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Adarsha's diary of a singing tour of Australia/NZ
Adarsha Kelly from Glasgow has been singing Sri Chinmoy's songs for over 40 years. Sri Chinmoy regarded him as one of the best singers in the Centre and would sometimes invite him to perform during his own Peace Concerts around the world. Here, Adarsha talks about his recent singing tour of Australia and New Zealand.
Audio: Adarsha sings one of Sri Chinmoy's songs - this recording comes from Adarsha's first album, downloadable at Radio Sri Chinmoy...
Initially, I had assumed I would be singing solo as I normally do, but it was suggested that I sing with piano accompaniment. With this in mind Vapushtara, a piano virtuoso from Holland, was invited. During our concerts, we would be joined by Alap and Lucas and the group Monk Party. We started referring to ourselves collectively as the ‘trio of duos’.
Singing with Vapushtara is a great privilege but also a big challenge. It meant learning new songs and a new set of arrangements which in turn meant lots of hard work during the autumn - particularly as the arrangements included vocal improvisations. Still, come the middle of October, I felt ready to perform, in large part because the arrangements are so striking and beautiful. By the 23rd of October I felt that I was prepared for the tour.
Auckland 25th Oct
After a 24 hour flight, I arrived in Auckland at 5am on October 25th. and was met by Jogyata. We had a very early breakfast but fairly soon I was catching up on my sleep in a very striking, split-level house in the northern part of Auckland.
That weekend there was a New Zealand Joy Weekend - a weekend of meditation, singing and spiritual practice but also of joy, games and spiritual friendship - so Sri Chinmoy's disciples from Christchurch came up to join us and a few Australians flew over. The venue was a spiritual centre north of the city called Aio Wira. It is set in an area of really outstanding beauty and we had the place to ourselves and made use of the grounds for the Joy Weekend games.
It was during the games that I first realised I was coming down with a cold - who knew that Auckland was even damper than Glasgow! All the disciples were really kind and I must have tried at least half-a-dozen cold remedies. But to no avail - during the sound check for the concert it was clear I had no voice. So Vapushtara the Great played and sang - and did a excellent job. Like me, the audience were suitably impressed. But a false start to the tour for me. No singing in Auckland.
Christchurch 1st Nov
If Auckland looked a bit like a tropical Scotland, then Christchurch is quintessentially English. The Sri Chinmoy Centre (along with the Lotus-Heart café/gift shop/and Gandharva Loka music store) is located in imposing building and will always be associated in my mind with turmeric latté, a speciality of the Lotus-Heart Cafe. The hospitality in Auckland and Christchurch was spectacular and the meals in the café were superlative.
My voice started to come back just in time for the concert. While it wasn’t perfect I was able to sing with Vapushtara for the first time. The venue was modern and very intimate. Some members of the audience spoke to me afterwards to say that they had enjoyed the singing and that they loved the combination of voice and piano. I was really happy I hadn’t left New Zealand without singing.
Lukas was less happy: during the sound check, Budhsamudra accidentally kicked over and broke the lip of his Udu - his percussion intrument. However, Anurakta came to the rescue and repaired and repainted it so perfectly that, I (for one) couldn’t see the break.
Audio: Alap and Lukas in concert
As a reward for practising and performing hard, we headed down to Akaroa a pretty town of French origins, for a break. The town is popular with artists and it was easy to see why, the light is so clear and sharp. As it was warm and on the coast and the sparkling aquamarine water was very inviting, the boys jumped off the peer and had a swim!
Brisbane 5th Nov
Whereas there had only been two concerts in ten days in New Zealand, the frequency became more like one concert every three days in Australia.
We started in Brisbane in a local church. The programme had settled down; Alap and Lucas started us off and played for about 25 minutes, then Monk Party played for about 40 minutes and then Vapushtara and I performed for around 20 minutes.
Audio: Monk Party
We all stayed at the Brisbane Sri Chinmoy Centre, which Sri Chinmoy visited in the 1970’s. It is like a scout hall split over two levels and sub-divided to great effect into bedrooms, plus a kitchen and shower rooms - and a very useful laundry! On the lower floor, there is a very big Meditation room, plus a room where classes are offered to the public. Amalendu, and Pushpendra in particular, looked after us very well.
There is a new enterprise run by Sri Chinmoy's students in Brisbane - the Birdhouse - and there I found the next best thing to turmeric lattes - acaí! It’s like a smoothie with muesli, peanut butter, and berries added. It’s fantastic. And even better when you find yourself with Animesh and Unmilan - longtime disciples of Sri Chinmoy - in story telling mood.
The Brisbane concert was fairly well-received. One woman, whose father was also a singer who came from Glasgow, said that when I sang she heard his voice for the first time in forty years. Very touching.
Canberra 7th Nov
Prachar found a great venue for the Canberra Concert at the Wesley Music Centre. The acoustics meant that there was no need for amplification. Other than when we were rehearsing, we spent most of our time in My Rainbow-Dreams cafe or in the Canberra Sri Chinmoy Centre, which is just upstairs from the cafe.
Unlike Brisbane, which was hot, Canberra was dull and cool. We visited the statue of Sri Chinmoy on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin; it is in a beautiful location.
The concert was good, but with a couple of unforced errors from yours truly. Still the audience were appreciative in the oddest of ways. One young guy complemented me on my singing and said he was particularly pleased that I had used a recyclable water cup!! It’s the details that are important, always remember that.
Though details are not so important as meals and the performers greatly appreciated being taken for some slap-up Thai food on the lake front (different lake from the statue) followed by a trip to an ice cream parlour. Then we were on the road -or rather, in the air -again.
Melbourne 9th Nov
I really liked the city of Melbourne. The architecture is interesting (mainly Victorian with lots of wrought iron) and the feel is European, maybe French or perhaps North Italy. The hotel was only about 100 metres from Kishore and Prashanta's (the Melbourne Sri Chinmoy Centre leaders) house which is beautiful and is set off perfectly by a statue of Sri Chinmoy in the front garden. We started with food, as usual, in a great Italian restaurant which, even by New York standards, had more desserts (counter after counter) than I had ever seen before.
The concert was probably my best of the tour. Vapushtara had a grand piano here so perhaps that explained why the arrangements were so powerful and I was able to respond - although it was just as well that I was amplified and the piano wasn’t.
Adelaide 11th Nov
Adelaide was a really pleasant surprise. Melbourne, like Canberra was a bit dull and cloudy but Adelaide felt like Australia should feel - hot.
We were all staying with Padmanandana and Padmalaya in their beautifully renovated house up in the hills (where the temperature is about five degrees lower than in the city). On the way up, Padmanandana pointed out the little pieces of netting which straddle the concrete central reservation of the road. The koalas use the netting to climb over.
The concert was in a big church in the centre of town and it was the most spiritual one that I felt we gave on the tour. This was the only concert where I sang acapella at the beginning and that may have helped make it a more intense experience for me. At the end the audience didn’t want to leave and a number of people thanked us. There were even some tears.
Perth 13th November
Perth is set in a stunning location with two massive rivers creating large lagoons before flowing into a natural harbour and then the Indian Ocean. We stayed in a big chalet about a mile or so from the centre, except Vapushtara who stayed with Prabuddha (short straw).
At short notice, we asked Prabuddha to find a rehearsal space with a piano and he came up trumps -locating an upright in a Community Centre close by. However, when Vapushtara went to play it we discovered that the middle two keys were stuck together. In seconds Vapushtara had the sounding board off and had extracted the two keys from the keyboard. He said that the lead seals at the back of the keys had expanded, hence the problem. They needed to be sanded down. While he was wondering how this might be achieved, Prabuddha grabbed the keys and started rubbing them against the brick wall. When he had finished, again, within seconds, Vapushtara had put the piano back together - this time with 88 working keys.
Grahak had an article printed in the local paper to advertise the concert; his copy had been used almost verbatim and in it he referred to me as having a ‘Highlander Voice’. Whatever that is, I am fairly sure I don’t have it. On the first morning we went to Cottesloe Beach where we swam, ran (or walked). Beautiful light, great weather and stunning seafront condos, spoiled slightly by swarms of flies.
The Perth Concert was the best attended and took place in the most professional venue - we had both a sound engineer and a stage manager. The only downside was that backstage was air-conditioned so it felt like a fridge, and having only just recovered from one cold I was worried about starting another. Rather than surrender to this, I took to wearing a scarf and running all the showers to get a hot damp atmosphere. I doubt anything I did made much difference, but it was certainly our best performance of Tomari Hok Joy which was the last song.
I talked to the audience in the foyer afterwards and met a chap from Falkirk who was well-impressed with the concert and a woman who I had apparently inspired to re-start her singing career.
Canberra 15th November
The Perth Concert marked the end of the tour. Everyone else headed back home but, at Prachar’s invitation, I went back to Canberra. The Australian Sri Chinmoy Centre are famous for their organisation of endurance sporting events, and they need all the volunteers they can get. The Sri Chinmoy Triple Triathlon was taking place, and registration was at My Rainbow-Dreams Cafe the day after I got back; the sun shone outside and the athletes were very nice (and patient), so Satyakarma and I had a fairly easy time with the registration.
On the day of the race I teamed up with Kishore and found myself ticking off swimmers and getting them to sign disclaimers beside a lake in the pre-dawn, while Kishore started the whole event off. It was a long and rewarding day, the most memorable story concerns Prachar, who flits about the event like the Scarlet Pimpernel. At our last changeover he turned up to collect the time sheets from our previous changeover (they re-use disciples a lot -I suppose that’s good for the environment).About twenty minutes after he left two little kids came and gave us the time sheets back. Followed a few minutes later by a very nice man who gave us Prachar’s mobile phone. He had left everything in the toilets of the local Burger King. So much grace -or dumb luck.
After the triple triathlon I gave a singing workshop in the same hall we had performed in a couple of weeks earlier. I told the story of how I developed as a singer, punctuated by songs. Sri Chinmoy's disciples as well as interested members of the public were there and it seemed to go down very well. Just before I left I also did a solo recital at the same venue.
Finally, on Sunday 25th, exhausted and happy - but mainly exhausted - I flew back home, just in time for my Birthday!
A day in the country
To me God is not only the most beautiful golden Being or Spirit; to me God is everything. You just mentioned nature: a beautiful flower or a beautiful tree. Anything that is God's creation embodies God....You can appreciate the beauty of nature and if you are happy, then the happiness that you are getting is God. In one word, if God has to be defined, then I wish to say God is happiness.
To appreciate God’s creation is to appreciate God is to meditate.
After a busy few weeks of organising our Festival of Meditation in Dublin, members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre spent a day in the countryside. Rajnandini arranged a visit to a nature reserve known as Girley Bog near Kells in Co Meath. Nature communicates very well when the sun communicates, particularly in Ireland and this was very much the case during the visit.
Wow! – when you slow down and observe, you realise that that a bog is much more than a 15,000 year old compost heap! So much life, so much drama, so much beauty and diversity from the Sun Dew insect digesting plant, the elegant Bog Cotton swaying in the wind to the colourful seeding Sphagnum Moss, all existing in varying settings. You soon realise that by slowing down to observe each marvel, your heart is tickled with joy and if you give yourself permission to do so, the warmth of gratitude descends upon you.
Rajnandini imparted her vast knowledge of botany to the (mostly) city folk along the way. And most times when we get together, snacking along the way is the norm – but during this walk, it was the energy-charged wild strawberries, blueberries and green peas instead of the usual coffees and pastries.
After the walk, the group returned to Rajnandini’s home in Kells to join her parents Sean & Mary for a sumptuous lunch in the garden. To burn off the ice cream and chocolate cake, Sean organised Lawn Croquet with simplified local rules to suit the multi-national make-up of the group (Poland, Vietnam, Croatia & Russia).
The day was brought to a close with a group meditation and celebration of Elena’s birthday.
Thanks Rajnandini - just what the doctor ordered.
Free concert - an exploration of the musical heritage of Bengal
The region of Bengal (comprising the country of Bangladesh, as well as the Indian state of West Bengal) has the richest musical tradition in the entire Indian subcontinent. The tradition dates back to the time of the Vedic seers, but over the centuries it has been influenced by the many spiritual currents that have passed through the lands, from devotional Hinduism to the Sufi branceh of Islam.
This evening will feature the songs of Bengal’s most revered poet and songsmith, Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore (1860-1941), and its most prolific composer, Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007), who wrote over 13,000 Bengali songs.
Avik Deb is an accomplised singer from northern Bangladesh, and a graduate of the renowned Shurer Dhara music school in Dhaka under the expert tutelage of Rezwana Choudhury Bannya, one of the world’s foremost singers of Rabindrasangeet (Tagore songs).
Accompanying himself on harmonium, he will also be joined by Sadanand Magee on tabla, who has performed in over 20 countries as part of the international Songs of the Soul concert series. Avik is currently on a short tour playing concerts in the UK and Ireland.
For more information call 085-1450880, or get in touch with us on our contact form
Festival of Meditation, September-October 2010
This year, our festival brought a new lineup of talks and workshops and concerts, as well as yoga classes and documentaries!
For those of you who missed it, this was our festival lineup:
The Joy of Self-Discovery
Meditation is well known for promoting stillness and clarity; it can also uncover a joy that comes from the deepest part of your being.
Meditation: The Practical Problem-Solver
Speaker: Nirbhasa Magee
Meditation is often thought of as an escape from the world - however this ancient art can instead be used to rise above life’s challenges and come out smiling!
The Power of Mantra
Speaker: Sadanand Magee
One of the oldest forms of meditation, and one of the easiest for beginners to start with. Introducing a wide variety of mantric chants and songs, ancient and modern, from cultures all over the world.
Meditation: Spontaneous Creation
Speaker: Kanala Auer
In this 3-hour workshop, musician and art teacher Kanala Auer demonstrates how meditation can unlock the spontaneous flow of creativity that we all have within.
Music and Meditation
Speakers: Kanala Auer and Sadanand Magee
Music allows us to travel within and explore the deepest realms of being - our final workshop teaches simple exercises through music, with intervals of live meditation music performances.
Friday 1 Oct 8pm
Documentary Screening: Spirit of a Runner
A 30 min film exploring the world of meditator and distance runner Suprabha Beckjord, as she attempts the world’s longest race, the 3100 Mile Self-Transcendence Race.
Saturday 2 Oct 10-12am
Yoga Workshop: Asanas for Meditation
Yoga and meditation have a shared history going back millenia - yoga teachers Rajnandini and Elena show how one can move from the physical postures of yoga to discover the inner joys of meditation.
Saturday 2 Oct 7-8pm
Kanala Auer (sitar) and Sadanand Magee (tabla) explore the music of meditation master Sri Chinmoy in Indian classical style.
If you missed our festival; not to worry - we regularly give free meditation classes throughout the year - to find out more get in touch with us via our contact form
Mediation classes with a Canadian touch, plus a very sweet and soulful concert....
Shishir comes to town
The Dublin Centre was treated to a visit from Shishir Pauk from snowy Winnipeg in Canada, who came to give our October Workshop. Shishir has been a student of Sri Chinmoy for 29 years, and regularly travels through the world giving meditation classes.
Shishir's classes were a real joy to behold and he certainly has a unique perspective on things - you ever cared to analyze the life of Arnold Schwarzenneger from a spiritual perspective, or find out how a Peugeot 506 can be a life threatening obstacle to your meditation, then Shishir had all the answers for you!
Throughout the class, he modestly introduced his topics in such understated terms as "Now were going to talk about...The secrets of the Universe!" and "Next we're going to have the Grand-Finale, blow-you-away, final meditation" (which, it must be said, definitely lived up to its billing) The audience loved his straight-from-the-heart style of talking, and I think everyone headed home smiling and lighter in mind and step. We hope it won't be too long before he graces our shores again with his humour and love of life.
Music of the heart
After Shishir's weekend classes, we decided to hold a spontaneous concert of meditation music for the public the following Friday. It has been a few months since we last gave one, and we almost forgot how much fun they were! The crowd was not as big as previous concerts we held, however they were tremendously appreciative, and it was a very nice experience for everyone. We hope now to add a few more songs to our repertoire and hold more concerts very soon.
Dublin Centre June Roundup
This was supposed to be a quiet month for the Dublin centre, yet we still found enough to fill a good sized article (thanks in part to the pictures, I know, but still....) Read on!
The Celebration of Light
Matthias went over to help out at the Celebration of Light, a beautiful midsummer festival organised by Adarsha Kelly, a student of Sri Chinmoy from Glasgow. Here is what he had to say:
The event took place in which what was an abandoned tramway but is not an arts centre run by Glasgow City Council. The event was scheduled for 24 hours over the longest day of the year, central to which was a celebration of Sri Chinmoy’s life. At the back of the building there is also a garden with pathways all around, which we used for our event.
On the background of the stage there was a slideshow of Sri Chinmoy in action in different fields: art, poetry, music, athletics. At first different music groups played selected songs, later on we all joined together and played the whole night through until sunrise at 5 in the morning. We then took a rest, and continued with a puppet show performing written stories of Sri Chinmoy. Sri Chinmoy wrote many tales over the years; this puppet show was based on stories written about the great Moghul emperor Akbar the Great and his adviser Birbal. In one story, Akbar aks Birbal to find 5 fools for him. He came back with 3. Answering the question of the king where the other 2 were, he named the king and himself. Birbal explained only a foolish king is interested in knowing how many fools in the kingdom are, and Birbal himself is a fool for following his order!
We finished the celebration in totally different circumstances on the Glasgow Mela, a musical festival with all different styles of music. So it happened that before our performance there was a rap group playing. The announcer was still in rap mode and invited the audience to raise their hands and clap. After a heavy rainfall the people in the audience had changed so that the music found more response. We were happy just offering something more quiet and different knowing there are people out there that still appreciate spiritual music.
The Paris 100k - Matthias’ experience
Matthias becomes the first person from the Dublin Centre to participate in an ultradistance race! Here is his account:
The event took place in a wide park on a 1 mile loop, which meant there were 62 loops to the finish. We were about 30 starters, including me there were 4 German runners, who took a 8 hours drive from southern Germany.
The weather was luckily not too hot, this was a big advantage as there was nearly no shade to hide from the sun. As it was the first attempt for me my goal was just to finish. I mostly wanted to enjoy the run. After every 3 or 4 laps running I changed to walking. After every lap I took a drink, but did not dare to eat as the stomach is anyway “upset” realizing what a challenge it is facing. Along the track there were also a band playing spiritual music to cheer us up.
When I changed to walking I was overlapped a few times by a French lady cheering me up with the words: Go on, go on, it is all fine. I started to believe her between 50 km and 70km, when I had my fastest laps. I just thought if I do not run now, then I won`t have any more chance to win time and probably I would not reach the finish within the 14 hours limit. I felt surprisingly fresh at this stage. But I saw I was sweating out a lot of salt and said to myself it was better to slow down.
From then on I just walked without forcing myself to finish. At km 86 I decided to call it a day. I definitely want to take this challenge up again even if I didn’t finish this time. It is just a nice feeling to be on the track for such a long time. It gives you the feeling of dynamism and perpetually moving forward, just like in the spiritual life.
Recently we were helping out at the Lotus Yoga stand at the Cultivate ‘ Health and Yoga ’ day. (We happen to share our meditation space with Lotus Yoga) Many of the teachers from Lotus Yoga were giving demonstrations of their craft, and we were also scheduled to give a class called The Inner Journey: Meditation and Self-Discovery. We had about 40 people for our meditation course, and then gave a second course straight after to fill in for a suddenly cancelled course. We all had an incredibly enjoyable day - the place was abuzz with different lecturers, talks and demonstrations and tons of people all eager to fit in as many courses as they could during the day! There were lots of people interested in trying out our yoga space and more thinking of coming to our next set of meditation courses in July. Well done to the people at Cultivate for organising such a great event!
A meditative weekend in France
In the Sri Chinmoy Centre, we certainly don't believe in long hours spent in meditation away from society. In addition to meditation, there are plenty of activities we can do to make spiritual progress, and one of the main ones - perhaps the main one - is having lots and lots of joy!
That's why our teacher Sri Chinmoy encourages us all to meet up every so often for weekends that combine meditation and having fun.
This March, all the meditation centres in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France gathered together in Marseille for one such weekend. Some of us arrived a little earlier and toured Marseille and its environs. Considering the time of year, the weather was very pleasant, so much so that we took the sunshine as an excuse to go swimming in the Mediterranean sea. The sea was indeed cold but absolutely revitalising. You could feel the body filling with a new life energy.
The weekend took place a short distance from Marseille, right on the shoreline of a small bay. It encompassed a beautiful pebble beach with hills rising from the sea on both sides and an impressive bridge towering in the backround. The set the scene for two days of swimming, walking and sightseeing.
On the Saturday evening everyone gathered with warm greetings for lovely meal. Having fed our appetite it was then time to feed our aspiration with some meditation! Some of our French friends had decorated a cosy function room with two large bouquets of blossomed lilies adorning the meditation shrine. Following a peaceful meditation we saw some inspiring videos of recent activites undertaken by Sri Chinmoy and his students: one video described how Ashrita Furman - one of Sri Chinmoy's students and the current holder of more Guinness World Records than anyone else - and a team of volunteers set about building the tallest popcorn structure ever constructed. Quite a few people who helped set this record were in the room watching the video and it brought back nice memories.
After an early meditation the next morning it was time to stretch our legs and widen our lungs and to feel good and healthy in general as we gathered for a two mile run. A somewhat improvised running track added to the sheer fun and joy of the race. It was early and the air was crisp and cold; however, everywhere you looked you found smiles and laughs of an amazingly energetic bunch of runners and joggers and walkers and helpers. Needless to say the bit of exercise worked up an appetite and everyone was grateful for a grand continental breakfast.
At noon, we returned to meditation, where we where delighted to receive a phone call from Sri Chinmoy. There were 74 of us present and with great love he offered a soul-stirring blessing to each individual in turn as he meditated with them. He then expressed his sincere joy for seeing such a remarkable display of oneness between all nationalities present. He commented on the fact that Englishmen and Frenchmen, who for many years lived in the world of competition, could now sit in the same room and meditate together in harmony; if this is not a victory of spirituality, then what is? With warm words of joy and appreciation the phone call ended.
Afterwards we gathered for a huge multi-course meal put on as only the French know how, and then another meditation. Some of us gathered for around the volleyball net trying to keep the ball up with our heads and feet, this evolved into a spontaneous game where we made the rules up as we went along. Many people had to return on the Sunday; about ten of us had another night however, so we could spend the evening meditating on the beautiful sunset, followed by a hearty meal in a local eaterie. Such weekends are of enormous value; they give us the chance to meet up with old friends, and rediscover an element of joy that might have been pushed to oneside by the grind of daily life.
Mayhem in Donadea
Be happy, be happy! Unless you are happy, Your outer life will not succeed And your inner life will not proceed. Sri Chinmoy .
Sri Chinmoy once told his students that he only wanted two things from them: he wanted them to be happy, and he wanted them to realize God.
In addition to our meditations and the events we put on for the general public (which also go a long way towards keeping us, it must be said), we also put a strong emphasis on plain old-fashioned fun. Once a week or so, we'll gather together for an evening; occasionally we'll have a day outing or stretch it out for the whole weekend.
Recently we made the trip out to Donadea Forest Park. The weather was very kind and there was a beautiful walk around the lake. However I think all that mattered to the boys was there was a flat bit of grass somewhere were they could have a game. Ambarish had brought a few hurleys in the back of the car; we weren't intending on having a full-blown game of hurling as we have some Germans and Russians in our group, as well as most of the Irish not being from strong hurling counties. However we had a bit of a practice and those unfamiliar with the game soon began getting the hang of it, so we decided to try a game after all and it ended up being great fun.
As well as hurling, there was also some games of soccer and frisbee played too...of course, these are games we all played as a child, but then as we grow older we stop playing, unless it is in some kind of competitive sense as part of a club. It is so nice to recapture some of that childlike spirit with a few spontaneous games between friends.
A cycling trip to Waterford...
For the Dublin Sri Chinmoy Centre, a cycling trip to some far-off corner of Ireland has become an essential event in the annual calendar
Previous trips had brought us to counties Donegal and Galway; this time we were originally headed to Mayo, but there was a last-minute change of mind: weather-wise, this has been one of the worst summers on record, and the weather was suposed to be particularly bad this weekend, so we thought it best to head down to the 'sunny south-east' where the weather has traditionally always been best. The prospect of running a 10k race that was being held down in Waterford sealed the deal (some of us are training for the Self-Transcendence marathon which we will do in August when we visit New York), and so on the Friday evening we were down in Waterford city, bikes at the ready.
It was raining torrentially in Dublin when we left, but thankfully it had cleared off by the time we reached Waterford and we could enjoy a scenic half-hour cycle to the seaside town of Tramore. The next morning after meditation we were all off for a dip in the sea, followed by some cycling along the beach - we were doing a slow-cycling race, when all of a sudden we heard this deafening bang: Martin (who was winning the race) had suffered a complete tyre blowout! Worse, there was no bike shop in Tramore, and the bus wouldnt let him take the bike back to Waterford. Martin, undeterred, merely sain "I'm just going to wait for the next big van to come along. Sure enough, ten minutes later a big white van pulled in an generously let Marting stick his bike in the back. Colm cycled back in order to join him, whilst the rest of us made our way to the small village of Dunhill, where the inaugural Anne Valley Race was being held to raise funds for the Chernobyl Children's holiday fund.
We were soon rejoined by Martin and Colm. Shane opened his kitbag to find there was only one runner in it - thankfully Ambarish had a spare pair he could use. The race itself was a great experience. We were running through some of the most beautiful scenic countryside you could imagin. however it was also one of the toughest - three major climbs and the sun was pretty hot too! However we all had a good time. (That's Shane holding the Munster Cup which the Waterford hurling team had won the previous week and which happened to be around the vicinity at the time.)
After the race (and a quick puncture repair to Shane's bike) we set off again along the coast road to Dungarvan. We had reached the village of Bunmahin when the rest of the the group noticed Shane had no pannier bag! It dropped off somewhere along the road, so Shane went back to look for it, and couldn't see it anywhere. Later, we were back at the accommodation pondering our options, whn a knock came at the door. The next door neighbour was out in the car and had seen his bag, and was just knocking at all the guesthouses to see if anyone owned it. In addition the owner of the place where some of the other boys were staying had actually driven back down the road to go and look for it - it's amazing what some people will still do for other people they've never even met...
On Sunday, we were joined by Gary and Vinny, making seven of us in total. It was time to turn away from the coast and into the mountains - but not before one last dip in the sea. The particular spot we chose was covered in seaweed - I told Martin people actually pay good money for seaweed baths round these parts but he was having none of it! The cycling itself was pretty taxing at times, a long series of uphills and downhills, but a lot of fun nonetheless. We capped it off with a cycle over the Comeragh Mountains, and then down to the village of Rathgormack to stay in the local hostel. We were absolutely blessed with the weather this week end - all along the forecast was giving ominous signs, but the rain held off until we were almost home. We really liked this hostel, it doubled up as a community centre with an indoor hall which soon bacame host to a couple of impromptu games of indoor football! This evening Martin put his culinary skills on display and treated us all to a scrumptious pasta dish. Every Sunday we usually have a group meditation in our centre back in Dublin, so whe turned our place into an impromptu meditation room and had a very nice meditation just before bedtime.
The next day after meditation and breakfast, we headed to the nearby Comeragh mountains for a spot of walking. We were fairly soon in open country which meant many people soon got their feet wet - but it was worth it when we came across this beautiful lake, where we could sit by the side and drink in its silent beauty.
Then it was time to go back. We hightailed it to Waterford city, taking shortcuts through some beautiful country estates. Waterford is definitely an underrated part of Ireland, and we feel it is definitely worth another visit sometime.
A Weekend of Joy in Carlingford
People from around 13 different countries converged upon the little village of Carlingford in the Cooley Mountains.....
The weather had been good all week yet with customary Irish fatalism we weren't expecting it to last. However, upon arrival we were greeted by beautiful blue skies which really showed the mountain of Sliabh Foy behind the village in its best light. Carlingford was a medieval settlement and from the amount of old buildings around I'd say there was a fair bit of keeping up with the Joneses in the Middle Ages, with people trying to outdo their neighbours in building bigger castles...
A great dinner supervised by the able Ciara on Saturday evening put everyone in fine fettle for the evening. We had meditation singing and an Irish boys play with hordes of extras, stuntmen, and multimillion dollar special effects (well, er, some car headlights and some bicycle lights strapped onto a samurai sword actually). Usually people's heads are nodding towards the end of the night because they've travelled such a long distance, but in this case everyone arose from meditation full of beans and before long there were games of basketball afoot and frisbees being thrown in the warm night air...
And they didn't leave their energy there. Sunday morning's 2-mile race through the narrow streets of Carlingford saw at least three personal bests set - the most impressive being Colm who (probably as a result of his six week stint on the European leg of the World Harmony Run) was able to break the 13-minute barrier AND the 12-minute barrier on his way to a time of 11:51 !
A full brekkie and then time for games - two boys teams and two girls teams were picked and proceeded to scramble their way around a variety of activities - getting through through a menu of horseshoe throwing, egg and spoon, the poc fada (striking a ball the furthest distance with an Irish hurling stick), tracing the outline of the mythical Brown Bull of Cooley on the ground with a rope while blindfolded, 3 legged race, hitting cans off a perch with tennis balls, raising a brick by winding an arrached rope around a broom handle, tug of war and throwing basketballs from the free throw line in the space of less than 2 hours.
Even a brief intrusion by two fractious local chieftains intent on doing no good failed to deter them...
Afterwards came noon meditation and a packed lunch - some had to leave early, others split into groups to go walking around the mountains or swimming by the sea, or settle for a nice cappucino somewhere. Tarit invited me for a run up the mountains (I was told to prepare for my funeral by certain knowledgeable fellow Edinburgh centre members) which, sorry to disappoint them, I enjoyed immensely. I'm told there was a particularly hard fought game of football between the boys.
Thanks all who came for making it a great weekend and I hope we can have you all over here in the not too distant future....