India Lesson #4: Keep Letting go

Getting to the Ayurvedic Ashram!

After 8 hours of travel, I arrive at the Mangalore airport, hoping there will be a driver waiting for me to take me to the Ayurvedic Ashram. This hope rests on one email exchange in which I sent my itinerary to Dr. Sastry and he wrote back with a cryptic message:

“I’ll send a driver to pick you up.”

I had put down no deposit, there had been no confirmation letter, no agreement signed. Nothing to soothe the anxious Western mind. I was trusting something deeper. Some intuition that THIS was the place, as well as the fact that my teacher had been here before.

As I de-boarded the plane in the sticky hot air, I smelled a hint of fish.  I walked towards the small baggage claim area, my head turning this way and that to see if there was a sign with my name on it. 

Not yet.

I found my black bag, rolled it towards the only exit door, again looked this way and that as I stepped outside, and there It was - the sign:

“Duane Sherman.”

That’s me, Duane!

I nodded to the driver – a young, thin man with a kind smile. He took my bag and guided me towards his white sedan. 

My attempts at conversational banter quickly settled into a comfortable silence, for his English was minimal and my Kanada, non-existent. In truth, I didn’t want to talk after all of the travel. I sat in the front seat on the left side as we drove the windy roads through the lush, tropical national park full of massive palm trees and other tropical fauna.

The roads were as curvy as a tantric Indian sculpture, and with each bend in the curve came a honk from either my driver or someone coming our way. The driver slid by cars in front of us by a hair’s breadth. I had to practice actively relaxing.

Fifteen years he’s been driving and no accidents. Or perhaps he didn’t understand my question about how long he’d been a driver.

We arrived 2 ½ hours later in Hariharipura at the ashram – my stomach queasy and my brain a bit frazzled. Upon arrival, he carried my bag up to my room with a bed, fan and bathroom. Outside the room were other PanchaKarma guests. We all said a hello, and they let me know dinner was being served.


They suggested I wash up and come down when I was ready. I sat next to Melissa that night and she filled me in on what was what. In the morning I’d get a first treatment – probably around 6 or 7 am. It would most likely be abhyanga massage. She helped me with what to do at meal times – that we all set the table, wash our dishes. That we should bring down our big steel jug to fill with the herbal water used for our cleansing.

The guests are the informal information center, because there is no check in, no formal greeting, no “check list.”

I discovered Dr. Ashwin would be out the following day for his new baby’s naming ceremony. So I would meet with him the following day.

I felt like I’d been swept into a current that was going to guide me down the river with no effort if I could simply let go and relax. One of my biggest concerns had been allayed, and that was getting here.

From then on, I planned to swim with the current and go with the flow.