"I have been here before", is the first thought that comes to mind as I arrive at Osho Tapoban, an ashram in Kathmandu where I am about to embark on my first ever meditation course. I wasn't looking for inner peace when I came here four years ago, all I wanted from this place was a banana lassi and a chocolate brownie. Little did I know then that I would come back to participate in a meditation camp. Ha! Last time I visited Nepal, watching old hippies float through Freak Street was about the biggest dose of spirituality I could take. I didn't get why all book shops were packed with stacks of self help guides and why all spiritual masters offering their services look like dirty old men who use chakra alignment as a way to get in your pants. Any word on meditation or ashrams would result in me rolling eyes and yelling out my kind of spirituality comes wrapped in a chocolate bar.
Four years later I still worship chocolate and the melting sensation on my tongue is the closest to meditation I've ever been. But I'm open to an inner journey that doesn't involve stuffing my face with sweets. I don't know what to expect from this experience, but I'm in Nepal and this time it's strangely easy to float along with meditating hippies and soul searchers. So yes, I'm new to this. And yes, that means people at the reception of the ashram can sell me things I don't even need for more money than I would ever spend on spiritual supplies. But as I said, I'm new to this stuff and all those goodies give me the feeling I am ready for what is about to come. So off I go, with arms full of Osho books, a maroon robe, a white robe, eye masks and an empty space where my wallet and confidence used to be. I'm getting out of my cocoon and I'm jumping into the deep end, broke as ever but with enthusiasm.
I open the door to my room and bounce back as I see Osho's big smiling face looking at me from the opposite wall. Not a picture in a nice frame or a teenage room type of poster, no. A wall full of Osho. Not even teenagers would go that far. But we are in Osho Tapoban, and life here turns around one bearded man only. Statues and quotes of the master decorate the garden. His style of meditation is taught here and soon I will find out it is very different from your average 'sitting in lotus position for hours in silence' meditation. I catch a glimpse of the dynamic morning class. People in maroon robes wearing eye masks screaming their lungs out, jumping up and down while making monkey sounds, then freezing like living statues, then dancing to happy music after which they walk to the breakfast buffet as if nothing happened. This is going to be an interesting week.