6/20/2010

India visit diary

We arrived in Delhi at 9 pm. Sai Baba was giving a public darshan at an open stadium 15 minutes drive from the airport. We arrived and the event was completely over. We didn’t despair but were disappointed.
Later, we read online that he was heading to Shimla. 111 degrees in Delhi. Should we follow Sai Baba to Shimla? The most expensive mountain resort town… hmmm. I heard the John Cale song “You’re a ghost, na na na na an na na na na na.” In my head, when ever we were going to make a rash move. We just arrived in Delhi and must stay and get to understand where we were before moving on. We visited with Maya Kosvskaya at an art opening and met people that we would like to be friends with in the future. People who reminded us of our favorite people in nyc.
So, I opened the Rumi poetry book for guidance about how day three is going. The poem was something about stopping at a teahouse on the road instead of making it to our destination. I fell asleep wondering about the meaning of this poem, then woke up at 2 am and researched online to see where Sai Baba would be the next day. I was very surprised and pleased that he was scheduled to lecture in Delhi once again, the next day, a Saturday.

My favorite conversation that Saturday was with a nine year old girl named Nakila who sat a few ladies away from Martha and I in the crowd of women waiting for the Darshan. The women and men sat separate from each other, packed on the floor, the women like sardines. No water allowed, we drank tap water handed out by the attending disciples. I still remember the faces of some of the women sitting near us. In between Nakila and I were a few elderly and thirty something women who listened in while Nakila and I talked. She complimented me on the scarves we’d bought outside and across the street since we were required to wear a shawl like thing. They said, cover yourself. I thought, what am I covering? Breasts? We found pink and orange scarves. Martha’s had rainbow holographic dots.
Nakila sat on her mom’s lap and initiated a conversation. She’d been to Amrika to visit her aunt. Nakila said, “In India you get charged 200 rupis for something I would pay 50 rupis. In America, I would pay the same price as you.”
I said, “Yes, you would. But the real question is, is it worth for me to bother arguing with the person in India charging me much more?”
Nakila said, “I don’t know. In America, if a dog is hit by a car, the police come. Everyone stops to take care of the dog. In India, no one stops, and no one cares.”
We had a charming calm discussion about that and other things.
I said, “Nakila. In Delhi, the drivers use their horns constantly to communicate their position on the road and to say, I’m coming through, or I’m passing you from behind, or I am cutting you off, beep, beep. In America, the drivers never use their horns except as a warning of danger. Beep. Beep.”
After some time had passed, Nakila said, “Shelley. Shelley. How can you be so quiet?”
I said, “When you’re quiet, you can listen. To what’s around you, but also to what’s inside of you.”
We were most likely among a handful of westerners if there were any others at all, with the women packed in like sardines in the tent in 111 degree weather. Did I mention that already?
I looked over to see how Nakila was doing. The women around her told her that I was calling her. Then she called out, “Shelley, Shelley, these people around me said you called?”
This happened twice.
I said, “No, I didn’t call you, Nakila. I just looked over to see how you are doing. How are you?”
Nakila said, “These people have it in for me. They keep teasing me.”
I said, No one has it in for you!”
She disagreed.
After Sai Baba gave darshan, and everyone stood up, an elderly woman, maybe in her late 80s, approached and chatted away to me in Hindi. She kept touching the top of my head, maybe because I got the transmission? She kept chatting, and smiling enthusiastically. I smiled back but said, “I don’t understand what you are saying.” She was less enthusiastic, but smiled anyway, then hugged me. Then she hugged me and Martha at the same time. We were all happy. Others said, “Puttaparti? You are from Puttaparthi?”
That is the home of Sai Baba, where he has done a lot for his town.