I’ve been in Kerala for only a week now and this place manage to surprise me in every possible way each and every time.
I arrived here on Friday after a long 24h journey from Gokarna which included various rickshaws, a 17 hours train ride and a two hours one on a bus thatwas more of a rollercoaster than a normal bus journey… But me and Rik (yes, still him!) made it to Allepey just in time for another sunset on the beach…
Allepey looked amazing and I wish I had more time to see it properly, but we were just too curious to see this Amma Ashram further south so after a night at the super nice Sea Shore we moved on by boat through the backwaters towards Kollam. The journey is incredibly beautiful, although with that boat you don’t get to go in the smaller and most interesting canals, but still is worth the Rs 200 price (Rs 300 for the full journey to Kollam). As the boat takes five long hours to get to its first stop, the Amma Ashram, it also stops at a restaurant on the canal for a 20 minutes lunch break – fixed menu of rice and sauces for Rs 100.
We arrived at the Ashram just in time to sign in at the International Arrival Desk and get the full introduction that happens everyday at 5pm.
The two days that followed in there were quite intense and at first I could not really make my mind up on what I thought of everything that was going on in there. Perhaps sleeping on a hard matress on the floor of a room with nothing inside besides a sink and a small mirror made me wake up in the morning with much clearer ideas… Or maybe it was the continuous chanting on the speakerphones all noght long?
Anyway, I did also get my Dashan, the famous Amma’s hug, and it really wasn’t that much of an experience. It was so crowded we had to wait in line until 12:30am, and when finally the big moment arrives, you are on a stage on your knees surrounded by the Ashram people that slam your face on her breast for a few seconds and then pull it off because it is someone else’s turn. They also ask everyone their nationalities as she is supposed to speak to you in your own language, but to be honest I didn’t get a word of what she was trying to say in Italian.
Anyway, I won’t get too much into it, but I am not a big fun of over-the-top exposures of one own’s religion, and the individual’s complete surrender to someone else. Reason why me and some like minded travelers moved pn to Varkala two days later, new post on that coming soon!