A flight is arranged from New Delhi to Trivandrum in the state of Kerala, via Mumbai. About 5 hours later we hop off the plane, shedding the layers of winter clothing off our backs. (Jackie nonetheless is still wearing her amazing snow boots from her previous trip to China in the 80 degree heat. Rockstar sister!) The south is an entirely different continent it seems, men and women both dress in more traditional garb, the ladies all adorned in beautifully colored saris and the men in dhoti, long pieces of fabric tied around the waist. We are not in Kansas anymore.

At the airport we jump into a pre-paid cab requested to go to Kollum, unsure if the driver is taking us directly to the ashram of Amma or to the nearby town. We surrender and will go where ever we are destined to be. 3 hours later, via windy paths and with constant honking (the drivers here know how to use their bells well!) we arrive at the gate of the ashram, a massive compound, the home of AMMA.* Jackie and I are both ecstatic, eager and ready to embrace the woman known as the hugging saint, an incarnation of the divine mother.

There are crowds are devotees, visitors, foreigners, bugs, walking around the property, enjoying tea or simple tin plates of curry and snacks, all smiling deeply.

On the wall:

Learn from Mother Nature

Love is the foundation of the world.

Where there is love, there is peace.

Where there is selfishness, there is misery and suffering.

Learn from Mother Nature

Who gives herself even when exploited.

Do good and see everyone as Mother’s child.


We head to the international check-in hut and receive a key to our room, on the 11th floor of one of the numerous immense towers of accommodation on the property. We head to our abode, a shared space with an Israeli girl, with thin plastic mattresses on the floor. Traditional and perfect. A quick rinse with the hose shower and to bed. Ashram activities begin at 4:30am.


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