Here is another "journal from the road" by my mother Sat Kirin Kaur who is currently in South America. You can read the background info here.
Greetings from balmy and humid Paraguay!
If you’re anything at all like me, you probably haven’t even heard of Asuncion, and have probably the vaguest notion of where Paraguay is…… somewhere deep in South America, right? Well…. What a pleasant surprise this place is! After having landed from cold and rainy La Paz, we all had to pack away our sweaters and coats since Asuncion lies in a flat, tropical plain laden with fruit trees everywhere. It is easier to pluck a mango, an avocado, a couple dozen tangerines, oranges, lemons, maracullas, or chirimboyas than it is to go shopping at a local market! This abundance reflects in the attitudes of the local population.
There is a large European influence, mostly german descendants who fled Germany after losing the war in World War II. And they have capitalized their prosperity by acquiring large landholds, accumulating wealth and creating industries mostly with their well-earned reputation of hard work and consistency! The local populace has more of an attitude of laisez-faire….. why work so hard when the food is so readily available?? It is cute to see the mixture of these quite opposite points of seeing life!!
Much to our delight, upon our arrival in the Asuncion International Airport the lovely Paraguayan Sangat greeted us with local music (consisting of harp and guitar) and a lovely dance performance by 3 young graceful girls beautifully decked in local costumes.
Asuncion itself is a beautiful, manicured, affluent and clean city with a distinctive European flavour, and without the obvious poverty assaulting it at every turn. Even after having taken a trip to the countryside, we did not see the slums that pervade every Latin American city. And it is quite obvious to see how much they value the environment….both personal and public in the way they immaculately keep their yards, streets, roads, and public spaces! It is quite a contrast with the other major cities we’ve visited so far.
Everyone we´ve met is sincerely enthusiastic and devoted. The key player here is Sat Pal Kaur, a beautiful Shakti powerhouse who works tirelessly. Many here have gone to Summer Solstices, and have come back to implement what they´ve learned over there. In fact, it is quite impressive to see how well run and managed is their entire scene here. They have a beautiful, elegant and spacious Yoga Center called Dharma, with well-attended classes back to back throughout the day. There is also a jewelry store (also called Dharma) which sells the Guru Bachan´s jewelry line. They also have an office which acts as the South American headquarters for Sikh Dharma and 3HO for all Spanish speaking people, as well as a beautiful website in Spanish with all kinds of information, schedules, classes, tantrics, tidbits, stories, etc. You can check it out: www.elcaminorealiberoamerica.com.
Our schedule here has been quite packed with appointments, visits, classes and visiting with these lovely people. On our first morning here, Sat Pal Kaur set up a meeting for GBS with the Paraguay Vice-President. (The actual president is out of the country at the moment). They were met graciously and welcomed warmly to their country. Right afterwards, she set up a T.V. interview with the most popular morning talk show….. our equivalent of Good Morning America. The lively and humorous talk by GBS’s was a delight to watch. Towards the end of the show, there was a cooking class where he showed the entire Paraguayan nation how to make scrambled tofu! As the hostess, Pelusa, started to serve herself daintily unto a plate, GBS says:" No, no, no, no….. that´s not how you do it…. It won’t taste as good that way…. Here!"…. And he proceeds to get a cracker, dip it into the pan, scoop up a mountain of hot, sizzling tofu, says: "Open up" and feeds it directly into her mouth!! It was quite hilarious to watch her wide-eyed surprise looking up at Guru Bachan Singh towering over here making her eat! Everyone in the studio was laughing and cheering him on, and of course they all loved the dish!
In the afternoon, Guru Bachan Kaur gave a talk and meditation to a group of about 70 abused women and girls in the downtown marketplace. It was very inspiring to see these working-class women of all ages sitting on the floor absorbing every bit of information and feeling the power of their meditation. Afterwards, they swamped us with questions, gratitude and requests to keep coming to teach them more about yoga and ways to make their lives better. They loved SatKirin’s Ramadasa…meditation and promised to continue it for the next 40 days.
That same evening, Sat Kirn Kaur taught a beautiful class on the power of mantra with Shabds and stories from Guru Ram Das. It was a well attended class after which we all went to the Presidential Suite at the Sheraton to have pizzas and be delighted with Paraguayan folk music by yet another one of our yoga students who plays lovely guitar. Such a talent pool!
This morning, after yet another T.V. interview with the competing station, our Khalsa delegation headed downtown to distribute food to a group of about 400 of the poorest indigenous people. These families have set up a provisional tent city made of garbage bags in this downtown park as the only way to protest against some injustice by the government.
We showed up with sacks and sacks of rice, beans, sugar, tea, milk and soap and set up a distributing system. Before long, the line of people extended quite a ways. They were quite grateful to receive this bit of help in the form of food, since many of them have not had a decent meal since they arrived here in Asuncion, around 12 days ago. It was seva in the truest sense, and we all praised Guru Ram Das for the opportunity to serve in this way.
On a personal note, our lovely Hari Dharam Kaur developed a serious sinus and ear infection, what with all the changes of altitudes, places, and busy schedules. She is taking care of herself, but she has missed out on all the activities here in lovely Paraguay. So, please send her your prayer and healing energy so she can get better fast.
On that note, from the lovely Tour of the Lord of Miracles, until our next stop, in Santiago, Chile, we bid you adieu and Sat Nam….
SS Satkirin Kaur Khalsa