Tuesday, January 18, 2011

10 Glorious days in Dhamma Malaya-Part 1

It feels like how Gulliver would have felt returning from Brobdingnag. 10 days in Dhamma Malaya, serving in the kitchen as Kitchen Manager and cook for Indian food, I had gotten so used to huge woks and huge pots, that returning home and to my own kitchen makes everything look so small!

What an enriching experience it was! After a lovely, hectic trip to Cambodia I was off on the 5th of January 2011 to Dhamma Malaya, Kuantan, Malaysia. We ( 2 ladies who were doing the course & I) reached the center at around 6pm. I was a little surprised when informed that my role as Dhamma server would be to manage the kitchen. I was not much of a foodie, and though I cooked frequently at home never took much interest in it compared to other women I knew. However, I had come to serve in Dhamma Malaya and was happy to do so in any capacity and was willing to take up this role.

Serving in India does not involve cooking or helping in the kitchen as centers engage paid labour for this purpose. Huge numbers throng the centers so the kitchen has to be managed by professional cooks and managers. In most other countries the kitchen is managed by old meditators who come to serve in the center. Dhamma Malaya has a fairly organized kitchen with a recipe file that include the menu for 10 days, such that anyone coming there to cook would just have to follow the instructions.

This was the second time I was serving full time outside of India. The earlier one was as course manager in Singapore. As I have been serving as Children's Course Teacher (CCT) for many years, I did not particularly go to serve in a 10 day course. However, this time when the opportunity presented itself and I had a strong volition to serve, I was glad to be there as Kitchen Manager.

The teachers for this course were Ms. Jennifer Lin, originally from Taiwan but lives in the US and Mr. Jayesh Soni, from India, who had visited my house in Singapore. This was the second course that Jayeshji was conducting in Dhamma Malaya.

In the 10 days that followed, I found myself gaining a lot of experience in leadership, human relations, planning & decision making and interpersonal communication--a truly rich & invaluable experience. I will be writing the highlights of each day separately in the next blog.

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