For the very last time the large dong was chimed at 04:00 AM, today we would finally be leaving. I got ready and did some quick packing, I am becoming quite a pro at packing a sleeping bag into a tiny bag now! I set off towards the small room designated to the foreigners where we would watch the final discourse video in which Goenka said that to continue the planted seed from growing, we would need to meditate at least 2 hours a day. With all due respect for the people who are able to actually do this, I knew immediately that for me I won’t be doing the practice for more than 30 minutes every morning. I do truly believe that the effects and change in my life will be of a dramatic scale.
The day previously, when we had broken the noble silence, almost everyone came to ask me where I would be heading next. When I told them I was going to Udaipur next but I would first need to get back to Mumbai, to be honest, I complained a little because I didn’t fancy sitting on one of those uncomfortable seats again being gawked at the entire journey and squashed by 4 people on a 2 person bench. Because I had not been successful in booking my seat in my required class on time due to my Indian Railway account not working, I would be stuck in the lowest class for 7 hours again. When I had told the lovely ladies of my situation everybody jumped in to help. Each one of them was literally trying to win my favour as for them to offer their help to me, I have never witnessed so much kindness and generosity in my life. In the end, a woman had phoned her husband to sort out a ticket for me in a better seat, he had done so diligently and she came to tell me it had been sorted. I was absolutely over the moon but slightly confused because when I had tried, the better class was full. As it turned out, her lovely husband had booked the train I had purposefully avoided because the journey would take 12 hours… if there were no delays, this would mean I wouldn’t be arriving in Mumbai until 23:15 PM which I was slightly uncomfortable with. But because the lady and her husband had only had the best intentions, and had gone through so much effort for me, I accepted their kindness gratefully and gracefully.
It was time to finish my packing, it should have only taken me 5 minutes but all of a sudden there was a knock on my door, I was rather shocked to see an army of women stood in line to come and wish me well and take one last selfie. Needless to say that the last minute packing took me about 40 minutes, purely because I was strict to tell people ‘ only 1 photo’ haha! Some people even went on their knees and bowed for me, I found this greatly confusing, they act as if I am royalty. I was in a bit of a hurry because the lovely lady who had helped me with the train ticket had invited me to come to her and her husbands home in the meantime and I didn’t want to keep them waiting. I did my last goodbyes with all of the women I had come to connect with and the guys who weren’t too shy to speak to me.
Do you remember the other western guy I had referred to? His name is Xavier, an American ex-army officer who I had observed for the entire course (yes that goes against the rules but I was curious about how he was doing), he approached me with complete enthusiasm and hugged me in the air and said ‘ O MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE WE SURVIVED THIS’ It was very funny because we had never talked before and during the process I thought he had no regard for me but apparently he had been just as intrigued as me. We had an instant bond and laughing fit over our shared thoughts regarding the bodily noises (that are not accepted as social behaviour in our Western societies) that would be heard every second of our stay at the Vipassana centre and just the low level of personal hygiene that certain people had. It was so funny because we both had increased our scent recognition skill, with eyes closed we would know exactly who had entered the area around us! You can call us superhumans! He will only be staying in India for 2 more weeks and shamefully we don’t have anything that coincides with our schedule otherwise I am sure we would have had great fun travelling together.
It was time to leave, I was very sad to say goodbye to the girl who had been sat in front of me during the sessions, Kanishka, her room was also situated opposite mine so we had seen each other progress quite a lot and when I didn’t understand what people were saying she was the only one who could speak clear English for me. The day before we had chatted for hours and she was so fascinating! Sheis 26, comes from a modern Indian family, has a boyfriend and was going to become a police officer before she had acquired a neck injury which had thrown her dreams right out of the window. She had even chopped off all of her hair because it hurt her so much, that had explained why she wore a neck brace at some points of the course. She had come to the centre to see if she could master her physical and mental pain and get past this negative time in her life.
It was time to leave, so the lady, her husband, another girl who was invited to the lady’s house to wait for her train too and myself got in the rickshaw and we went down the very bumpy off-road track. I am surprised the rickshaw didn’t fall sideways but it was very entertaining nonetheless haha! It was so strange to be out in the open and in the real world again, I can remember feeling a little bit panicky as we drove through the streets of rural India, It was as if all of that getting used to before the Vipassana course had been forgotten and the culture shock was arising again. I had just learned the skills to suppress the feelings though, I just had to focus and accept that this was the situation and I would be happiest if I would welcome the situation with open arms and a wide smile on my face.
When we had made it to their home, we were both made to feel extremely welcomed indeed. I found it really fascinating to be in their home, a real Indian family’s home. They lived in an apartment in a more quiet area of Aurangabad, their home was decorated with lovely colours and had a good and happy vibe to it. The moment we walked in the door she started to clean and then decided that she would cook a second breakfast for us, samosa and another fried something I can’t remember the name of ah how I enjoy samosa’s! After breakfast, I had a long chat with her husband about philosophies and the meaning of true happiness. Something I have really noticed in India is that most of the people that i talk to, know how to have a real conversation and really think about the reasons behind things. It’s refreshing not to be bombarded with small talk built out of ingenuine interest, its only purpose is to serve the ego and the conversation leads to nothing worth learning from.
After she had also made us a lunch, she had given me a packed bag filled with food for my long train journey, how sweet is that! We all got into the rickshaw as they wanted to help me onto the train and wave me off. The time was starting to near and I was getting slightly worried that I wouldn’t make it to my train on time it got even worse when it turned out that they found the train station just a confusing as I do. It wouldn’t be so hard if there were large boards with all the train numbers and coinciding platforms but instead you needed to look on each platform individually which of course takes up quite some time plus you need to be standing at the correct part of the platform so you would go straight into the right carriage. When I had finally reached the right platform I was tapped on my shoulder, it was Samrat, one of the guys from the Vipassana centre! It turned out that by complete luck, we had seats right next to each other! Can you believe it? The chance of that happening must be so small so I felt extremely happy to know there would be a familiar person to spend the next 13 hours!
The time actually went quite fast, we had talked an awful lot and I had written 2 blog posts. It really helped that the train was quite empty and we had the whole benches to ourselves. Compared to my first journey this was way more pleasurable and the seats were padded much better too! Samrat needed to get out one stop before me, he wasn’t comfortable about leaving me to get out of the train and to my hotel by myself at all, he seemed to feel super guilty about it but he had to pick up his motorbike from somewhere otherwise he would get problems with work. I told him it was fine and that I would manage, I did secretly wish he could have helped me because I was a little bit uncomfortable with the situation but it is what it is. After a 1 hour delay my train didn’t even reach Mumbai until 00:15 AM, as I got out I was approached by so many guys who asked if I needed a taxi, I had just booked with Ola Cabs as it is a safe way to travel through India so I declined everyone of course. Something very strange and funny had happened, whilst walking over the platform a man was kicking a coffin out of the train! I really hoped no one was in the coffin as he was handling it so awefully but it wouldn’t have surprised me if there had been someone in there haha!
After the extremely long train journey with delay, and the lack of sleep from the Vipassana course I was very tired indeed and needed to stay focussed on looking like I was confident there at night and knew exactly what I was doing. But what happened next made it extremely difficult for me. My Ola Cab driver had cancelled on me because he couldn’t find me so I booked another one and the same thing happened. I then booked another 2 but the waiting time was too long so I cancelled them myself. It was now nearing 01:00 AM and I was stood outside the station in Mumbai by myself with my luggage. I was honestly a nervous wreck. I finally got a good driver to come and pick me up and I thought I would finally be able to relax. I was very wrong. The address of my hotel seemed to keep changing so we couldn’ t find my hotel. He first wanted to drop me off somewhere he said was the right place, for some reason I thought it wasn’t right so I made him walk with me. Thank the holy cats that I did because it was not the hotel and I would be stood in something that neared a slum all by myself at 1 in the morning. I switched to 2 rickshaws in the meantime as no one knew where my hotel was, I was honestly nearing a panic attack. And felt physically sick of nerves. I had decided that if worst came to the worst, I would sleep at the airport. I had chosen a hotel that was nearby the airport so at least I was kind of already in the neighbourhood. That night I had spent about 6 times more on taxi fees than a 14 hour train journey.
I was so grateful when we finally made it to my hotel, it was now 02:15 AM I was shattered and had booked quite a nice hotel for that nice that I now would really be able to enjoy properly because I was only have a short sleep there and I was distracted by trying to recover from that horrible experience. I was so so so happy to phone my boyfriend and he really calmed me down, I am not sure how I didn’t end up crying. My room itself was really nice and I had a massive king sized round bed! We had phoned for about 45 minutes and then I went to bed as I needed to get up in 5 hours to head towards the airport.