POSTCARD #126: Delhi: Jiab went to Jaipur and sent me this pic of a cow walking past the Hanuman Ji Temple. This lovely cow seems so unconcerned, passers-by too; harmony, things just moving along. All kinds of beings going on their way, dressed in this body given to us – not perfect maybe but this is not a perfect world – and I’m saying that because of waiting here in the hospital drinking bottles and bottles of water before I have the ultrasound scan of the abdomen. Anyway no urine pressure yet, the nurse says with a frown, and tells me to drink more water.
So I’m sitting on the hard chair in the corridor watching the strangest people go by. There’s an Imam dressed in white with long grey beard, ancient men in strange costumes I’ve never seen before – could it be Afghanistan? There’s an Arab lady dressed in black, head to toe with a slit for eyes to see the world through. All kinds of amazing beings… and I suppose I must look pretty strange to them too.
Then I receive the pic of the cow on my phone… wow! There’s something about India; this enlarged context, the all-inclusiveness. The first thing you notice is how it looks from the outside rather than what’s inside, the context is where the thoughts are situated, the content is what the thoughts are about. In India the diversity is tremendous; language, culture, behavioral protocol. People can’t easily share thoughts, that ordinary intimacy is not there in the way we know it in the West.
Anyway, I’m still having this problem, and think maybe if I walk around a bit that’ll help create urine pressure. I have to go to the pharmacy section to pay the bill for some medicine so I’ll do that. Ask how much it is, and it’s 294 Rupees, so I give the man a 500 note and he asks me if I have smaller change – this is always an issue in India – so I have a look and manage to dig out all the small notes I have to give him 300 rupees, I get my 6 rupees change and the man looks pleased, I paid the amount in full and the fact that I have no small change left, is not his concern – how could it be? What to do? Only the 500 note and the rest are thousand notes. I have only a few tens but this is not a good situation to be in, nobody has change for large notes.
Go to the canteen and buy a bottle of water for 15 rupees, I give him 20 rupees and he asks me if I have the 5 rupees… here we go again. So I can’t find the 6 rupees anywhere – where is it? Lost deep in my bag somewhere. Okay never mind about the 5 rupees, keep it. Mumbling and unhappy about all these hoarders of small change, go sit in my place and gulp down the bottle of water. Still no urine urge, have to drink more water, go back to the water guy and give him my last 20 rupees, assuming he still hasn’t got 5 rupees change. He gives me the bottle for 10 rupees in lieu of the extra 5 rupees I paid last time!
Suddenly my faith in the world is restored, and immediately I have this urgent need to go see the ultrasound nurse. She admits me and there’s that cold slithery thing moving around the lower abdomen. But it’s done, next stop is the toilet and all is well.
“The Dalai Lama once said that the things he found most surprising about Westerners was their self hatred […]. In Tibet, he said, only the village idiot feels self hatred.” [Thanissaro Bhikkhu]