POSTCARD 146: Delhi: The early flight from Bangkok arrives in Delhi mid-morning local time. It feels like everything that brought me here has vanished; a curious missing piece of time, the four hours of travelling, and before that the Thai departures, the check-in desk, and before that the taxi that took me to the airport from my house in the darkness of very early morning, more like the middle of the night – all that has gone, the past is like a half-remembered dream.
I suddenly wake up in the middle of a Delhi traffic jam and it’s really confusing to be in this bright daylight after the darkness of the aircraft cabin. The transition into this reality so rapid, the split-second required for it to take form is… missing, yet an awareness of it having taken place remains – or the feeling that something just happened, whatever, and having to allow for the curious delay in the time it takes to recognize what’s going on. Suddenly there’s the blare of car horns from behind and vehicles overtaking as the driver adjusts to avoid a motorbike coming towards us on the nearside (why’s that man driving on the wrong side of the road?).
There’s an alertness, anticipated danger, preparedness… the car is buffeted around, rock-and-roll, accelerated, braked, jerked, vibrated and three lines of speed bumps one meter apart cause the vehicle to jolt six times. Then it stops. There’s an obstruction up front. Horns continue to blare and protest. What to do? The one-way system in Delhi is unrelenting; it can take a very long time to get back to where you want to be. So when the driver sees a gap in the flow and makes a smooth wide U-turn straight across four lanes of traffic, I feel like breaking into applause as we speed away in the opposite direction.
A few short turns through streets I’ve never been in before and we arrive at the house. Me and my suitcase of compressed, flat-pack clothing, ‘self’ assembly; get into the bathroom, shower, put on new clothes, and become someone else, an assumed identity. Step into the room: So, how was the flight? Yes okay not too crowded. Suddenly aware of having to speak in codes, chunks of language created by air forced through vocal cords squeaks like the reed of a wind instrument, and rolling articulated back throat cavities, deep volumes of sound, gasp and split bits of wet air that whistle and chirp for an instant in tongue, teeth and lip. Thought associates words which insist on naming things, integrate pieces of the jigsaw puzzle; a picture emerging as I speak, yet changing constantly according to the way the parts fit together.
Objects have that strange familiarity, rush towards me like old acquaintances… remember me? There’s a book on the desk, open it at the page where the marker was left the last time I visited. Return to that place but can’t recognize anything. The ‘now’ moment is here and in all other locations at the same time. All I can do is dig up a few artifacts from recent history before I have to go on again; the point of origin is so distant, I’d never find the way back to the beginning …
“The intimacy and immediacy of the now… is our only security. It is utterly vulnerable and completely secure. No harm can come to us in the now, no sorrow and no death. All our longing longs only for this.” [The Intimacy and Immediacy of the Now, by Rupert Spira]