28 December 2008

Where Are You Tonight (Journey Through Dark Heat).


Talking to the two hotel desk clerks at the Buddha Maya last night, was interesting; our world views were very similar, but our views of America differed greatly.

How does one go about, skillfully explaining the truth of how things really are, without causing confusion or damaging and destroying their dreams?

The concept of Right speech is often one of the most challenging parts of the 8 fold path for me to practice; Jack’s ever so wise summation of it plays through my mind even now…

‘Does it need to be said?

Does it need to be said, by me?

Does it need to be said by me, now?’

While I still feel like I followed those ‘check points’, I don’t think I did a very good job of skillfully presenting my obviously passionate opinions, as their awareness of things like racism, sexism, political and corporate financial corruption, greed, and poverty existing in their perfect America, could be seen in their expressions.

Those are all concepts that they are all too familiar with, and often see in their own lives, but had never really considered that ‘the land of opportunity’ could share these unfortunate humanistic flaws, as well.

But then they mentioned hope. We spent a long time talking about the hope of Obama and the upcoming election. There is something so comforting that the idea of hope for a future to me, to America, and to the world, can come from one man.

This morning they were both very happy to see me; they expressed appreciation for our conversation as I left them a lot to think about. One of them shared with me his dream of moving to Australia and his desire to see the world without delusion; the good and the bad… the truth...

Buddha Maya Hotel staff.

After I was finished packing up my rucksack, I found myself filled with angst, even after meditating. I decided to listen to Craig’s Dhamma talk on Anxiety. It helped a bit, as I was full of anticipation caused by the uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen with the train ticket.

It was eating me up; the waiting list meant that I would not be able to get on to the train to Gaya….

I reminded myself that there would be other trains. For a brief moment, I felt better and eased up, but then the next queued thought arrived.

I was bummed that my time in Nepal was so short.

Next time…

The mind has a great way of causing so much unnecessary stress.

When I arrived at the Nepali immigration centre, I noticed my saddle bag was damp. I opened the bag to discover a tiny pond of water.

My water bottle cap had come off, spilling water all over, soaking everything; my beloved digital camera was in the bag.

…I wasn’t angry.

I was actually a bit surprised; my disappointment didn’t lead to a cursing temper tantrum, but rather the thought of, ‘aww, man… oh, well’ and then it was over.

I knew that Nikesh had a Digicam, and I had my camera on my mobile. Getting angry was not going to dry up or fix my camera; I am in another part of the world and I want to enjoy my time… Anger will only distract me from the beauty of everything that I am seeing, smelling, and experiencing...

Plus I was hungry.

Shortly after walking across the border, I was approached by two men asking if I wanted to take a car to Gorakhpur.

‘How much?’


‘Naheen! The bus is only 55rupees!’

‘But sir, the bus, very crowded and makes many stops; the car is faster.’

‘70rupees, no stopping.’

‘100rupees, we make two stops.’

‘Naheen. Shukriyaa.’

Yeah, India is totally different from Nepal; I can’t help but laugh as I was haggling over the $3 car ride service.

That’s ‘chump change’… right?

Thinking about it, these car services are specifically targeting backpacking foreigners, attempting to take away business from the local buses for an individualized profit; this may not seem like a big deal, but the normalcy of haggling is a cultural custom, however when an alternate business starts gaining a profit from the absence of this norm, the impacts are felt in the local business.

The buses, in these regions, are heavily traveled by locals and backpacking foreigners. With the loss of the foreigners because they don’t mind paying the higher ‘un-haggled’ price or are just unaware of the lower priced buses, it could potentially impact the fare of the buses, making it difficult for the locals that rely on the buses, to afford what I call ‘chump change.’

I am traveling through a developing country and must respect and understand their customs and be aware or mindful of my actions, particularly as I travel away from of the large cities.

With that said, the bus ride back to Gorakhpur seemed longer and more crowded… ha.

I had a little boy sitting next to me. Waving to him and shaking his hand, I befriended him right away, offering him a piece of gum. He saw my arm and exclaimed the only word we both understood, ‘tattoo!’ as he quickly began the curious examination, forcing and contorting my arm to see the dual winged flames.

45minutes in, I looked over at him to see his head bobbing for apples; I guided his sleepy head to my shoulder.

bus ride buddy.

The bus pulled into the main street, terminating in front of the Gorakhpur Railway station. I gathered my rucksack from the trunk of the bus and hopped in a rickshaw and headed to the Hotel Bobina.

This place is nice, but is definitely ‘India’; I feel like they’ve spruced everything up just to draw the westerners; the ‘Hollywood set’ hotel rooms with fake doors and windows that open onto drywall, the bathroom sink that drains to the tiled floor, light switches that are glued into position, and the hot water knobs that do not turn.

So hilarious…I love it!

I decided to go find the nearest internet centre. It ended up being a good walk, and quite frankly, I’m surprised that I found it at all.

I checked up on tomorrow’s train ticket; I was still on the waiting list. After an hour of checking out the other train schedules and searching for available tickets, I found a train leaving Varanasi for Gaya, the day after tomorrow.

This meant I would have a layover in Varanasi for the night… Better yet, it meant I could spend the night in Sarnath! I became excited by the idea of going back to the Jain Paying Guest House, and that I would be able to visit all four of the main historic Buddhist pilgrimage sites, in one trip… awesome.

I canceled the train ticket and with it, the stress that I carried with me through Nepal ceased.

I checked my e-mails, a lot of replies from my mass e-mail that I sent out yesterday. I wrote Sis, letting her know that I was ok.

Walking back to the hotel, two hours later, I was hungry and was looking for places to eat. I remembered reading in the trusty Lonely Planet book that the restaurant at the Hotel Bobina was recommended… so I decided to eat there.

Earlier when I was checking into my room, the guy across the hall, in a very sickly and very British voice, was placing an order for room service. I asked him what was wrong and he explained that he had been sick in bed for 4 days and had a bad case of diarrhea.

I went into my rucksack and handed him two Imodim-AD’s.

He was very grateful.

After placing my order at the restaurant, I went upstairs to check up on the ‘sick brit’ to see if he needed any water or food. He was feeling better from the early donations I had made, but felt that rest was all he needed now. I went to my room and emptied out a good chunk of my pro-biotics into a plastic bag; I gave him the remaining pills in the bottle, explaining how they could help on his adventures.

It felt good to be able to help.

As I was heading back to the restaurant, I passed by a guy that I recognized from the bus from Sunauli, and said hello. Richard invited me to join him and his girlfriend, Sara, for dinner. It felt nice to have company for dinner.

We laughed as we exchanged tales of our travels, talked about Global politics, and just about life.

Richard and Sara were from England and were also on a 4week trip through India, with a pass through Nepal.

The food was delicious.

After Dinner, I thanked them for the company and parted ways, heading back to my room.

I pulled the tattered business card for the Jain Paying Guest House from my travel folder and dialed the number on my mobile. Reservation confirmed.

My train departs at 5.20 in the morning, for Varanasi. Waking up at 4.00; goodnight.

(Where Are You Tonight (Journey Through Dark Heat) - Bob Dylan)

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