“Oh I get enemas every month. It’s the only way to be really.”
“The spirit is telling me to eat this salad. It’s a lot of food though, there’s no way I can finish it. I don’t like to eat.”
“I stopped drinking coffee for over a year now, I didn’t tell you. No coffee, no alcohol, no tobacco, no flour. My life is yoga now.”
I’ve just met up with a friend in Rishikesh. In L.A. she’s an open minded make-up artist. In India she’s a hard core yogi who prays to her food and has turned gauntly thin. She’s become a stranger I feel …scared?
I’ve just arrived in Rishikesh, where the Beatles used to come and meditate (a serious tourist destination in India now overflowing with soul searchers from the West) and joined the lunch conversation. I was a little tired from spending eight hours on a sleeper train where I had to keep my feet on the small cot to avoid the rats zipping by underneath our beds and where cockroaches have made their new home. This was supposed to be the luxury train?
We’re in the only non-Indian restaurant in India. This restaurant could be in LA. One hundred percent organic. One hundred percent raw. One hundred percent has the nastiest food on the planet. The place is silent. Even our table of yogi’s has become silent. The Himalayas steal my breath. They’re magnificent. I can see the river Ganges from the tall windows. The girls begin to chant and pray. I decide to sip on my coffee wishing my friend would have given me a heads up on her new-found self.
“Can you believe how they kill bulls in Spain for that unspeakable, inhumane bullfighting?” One yogi wearing a white scarf over her head whispers.
Finally having something to say, I jump at the chance.
“Oh, well I was just at a bull fight in Spain. I see your point, but I learned while I was there that bullfighting is an important part of Spanish culture. They’ve been doing it for centuries. They actually respect the bull and the bull dies in glory. There’s an art to bullfighting. “
“What?” The table of yogi’s collectively attacks me while my face turned bright red and I began profusely sweating due to nerves.
Even though I know Maryanne, she is not who she is in LA. I’m sitting at a table of strangers and I’m miserable.
I had a panic attack in my ashram that evening, so I made an emergency call to Doctor Bandhu (the family I’m staying with, in Faridabad, to open the new orphanage) and at 5 in the morning a taxi pulls up in front of the ashram and rescues me with a smile. As picturesque as Rishikish is, my sanity is more important. I got the h-ll out there! Needless to say I’m back. Safe and sound, with plenty of coffee, flour and tobacco.