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.