It seems that it is impossible to walk down the street in India, or get through a single day without having some sort of wonderful if unexpected encounter. Here are some more random, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant encounters from my daily wanderings.
Seriously, the Kohinoor Diamond?
I was quite happily walking to work the other morning when a Sikh on a scooter screeched to a halt along side me. MS=Mad Sikh.
MS: ‘Hello madam, you go to Embassy, I give you lift.’
PK: Ahh, thank you, but no, I work close by and enjoy walking.
MS: Madam, walking not possible, I give you lift.
PK: Thank you, very kind, but I have two legs see, walking very possible.
MS: Ha ha, Madam has sense of humour, which country?
PK: I’m from England.
MS: Ahh, England, yes, Queen Elizabeth, she steal our diamond, big one, Koh-i-noor.
PK: Actually, it was Queen Victoria who stole it, after the conquest of the Punjab in 1849, from the young Maharaja Duleep Singh.
MS: Madam, it is your Queen Elizabeth!!!!!
PK: Well yes, admittedly she has it now, but it was Queen VIctoria who, shall we say, misappropriated it.I have just read a fascinating book about Duleep Singh’s daughter, Sophia.
MS: Madam, come, on my bike, I take you to the High Commission.
PK: Thank you but I don’t work there.
MS: But you must come to High Commission.
PK: No really, I mustn’t.
MS:Then I give you a lift to your work place.
PK: Thank you but I really do enjoy walking.
MS: Then give me your visiting card, we must meet for dinner.
PK: Do you know, I have run out, why don’t you give me your number.
MS: Yes, here is number.
PK: Thank you so much….
I met this lovely old monk at Rizong Monastery, he came over and asked where I was from with, as it turned out, his one word of English, ‘From?’ Through my guide I asked how long he had been at the monastery, his response was since he was 15 or so he thought. Then he asked me how old I thought he was, naturally, being British I erred on the side of caution, yes, even with a monk in Ladakh, and started with 65 and then settled on 70. He was delighted, and proudly announced that no, he thought he was nearer 80. For the hell of it, I then asked him how old he thought I was. He looked at me for a couple of thoughtful moments and then said, ‘Sixty.’ …………………………………………………………….I am 45.
Never underestimate where lessons may come from:
I Jumped in a tuk tuk as I do. Scruffy, little, old man driver with the obligatory scarf wrapped around his head, as is the fashion at this time of year. Knew he was a good guy when I asked ‘How much?’ and he said, ‘As you like madam.’ No attempt to overcharge the white face. I started the obligatory chat about the weather, the conversation progressed as far as my Hindi would allow, and when I faltered, he switched from being pleasant chatty driver to helpful Hindi teacher. Figuring I had found a ‘good un,’ I asked for his number. His reply, ‘Sorry madam, no in Delhi much, just come when need money, I am farmer from UP but no money in farm. I drive, go home, and spend time with family, in hills, in nature, no complicate.’ And he drifted off into a little ‘thinking of home’ reverie. I let him be. A couple of moments later, he continued, ‘Yes madam, simple living, higher thinking.’ I caught his eye in the mirror and nodded thoughtfully. He continued, ‘Yes madam, very true, simple living, higher thinking.’ It was obviously his slogan, but what a slogan to have and how true. We all rush around trying to make a living and when we have made some, we want to make more. We have an insatiable desire for consumerables, brands the latest gadgets which we work ourselves into the ground for, only to be disastisfied when the newer model comes out. Then, when we have run ourselves into the ground, we spend a fortune to head offon holiday or to a spa, or yoga class, or meditation retreat to regain our balance, looking for the simple living that eludes us in our daily grind. We are so bogged down with keeping up with social media, news, work that we rarely have the time to sit an ‘be.’ We have lost the ability to see that nature provides all we need to be happy. I miss my dog walking and horse riding, it is only (for me) when I am out in nature that my mind clears enough for the thoughts to come. Isn’t it ironic that we spend all of our time cramming information into our brains (nonsenical half the time, social media madness and dross) even though it is only when we allow our minds the time to rest, that true inner happiness ensues and truly inspired thought can occur. Simple living, higher thinking indeed.
Today was lovely and sunny and so I went to the park at lunch time to imbibe the spring weather before the scorching, opressive summer kicks in. Man with unlit cigarette in his mouth whilst using the fitness equipment spotted me, downed his dumbells and approached.
Him: ‘I am a Sikh, I used to wear a turban.’
PK, ‘Oh, hi, congratulations.’
Him, ‘Are you from Uzbekistan?’
PK, ‘What?’ !!!!!!!