A Geordie In The Himalayas

Three uplifting things.

India's endless, beautiful, inspiring and unlimited optimism.

India’s endless, beautiful, inspiring and invigorating optimism.

If there’s one phrase that I hear over and over again on my travels it’s the above. Anything is possible. I’ve heard it from taxi drivers, guest house owners, chai wallahs, you name it,… and I LOVE it.

Waiting for the ATM to be provided with cash in McLeod Ganj. Best thing about queueing? Meeting really interesting people.

Waiting for the ATM to be provided with cash in McLeod Ganj, Nov 2016. Best thing about queueing? Meeting really interesting people. Worst thing about queueing? Hours later you may not have any cash. I gave up after three hours on this occasion, though have waited for four and a half and been successful. I’ve seen people queue at dawn, and in the evening they’re still waiting.

On 8th November 2016, India’s Prime Minister announced a sudden decision to withdraw all 500 and 1,000 rupee notes (the most commonly used notes, rather like £5 and £10 notes in the UK) and replace them with 2,000 rupee notes. I won’t go into too much detail but google ‘India demonetisation’ and you’ll get an idea of what’s been going and is still going on. Suffice to say, in my experience in McLeod Ganj and Delhi, it was almost impossible to get access to any cash (nine out of ten cash machines had no cash, and payment by card in India is a rare option).

Anyhoo, when I was in Delhi before Christmas, I spent a morning walking around searching for a working cash machine (I was hopeful that in the capital city this would be easier). I stumbled upon one working atm, joined the queue, and an hour later (the shortest that I’d queued so far) got to the atm only to discover neither of my cards wanted to work. After many silent curses, I searched for other atms, found many, none of which were working. Three or so hours later, frustrated and tired, I came upon another queue. I dutifully joined the end, and then an amazing thing happened.

I got called to the front of the queue.

I noticed that the queue was all male, and about half way up, one man was gesturing for me to go the front of the queue. Then another. And another. I shook my head (mindful of the possible meanings of this action), indicating that I’d wait in line, it was only fair.

“Ma’am, you are lady, you go to front,” was the response.

I don’t know how long they’d been waiting, but I do know that they wouldn’t let me stay where I was, that in five minutes I had cash, and that the gratitude that poured to each and everyone of those men from my heart was immense. (It happened twice more to me in Delhi and each time blew my heart wide open.)

A most surprising request.

A most surprising request.

I met a Californian creative director while staying in Delhi, and as most travellers do, we swapped brief stories about how we’d come to be India. He was travelling with two friends for a week in China, they were at the last of their ten days in India, then they were flying to Thailand for a week to be with the elephants. I said I was travelling India for a year, hoping to learn different healing techniques and figure out how to share them along with bringing art/creative expression into the mix somehow.

“Learn something to save the world*,” he told me. After a pause, I replied that I hoped that he would too. Becauses he can. We all can. You can be a reiki practitioner, a reflexoligist, a mother, a teacher, a librarian, a chai wallah, a doctor,… and still have the power to heal something which, in turn, has a ripple effect upon the bigger picture. I don’t feel that it needs to be measured by magnitude – a seemingly small act of kindness can have a massive ripple effect, as can the miricles worked by 10 hours of surgery. It’s not about the label or judging, it just is. We all have the power to save empower the world.


(*That statement also threw up a shed load more thoughts on the nature of saving something vs empowering something [which is more up my street], and whether the world needs saving, but I’ll need more chai, time and another day to sort them out.)

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This entry was published on January 18, 2017 at 6:42 pm. It’s filed under Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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