Cultural Differences USA-Germany-India – 31 May 10

I wrote yesterday already about the cooking workshop that we had with so many people. It was really lots of fun. We had a smaller group for cooking and then many more who come only for food. So when all the dishes were prepared, everybody filled his plate and we spread in the dining room and the living room as well as at the kitchen table until everybody had found a place.

And then somehow it was a little bit funny for the three of us to see, some people were done and got up and left the house. They said goodbye to one or two people and left. We had to laugh about this and decided that this might be a cultural difference. For us it seems very impolite to leave while others are still eating but nobody else seemed to mind. Several people left, others stayed and we had a nice talk after the food before we officially said good-bye to people.

I guess this is cultural difference. If you compare this with Germany, we believe this would not happen and has never happened in any workshop yet that people left the house while the house owner was still eating. Some said good-bye to Joanne while she had the plate full of food and the spoon in the hand. In Germany it is custom to wait with anything until everybody has finished eating.

In India it is again a little bit different. You cannot even think of disturbing anybody who is eating. You would not talk to that person because eating is so important. We joked and said that Indians would then rather sit around in your house for another five hours before leaving. However they would not mind if you went into your room and to bed either. These are cultural differences. We decided that as travellers you need to have an open mind and heart. You always keep seeing differences and then adopt the best parts of each culture.

Saying Goodbye in New York – 25 Sep 09

Yesterday when we were walking to the ice-cream place I was talking with Asheem. I said to him: ‘Many times when I am talking with people, it feels like they expect me to say something very wise.’ But when I am with friends like him, I feel I can be natural and I can just say very wise things like: ‘Let’s go and have ice-cream.’ This is one of the symptoms when you realize you have a friend: when you feel that you can just be how you are.

Yesterday on our last complete day we did a lot of shopping for things that we can bring to India. Ramona bought hair ties for the girls and for the bigger boys we got ‘I love NY’-shirts. We had a really great time here with friends who even were happy to give us their bedroom and sleep on the couch. We met many friends and made many experiences.

Today we said goodbye to our dear friend Violetta and soon we will say goodbye to Jeremy and Su, too. I could write again that it is always sad to leave but that there are always many new hellos. And it is true, of course we spent a long time together now but we have a new home here and we will be back. Now we will just have dinner and then start.

Goodbye to Tucson – 25 Aug 09

Today was our very last day in Tucson and soon we will start our way to Phoenix to take a plane from there to New York. We definitely had a lovely time here and met many wonderful people. I want to thank the Seva Center and the people there who opened their hearts and welcomed us in their home before my words and a misunderstanding triggered anger.

It is okay that this anger was there and I always encourage people to express their emotions, no matter what kind of emotion it is. But in the end, we know it is all about love and we have to overcome emotions of anger and hatred and we have to come back to love and peace. We are all connected through our souls and should not live in this negative energy. I have nothing bad for them in my heart but I am sending love and blessings for them, their family and their center. They opened their hearts and home and I have been guest in their homes and would like to invite them to come to my home some time and be a guest there. I have received many long emails, too, and I am sorry I cannot reply each one personally, so here I am writing to you all: Thank you for your love and taking your time to write to me. I am sending you lots of love deeply from my heart. And of course I also want to thank Gigi, who opened her home for us in the rest of the time.

Apart from our beautiful friends Victor and Jhan whom we already got to know when they came to our Ashram in India, we met many more people here who welcomed us full of love. With the Global Chant group we met a group which is just open and spreading love, not only through their words but also through their actions. We also want to thank Doug and Deborah who are going to be here soon to take us to the airport.

This is how we leave Tucson with our hearts full of love and we want to invite you all to come to India so that we can hug you there just as we hugged you here. We know that some are already making plans to come and to visit the children and us and we hope we will see many of you there!

From New York to Chicago – 2 Aug 09

Yesterday I already told you that we would start early to Chicago. And it was very early. At 3:45 am the airport shuttle was there to pick us up and we said goodbye to Jeremy. I don’t know how many times I have already written, that it is sad to say goodbye. We really enjoyed the time in New York with Suann and Jeremy.

In Chicago we were welcomed by Shayna and so it is always like this: you are sad when saying goodbye but there are many hellos, too. And we will be back in New York in September. I got very nice response to the last day’s diary entries and I hope that some people will change their habits and begin living in a healthier way. It is anyway the best to cook your food yourself instead of eating readymade. We went shopping today to get all our ingredients for the wonderful meal that we cooked in the evening. It was very delicious. Now we are tired after this long day and will go to bed soon.

Arriving in Copenhagen – 26 Jun 09

We started in the morning with saying goodbye, which is always hard, especially when you leave a lovely family like this. But we will see them soon again when they come to visit us in Vrindavan in October. It was a nice journey of five hours from Hamburg to Copenhagen. The train goes onto a ferry for crossing the sea and I like it to go up then and see the water and feel the wind.

We were then very nicely welcomed by friends in Copenhagen. I came to Copenhagen for the first time many years ago, but now I came again after two years. I like this town. Even though it is in Germany’s neighbour country, you can feel the difference in the energy and atmosphere of the cities. The culture might be very similar but I feel that many things in the feeling are different. It seems like people are more relaxed, calm and easy-going. Maybe it is not that properly organized and clean like Germany, here you can see a ‘take it easy’ attitude in people, also regarding untidiness. But I like this all and it is very nice here. Many friends came to Otto’s home to see us and we had dinner together. After dinner we went out for ice-cream and all in all it was a very nice day.

You can only Teach what you Live yourself – 31 May 09

Today we had the last meeting of the Yoga Teacher Training and I was talking with them about honesty. I told them how important it is to honestly live what you are teaching.

A friend of mine told me about a cousin who is yoga teacher. This man gives a yoga workshop of four hours, after two hours he makes a break and in the time of this break he is the first one who sits in the bar on the other side of the street with a beer in the hand and smoking a cigarette. And he says that he is giving yoga. How can you teach yoga in this way?

Again I have to say that yoga is not only a physical exercise, it is a lifestyle. Please see that if you tell somebody not to smoke or drink although you are a chain smoker and alcoholic, nobody will take your teachings seriously. No, you have to make yoga a part of your life and feel it in your heart. Find your own way, your own truth. Then you can tell with full honesty and I tell you that it will touch people. Then only they will be able to understand what you are saying because you are living it.

I told them that everyone of them has to find his own way with his own honesty. I cannot tell them what to believe but I can say them that if they believe it with their full heart and pass it on to others, it will make a difference.

It was very emotional saying goodbye in the end and everybody had tears in their eyes. But of course, it is only a goodbye from this group. We will keep in touch and everyone can contact me at any time. This is my honesty: I am not a guru, just your friend and I am there for you.

Saying Goodbye to Thomas and Iris – 13 May 09

Today we started in the morning from Wiesbaden to Lüneburg. Our friend Sabine dropped us at the train station in Frankfurt and waved us goodbye. This time we have spent a long time in Wiesbaden with Thomas and Iris and we did many things and many changes took place. I am happy to see that Thomas is getting more and more involved in music and helping people with music. It is proved that music works and helps as a therapy. I also experienced a sound massage this time and it was really nice.

But also these weeks passed quickly and since yesterday I could feel that even though we were still there they thought about us leaving and felt that they would miss us, miss eating together, cooking together, having ice-cream together and being together. Thomas also said that the house will be empty and Iris will miss the welcoming when she comes home from work. This morning, when we said goodbye we were all sad.

I am grateful to have these friends and their support and love in each way. A friend is someone who lends you his shoulder and is standing with you in every situation. We also miss them and carry their love in our hearts. We will meet soon again and I think it is nice to have this diary so our friends have the possibility to travel with us and daily take part in our life in this way.

We arrived in Lüneburg and were picked up by Michael. So now we are also looking forward to a nice week with Michael, Andrea and Ravael.

Goodbye-Letter to my little Friend – 9 Feb 09

My dear little friend Celina,

today I am writing my diary for you. To see the tears in your eyes while saying goodbye made me cry and writing these lines I get emotional again. I really thank you from my heart for your innocent love. We had a great time this week with all of you. I know you will miss me and I will also miss you. You made us promise that we would come back. You asked us when and we will come whenever you say. But I also want you to promise that you will come to India this October. I was in your home and now I would like to welcome you in my home. I believe your parents will bring you there. I have left a little gift for you and hope you will like it. It was very nice in Hamburg yesterday evening; that was a great idea of you.

Sending you lots of love,

Travelling from India to Germany – 25 Nov 08

We arrived in the morning in Frankfurt and Thomas picked us up at the airport. It was amazing to have the change of temperature from 20 to minus 2 degrees Celsius and to be welcomed by snow. It was a sad atmosphere yesterday when we left the Ashram. My mother’s eyes were full of tears when we said goodbye. It is of course always like this and this is the special sweetness of a relation of a mother. This makes us sad but I was also looking forward to come to Germany and to meet friends and start work again. The drive of the airport which is actually only 150 kilometers took us five hours in Indian traffic. In the plane I already started looking forward to have a croissant for breakfast and I remembered the German bakeries. When I told this to Thomas at the airport he immediately called Iris so that she could go and buy croissants even before we arrived at their home. So the first thing was a nice breakfast, then we slept a little bit but we are still now tired.

Help others, older People and Neighbours – 21 Aug 08

So Roger and Mady dropped us again in Wiesbaden. The goodbye was with tears in the eyes but this is the travelling life. You have to say goodbye often. Physical distance is there and you want to be physically close to those whom you love. But if you have closeness from the heart you feel the other one with you even if he is miles away. Now we are with Thomas and Iris which is also wonderful. I am very happy to have so many great people who open their hearts and homes for me.

We were sitting in Thomas’ and Iris’ living room when the door bell rang and one of their neighbours stood in front of the door. He is an old man from America, 83 years old. He gave a sheet of paper to Thomas who promised to fax it for him. Iris told us that he regularly comes with some things that they fax for him because he doesn’t know how it works or they translate something for him which he doesn’t understand.

Thomas and Iris are very good neighbours. It is really nice how they help this man and when I said this to Iris, she said yes, we also don’t know if we understand the technique that will be in 50 years. Maybe we will also need someone to help us with that. And this is what I also say often: Treat others in the way that you expect them to treat you.