Once in a while I acquire a book thru the bookshelf in one of the hotels here: one in, one out. Even there you can have the feeling that you cheat, or, same same, that you make a profit: Yesterday started reading Shantaram, the almost one thousand pages book by Gregory David Roberts. (Google for more).
After having fled his country Australia after breaking out of prison, he describes entering India via Mumbai Airport.
Lots and lots of very detailed observations he describes, so much is clear already. (Am at page 59 now).
Somewhere he says that listening to the heart is for him the proven best way to move around in India.
Where not, I’d add, and can’t find the quote for you, sorry.
This not found sentence had an overnight influence on me, I notcied this morning. In the sense that it opened me up for smaller clues.
Already for a few days I leave my room in the morning not knowing where to go and sometimes at a crossing just wait and look around a bit till an impulse comes to move.
The usual rikshaw driver was not waving at me as I came up to the main road, so I walked on to Ramana Ashram and also there I felt no urge to take a rikshaw and paused after I walked past the last one. Looking at the traffic passing by, I noticed being right opposite the coconut selling lady where I have my since some time daily coconut.
Eating or drinking? is her opening question.
When you choose drinking only, she chops you a younger coconut open and hands it to you after having put a straw in.
When you go for eating and drinking, you get an older coconut, same treatment, that you return into her hands after having soaked in the clear content. Then she will cut the coconut into two halves and scrapes the coco from inside the two halves. This is done with a also chopped off from the coconut kind of spoon, and the harvested coco is handed back to you in one of the halves of the coconut. The whole operation is done with a impressive looking curved cleaver.
I’m sure youtube will give quite a few visual instructions on how to survive doing this yourself.
Over there was this German woman sitting that I met a few days before, we happen to know each other from a retreat centre in Germany where I go each year. I walked over, squatted next to her chair, we had a chat and I was handed over a coconut with a straw.
And just after I finished eating the content of the coconut, there was eye contact happening with a slowly driving by rikshaw driver, I nodded, he stopped and I said I have to go.
That was about six hours ago. And here I am, sitting in Rani’s Garden Restaurant again, my quiet hangout: writing, after having had here two long conversations. One with the German lady that I left behind some two kilometre from here at the coconut stand.
And one with Eric the German, who took me around the mountain last year on the back seat of his Royal Enfield motorbike.
I met him two days ago again and he remembered how much I enjoyed this motorized pradakshina and he offered to take me again around Arunachala one day.
This afternoon he impulsively stopped at Rani’s Garden and looked inside, not seeing me cause my head was behind a lamp, so he saw, boring image, a guy reading a book. While actually he was looking if this Dutch guy happened to sit inside. And, as I had looked up at the sound of his bike (the Royal Enfield is in India what the Harley Davidson is in the West), I had seen him stand up from his bike, so I knew he was the guy looking inside and then leaving again. I also just knew that he was looking for me, so I walked out and showed my face, upon which we had a meeting and an intense exchange over some cups of masala chai.
According to him (he was raised in post Nazi Germany and, as he says, had to fight and investigate madness from the beginning and in depth), it should be mentioned on the front door of this mad Anne Frank House that she has been betrayed by a Dutchman.
His reality level check for Dutch people lately is the question ‘do you know how many Dutch people volunteered for the SS?’
The still startling answer is: between 50.000 and 70.000.
Addendum: forgot to check the numbers, I just did.
Is seems to have been less, but still a lot:
Dutch volunteers in the German army and the Waffen-SS
He, Eric the German, also offered to read my still to be published open letter to Ramji, in search for my madness in it. (‘So you can maybe end up thanking the man’).
It is printed and I will take it with me tomorrow morning to Ramana Ashram where we’ll meet at 06.15 for another round around Arunachalam.