2020 – 01/05 – Varkala – Studies – Retreat – Covid – Plans for a new life

It was about time I wrote about what had been happening in the last months..

After all the extra scholastic activities, I had to get back down to some serious studying before the start of my second mini retreat at the end of February. I was able to be much more serious with my studies and I made good progress. The Murugan festival took place and I visited some temples outside of Varkala and enjoyed some other very powerful experiences that are very much part of this very impressive festival.
Apart from that, not much else happened, I was really into my studies and of course the beach. I saw less of Thangal and his son.
At the end of February I had a small group of two for the retreat, a French man that had never practiced yoga, and an Australian one that had more than 20 years of practice, so it was going to be interesting and definitely challenging. It all went really well, I was able to propose adapted and evolutive practice that enabled both to enjoy what I had to offer. We also got on very well and had good times outside of the practice times. The feedback I got was really gratifying and did me a lot of good. I really enjoy receiving constructive feedback and even more so when my efforts are noticed and that the quality and authenticity I put into my coaching and support is appreciated.
When this was completed it was the beginning of march, I had top get back behind the desk and computer screen to continue my studying. At the same time, the Covid situation was active in Italy, spreading to France and soon India would follow suite and the lockdowns would be enforced all over. My initial plan was to travel to Rishikesh mid march and then back to France mid April. At the beginning of March, I canceled this even though all was very much played down in India that was very much in denial and still very much into its political agenda. Anyhow mid march, India announced the full lockdown would be applied from the 22nd onwards, I was very happy to have stayed in Varkala, where I was safe and sound, in the best possible conditions.
The way Kerala was dealing with the situation seemed good, working on contact tracing for each case and isolating each cluster as it appeared. There was in the initial stages very much a witch hunt approach, blaming foreigners and here in Varkala the first and only case was to be an Italian, so for a few days all foreigners were not feeling so welcome, but being well integrated into my neighborhood, there were no tensions there at all. In other parts of india, it was apparently a more brutal scenario and some tourists suffered from this. There was also inter state blaming, Kerala had been the first to have Covid cases was looked upon badly by the rest of india and neighboring states, but as other cases emerged in many other places and in the big cities well the ficus shifted and in the end Kerala turns out to be one of the least affected areas and the has the best track record of recoveries and by far the least deaths. Locally no other cases appeared in Varkala apart from the Italian man.
The lockdown here has been actually very pleasant, everything closed, every body staying at home, no more traffic, no noise, no temple festivals, just the sounds of birds. The sea became less pleasant and this coincided with my need to study so I stopped going the beach for a few weeks. It has now quietened down and I have started going daily each morning. The climate is more humid and sticky, I need to use the fans more but there are more and more storms, these last few days, daily, so this cools the air and brings water for the garden that I have been working on a lot, making many clippings, multiplying the flower beds and doing a lot of cleaning.
I was also getting involved in some online connections and activities when the times coincided and a series of videos of yoga practices that I posted to my YouTube channel. This was nice as it was a way to stay in touch and share with friends and the queer community of faeries I belong to.
Thangal constructed the walls of a small independent beach room next to his house. He made it using plastic bottles filled with sand. At this time he needs to put a roof on it but the lockdown conditions have not allowed him to get the wood that is required for this, hopefully he will complete it before the big rains of the monsoon that should start in June. The lockdown is now in its 3rd extension and this period should finish on May 17th, already the week mors shops are opening and more people are moving around. India has also started to repatriate from abroad as it had completely blocked any incoming influx of people until now. As far as being able to leave the country, there have been some repatriation flights organized but these are mainly from Delhi or Mumbai and the only option to get there is by the road so it was just not an option. I am hoping that some commercial flights will start either in the second half of May or early June. There is no point in making any bookings now as it’s still so uncertain.
This period as also been a period of reflexion on the future possibilities in a traumatized world, on one hand we are not out of the risks linked to this virus for a number of months and we will have the economic backlash to deal with on a global but also personal level, many things to take into account.
So I have been thinking and actually it’s been a number of years that I am trying to make my life more coherent but here in India there is not really any way for me to construct a project, but of course what a great place to spend the winter when I do not enjoy being in the city and enjoy so much the warm climate. I must admit that my city life is really only agreeable to me because I make money there and it enables me to come to India and to flee to country side. Taking all this into consideration I have come to the conclusion that it’s time for me to work on a life project in the country side, my little ashram, the Queer Ashram Project. This morning I felt the need to write up the outlines of the project and put them online on a crowdfunding platform so that my idea would be out there, my seed would be planted to be able to work on a new project of a coherent life close to nature. Of course this will mean that my ‘India project’ is complete, that I need to turn the page, that I will have to get used to the cold weather again. We have talked with Thangal many times about this for many years, probably since we met, we tried to dream of a project together but he had his own life project, his family and investing in India is too complex, risky. Also India is developing a lot, Varkala is developing a lot and even if the place is amazing it’s not really coherent with my aspirations deep down. So now I am waiting to go home, I am enjoying the last moments here, I will prepare some boxes that can be sent back to me at a later date and prepare myself to most probably not return and pass on the rest of my belongings here to Thangal. I want to leave happy and grateful for all that this place and the people I have met here have given me. I have learned so much about myself and nature, it has transformed me.
Of course the future is not yet written and things could change but I must think in this way if I want to free myself and concentrate on my new life project, The Queer Ashram Projecthttps://www.okpal.com/the-queer-ashram/#/

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