This food is amazing!

(This is part of my Vipassana experience in Dhamma Yoti, Myanmar in September 2018) I take my first bite and it is absolutely delicious! Wow… this food is amazing! The taste, the structure, the smell, the variety. This makes me instantly feel happy again. Another bite, yummmmm! I have to be careful not to make any sounds. I never realised, but I tend to do that a lot. Even when I’m on my own. Now I am surrounded by 75 women and I can’t make a sound. I can’t share with them how amazing I think this food is, how that excites me, because I didn’t expected it. How this is my favourite time of the day, as I love eating good food and the rest of the day is tough for me. I can’t even look at them to see if they like it as much as I do, instead I am looking at a wall. A wall with a socket in there, that I have seen every detail of already, because I’ve been looking at it every meal so far, and there are many more to follow. Then there are some windows just to my right, but they have bars in front of them, are not completely see-through and the only thing I can see through the little bit that’s open is a big wall.

I look at my plate, there’s a lot of food! I took something of everything that was there and ended up having a really full plate, a bowl of soup and a banana. (I have a banana! FInally!!) Normally the amount of food I have on my plate would be enough for 2 meals for me, and I probably would still have something left. But now I know I won’t get any dinner and the food is the only thing that makes me feel human or “normal” again. I would love to give a big hug to the people who prepare this food, to say “thank you”, or even just to bow to them with a namaste to show them how much I appreciate this food, but I’m not allowed. I will walk out this room with my eyes to the floor, avoiding all eye contact and all physical contact. Back to my room, waiting for the next gong.

I look at the little note in front of the girl next to me, the one that shows her name, age and room number. I see that she’s only 21, 21!! Poor girl… She probably didn’t have a clue where she would end up. Or maybe she did and am I just complaining a lot. By the looks of it she’s not really enjoying the food. I can’t really look at her, but she has one elbow on the metal table, her head resting in her hand and she shovels the food into her mouth. I wish I could just look her into her eyes, and see how she’s doing. Or give her a warm hug, or even touch her shoulder briefly, to let her know she’s not alone in here. Or maybe I am the one that needs to know I am not alone in here…

Being surrounded by 75 women without any sounds (except for the farting and burping that happens out loud), without any words, without any physical contact and even without any eye contact is so much harder than I ever expected. It feels like I’m in prison, with the only difference that I have chosen to be here and I know it’s only for 10 days. 8 more days before we are released again, I can’t wait!

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