Celebrating a Birthday by handing out new Uniforms – 8 Aug 16

Today is an important day of the year in our family: on 8th August, we celebrate the birthday of my youngest brother Yashendu!

Yesterday, he has just returned from a tour to the Himalayas with a British family. They took a tour from Vrindavan to Amritsar to Dharamshala and Palampur – and returned happy and full of impressions and experiences from this trip.

So we started the day with sharing what has happened on the journey and then, after we had had our breakfast, the children came class-wise for their surprise: we distributed new school uniforms! We had been collecting for a while last year and have been able to get the help of friends who support our charity work. Of course a big thank you goes to them for their support, too!

It had become necessary with the old uniforms having become old and, in many cases, too small already. It is beautiful to see the joy you can bring to these children simply with some pieces of cloth! Nothing else, only something to wear for the time they will be at school!

And that’s how we love celebrating our birthdays – sharing with those who need it and especially our school kids! This joy of giving to someone can never be experienced by getting a gift!

Of course however we also had a cake! In the evening, we all got together, our Ashram guests, the family and our staff and shared the huge chocolate cake our baker and pastry chef had made!

It was once more a beautiful day!

Click here to see the pictures

Ramona’s first Birthday as a Restaurant Owner – 20 Mar 16

Yesterday was Saturday and thus the day on which I always give you a recipe. Had it been any other day, I would have told you about an event on the 19th March which I have been celebrating since the year 2007: the birth of my wife Ramona. It was her birthday yesterday and at the same time, it was the beginning of the Holi celebration in Vrindavan!

Our friends and also those readers who have loyally followed all the important days in our year through the years know what this would normally mean: a big party with great food, music and lots of colour, letting us dance until late night!

Well, this time it was a bit different! The reason? Our restaurant, of course! Having opened only this month, we are still very busy and love spending our evenings at Ammaji’s serving, talking to guests and helping our team. We didn’t want to miss that for our private party but at the same time, we did not want to miss our party either. So we simply went ahead and changed the timing a bit: Ramona got an afternoon party this year!

After opening the restaurant in the morning and serving our restaurant guests lunch, we all got together with our kids, our staff members and Ashram guests for Ramona to cut her cake. Obviously, Apra helped her with it and we all shared. The rest of the cake was carried towards the gate into the restaurant, so that the staff there, too, could enjoy it and thus join the fun!

We shifted out to the porch, where we were greeted by a rain of flower petals from the balcony! It was beautiful and of course not only the kids started picking up the flowers to throw them at each other! Soon after, coloured powder was added and after just a short while, we all were covered in red, orange, green, yellow and pink colour!

As it was the first day of Holi, however, we did not overdo it and after two or three hours of fun, we all went to take a shower – so that we could go back to the restaurant afterwards and enjoy the evening there!

It was a beautiful day and a very special birthday for Ramona as well: the first one as the proud owner of a restaurant!

Apra’s fourth Birthday Party – 10 Jan 16

Yesterday was Apra’s fourth birthday! Just like every year, we had a blast at a wonderful birthday party with all school children, lots of guests and delicious food!

The day started in the morning with preparing for the decoration. The only thing we were planning on doing was putting up balloons – but a few thousand of them! For this purpose we had bought balloons and a machine that electrically fills air in them. Otherwise we would have needed to start blowing them up by mouth a few days before! A few experienced people started blowing air into the balloons in the early morning hours and then made colourful gates and beautiful balloon garlands out of them.

A bit later than expected, the cooks also started working. Well, I guess the fault is with our expectation and not with the cooks who excused themselves saying ‘It is so cold, nobody wants to get up so early in the morning! But anyway, they finally did get up and started preparing all the delicious food we were going to have.

At ten o’clock our main guests had nearly all arrived: our school children! Apart from them there were some other, very cherished friends who were slowly arriving – and soon we started the party off with some dance and music. It is always the greatest of times when the children start dancing wildly and everyone around forgets their shyness as well!

Apra had become hungry in the meantime – after all she had been up for several hours already, helping in preparations, receiving gifts and eating chocolate! So while everyone was dancing, Ramona sneaked away with her towards the food stalls, where noodles, potato pancakes, snacks and sweets were being prepared and got the very first bowl of noodles for Apra and the first potato pancake for her German grandfather. Sitting in the back, behind everyone, they had a delicious first taste of the party food!

It had been a good idea to feed Apra first because once the meal officially started, the school children rushed to the stalls and for a long time it was difficult to get anywhere near the food because of the children in front of the stalls, waiting to get their meal. For a good while after, they were busy stuffing all of those tasty items into their mouths, filling their bellies and enjoying the party with so delicious free food.

Some more dancing was done before we had the cake. Apra made the first cut and later everyone got a piece of the incredibly delicious chocolate cake. When she had had her share, she joined the people on the dance floor and even did a little performance – a dance she had learned during the past week.

Finally, when the children and some of our guests had left, Apra opened her gifts: beautiful dresses, colour Pencils and games!

In the end we had a calm, relaxing and delicious dinner and spent the rest of the evening in nice talks with friends who stayed over night.

It was a great birthday, a beautiful memory of Apra's birth and a nice chance to reconnect with old friends.

You can see pictures of the big party here

Another Celebration and a Surprise for the Children – 19 Oct 15

Yesterday I told you about my birthday party on Saturday. Actually, this party was supposed to start in the morning already with a big lunch of the children and a surprise for them. On Saturday however, there were local elections in an area of Vrindavan and as a lot of our children come from that part of town, they got a holiday on Saturday. This is how we got another chance to celebrate again and in this way we even could celebrate another occasion: Thomas and Iris’ 10th Indian wedding anniversary!

The children arrived this morning, thinking it would be another usual day of school. They we surprised when they were called for lunch and we and our guests were sitting there already, waiting for them to join us and start the meal! We all ate together with them and afterwards, when all were full, we got together once more for the surprise: all children got new school bags!

This was my family and friends’ birthday gift for me! They had a bag made for each child which we could now distribute. The biggest gift are the beautiful smiles of our school children! How they took their bags, turned them in their hands, examining them carefully and opening each zipper to check how much space they had in the new bags!

My birthday was not the only thing we celebrated like this however! Today is another very special day: it is Thomas and Iris’ 10th Indian wedding anniversary! We can hardly believe that it has already been so long but really, ten years ago, Thomas and Iris came to our Ashram for the very first time. It was in 2005 that we got to know each other in Germany and they then travelled to India and came to us. Here, they had their Indian wedding ceremony – and of course we had to celebrate that as well!

So it was like a third birthday party and an anniversary celebration which we shared with the children!

I am happy to have such a wonderful family and beautiful friends – and it is great that I can share this all with you in this way as well! I hope someday you will join us for one of our celebrations, too!

Having a great Time with Friends – 18 Oct 15

Oh, we are having a great time! Yes, it is just wonderful – life is busy, people are coming and going, every day there is a new development and right now, we are having lovely friends here at the Ashram and enjoy our time with them thoroughly!

Thomas and Iris arrived on Friday together with our common friends Peter and Heike, their son and two more friends as well. After one evening of relaxing we had a great birthday party yesterday! We didn't actually do anything enormous which needed a lot of preparation but it was truly special: we had a delicious dinner followed by a little dance party. Then some chocolate cake for everyone and some more dance! Apra, Pranshu and Guddu, our youngest, performed their dances, showing what they have learned and then Melanie, our friend from France, did her fire dance show. Finally, we ended the evening with a beautiful musical performance by our German friends on various instruments.

It was a beautiful evening which we all enjoyed much – family, friends and Ashram guests alike! For three ladies it was actually also their last evening at the Ashram before going on a journey through Rajasthan which we organized for them. They started today in the early morning towards Jaipur, will then go to Jaisalmer and finally return via Delhi where one of them will take a flight back home.

So we are sitting here, with fewer guests and our friends and are enjoying our time together, we catch up on each other’s lives, indulge in memories and make plans for upcoming adventures.

Apra is super happy right now because Thomas is here and the whole day long she plays with him or tells us of all the things they played, thinking about what they will do next. She loves having the house full of people and especially when it is not only people she doesn’t know but friends with whom she skypes nearly every week!

Additionally, all of our German friends brought loads of gifts from Germany for Apra and the boys of the Ashram. Everyone is busy trying out new toys and eating delicious German sweets! We are having a wonderful time!

Life is good!

Celebrating my Birthday, forgetting the Count of Years and loving my Life! – 14 Oct 15

Today is the day again on which I change the count of my years. It is my birthday, the 14th October. And before you even ask: I don’t feel any older today than I did yesterday!

I know I have mentioned it before and probably on my birthday as well: this figure with which you tell other people your age is not of much importance to me. Ramona laughed the other day when she told guests about this. ‘You ask him about his age and he will think two minutes about how old he actually is!’

I really feel young enough to be as busy as I am and old enough to have made the experiences I have made. Why would I let this figure dictate how I should feel or behave? Nothing changes by that. I also don’t compare myself in my age to others. If I started, it would be very confusing: some of my former classmates are grandparents already while I have other friends of my age who are studying, at the beginning of a relationship or at a similar point of life that I have already crossed! So why start comparing?

No, I am very happy with the point that I am at in my life. I usually am. I have my family, wonderful friends, I am very busy with my work which is progressing well and I enjoy a good health, too. Right now while Ramona and I are writing this, I have to smile because my daughter is laughing behind me, joking with her uncle. With this sunshine in my life, I cannot even think about feeling old!

This morning she woke up, excited and happy that it is my birthday. She told Ramona that she would eat lots of cake – just to hear from Ramona that we wanted to have the party at the weekend, when our friends Thomas and Iris as well as some more friends would be here as well! Oh, Apra was upset then, complaining immediately that the party should be today, not on Saturday. Ramona tried to explain her that our friends wanted to join the fun as well but Apra objected: ‘They can come to my birthday party!’

Ramona gave in: ‘Okay, we can have a small party today and a big one on Saturday!’ Wrong strategy! That gave a big protest: ‘No! We have to have a big party today, there has to be a big cake ON the birthday!’ Oh well, so we will have one party today and one on Saturday!

We are not the ones to say no to a party anyway. And I am looking forward to many more!

Apra’s birthday Week full of Events – 12 Jan 15

We have had a week which was very full but very nice! With Apra's grandfather here and her birthday, we had lots to do and had loads of fun!

I told you that we picked my father-in-law up from the airport last Sunday early morning. After a slow drive through the fog to Vrindavan, we thoroughly enjoyed our Sunday. And then things just happened, the days were full and we don't even know how the week passed!

One big event was that the glass walls and doors of our restaurant arrived and were installed. It is exciting to watch how they place the big glass panes into the wall and the open structure suddenly turns into a room, no, a restaurant hall! They had a construction of tables to work on, which we were impressed by, as they did not fall off once. We all went often to check on the progress of the work and finally, on the last day of Ramona’s father’s stay here, it was completed!

Admiring the glass work was not our only activity though! We have several guests at the ashram whose retreats are going on and we spent time with them – but also with preparations for the day Apra has been looking for so long: her 3rd birthday!

We had not invited anybody especially but of course close friends knew and came, so that we had, together with our big Ashram family, quite a party again! Apra was so excited, already during the time of decoration! She refused to wear any of the new clothes she herself had bought and insisted that she would wear a dress, otherwise how should she dance? So we took out her dress of Diwali and put in on above the warm winter clothes. She still looked adorable!

With the wonderful help of a guest, a cook from Germany who is here to bake with us, we had pizza in the evening and then a gigantic and incredibly tasty birthday cake! It was so delicious that it caused overeating in more than one person! 🙂

A lot of gifts followed – that day and the following – and we were nearly still in birthday mood when we took off to Delhi today! We spent the day with Monika in Gurgaon and in the evening dropped my father-in-law off at the airport. A big goodbye and off he went – as I said, time flew by but we had a good time!

Tomorrow I will let you know how Monika is improving.

43 Years today, completely busy and loving it! – 14 Oct 14

It is the 14th October once more, the day on which I was born, now 43 years ago. Should any of you ask – I don’t feel any different than yesterday today but I know that another great year of my life has begun today!

Other than we usually do, we are not going to have a big party today. The children had a great lunch, sang for me and even gave me some hand-made birthday cards. We have not however planned a program in the evening – because we were all too busy and with the mind at another, very big project.

Since the beginning of this year, I have been involved in a great project, no, the greatest project of my life. It takes a lot of thought and effort which means that I have not been sitting at the computer and writing or working on the website a lot in the past months.

When something involves you so completely and your mind is focused, you don’t realize how the day passes – something which I love, simply being fully immersed with every part of your mind and heart.

Thinking back on my life – yes, I know, it sounds like something an old person would say but that’s what you usually think about on birthdays, isn’t it? – I have always been doing such things and always putting myself into my work completely, enjoying every bit of it.

I really want to tell you in detail what work I am talking about but as it would get a bit too long to write this all today, I will have to make you wait until tomorrow.

Until then, enjoy this beautiful day and thank you very much for all the birthday wishes!

The Party for which I especially came from India – 15 Sep 14

We are back in Wiesbaden after a fantastic weekend in Lüneburg with my friends Michael and Andrea. I would like to share some of those great moments with you!

We started from Wiesbaden, just as planned, on Saturday in the early morning and reached Lüneburg in midday. The preparations were already going on, a tent was set up in the garden, the caterers brought glasses, plates and the first supplies and the garden was getting prepared for the celebration.

Before the big party however, it was wonderful that we could spend a beautiful evening together, just the family and we. We went to a restaurant and had a great time with my still-59-year-old friend, remembering old times, looking forward to exciting days to come and enjoying the presence together.

For the past two weeks we had all been looking at the weather forecast for this Sunday. Partly because we wanted to plan which clothes to bring and partly because there were about 100 people invited and they would not fit inside if it was raining! Even with the big tent in the garden, it could have been tight. So we all hoped for good weather but until Saturday, the probability for rain was 80% and it was predicted that there would be no sun at all.

You can imagine our happiness when we got up on Sunday and the sun was shining through the window! The whole day long, we had great temperature, the sun came out and then vanished a bit behind clouds again but it was the best weather for having a party that was at least partly held in the garden!

And everyone enjoyed! I met many people, friends and relatives of Michael and Andrea, whom I have known for many years and also many people whom I have only known by their name, from stories told by my friends. We talked and laughed, shared stories and experiences.

My biggest joy was to see my friends so happy! How many people had come to celebrate Michael and how he then held a speech, addressing each of his guests one by one, touching everyone and bringing the group of otherwise mixed guests together!

Apra had a fantastic time as well! One of Michael's longest friends had arranged for a Columbian singer to come and play guitar and sing for an hour – beautiful Spanish songs. Apra walked behind the lady who took rounds and imitated her guitar play, danced and clapped enthusiastically! There were also some other kids and when the music stopped, she played with them, mixing with complete strangers with very little hesitation!

In the evening, people slowly left. Three or four couples however had such a good time, they stayed until late! In the end however, we were left with just the family and another couple and their adult daughter, close friends whom we have also know for long. It was the man with whom Michael had been to India for his 50th birthday!

That's how we ended this wonderful day rather quietly and among friends. One of the most beautiful things Michael said when talking about the event was, that he felt our presence has made it something special. Not just another party, no, a milestone, an event of life to which even friends from India want to fly in to join! Me, Ramona and Apra being there made it special to him and his guests. And being there was very special for us.

We agreed that Michael would come to India again for his 70th birthday – and I added that I would be back in Lüneburg for his 80th birthday!

Once again, my friend, I wish you another wonderful 60 years, may they be filled with love and laughter!

Ramona’s Birthday Celebration – 20 Mar 14

Yesterday we had a wonderful celebration of Ramona’s birthday! We all still feel like having a hangover from dancing, eating and enjoying! It was a fantastic evening and do you know what was so great about it – apart from my wife of course? It was the joy of the children which I noticed yesterday once more.

We have a very big advantage whenever we have a party: our school children are always invited. We don’t need to worry about the amount of guests. We have our school children. Our parties are never boring and always full of life and joy. Because of our school children.

We invited them already a day before and that’s how on Ramona’s birthday, they requested their teachers to give them some time for drawing, writing and painting birthday cards. They got their papers, colour pens and time for doing it and when they arrived in the afternoon, of course way before the time we had told them to come, they gifted Ramona the most beautiful handmade cards!

When the first children were coming, the Ashram family and our guests were still fully busy decorating the Ashram. My beautiful wife decided to get into her birthday present by the family: a wonderful new dress which had a few of our friends look at her in surprise, as it was so different from her usual clothing! We took some pictures and enjoyed watching the children coming excitedly into the Ashram.

Then the music started. And oh, you don’t need to ask children twice to join you at the dance floor! They opened up, they got wild and they danced in such a great manner, you could think most of them came straight out of dance classes!

Our friends who were staying with us at the Ashram got ready as well and the first guests from outside the Ashram arrived as well. The children, happy and open as they are, started talking to them, pulled them to the dance floor and played and danced with everyone. Who would not enjoy being asked for a dance by a ten-year-old girl in a glittery dress?

Yes, these children are poor but all of them have one set of clothes which they wear on festive occasions. We know these dresses, it is the same one on each of our birthday parties but it makes them feel special and beautiful to wear them. And it looks wonderful!

The dance was followed by a great dinner prepared by the Ashram kitchen. After that, a must on every birthday party: the cutting of the cake. And just when everyone had put their last piece of cake in their mouths, it started raining flower petals! The children had volunteered to help picking flower petals off seventy kilos of differently coloured flowers – and then we all enjoyed throwing the flowers on each other!

Everyone had a blast! Our guests, we ourselves, all our friends from near and far and of course the children! And again, what I enjoy the most at this is once again this thought: for our children, this is a very special event. A party of a kind that they don’t get to experience often. Not even their wedding may have so many guests or so great food. But we will always celebrate our events with them – because it makes all of us happy!