I am still staying in the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, India.
I got up at 4:40 am today, went to one of the meditation/all purpose halls, did yoga for 15 minutes, then meditated for 45. Part of the time there was chanting going on; there were about 15 others in that hall this morning. I had the chanting as "background music" to my meditation. That is the same hall where I go for a 2 hour satsang most evenings.
After meditation, this morning, I went to work in the kitchen, chopping tomatoes and then this special kind of green banana that they cook and eat like a vegetable, not sweet at all and bland until mixed with other flavors. My hands are stained black from handling the bananas. The monkeys won't even eat them raw...the bananas, that is... I've been doing "seva" (selfless service/karma yoga) for about 5 hours a day at the ashram...feels good to be productive in a helpful way and I know that the ashram folks really appreciate my help.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
So, I’m walking along the east side of the Ganges, heading north to explore just a bit of an area I haven’t yet seen, just having finished a good cup of actual brewed coffee, just for the fun of it; refusing to drink the Nescafe Instant coffee that is served all over India, and having strolled the shops and temples, buying a few things, gifting a bit to some of the less fortunate and receiving blessings from one of the many holy men that are so plentiful here, when a trailside “ayurvedic practitioner” approaches me to have my ears cleaned. What? I said no and kept walking. He followed me, bound and determined to clean my ears. Some of you will cringe to hear this story so the feint of heart better stop reading right now and just leave the rest to your imagination or conveniently forget about it, whichever works for you.
He was persistent enough and offered to “check my ears” for free, so I finally relented, not at all keen on the stainless steel probing device he pulls from behind his ear and twirls in his fingers… He exuded confidence, which helped my attitude a bit and “sterilized” his instruments with an ayurvedic liquid that had the words “antibiotic” written on it…hmm… He sits me down on a concrete bench with the sun shining upon my ear so he could see what he was doing (remember that at least we’re overlooking the Ganges so this has to be somewhat ok, right?), then gently starts probing my ear with his stainless steel probing tool, that being somewhat similar to a dental pick like your hygienist uses with no sharp edges, thank Goddess.
At his first insertion, he carefully scrapes around and comes up with a good size chunk of dark brown earwax. Now I forgot to mention to you that I do have a common occurrence of wax buildup in my ears, occasionally problematic, which is one of the reasons I was somewhat interested. He continued to amaze me with the brown gunk he was pulling out of my right ear. Then he got into his sales pitch to upsell me to the ayurvedic “liquid remover” that he said I really needed, for an additional 250 rupees (around $ 5.00 US). The basic cleaning was obviously a “lost leader” for 50 rupees. I said no to the upsell and told him to continue with the basic cleaning. He continued to try to talk me into the additional cleaning as he moved to the left ear. I continued to negotiate downward for the deep cleaning solution, but he wasn’t too negotiable.
As he pulled a couple of pea sized wax balls out of each ear, I liked the idea of the solution more, but still thought the price was a bit steep. He seemed very convinced that my ears were in such shape that I really needed to go for it. I got him down to 150 rupees plus the original 50 for a total of 200 rupees all together. He applied the solution to the left ear, tilted my head after putting a cotton ball dam in to hold the liquid in, applied to the right ear, let sit for a few minutes, then went back in with a cotton swabbed probe and pulled out another pea size ball from each ear. In all, he pulled out about 2/3 of a thimble of dirty brown wax, combined from both ears. He finished off with the cotton swab with antibiotic liquid and smiled brightly as he announced that I was all clean now.
It was certainly a bit unsettling, the idea of some young guy on the banks of the Ganges, inserting pokey objects into my ear, but after the first bit of probing, I felt he was being as careful as nurses have been in bonafide medical offices in the states, and he seemed to know what he was doing. I survived with no punctures and much cleaner ears. I’ll give you an update when I pass a couple of weeks with no ear infections…whoops, better not even put that out there… actually, I do have fine confidence that I am better off with this procedure having been done and an interesting experience to boot!
The next day, I told one of my new yogi buddies at the ashram and he assured me that those guys are quite good and have generations of experience passed down from father to son and that I needn’t be concerned at all…so there…