Me-now-view Part Two


As per my promise yesterday, let me share a few tidbits of things on the other side of the fence.

Sitting between Sandeepany and Powai Lake is a substantial swath of land on which sit two concave buildings and a few smaller items dotted around.  This is a large, internationally known, hotel complex which has not just standard hotel accommodations, but also conference and performance facilities, wedding venue, serviced apartments, swimming pool … et cetera.

(attempted to post a map, but have not quite got that worked out - so try this  - expand down to Mumbai and look for Powai lake on the North side... you should come to this...


















Very bottom left, oblong, is the Jagadishwara Mandir (not where the words are).  The round building is our TCT offices (again not where the words say - THAT is Annakshetra - "field of food" - dining hall!).  Smaller oblong beside Annakshetra is the meeting hall - Saraswati Nilaya.  The two inverted 'L' buildings are the boys hostels.  At the bottom of our hill then is the new residence "Anand Vihar".  There's a little loop where settlement has occurred.  At the bit that has the words Jagadishwara, is actually the acharya housing and between them and the temple the girls hostel is hidden under trees.  The one building left, then, is the oblong beside the circle and in line with the road into the hotel.  That is Chinmaya Vihar, in which I reside.  You recall the last picture from yesterday's post.  Imagine me then sitting in that building looking along that road towards the fountain (where the grey emphasis ends).

Sorry.  I love maps...  what was I doing?  oh yes; -

So picture this, Dear Reader; having previously heard barking and thinking that street dogs were getting onto the well-guarded grounds, it has been a revelation to discover these are in fact residents!  Yes indeed.  There's a handsome black Labrador, an equally bonny blonde Lab.  A rather hefty golden Retriever.  An enormous German Shepherd.  Two magnificent Rottweilers.   A pair of Little White Fluffies (never been too good on those - could be Llaso Apso, could be Maltese …)  Here's the thing though.  For the most part these animals are walked by hired help. 

Men in black.  With red trim on the sleeves and collars.  Plus the logo "Top Dogs" printed on the back of their fine cotton shirts.  All fit-looking coves who clearly understand their wards and will brook no nonsense from them but also ensure appropriate stop-and-sniff action as well as a trot for short bursts.  They come down from the apartments (presumably) and head up the entry-exit 'shute', where the gate sits beside the ashram's own.  On the opposite side of the feed street is the Powai Deer Park.

Heaven alone knows when the last deer was sighted, but the park is pretty.  I am making an assumption now, based on time of return, that the dogs get to go and see the sights.  Make furriends with the locals, maybe.

Once in a while it goes wrong.  A week ago a blonde American woman was out and about calling for "Barney!"  As all the dogs I regularly see are still getting noted, I am uncertain whether this was a new dog, or if it was one of the regulars who had gone momentarily astray.  My heart went out to her though.  To lose a dog here is to truly lose a dog. 

Then there's all the glimpses of things that have one wondering.  It can be speculation only, but could it be that the trio of grey-bearded men, shorts and sandals on pallid skins,  setting off in an auto as the sun goes down are looking for a night on the town?  Probably of the type one would in fact rather NOT speculate upon?  Or some time later, after dark, could the five inch stiletto heels click-clacking their way down the 'shute' accompanied by giggling and tripping and rather loud, not very pretty language (in English, so I know it wasn't) belong to holiday makers on the ran-dan?  Or is their presence of a more transactional type?  Many European 'ladies' make a good living here.

In the bright light of another summer's day, what to make of the male couple and their pram?  It's new to them.  The pushing of it is too precious, too careful, too halting.  The body language uncertain.  A stop-over before whisking the unsuspecting baby to a country foreign to its birth.

The wedding crowd of hundreds (I do not exaggerate for once), all the men in orange turbans and the ladies in Gujurati-style sari.  The band lathering away at all the popular sounds of the Bollywood-type of extravaganza and all the party swaying and twirling along the street, round the round-a-bout, caring not for the traffic or the pleas of hotel security to move along to the main venue.  On and on it goes.

Endless, too, is the flow of traffic.  Autos are plenty, of course, as are all the other forms of hire vehicle, all the way up to what appears to be school buses.  Tour buses, as you'd expect, are many and when there are symposiums or shows, the loud speakers get a full work out.  One does not have to purchase a ticket to hear the latest tunes belted out or to participate in the game show heats.

… thus you have it.  A peek at the outside of an ashram in Mumbai as viewed from room 102.  I do not wish to give the impression that one is forever gazing vacantly through the glass and wire.  However,  most of the study gets done at the window ledge which doubles as a writing desk.  Now there is no 'green curtain', it's hard to miss!


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