I knew that when we move to India, meditation, volunteering activities, interacting with people, sharing, caring, giving, learning would become less of an effort. For example, I thought getting involved in some volunteering activity in India would be easier as I would know more people, also there are more people who need help. I thought meditation or listening to scriptures or being part of satsangs would be easier than it was in US. I want to share how it turned out.
Meditation had become a regular practice for me and I was not sure if I could continue the same when in India. When we reached India, we were put up in our company guest house for a month. Every time I sat for my practice, either there were people upstairs, downstairs making noise, someone screaming, cars stuck in traffic honking non stop, some construction sound in the background. I was not used to do my practice with so much noise pollution. I thought, may be people in India who do practice meditation must be experts to be able to filter out this noise.
In office I found out that there is a meditation room open 8 am to 4 pm and was extremely delighted. With lot of time spent in daily commute, it was next to impossible to dedicate regular time at home sitting quietly concentrating on thoughts and mind and breath! So office meditation room was a blessing. But the attraction soon faded off. First day when I was in middle of my Oooommm recital (in my mind, eyes closed), a heard someone bang the door as he/she made her way in the room. Then thomp! thomp! threw her heavy bag on the floor. Psst, psst made some sound like she had a bad day (btw, the day had just started). Then started doing yogasanas making panting sound at every posture she changed. How inconsiderate! Obviously I was so annoyed. Why are we allowing yoga exercises in the mediation room? Can we keep separate hours for yoga, I inquired. But to my surprise, all I got in response was, we should adjust.
I thought to myself, I should be accommodating. I should try to come in some other time in the day. But somehow, whatever time I tried for next few days, I was disturbed by that girl (somehow it seemed like we both followed each others timings for few days) or someone else. Soon, I learned to ignore the distraction and do what I had to do. But I noticed one change in me. Initial few days, I tiptoed in the room if I saw someone sitting in meditation. But now I did not try to tiptoe or push the door slowly as I entered. I knew people did not care; no one either complained if I shut the door hard, or were grateful if I tiptoed. Unfortunately, I had become like one of the others. Well! Soon after, I did not even feel bad that I did not care.
Talking of distractions in that room, one day I was sitting in one corner calm and relaxed, counting my breathing. Suddenly I hear a fart! Loud noise and then such bad odor, I could puke. I wanted to get up and run. But I felt irresponsible if I stopped mid way, so i continued and fought the smell like a warrior. But all the while I only thought, why the hell people don't clean their tummy before a workout or meditation, or just walk out if they feel the urge. I was so annoyed! But I braved the storm (in fact one other time too) and learned to adjust.
As soon as I joined office, I got informed of a volunteering drive in campus. Mainly the idea was to collect money from people in the office and help needy students with books and stationary. I was very thrilled and was eager to be part of the initiative. The event was a success and the intended needs were met. But I was so surprised to see the participation and volunteer numbers who stepped up. Mere less than 100 out of 20,000 odd people volunteered. Even whose who did, did not show the eagerness to help. Some did not show up in meetings, were too shy to ask for money from people, could not contribute any ideas that could help the cause, were least bothered to know what was happening and how the event was progressing.
When we went for collection, the responses we got from people was even worse. Why should we contribute? Explain to us how the money will be spent. What is the guarantee that the students need what we are giving them? Well, c'mon! All the information is available online. Do you think the money will be misused? Then don't give, but don't dishearten those who want to! What I struggled to understand was, why was it so difficult to trust such an initiative? We were part of the same company, all information was transparent. What else?
I think this post may end up being too long. I'll continue in my next.