I feel like being in India is teaching me all kinds of little but important lessons. Perhaps it’s because I have the luxury of time each day to do asana, pranayama and meditation, such that I’m more open to them; I think such life lessons are probably there for the taking at any point, as long as we’re looking out for them.
Anyway, here’s a lovely example from yesterday afternoon.
I had just had another castor oil massage with Lekhan (I’m trying to have these once a week, but have decided the DIY version is way too faffy – although I still have a bag of castor oil in the cupboard [oil usually comes in plastic bags in India – weird] so may try one more time). Anyway, Lekhan lives next door to Mr Seen, otherwise known by Lakshipuram yogis as ‘the bread man’, so I decided to pay him a visit. Mr Seen lives in a humble abode – not much more than a room, with his bed in it as well as a small stand-alone oven on a shelf, where the magic happens. Piles of bread tins are stacked behind the door and there’s a whiff of baking in the air. His elderly mother is often sat on a stool in the corner of the room, from where she beams at you through twinkly-wrinkly eyes.
Disconcertingly, Mr Seen is what I call a ‘hawker’, by which I mean someone well versed in the Indian tradition of snorting up phlegm continuously, regardless of social situation, even when this situation involves the transfer of edibles. Interestingly, this tradition doesn’t seem to extend to the women – it’s just certain men. But, boy, they do it well. The security guard in the house next to Mandira does it every morning in the garden, bent over with hands on knees, sounding like he’s practically making himself sick, which usually coincides with me making my morning cuppa – a rude awakening shall we say. You will hear this sound at any point when wandering around the Mysore streets, often wafting out of an open window – an interesting cultural difference. Anyway, I digress…
Aside from being a hawker, Mr Seen is a lovely man with a kind face, protruding teeth, a well tended comb-over and an invariably smart attire of shirt and trousers. He makes millet bread, ragi bread (ragi is a healthy type of grain that includes the elusive protein, much-needed by yogis in Mysore), tahini paste, peanut butter and almond butter. I sampled a bit of his almond butter and nearly drooled on his floor – divine. So, happily, I bought from him a ragi loaf and some almond butter, looking forward to indulging when I returned home.
Off I trotted happily up the street, deciding to pay a trip to the fruit man first as I was out of bananas. As I put the change he’d given me back in my wallet I had a realisation that he’d given me too much (there had been a bit of confusion at the time of exchange so I wasn’t surprised). So I headed back and explained to him the mistake – he misunderstood and thought I was saying he’d under-paid and began to defend himself, but when he realised I was trying to give him back 200 rupees he gave me a glorious smile and put his hands on his heart, in the lovely way that Indians do to show their appreciation and respect.
Feeling happy that things were sorted and that he was happy, I headed off again to buy bananas. As I was walking I heard a moped scooter slow down beside me. Mr Seen was riding alongside me – he passed me a big bag of lovely looking bananas and said, ‘Madam these are for you as you are very much appreciated.’ Gratefully I took them, overcome by his kindness and generosity, and marvelling at how good deeds generate goodness – in this case everyone was a winner and we both went away feeling really happy and inspired by another’s kindness. A truly perfect example of karma; what goes around comes around.
Being here is teaching me lots about the simple principles by which I would like to live my life – honesty, integrity, generosity, compassion, respect… Thank you Mr Seen… 🙂 (And the resultant feast of bread, almond butter, honey, ghee and bananas was a triumph too!)