Curry, cricket & culture – Part 3

My South African soles step onto Indian soil, these are my stories…


Holyshit, today I pay homage to His Holiness.
Wake, wash, dress.
I confess, I am nervous.

I am told: “Here it should be considered a sin to drive.”
So I decide to strive alongside the sunrise.
Walk, wander, mold mud.

I have zero appetite.
The barrage of butterflies have rationed well.
To my left a sign reads: “Remain hungry, remain foolish.”
I share breath with endless pine trees.
Sore eyes, smells, sounds.

06:30 now…
My fears hear temple walls, near their nirvana, tremble then fall.

I am early.
I Grab the golden circle but am willing to shift all energy towards the first hairless head I see.

Been here an hour.
Buddha’s stature towers over me, captures doubts.
Empowers silence.
Echoed essence.

Ikenna Onyegbula is on my left.
“I am the token black guy.”
There is a glitch in this Matrix but by this point we are packed tight.
To my right, an Oracle from Nepal.

A woman asks me to move, a warrior insists I stay.
They begin a Dharma debate.

Eight Twenty…
People are plenty.
All walks of life rubbing shoulders, they told us quarter to nine queues the divine.

The mantras begin.
I am ignorant to the chanting but I’ll be damned if I am not going to sing.

He is first seen on TV screens,
existence confirmed through piercing screams.
His chi brings maroon monks to their knees, he parts these humbled red seas.
My heart beat leaps and lunges at the lump in my throat.

2000 souls, 1 goal.

He stops to bow to a baby, then blesses an elderly lady.
In a single moment I am reminded of Karma.
Finally, through all the drama, on this day in my life.
I spot him.
The Dalai Lama.

Time is no longer measured, pain evaporates.
I find myself a matter of meters, gazing at the reincarnate.

He stops, stares, sips each molecule of air.
He is present and a gift for all to behold.
His body is old and ushered to the throne but he blazes his own trail.
Frailty is in his bones but this ribbed cage is not his home.

He winds clockwise as Tibetan traditional insists.
He walks the square prepared to make eye contact with each entity there.

He takes his seat, speaks.
Cracks a joke.
Laughs like a naughty school boy.
Toys with graduated concepts.
Bestows Buddhist precepts,
accepts all religion.

His voice is slow and steady, precise.
Before he decides on a word he confirms its direct English descent.
Chooses each construction, refuses to lose a syllable.
Presents a rounded sentence, enlightenment dangling off the full stop.

He exclaims: “Education of the mind is vital, this is the power of our age.”
He chuckles: “This generation will have to clean up all the mess we have made.”

Man and monk alike are offered tea from ancient pots and endless Tibetan bread.
I witness three mini monks rub each others cheeks against freshly shaven heads.

My spirit wills me to move.
I rise, walk the square.
Once, twice, thrice.
I’ve entered my four times table.

At the height of each geometric rotation,
at the end of each algebraic equation,
I bow, hoping for his answer.

Graduation day is here.
I slip on my shoes and choose to submerge my final bow waist deep,
90 degrees.

He sees me.
Glimpses into my abyss.
Lifts his left arm.
Twists his wrist,
flattens his palm.

Surely not?
In this life I have dropped marks,
toiled with cheating, succumb to the dark.
I have lied, cried and committed crimes.
My spine was never worthy.
There was no spirit in this chest.
My child, you speak of past tense as if they even exist.

He smiles and nods his head.
You have passed the test.
Your reward,
be blessed…

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