I've been told I'll be privately flogged if I don't update this thing so here I am making a halfhearted stab at it.
Amma was amazing (she's in NYC this weekend).
The moment I got there I did the equivalent of locking my keys in the car, only worse because the locks don't work, and started flipping out. Prior to accidentally locking the doors, I'd driven to Indian Lakes via many expressways (four) in a car with no AC and had gone past the place once or twice before searching forever for a parking space amid much cursing, so I was more than a little perturbed. Well on my way to a meltdown, actually.
But the first person I saw inside the door was Miss Y, and when I told her my predicament she said "We should call Triple A." And we did, and they came (eventually) after we had enjoyed a lovely repast (South Indian food!). The man they sent took *a really long time* getting my car door open (the insides are rusty or something). But he eventually opened it, thank Amma. We went back in, and my mind was at ease and my body quite pleased with the AC.
Our friends had a hotel room where we cooled off between programs and watched the wee boys spar; later we were standing for the evening program when some men came up out of nowhere and placed chairs under our arses! Amma told stories that were translated by a handsome man with an untraceable accent (she speaks Malayalam, the language of Kerala, which is really gutteral). Then the darshan (hugging) began.
I went up to one of the white-clad Seva (selfless service, which a Miss Y points out is different from shellfish service) people and asked if I could get a real token, since the token I'd gotten earlier was a token for a token, only good if there was room for me. Apparently there was, and I got a number. After some waiting and more food and the obligatory shop-asana (one amazing CD and one clunker, it turns out) I got a hug! It was very moving and hard to describe; I felt like some long-chilled part of my heart had finally melted and suddenly there was a feeling of ease and the knowledge that everything would indeed be OK (of course everything's since frozen back up. But that's another story). During it she muttered in my ear and I remembered how much I miss my real mother, and she pressed a Hershey's kiss and flower petal into my hand. It felt very unrushed.
It was so intense (ie my burden felt so much lighter after that), I returned for more after teaching the next day, and stayed til 2AM. The second hug was more like the first one I'd ever gotten (three years ago in Lisle, when her handlers were rough and kind of mean), meaning I didn't feel much. I was trying to express thanks, which is probably wrong. Also I was probably too tired to feel much. But the evening program was incredibly beautiful, with the chanting and stories (some of which were very funny) and meditating and whatnot. Also some lovely yoga people were there and we enjoyed a long, leisurely, Mysore-ish meal together. Did I mention how amazing the music was? Apparently it was performed by Satsang Chicago, which is a local organization devoted to Amma. They're incredible; they played forever, facing her onstage. Later I spent some time eating uppama while sitting outside, where you could see the actual stars and smell the night air, before my number was finally called. I'd go back in a minute if she were still here.....
*In the meantime, if you are feeling miserable / invisible / nonexistent and Amma is out of town, you can get some validation and adoration by donning full Indian dress and going to Dunkin' Donuts. I recommend going inside rather than driving through. While there try the Mango Coolata or Decaf Iced Coffee with Coconut. It's the best defense against summer.
The other thing you can do is read this