Posting the above picture on my Facebook and Twitter pages yesterday as part of a series of visual reflections on life in India from the early 1980’s reminded me of a story behind this particular shot.
It was 1983 and I was teaching one of my group classes just prior to leaving for a personal study sojourn in Madras with Desikachar.
After the class, within the cheerio and good wishes moments, a student came up to me and enthusiastically told me I must visit their wonderful Guru in Mahabalipuram, a famous coastal town just South of Madras.
It was a request that kinda went on the backburner until I happened to be Mahabalipuram on a weekend R&R visit just prior to returning to the UK, when I came across the bicycle with its billboard flier with their Gurus address. Now I was in a mild quandary in that I couldn’t really go back and say I had been in Mahabalipuram without evoking the inevitable follow-on question, plus there was a synchronistic flavour to the moment.
So I thought OK I will go and offer my respects and went to look for the address from the bike. However on getting to his place I found a scene of distress. Why, because he had just died literally the previous day. Another curious sensation around synchronicity.
Fast forward a few days and I am back in the UK and my first evening with that particular group class and I am wondering what to do with the information as I was thinking they may well not know as the death was so recent. Will they or won’t they ask me did I visit and this will also tell me if they know. Thus if it appears they don’t know yet, should I or shouldn’t I say something, or perhaps lie and say I didn’t get a chance to get to Mahabalipuram?
They did come up and again enthusiastically asked me if I got to meet their Guru. I decided to say what happened, because if they didn’t know yet then maybe they should, I would want to know if it was me. It was no surprise as to how upset they were with the news.
The following weeks class they were not there and I was left wondering what impact my news had had and whether I should have said something, etc, etc.
Anyway in the class the week after they were there again and afterwards came up to me and said they wouldn’t be there for the rest of the term.
I tentatively enquired as to why and they said they had found a wonderful Guru and were off to India to visit and spend time with them. It was somewhere between a sense of déjà vu and as if our initial conversations had never actually taken place!