Today in the morning we were very happy to welcome an old friend here at the Ashram – finally Reinfried, with whom we have stayed many times in Austria, and his partner Traudi could take two weeks out of their schedule to enjoy a journey to India. We have been inviting him and he has also had the plan to come for a long time but it took until today for him to arrive at the Ashram. We also only have a few days left before we have to go back to Germany but we will surely have a great time together.
Unfortunately we also had to say goodbye today to Jeremy. We were sad to see him leave again but it made us happy to hear from him that he has had a great time at the Ashram and in Vrindavan.
Of course we are happy to hear this and many people really enjoy their holidays here. However we have also heard different experiences and opinions which sometimes surprise us. I told already that once a visitor arrived and one of the first things that we got to know was how surprising all the dust was. Another person came back from a trip to the bazar and complained very much about some beggars there who must have touched his arm to get his attention. With other visitors in that time he talked about it and they were disgusted at the idea of the dirt that the beggar may have touched or that he might have had some kind of disease. Hearing this makes me wonder with what kind of imaginations people come to India! If you ever saw any documentary about India, read a book, saw pictures or just a travel guide you will know that it is a country with much poverty, that many roads and towns are dusty and that poor people, as in all other touristic places, try to get money for a living by begging to those who have enough to travel around the world. I do not say that you should give each beggar money, you might have a big crowd around you if you start doing this and additionally it is some people’s business to encourage others to beg who might as well have a job and work. I just mean that you should not react like this. Look at these people, they are poor! If they are ill, it is because they don’t have money to go to the doctor, you should feel compassion, not disgust! And I know many poor people who pay much attention on cleanliness.
It is actually a basic attitude. Those people who want to enjoy, those who feel the energy of this place, those who are willing to be happy, will be happy. They come home and say ‘Of course there is a lot of poverty but if you look into people’s eyes, they shine!’ And I tell you: if you have this attitude, you will enjoy your stay much more!