Vik Nathwani- England  

Listed in: Volunteers

Volunteered at the Ashram from 3rd November to 8th November 2013

After hearing so many tales about Ashrams being run by wacky swamis and religious fanatics, a part of me was slightly apprehensive about coming to stay at Jai Siya Ram Ashram. The moment I walked through the doors of the Ashram, all of my negative preconceptions began to vanish. I was greeted by the smiles of Ramona, Balendu, their baby daughter Apra, and Nani-Ji. They were so happy to have me as a guest at their home. Their warmth, hospitality, and positive energy made me feel at ease just moments after arriving.

My stay at the Ashram felt like home away from home. Every morning, Ramona, Balendu, Yashendu, Purnendu would call me to eat ‘brunch’ with them. The food was strictly vegetarian, but incredibly tasty. I will add, for a hardcore carnivore like me, that’s definitely a very powerful statement! Our conversations during the meals were very enjoyable. The family all speak fluent English, were very chatty, non-judgemental, and very humble.

During my stay, I also got to know the other families who were residing at the Ashram. They didn’t all speak in English, and, although my Hindi was awful, yet they were all so friendly and made a huge effort to make sure I felt welcome. I had the chance to meet all the children at the school when given a tour by Purnendu. I was very impressed by the teaching standards, enthusiasm of the children, and the future development and expansion plans for the school.

Some of the cherished memories I have made at the Ashram:

-Nani-Ji sitting on her rocking sofa, smiling at me whenever I walked past :)

-Playing cricket and football with the kids in the evening

- Baby Rishi bringing me water chestnuts and shouting “Deh!” (his word for “peel this for me”)

- Baby Apra serving the school kids food during lunch time (quite possibly the smartest kid I have ever seen!)

When it was time to say good bye, I realised that I had developed such a close bond with everyone there, and it was very hard to leave!

To anyone considering a stay at the Ashram, my advice is, if you like children, tasty and healthy food, intelligent conversation, and family life, then you’ll definitely love this place!

Finally, to everyone at the Ashram, thank you so much for treating me like a member of the family. I wish you all the best for the future, and, if you’re ever in my neck of the woods, then don’t forget to visit!

Vik

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