The next day we took a flight to Pune. Domestic flights in India are cheap and the planes the latest models... none of the old decrepit ones that we experienced in Pune 1 days! Pune airport (a 15 minute taxi ride from the Resort) is now an international airport and has been upgraded to compare equally with anywhere in the world. I had booked a flat with Ekanta and she sent a taxi to the airport to pick us up. The new bridge into Pune has made the journey from the airport fast and very easy.
The Ashram-Commune-Resort is not the same ashram I journeyed to 32 years ago, but Osho’s presence is there in the buildings, in the trees, in the wildlife, in the people… his old and new lovers… he is everywhere… even though everything has changed, nothing is changed. I loved how the trees created a canopy over the ashram, as if protecting us from the pollution. However, the pollution wasn’t too bad; it was still raining so I guess that kept the air clean.
I managed not to come home with bronchitis which had been my lot many times in the past. I also learnt from many visits to keep up with taking my vitamins and supplements, and I am happy to say in six weeks I never had one day of sickness; not even a little sniffle…so somehow I have mastered going to India and not getting sick. I would go again as often as possible and take others if anyone wants to join.
We checked in through the Welcome Centre and it was so good to see some old faces as soon as we arrived. So many newcomers, so many young people, and still some oldies from the Pune 1 days. Zahira and I were able to register very quickly and receive our gate passes as we had visited not so long ago; Diti’s process took a little longer as it has been some years since she had made the journey, but soon she too had a gate pass and we were all inside.
Security has been stepped up since the German bakery bombing (which is still a bomb site). We no longer enter through the gateless gate. Everyone comes in through the welcome center and inserts the gate pass into a computer which shows the photo, and the person checking the screen can see we are who we claim to be. There are government security officers at every gate together with resort security, checking passes and keeping a very watchful eye on everyone coming and going. I felt secure and it wasn’t a burden. I realize that with a gathering of so many foreigners the resort is a target for terrorism, so I felt thankful for the care given for our safety.
We headed straight for the coffee shop in the Plaza which has been renovated and enlarged and offers real coffee, and is a great meeting place. I spent many happy hours there catching up with old friends. Then off I would go to the internet café to send emails to friends and relatives back home, as we had been travelling for a few weeks. The internet café in the resort is state of the art… so easy and so cheap to use. We then checked in at the locker department as we intended to walk to the resort every day from our flat in Rahul Terrace – only 7 minutes to the resort via the back gate road. My main fear of staying outside the ashram was crossing North Main Road; however, no need to fear as the road now has islands up along the middle and crossing was o.k.
Our next stop was the bookshop to visit my friend Pratibha who has been sending me Osho’s books for many years. I just email her and she arranges everything for me; what a blessing she has been to me over the years. I could not have done this work without her. We had lunch every day at Mariam café (which is open for lunch while Zorba’s café is open at night) with Pratibha and others, which is one of the best experiences; sharing a meal under the trees makes this place truly a meeting place of friends.
We then would go back to the flat for a little rest and shower before evening meditation, which is my favourite meditation. Sometimes Diti was asked to play keyboard during the evening meditation which was a great experience and joy for her and for us. The dancing at night is so good, I loved it. Sometimes it was very intense for Diti, especially on the Friday when she played in the sannyas celebration. She had to rehearse with the band 2 hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon and then play in the evening meeting and the sannyas celebration; but she did it, and loved it.
Some days we went to the swimming pool in the mornings. The pool is an absolutely wonderful place to be. Basho has been renovated into a state of the art health resort with a gym, sauna, hot tub and the pool. It costs 150 rupees for the day and for that you receive a beautiful bathrobe to wear just for the day. I looked really gorgeous in mine and would have loved to buy one but they are not for sale. We were also given two towels and thongs, and there are plenty hot showers available… truly a great experience not to miss. I felt I was visiting a 5 star resort, an experience I have never given myself, being a good old Aussie battler. I found by simply changing my expectations and my attitude about this place was of great help, so I could enjoy the experience. It felt like never having been there before and I loved it.
I did have a couple of disappointments to deal with but managed to drop my ideas of how I thought things should be. What I mainly realized is that we are all expressing Osho’s vision according to our own vision and it is o.k., including how the people in the resort are expressing what they feel is Osho’s vision. I know I am doing that in my life and I accept that this is what they are doing.
I went shopping down M.G. Road this time, having avoided going there the last few times that I have been to Pune. It was great to go into Shree Jewellers in Centre Street and have the owner say to me, “nice pendant,” and I said to him, “yes, you made it for me many years ago!” It was a piece of marble from Osho’s bedroom… one of my most treasured possessions. This is what I love about the Indian people; they remember us and love us. I felt loved everywhere I went, with shop owners and rickshaw drivers remembering me and saying hello. Truly this is an amazing country where transformation can happen without really trying. We have much to learn from them… love is everywhere. I felt so different this time in the country itself. I have never had a love affair with India, but for the first time I understood Osho’s great love for the country and am very grateful that I am now experiencing it after over 20 visits during the past 30 years.
One other good thing we did was dancing in Buddha Grove… great music and we could dance to the max! I feel India has really got the idea of celebrating through dance. We experienced this in every Osho centre we visited. At night time there seemed to be a dance party in the Plaza but by the time the evening meditation was over I was finished… even to go out for dinner after the meditation was a big task, although we did manage to go out a few times, once to the Madhuban, our favourite Indian eating place, and also to Prems which has recently reopened with new owners and good food, and once to the Shriman for pizza. Eating out in Pune is the thing to do; there are literally hundreds of restaurants, but the ashram food was so good that mostly we ate there. We also managed a couple of visits to a tailor who was close by and had a few clothes made at such a good price.
Our 10 day visit to Pune was over and of course once again it wasn’t enough, but we managed to reconnect with our roots of sannyas and re-energize ourselves to continue our adventure which for Diti and me was to go to Nepal – a first for both of us. Zahira decided to go back to Oshodham for a rest and some meditation before returning to her job in Oz. We packed and made our way to the airport to catch an easy flight to Delhi and once again booked into a fantastic 5 star hotel close to Osho Rajyoga Meditation Centre, called the Hotel Star Rocks and we all enjoyed actually feeling like rock stars while there…
To conclude, Diti, Zahira and myself had a great time visiting Osho centres in India; we visited seven altogether over 6 weeks and they are all different, expressing different aspects of Osho’s work. I so much enjoyed seeing this, as I always feel we have missed some aspects of his vision here in Oz.
Shahido is a nurse by profession and one of her patients was Punya who she nursed back to health in Pune 1. She cherishes the life changing experiences we all share since those days. Nowadays she lives in Australia and distributes also Osho’s books there, and loves traveling to India.