I’m sitting on the verandah of the Ashram “house” (which Marc calls “The Palace”). It’s a white marble and red sandstone three-storey house in one corner of the Ashram, where Guruji and Shree live year-round and some of the volunteers stay when visiting. Kate and I are working on the cookbook for the Yoga and Wellness retreat being planned here for next year.

Kate is head-down on Guruji’s laptop working in her special software to layout the pages. I’m filtering through the hundreds of photos we took yesterday to find a few that encapsulate Ashram life and squeeze 18 hours of vibrant, colourful, hilarious, life-changing awe into one or two frames.

I really can’t believe my luck. This Ashram has a 6-hour “karma yoga” program in which you exchange 6 hours of your special skills work for room and board, Satsang (spiritual lectures), daily yoga, and the opportunity to tag along with Guruji on programs, trips to the desert etc. So… it’s really heavily skewed to the “get” on the “give and get” spectrum.

On arrival, Marc and I weren’t sure whether we would like to do the 3-hour program in which you do non-specialized work such as cleaning the kitchen and pay 750 rupees per night (about $15 CAD) or the 6-hour program. We were hesitant to do the 6 hour program because we felt like we didn’t travel to India to sit at a desk and do computer work, which is where our “special skills” lie. Well, I immediately jumped ship to the 6-hour program once I heard how I could help: take photos for the marketing materials being worked-up for the new Wellness retreat next year.

No wait, it gets better. Take photos of cooking demonstrations for the program. And, hold your horses, manage food posts on their blog. I’ll take a second helping of yes please.

So, I’m having the time of my life because Shree arranges between 1 and 3 cooking demonstrations of authentic, fresh Rajasthani food for us to cook (I mean, record the recipe in English) and sample (I mean… stage a bowl of it for a few photos) and I get to learn about staging photographs from the super-creative and experienced Kate and then spend time on my laptop learning more about WordPress editing. #winning

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Kate used to work for a creative design agency that created menus and marketing materials for restaurants and she’s got an eye for how to arrange things in a photograph. I do ok myself, but I’m learning a lot from her too.

This post is 50% sharing info about what I’m up to and, let’s face it, 50% an opportunity (manufactured by moi) to post some of the best photos that Kate and I took.

P.S. Some recipes are live on the Ashram’s blog now, with more being posted in the coming months. I’ll also be sharing a couple of recipes here on MY blog, stay tuned!! For the rest… well, you will just need to get invited over to my house for dinner, won’t you? You can bring the wine.

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