Resistance Is Futile- Whining In Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar stinks. A sickly combination of cow shit, open sewage and human urine overwhelms the smelling sensation.  It is noisy as well. The deafening sounds of hundreds of cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles constantly honking keeps me up way past 23:00 each night and wakes me up roughly around 05:30 in the morning. It is  dusty and sandy and it lacks pavements. Human beings, cows and other non-wheeled sentient beings stroll to the side of the roads. Capital of the poorest state of India, aesthetic is not a priority for Bhubaneswar.

The flat I’ve been allocated is right by a main junction, thus  I cannot escape the honking and stench even in my bedroom. I share the flat with two other ex-pats: Juliet and Anna. Potentially the flat is a good one. It is very big and has a fully equipped kitchen. I have a bed , a wooden table, a plastic chair and a closet. Other than that the flat is unfurnished. So we live in a really vast empty space. Functional, but not warm or inviting. Traveling to the office takes 50 minutes by bus followed by 1 km by foot.

A Sense of Renunciation  

What else? There are only about 15 ex-pats other than myself leaving in Bhubaneswar at the moment. Most of them will be gone within a couple of months. The development professionals who are not VSO volunteers not only have actual salaries, they also received nice allowance from their NGOs to purchase furniture to furnish their houses. They can also afford to buy cheese and fly instead of taking ridiculously long train journeys. Some of them even have drivers and cars and generally a complete different lifestyle to mine.

I have opted to join the VSO. It has a humble approach which I preferred and appreciate but the allowance I receive doesn’t really allow me or my colleague to purchase any meaningful furniture so it looks like my house will remain empty for a while. I got to say this is the first time since I’ve landed in India a month ago that I feel a sense of renunciation. For the first time I feel that I actually am giving up on more favorable conditions to “save the world”.

Last week was challenging and in the heat of events I temporarily forgot that arriving into India to carry out a development project is a dream coming true. That this is exactly what I’ve aspired for and worked really hard to get. It is just that my visualizations and aspirations of this project failed to include stench, dust, empty living room or daily two hours commute to work.  At one point yesterday afternoon, as I was waiting for 45 minutes for a bus, under the burning sun of 35 degrees celsius, I even entertained the thought that accepting a placement in Bhubaneswar has been  a mistake. I truly felt sorry for “myself”. For a minute there I believed my story.

Resistance in Futile.

So…… I’ve spent the last few days complaining. Whining. Comparing. Wanting what I don’t have. Not wanting what I have. Not accepting reality. Resisting what is.

And “I” suffer.

Of course “I” would.

I don’t know how many times I was told and how many times I was telling others – resistance in futile. It is our resistance of reality that increases our own pain. Our own sufferings. The past few days have been a great reminder of that basic fundamental truth.

My personal definition to the pali word “dukkha” which  translates into suffering, discomfort, dissatisfaction or stress, is any moment we resist what is. Any moment we don’t accept what life offers we are suffering. I’ve had plenty of those moments over the past week. Not accepting what life offers. Wanting things to be different than they are. Forgetting nothing is personal. And I suffer the consequences.


In a spirit of self compassion, conditions are far from being easy or favorable and it is understandable that I will be challenged.  In the spirit of allowing things to be what they are I simply allow this whining phase to exist and exhaust itself. There is no point resisting the resistance. This, too, is happening.

I also try to apply my beloved teacher, U-Vivekananda’s,  teachings: “so I suffer, so I’m in pain, so what?”.  I know. I deeply know that this is just another impersonal mental formation. I know it is OK exactly the way it is – with the unpleasantness involved. I also know things are bound to change. As this is the nature of everything. So, I let Adva whine.


Yet, there are at least a couple of good things too about Bhubaneswar. First and foremost I like the office and the people at AAINA. Everyone is extremely hospitable and people go out of their way to make me feel comfortable and at home. Staff members took me around to shop for essentials, made sure my needs were met and were genuinely curious to get to know me. I also very much like my new flatmates.

So, in the name of fairness and for the sake of balancing this whiny post, please allow me to share my thoughts on some of the people and things I’m truly grateful for in the past few days. The order of listed sentences is random:

  1. Prakahsh from AAINA who picked me up at the station on Thursday night, made sure I get safely to my new home in BBS and even bought dinner
  2. Juliet who waited for us in the flat and welcomed us so warmly and informatively
  3. Parvati who sweeps and washes the floor of our home every single day
  4. Akshe from AAINA who drove me all over the city for hours so I could get my a sim card and a data card and my keys duplicated and a window screen. Not an easy task, I’m telling you
  5. Sneha, the director of AAINA who made me feel very welcome on my first day at the office
  6. Joyshna from AAINA who arranged all the picking up and driving around
  7. Anna, my flatmate, for her presence
  8. Priya – for making me feel so much at home in Delhi and for giving me a whole Indian ward raw
  9. Drew – for being so sweet and stable over the past three weeks  during the country orientation
  10. Ross – for your kindness and generosity and outgoing heart and for sticking it out when no one else wants to deal with things
  11. Rinky Singh – for your motherly welcome and hospitality and your deep curiosity and inclination towards the essence of what is
  12. Paven – for welcoming us and for being so funny and so honest
  13. Mike – for your friendship  and for chilled out attitude and for coaching me in basketball for the first time in my life
  14. Shekhar boker – for introducing me to a whole  new dimension of India and for the donates
  15. For not having a Delhi Belli as of yet
  16. For the opportunity to visit McLeod Gunj for a weekend
  17. For the beautiful people who took care of  me on the way down from the Himalayan last week
  18. Grace  – my fellow yogini for your inner beauty and courage
  19. Namgio – for the meaningful conversation and for reminding me to take a good deep look at my virtue
  20. Miles – for coordinating a retreat of our beloved Vivekananda to Israel
  21. For the fish curry I had for lunch today
  22. For the comfortable crocks I’m wearing today
  23. For not being bitten by mosquitoes too badly
  24. For sitting in a temple today and listening to Mike Snider talks about infinity
  25. For being invited to pancakes evening tonight
  26. For my mother’s care
  27. For being able to fulfil my tax documents on time
  28. For being offered to apply for an exciting training opportunity in Afghanistan
  29. For listening to Shlomo Artzi’s Gever Holech Le-Ibod over and over again
  30. For sensing the inner life
  31. For being able to smell stench
  32. For being able to hear honks
  33. For having a healthy body that can walk
  34. For having eyes that can see
  35. For the food I’ve been eating in one of the poorest countries in the world
  36. For not having too many power cuts
  37. For bringing an electric kettle from Israel with me
  38. For having brown bread for breakfast yesterday
  39. For the appealing grapes I bought yesterday
  40. For being upgraded to 1st class on the train to BBS and being pampered like a maha raja all the way
  41. For Carl –for your long email
  42. Shelly – for the same reason and I still owe you one
  43. Mark – for taking the time to reply despite
  44. Gidi – for your friendship, your kindness and endless wisdom
  45. Jolene – for remembering me and writing to inquire how I was doing
  46. For buying a new yoga mat
  47. For sitting meditation
  48. For not needing to use the mosquito net
  49. For having a water filter in the kitchen
  50. Mira – for cooking me an beautiful lunch the other day
  51. For being able to fix my spaces in Delhi
  52. For watching Superman 1978!!!
  53. For finding a yoga school in Bhubaneswar
  54. For finding an Odisha dance teacher
  55. for writing and posting this blog

*My apologies to all my present and future friends in Bhubaneswar for the blunt words I’m using and for the grim presentation of the city. It is of course not personal and wasn’t meant to offend anyone.


About advaharma

Been fascinated by the mystery of life ever since I can remember. Have been practicing meditation for more than 20 years. Dedicated two years to an ongoing silent meditation retreat whilst living in Buddhist monasteries in Nepal and Burma. A Yogi and a Front Line Humanitarian.
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8 Responses to Resistance Is Futile- Whining In Bhubaneswar

  1. Robert Narayan-Taylor says:

    Dear Adva – what a lovely e-mail – took me right back to Calcutta 1974 – much the same kind of place still – I couldn’t bring myself to leave my hotel room for a whole week after landing – avoidance or what? But India crept up on me and one night, in Benares, in the presence of some ganja smoking sadhu, with a myriad sweet pungent smells from the spice shops and to the background of the cremations by the river, I realized that you never find India – she finds you – when you are ready. It seems you are more than ready – enjoy

  2. Fabien says:

    Thank you Adva for your posts. It is lovely to hear your news and share with us your tribulation. It does make us all realise how much we do take for granted the things we have over here. I expect you meant “electric kettle” not cattle unless I am mistaken. I know there are a lot of cows in India roaming everywhere, not need to import one from Israel I imagine. 😉 Resistance “is” indeed futile (typo error), that’s my favourite quote from Star Trek.

    I wish you the very best & thanks again for keeping us abreast with the essential. God bless u. Metta. Fabien 🙂 xx

  3. Richard says:

    You truly are walking your talk. Well done! It’s a good thing you’re writing a blog. I find it helpful to refer to something I’ve written when I’m feeling low.


    Richard x

  4. lekshey says:

    very nice where r u now which place u r?n if u can then plz send me u pictures ok

  5. Boris Levin says:

    Live long and prosper! 🙂

  6. Fabien says:

    At my local meditation group tonight, I read your post. Totally inspiring. I have also posted this on my facebook page which is most relevant. Hope you like it too. See below.
    “Moving through Darkness
    The Places We Go

    Often it takes something major to wake us up as we struggle to maintain an illusion of control.

    In life, most of us want things to go to the places we have envisioned ourselves going. We have plans and visions, some of them divinely inspired, that we want to see through to completion. We want to be happy, successful, and healthy, all of which are perfectly natural and perfectly human. So when life takes us to places we didn’t consciously want to go, we often feel as if something has gone wrong, or we must have made a mistake somewhere along the line, or any number of other disheartening possibilities. This is just life’s way of taking us to a place we need to go for reasons that go deeper than our own ability to reason. These hard knocks and trials are designed to shed light on our unconscious workings and deepen our experience of Reality.

    Often it takes something major to wake us up, to shake us loose from our ego’s grip as it struggles to maintain an illusion of control. It is loss of control more than anything else that humbles us and enables us to see the big picture. It reminds us that the key to the universe lies in what we do not know, and what we do know is a small fraction of the great mystery in which we live. This awareness softens and lightens us, as we release our resistance to what is. Another gift gleaned from going to these seemingly undesirable places is that, in our response to difficulty, we can see all the patterns and unresolved emotional baggage that stand in the way of our unconditional joyfulness. Joy exists within us independently of whether things go our way or not. And when we don’t feel it, we can trust that we will find it if we are willing to surrender to the situation, moving through it as we move through our difficult feelings.

    We can take our inspiration from any fairy tale that finds its central character lost in a dark wood, frightened and alone. We know that the journey through the wood provides its own kind of beauty and richness. On the other side, we will emerge transformed, lighter and brighter, braver and more confident for having moved through that darkness.”

    PS: would a small donation to help you along be useful? Do let me know via email. Love & light 🙂 x

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