On Eat-Pray-Love Tourists

Wham bam here’s my second post this week. (Mostly cause I’ve been neglecting the blog shamefully. Sorry, all my dear fans I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath.)

Anyway, Pune is great. We live in Koregaon Park, a very cosmopolitan area with plenty of cute little boutiques, great restaurants and international travelers.

German Bakery

German Bakery

And my favourite ...

And my favourite .

The area’s famous for the Osho International Meditation Resort, where people come from far and wide to meditate and follow the teachings of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, an (in)famous mystic whose ideas enthralled many young people all over the world in the 70s and 80s. There’s pictures of him all over our house, because the owner’s a devotee. Personally, I’ve always been a little curious about Osho, because my family is quite amusingly split in their ideas about him. While some of them are devoted followers – and have indeed visited this very ashram several times in the past – the others would prefer I had nothing to do with the resort.

I’d meant to spend a day or two inside the ashram, to decide for myself whether his teachings resonated with me or not, but I’ve been strangely turned off by the people I’ve seen frequenting it. Caroline puts it really well in one of her posts –

It was very “Eat, Pray, Love”–many foreigners (and other Indians, in Pune!) in hippie outfits, with dreadlocks, man-buns, and prayer beads… these wealthy tourists with Om tattoos eating pizza while glued to their screens on Facebook. They dressed like the Sadus, meditated and did yoga like the Sadus, but seemed as if they were searching for faith in a more superficial, self-serving way.

This is more or less what my first reaction was, too. Thinking about it though, I’ve never really understood the outrage behind cultural appropriation (for want of a better phrase) if the sentiment behind it is genuine – if you fall in love with the culture of another place, why not adopt the customs, traditions and even fashion and art that you so admire? And it is doing the wonderful medley of old and new, East and West that is Indian culture a whole other sort of disservice to assume that pizza and Facebook are removed from it – tantamount to exoticizing the whole culture at the expense of authenticity. But even so, I cannot help but agree with Caroline. There’s something off-putting about these spiritual tourists – the “real” ones seem much more, well, real.

As a traditionally religious Indian with non-Indian sensibilities and ideas, I wonder where I fall on the spectrum.  I think I will one weekend enter the ashram and see what really happens there – there are many rumours, some of which equate the place to a sort of bizarre cult. If I do, you’ll hear it here first!

Oops – For this time I’d promised the story of how I got slapped by a monkey. Well.. I guess the world will never know. 🙂 

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About Shreya Zaveri

Wharton Class of 2016, (still!) undecided concentration, from Dubai, UAE. Interning at the Dalit Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Pune. Interested in International Development and Social Entrepreurship.