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on leaving ?

I might drop this site – having not had a single viewing this past month. 

 

Why spend an hour working on a text when nobody reads it.

 

I will continue to write for my others pages –   kitmunro.com   &    kitmunro.blogspot.fr

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many Truths

I loved the simple elegance of my hotel, an ancient harveli mansion wrapped around a paved courtyard where a fountain played beneath a handsome tree. From this haven in the chaotic city I would stroll Old Delhi’s medieval lanes and be enchanted time after time. I felt quite at home – it reminded me of Mombasa’s charmed Old Port.

Trying out my infant Hindi, I would stop and be measured for a flowing kurta shirt here or buy a sarong there, which reminded me of the kikoys I wore back home in Kenya. I had been sacked for walking bear-chested down Mombasa’s main street, even though many of us wore kikoys on our days off, the new director fresh from London thought I was letting the side down. That sordid man was responsible for turfing me out of my homeland by contesting my resident-status and cancelling my locals-work-permit, hence I had ten days to quit the land I thought I would never leave.

In Old Delhi’s chai stalls and minute restaurants I would discuss philosophy with red bearded Muslims, white bearded Hindus, shaven headed Jains or wild-eyed Tantric priests dressed in black. Everyone agreed God existed, that is, apart from me. They told me nothing could possibly exist without His existence. I argued and laughed with the flaring enthusiasm of a young man inspired to seek Truth.

Upon that issue we all agreed. There Must be a Truth, but defining it or understanding it…well that divided us once more. Being inclined towards a natural view of life, I have always taken the animal world as my Bible. An old Yogi smiled and said Hatha (or physical) Yoga was based on observations of animals, which is why the postures had names such as Cobra.

The Muslim felt Hinduism was too stuck in nature and ought to lift itself towards the eternal Truth that Allah proclaimed through his only prophet.

The Jain stated non-violence, even in shunning negative thought, lead us to Truth.

The Tantric guy thought they each ignored the senses, which made us human and the understanding of which lead us to the Truth.

Hearing the prayer-call, the Muslim rose to go. He was joined by the others who wished to pray with him. They stood in the mosque’s courtyard where a saint lay under marble attracting hundreds of worshippers of all religions every day. I was glad to be in a country where many religions existed side by side. I sketched the scene in ink, decorating the page with the Hindi words a small audience threw out for the items appearing on my paper.

In my novel I attempt to convey the Zen-like qualities of pure yogic discipline. My agnostic hero is charmed by Hinduism, but finds his own way through its confusing mazes.

A lullaby to the sun.

At 4.30am precisely, a cream Ambassador car drew up alongside the narrow lane which lead to my hotel. I had startled the Gurkha guard when, at 4.15, I had asked to be let out of the locked gate. The streets were empty but I could hear movement in the ancient houses either side of the lane. India wakes early. The devout, which appears to number almost everyone, rise, shower and pray to their chosen deity.

The money-changer’s car sped along the empty roads, headlights picking out clumps of sleeping bodies huddling together upon the pavements. I was shocked – in those days in Kenya urban poverty was relatively uncommon. We slewed to a halt. The doors were flung open and we stepped along a narrow slit between houses. The sky opened up and I gazed at abundant stars. A faint patch of light towards the east hinted the day was about to begin and I made out the muddy course of the wide Yamuna.

We walked along the raised grassy bank until we came to a temple perched above the shallow valley the river had made. Perhaps forty women and men stood in silence. The old figure I recognised from the photo was busy lighting a lamp. He handed it to one of the women and his eyes turned towards to east, flicking aside his woollen shawl, he lifted his conch and blew. The low note hung in the chilly air as we watched day break. And as the sun burst forth with a brilliant note, bells and brass plates sounded as if its audience had gone mad.

Silence surrounded the dying notes and this was broken by the sadhu’s frail voice. As soon as he had completed the first line he was joined by the others and together they sang the sweetest lullaby to the the gods and I was charmed. What had happened. Months of meditation hadn’t done a thing, yet here I was stoned as a hippie on nothing but a simple lullabies. This most Indian of mementoes is still my favourite. In my novel the hero is likewise enchanted and despite his struggle to comprehend religion, his heart is softened by Arti’s repetition across the land each dawn and sunset.

Life’s a Pebble….

In the 1970s the British Pound was gold in your hand and the ample sum I had landed at Bombay with appeared never to run out. However, my Delhi hotel owner pleaded that he wanted pounds so he could take his dying daughter to a hospital in London where the Indian Rupee had no value. Ever the sucker for a sob story, I changed more than I had spent so far. Leaving the hotel feeling immensely righteous, somebody asked if I wanted a great Pound-Rupee rate – it was far better than the hotel’s. I hesitated, irritated at being betrayed earlier.

Indian hustlers are expert at reading you and he quickly threw his net over me, “Sahib, better rate giving more money to giving your guru! Guru happy, you happy, me happy, everyone happy. Come meeting Happy-Rate people. This verily Flower Power magic sahib!”

I followed the man in a floral pants and shirt who had dressed to haul in fools like me. We ducked in to a narrow alley where various touts tried to draw me in to dark shops to exchange my money. Finally we slipped between two low constructions. With their tin walls touching each shoulder I shuffled along, wondering if I’d be mugged.

We entered a yard and dived quickly into a breeze-block shack. I peered in to a room where two men with oily eyes looked up from a pile of dollars and pounds. One of them snapped impolitely, “How much you change?”
“Fifty Pounds please.”
They wrote down a rate and I suggested a better one that had been flung out from one of the shops we’d passed. I was told this was impossibly low. I made to leave, mentally preparing myself for an attack for not having completed the deal. The man in charge stepped before me, blocking the door. He glared at me without speaking, then said, “When leaving Delhi?”
“In a week’s time.”
“If you promise returning, I giving better rate now.”
I handed over my money and received a huge pile of money in return.
“This special rate. Your destiny to coming back.”
It was immensely special and I intended to return before heading off to see the guru I had longed to meet. I imagined myself handing over a sack full of cash as I was blessed for being such a nice guy.

The hustler slapped my shoulder, “Very Happy Flower Power Rate, sahib!”

The dealer smiled, “Guru very happy!” But he meant his guru and turned to whisper a prayer to a framed photo on his desk.

Intrigued, I looked more closely. A bare chested man wearing a sarong sat on a rock. His eyes were glaring at us as if he was about to perform a trick. “Where does your guru live?”
“Yamuna bank, Brahman temple.”
“You see him regularly?”
“Each dawn as sun rising over holy Yamuna River.”
“He looks very old.”
“These type, sahib, they timeless. They going and coming to heaven and earth like we taking bus across city.”
“The marks on his forehead….”
“Ash from dawn fire to Brahman. You liking this sage sahib?”
“Err, well, you see I’m actually…”
“Excellent. I picking you up tomorrow 4.30am. Waiting outside hotel! You see! Guru-ji, he great man, he arrange us meeting like this. He wishing blessing you!”

During our conversation the man’s countenance had altered dramatically. Gone was the dismal and devious money dealer. He was years younger, bright, alive, excited. Perplexed, I asked, “You are obviously a religious man….”
“Very very religious sahib!” His eyes shone with delight.
“So why do you do this illegal work?”
“Sahib, life very complex. Yamuna River stone, he begin as Himalayan rock. Ice it cut him loose. Boulder falling in Yamuna. Each year for countless year, boulder rolling down river bed, banging other boulder. This tough work he doing. Slowly he enter Plains and one day he land at Delhi shore.” The sermon stopped and the dealer reached forwards and picked up a pebble laying against the photo. He handed it to me.

Feeling how smooth it was, I smiled.
“Eventually all bagging and hard work making this sahib!” It was as if he had defined life. We are each smooth pebbles that are chiselled to perfection by life’s knocks.
“Tomorrow sunrise, sahib, we picking smooth Yamuna pebble for you!”

…………

More cameos are available at – kitmunro.com   &   kitmunro.blogspot.fr 

My Indian based novel will be available on Kindle in a few weeks……

Nandi the bull.

Suntanned as I was, still in my Western clothes I was a magnet for all who sought to gain a rupee as I stepped in time with the hoards leaving Delhi’s chaotic station. I was budged and shunted and grappled and tugged, and that was just the rickshaw and taxi drivers. “Sahib! I knowing best hotel in district!”
“Sir, I taking you honest place with all facility – even toilet!”
“Baba-ji, my cousin most enlightened man, he sadhu-in-suit!”

I’d obviously arrived in the right country for enlightenment. Smiling with satisfaction, I pushed through the scrum. Preferring to walk, I headed down a medieval street jammed with shops, shoppers and vehicles of every kind. I moved faster than straining rickshaw men shoving their three wheeled contraptions loaded far too high with hessian sacks or cardboard boxes. Another heaving rickshaw driver also pushed his load – a tangle of sixteen arms and legs with eight bodies and heads, thankfully all attached and telling each other jokes on their way to primary school.

A white bull stood in my way with his sober eyes taking me in. This was Nandi. I cherished the coincidence – I had grown up in Kenya with the illustrious Nandi tribe. Nandi belonged to Lord Shiva, creator of everything. Shiva, who put Brahman in charge because he had the important work of maintaining the universe’s constant evolution with his consort Parvati, the personification of the Divine Mother who sits in his lap for aeons of procreativity. Although still a convinced agnostic (which some might take as a contradiction, but one can be sure there is no certainty), I loved Hinduism’s practicality – womanhood’s role respected, gods having sex – how else do things propagate? The crowd parted. Several women and men ran the 3rd finger on their right hand along its spine before patting their third eye.

Ha! The third eye. That was partly what had drawn me to India. How logical, me-thought at the time, to have a window-to-the ‘soul’ which you could learn to open. The ‘soul’ – a simple element which connected you to infinite light. No need for gods, churches nor priests, only you and the eternal which you’d one day be able to open up to. That was another beauty of Hinduism – there is a place for the agnostic in pure Vedantic Yoga. Practical, physical, logical. Meditation, a posture following on from the stretching exercises, nothing more mystical than a tool which sharpens your mental faculties. Quite Zen, if you found the right practitioners….

Due to unfortunate circumstances, the reluctant hero in my novel, a serious ‘establishment’ Englishman, unexpectedly finds himself grappling with this nebulous inner world. Floundering to make sense of his crumbling self-image, he tries to comprehend Yoga’s base logic as three powerful women, each wise in their own way, and a humble herbalist gradually prod and prompt him along this illusive path until he discovers his own way out of the mess.

 

You may read more at – kitmunro.com

and find other Indian tales at – kitmunro.wblogspot.com