Posted by: lilyhamburger | November 8, 2009


There is music blaring through my open window from some crazy glittery celebration going on just outside the ashram. It could be a wedding – I don’t know. But there are fireworks involved. Gorgeous singing, accompanied by drum and bells is punctuated by what sounds like a mic test but is a prayer service of some kind. In general, this ashram, though it sometimes seems counter intuitive, is one of the noisiest places I have ever lived. The city sends cacophonous ruckus over the ashram walls through all hours of the day and night. Let me give you a taste:
First of all, you have to imagine a city where horns are not honked in emergency situations as at home,but are rather used as a friendly “hey how are ya” in a world with barely a traffic law in effect (mom, you can stop imagining right now). The culture of horn-honking is baffling, but let me tell you – it is incessant. It sounds obnoxious, and at times it is, but here actually it’s encouraged! Most commercial vehicles, auto-rickshaws, and even some private vehicles proudly declare “Horn Please Ok” between their tail lights. Part of what they mean, I think, is “please honk to tell me you are there so when I am swerving around all these other rickshaws/two-wheelers
(motorcycles)/cars/bikes/trucks/busses/animals/pedestrians I have a slightly lower chance of colliding with you.”
Whoa this music is amazing.
Ok the other thing that is incessant, believe it or not, is fireworks. Last night, in honor of this seikh guru’s birthday, it sounded like we were in a friggin war zone! Fireworks were being set off just outside the gate from my room and it was impossibly loud! Before last night people were seting off their leftovers from Divali, the Hindu festival of lights which ended last week just before we arrived. So every evening at nightfall we enjoy a scattered display of colors in the sky and our dinners are accompanied by loud booming from all directions. This continues to all hours of the night.
I wake some mornings to a sounds which at first I couldn’t identify as a train clanging down the tracks or a parade coming down the street. Turns out the siekh temple on the corner loves bells. At 6. Me too.

So I admittedly wrote that a week ago but hadn’t been able to post it yet. Last night, after returning home late from a theatre performance (!) we heard the music blaring once again. We thought it was from a celebration that the ashram was hosting last night, but no. It was once again from right over the wall behind the girls’ house. So, naturally, we went to investigate. Investigation led to dancing round and round with hundreds of people decked out in spraking amazing festival garb under lights and garlands and tinsel stretched across the street. We were led to a little shrine where we paid respects to one Hindu god/goddess or another and were adorned with bindis (the red dot on the forehead). More dancing. I was glad I didnt have bells on my feet like the other women because it would have given away when I stepped out of time…after we went back to our side of the wall we continued to dance with some guys that work at the ashram. But the people at the party must have gone round and round in their bells and sparkles until about 5am. I don’t think the singer ever stopped. Whoa.



  1. Oh my goodness, Lily! This sounds terribly amazing and I admire you so much for adventuring out to experience this! I would love to do something like this soon =] I am so excited you are blogging about it so we can see what you are up to! I will read every blog<3

    I miss you! I love you =]


  2. WOW! I wish I was there!

    • 4am calls to WORSHIP are the BEST!!! LOL!!! SOOOO JEALOUS just reading this is taking me back! I miss you and india! I have this funny thing to send you Indian Rules of the Road its going to have you rolling!

  3. Oh man, I hope those fireworks are as good as our 4th of July ones, complete with “subplots in the lower sky”. I greatly enjoyed this posting, Hammy. Keep up the adventures!

  4. Yay, Lily! Braving rats, charming elephants and camels in broad daylight, dancing and singing – the usual Lily Love Infusion offered to the world! Your blog is a treat for us folks at home. xoxo from all 6 of us in NYC, Melisssa

  5. amazing wonder…you go baby girl

  6. constant music, dancing and singing? people who are always down for a celebration? this sounds like ET heaven to me! 🙂

    Miss you and wish I was there with you!!

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