ashram, but infused with the abiding presence of Swami Rama even off at the hospital.

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