I seem to make it a habit of mine to fall into some pretty strange situations. And just as I was getting ready to go to Kashmir, a newspaper woke me from my stupor. In front of me stood an older bespectacled man with a quiet grin; he had just put his paper on my table.
“Oh… thanks.” I said, thinking fate had put this newspaper in front of me, and inside it would be stories about tourists being raped and murdered all over Kashmir, as I was constantly being told by the competing touts that Kashmir was a bad idea; no, a good idea; no don’t go, are you crazy; what do you have to worry about, it’s completely safe, I was just there. (My first mistake was listening to touts..)
With all this conflicting information, my mind was in turmoil, and I was, to put it mildly, a bit panicky.
Five minutes later the man comes to my table after I had finish browsing through it and sits down. I look at him in surprise, and he says, “Tell me what you learned.”
This was the first of many, many questions (most of them vague and impossibly difficult) this man was going to ask me over the course of the next few days.
It slowly unfolded that he is a doctor, a philanthropist (setting up schools and hospitals in and around India), is good friends with the Rinpochet (and helped him escape Tibet) and had shook the hand of the Dalai Lama. He is also the current Lord of Castle Stewart in Scotland. All google verified.
Needless to say, I missed the bus.
And three days later, here I sit, psychoanalysed, demolished, rebuilt, and mentally exhausted. I might even conjure the words to tell the story someday, but now, I need the time to reflect on what just happened.
The spiritual and personal development I had been seeking on this leg of the journey seems to have found me in the form of this man who came out of nowhere and tore my self-indulgent travels to shreds. (I’m still struggling with it).
It has taken a toll on me, and I’ve put my trip on a bit of a different path. Though, much to his chagrin, it will still be primarily self-indulgent.
Here are a few things he’s said over the past few days that I’ve written down.
“At the end of every mystery is a joke.”
“Timing is more important than time itself.”
“Pardon what you cannot forgive. Forgive what you cannot pardon. Please excuse the rest, and go on with your life.”
Now, excuse me while I pick up the pieces of my shattered sense of self.
(On a much lighter side-note, the photograph at top is a still from a short film I’m working on tentatively titled “Transport” that I am starting to get a little excited about.)