Friday October 22, 2010
Hard to put into words the euphoria and the pent-up excitement just by being at the Ashram. Landed at Ngurah Rai Denpasar airport pretty much on time 21.50 JQ35 on Tue Oct 19 and been on the go since – as you do once you hit the fable island – sleeping seems like precious time wasted that one can do and catch up back in Melbourne.
First couple of days were busy, busy running around making sure that things are in order. Nicole, the first participant who rocked up first (Oct 16) appeared to be enjoying it and had already getting to know Sitep and the kitchen staff well. Good start, and this afternoon I will be heading to the ancestral home in Amlapura for the annual family temple ceremony. But my mind’s still very much active about arrivals and last minute deliveries of equipments needed for the bungalows and workshop. Ren would be the last of the full program participants due to arrive at midnight. Mary the 5-dayer is due on Sunday. So far so good!
Tuesday, October 26
Well, as you can see the above was interrupted with ‘duties’ calling. Between the roles of ‘tour leader’, workshop participant, ashram’s ‘resource’, family temple’s ceremony, catching up with siblings and rellies and the odd ‘issues’ that seemingly crop up in such a gathering.. well you get the drift of the myriad of things that derailed me even with my best plan and intention to blog (Of course having to share the single broadband line did not help so a wifi router has been ordered and anxiously waiting for its delivery. If this sounds light years away to when in the 1970s my late mother, Ibu Gedong, agonised over the dilemma of introducing electricity to the Ashram or not, well, not having wifi has inconvenienced our guests who have to go to internet cafe or buy drinks at the cafes with one and, most importantly, impedes our efforts to run the ashram better).
Ok, the yoga workshop. By the grace of the kind soul above, it has been going exceedingly well.
The group ranges from beginners – including yours truly – to the longer term practitioners and yoga teachers. The first day sessions were rather hard as we soon found out that even in the relatively cool morning breeze our surya namaskara, esp. the faster versions, turned into a natural Bikram yoga session with us sweating like a pig (or was it the payback that Yvonne, our yoga teacher, is renown for – to dish out to students who inadvertently interrupted her much valued, early morning sleep in? Yours truly again had the unenviable duty of having to wake her up with a combination of throwing tiny pebbles at the windows of the attic where she sleeps and also yelling out her name (and possibly disturbing Ren who tried to squeeze the extra nano-minutes having arrived at the Ashram well past midnight after a long flight and drive from Melbourne only hours earlier).
Despite our grumblings at the Bikram yoga that we didn’t bargain for, we all enjoyed the value and unique skills of Yvonne, and the dynamic and the rapport that quickly developed amongst the group.The yoga sessions have been going well with Yvonne wisely pulling back at critical moments to not break the resolve of the participants. I for my part have been having a ball and must have improved my strength and fitness, even though I haven’t been doing my jogging since I’ve arrived here – no time and the numerous yoga sessions and the humidity do take a lot out of you, and the whole thing can’t be bad for me. Whether I’m making progress with my yoga, well you have to ask the yoga guru. But the others, whether the more advanced yoga teacher or the occasional practitioner or beginner all seem to be getting something out of the sessions.
That first day we were also joined by Tiki, a very fit looking with a plasticine body yoga teacher from Thailand. We weren’t going to take any short term participants but she made her case quite convincingly to Yvonne so she was in, supposedly for two days as she was returning to Thailand on Monday but ended up only for a day as she failed to convince her diver husband to take another day to care for their young son. She intimidated me a bit as I looked in awe at all these seasoned and instructor yoga ladies, but took it as a challenge to try to get up to speed quickly. Tiki fitted in quite well and I think also contributed to the setting of high standards from day one – yet it was still fun. She was more on the search of the philosophy, meditation and pranayama side of yoga to complement her strength in its physical aspects and I think she left with a lot from even the one day she attended, no doubt helped by her high-intensity approach knowing that she was going to be there only for one day (which helped us to also quickly ‘get on’ with the workshop). So it was a great start and I think we all kind of sad to see her go even after just one day in the group.
As for the Ashram and the site – even if you were to factor in the writer’s natural bias! – it was a hit as everyone discovers its unique beauty, tranquility and conducive ambiance. Everyone really got into the spirit of the Ashram experience, which is great, though not one yet, with the exception of Rabina, who has managed the simply rejuvenating 5 am Morning Puja (Rabina is the Sumbawa based yoga teacher with crab like limbs with her asana but who is also of Dutch origin which boosted the already strong Dutch representation – with Nicole and Charlotte being the others, matching the Australian contingent of Renata, Mary and Suma if you exclude Yvonne the teacher).
And the food! We’ve all been ‘spoiled rotten’ as some of us light eaters – or would like to be -, or those who don’t normally have lunch altogether such as Charlotte, simply couldn’t help ourselves and pig out, making post meal yoga well, a little sluggish to start with! Meal time is always accompanied with a little banter and sharing of stories and impressions. Rabina at Bale Dangin recalled her horror at surprising a huge crab sitting in her toilet bowl which disappeared quickly the moment you switched the light on (it’s the root/vegetable eating crab, apparently making the growing of some plants impossible at the ashram. That one must somehow got into the underground tank)
The ‘early settlers’ Balinese Tenganan village visit was put forward to Sunday morning after breakfast due to Pak Sadra’s changed commitment. The visit was informative and his local insight was of great value, though I sensed some disappointment at the presence of other tourists. Perhaps my fault for not making it clear that Tenganan is now quite a well known tourist destination. Thankfully that was followed with a 4.30pm-ish departure for our ‘Purnama’ Puja at Pura Pucaksari at the foot of Mount Agung, which was a less known and visited temple. We traveled in three cars to accommodate all of us participants, a number of Ashram members and we were also joined by my eldest brother Benky and his wife Meike. We purposely left early to allow for a bit of daylight to appreciate the majestic view of the revered mountain and the valleys and terraced rice paddies below.
Weather wise the temple visit was purely exquisite. It has been unseasonally wet here and it’s been raining and thundering since we arrived and we still had light showers during the Tenganan tour that very morning. The indications weren’t good and there were grave concerns that some of the steep, dirt road climbs might not succeed in the wet. And I was pessimistic. But we must have been simply blessed with our good intention that from late afternoon the sky magically cleared and we simply had a great view of the majestic Mount Agung on the way up.
The prayer started with the ashram members leading the chanting of the dusk puja followed by the gayatri mantram by all which was quite a moving experience for me personally, even if the moon had not appeared as yet. It brought back many such a moment as a kid with my parents and – the best part of all in those days – the devouring afterward all those nice goodies of left over food that we offered to the gods. The younger ashram members seem to be enjoying just that – and good for them!
Then the uncertain wait for the appearance of the moon. Ok a little technology helped our little anxieties. I tried to check wolfram using Benky’s Blackberry to find out the exact expected time of appearance of the reluctant guest of honour, but no luck with ‘not enough network coverage’ message. Perhaps moments of surrender and that we simply had to rely on the locals’ guess that the moon would be coming out ‘sebentar lagi‘ (‘just a moment’ but could also mean that we could be there till 9 pm if our bad experiences with Garuda’s – long past I hope – sebentar lagi was any guide, and we haven’t had dinner yet and the troop was restless!) but still no sign of brightness from behind Mount Bisbis or Lempuyang to the east. Then in a true moment of epiphany I thought of older son Matt back in Melbourne who could be sitting in front of his laptop, so a quick sms. A quick reply shot back “.. in 19 mins and 17 secs in the future if that makes sense” followed by another “7.16 pm Bali time”. So there we were in the ‘middle of nowhere’ and traveling back in time (perhaps the temple goes back as far as the 13th century?) yet technology made it possible to get the info from another continent across the ocean, and God knows which galactica the web-server resides! Well it took another 10 odd minutes for the moon to scale the adjoining little mountain and it was well worth the wait to see the moon raising from behind it. Yes we were blessed with the momentary clear sky, just for us I’m sure.
A little drama.
All the above would be just too good – or boring – without one. So it was with Veronica, our young participant from Italy who fell ill on the second night and got a little worse the next night complaining of being cold. The fear of malaria or dengue crossed our minds yesterday morning as she had spent the previous week at Gili Air in Lombok. Mary who was a nurse in her previous incarnation checked her out in her bungalow and came back with the stern no-nonsense message – “She needs a doctor!” So a flurry of phone calls as dengue is mighty difficult to diagnose and soon we were inundated with conflicting advices from calling a local doctor – from a participant but without the blood test is also close to useless for dengue with flu like symptoms – to numerous suggestions of natural or emergency remedies. Time for executive decision and with time ticking by I rang the head honcho of the infectious diseases in Bali who also happened to be a former classmate (yes it helps) who strongly recommended for the ‘labtest’ at the Amlapura Hospital not only for malaria and dengue, but also for typhoid as Veronica has had some stomach upsets for a few days at the Gili in Lombok. Charlotte generously offered to accompany the trip to the hospital as she speaks good bahasa (plus a dictionary) and also Spanish to help communication with the patient with little English. Perfecto! After some rather subdued mid-morning yoga they came back just in time for lunch with the good news that Veronica was cleared of malaria, dengue or typhoid and that she just needed to drink lots of water and rest. Since then she had recovered and busy making her phone calls etc (she has an amazing story on how she came to Bali in the first place, but that’s for another time). A sigh of relief and Ren told me of her outback tour leader friend who mentioned about someone always falling ill from such a group. Ours was a good wake up call to be on the alert, and thankful that it was nothing serious.
Reminiscing from Melbourne (Sunday November 7, 2010)
Apologies for the big gap in the number of days in between the post-event reports. I did write intermittently in the following couple of days at Candidasa and been saving it in ‘draft’ before publishing it in a coherent format. However, as I was saving it over a few days on a single session of editing – well it seems to be responding to my progressive saves – but when I did close it one night as I was testing the new wifi router, I had that sick feeling when the draft didn’t come up the next time I logged in to edit the blog. Then a ‘stubborn’ battle to get the wifi working which in the end was solved with the help of the local techo on my very day of my departure on Nov 2 (yes tried hard so that Nicole could use the wifi with her iPhone – not all altruistic as would have been nice to check the email from the N97 Nokia without having to duck into the Ashram’s office – but not to be) had me losing focus of the blog effort a little. And the days at the workshop and ashram just ‘flew’ for me what with helping with the organisation, as well as facilitating ‘simple’ tasks like withdrawing money from Western Union for Veronica (it became a two day affair as the banks either didn’t have photocopier for a copy of the passport or a seal stamp and it was another ceremony day in Bali and all the photocopying places at Candidasa were closed, hence, the wait for the following day) or the banks (different companies, both at Candidasa and in town, Amlapura, a major bank, and this was the following day) had their networks down! In the end we had ‘success’ at a pawnbroking office at Amlapura – at that stage we were so desperate that we’d go to a house of ill repute! Poor Veronica was soo ‘over the moon’ with a huge grin after worrying about making me missed the yoga (I believe it was a hard session so perhaps she did me a favour. I woke Yvonne up that morning and the rest of the group paid the price? The truth is that it was quite a good session). Yup, it reminded me very much of our American ‘brother’ Tom Spooner in the days before I left for Australia – “Why everything has to be so difficult?” as the many ‘problems’ had often reduced us to inertia. So I told her that Rule #1 is nothing is ever simple over there. To my surprise she replied “In Italy same” which I hope may be due to the loss in the translation – for Italy’s sake..
Morning Yoga – Surya Namaskara. This one was always a struggle for many and perhaps it has a lot to do with the 6.30 am start, which surreptitiously crept to a later or even 7 am start. It was more a repetitive Surya Namaskara with slight variation for the slow and faster tempo according to the chanting from the cd, and a test of one’s stamina – and dedication – rather than technique and flexibility which I never mastered in any case, hence this suits me just fine. As the week wore on and the odd one or two stragglers decided to stay in bed, while it was hard and at times very hard, it was good for me to have someone to push me harder as I was never good at pushing myself with the solo jog. What with the humidity and I had sweats pouring out by the buckets (yet Yvonne was always somewhat disappointed that the cd had finished whereas it was a ‘thank god!’ for us as we slumped onto the floor for our relaxation). I think I surprised her for staying the distance but little did she know that it was purely on pride – and only just – being the token male in the group. Yes a very hard grind but always enjoyed the relaxation and relishing the moments of ‘having done’ it.
Mid-morning asana. Always a challenge with the poses but I simply love the yoga and more yoga. May be a desire to ‘fast track’ my (lack of) yoga education. Here the more pros amongst us – Rabina, Ren and Nicole – excelled with their crab like limbs yet the strength that easily surpassed my gender advantage! But the love of simply doing they yoga, and at the Ashram! was just too much of an opportunity to not do or push one self. Just looking at the sea – and the odd welcome distraction of a couple of large lizards perhaps a metre and a bit in length moving komodo dragon like on the distant sea walls was a welcome distraction and a break from the hard yoga routine, sometimes to the exasperation of Yvonne (I know they attack and eat chickens but their primary diet must have been those crabs that are in abundance). I haven’t got a still photo of the beasts so if anyone with the picture, let me know.
Afternoon Guided Relaxation. The relatively relaxing and short session especially if we were to join Kawi’s House Yoga that was to follow which was also very highly popular amongst the group. On the Tuesday and Thursday though it was replaced with the extended two-hour Yoga Workshop’s workshop where Yvonne shared with us her collection of readings on the philosophy of yoga and meditation, plus some group exercises followed by some discussions on our respective experiences. Interesting to learn about the philosophy which is very much like the Hindu’s but with slightly different emphasis to the ones I was familiar with, and perhaps making me resisting it a bit initially before I talked myself to experience it to the full.
House Hatha Yoga with Kawi (late afternoon, Tue, Thu, Sat). This was mixing with the local regulars and was highly popular with the group and Yvonne (perhaps a rare chance at being in the back of the class and simply doing it). Going through different asana or poses but with Kawi’s own style of instruction and commentary – relaxing and soothing, yet rigorous never the less. I loved it and not just for having another male there for support!
The popularity of this service amongst the group surprised me and it was that popular that it affected the afternoon tours that could have been slotted if required. The mornings were out due to yoga commitments, which, after all what we were there for, as well as due to the number of patients normally waiting in the morning. As some time also needs to be allowed after lunch the first treatment was around 2 pm and between a number of us (and in between the regular patients) it virtually spread over most of the afternoon which ruled out any tours. The water palace tour scheduled for Wed pm was left to the very day before it was finally canceled, partly because some in the group have been somewhat ‘spoilt’ by the oasis from the normal touristy things that the walls of the ashram have sheltered us from and the Purnama Pujas was a hit with its little known and off the beaten track temple. But some in the group did go for an afternoon swim and surf at Pasir Putih, a very good experience from all accounts – and the girls were even approached and asked to dinner by three Russians proudly showing tattoos of their nation’s flag on their upper arms! (a new and novel opening line indeed, but to no avail I was told and I had to remind the girls that they could have been oil tycoons – which we’ll never find out now)
Farewell Dinner (Thursday, Oct 28)
Yes, before long it was approaching the end of our workshop. Rabina had to check out early after lunch Friday due to some appointment in Denpasar, then Nicole decided to tag along to spend more time with her friends in Seminyak before returning to Holland and eventually Veronica got dragged by the ensuing slipstream and would tag along too! Just as well we’ve been drumming in flexibility as we quickly changed the farewell dinner to Thursday night. And what a night.
The kitchen and members must have worked overtime as Bale Puja was nicely decorated and the banquet spread was eye popping. It was not without its share of drama as Kawi was called to represent the Ashram for early morning meeting in Denpasar (something to do with Ibu’s nomination for Bali’s Prominent Woman for 2010) which turned out to be a 4 pm meeting. As it was he just made it back to CD in the middle of our dinner, but in time for the performances which was just as well as he was the key player.
The food was simply awesome and what’s more we truly enjoyed sharing the same dishes with the members. It was a special treat for the members especially the younger ones and a big change from their normally more austere menu, and was great to see (again I could see of my own childhood at both Singaraja and Denpasar when money was tight as the country was experiencing Zimbabwe like hyper inflation and not dissimilar austere menu, though not an ashram, but somehow extra food was on the table when we had the odd ‘overseas distinguished guests’ over for dinner and the big ‘treat’ for us kids).
Then the performances from the members which truly rocked our shoes off!
Kawi with his guitar and his young male charges opened up with some Sanksrit/mantram songs – serene yet ‘boppy’ – then some familiar English tunes (but for the life of me I can’t remember any of them hence the titles still escape me) before the eye popping ‘cekepung‘ performance by the boys. It’s a characteristically eastern Bali’s Capella that began as rather subdued and – listening to the words – even solemn and touching with wise words to the young about the need of education, going to (senior) high school/sma and to stay away from tuak (beer like fermented palm juice) as it builds itself into a crescendo of – yes! – drunken like men ‘jamming’ unintelligible words as the boys let themselves go and really ‘let it rip’ with a trance like of a good time! It really needs to be seen to be believed and it is even more amazing in the context of the otherwise very polite, controlled and excessively proper young boys.
A number in the group have been commenting on the exceedingly good behaviour of the young members, simply unheard of when comparing with teenagers in the West. May be it is an Ashram’s things about self control and discipline but also it’s in the culture that praises the importance of a good outward appearance and behaviour. Perhaps such performance, along with the much better known kecak monkey dance, that they find the occasional pressure valve release to let themselves go. I have taken some video of it which I hadn’t transferred or seen but if it’s any good I will certainly youtube it for all to share.
Then we had a short intermission with biscuits and punch like palm-sugary ginger drink and some packets of Australian red tulips for the young members to share. I also used the opportunity to distribute to each workshop participant a ladies hessian and batik handbag and a piece of batik cloth that was designed and generously donated by a Bandung based old friend of mine, Muntas, who is exporting it as a community service project (we have only resumed our contact last year – yes you guessed it through the Ashram – after we lost contact for about 37 years. He donated the gifts in memory of Ibu Gedong, whom he met on his first visit to Bali in 1968/69 – yup that makes us a couple of old fossils. Seems to be the theme with the Ashram. I met Charlotte for the first time at the workshop after corresponding and working together on ashram’s fund raising for 6 odd years and 34 odd years after she first stayed with my parents and met all the brothers. Needless to say I met many good and dear friends through the Ashram). Everyone seems to like it and I just hope that no one has any problem at the customs over the plant based hessian.
Then it was more dances this time by the girls performing the more sedate Balinese dances as everyone was marvelling at these multi-skilled members. Yvonne stood tall for our workshop group with her guitar and belting out a couple renditions of – self composed? – songs. I think everyone really had a good night and for the guests it was a revelation about the hidden talents of the members and that yes, they can have a good time!
There was a bit of a lull as though the night was still young from western standard, Kawi has had a long day with early start to Denpasar and was keen to go back to his family and excused himself. I grabbed the free guitar and started playing a couple of tunes in bahasa and English and – understandably and as if on cue – the members started disappearing to return to their quarters! (should get a gig and play whenever the owner would like to clear the place and for patrons to leave. But the members were more polite, “.. early start in the morning” was the story).
So us the workshoppers were left there playing old tunes with words we could barely remember before Charlotte sang a couple of real songs. It wasn’t bad just relaxing a little there humming a few tunes.
But the girls were still restless and some headed for ‘Vincent?’ to properly chill out with a night cap? I was reluctant to go to such venue but not wanting to be a spoil sport and a ‘stick in the mud’ I relented and joined them. However my doubt was soon confirmed as in there were a couple of inebriated patrons that were a little too confronting after a week of bliss at the Ashram (one had a dramatic fall when leaving, a bit hard to ignore as they were no spring chickens who ought to know better or was it the onset of second childhood?) so I matched Yvonne’s standard cup of herbal tea with a glass of lassie as we shared a table with Charlotte and Ren (who was running a very witty commentary on the inebriated patrons – that alone was worth the brief visit). It was actually a nice way to finish the workshop although there was the morning sessions to come before people start departing. Most of us didn’t stay there long before we retreated back to our refuge and safety inside the walls of the Ashram.
The following day (Fri oct 29) we managed to have a small group for our surya namaskara then a mid morning final session of asana and meditation attended by all. A very nice finish for the full group.
After lunch we waved good bye to Rabina, Nicole and Veronica and it was a sight to see how the three of them, plus luggage, plus a driver fit into the tiny Suzuki Jimny originally intended for Rabina only. My suggestion for Rabina to drive and let the driver catch the bus to Denpasar was ignored as she convinced us that she and Veronica next to the luggage in the back seat would be just fine. Well, the yoga flexibility would come handy indeed!
At night it was Mary’s turn to be driven to the airport but not before an early dinner at the kitchen (just like Charlotte who was ‘sprung’ having this special treatment before catching the boat to Lombok on Wed morning, so Mary would like that too!). I think she has had a good time at the Ashram with the yoga and was quite happy with the experience.
On Saturday Oct 30 Yvonne, Ren and myself decided to drive Charlotte to Ubud to stay at the amazing house of her friend there. Charlotte soon came up with the idea of a walk around the rice field in the back of Tjampuan (behind Hotel Iba and across the river from the old Puri Tjampuan Hotel that as a kid and young teenager our family spent many good school holidays there and spent many a hot day cooling down in the then pristine and refreshing water of the fast flowing creek). A good 1 to 1.5 hours of great walk along paddy fields, deep ravines and nice cliff top houses and villas, then through the villages coming out in Pagojan in Kedewatan. The only hiccup was to meet up with Komang with the car which stressed us a bit as we were very keen to be back in time for the already rescheduled (just for us!) Kawi’s House Yoga at 6 pm. We made to his last class we could possibly attenbd by 6.15 pm and the twilight session in a rather still and humid night came complete with squadrons of hungry mossies. Only a quick trip to the room for Rid to share around saved us from further mauling.
Sunday Oct 31, about 11 am-ish was obligatory visit to a newly ordained priest, a former ashram member, whose ordination the day before I missed as I had my day and dates completely mixed up! Went there with Kawi and Sitep and it turned out to be the better day anyway as we got to talk to him at length which would not be possible on the ordination day. But not before a last surya namaskara session with Yvonne (finally coaxed her to start at 7 am – our teacher is no longer compelled by time and ritual of the work-shop!) and a newly arrived guest, Estelle, from France, a first timer, who dropped out half way for a relaxation and and I had a fantastic personal-trainer like session with ‘Von’. She basically ‘tricked’ me into doing 61 surya namaskara which just about killed me (spurred by what a student of her in Melbourne, a lady of Dutch extraction who knew ‘Mama’ and had stayed at the ashram in the late 1980s who said that Ibu used to say that she would do as many surya namaskara as her age – and Von thought that would be appropriate for me too! Ibu Gedong would have been proud of her!). Ren wisely stayed in bed with her last chance sleep in as that night she would be on that punishing ‘graveyard’ midnight flight with about four hours stopover in Darwin. I gave Ren a lift to the airport and I stayed the night at the Denpasar Ashram so that I could do the absolute last minute shopping for younger son Jackson who emailed me his order. Yes sir!
Monday Nov 1. Some family visits and shopping for Jackson then off to CD and just in time for a last dinner there. Yup the numbers are dwindling as there was only Yvonne and Suma there, along with the new guest Estelle. Following day Tuesday Nov 2 made a quick trip to the ancestral home at Puri Kawan, Amlapura, to pray at the family temple and accompanied by Von who just came for the ride and to look around. By this time she had already put forward her Garuda flight from Nov 8 to Thu Nov 4 – she was worrying about her tasks back in Melbourne and perhaps missing the support, company and ‘security blanket?’ of the whole group there. We then dropped in to see the ailing younger brother of Mama, Oom Later, and his wife Jero Tapakan. Nice people and Yvonne was greatly impressed by the immaculate garden design and work of their talented muso son, who is unmarried but wasn’t there..
Rush, rush, rush then off to Denpasar about 4 pm, repacked at the Ashram there then was dropped at the airport by Gusde who proceeded to pick up an Ashram guest from Melbourne. In the plane I finally caught up with John Barnard from Melbourne, an old friend of Interfidei and its director Elga, who’d been to Yogya and who’d contacted me earlier once he found out that we may well be on the same flight. He came up to me just as we prepared to take off so apart from a few words of greetings he was quickly sent back to his seat perhaps to chat later. But soon as the plane took off, perhaps even before as I don’t recall the ascent nor the switching off the seat belt lights, I fell into a deep coma – I was that tired!
I woke up early morning as we approached the Melbourne airport, so the Melbourne sleep replenishment mode had merely begun! One of the reasons I love the Jetstar return flight, if no meals ordered they just leave you alone as all the sustenance I needed then was sleep. I looked around for John but he was lost in the sea of white faces of returning passengers from their Bali holidays. Well there will be time to catch up with him in Melbourne, just like the sleep!
Postscript – ‘Regrets?’
While on the Tenganan visit I got wind of a slight dilemma – the peanuts from one of the Ashram’s farmlands tilled by tenant farmers were ready for harvesting. As usual it’s very short lead time and basically the members need to be mobilised quickly to do the harvest before the peanuts go bad. However, some members are away and others are on critical duty at the ashram and they simply didn’t have the numbers to do the quick, mass harvesting. A thought crossed my mind about deploying the group for this very unique ‘roll up your sleeve’ opportunity. But it was only our second day with light rains falling and one of the participants would have just arrived and we have the well planned Purnama Puja temple major visit coming up that very late afternoon. If it was the next day it would’ve been quite an experience but it had to be done that very day so we had to let it pass and they had to outsource the harvesting. Just shows the unique opportunities that may present themselves at any time, hence the need for flexibility that we’ve been advocating all along.