Ajanta 15.02.11

Oh boy did I wake up a grumpy boy today. It had been a long journey from Goa and I was up pretty late working. Then up at 6am on the dot to get the bus at 7am for the Ajunta caves. All I recall when I left was the two reception guys fast asleep on the floor in the lobby downstairs, I swept out and began walking. It wasn’t long before rickshaw swooped on me 50r he said 30r I said. 50 he said I just carried on walking. “Ok ok sir 30r” I gave him 40 when we got there. I timed it just right, waited a few minutes at the right dusty place, had enough time for a bottle of water and we were off. I really wanted to stay awake and see the countryside but honestly I was in a stinker of a mood. Nothing wrong really but as we’ve discussed before a bad mood colors the world with grey tones and there is no shaking it off till you either change your mood which I couldn’t, or at least get some sleep, which is what happened. The bus again was a bone cruncher and I thought I had slept 10 minutes but going on the journey on the way back later I must have slept solidly for 2 hours. Remarkable, the ever reliable brown clad conductor woke me at the gates of the Ajanta caves, those guys as I have said have my undying respect because as we travel India without the language we are at their mercy, so bless em so far. So once off the bus I stood there still not really sure what to expect. I just wandered almost still asleep into the parking lot of course the sellers were all around me in seconds but I was just not in the mood for it and snarled for them to leave me alone, after one persistent guy got snarled at teeth and all they actually did leave me be. I sat and had a coffee, and slowly regained the use of my reason and began to smile again, it was slow but it did return. Then the mysterious entry fee, I paid the 7r entry fee which I think was to the stalls, then the 12r bus fee to the entrance fair enough, then the 250r fee for foreigners actual entry fee. I did try to see if I’d pass in using my best British accent “Hello, good morning. I said bending down to the circular glass hole on the window. “I’m an Indian national, here’s my 25r for my entrance to the park” Guess what, he understood me. I didn’t get passed him but at least I entered the place with a grin and a shake of the head from him. Now there are 28 of these fabulous caves dug and carved deep into the volcanic side of a horse shoe canyon down which the river Waghora runs, but this is late dry season so it was only a trickle. The place had been deserted and forgotten for over a thousand years and it wasn’t until a small detachment of British east India company troops chanced upon them in 1819 that they were rediscovered and have since been hailed as one of ‘the most sensational archeological discoveries of all time’ God bless the Brits eh. I’d read a little about it of course but these things take time to dawn just how fabulous it is, it is not in your face its in the mountain, it sort of dawns on you as you go along. The first 5 caves the ‘Chaityas halls’ were carved in the second century BC and the rest from the 5th and 6th centuries AD. The caves, the pillars and statues are carved by hand right out of the rock where they stand. Then were plastered and painted the walls with the most remarkable scenes of the life of the Buddha and his attainment of enlightenment. Much of the original plaster has fallen and the paintings faded over the centuries but the caves in their own right are extraordinary, but with what is left of the paintings the whole place is a remarkably beautiful work of art. The halls are sensitively and dimly lit accentuating the atmosphere and the acoustics. When they were completed they must have been dazzling with all the fresh vibrant colour. There are huge halls and hermit shelters adjoining many of them where the 200 or so monks who lived there at its peak slept and meditated. When there weren’t bus loads of school kids screaming and yelling I’d just stand there humming. Just my voice vibrating alone in there sounded moving and deeply mystical so with 60 or a hundred or more monks chanting and toning the effect must have been inspirational to say the least. A guard pulled me to one side when nobody else was around and demonstrated with a conspiratorial wink that by banging on a couple of pillars with the heel of his hand that some of them chimed notes that resonated through the hall. I wandered from hall to hall cave to cave moving along at my own pace dawdling and looking and standing around in the shadows. It was shoes off of course in all of them and so I just slung my boots over my shoulders for the whole afternoon and walked around on the warm smooth stone footpaths bare foot. I should do it more often. When I got there I virtually had the place to myself but an hour or so later the school busses and other tourist coaches began to arrive on mass, I’d already got possessive which I know isn’t very Buddhist but I could see back along the walkway a few caves crowds gaining ground on me, then when they caught up and it was like a whirlwind, with screams of delight over and over again, not at the amazing caves but at the pale skinned foreigners hiding in them. “What is your origin, what country are you from, what is your name” Hundreds of kids asked over and over again. Now I have been here for maybe 2 weeks and I have literally been asked my name and origin a hundreds of times already. But today buy the time the school kids caught up with me at the central section off the caves, I was just about emerging from my own personal cave so when I was asked for the 20th or 30th time where are you from I started saying “I’m from the moon” because the reaction wouldn’t have been much different if I actually had been, it tickled me to think there were bus loads of school kids going home to their families telling them that “Mummy today we met Michael from the moon in cave number 12” I know I know, but it made me laugh. Now as I’d been pottering along I had another of those auspicious meetings. I’d seen this guy earlier and as it happens at places like this there are always one or two other people going along at roughly the same pace as you and so you keep coming across the same guy or girl who are taking there time with there photographs, like I was. We were very near the end and both going for the same shot. I think he said “Hey they are a serious pair of boots you have there” “Well, they have serious miles to do” I quipped We struck up a conversation about our impressions of India and we made each other laugh. He told me a story about how it was the French’s fault that Ronald Regan had become president and afterwards I had to agree, it was. He turned out to be a very funny guy called Dirk from Chicago. He’d been to India for long periods but hadn’t been for a few years and had the chance to come on a work related trip and had stayed on for a little while to have a week of two and dip his toes back into his beloved sub continent India he told me off funny stories of hedonistic days back in the 80’s. He was fast talking, quick witted and sharp and so we sort of ended up walking back along the path together. I’d mentioned that I was a musician and he played the accordion. “A person should never doubt what is in their heart” He said “Because what ever you think the universe will reward you with. The universe will send what ever it is you request, so make sure your requests are made with optimism not out of fear or angst.” I knew just what he meant. He gave me various scenarios from friends of his who led simple but artistic lives and were happy and fulfilled. He’d just finished one job, he was a graphic designer, but knew that when he returned home he would have work waiting for him, I believe there would be too. We decided on one last stop in cave number 17 which was full of kids earlier and right then we pretty much had it to ourselves again. Whilst we were in there Dirk began to talk about molecules and atoms and the space that is between all matter and how under certain circumstances matter could move through matter. He went into detail and of course my ears pricked up as I have been interested in this for some time in connection with healing, frequencies and with spirit. I always demonstrate it to people before I start work, the physical but to our eyes invisible energy field around us, it is a little more than electrical and is in fact color and light vibrating at a higher rate than we can normally perceive. It is physical it is a fact and the demonstration never fails, well, maybe once or twice, but I say. “If you can’t feel it you’re dead and if you’re dead then you ‘are’ just the energy but you would be conscious of it, so either way sooner or later you’ll feel it” It’s playful but that is how it is and I understood just what dirk was talking about, it was refreshing to hear him put it scientifically. For instance all color is contained within light right, and light is a frequency right, and so any color you see is simply a certain frequency that has reached an object that has a similar frequency and so has been unable to “pass through” it and is reflected back at you, right? All the other color frequencies contained in the light “pass through” the said object or the thing. Sound is also frequencies and as you know at concert you can feel the sound waves and they “pass through” or are reflected back at you or their source. The universe is all frequency and vibration, right. So energy used for healing is the same principle, it is simply energy channeled, some people are able naturally and some with practice to lift their own vibration, draw that frequency in then hold it or channel it. It is in fact I believe a human condition it has just been forgotten, it is mystical but it is also mechanical. So I thought “well” and told him what I do back in England with energy .and healing He stopped talking for a moment , looked at me in the middle of the dim cave and I felt my hands buzz. So I said “Would you like to feel the energy around you?“ He said yeah so we went outside and sat on the steps of this beautiful ancient temple in the glorious sunshine in the middle of India. He came all the way from Chicago and I came from London and there we were. I asked him close his eyes and hold his hand out flat to mine. Then I move my hand in slowly towards his until he say he feels ‘it’. Then we do the same thing again and usually people feel it a little further away second time as first time they are not sure what they are feeling which he did. So there is something ‘physical’ but unseen between our two hands, two frequencies meeting. Some people call it chi (Chee) or life force but it’s all the same thing and a wonderful thing it is; mystical mechanical but practiced, trial error success and dedication. These subtle energies are within and around every living thing on the planet in fact, everything on the planet. It suggests things, don’t you think. Anyway; he has a knee that is troubling him so we did a little session sat up on some steps away from everybody, it was actually quite gentle and I hoped it would eased him a little, it seemed to help. We talked on the way out and I showed him how to move the energy around his body and how to direct it and he told me about hydrogen and water and the remarkable properties that have been found at the head waters of the River Ganges, all good stuff and food for us both. What is interesting about being away from your normal surroundings is you get to notice that people bring gifts, you notice it out here or where ever here is for you. Dirk and I brought information for one another. We’d stopped to have a coffee and Dirk some Chai. I’d said something about when travelling through India always carry some loo roll and or a little bar of soap, which set him off about the photographic project he was doing of all the Indian toilets to horrify his girlfriend Robin back in the US, which I of course found hilarious, told me right hand left hand stories in Indian restaurants. We talked about the pigs and he told me a story of a toilet he had once had to use, it was up some steps and once up there you squatted down over a hole that seemed to be directly over the neighbors’ back garden and he’d felt a little uncomfortable as it didn’t seem to be very neighborly he said “You just don’t do that sort of thing in the US, it didn’t seem to be very beneficial to community relations!” But he’d had to go and so squatted down and just happened to glance down the hole and there below were 2 or 3 expectant looking pigs looking up at him. He said he didn’t want to do it but it was one of those moments when he had to go and you can guess the rest. Then he said being a virtual vegetarian he was pretty “regular” and the pigs got to know his inner clock and each time he’d go up there they would hear him coming and would gather around and wait. I was crying with laughter. He’d noticed I had a few ridges on my nails and said was I getting enough iron in my diet as it was a sure sign I was iron deficient. I have been puzzling over it for a couple of years now and have been baffled I had put it down to stress. He then quipped after showing me some photos of 20 inches of snow he had just left in Chicago “Man I am just drinking up all this direct vitamin D out here form the sun” A light went on that I’m also very possibly vitamin D deficient. I’m vegetarian and though I eat well I don’t eat enough particularly in London . I will be looking into it when I get back. The point is what you give out you get back in the most unexpected ways. Everybody brings gifts perhaps it is just being open enough to give what you have and be ready to receive what others bring. It really was a gem of information for me. Dirk had a car waiting to drive back to Aurangabad, he never offered a lift and I never asked, he needed his space and I was happy with mine. It was all very cool so we said our goodbyes and I walked out to the road. Some women were already there sat in the dust with their beautiful saris by the side of the road with bundles. As I’d been stood there more people had gathered and were all eying each other subtly, or at least I thought they were. I have come to understand that there is no queuing system here, that when the bus came you just got in there or you missed the bus. A seek guy had stood virtually in the road and I thought “No way dude” not very spiritual I know, but I have been knocked around one to many times in railway stations here to say “Erm, excuse me but I think I was first” The bus arrived within about 10 mins and bam there is a knot of people at the door and I’m in there and seek guy is going “After you sir after you sir”and he means it. I was saying “Hey man what about the ladies?” who are of course right at the back and I did try to hold them back but everybody is saying “Get on get on they will get on too” So I did but it irked me and though they did get on I was miffed that nobody had let them on first and I also really taken by surprised that they had insisted that I get on first. It’s a funny old world India. It took over two and a half hours to get back the bus was packed, I stood all the way I didn’t really mind I was lost to my thoughts about all of the above and enjoyed myself watching all the comings and goings on the bus. We had to swap busses at some town somewhere for some mysterious reason that nobody seemed to know. By the time we got back to Grimsville it just after sunset and I was a little tired. I fought my way through the rickshaws. I found a pretty decent restaurant I was starving, it was quite nice then I walked back to the hotel, same street scene as the night before but a different part of town, it had been such a nice day away from the dust and petrol fumes. Though once back at the hotel I was feeling uplifted and thought I would try for the coffee again, we made progress and I managed to get a full glass of coffee it was hot and it came on time.

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