This morning I went coffee-begging. I have had but one decent cup of coffee since I left the States 10 days ago. I had planned on leaving ALL addictions behind this trip, hot black delicious organic medium roast caffeine included…

Well, bullshit. I NEED some actual coffee. This Nescafé crap is an insult to my morning tastebuds. It smells like dirt and puckers my mouth with a sour chemical tang. No help with jump-starting any real brain activity, either.

Christo, a witty and handsome fellow from South Africa, succumbs to my charms/pleas and donates a single, precious cup of the real stuff to my cause. Morning sparkles once again!

Actual food for thought: seasoned ashram-ers come here equipped with little coffee presses. And coffee. And peanut butter. And Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and peppercorns in grinders and olive oil and gomasio and marmite and marmalade. Lining their cherished supplies along their chosen tables, both laying claim and securing said table as their own for the duration of their stay. The tables are thus identified and owned by their display of culinary enhancements to simple ashram fare.

“It’s better than pissing around them,” says a guy originally from San Diego but who now lives in Bulgaria. Charming! But, YES, a lot better. Tastier too.

The cool thing is, no one pinches anything. There’s a healthy bartering system in play though. A smear of peanut butter for a lug of olive oil? Done!

Apart from the coffee thing, breakfast here is wonderful. There are cereal options, but I like two warm chapatis, some fresh curd, and a blop of spicy sweet apple-ginger-chili chutney. Truly delicious. A papaya from the local market stall will be a good addition.

Then I, too, will have something to display on my table.