We have registered for the Summer Solstice 2013, today was registration and settling in…For the past few days we have been living in luxury, a very comfortable bed, a fantastic powerful shower with hot water. I was very sad to leave phenji's house. Phenji did say we can stay and commute to the Solstice site, which is about 20 minutes away. As we had already paid for the cabin we decided to head up the hill and stay there.
We said our long goodbyes to phenji…..
We decided to grab our last lunch before going onto the solstice diet, so we headed over to Annapurna's in Santa Fe. WHilst having lunch I gor a text from Harijot Singh asking where we were. I replied saying n Santa Fe. He asked if we could pick up his friend and we agreed. We picked up Jasdeep Singh who is from Richmond, Canada and together we set off to Espanola. On a Thursday there is a community lungar, as it suggests, it is open to everybody. It was great to see many friends who were there. Everbody was looking forward to solstice and there was a fantastic buzz in the air.
The site of The Summer Solstice Sadhana Celebration is called Guru Ram Das Puri. It is 8 miles from Española up a dirt road. The Solstice website directions say “PLEASE DRIVE SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY on this portion of your trip” As you pass other cars, especially SUV's who were speeding the other way, the cars sprayed us with pebbles. Clouds of dust rolled up all around the car. Viewed through the milky white filament of the slowly dissipating dust the surrounding landscape of dry yellow soil, scrubby green brush, and the dimming blue sky was so beautiful.
Guru Ram Das Puri is a 160-acre preserve of land in the Jemez mountains. On the land is a very large tent called the Tantric Shelter. It has a concrete floor and a high roof and stays cool and breezy under the worst conditions. The three-day long meditation called White Tantric Yoga will take place here, as will Sadhana. Meals are eaten in the Tantric Shelter sometimes, and the bigger teachers—Harijiwan, Guru Singh, Gurmukh—hold enormous classes here as well.
There are three main camping areas. Tantric Hill is known for being windy and crowded. The Water Tower area is known for being popular with families and also, for its proximity to a loud generator. The Valley is known for being more protected, quieter, and a bit mellower, but further away
There is also a tent, on one side of which food is served, and on the other side of which is a bazaar, where the kind of items one would think would be sold at a Solstice gathering are sold: yoga wear, yoga music, crystals, books, and spiritually profound jewelry, like malas, which are beaded necklaces used as meditation aids—rosaries for hippies.
At the edge of the property, up above a few acres of parking lot, are a few cabins.
Once you get to the site, one has to register so we headed over to registration. We had registered and paid online a month before, but the process of the staff finding our registeration forms and badges took 45 minutes!! Sangeet could see I was getting very annoyed and wound up, she said we know plenty of sangat members the last thing you want to do is cause a scene….I stayed calm, which was a miracle!
After a long winded registration process we headed over to the cabin.
Outside view from the cabin
I am tempted to go back to Shanti phenji's house or even book into a motel, especially as we had paid more money for the cabin then a motel room! Ah well let's see how it goes.
In the evening there was a welcome speach, Sangeet and I also helped with setting up the Gurdwara.
Afterwards, Nirvair Singh did the gong meditation. Then off to bed…………..early start tomorrow…….
Early start, here in Espanola Sardhana starts at 3:40 am, at 4am there is a Kundalini yoga set, followed at 4:45 with chanting, the Gurdwara programme starts at 6am.
Afterwards we went back to the house where Shanti phenji had made a very tasty breakfast, it was great to see the whole family taking time out of their busy schedule to eat together. Something we should all take on board.
We then got ready and off to the Gurdwara, it so feels like we have been away on holiday and now come back home to Espanola. The sangat are amazing, so warm and friendly. After the programme where we were fortunate to hear kirtan by Chardi Kala Jatha, we had lungar. It was very nice talking to the sangat, they all came over said Fateh and gave us big hugs.
The children always participate in the programmes
For the evening we had planned to go to the cinema with Harijot Singh, to watch superman. Others were mentioning about a drum party. Which also sounded like fun.
As we had a few hours spare we drove to Tesuque village, an upmarket area outside Santa Fe. The houses are all adobe and looked huge.
Sangeet had been finding the desert heat during the day very intense so decided to take it easy at Shanti phenji's house. I met Harijot Singh at the Gurdwara. They were celebrating the birthday of Pritpal Singh. Harijot also mentioned the drum party, we agreed that we can go to the cinema any day. At the drum party we met Gurjot Singh and his wife, it was great to see them.
Later that night I dropped Gurjot and his wife home and Harijot at the Gurdwara. It was great catching up with everybody.
Today we went to see Avtar Kaur, more affectionately known as Beji. We first met Beji in 2007 at the amazing Jaap sahib course. Beji is 80 years old but you could never tell, she keeps active. Even though we met Beji and Papaji a few months ago it is a great pleasure to always meet when we are in the Bay Area. As always Beji had made some food which we ate with the many fruits they had bought. Very tasty and filling. Papaji had made us some very tasty carrot celery and apple juice too. We spent about three hours there which just flew by because we were enjoying their company so much.
There was an Akhand Paath in a smaller Darbar sahib
Chopping of vegetables was done on the balcony
View from the Gurdwara
the sangat here felt so familiar. As if we were back at our own local Gurdwara in the UK.
We are looking to meet up with my cousin Upkar phenji, Shakti Singh paji her husband and Upkar phenji live in the Bay Area. So whilst waiting for a time and place to meet we decided to head to Berkley and find a nice cafe. We looked like two geeks ipad and laptop out, Sangeet was working on course work, whilst I was playing games and trying to look smart!
Upkar phenji called to say come to their house and we can arrange where to meet. We got to theirs for around 7:30 pm, to our surprise phenji had cooked an amazing vegan meal. We have not met Shakti paji before. It was fantastic meeting them both and we look forward to many more meetings!
We headed back to Gurrinder paji's house to get a good nights rest, especially as it will be our last night in California.
A very early morning start, we set off to London at 4am, I managed to get 2 hours sleep, Sangeet did not sleep!
We parked the car at my brother in laws house. It was good to see everybody especially my niece who for the first time I saw awake from a nights sleep. She does a full stretch lifts her head, has a look at who is in the room then has a snooze! Btw she is two years old.
Randeep, my brother in-law drove us to Heathrow airport, the United Airlines flight to San Francisco departs from terminal one.
Check in queues for the United Airlines flights were very long, I would advise checking in at least 2 hours prior to your flight. We checked in one and a half hours before the flight. Luckily a United Airlines staff member asked if anyone was checking in for the San Francisco flight, we were fast tracked through the queue.
Once through security we had a few minutes to browse the shops, where Sangeet purchased a scarf and rucksack.
The walk to gate 48 takes around 15 minutes.
Onboard the Boeing 747-400, the plane was looking a bit old and in need of a upgrade. I could not believe you do not get your own personal television, I thought that sharing a television between 100 other travellers was a thing of the past.
The food onboard was not the best, luckily mum had packed food for us.
After a rough flight, where I just could not sleep. We touched down at San Francisco. It is so funny , when one flies business class a ten hour flight seems like 5 hours, in economy class a ten hour flight feels like twenty hours!
At San Francisco
On arrival you go through the standard customs and baggage collection, the immigration officer was very chatty, which is unlike them….they usually do not say a thing.
We took the air train to the Hertz rental depot, picked up a rental and started the drive to Nevada City.
The traffic was heavy and it took us 4 hours where as with no traffic it would have taken 2.5 hours. I was shattered and very hungry, so we stopped off at the gas station for coffee and a bag of Funyuns. A fantastic combination.
Nearer to Shady Creek the drive was through amazing tall trees the views were breath taking….it perked me up, or was that the coffee?
The course we are attending is at:
Life-Force Formula Immersion Retreat
Wednesday June 5th– Sunday June 9th
Shady Creek Retreat Center
18601 Pathfinder Way
CA Life-Force Formula Immersion Retreat
Which was taught by Jai Dev Singh.
On our arrival we registered and the very kind lady offered us some amazing food.
Whilst eating we listened to a lecture by Jai Dev Singh
After a class and yoga, which unfortunately I missed as I was asleep in the class, we headed to our cabin.
I was exhausted, as soon as my head hit the bed I was out, I would have said pillow but we did not have one!!
This morning we went to Katong Gurdwara to hear the closing of the Akhand Paath. They have two halls, one is slightly smaller where they did the Akhand Paath. So in the big hall they first sang Asa Di Vaar. Asa Di Var is a collection of 24 pauris or stanzas written by Guru Nanak Devji (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, page 462-475).Some people argue that the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev ji wrote the first 9 together on one occasion and later wrote 15 more stanzas on a different occasion but Professor Sahib Singh and some of the foremost Sikh scholars believe that the whole Var was written at the same place as the Var itself proceeds in a definite uniformity. The whole Var was compiled by the 5th Guru, Guru Arjan Dev ji in 1604 AD.
When Guru Arjan Dev ji was compiling the Holy Granth, he added a few Sloks of Guru Nanak and in some cases Guru Angad Dev ji, the second Guru of the Sikhs. These Sloks are tied together in a way that they relate to the same theme as highlighted in the pauri. In its present form, the Asa Di Var contains a few more shabads recited by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru.
The Asa Di Var kirtan is recited in the early morning hours in a very melodious way and style as mentioned by Guru Arjan Dev Ji called “Tunde Asraje Ki Dhuni” after the name of the contemporary brave and pious king Asraj. One of the hands of the king was amputated, so he was called Tunda meaning (one hand amputated) . The deeds and the ode of this king was sung by the bards in that typical fashion which then was extremely popular and melodious and was therefore adopted to performing Asa Di Var.
At the Gurdwara I met Gurutej Singh Khalsa who now lives in Singapore. Gurutej Singh is a other fantastic inspirational Sikh from the 3HO community. Gurutej Singh was one of the founders of Akal Security. Here is some information from the Akal Security website:
SANTA CRUZ— Gurutej Khalsa had always dreamed of being a cop, a dream he chased by attending the federal law enforcement academy and graduating at the top of his class.
But police agencies in New Mexico— unable to see beyond his turban and long beard— weren’t eager to hire him.
Unwilling to shed the trappings of his Sikh religion or to give up his dream, Khalsa turned to four friends, and together they launched Akal Security back in 1980. Akal comes from Sanskrit and means “undying” or “deathless.”
“We borrowed $1,200 on a used pickup truck, and that’s what capitalized the company,” said Daya Khalsa, one of the five founders.
Those were the company’s humble beginnings, he said. Today, Akal is one of the country’s leading private security firms, employing thousands and attracting federal contracts worth hundreds of millions. Despite its success, the company has kept its headquarters in the small village of Santa Cruz, just south of Española.
Devinderjit Singh Khalsa, 23, a college student and Akal employee, said he thinks the company has remained loyal to the Española Valley because that’s the community that nurtured it.
“We consider ourselves to be an integral part of the Española community …,” he said. Twenty-four years ago, Akal Security had no administrators— just five friends working as guards and trying to keep their business afloat. Because he was the only one of the five who could balance a checkbook, Daya Khalsa said, he was handed the tasks of keeping the company’s books and handling its payroll. He carried out those duties when he wasn’t on guard duty.
From Day One, the company’s philosophy was simple: Provide a level of service that’s a cut above what others in the industry provide, Daya Khalsa said.
The quality of service has left an impression on its customers.
“Akal is just head and shoulders above as far as I’m concerned,” said Mick Miller, public safety director for Expo New Mexico. Akal has been providing security at the State Fair since at least the mid-1980s.
“I’ve seen them grow,” Miller said. “They’re incredibly successful. They have a client servicing standard that is unheard of in the industry.”
I called my credit card who arranged, to have out visas for Vietnam sorted in Singapore. The cost was SGD$300 each and would be processed within 24 hours. A bit out of our price arrange. Something we can discuss at the hotel.
Hi, thanks for visiting my blog, feel free and have a look around.Here is a bit about me, as you may or may not have guessed my name is Mandeep,I work to travel as opposed to work to pay bills and die!Every trip for me is an adventure, I have been very fortunate to stumble across amazing places and meet awesome people along the way.
Why gaygoat? When I first started this blog I was a vegetarian, so gaygoat – happy goat! Also you have to admit it is catchy and a URL you will not forget!