description of her experiences in Mysore is funny and poignant,
evocative of how it must feel to go straight from the world
of advertising in London to yogic India. Particularly so
was the account of her near-fatal encounter with Indian
tap water, courtesy of a fellow traveller’s belief
in the ayurvedic principle of being at one with the universe.
It was a pity that she didn’t warn her guests that
her home made ginger cordial contained tap water potentially
laced with dangerous nasties! Lucy describes her stomach
as doing a very good impression of a water melon, and on
finding a doctor ‘”I want to go home”
cried Lucy, aged six and three quarters’. I know exactly
what she meant! Still, this, and all other encounters of
various kinds are described with such humour and insight
that you almost don’t realise just how brave she was
to be making this journey, and how much wisdom is being
gained. It creeps up on you as the book progresses.
After Mysore Lucy experiences the regime and rules of the
Sivananda Ashram in Kerala. Here she encounters the aptly
nicknamed Swoony Swami, and sees beyond his racing-driver
good looks to a wonderfully peaceful and inspiring presence.
It is here that she starts to feel the need to change, to
stop seeing finding a man as the answer, and focus instead
on her spiritual development independent of anyone else.
Lucy concluded that ashram life was good for her, both physically
and mentally, although she was happy to escape from her
room-mate’s snoring and the inch-thick mattresses.
After serious abstinence from all vices plunging headlong
into New Year celebrations is described as a sort of decadent
anticlimax resulting in hungover regret!
The book continues with entertaining and insightful accounts
of time spent at numerous ashrams and yoga schools. As she
travels Lucy starts to view yoga and spiritual development
through the eyes of the ordinary people of India, such as
waiters, tailors, and government officials that she met.
They see yoga as a way of being, and the world as their
school, akin to our university of life perhaps. To them
it is not a physical goal or a quest for the perfect body.
They might practise breathing, meditation, and a few exercises
at home, informally and often alone rather than in classes
or groups. Lucy concludes that their happiness is in the
here and now, with little regard for material wealth, and
this is probably the most important learning she returned
home with. Alongside this she has many more tales to tell
about gurus, both real and suspect, and westerner’s
antics. Faking a Tantric orgasm with an Australian who normally
spends his time healing washing machines using astrology,
crystals, and Tantric energy is a personal favourite.
On top of a highly entertaining, insightful, and evocative
read, there are a few little presents at the back of this
book. Firstly there is a recipe for apple muffins, which
I am looking forward to trying. Secondly a very useful glossary
covering many yoga and hindu terms – it was from this
I first learnt that ‘OM’ incarnates the original
sound of the universe, I had been OMing mindlessly before
that! Thirdly and fourthly, there is a list of useful contacts
and further reading.
This book is definitely on my ‘must read’ list,
and my thanks to Lucy Edge for sharing her experiences with
us. Living proof that if you really want to you can transform
your life and have plenty of fun along the way.
About Lucy Edge:
Before this life-changing trip to India Lucy was a director
of a top advertising agency in London, working very long
hours and sometimes unable to work out what she was achieving.
Since returning from India she has down sized to a small
flat in North-West London and moderated many of her previous
expensive habits. She is now working on her second book,
and has a part-time job in research. She reckons that she
is happier than she has ever been and would consider it
a great honour to be viewed as an ‘ordinary’
Indian, so long as she can still indulge in the odd chocolate
peanut and glass of white wine.