Leaving Pune, India

News / Updates

Nadeen describes the events a few weeks ago that forced him to leave the Osho Meditation Resort and India.

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It was clear that something needed to be done in India in regards to the coronavirus, but it happened so sudden and radical and unexpected that I was unprepared for it. On March 19th the Indian Government ordered to isolate foreigners and to close hotels.

One day during Kundalini meditation it was announced that the Resort is closed and that all public events including meditations and courses had to be stopped. The Mystic Rose, which I was facilitating together with Siddha, was cancelled at 9 days during the process. Many people left right away and we became a small group meditating in our rooms, practising social distancing and sanitising our hands about 50 times a day…

We could no longer leave the Resort and no one from the outside was allowed to enter. Two days afterwards the Indian Government ordered the total lockdown of the entire country including stopping all flights from entering the country. Foreigners were asked to leave. In order to protect OIMR and everyone inside, it was clear that the ones who had the opportunity to leave the country had to go. Even so, the Resort felt like the best and safest place to be.

I looked at options where to go, which place in the world I could travel to and spend some relaxed time, but very quickly it became clear that there is no such place, and even if it exists somewhere I could not reach it. This is not a local situation – it is global, something which I had never experienced.

We used the new regulations as an awareness game and had fun with it. It was a valuable experience to practise the meditations independently from each other in our rooms; several of the Mystic Rose participants continued with this intense process by themselves, supported by a WhatsApp group.

Some governments implemented return programs and sent planes to India; several people at OIMR worked intensively with embassies and various visitors to get them back to their countries. Safety became the highest priority after we heard about different incidents on the roads. Due to the lockdown of all transportation, the trip from Pune to Mumbai airport became almost impossible. As possible flight dates came closer, the tension rose to get this issue resolved… Finally the German Embassy managed to arrange buses and organised all kinds of permissions to pick up Germans and other EU members and drive them to Mumbai.

We were to meet at the deserted Blue Diamond Hotel; in order to get there we walked through the maintenance gate next to the auditorium and walked in groups of two to the hotel. We had guards with us because we were not allowed to be on the streets. A surreal experience evolved: 60 to 70 people – including 16 from OIMR – met in the ballroom; it felt tense, a bit like a funeral.

In the four buses we had to keep distance and could not sit next to each other. There was no traffic on the roads, nobody at the Pune train station, barely anyone on the roads – those who know India understand how this seems impossible… It was the fasted trip I ever had from Pune to Mumbai – and I must have done this more than 50 times – no traffic jams and no blocked street crossings.

When we entered Mumbai, our four buses and a small truck here and there were the only vehicles around. The colourful advertisements on the big billboards lining the streets had been exchanged with instructions about what to do and how to protect ourselves from the coronavirus… all in the same colour.

We arrived at a closed-down 5-star hotel next to the airport where our registration process continued and where other people arrived from different locations in India, a total of around 250. We were given beautiful rooms and food was delivered in paper boxes to our rooms.

After a night at the hotel we were driven to the airport. There was no honking, no people, no cars. Outside the airport crows had begun to take over the place and it was for the first time that I could see Mumbai, how large it is. There was no pollution, the sky was blue and I could see the buildings in the far distance.

Our flight was the only one at this usually so busy airport. We were guided through check-in and immigration, followed by embassy staff or other officials – all wearing gloves and masks, some of them protective suits. It felt like a sci-fi movie – yet this was real. Security allowed us to take water bottles. All shops where wrapped up with plastic sheeting or had been emptied.

I had always wanted to be in an empty airport… all these huge hallways without anyone around, only our relatively small group. To loosen up the strange atmosphere some of us started dancing, which seemed the healthiest response to this strangeness!

Now I am sitting in the plane heading towards Frankfurt. We have no service on this flight; we pick up food again in paper boxes from the service stations, and sometimes somebody covered-up with a green hooded paper suit and mask checks that no one leaves their seat unnecessarily or even changes it.

I look forward to arrive, not knowing what to expect in Germany. It’s new for me to miss ‘normality’.


Nadeen is a facilitator for Osho’s meditative therapies. He presently resides in Germany.

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