RETURN TO PARADISE

1- Feeding kangaroos near Adelaide

Hot sun tortured me. What should I expect when my twisted brain imagined megalithic Buddha lying in the form of Uluru (Ayers) Rocks in the middle of the great Australian desert? Even in his transcendent vision, Buddha could not have seen that such a land existed. How dare I attribute and give credit to this mortal human being for creating nature’s another magnificent work of art? (http://bigbangyoga.org/birthday-on-the-rocks/). I should have left Buddha alone happy with his Golden Rock covered with glittering gold in Myanmar (http://bigbangyoga.org/buddhas-rock-in-kenya/ ).

2 Koala bear

Naturally intense activity broke down my normal routine and made me lazy in many other ways. My five attempts to lose weight by jogging failed miserably. In Whakatane, the most easterly point of New Zealand, an early morning jog before heat and humidity descended, revived my spirit a little. I boarded the boat to the famous sulphur emitting White Island volcano discovered by James Cook.

Nevertheless, for this folly, I deserved to be punished. Over 40°C for four long days almost dried me up into a skeleton. What deliverance when I jumped into the Qantas three hour flight to Sydney.

3 White Island volcano NZ

For eight weeks I crisscrossed south-eastern Australia and New Zealand North mostly by bus, staying in youth hostels and backpackers, visiting cities and surrounding countryside on foot, looking for koala bears and elusive kiwi birds in the wild, feeding kangaroos, chasing away the fearless emus and doing haka with Maoris.

 In the excitement of returning to Switzerland , I foolishly ventured on the morning before, to jog in the national reserve near our residence in the outskirts of Sydney (West Pymble) without realizing that wilderness in Australia can start just on the other side of the house fence and it is so easy to lose oneself. And that is exactly what happened to me.

4 La Clusaz-Beauregard, France

Just seeing snow on the Alps felt like deliverance. Once recovered from travel fatigue I ventured to the the Alps in March. The bright blue sky contrasted with glittering white snow on the mountains above La Clusaz near Mont Blanc in France with temperature touching 14°C.  In the lively company of six women from different cultural backgrounds, I followed a snowy track to an altitude of 1670 meters where we enjoyed a well-deserved lunch surrounded by snow and with a view of Mont Blanc.  What an exquisite sight!

5 Mont Blanc

This outing dissipated all the stored up Australian heat in my body! However, my usual jogging stamina is still out of order. To test it, I jogged and connected a number of Geneva public parks on the right bank of River Rhône. Look at the shameful time of 65 minutes I took to cover less than 7km! Is it a punishment for being disrespectful to Buddha or have I aged faster in the southern hemisphere?

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La revanche du Dieu Agni 

La revanche du Dieu Agni 

4 juin 2017: Agni, Dieu du Feu, fait monter la chaleur avec une fougue vengeresse.  Hier, il faisait 44°C et maintenant, à 17.00 il fait 50°C.  Il a coupé l’alimentation en électricité pour un temps indéterminé, et ainsi il a arrêté le système d’air conditionné que je venais d’installer dans ma maison à Tajpur, mon village d’origine au Punjab. Quelques semaines plus tôt, alors qu’Agni avait l’attention détournée par les problèmes climatiques du monde, et qu’il essayait de raisonner les personnes difficiles comme M. Trump, il ne m’avait pas vu, moi, le petit hydrologue insignifiant et à la retraite, lançant sa campagne pour soulager les effets de la sécheresse dans certains pays du monde, avec l’aide d’Indra, Dieu de la Pluie.  En janvier, ma fille m’avait appelé: “Tu es hydrologue, alors fais quelque chose.  Il n’a pas plu depuis six ans, en Californie.  Les gens en souffrent.”  À peine le pied posé au sol, le dieu de la pluie se montra dans toute sa splendeur pendant trois semaines.  La soif de la Californie  était pleinement étanchée.  Mais Dieu Indra déborda d’enthousiasme et provoqua des crues, des inondations.  Il m’a obligé à interrompre mon voyage depuis Los Angeles sur cette magnifique route côtière bordant le Pacifique et il avait aussi provoqué des glissements de terrain, notamment à la hauteur des plus beaux points de vue sur l’Océan.  Il nous a forcé à rentrer dans les terres et à passer la nuit dans la célèbre ville universitaire de San Luis de Obispo.  J’ai pris l’autoroute intérieure vers Monterey, puis nous avons mis le cap vers le Sud, le long de la côte du Pacifique.  Après la contemplation des beautés de la terre et de la mer, notre journée s’est terminée dans la demeure du grand écrivain Henry Miller (Tropique du Cancer), maison qui a toujours conservé son état originel.  Les Californiens ont été contents de nous, moi et Indra. Un prétexte me mena à Colombo, au Sri Lanka, le 13 mai.  Les pluies de mousson hésitaient encore à arriver.  Mais peut-être était-ce moi qui avais tardé à apparaître.  J’ai vu une mer courroucée déferler violemment sur les berges.  Après avoir célébré le mariage de Jassi, un Sikh kenyan du Canada, et de Caroline, une Tamil sri-lankaises du Canada, tous deux médecins fraîchement diplômés, j’ai rejoint 25 autres Sikh ex-kenyans pour la plupart, pour une visite guidée de l’île, jusqu’à Anuradhapura, dans le nord.

Mariage canadien dans un lieu de séjour huppé de Colombo Le Dieu de la Pluie, Indra, me rattrapa.  Les pluies annonciatrices de la mousson s’étaient abattues sur la région de Colombo avec un peu d’avance et une violence considérable.  Deux jours plus tard il causait des crues et des morts.  Comme vous en ce moment, je commençais à me suspecter moi-même d’être la cause de tout ce bien et tout ce mal. Mon atterrissage à Bengaluru (Bengalore) m’a donné des frayeurs.  Une puissante rafale a fait tanguer l’avion, puis un grand bond, avant de se redresser en douceur.  Etait-ce un signe précurseur?  À peine sortis de l’aéroport dans la voiture de mon cousin qui nous emmenait chez lui à 45 km de là, il s’est mis à tomber des cordes.  Le trafic a dû s’arrêter.  Il nous a fallu plus de deux heures pour arriver à destination.  Des arbres ont été déracinés, les lignes électriques coupées, les routes bloquées et de  nombreux dégâts aux maisons.  Les météorologistes le savent bien: dans les régions tropicales, on peut s’attendre à tout. J’ai beaucoup apprécié le climat salubre de Bengaluru, notamment lors d’une excursion vers la station de montagne de Medikeri, dans la région tribale de Coorg.  Pendant ce temps, Dieu Agni se préparait fébrilement à défaire tous les ouvrages de ce petit hydrologue.  Il l’attendait pour lui infliger une torture tout spéciale.  Dès que l’avion avait commencé son approche de Chandigarth, je savais que les 37 degrés C m’attendaient.  J’étais heureux de voir des nuages blancs s’écouler le long de la carlingue.  Je me sentais en quelque sorte rassuré : Indra, Dieu de la Pluie, était à mes côtés.  J’ai raconté mon récit météorologique à la personne qui m’accueillait.  “Nous ne prévoyons pas encore de pluie. La mousson est encore loin” me dit-il.  Miracle!  Le lendemain matin nous recevions une pluie très rafraîchissante et la température tomba à un niveau tolérable.  Je pensais que j’avais toujours ma chance d’hydrologue et qu’Indra me soutenait.  Comment pouvais-je savoir que l’averse de pluie était là uniquement pour me jouer un vilain tour?

Apprendre sous 50°C dans le village de Tajpur, Punjab

Dans le village, il fait toujours et encore 50°C.  Quelle chance que mon air conditionné marche à fond pour garder la chambre moins chaude.  Je n’ose pas sortir, de peur que Dieu Agni en personne ne m’attrape par le cou et me fasse fondre en moins qu’une loque.  Et puis j’ai remarqué que la chaleur – pareille à celle d’un four – ne semblait pas déranger ces étudiants de terminale en train de suivre un cours privé, trouvant du confort avec un simple ventilateur de plafond. J’ai survécu.

Naginder Sehmi (Traduction Ilse Bourgain)

BIRTHDAY ON THE ROCKS!

 

BIRTHDAY ON THE ROCKS!

I will not apologize for returning to the Golden Rock in Myanmar (Burma) or the Bondo Rock in Kenya (http://bigbangyoga.org/buddhas-rock-in-kenya/) because I’m standing in front of another formidable stupa-like red rock. Here I remembered that it was my birthday with hand raised to swipe away flies!
Who could have constructed such a perfect stupa? Only perfect Buddha! Yet I have never heard of any relic of his hair or bone or eye brought to this arid centre of Australia. Being eighty-one year old Indian, naturally I felt some spiritual pride thinking of Buddha.

After reading its geological origin, I imagined that more than 500 million years ago Buddha started digging material high up in nearby mountains and deposited it below in the form of two long tongues some 10 kilometres deep. He did not realize that 50 million years later the sea will submerge nearly the entire continent and his handiwork would come to nothing. It took another million years for Buddha to push the sea back. He was surprised to discover that the tongues were covered with thick mud and sand compressing them into hard rocks. Finding it impossible to dig them out he shook the earth and at the same time pushed the first tongue – a little too much so that the horizontal layers became vertical.

Not happy with is work he turned it into a mega monolithic rock the biggest of this type exposed on this earth. Rain nor wind has succeeded in breaking it down yet. Not long ago an Englishman, the first white man to climb this sacred Uluru rock of the Aborigines, assigned it his own name: Ayers Rock. Recently the name was officially changed to  Uluru/Ayers Rock.

New Moses: parting mountains is more difficult than parting the sea!

Buddha had little force left to handle the second tongue now called Kata Tjuta about 40km  away. He just managed to tilt it a little causing cracks at several places. But he managed to sculpt beautiful stupas using rain and wind making it definitely more interesting to visit. 

He died of hard work and took the shape of the rock itself never to reincarnate.

That was over 400 million years ago. Hindus and Buddhists cannot imagine that the red and yellow ochre colour of the rocks is the origin of their ochre togas. Scrutinizing more carefully and linking it to the tale my guide recounted l concluded that the cavernous smooth cave must be the womb that gave birth to Buddha. Next to it is his nursery school!

 

Then I saw his enormous cyclopean third eye and his broad smile.

Almost half a million pilgrims travel annually to offer their respects at considerable cost and will-power to this remote natural monument especially to witness the breath-taking sunrises and sunsets illuminating the rocks in a multitude of red and crimson. Yogis, Buddhist monks, rishis, or sadhus have not yet set up their temples here. Ignorance!

Under skin of these rocky conglomerates is grey. Buddha ensured that there would not be any need to cover the domes and stupas with gold leaf as done in Myanmar. He ensured that the rusting of iron and other mineral content in the top layer would give the most beautiful ever-changing natural colours that no human, god or goddess could give.

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God Agni’s Revenge

Learning under 50°C in Tajpur village, Punjab

Canadian marriage in Colombo, Sri Lanka

God Agni’s revenge, 4 June 2017
Agni the god of fire is reving up the temprature with vengence. Yesterday it was 44C, Just now at 17.00 it is 50C. He has cut electric power supply indefinitely to stop my newly installed AC in my house in Tajpur my village of origin in Punjab.
It looks that Agni was preoccupied with world’s climate problems. It’s understandable when he, rather she, had to handle difficult persons like Mr Trump. Naturally she did not notice me, a retired hydrologist, launching a campaign of elevating drought in some parts of the world, of course with the help of the hidden hand of rain god Indra.
In January my daughter called, “ You’re a hydrologist, do something. It has not rained for six years in California. People are suffering.”
No sooner had I set my foot down the rain god appeared in full splendor for three weeks. California’s thirst was fully quenched . But god Indra became over enthusiastic and caused floods, innudations and  stopped me driving along the picturesque Pacific coast route by causing landslides blocking the road at the most scenic points. He made us go inland and to spend the night in the well known university town of San Luis of Obisipo. Then I drove along the inland highway to Monterey and turned  south again. Besides watching the wonderful beauty of marvelous sites I landed in the house of the famous writer Henry Miller,(Tropic of Cancer) still in its original form. Californians were pleased with Indra.
For a petty excuse I landed in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 13 May. Monsoon rains were hesitant to arrive, may be I was slow to show up. I saw angry sea beat against the shore furiously. After celebrating the marriage of Jassi, a Canadian/Kenyan Sikh to Caroline, a Canadian Sri Lankan Tamil, both newly graduated medical doctors I joined twenty five mostly ex-Kenyan Sikhs a guided tour northwards to Anunradhapur. The rain god pursued me. Pre-monsoon rains struck Colombo area early with considerable violence. Two days later he caused floods and deaths.

Like you I started to suspect that I was the cause of all that good and bad.
My landing in Bengaluru (Bangalore) was scary. A powerful gust made the plane swing and jump before straightening coolly. Was that a foreboding. No sooner I started to drive with cousin Harmandir forty-five kilometres to his house it started to rain cats and dogs. Traffic came to standstill. It took us more than two hours to reach home. Trees had been uprooted , electric lines cut, roads blocked, and a lot of damage to property. The unexpected can happen in tropical regions. I enjoyed the salubrious clime of Bengaluru with a trip to the hill station of Medikeri in the Coorg tribal region.
In the meantime, Agni god was furiously preparing to undo the makings of the hydrologist. He was waiting to inflict a special torture. I knew 37 C waited me. From plane approaching Chandigarh I was happy to see white clouds flowing with my plane. I felt reassured somewhat, the rain god Indra was going with me. I recounted my story to my host.
“we do not expect any rain yet. Monsoon is far away” he said.
Miracle. Next morning we received a very refreshing rain and the temperature dropped to tolerable level. I thought I still had hydrologist’s luck and Indra supporting me. That rain shower was only to hoodwink me.
In Tajpur it is still 50C. What luck my AC is working hard to keep the room less warm. I dare not go out lest Agni god himself might grab me and melt me to nothing.

RESPECT THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

 

I had encountered the spirit of Stonehenge on the Island of the Celts (now England) in October 2016 (http://bigbangyoga.org/my-return-to-stone-age/ ). It
foresaw my intentions and where I was going and  landed on the Pacific coast before I. May be it was there and everywhere all the time. How could I  know? , Well, I continue to encounter coincidences as I always did before. The day I decided to see San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge I learnt that GGB was inaugurated also in 1937. I felt a deep sentimental affinity towards it. I got a feeling to celebrate our 80th anniversary intimately.  Instead of using a car and running over it in two minutes, I rented a bike and started peddling towards it.

SanFransisco-1 (26)

Apparently the Stonehenge spirit embodied the bridge. It did not like me meeting him  even riding a bike.  He made the rear tire of Karin’s bike come off the rim so that I approach him more respectfully on foot.

SanFransisco-pneuCreve

We walked up the hill to his level and found a replacement bike at the Visitors’ Center. On a bright and windy day I showed my affection by feeling his sidebar then leaning frequently over it to see the Pacific Ocean flowing under it. I touched his mighty impressive cable passing over stalwart cable-supporting struts. They are so high; to see the top my aged stiff neck took some strain.

We cycledSanFransisco-1 (52) across the bridge zigzagging through sightseers avoiding other bikers and frequently stopping to takes pictures, hoping that no one else has pictured him before from our angle of view  We descended to Sausalito, the ancient fisherman’s port now accommodates yachts of the rich and boats of the poor. Visitors go there to see the spectacular skyline of San Francisco city. We crossed the Bay on a ferry that enabled us to see Angel Island from close and the varying views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the prison island of Alcatraz. From the city harbour we biked and stopped to see the famous Wharf 39 inhabited by roaring cantankerous sea lions.  .

 

LA MAGIE DE STONEHENGE

Un retour à l’âge de pierre : La magie de Stonehenge   

(From WMO Amicale Bulletin, December 2016)

Le  site  de  Stonehenge  m’avait  fasciné,  la première fois qu’on m’en avait parlé à l’école, il y  a de ça plus d’un demi­siècle.  J’avais été dans les  parages  d’innombrables  fois,  mais  je  ne  l’avais  jamais vu.  Mais je suis conscient que le bout de  vie  que  j’ai  parcouru  est  insignifiant  en  termes  géologiques.

stonehenge-2016-15

(Photo by Karin Nyffenegger)

En septembre 2016, une baisse soudaine de  mes activités avait engendré un espace de temps  vide  et  une  déprime  que  je  n’arrivais  pas  à  surmonter.  Mon esprit me suggéra de remplir ce  vide par un séjour en Angleterre, avec nulle autre  mission que de rencontrer des gens et de visiter  des  lieux  –  pas  de  mariages,  pas  de  nouveaux  nés,  pas  d’anniversaires  et  pas  de  funérailles.   Vous  ne  me  croirez  peut­être  pas,  mais  ma  première attirance fut de « retourner à l’âge de  pierre »  et  de  présenter  mes  respects  à  Stonehenge.      Le mercredi 28 septembre, l’autocar partant  de  la  gare  Victoria,  à  Londres,  me  conduisit  au  fameux site.  De loin, j’aperçus le cercle magique  de  pierres,  sur  un  replat  de  colline,  la  lumière  pâlissante du soleil en fin d’après-midi jaillissant  au travers des piliers.

Le  petit  vent  frais  n’a  pas  calmé  mon  excitation.  Je  n’ai  pas  besoin  de  vous  décrire  Stonehenge,  qui  attire  des  millions  de  visiteurs.   Après en avoir fait le tour avec recueillement, je  me  suis  éloigné  en  me  retournant  à  plusieurs  reprises  pour  l’embrasser  encore  d’un  dernier  regard.  Il  est  incroyable  que,  peu  après  cette  visite,  j’apprenne  qu’une  dent  de  chien,  de  race  alsacienne, avait été déterrée près de Stonehenge.   Le chien avait apparemment parcouru 250 miles  (400  km)  depuis  York  avec  son  maître,  il  y  a  quelque 7000 ans en arrière, bien avant que le  fameux cercle de pierre ne soit érigé il y a environ  2000  ans  (BBC,  7  octobre  2016).    Quand  j’y  pense, je me dis que, tout comme le maître du  chien, j’aurais bien aimé marcher depuis la Suisse  à  travers  nos  jungles  de  béton  et  les  enchevêtrements de nos routes.  De retour dans  l’autocar, je fus pris d’un regret: j’aurais dû cacher  l’une  de  mes  dents  quelque  part,  de  sorte  que  l’archéologue  (probablement  venu  d’une  autre  planète) puisse prouver avec fierté, en 4016, que  moi, être humain, avait fait le voyage de Genève à  Stonehenge!    Rien qu’à cause de la magie de Stonehenge, il  s’est produit plusieurs coïncidences. En prévision  de mon arrivée, l’esprit de Stonehenge avait pris  le contrôle de toutes mes intentions avant même  que je mette pied sur l’île de Stonehenge.  Ce que  je  vais  vous  raconter  sont  mes  pensées  a  posteriori;  je  n’aurais  pas  pu  les  avoir  plus  tôt,  quand les premières sensations de l’automne me  faisaient  penser  que  je  pourrais  tomber  comme  une feuille de chêne dans mon jardin et que je ne  verrais plus ceux de mes proches dont la route ne  menait pas à Genève.    Pour commencer, l’esprit de Stonehenge a tout  fait pour m’isoler.  Deux jours avant de prendre  l’avion,  l’esprit  a  envoyé  la  personne  qui  se  réjouissait  tellement  de  m’accompagner,  à  Oslo,  voir  sa  tante  mourante.    Il  s’est  introduit  aussi  dans la tête de ma chère belle­sœur et l’a dirigée sur  le  Terminal  Sud  de  Gatwick,  même  si  elle  savait bien que c’était au Terminal Nord que nous  avions rendez­vous.  J’ai pris le bus, après quoi  j’ai parcouru 2km à pied, jusqu’à la maison qui  devait  nous  héberger.    La  magie  s’est  encore  accélérée le lendemain matin, lorsque j’ai pris le  train, aux heures creuses, de Crawley à Hounslow,  pour  aller  voir  mon  oncle  âgé  et  mon  oncle  malade.    Ici,  il  vous  faudra  vous  reporter  à:<  http://bigbangyoga.org/stonehenge­magic<  pour  apprendre  ce  qui  s’est  passé  ce  jour­là  et  pour  apprécier le pouvoir de Stonehenge.  Guérison parfaite:    L’esprit de Stonehenge m’avait fait de l’ombre  tout le temps.  Il n’était pas content de mon plan à  visiter  Cardiff.    Il  a  fait  changer  d’avis  les  personnes que j’aurais vraiment aimé y voir, ou  bien il a fait en sorte qu’elles n’étaient vraiment  plus libres ce jour­là.  Ma compagne, Karin, s’était  libérée de ses obligations à Oslo et était venue me  rejoindre.    Notre  car  de  Stonehenge  nous  avait  déposés dans le centre de la charmante ville de  Bath.  Ses bains romains sont vraiment fascinants.  J’avais  entendu  quelqu’un  pontifier  au  sujet  des  propriétés curatives du bassin principal.

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Green magical pool (Photo: Karin Nyffenegger)

En voyant la couleur verte de son eau, j’étais  convaincu  qu’elle  était  magique  et  qu’elle  allait  certainement  guérir  mes  douleurs  aux  genoux.   Mais personne n’était autorisé à entrer dans l’eau,  car, si tout le monde sur la Grande Ile guérissait,  le Service national de la Santé n’avait plus qu’à  fermer boutique.  Vous imaginez un peu le nombre  de chômeurs?    Sur la photo ci­dessus, vous me voyez attendre  le  moment  où  je  pourrais  me  glisser,  ni  vu  ni  connu,  dans  le  bassin.  Aurais­je  attendu  trop  longtemps?    Je  ne  me  souviens  pas.    J’étais  ailleurs.  Tout ce que j’ai remarqué est que Karin  me  cherchait  désespérément.    Pas  de  trace  de  moi.  Finalement, elle a abandonné et est sortie  chercher dehors, dans le parc.

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Moi – parfaitement guéri! (Photo: Karin Nyffenegger)

Subitement, elle s’arrêta, tout étonnée et avec  un  grand  sourire.    Elle  m’avait  retrouvé,  complètement guéri, heureux de rouler en tricycle.   Elle adore rouler à vélo et elle était aux anges de  me voir prendre exemple sur elle. (Traduction Ilse Bourgain)

 

 

 

STONEHENGE TO MARSEILLES

 From Stonehenge to Marseilles

It’s 7.00,19 October, 2016, I step into the empty pedestrian street with many small restaurants with shutters still down. Turning left towards the nearby old Port I witness the bright full moon in the blue grey sky that the sun has not yet succeeded to dim. The strong mistral whipped the sea and soon kept me cool when running along the sea front. The fishermen have-not returned yet. I feel that streets and the vast quai are there only for me and a few others some joggers like me. I head for Saint Jean Fort that defends the entrance to the port on the northern shore .

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In the background are Fort Saint Jean, Notre Dame and Mucem (photo by Karin Nyffenegger)

Next to it is the ultra modern museum exhibiting Marseilles from Paleolithic times to the present. The previous day I had seen joggers circling the cubic building. Drawn to imitate them I do the same and then climb the steps to Notre Dame de la Major. Having covered about 6 km I return to my apartment sweating profusely. After breakfast I discover that the mistral will not allow the ferry to take us to the Isle of If , made famous by Alexandre Dumas in his Count of Monte Cristo. I am unable to copy-paste here my jog track map from my mobile. You can see it in the FB,

STONEHENGE CURE IN BATH

 

A PERFECT CURE

Quite a few days earlier I  fixed to meet my close and dear ones in Cardiff. This intention did not please the Stonehenge spirit that was continuously shadowing me all the time. It subtly changed the  minds of the people I would have loved to see or made them unavailable on that day.

My companion, Karin, freed herself from Oslo and joined me. Our Stonehenge coach put us in the centre of the charming city of Bath. Its Roman baths are fascinating. I heard someone pontificating the potent curing properties of the main pool.

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Green magical pool (photo by Karin Nyffenegger)

Seeing  the green colour of its water I was convinced that it is magical and would certainly cure my aching knees. But no one is allowed to enter the pool lest everyone on the Island be cured and the National Health Service would have to close down. Can you imagine how many  would be jobless?

You can see me waiting for the moment to secretly slide into the pool unseen. Did I wait too long? I do not recall. I was not there. All I observed was that Karin was frantically looking for me. No trace of  me. Finally she gave up and looked around in the square outside. Suddenly she stopped with a broad wondrous smile. She found me completely cured happily riding a tricycle. She loves cycling. She was thrilled to see me follow her example.

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Me, perfectly cured (Photo by Karin Nyffenegger)

STONEHENGE MAGIC AND TWO JAGJITs

STONEHENGE MAGIC AND TWO JAGJITs

I attribute many coincidental things that happened to me to the magic of Stonehenge.(See the previous post : http://bigbangyoga.org/my-return-to-stone-age/) Foreseeing that I was coming it took over the control of nearly all my intentions before I even stepped on the Stonehenge Island. What I tell you is my after-thought; I could not have known this earlier when the feel of autumn made me ponder that I might fall like the leaf from the oak tree in my garden and might not see many close ones for whom Geneva is off the track. First the spirit of Stonehenge did everything to isolate me. Two days before our flight, the spirit sent the person who was so keen to accompany me, to Oslo to see her terminally sick aunt. It entered the head of my dear sister-in-law and diverted her to the  Gatwick’s South Terminal even though she knew that she should meet me at the North Terminal. I took the bus and then walked some two kilometres to her welcoming house.

The magic accelerated when I took the off-peak train from Crawley to Hounslow to visit my aunt and sick uncle. Walking out of the station I asked a young man the way to the High Street. He tried to reply in English then asked me to say it in Punjabi. He was returning from a construction site and, like me going in the direction of West Hounslow.

“The road in front is a short-cut; we can walk together.”

Manpreet has been in England for twelve years and happily settled. The usual conversations started.

“Where do you come from?”

“I’m from Ludhiana.”

“So am I; which village?”

“Shpar where the annual spring festival is held”.

“That’s near my village Tajpur. I have been to this festival when I was very young”.

We talked about many things including changes in the Punjabi rural society and life in Hounslow”.

“On this road is the Sikh Temple. I would like to stop there briefly to bow before the Guru Granth”.

“I’ll join you. It might do me good as well.”

“It’s mid-day; I would like to eat from the sacred communal kitchen. It’s open the whole day. You can have a cup of tea.” I agreed.

He was finishing his lunch when I told him that I will wait him  near the shoe rack. On the way I recalled that my very close friend Jagjit Sihra, an untapped intellectual, was on the management of that temple. In Kenya we graduated as teachers together. At the time of moving to Switzerland we were neighbours in Kisumu on Lake Victoria. I did not fail to see him every time I went to Hounslow. But this time he had escaped my mind. I asked a priest, “Is Jagjit Sihra here today?”

“He is having his lunch there. I’ll take you to him. Look there is Jagjit.”

“That is not him; he is very tall.”

“Oh, that Jagjit is in the office upstairs.”

I knocked and opened the door. There he was. I greeted him animatedly to surprise him. But he did not react; just looked at my face.

“I’m Naginder. If you do not know me I am closing the door,” I moved to walk out. Suddenly his eyes lit up. As required in any Sikh temple I had  covered my head with scarf. Trying to place me in his memory he first thought I was from Leads to reserve a date for the marriage.  We embraced joyously. I knew he suffered from dementia that seems to have increased with age. His telephone rang. As soon as he finished it rang again and again. He could not free himself to be with me. Then the other Jagjit who shares the office walked in. Sihra asked me to talk with him. We shook hands and I looked at the second Jagjit.

“I know you,” I exclaimed. “Did you do your teachers’ training in Nairobi in 1956-57?”

“Yes.”

You had freshly come from India?”

“Yes”.

“You’re Grewal. I was in the second year. We were together for one year”.

“Oh! You’re Naginder; I recognize you from your voice.”

This reunion could not be a coincidence; surely it’s the Stonehenge effect. At one o’clock Sihra switched off the phone. We talked and embraced. I phoned my aunt that she shouldn’t wait for me for lunch.

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Jagjit Sihra, Naginder , Jagjit Grewal

I was very impressed with their voluntary work and devotion. Both handle all official administrative procedures requiring well-educated persons like the two Jagjits concerning numerous marriages consecrated in this temple.

“To tell you the truth this is my daily past-time”, said Sihra. “I enjoy doing it.”

After lunching together, Jagjit Sihra walked with me to West Hounslow. What wonderful Stonehenge surprise gift!

 

 

 

 

 

MY RETURN TO STONE AGE

BACK TO STONE AGE

Stonehenge has fascinated me since I learnt about it more than half a century ago. I have been near it innumerable times but never saw it. I know that my stretch of life is insignificant in geological terms.

In September 2016 a sudden drop in my activities caused a depressing time vacuum difficult for me to handle. My mind decided to fill the emptiness with a visit to England, with no other mission than meeting people and seeing places – no marriages, no birthdays, no anniversaries or funerals. You might not believe me, my first target attraction was “return” to Stone Age and pay my respects to Stonehenge.

I do not have many years left to undertake such a mission. On Wednesday, 28 September the coach from Victoria in London transported me to the famous site. I spotted the magical stony circle on the gentle hill with the haunting late afternoon sun light pouring across the stones.

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Photo by Karin Nyffenegger

The cool breeze did not dampen my excitement. I do not need to describe Stonehenge that draws millions of visitors. Having piously circled around it I frequently turning back to take the last look.

It’s amazing that soon after my visit  I read that a tooth of a pet Alsatian-type dog has been unearthed near Stonehenge. The dog had apparently traveled 250 miles (400 km) from York with its owner some 7000 years ago long before the well-known stone circle was built about 2000 years ago. (BBC, 7 October 2016). Looking back, like the dog’s owner, I would have liked to walk from Switzerland across our concrete jungles and entanglement of roadways. Once back in the coach I regretted: I should have hidden my tooth somewhere there so that the archaeologist (most likely from another planet) would be able to prove proudly in 4016 that I, a human being,  had traveled from Geneva to Stonehenge!

I did not know that the magic of Stonehenge is so potent. It started to work on me the moment I stepped on that  island at Gatwick Airport. It manifested itself on the very first day of my mission. Of course I could not  have associated it with Stonehenge in the beginning. (to continue in the next post).