Well, that’s a grandiose title . . . but I’ll explain.
After suffering my little scam and walk-about in downtown Mumbai, I went back at the hotel and met my driver, Mr. Kumar (provided by the United States – India Education Foundation), who would take me to Pune, about 3 hours away. In India, if you’re traveling to a destination that’s less than four hours or so to drive, many people hire a driver, rather than pay for airfare or negotiate the trains or buses. These people are those of the middle class, of course, and it’s interesting to note that the middle class in India is about 250 million, which is not far from the total US population of some 300 million.
Mr. Kumar spoke great English. My Hindi is nil, so he made up for my ignorance, and we had a great drive. He’s a slow, safe driver — the first I’ve encountered in India! When Jennifer and the boys come, we’ll hire him for our midnight ride to Pune. Thanks, Mr. Kumar!
We you reach Pune, one of the coolest sights you see is women everywhere in saris on motorcycles. Well, those are not saris, but salwar kameezes, but you get the idea. Most people cover their faces, due to the two-cylinder smoke and pollution, caused by motor bikes and auto-rickshaws.
Before long we reached a flat belonging to my friends Karishma and Udo, the place I stayed three years ago,
and it felt like a wonderful homecoming. I had such a transformative experience there in 2011. If you remember from the 2011 account, Karishma and Udo are German devotees of my spiritual teacher. The first time I came they let me stay in this flat for free; they took me under their wing, and although I’m a bit older than Karishma, she and Udo take care of me like I’m a long-lost son. Of Greek descent, Karishma must have been my mother in a past life! (Pardon my reprinting of a couple of photos form the first blog, but Udo and Karishma are now in Germany.) Udo felt immediately like a brother to me. Though I see them rarely, they are two of my dearest friends. They came to see Ma Indira Devi some twenty-five years ago, and had such powerful spiritual experiences they moved here and stayed. They came as penniless young devotees, now they own several flats around the ashram. They are currently back in Germany as of last year, because they’ve adopted an Indian boy, and the adoption will work out better from there.
So, I got moved into their nice apartment, full of anticipation for the coming days.
Next: Visiting the University of Pune and the Ashram.