Pondicherry Elephant

Hello Friends, did I just sound like John McCain there? John who……

It was beautiful to follow Obama’s win from a distance and to be here in a land of dark skinned people who love Obama and perhaps the USA too. One small example says it all. I am leaving the Ganesha temple in Pondicherry yesterday morning. We went there to get Ganesha’s blessings for our journey deeper into Tamil Nadu. A group of young Indian school boys, on a field trip, probably 40 of them, are following me and a young guy in my group. Not following, but walking the same route and staring at us intently and asking questions. At first we don’t know what to say, it seems strange that they would be interested in us at all, but they are. Everyone is, they just stare at us sometimes, finally we talk to them, they want to know our name, where we are from, when they hear USA they say “Do you like Obama?” We say “Yes, we like Obama very much.” and they all break out in a cheer, the whole street echoes with their cheer….

It is like a rushing river here, the streets and traffic, if you think too hard you would be afraid to walk in the street. Fear being washed away. The current is fierce. The noise, the horns, truly like nothing you can imagine in the states.

At the temples, the priests for Ganesha look like Ganesha. Everyone is willing and able to be devotional. They know what to do, there is no pretense. they prostrate themselves at the entrance, they wave their hands over the flame of the many fires to bathe themselves with smoke and light and heat, they touch their fingers to the water and then to their lips, forehead, crown, or heart, they circumambulate, they sit and meditate, they give flowers and coconuts and bananas and grass and rupees, Ganesh is big and hungry you know, they use their third finger to rub ash across their forehead, they allow the priest to put the red dot on their forehead, before the ash/after the ash it does not matter. The bell begins to clang in the temple at certain points, the sound vibrates your whole being from any vantage point, you are shook and your mind goes still, who knows what is happening but it feels good, you are barefoot, you are smiling, muttering, crying, humming, in the end you are back on the street, back to work, back to another carnival.

All for now, sweet dreams.

Natasha Korshak
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Natasha Korshak is a long-time teacher and trainer of yoga, meditation, mindfulness and MBSR, and has been working in the field of integrative health and wellness her entire professional career. She is a graduate of the Interfaith Theological Seminary and an ordained Interfaith Minister specializing in contemplative practice, grief processing, and spiritual direction. Her study and training of mind/body/spirit methods is extensive and she has learned from many of the pioneers in their discipline. As the founder and director of the Sol Center she is well regarded for her depth, warmth, authenticity, and the smile in her voice.

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