Day of Obstacles

Can’t imagine what this day would have been like if Rajeesh, our driver, hadn’t bought three malas to hang around his Ganesh on the dashboard. We really needed the “Remover of Obstacles” today.

 

 

The trip from Varanasi to Agra started well with an 8:30 a.m. departure, leaving the cobblestone streets and moving onto a highway, much like an interstate in the U.S. except for the herds of cows occasionally in the middle of the road.

 

 

Fascinated by the landscape, as always, I love seeing the green squares of the rice fields.

 

 

 

We pass mango trees and Richard had to stop and buy a bag full. He was soon entertaining everyone at the roadside stand and handing out bank pens. The mangoes were incredibly sweet and delicious.

 

 

I continued landscape gazing as we drove on. We passed at least a dozen brick kilns with loads of bricks stacked around in the fields. That certainly explained all the brick structures one sees in every village.

 

 

The day began to go wrong about midday when the air conditioning in the car went out. It was in the high 90s outside. It took more than an hour to find a mechanic who worked on air conditioning, a young Muslim man in a crocheted white skull cap.

 

 

We sat under a tree at the gate to the Radiance Public School while he fixed the car.

Restored to coolness, we resumed our travels until just about 30 minutes outside of Agra. There, traffic came to a complete halt in the pouring rain. We sat in the stifling heat for more than an hour, waiting, we eventually discovered, for an ambulance to arrive for a wreck up ahead. I won’t share the details of the wreck because it’s a sad story.

Eventually traffic began to move at about 10:00 p.m., and we spend a half hour trying to find the hotel. We reach the West Gate to the Taj Mahal where our hotel is located at about 11:00. Finally, we learn this hotel is also not accessible by car, so we walk down an alley, past an obnoxious man guarding the entrance, and wearily find our rooms.

Ganesh, were you there?

Images: Photos courtesy of Richard Furlough.

The Evolving Dinner Table

Our dinner table companions are an evolving international group. Homelands represented include Singapore, an island off Mauritius, Bali, England, Germany, France (Brittany), Iran, Argentina (by way of Skelmersdale and Dubai), and—claiming the largest percentage—Australia and New Zealand.

 

Some people have been coming to the Ayurvedic clinic in Delhi for years; others, like I, are here for the first time. Some are long-time meditators; others know little about TM; while still others practice other forms of meditation.  Some have simply heard about it from a friend. All come with interesting stories and backgrounds to share.

One interesting family includes David and Eva Lucas and their two lovely daughters. The family has lived in India for four years, using the time to tour all around India while their daughters finish their schooling via the Internet. The knowledge they share about India is fascinating and helpful.

 

Another companion, Cora from Argentina via Skelmersdale and Dubai, has been coming here for years. She knows all the “ins” and “outs” of the clinic and kindly shares that knowledge.

 

 

Cora has an “in” with the cook Bijender and talked him into making delicious noodles one night for everyone (the food is always wonderful). When Cora left, her lovely sister Ana joined us, and we continue to enjoy this family.

 

 

One dinner companion, a charming young Frenchman named Denis from Brittany, plays the sitar and entertains everyone who sits next to him at dinner. A slim, quicksilver individual, Denis devours five chapattis at each  meal and questions why I don’t  eat more!

 

Another charming man from New Zealand, named Mark, one minute tells us about his pregnant wife and the next explains the rules of cricket to us. You may remember Mark from a previous post when he served as our face-pack model.

 

 

Our dinner population shifts as people arrive and depart, but meals always provide a pleasant, social conviviality that everyone looks forward to during the day. Good food. Charming companions. The good life far from home.

Images: Photos courtesy of Richard Furlough.

Leaving India

RajujiDr. Raju: Doesn’t seem possible that we have been in India almost five weeks and we’re leaving tonight. While at the clinic, it has been an honor to see and be treated by Dr. Raju, the renowned Ayurvedic physician. Linda describes his presence as feeling like father is at home. We honor him. Our thanks to all the staff here who have made us feel so welcome and well-cared-for during our stay.

The Lucas Sisters: One highlight of our last week here was the opportunity to hear the lovely Lucas sisters sing ragas one afternoon. Ragas are a traditional form of Indian songs that are lyrical and often have complex musical runs. The pure, clear voices of Kamala and Jahnavi Lucas brought bliss and joy to hearts. I look forward to hearing tapes of their performances. If I had had no other experience in India, that performance would have made the trip worthwhile.

New Friends: Lastly, I want to say goodbye to all the wonderful people we met while at the clinic. When we left, I rushed off to straighten some things out at the front desk, forgetting I wouldn’t have another chance to say farewell to everyone. So now I take the opportunity to say good-bye. I hope our paths cross again. In the meantime, befriend me on Facebook, if you are so inclined, and we can stay connected.

Then it’s time for the airport and a last goodbye to the welcoming elephants.

 

 

 

 

Dudley and Sebastian: And a day later, I am home with my buddies, Dudley and Sebastian. They are getting used to my being back, and I am getting used to being in my own laws of nature. Meanwhile, my laptop, my garbage disposal, and my land-line phone are not working–a  little chaos spilling out of the transition to home, but it feels good, and so do I.

India, I wish you the full sunshine of the Age of Enlightenment. Namaste.

 

 

Images: All photos except last two courtesy of Richard Furlough.