McLeodganj, Dharamshala is a small hill town which is the confluence of various religions and cultures. Tibetans inhabit the most part of McLeodganj while westerners keep on flocking here to get an infusion of Buddhism or Indian spirituality into their Christianity. Some find solace in Vipassana mind healing techniques while others feel rejuvenated with Tushita meditation. Many tourists also enroll themselves in yoga centres. And, Indian tourists also visit here to flaunt their life style. Apart from these, McLeodganj has one more thing to offer; nature’s bounty in the deep forests of deodars, fresh cool air with maximum saturation of oxygen and alluring high standing Dhauladhar mountains cladded with white snow most time of the year. A walk in the vicinity of this town can energise your spirits. And, I usually choose it.
One evening, while waiting for a cab to reach Dharamshala, a foreigner; aged but robust with backpacks and an umbrella approached me and greeted me hello. “Hi, I am David Cook.” He introduced himself.
“I am Rahul.” I also introduced myself.
“Well Mr Raeehool, what do you do?” He started the conversation.
“I am a teacher.”
“Oww great really! What do you teach anyway?”
“General Science, Sir.” I replied.
“Well Mr Teacher!” He changed my name as well as his tone. “If you are a teacher, you need to teach many things to Indians.”
“Pardon” I didn’t get him really.
“Well Mr Teacher! You need to teach your countrymen not to spit on streets. You need to teach them to use garbage bins. Teach them to speak in low tone in public places. I hope I am not embarrassing you, Mr Teacher?”
I nodded though I wanted to argue but couldn’t find any words.
“Mr Teacher! Teach ‘em not to stare foreigners with bizarre looks. You know it’s quite irritating.”
He stopped but left my mind in turbulence. Calmness I have gathered from the walk was lost. I wanted to reply but…
He was walking away just like a winner without saying bye even. “No! I need to speak to him.” A thought aroused but disappeared. “Yes, I need to speak to him.” A sense of dilemma was there but suddenly I found myself winner over it. I ran to him.
“Mr Cook!” I shouted but politely.
“Owww Yess please!” He answered looking back at me.
“Mr Cook! See, my India spits on streets, I agree. My India doesn’t use bins, I agree. I am agreed to all your opinions. But, I have one question!”
“Offcourse!” He was bit shaken, I could sense.
“Mr Cook! What brings you here in India?”
“Well, the nature, the calmness, the spirituality, the yoga and… and the inner peace I feel here! It’s amazing.” He answered honestly I would say.
“Well! If you are here for all these things, how do you get enough time to see the spits, garbage and other things?” I asked.
“Mr Cook!” I continued. “While milking a cow, one must concentrate on the teats of the cow and the milk, not on the cow dung. And, if you do; you will end up messing with it.”
That was spontaneous, somewhere from the inner core. May be somewhere from the green deodar forests or the oxygen saturated air or might be from the Dhauladhars! I was hyperventilated. While trying to catch my breath back, Mr Cook asked :
“So Mr Raeehool! Should I leave now? ……may be back to US?”
“No Mr Cook! Spend some more time here in India. I wish you will learn to master your mind to achieve your goals, the real one.” I extended my hand to shake. We greeted good bye to each other and left after exchanging contact details.
Last week, we met over a coffee. Mr Cook was quite happy to share with me that he had been a part of team “Waste Warriors” in McLeodganj for last two months along with practising meditation and yoga. And, he was leaving for USA with a promise to see my India again.