The Last Day in India and the Journey back to Switzerland
Tuesday was the last day of our journey to India. Still tired from the previous day, I woke up, had a short look at the alarm clock, went into the bathroom for the morning wash. When I came out and switched the light on to tell Franz that the bathroom is now free I noticed that it was just 03:10 am – in my confusion I did not notice that the alarm clock was lying topside down and I had mistaken the time… So I went to bed again.
In the morning meditation I felt still a bit drowsy. Before and after breakfast I answered e-mails and tried to pin down the blogpost of two days ago so that the memories don’t fade away too quickly. Selecting photos, formatting, colour adjustments – and then I tried to upload. The internet connection was again very slow. I safeguarded the text in word and decided to publish it when I’m back in Switzerland.
Around 10 am we left the hotel with an auto-rickshaw: “To Sri Ramakrishna Mission”. The rickshaw driver repeated, Ramakrishna.I sat besides the driver on his bench, holding myself tight not to fall out, the other four were in the backside. Indian traffic around. When the driver turned into the first road I told the others, But that is not the right direction…. they replied, he probably knows a side-road. I was sceptical. We ended up in front of the Rajarani temple, where the driver stopped. Miquel explained to him that this is not the right place and explained to him again. He spoke with some other person and then started. A few minutes later we arrived at the Ramakrishna Mission – of course with disputes over the fare. But Miquel remained firm: It is not our fault…
We spend some time in the serene ambiance of the Mission before we called another rickshaw: “To the Mukteswar Temple”. The driver said yes, and started. Again I remarked, That is not the right direction… He stopped in front of the Lingaraj temple to let us out. Miquel explained that foreigners are not allowed there, that we had already been there and repeated “Mukteswar Temple” – a very well known place in Bhubaneswar. We started again. Beggars along the road… I saw a blind man sitting at the street-side steering into the sun and asking for alms, one of many (next to the Mukteswar temple there was a beggar holding his one hand and talking to his mobile with the other). We stopped in front of the temple – and again Miquel cut short the discussions about the fare.
We entered into the Kedara-Gouri temple precincts near the Mukteswar temple where we had been there before.Franz and I placed our glass bead necklaces we had received in the Yogini temple the day before at the statue of a goddess.
Rosa wanted to talk to the owner of a handicraft shop there where she and Franz had bought some artwork a few days ago. The man, a Sai Baba devotee, was very kind, in a non-commercial way. He brought us betelnut leaves for a good digestion and then showed us the way to a nearby vegetarian restaurant. It was a very simple restaurant serving just “Thali” – plates with a selection of sauces, vegetables and rice. I had never been in such a restaurant and it was quite full. But the food was tasty. When we came out of the restaurant, our looks fell on a plate of the “Allen Homoeo Hall. German Quality Made in India.” We smiled.
Another rickshaw brought us back to the hotel – this time without any extra excursion. But the backside of the bench I sat on had a sharp, rusty iron piece strong enough to cut my spine in case of a sudden stop. I thought of what I sometimes felt as over-regulation with traffic security in Europe…
The flight back, originally scheduled for 9 pm was re-scheduled to 9.30, then 10 and 10.30. It was a quarter to 11 when the plane took up from Bhubaneswar airport. I don’t know whether it was from the food served in the plane or from the samosas and paneer sandwich eaten near the departure gate. But when we stood in the long queues of Qatar airways for check-in, I felt an increasing acid reflux. During the flight to Doha I felt the first pangs of vomiting. At Doha airport it became worse. The inner guidance had changed in Delhi during check-in my place and given me a seat at the very last row of the plane. First I felt unhappy with it until I realised that this was my blessings – I ended up sitting alone with a free chair on both sides and the toilet was just around the corner. And the vomiting diarrhoea got very strong. In a matter of seconds the liquids were expelled up and down, together with the medicine they had given me. The stewardesses took great care of me and there was even a doctor sitting right in front of me inspecting my state: “Food poisoning”. An Indian good-bye souvenir.
I spend the flight sleeping and looking a very touching film “Pay it forward” (German: Das Glücksprinzip) about a little boy launching a goodwill movement – very inspiring. Shortly before landing I saw through the windows some fantastic snow panoramas of the Alps. The train journey to Berne then went quite well. A warm welcome of my wife, some words and then I fell into my bed to wake up half a day later.
Now, three days later, I am feeling quite well again, coming slowly back into the world I’m used to. On my arrival I found a letter from an old school friend with whom I had done bicycle tours through Germany end of the 60s/early 70s. He is now the director of Munich airport – and since 2 years I receive his Christmas letter sent to a circle of friends about what has been going on in his life. I like him, though we have not seen for a decade. He is a lot jetting around the world and living in quite different worlds. His words made me think of my path, of what I did experience the last weeks and what was the essence of it. I feel that under the multitude of impressions there is the fire of inner striving, which had been nourished by the journey. And that the gems in the fire will show up a bit clearer in the times to come.
Sunrise over the Gulf of Bengal at Visakhapatnam, seen from the roof of the house of Sri Kumar