An excerpt from India with Backpack and a Prayer
I have big days and small days. Today is a small day. I woke up this morning with my throat feeling like sandpaper. Nevertheless, I walk to morning satsang, and afterwards to the shed to make chapattis, peel garlic, and chop cilantro with other women.
Sadna’s bone structure reminds me of women in the days of Caesar. She wears an Indian style scarf on her head, covering a mane of hair so raven-black it has blue highlights. She is quite beautiful in her own way. Sadna is at once shy, mischievous, and tough. Indian women have no problem showing affection if they like you. I recall something Maharaj Ji said about the differences between Indian and American families. He could spend two hours talking to satsangies in an American home, and leave without knowing anything about them. On the other hand when he visits Indian homes, he knows everything in five minutes. Sadna’s responsibility is no small job as she begins early each morning. She usually sits next to me to make sure I make each chapatti just right. We find a way of communicating; sometimes we chat through a translator, other times through mime. Doug says we are totally outrageous. I tease Sadna, “God forbid you don’t have your daily chapatti.” She wears an Indian style scarf on her head, covering a mane of hair so raven-black it has blue highlights. She is quite beautiful in her own way.
Chapatti to an Indian is chicken soup to a Jew. She laughs then answers, “Ja thade li ek Coke.”
Translation: Or Coke to you.
What I wouldn’t give for one about now. I’ll miss her when we leave.
A busload of 125 village people just arrived in a covered truck to lend a hand in the brickyard. They come only for the love of Baba Ji. Their lives are simple, and their acceptance of whatever he gives them is much appreciated. They love doing seva because they know who Baba Ji is. They are simple folks with a deep understanding of this Mystic path. I love being around them. By afternoon I have a full blown cold, sore throat, fever, and a nose that honks every five minutes. I vaguely remember telling Doug I needed ten minutes to rest. Maybe I’m having a dream, but call me crazy if there’s not a carload of kids in our room all whispering shhhhhhhh, and thanking him for the do-dads he bought them. Omg, they want to give me my daily Punjabi lesson. Doug tells them it really isn’t the time. While all this is going on, I begin to daydream about an elderly Indian woman I saw this morning tying rupees in her chuny* same as my grandma used to do. They lived in a poor Mexican neighborhood where the ice cream truck came by daily in hot summer months. My grandpa would yell from the other room, “Lily, loosen up the change from your apron. Some of those little “peckerwoods” out there don’t have money for ice cream. You know the ones.
At 5:00 my fever breaks. I bundle up and sit in the garden drinking a cup of chai Shanti makes for me. I marvel at how these flowers grow in winter. It’s no mystery Indian roses bloom in cold weather for Baba Ji. Summer heat is ungodly, monsoon very wet, and Punjabi winters cold. These people survive with no complaints. By the time we walk upstairs to see Baba Ji, my nose is a small leak compared to the waterfall this afternoon.
These people take each day as it comes by saturating themselves with service to Baba Ji. In so doing, they don’t have time to worry about security down the road. They laugh, they work hard, they love their children, and keep their focus on Baba Ji. As a result, they get more out of life. I’ll keep them close to my heart after we say our last goodbyes.