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Yoga Delight Blog

Topic for my first blog article should have been my second trip to India, six weeks Goa, where I was doing a teacher training with my teacher Balu. I did not know what I was going to write about when I left, but a few days after arriving in Arambol I did – "the money problem". No, I did not miscalculate my finances, "the money problem" means, there was no cash in India. The government just devaluated all 500 and 1000 rupie notes, reason: all black money outside the bank should become fire paper. As you can imagine, printing new bills for a country of the size of India needs some time, and if you calculate that all this happens in India you can add a few more days – when you're an optimist. In reality we talk about a few weeks. But how does it feel to arrive in a country where nobody can pay anything? No matter how many travels you've done so far, this experience was certainly new.

Some shops accepted the old money but even these bills you had trouble to get – maximum 20 Euro, which included endless queuing, running from empty ATM to another empty ATM and the never ending talks about "the money problem": Who got cash where and when, who was able to pay what so far, who borrowed money from where, where could you get a tap for your meals. With card you can pay hardly anywhere in Goa and most Indians do not have a bank account either. So I arrived and was certainly stressed, I managed to exchange a bit of money but three days later had to find out how to get new cash to pay at least for some water and food. I cannot live well when I know that I owe money to someone – suddenly I had debts all over the place and no chance to pay it back for the moment. I was more uncomfortable than the people I owed the money to, as everybody knew: I cannot pay, as much as any other tourist. There is hardly any cash around. Fact.

The Indians reacted extremely friendly, although they actually had the worst business as tourists did not buy more than just the most necessary, had taps for accomodation and in restaurants and the owners did not know if they would see the money ever again. And for sure, quite a few did not get it, but this was not the end of the world for them, that was just the situation. At some point I relaxed into this unknown and thought – well, then I just have to wait. It cannot stay like this forever, some solution will always be found and there was no catastrophic event hitting us, we just had no money. None of us. Over weeks there was this one topic which united us – "the money problem". This way, among strangers a kind of teamwork and trust started to develop: We gave each other our credit cards including PIN, so only one had to go to the ATM, called banks and Western Union in a common mission, helped each other out. At the start we had to reduce our consumption to the necessary, which is completely different from just trying to save money. There was a special kind of bonding, not regarding nationality or origin. Even sympathy played a minor role in this "money problem" game. All that counted was: How are WE going to manage this now? And as long as we are healthty we don't really have a problem, just a challenge, which might be annoying and takes up some time, but also makes us creative. 

As much as it worried me in the beginning, the more I am grateful now for this experience. I developed a special laid-back attitude towards things I cannot change, but which forced me every day again to find solutions – and to realize, what is possible, when we all work with and not against each other. The Indians could have made life difficult for us, but they didn't, and probably lost out this way, but they did not seem to worry. As my teacher Balu said: In the end we will all become ash, so why poison our time on earth with worry, greed, envy or hate instead of being happy with what is, and not worry about what might come.

Arambol, Goa, India, 22/11/2016