Now some things just seem to have been pre planned don’t you think, when you look back? I had got up early to get the 6. 35am bus out to the archeological wonder called ‘Aihole’ the bus had lots of exotic foreigners on, a French Canadian, his Mexican wife, a Japanese, the guy with the serious face who turned out to be called Wolfgang from Germany and me. Somehow we had all let each other know over the last day or so that the bus to Aihole was at that time. It’s what we were all obviously there for and it seems to be how it is when you’re abroad, news spreads through the community even if the community is multinational and a state of in flux, it’s just a word here and there when you come across people from your world out there in the ruins. The bus picked up one or two locals along its bone crunching journey into the rural countryside of Karnataka state but it was basically us few to visit a dusty crumbling jewel far far away from anything we could call familiar. I’d actually managed to fall asleep for about an hour I think and woke up when the bus stopped, which when you think about it is quite odd isn’t it. I’m not talking about gently rocked from side to side in a cradle like fashion. Here you are literally being thrown in the air and jarred violently from side to side, horns blaring and brakes screeching, then it stops and there is a hushed silence and you wake up. weird.
I stumbled sleepy and squinting into the dust and sunshine of Aihole I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself once I was three, though there were apparently over 125 shrines and temples scattered across the surrounding farmlands to get started on. I scanned the crossroads first and noticed the German guy was over at a Chia hut having a cup in the shade. So I went across too. They had black coffee thankfully and so we stood there side by side, it was one of those who would be the first to speak, type of moments. So I said Hello and we were off. It must have been just before 9am when we arrived and we honestly didn’t stop talking until after 1pm. These things don’t happen often with me I’m usually long gone. But he turned out to be a gem.
It turned out that Wolfgang was at first quite a shy guy, though his expression at first you would think he was fierce, but was an honest open diamond of a person, travelled extensively through India for years, was very practical and actually did know his stuff. It turned out that we were both into healing and were both very much into philosophy mythology and how spirituality connected all of the above. Not everyone’s cup of tea I suppose. But I was in my element. It’s a funny thing, you can read and study a subject for years but not really have an outlet for it and so you know what you know but don’t really know how much you have absorbed and don’t really know how much you have learnt and at times you need people on your level to bounce ideas off, you need to be understood, to understand. So it was such a good meeting it seemed it was for both of us. We had both planned to head off into the ruins and meditate but ended up sat on a shaded balcony at the front of the beautiful golden sandstone Durga temple amongst all the ancient carvings just talking. As we sat there I thought to myself.
“This is what they built temples for” To create the right atmosphere to open up the mind to possibilities in what ever subject you were studying. They weren’t just for worship they were for inspiration and not just inspiration of god but inspiration of self, which of course is the same thing but that’s a whole other thing right now.
He had come to the conclusion through his daughter that the youth in the west have no access to spiritual experience. There was religion but mostly people snigger or squirm when the word spirituality is mentioned, he believed that they were desperately in need of experience and to have an outlet to talk about their experiences. He’d been working in Spain for many years now, not just with kids but with anybody who he came across or they came across him. He’d become interested in Altzimers disease, due to both his parents suffering with it. His question was “Where’ does the soul go to, where does it exist when a person has Altzimers” we also discussed MS, Epilepsy and Cancer. He said Altzimers, MS and Epilepsy were mysterious afflictions. We swapped stories of people we had worked with and discussed theory as to why there was disease. We had both pledged ourselves in our different way of working with healing and so it was a fascinating afternoon as we discussed what we had found, stories of spirit, coincidence, herbal medicines, ancient scripture and all the connections, we also shared what we had come to realize about ourselves. We were both frank and open and I honestly felt like we were two old friends who arranged to meet at the temple a few hundred years ago were keeping our agreement catching up and swapping what we had discovered. It seemed he had a problem with confidence in actually doing the healing, which I have not the slightest doubt about the reality of it and its benefits. It is honestly the one thing in my life that I do that I have 100% confidence in. Not in its all powerful success, but simply that it is real and it defiantly helps. Sometimes wonderful results and sometimes maybe simply a person will have a good sleep for the first time in months. I made it obvious about my confidence in it not as a braggart but as an example, do you know what I mean? He was an example to me of the benefits of serious study and note taking as I have never made serious notes. It’s the anti ego punk rocker in me that is afraid to set myself up like that. I just do it when and when ever I can and keep all the notes in my head then move on. I saw it differently through Wolfgang. We gave the other a much needed encouragement by demonstration of what we each did and though the conversation was at times quite deep, it seemed a groups a of Indian school kids would show up and start screaming and shouting around us just at the right time and we’d have a laugh with them all and have a breather.
“What is your name, where are you from, take a photo, take a photo, pen pen” etc it was delightful then they would move on and we would carry on talking. An old lady sat in another alcove just away from us dressed in a beautiful blue sari she watched us all the time we were there, at times intently and at others benevolently smiling at us. Blue is the color of Mary and of healing.
It would have been a little foolish to come all the way across India to this place and not at least have a look around so we agreed to break off and make the most of the time we had left wandering around the dusty ruins. Nati a handsome Israeli girl I had met the previous evening in the café next to the hotel arrived just as we were leaving our spot, we’d known we cross paths here today, but I was not chomping at the bit to get walking. So we all agreed to meet at the crossroads later at 4pm for the bus back.
It was a remarkable place, one because of how many shrines there were, but also because of the way the tiny village had grown up around it and become intertwined with the dusty ruins. I watched two young women clean and repaint a shiva lingum.It was shiny black and stood out as something used in the decaying place. They murmured as they washed the lingum and lit incense I felt a little too intrusive so I came outside to find a little boy squatted down up on a wall just next to the temple shitting. Cows wandered in and out of these ancient holy places, the people there were pleasant but had that sun stroked apathy about them, incredible human highs and stunning reality checks. I went up and checked the ruins of the fort above the village and looked out across the dry and yellowed farm land, with the river snaking its way across the land was dotted with temples and smaller shrines.What a place this must have been in its time. The 20 century was not its time. Later I sat in a temple and meditated under a low ceiling perfectly at ease with bats squeaking just above me in the darkness above me. It was a deep one and I came around wondering where I was, checked the time I was within half an hour of the bus. Time to move.
Wolfgang was already there so we both sat under a shady tree on a wall next to the coconut seller, who sat crossed leg up on top of his cart. A tractor came by pulling a trailer piled high with sugar cane, it moved at a snails pace through the village so the kids obviously used to the ritual ran and broke branches of cane off the back, the driver sort of looked back but didn’t really object, and every one around sort of looked on in a sort of matter of fact kind of way. The loot was shared with everybody sat around the cross roads when the tractor had moved on.
“Taxes” I said “You just can’t escape them”
Everybody sat quietly chewing and spitting out pulp. The Indians love sugar. If you order coffee or tea and don’t say ‘no sugar’ they pile it in and as I haven’t taken sugar for years now it virtually stripped the enamel of my teeth at first. We talked about it later as we sat having dinner watching a guy with his mangle running sugar cane branches through it and selling the pure sugar cane juice, they actually queue for it. So you’ll have this incredible sweet tea followed by a swig of sugar cane juice and then some people would follow that by chewing a branch if it.
“Well that explains the constant energy of the place” I reconed
Also perhaps a little insight into the music, which could also be fueled by sugar rush, it actually makes sense when you listen to it, the music is just filled with different sounds, things coming in and out constantly from places you’d not expect, and I have to say mostly beautifully done, but no space is left to chance every corner has something going on in it, a little like India itself. It’s a theory and I quite liked it, made me laugh.
The bus arrived Wolfgang and I got on just as Nati re-appeared and told us it was the wrong bus, we’d checked but we checked with the driver again and said he shook his head meaning of course yes this is the right bus.
“No it’s the right bus Nati.” We said but she went off sure it was the wrong bus to ask somebody else, probably some old lady under a tree and Nati hadn’t clicked yet that no means yes and yes means no. But we were on the bus and the driver seemed convinced that we were going to arrive at Badami in the not to distant future. Wolfgang called after her
“You’d better hurry, this is the last bus”
She’s called back
“I’m in India and I don’t hurry for anybody” and she didn’t.
After a minute or two the driver begun to pull away so I ran to the front and said
“Hold hold there’s somebody else” He looked confused as he’d seen her walk away, but we waited and eventually she showed at the window in the dust below still adamant it was the wrong bus. Wolfgang and I asked the driver again and in the end we just said
“Get on!” It was the way the rest of the day went as we all started to bond and gel with one another. I had met them both separately and now there we were 3 and after a little chopping and changing on the bus we all ended up with a window seat and were lost to our own thoughts.
I am still finding it hard to believe that I am actually here on my own, happy and doing it. On a huge dust covered bus weaving through dirt roads around life threatening pot holes, windows open with a delicious warm wind bringing peace and tranquility to my usually busy mind. Through exotic crumbling whitewashed towns overflowing with life, groups of beautiful Indian school kids in neat uniforms with their long tight black braids and long blue skirts, boys waving and pulling poses in there long blue trousers and bare feet. Then out in the country side past brick baking plots next to palm huts and plastic tar paling tent towns, sleepy white oxen pulling carts and there freer cousins the black buffalo munching lush grasses down at a rivers edge, men waste high casting wide nets across the glittering surface, solitary women walking with great piles of wood or great urns balanced confidently upon their heads. Palm trees, sugar cane, fields of sunflowers, great piles of yellow hay, the deep red iron rich earth, ancient trees grown across the tops of the road creating tree tunnels that seemed to go on for miles flickering like a warm glowing strobe light and adding to the spell already cast upon this soul, it was another world.
I’d been wanting to get back and just get down to writing but Nati had invited us out for dinner. She was delightful and not somebody you wanted to refuse not because of unpleasantness, quite the opposite she was good company. Wolfgang was delighted and so we arranged to meet at 7.30 I didn’t manage to do much as I’d had a mix up with an STD telephone supplier. Swore blind that I had given him 100r for the call he insistent that I hadn’t. There had as usual been all sorts of hands and people pushing in and I said he was confused. I was rock solid certain and in the end he gave in and gave me the change. Then as I sat down to write later I found the 100r in my glasses case. Oh god I cannot tell you how mortified I was. I took it back to him the next day and from then on when ever I passed by he would beam a beautiful smile at me, and at the end of the day maybe that is why it happened, another warm feeling created out of something normal and mundane, we would both remember it and smile, well I would.
Nati was the classic Israeli mother though she actually wasn’t one yet and by all accounts not in the near future either. She had us around her finger and really neither of us minded, she was light hearted and of course knew all the best places to eat already, or at least she said she did and why disbelieve her, the Israelis know there food right? But I was cautious sticking to my, I’m alive so I stick to it thing. We wandered through the bustling streets in the early evening twilight to a restaurant she swore would be great as she had been recommended, by who I don’t know as she’d been here a day less than either of us but she was sure and so who were we to quibble and as with the bus we waited. She stopped at a stall here, did a bit of bargaining there checked out flowers at another place and bought some fish around the corner. She kept pushing us to eat things, but I wasn’t having any of it, I still wasn’t taking a chances not that it didn’t look amazing I just so don’t want to get ill here, so while she and Wolfgang tried a few things of a stall I decided that I would give a nearby cow some deep muscle massage and some healing.
I had actually been switched on all evening my hands buzzing and I felt very high. The cow I don’t think could believe its luck, her eyes rolled her head dropped tongue started licking her lips and she kept casting me lazy backward glances as I worked those knots out of her old shoulders. It was great fun, just me and the cow having a private moment in the middle of a noisy dusty market place. Then Nati brushed us on ahead of her until she stopped at the next stall. She was as I said warm mother Israel, Wolfgang was knowledge and German precision and I was the dry ironic brit gently making fun of everything, of them and of course myself.
We had a nice meal but I would never have gone into the place had I not been dragged in by mother I refused point blank to drink out of the water pot and ordered bottled water and drew a line. But I lived to tell the tale and so far my stomach has been well behaved. Back at the café later by the hotel Wolfgang and I carried on whilst Nati went to email one of her many sisters back home. Nobody wanted to leave but really we were all tired. Wolfgang and I said a warm goodbye with strong bear hugs and said we’d meet again and as Nati and I were in the same hotel I gave her some healing sat out the back where the pig had appeared the night before. I felt like I was actually lit up and had been since we had arrived back in town and I’m sure if you had the right kind of eyes I would have been bright pastel blue. The session didn’t last too long as Nati was being eaten by mosquitoes, but the interesting thing was they never touched me, I wondered if it was the antri malaria tablets I was taking or the dengi fevor shot I’d had or I thought maybe mozzies don’t like blue.
She’d gone off to bed and I’d stayed out there just listening when this yellow dog came out of the shadows, I had seen her earlier. She came up and just rested her chin on my thigh. She didn’t look at me, she just rested her head there, so as I was on full beam she got the lot. I ran my hands across her dusty fur ever so ever so gently I opened up as wide as I could and let it flow to her, she absolutely loved it, it was a beautiful half an hour and I worked along her back her head and her shoulders, then interestingly when i came to her hips she began to look round and glance at me,
“Just there eh” I whispered
So I kept my hands there. I tried to get her to sit but she wouldn’t she just kept her head on my thigh her eyes glassy and far away as the energy flowed to her. I had a feeling that she never sat except to sleep, she was always on the look out.
It was pretty late by then and I had to pull myself away from her. She didn’t want me to go and I was honestly torn as I had needed the moment too, she had brought me gentleness that I was needing too. I said good night to her and thanked her then closed the iron gate properly with a clang and wandered down the corridor. I stepped quietly over the sleeping receptionist and up the creaking stairs too the bare bones room. It’s a funny old world isn’t it.
“Man” I said “I will sleep tonight”