As many of you know, I have just converted today from University of Iowa Winterim India professor for 15 health science students to “senior consultant” for Pallium India. I was glad the conversion happened over 2 days—two students had later flights and stayed for an extra 24 hours.
The trip was full of cultural immersion moments—travel under other circumstances has never provided me with such an intimate look at the way people truly live, the depth of professional relationships, the abandon of meaningless clutter in my life, and the understanding that compassion can be conveyed without language. I believe that the UI students found this to be true as well. While I am more reserved and an observer, there were students were willing to jump in. We all moved out of our comfort zone. And sometimes the students pushed me out of my observer status with good results!
Two students and I went to the Lotus Ashram here in the outskirts of Trivandrum.
We thought it would be a beautiful place to spend about 45 minutes or so. TWO hours later, we left our personal tour feeling challenged to think about our lives and the chaos in this world and its man-made religions. We had a short audience with the guru, an unexpected event, and quite moving.
We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the ocean in a sea side family owned resort afterwards. I am still trying to finish God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
About the leeches…Jo Eland, my co-teacher sent me that text when we were on our way to a hike to a waterfall. None of us bathed long in that fresh water. We loved the views from Ponmudi in the foothills of the Western Ghats.