Friday, June 24, 2016

Life is Actually Simple!

In January 2000, I decided to do a 5 month long e-business course in Delhi. I reached the course venue on the commencement date, and met with my fellow students. They were all in their 20s. The lone foreigner doing the course was Vince, an American. Vince generally kept aloof, and I too never asked him anything personal, as I had learnt that it is taboo to ask an American about his personal life, unless of course he knows you well enough and is willing to share stuff with you.

However, over a period of time he developed a rapport with me and started sharing his ideas, thoughts and views with me. One day, Vince confided to me about his dream of starting a software company with an aim of earning money. He further said that he wanted to earn a million dollars so that he could buy a cottage on the beach in Virginia, his home town. Dreamily he continued that the cottage would have a private beach in which he would sit in his easy chair and relax, doing nothing. Over a period of time, he was willing to share more with me, without my asking.

I noticed that Vince would vanish on Friday evening's and would appear back in class on Monday. This happened on almost every weekend. After about three months into the course, we were friendly enough for me to invite Vince to my place for a meal over the weekend. He declined the invitation saying that all his weekends were booked in Rishikesh. He had rented a room at Rs 300 per day for all his remaining weekends in India. The room was located on the banks of the Ganges, as it emerged from the hills. He told me that the view was very beautiful, and that he really enjoyed the serenity and peace during his stay at Rishikesh.

On return after one weekend, he was all excited and showed me some photographs of himself along with a sadhu who had long matted hair and was wearing only a loin cloth, and ash. This sadhu had built a small hut for himself on the banks of river, and was living in that. Vince told me that the sadhu could speak fluent English and had been a professor in a college who had retired to Rishikesh to go through his 'vanprasth' (going to the jungle) ashram. He had renounced everything worldly, and had finally settled for good on the banks of the sacred river. Vince confided that he had had many conversations with this sadhu, and also with many others like him, during his numerous visits to Rishikesh during the four months that we were together until then. Of course like a true American, he had taken a number of photographs of monkeys, elephants, snakes and the likes, all in close human contact. He also had some photographs with a python around his own neck.  He even had one with the python wrapped all around him.
A Representative image of a Sadhu: Courtesy Google Images.

His weekend visits continued, and he had many things to share. After one such weekend visit, he told me that his Indian sojourn had given rise to a dilemma in his mind. He went on to mention his ‘dream’ once again. With a dreamy look thereafter, he philosophically observed that, I want to earn one million dollars so as to relax on the beach, doing nothing, and here is this sadhu who has nothing except a loin cloth and a few other belongings doing exactly what I want to do after all this struggle. He ran out of words thereafter, and I too was totally dumb struck. We both looked at each other in silence. We were too busy trying to comprehend the enormity of this realisation. I still wonder at times about this incident. Is life actually that simple? I know it is, but my senses force me to think otherwise.

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