It’s mid April and I’ve got about two weeks left on my visa. Christine and I have been enjoying the crisp mountain air with relish and the vibrant Hindu – Tibetan charm of the town. This is just another chapter in the incredible India story and we want to stay until the very last day.
Where to go and how we’re going to do it has been subject to the art of ongoing spontaneity. The natural joy in being and going with the flow of Life is so natural and beautiful. Anxiety and worried whispers fade as the fleeting personality continues to loose it’s grip and is replaced by Presence.
Perched on a rock, I look out from the highest hilltop tier and my gaze flows down the forested valley towards the town, resting on the orange stained horizon beyond. I put down a slim but potent book by India’s greatest sage, Ramana Maharishi and watch the radiant sunset in gratitude. Hands together, I pray that I may move in harmony with the Divine Will in service to All.
Something inside says; “You will know the next step in three days”.
The next day our friends Mel and Petar arrive from Punjab after their somewhat traumatic experience at a Vipassana retreat. Someone died in the summer heat wave. In a few days they’re flying back to Europe so they came to rest before their next voyage. It’s good to see them and share crazy stories of travelling and enlightening experiences in the heart of India.
That evening, we are surprised to hear that the Dali Lama is here, giving a teaching on Buddhist philosophy to a cohort of monks, so we show up at the monastery the next day under the impression there would be radios we could use, to hear the English translation. There wasn’t. To my slight dismay, it starts to rain so I stand under an awning to avoid the deluge and await my friends behind in the queue, happy to enjoy the atmosphere anyway.
The next moment, a couple of Israelis are leaving in a huff. I enquire about radios but they say they have the only one but can’t understand what he is talking about and give it to me instead. Delighted, I thank them and tell the others as we make our way to a garden and huddle round the little grey box. We sit together and listen to the wisdom of a Bodhisattva, through crackling radio. Taking turns we walk up to the inner sanctum and look towards his Holiness and bow.
What an honour!
The morning after we part ways. Mel and Petar travel to Delhi to board their flights and Christine and I are leave for Shimla. I’m reading Sri Paramhansa Yoganada‘s inspiring and poetic ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ and he mentioned how much he enjoyed the beauty of Shimla. It calls us too so we pack our stuff and arrange a bus for the following day.
The sunsets over the mountains one last time as we sip the remnants of a delicious chai, hoist all our bags onto our backs and begin the descent down the steep steps into town. Waddling like turtles, I stop for a breath on the twenty something step just in time to look ahead and watch Christine’s right ankle fold onto itself with all the weight of her 30kg backpack, leaving her in a heap on the steps. Shit.
Thankfully it isn’t broken, it should be but it isn’t. She’s in a lot of pain and will carry a limp which will linger for the next six weeks. Out of nowhere, aid comes in all directions and we ferry the bags along with Christine into town safely where a taxi is waiting to take us to the bus station.
Bumping down the road, I lean out of the car window to wave goodbye to our saviours, just in time to see the beloved Silent Baba’s smiling face behind the crowd, bidding us farewell from the Shiva temple.
God Bless this place.