December 30, 2014

Udo has gone

Some special people have left us just now et the end of this year, mainly Udo Jürgens and Joe Cocker.
With Udo I have a very special connection. When Udo was winning his first great International recognition with his song "Merci chéri" 1966 in the Eurovision Song Contest in Luxembourg, I had the chance to be the bass player in the orchestra. As I was a regular member of the Jean Roderes orchestra at the Luxembourg Television we could do the job for the Eurovision Contest. And Udo was the singer for Austria. His song made it and it was the start of a great international career over 40 years with millions of records sold in the whole world. He was to become one of the greatest singer and songwriter in German language of our time.  His biography is impressive and the list of his successes as well. We were happy to see him win in 1966. He was sympathetic and his song well made and musical. I was a youngster at that time, 24 years old, my son Ariel was to be born in October and I was studying double-bass with Paul Deitz at the Luxembourg Conservatory beside my job with Roderes. I had just made an audition with the orchestra at the Olympia in Paris and almost had missed the job at the Eurovision Contest. I'm still thankful to Jean Roderes that he took me in at the last moment. And so my bass playing will stay on this recorded version of the original "Merci chéri" as long as its exists.
Check it out and enjoy at Youtube: Merci chéri  and the second version at the end of the Contest.

I wish you all a happy New Year!

Lokah Smastah Sukhino Bhavantu

December 11, 2014

Who took Vandana's chapels?

When coming down from the stage-sitting with Amma today, Vandana's chapels were gone! She had put them under her Amma-sack and they were almost invisible. So who took the opportunity to take them away? Strange. But they are gone and Vandana had to walk bare feet to our flat. Was Amma the strange thieve? We heard a lot of strange stories about chapels and other things disappearing here at Amritapuri. For Vandana it is the second pair! A suivre....

December 6, 2014

Click, cluck, click, click...

One of Vandana's favourite is checking the lights in every new hotel-room we get in.
And normally there are many. For all kind of use, walls, ceiling, bath, near the beds, hall, toilet, mirrors, balcony, then all the knobs for fans and AC/DC, plus TV, phone and even in cupboards and fridge. So trying to figure them all out is part one of the show. Part two is trying to remember them all. Part three is checking them out by try and error. Because the first is suddenly the second and the third the first. And what follows then is Vandana's lightshow. This is a must. And when finally all have been tried out, we are again at the beginning, because to remember them all doesn't work.

So the click, click click will start again next time. But to be fair, sometimes she hits the right one, by chance or by intuition is difficult to say. But then she is very satisfied by the result of her efforts and this makes our day.

Amma's coming home

Amma's coming home.
Thursday morning, when going for breakfast, there were devotees and ashramites sitting before Amma's place at 8.30 AM. It was said that Amma would come around 10.00 AM from her journey to Europe and the USA. So we thought that a little bit crazy. But then, back in our flat, the idea came that we could do our names until Amma arrives, as this takes about 1 hour. So that's what we did. We got 2 chairs and installed them in the 2nd row directly in the entrance to the small hall leading to the stairs. After 1/2 hour the sun started to come out above the trees in the yard and it was getting really hot. But nevertheless we kept going and felt good sitting there and waiting for Amma to come. At 10.00 AM we had finished the names and more and more people started to come and install chairs around. A lot of children sat near the stairs, played or painted books or other games. Slowly at 10.30 a line got formed in the yard, reaching out to the big hall. At 11.00 a lot of people had gathered there and we enjoyed having a chair so near Amma's place, because that was now impossible to get anymore. But Amma kept us waiting. Sampurna and Arjun showed up and greeted us. Apparently Amma would come from Trivandrum Airport. Now there was a big crowd who had gathered all around and people started to get excited and nervous. Some tried to sneek the place of others or just stood in front of them and one could feel the the stress growing. The sun had turned to the other side and we were back into the shade after 2 hours! A lady asked Vandana if she was OK because her face had become red as usual under these circumstances. Now people started staying up, we also did, the chairs were removed and people started pressing from behind to get closer. A lot of police forces showed up, brahmacharinis gave instructions to keep the path free. I knew this would collapse totally as soon as Amma would show up. And that is what happened. It was past 12.15 and one could see the first signs that Amma was coming. Finally the big van arrived. They drove the van in front of the place, so all the people there had to move - and nobody wanted to do that! When finally Amma came out under the protection of 4 policemen, there was no place left even to put a dime. And under the enthousiastic shouts from the devotees Amma proceded towards the house, but we almost couldn't see her because she is so small. And the pressure started to be almost unbearable by all the people around. When she walked up the stairs to her room, some Indian people shouted short phrases or made remarks which made Amma laugh. She said also some funny things, but all in Malayalam, so we couldn't understand. Before the turn she started sending kisses and hands to us all with sweet smiles and a sunny expression of love and joy. Finally she disappeared to her room where she would come traditionally to the window to greet us all again. That made the mass of people all move to the frontyard. And because the big van was still there and nobody wanted to move and the people under the stairs and the balcony moved back, imagine the pressure and the stress happening. I tried to protect Vandana as much as I could but was also moved by the crowd backwards and to the side. Some small women allmost got crashed and started screaming. The girl from the recycling center told me: „Just move with the crowd, don't fight it!“ But somehow I did both. Finally things started to calm down and then Amma appeared on the window, sending kisses and greetings to us all. She looked around to everybody the same way she does at the end of a Devi-Bhava. We all felt blessed and happy to be there. This was the first time ever that we participated in this kind of ritual. 3 people took a lot of photos behind Amma. Maybe one day we will see some of them. After some time and some phrases from Amma and shouts from Indians Amma retired and the crowd slowly desintegrated. By then it was almost 1.00 PM. We returned to our room.
Amma had come back home!

N.B.: In the afternoon a young lady told Vandana: „ I really admired you sitting there so long in the sun waiting for Amma!“ Often side-effects of one's doings cannot be predicted-

December 3, 2014

Amma in Rome

It has been a special event seeing Amma at the side of Pope Francis and other spiritual and religious leaders at the Vatican. We watched the conference live on TV, but couldn't understand everything that was being said because the translation was not very loud. Anyway, it was the first time in history that such a meeting ever happened. Amma's speech was very quick, condensed knowledge and she was the only one not to read her speech from paper. We enjoyed the fact that she was the first to talk after the Pope. We have heard that she also had a private meeting with the Pope before the conference.
Who wants to know more about, check out at or on Youtube.

She looks really sweet on this group-picture. We hope that her enlightening words are heard around the globe and that the history of human slavery takes a new turn from now on. What has to follow are political and governmental decisions on all levels, otherwise this declaration will not have a worldwide effect on trafficking and slavery of all kinds.  

December 1, 2014

French Fries, Fried Rice, French Fries, Fried .........

This is a nice "tongue-breaker"(?) It came about yesterday when Vandana ordered 2 Chai and French Fries. Here in the All Season Hotel only 2 men can well speak English, most don't at all or just small bits like "Sir" and "Please".  So the lady on the phone understood "Fried Rice".  Finally we got Fried Rice and French Fries! Now a big guy comes along with all that food an a big plate, big drops of sweat on his front, and wants to put it on the small table. He has almost to kneel down to get it because the table is very low. And what had to be wad to happen. The plate skipped and there was the fried rice plus a cup full of ketchup with a big bang on the floor! We had to force us heavily as to not burst out in a big laugh. The guy was really in troubles. He had to call the cleaning service and get all from the floor. Happily my french fries were safe and tasted good.

Swimming in the rain

So today we went up the roof again to have a nice swim. But then it started to rain gently and we could make the experience: swimming in the rain on top of the Ashtamudi-Lake. Really a nice experience.

November 30, 2014

Back in India

So we are back in India. We arrived Thursday morning at Thiruvananthapuram Airport with more than 1 hour delay. Our taxi driver had to wait quite some time. And consequently he was tired and in a little village he felt asleep while driving. So our taxi stories continue. Amma was protecting us otherwise we could be in hospital or dead. I saw the car suddenly going right, but there was no road there and Vandana cried something which immediately waked the guy up. He stopped at the road at some meters from there and tried to recover from the shock. I was calm, strange, like only observing and witnessing, or I was to tired to get upset. So that was our start for this journey.
We soon arrived at our destination, the Fragrant Nature Resort. The resort stretches along a small lake with a beautiful garden, a lot of trees, plants, flowers and alleys. Our room is near the lake and quite nice, although not very modern. Our balcony gives out to the plants near the lake and looks really peaceful and quite. So far so good. But then came the hiccup: On the other side of the lake are 2 or 3 temples which play vedic mantras and songs during most of the day at a very high loudness as you can only hear in India. We know these kind of songs from Amritapuri, but here they start at 5 in the morning and practically stop only at 11PM in the night. And the worst, the play simultaneously different mantras at different tonalities, as if fighting a battle, who is the loudest. So this is really bad. I hoped that they will stop after sometime, but they didn't. Almost the whole day through. So the shanti was gone and the whole resort was not so nice anymore.

January 24, 2014

Our driver again

Believe or not, when we left for the airport at 1.00 AM, we were presented by the same driver who drove us from Amritapuri. Friendly and relaxed, he seemed to feel happy to see us again. We were quite surprised, because I had requested another driver for this trip. But OK. We will give him a second chance and will not interfere with our destiny. Karma in India always comes quicker to you than in Europe. So you never know really what life has up for you. Before reaching the airport, one has to cross a bridge and there is a checkpoint where drivers have to pay a small tax. And what happened here? The driver turned back and asked me: "Can you give me 10 roopies for the tax, Sir?" With a special accent on Sir. I said:"What?" And he repeated his demand. " How is that?" I said. "We have never paid this tax, that is the drivers job." "If you don't want, I can pay it," he said. I felt strange again with this guy. Until now we had never had such a request by any driver since at least 10 years that we crossed this checkpoint. Drivers always paid this tax without even mention it. That was included in the price for the whole ride. I gave him the 10 roopies and he paid the tax. But at the same time he lost his tip for the second time. And that would have been 10 time more. Because that was the tip I wanted to give him at the end of our journey.    

End of "Vamos a la playa"

We spend our last 3 days in Varkala in our room or just around the hotel and the restaurant. No way to go anymore to the beach, getting down these heavy steps, partially broken or unexisting. Vandana's knee didn't make it anymore. She had suddenly stopped with an painful cry and couldn't walk anymore. Parts of her meniscus were floating in her knee since some time, and now starting blocking the bending of the knee.
Some years back I had the same experience and I know how painful this can be. And there is only one solution to this: operation. Again an operation. They use some kind of vacuum cleaner to get the pieces out of the knee. It is not the heaviest of OP's, but still it means a new anesthesia and some weeks of rest.
A major problem could also be the flight back. Depending on the gate you have to reach in Abu Dhabi, you might have to run for 1 or 2 km. mainly if your flight is late.
But we made it all! Although the flight was 1 hour late from Thiruvananthapuram, we made it in time and Vandana was very brave. Pain was there but she could walk slowly and get through.
We had also a small session with the guys from theAswani, who gave us some special oil to use and so helped us to get over it decently. Thanks to all. 

January 13, 2014

Russian invasion in Varkala

If you think I'm exaggerating you are wrong! After serious consideration of the moslem population of Kerala (almost half) I made the experience of the Russian invasion here on the cliffs. In the windows of every shop along the path you will find small notes and stickers in Russian language. This indicates how serious the people here consider these new clients. And in the evening in the "Little Tibet" restaurant we had a large table of Russian guests next to us. They are not drinking water as the Indians here and the yogis or most tourists. No they drink their favorite stuff, i.e. vodka. And every 10 minutes or so they all got up with their glass filled again and shouted some russian mantras before emptying it again. I was somehow happy that they didn't start throwing cups and dishes in the air like the Greeks do. I felt strange, I must admit. Things are changing in old India. And I would say, not for the best. Very often also Russian people are very tall and big and have a corresponding voice. Many "sh" and "schtr" and such sounds make this language not softer. One bottle of vodka followed the other, also beer and whiskey made the tables look like a messed-up bar. Is it possible that the Russians invented the "coma"-drinking of our youth? Could well be. Anyway we had all interest in leaving soon.
But if you think all Russians are like that, you are wrong again. Near our bungalow is a Russian couple and they are Hare Krishna followers. So when we meet them, the man says with a deep voice:"Hare Krishna" and Vandana answers always: "OM Namah Shivaya". This is the other side of India.

January 10, 2014

On the way to Varkala

Today on our trip to Varkala, where we want to spend the rest of our stay in India, we had a strange surprise. Halfway our driver stopped in a little town and asked if he could go to the Mosque nearby for 5-10 minutes. It happened to be a special Friday and he wanted to do some prayer. We agreed not knowing what was ahead. He had parked the car on the side road where a lot of rickshaws were stationed. He left and we were sitting in this car, windows wide open and waited. People passing by looked often in the car with an astounded face. Someone asked us if we had problems. I had to say that, no, only our driver left for the Mosque and didn't come back yet. Then came a guy with a bicycle with onions and garlic and green fruits and parked just behind our car. Sometime later a big truck came and parked in front of us. In the midth of all this traffic and surrounded by cars and rickshaws we started feeling strange and uneasy. Suddenly my mind brought up a lot of terrorist stories from the last years, like the guy would go to the Mosque and get a bomb there and would come back and blow us all in the air. 2 non-believers less! That was all freaky and I got my 1000 names booklet out and started doing the recitation. Vandana thought we should phone to the hotel and tell them that we were stuck here like that. Finally, after 40 minutes, the driver came back. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, he said, but the prayer went longer then expected. I didn't know what to say and showed him to go ahead.
Before arriving at Varkala he started again with excuses. And told him not to worry, also that I respect his religion and all that is fine, but in business this is simply impossible. I was hesitating in giving him a tip for being such a believer and religious guy, but finally didn't give him none. It had taking us 3 hours from Amritapuri to Varkala! And we were sweating hot and tired by the trip.
What a pleasure when a guy from the hotel was waiting for us to take our luggage and show us our bungalow. After a nice shower and a cup of chai we were alive again.
So watch out for moslem drivers here in Kerala. And there are many. Maybe you don't allow them to go praying while you're waiting in the taxi!
Om namah shivaya

January 9, 2014

Kathakali in Vaikom

We had a great Tuesday in Vaikom, south from Cochin. It took us 2 and 1/2 hour taxi drive to get there from Amritapuri. Our friends Sunil & Laxmi had invited us to an evening representation of Kathakali at the Valanjamballam temple in Vaikom.
We had the great experience to follow the artists during their preparations, which means normally 2 hours of face-painting and dressing in these enormous costumes of the traditional dance.
The story was of the Mahabharata when the Pandavas and the Kauravas were playing dice and the Pandavas lost everything even their wife Draupadi which was the mistreated by the brother of Duryodhana, the king of the Kauravas. Krishna was the ambassador of the Pandava-brothers and helped Draupadi, when Dushasana, the king's brother tried to undress her and could not take away the shawl, which Krishna had lengthened unlimited. So finally Draupadi wanted this bad guy dead and wash her hair with his blood to overcome this insult. The job had to be done by Bhima, the great fighter, who finally killed Dushada and cleaned Draupadi's hair with his blood. But then Krishna had to calm down Bhisma, who had become like a wild animal by his deadly fight.
It happened that our friend Sunil was playing the role of Bhima and we could him watch painting his face and dressing, which was really impressive. See the pictures for self-explanatory commentary.
We were enchanted by the performance also by the singers and the great drummers involved in the play. Thanks a lot for the invitation. I forgot. Our friend Peter was also there. He had come 2 days before to see Sunil and Laxmi, who's performance he had admired on Xmas eve in Amritapuri.

Last but not least we went in the morning to the well known Mahadeva Temple in Vaikom. This Shiva temple is a very old and a very large one. In the main shrine rests a Shiva Linga said to come down from the Treta Yuga and is one of the 3 main places for Shiva devotees around that area.
You cannot see a lot of it, because it is almost in the dark with some candles around and some priests making all the time puja and offerings to it while a group of drummers mare playing in the venue. You have only some minutes to stay there and then people change again. Some women sobbing and praying loud OM Namah Shivaya or people stay there with folded hands and in silent meditation. I'm thinking of the living Shiva-Shakti in Amritapuri and realize that maybe a whole different area has begun without us knowing it.

Playing with the dices...

            Bhima in full posture    


The admirers ….

During Painting ….

The fascinated crowd…

January 5, 2014

The 3 cowboys (gopalas) from Amritapuri

3 old guys meeting here and exchanging stories, talking about astrology and adventures, about destinies, children, love and loved-ones. We have had really some great moments together. Scorpio, cancer and capricorn (ascendents), what a mix!

January 4, 2014


Thinking about our last darshan thursday evening around 6:45 PM.
My view of Amma, so close, so intimate. And the sudden realization that we start getting a whole new different view of Her by watching for long hours these huge flat screens.
The real face, who is so fragile, so delicate, so "tiny" and "small" compared to the TV screens. Her face is also much darker as on these screens. It touched my heart by the sweetness of its expressions and the softness and its gentleness. If pure love has a face, it has to be this one.

… I posted some time ago on YouTube a musical poem about Amma.
Here is the link:
Rose Petals

Here in the ashram we are at the moment at 50-60 dB loudness all the time, starting in the morning at 6:30 and finishing at 8:00 PM. In the hall you arrive easily at 90 dB and more.
So I believe it is the loudest ashram in India, and when you have survived here, you can go anywhere!
Try it. Kali will take care.

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014


Will it be happy? Or just ordinary? Or maybe worse? Who knows?
At least we have started it. 
With a lot of deep thoughts and reflections from Amma in Her New Year speech.
And finally with an unbelievable rocky hall full of people almost lifting up with that energy and power of these crazy bhajans.
And to conclude with a big fight for a cup of payasam.
Although signs are on decay, we hope to make the best of this year. And to realize some of our deep aspirations and expectations.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu 
May all beings in all the worlds be happy!