us_passportLast I reported, we had just a few days to leave India. After arriving in Delhi, we found out pretty quickly that it was going to take Mark 8-10 days just to get a new US passport, so it was clear we weren’t going to hit the deadline.

I don’t think either of us was really surprised or really cared. More time just meant more schools. We figured we’d somehow work our way around any consequences. In some ways, having to leave the country in such a hurry was the perfect excuse to jump-without-looking into something so beautiful. If we had really put to the test all of our connections and options, chances are we could have somehow managed an extension from Ahmedabad, but the fun would have been lost. It would have killed the immediacy and innocence of it all. This letter gathering campaign was not a “big idea,” it was a sweet idea, and as it has grown bigger, it remains a sweet idea.

bollingen_11The adventures in Delhi have been extraordinary. I realized a while back that my favorite type of traveling is the kind where I am tracking down inspiring or meaningful places, like the time in Switzerland I managed to find Carl Jung’s magical getaway spot in Bollingen, and had it all to myself. Or the time I accidentally ended up in the cave in which Gautama Buddha had spent six years before Enlightenment. I think the thrill of the hunt or investigation, combined with a deeper search for meaningful connection is what makes this type of travel so special.  For me, it far outweighs hitting the tourist spots or swinging on a hammock. Here in Delhi, this seems to be exactly what I have been doing daily – following meaningful leads – not meaningful because they are historic, but meaningful because of the potential that they offer.

vinoba_1For instance, we started at Nirmala Deshpande’s house, who was the former secretary of Vinoba Bhave (spiritual successor of Gandhi) and is a highly well-known and well-respected member of Parliament. That night, she just happened to be having a dinner party with 80 peace activists from Pakistan. We were also told by Jayeshbhai to meet up with George Fernandez, ex-Minister of Defense and social activist. I think Jayeshbhai had met him once, and they had made friends, but Delhi is less of a small town than Ahmedabad, and it’s more difficult to just walk in cold and meet people. Still, I spent some time in a rickshaw, stopping by random people on the street asking if they knew where he lived. Eventually, we were given his phone number from Nirmala Didi.

And it’s been a lot like that – encounters with lots of interesting people with interesting lives. The weird thing is that I feel like I can see through it all – like these are all old souls and that I can almost see in them their previous incarnations that brought them to where they are today.

The funniest part of it all, is that Mark and I have yet to learn to dress the part. Wherever we go, we end up showing up in dirty, ratty clothes – particularly Mark, who will show up in shorts with holes, ripped, stained t-shirts, and a bandana. My dress is just barely a step up. I guess we realize that this obviously must work against us, where the first impression we give is that we are a bunch of hippies, or as Mark calls us “Swedes” from off the street. Still, it hasn’t seemed to stop us, and I’m starting to conclude that we just don’t have it in us to dress up.

Even this, though, is a habit, and it would probably be a valuable exercise to experiment with clothing as part of the waking dream.

axl2_1We have managed to go to a bunch of schools from the best of the best, to a blind school, an Army school, and a couple slum schools. Delhi is a lot less open and innocent than much of India, but that innocence is there, and with a little patience, just about all doors seem to open and invite us in… and once in, it’s more often than not a pretty magical experience. At least for me.

After going through much hassle, we now have a visa to Pakistan and two and half months before we need to again leave India. Gathering letters of peace, love, and friendship has been so valuable all around, that I think we’re going to keep it going for just a little longer.

Advertisements