Dates in Chennai

What’s this?” I ask in English, pointing to the yellowish bulb. It looks like a supersized grape, yet much more sturdy.

Daatte-eh,” he says clearly in his Tamil English. “You know date-eh?”

“It is like coconut,” shaking his head in the Indian way, from side to side with approval, as he drops a few in my bag to taste.
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I bite into the firm yellow fruit. It is crunchy, slightly astringent, and honey-like. The seed is indeed a recognizable date seed, and the space bordering the seed has long vertical wrinkles that you find in dried dates. However, other than those markers, I don’t know if I would have guessed what it was.

What a special moment.

“Madam, after long time you come-eh.” Another special moment. I did not expect the young owner of this fruit truck to recognize me.

imageYes it’s been almost two years since I’ve visited the ashram in Chennai. Lots has changed and lots remains the same. I’ve been writing all about it in my diary.

There are less people now, and the people look healthy. It seems as if the wheels of productivity are churning amongst everyone, making the workload more balanced.

Mechanization is taking place as well. It’s nice to see the new construction, clean bathrooms, a new canteen. Lots had to be rebuilt after the floods.

We have been given permission to work,” one lady told me excitedly, as she explained how she was leading meditation sessions at different schools.

“I come home at a decent hour now, no more of this late night thing,” explained another.

It is nice to hear all this.

It’s also wonderful to share time with people that I have not seen in ages. Many of my little friends who know me as sonia didi or sonia akka are starting to grow up. Instead of hide-and-go-seek games, we are playing, meet-my-girlfriend-but-don’t-tell-mom games. Now I finally understand what people meant when they used to come visit me as a kid, and comment on how much I had grown.

While mechanization has its own merit, there are things I miss. My favorite filter coffee and kitchen tea from the canteen have been replaced by a button operated machine.

Nothing beats the inconsistency of the kitchen tea. And I do miss the crowds of people from all over milling around the ashram.

peace and love,

sonia

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