Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Inner Path in reverse

Monday was a very early morning, up not long after 4.30am because I had my Rick-Astley driver coming to pick me up at 5.30am. You see I had arranged to meet my guide for the day at 5.45-ish at the chai stall across the road from Ramanashram.

Just an aside and while we are at it, I’m not sure everybody will know what this Rick-Astley thing is all about and why I would call an auto-rickshaw and Rick-Astley. Here is a link to the most famous Rick Astley song which if you click on the link and check it out then you were just Rick Roll’d, but that’s another story altogether.


Back to the real story. So it’s dark and I manage to get a coconut at the chai stall which suited me just fine because the chai stall is in fact the chai stall that the coconut woman also owns.

Tara, my Inner Path guide, has done this seven times before so has to be considered quite an expert. You see the thing about the Inner Path is that about a third of it or more has to be done on the road because you can’t go on the hill all the way, or so the story goes. Because everyone says you cannot do the Inner Path entirely on the hill everybody seems to just accept it and that’s the end of that. But me being me was convinced it could be done and made enquiries. Legend has it that it can be done but it is not spoken of, that indeed that which is not spoken of could be spoken of and could be done, as I had expected.

Once I had asked around enough and eventually found a rebellious anorexic gypsy/hippie girl and because I would want to do this again I suggested we go in reverse as I had already discovered it was a very difficult track to find. Being rebellious she was more than happy to go anti-clockwise which meant that that which is never spoken of was also going to be done in a way that is never done. Interesting young girl actually. She was literally raised as a traveling gypsy in the UK and is the only person I met who was not one little bit shocked when arriving in India for the first time several weeks ago. She had sifted through rubbish bins when she was young so thought nothing of the mess that is India, funny thing !

6.00am we hit the path up to Skandashramam which is actually quite a steep 30 minute walk. When you are not warmed up and not long out of bed it really gets the heart working and lungs burning. The gypsy girl had a cold as well so she was suffering but at least being anorexic food was not going to be a problem over the next 5 or 6 hours. And they love to really go for it too, you know, really work hard, no slacking round on the way and no whining !

Then it is downhill a bit to Virupaksha Cave, a little bit further then there is a secret turnoff with a barrier across the path so you can’t go down it. So we went down it of course and we were on the way.
  This is Tara, my trusted mountain guide, overlooking the temple just before sunrise.

As you can see it's a well worn and easy path !

Was pausing under a tree when I felt little things landing on me, then drops of "water" Looked up and here was a Lemur throwing things and hopefully only spitting at me !

Tara may look as though she is posing (and is certainly super-model thin !) but at times this is actually the path, involving some serious rock negotiation.

Part way along the Inner Path route there is an alternative path for a part of the way called the Yellow Path, marked with these particular markings. The Yellow Path is apparently a bit faster for part of the journey but way steeper as it goes over the top of a substantial hill. 
Guess which way we went ??

And back down to earth where there is the usual presence of the sadhus at play.

Animals I see every day (or, the Clare R. post !)

Starting with Ramanashram there are many dogs, along with other animals and birds, that are allowed to roam quite happily around, including several puppies. It's quite common to see them wandering through the meditation hall but sometimes get the arse from some overly strict attendant. The animal thing at the ashram is probably from the days when Ramana was alive as he had a tremendous connection with animals. In earlier posts I showed these photos....Ramans favourie animals have their own little shrine-type gravestones. there are many books written about Ramana and the animals, I will try to write a few of the stories as they are truly remarkable and often very funny with it.

His favourite was Lakshmi the cow who has this rather large memorial

These are the ashram puppies, real little characters

This is the hotel bullock, they take people for rides on the cart....boring !

These two critters are actually hens and live at the hotel. They are "Kenny hens" and when I asked the dick at reception how to spell Kenny he said there was no English spelling for it (Insert Southpark Face !) I call them Burt and Ethel. They are like an old married couple and walk all over the place sort of arguing and bitching at each other but are never apart.



Heaps of Peacocks and other birdlife wandering round Ramanashram

A couple of the cows from Ramanashram

Ramanashram dog curled up asleep as they tend to do all day. people just walk 
around them and pay them no never mind.

The puppies get constant attention from the children

Then there are the "up the hill dogs" who hang about, well, up the hill. On the path on the way to Skandashram you will see these dogs everywhere. They have collars on and I found out that many Indian dogs are well looked after by westerners and various trusts (because as we know, people care more about the animals that they do about people !) A dog with a collar on is much better looked after by the Indians apparently. They all have chunks out of their ears and are actually really sweet dogs, though still quite weary of humans, as they should be.

Then there's dog lady, as I call her. She comes up the hill and sits in the bush with the dogs, keeping them company and feeds them. Probably worms them as they are all very healthy compared to some of the mangy things you see around the town.

Cows in the middle of busy roads is always goo entertainment. Some things like this you just never really get used to. A bunch of cows with cow babies. The cow babies are drinking as they wander down and across the road.

Then I was up the hill sitting on a large rock area doing my pranayama early one morning to the chanting rising up from the big temple below. The monkeys often come for a look and a bit of a chat. I love monkeys, they are very cool little critters, many people are scared of them.

 Then this little female with part of her back leg missing comes up to take my bag (and they really will take it given half a chance) The conversation went something like this....
"Hi, I can see you are just sitting there doing that breathing thing so I'm just going to take the opportunity to check out your bag here. I can smell the almonds so I might have some if you don't mind. As you can see I have only three good legs so I am a special needs monkey, all the more reason to let me have your bag. Thanks very much"

I love these monkeys, the Lemurs. They are much bigger than the Macarques, way more powerful and incredibly fast. Very human looking in some ways and act more human too.

Is it just me or when you look at the Lemur then look at this guy.....

This swami has a good angle, a puppy. I'm surprised the others haven't figured this out but people will always give to someone with a puppy.

I told him to train the puppy to take the cash, would triple his cash revenue !

 Keep the poor little bugger tied up so nobody can take his little cash cow from him.

More of the Ramanashram dogs and puppies