South India – Three Hour Bus From Pondicherry to Tiruvannamalai
Before getting on the bus, I read Gandhi for 20 minutes at the bus station. My bench. My book. Late morning. The merciless India sun starting to whip me while I sat reading.
A dirty man walked up to me and wanted my water. I said no. He kept asking. I could smell the alcohol on his breath, on his clothes. I tried to ignore him.
I read how a homeless man came to Gandhi’s door one day. Gandhi couldn’t refuse him. Gandhi was a nurse, loved nursing, loved caring for people. He also served in the ambulance corps during two wars, went into the firing lines and rescued the wounded.
Reading Gandhi’s book has been compass for me while traveling India. Small choices. I tried to ask myself, what would Gandhi do? Gandhi would have given that drunken, pungent person some water.
I gave him a sip of my water. I didn’t let him touch the water bottle. I poured the water into his mouth. Then I got onto the bus.
I thought more about Gandhi. He always reinvented himself. Each reinvention was intended for the good of others. Nurse, ambulance, teacher, public service through attorney work, private attorney work, politics. Even household reinvention. He learned how to press and tailor clothes in order to save costs.
Life is an adventure and continuous reinvention of ourselves. It’s also about serving others and sharing with others on this adventure.
But back to that bus ride.
Two delicious freshly baked peanut butter cookies (Thanks Jasmine Talsania!). The wind blowing in my face. An audiobook, Alan Watts in my ears.
There was beautiful little girl in the front of the bus looking at me. Short black hair, brown skin, brilliant light brown eyes. She was 10 or 12 years old, but had an adult face, a wise face. There was pedigree to her as if she was a queen’s daughter from thousands of years ago, lost in a different dimension. I remember her intriguing and intrigued eyes scanning in front of the bus.
Farmland, small mountains and boulders scattered in the distance. We drove past ruins.
An old man sitting next to me told me about those ruins. He had a lot of pride in knowing about them. One side was the for the queen and the other side was for the king. Then we past a sugar factory. He had a lot of pride showing that to me too. Indians love their sugar and that factory is where it came from.
When I stopped talking to the man next to me I meditated for 20 minutes. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I opened my eyes occasionally, looking at the people on the bus, looking out into the countryside.
The best thing was the wind blowing in my face, watching this unknown world go by me, flashing by in little bits. Bits of town, bits of people, longer bits of green fields. Bits of mountain, bits of cows, bits of cars, bits of buses all flashing by. Flickers of eye glances laid upon me once and never will again.
God, I loved that bus ride.