Last days in Varanasi
Back in Khajuraho. The last days in Varanasi were lovely. I stopped the Hindi classes just before Vijay came to see me. But I had one last violin lesson when he was there because I wanted someone to hear me play with Guruji. We didn't do very much. For him it was a well-deserved holiday, after all the work he had done with arranging his sister's wedding. And I too felt the need for a break, after a studious month of Hindi and violin. It was lovely also that Vijay met some of my new friends and acquaintances of Varanasi; where I am slowly becoming familiar in my neighbourhood. When we are together, we seem to be a familiar pair for some, like for the staff in the restaurant that is slowly becoming my main eating room. We spent time with my Belgian friend Yoeri, and my new English friend Jez, both of whom also study Hindi. We all enjoyed practising our newly Hindi skills with Vijay, so I guess it was not quite a holiday, ha! It was lovely, then, to spend time together in my Varanasi again. We spent a lot of time watching and playing with and feeding the monkeys on the guesthouse rooftop with Yoeri. The funniest was when we tried to give them a half-empty bottle of Coca Cola to drink. We thought they would have drank from it, but instead they poured the coke out onto the floor and started licking it, sticking their bum up in the air! We couldn't believe it.
And we made pancakes! Real French crèpes! With the small gas bottle in my room I had been boiling my water but there was a chapati pan in Yoeri's room and we used other utensils to cook. Tea, vegetable omelet, and the pancakes. I had wanted to cook pancakes for Vijay for a long time, I had not known whether it would work well with a chapati pan because its bottom is not flat but a little convex. But it worked really well, the pancakes didn't stick in the pan, and I didn't even mess up the first one. They were not very round, but they all tasted nice and homely. The mustard oil replaced the sunflower oil well, too. It felt so amazing for me to cook for the first time in India! I felt such a sense of achievement that I was felt with joy – ordinary cuisine turned into an exceptional event in the Indian environment.
Facing the unknown
I still don't quite know what will happen next. The ashram for orphaned children in Varanasi had offered me a sort of placement starting in April for two months, and I would love to work there, but I have to be realistic: the heat will be far too much to bear. The orphanages I visited in Rishikesh and around will be no good, either not the right place for me, or when I go the children will have fled from the heat to higher mountains. I don't really want to be as hot as I was last year either, and yearn for some anticipated freshness. Last year I had thought I would go up to Dharamsala again as I had loved the place so much in 2005, but I never went. As I get closer and closer to Vijay and our love steadily grows, I feel somehow reluctant to go as far away from him as to Dharamsala, which is about 48 hours away from Khajuraho, and to leave “real India”. But I cannot be idle and do nothing. I have wanted to work with children for far too long and haven't done it yet. I need some free experience as part of my Life training...
I wasn't really thinking about this then, some three or four weeks ago, but when Yoeri came to Varanasi his friend had a guide book of India. I no longer have a one, because clearly I don't like to use them, and they are far too bulky and heavy to carry around. But we were sitting having food and chai in my homely restaurant, and I flickered through the pages of her guide book. In it I found some information about volunteering in Dharamsala and wondered why I hadn't come across it before. Immediately I went onto the internet to check out the indicated websites; one of which offered many opportunities for teaching English to Tibetan refugees. I sent an application straight away, but I still haven't received any answer back. Jez, though, who spent eight months in Dharamsala last year, told me I could surely just show up and ask for work, and I know it would probably work that way too. So in a week or two, I guess that is what I will do. It is one of those decision-making process in which I don't really know what to do but have one option in mind while still being open to any new opportunity – open for any sign from Life that I should do something else. But no other option has come up, I have been left with this one for as long as I've been thinking about it, so I guess I will have no choice but to follow that only road. And hadn't I strongly wanted to work with Tibetan children some years ago...?
And after I get back to Europe in June then what? Before I came to India this January I was already thinking of applying for a course in Benares Hindu University (BHU) just so next time round I can apply not for a tourist visa but for a student visa, which is longer according to the length of the course applied for and up to five years. I had thought I may not even follow the course I apply for, just enjoy the permission to stay in India longer, but despite my triple postgraduate status I feel inclined to study in a university yet again. There is a one- or two-year Hindi programme for foreigners (which does not start at beginner level), that I find appealing. I visited BHU when I still was in Varanasi, and gathered a lot of information. The course would start end of July or early August 2009 up until March 2010. It would be pretty relaxed with four days of classes and only two hours a day per week. That's a little lighter even than this past month (and anyway studying language never scares me, never feels like work to me), which also means I could also focus on studying violin with Sukhdev for all those (weatherly-agreeable) months... I must admit that my conditioned mind has been judging my heart quite harshly for a while until I reached this fairly resolute decision, trying to convince me basically that I should not go back to studying yet again but work and make money instead, yet my heart should be my guide, as we all know... I am financially lucky still so, whilst staying vigilant I really have no reason not to follow my dear, reliable guide.
To my dear India
And there is another factor screaming in my heart: However naïve it may sound considering the corruption in my dear India, I see studying in one of its (renowned) university as an act of respect, and love, towards Her. To build something “officially” that would take my belittling status of “tourist” forever. To prove to Her that I spend all this time in Her not motivated by superficial, entertaining tourism still keeping my European standards and blind of Its weaknesses, but that I love Her fully. I love not just Her splendour and Her colours and Her outward beauty, but I am willing to study Her and love Its obscure depths too. In my love I embrace India's poverty and Its violence and Its corruption and Its illiteracy and poorness of education. Despite all the frustrating occasions (and there will be many others) in which I felt I hated India for the primitiveness of Its mentalities, for Its corruption and laziness and lack of organisation, for the massive extent to which Hindu religion, despite its beauty, rules and conditions the lives and minds of its people and how that regularly suffocates me. And yet I love India with all my heart and want to understand Her deeply; I wish to live the simplicity of Indian life for I have come to love sleeping on the floor and to take time to wash my laundry by hand, and to shower in cold water with bucket and pot, and to live in a house bare of furniture and to sit on the floor all the time, and to travel long hours in wobbly buses and trains. And the lack of privacy is slowly putting less pressure on me for somehow it feels more and more natural.
Thus, I love India fully, and I see studying in one of Its universities as a way to pierce more deeply into Its culture. Of course it is personal and it may sound trivial and meaningless, but it is strong in my heart. Perhaps it will further integrate me into the community and allow me to stay longer in India in the future, although again this may sound very naïve because ultimately for the officer who will stamp my passport I will be just another number, and I know that if I knew the right person and gave him a sum of money underneath his desk, he would give me a visa because he is greedy of money, not at all because he gives a shit about me. But I am ever so honest and my heart is ever so loud deep within me. And the supreme ultimate is that it is Life, or the Universe, or God, or Consciousness, that makes all final decisions, not people, so if the embassy officer does not give a shit about me, perhaps beneath the surface of his conscious mind he will feel a hidden force driving his decision differently. That is how Life works and I am aware of It... And yet above all that I think, if I am wrong, if I am illogical, if I am unreasonable, it is pure Love that guides my decision which means that ultimately it will be the right thing to do...
And in the meantime, before the unbearable heat comes, what else can I do but spend time with Vijay and my Indian family? Whenever my conditioned Western mind comes back with judgement and urges me not to “do fuck all” and be productive, my heart knows that all I can do is spend time with them and with all my awareness for as long as I can until I cannot bear the heat. I feel I have no choice, again, for it all comes to Love...
A note on my three blogs
A note on my blogs
(1) vio; in love with india - this one is the main blog about my Indian adventures, which started in 2005. I don't write much on this blog these days because I prefer to write privately in the confidential blog. But check out the categories and the index to figure out your way. I have kept some older posts not about India but which I still find interesting or relevant in Old words. Also check out my new, fun category Only in India in which I post photos of funny, unique, Indian situations...
(2) sounds of india - this is my blog of sounds, because India wouldn't be as incredible if it was not so vibrant and just so full of incredible sounds!
(3) vio; confidential - this an extension of my main blog in which I post entries I do not want to reveal to the entire webspace for privacy or sensitivity reasons. You must receive an invitation from me and then accept the invitation to be able to read it. You may email me if you are interested in receiving an invitation.