We met up with the group today. Basically, the first group arrived 3 days ago. Another group of 3 arrived today. We met up and were taken away to look at India and all its splendor. The gateway to India was really rad. It was to welcome the British when they came into India in like 1911 or something like that. While there, we met up with this nice British woman named Inshella. She came with us to eat. Then, we met this other woman from Washington D.C. named Monica. So we had a nice group of tourists together for lunch.
The food here is so freaking delicious. Everything I have eaten has been great. I have had to be careful about the water and such. We only drink bottled water. I have drank some coke, which I still think is disgusting, but being that it is so hot, I had to drink something.
The poverty here is tragic. In the city we were staying in, Mumbai, there is the largest slum in all of Asia. I saw it flying in and it just continued and continued over hills and hills of Mumbai. Seeing children on the street come up to me asking for money to eat or food is really hard. Especially because I still have not had a chance to exchange my American dollars into Indian Rupies. So, even if I wanted to give them something, I couldn't. I did, however, give two little kids that kept following me a quarter each. I don't know if it'll help them at all, but if it does, good. They left me alone after that.
We met Jemal today. Such a humble, good, down-to-earth guy. He is the monk who has been coordinating this project. He has an interesting story that has led him to where he is now. I don't feel it's my place to share over a blog or anything, but basically he has just taken his path to happiness by becoming a monk. Driving to Pune from Mumbai, he and I had a chance to discuss religious, or rather, ethic values for a good hour or so. It was a great mutual respect that I felt talking with him. He taught me and I like to think that I taught him. It was a beautiful, uplifting conversation about life in general that touched me. I am looking forward to learning more from him. He'll be instructing our meditation classes and supervising our work and such.
So tonight we're staying in Pune at the monks' apartments. Tomorrow, we'll drive the 2 hours or so into the monestary and so it begins...