The dog Tina

On the airplane from Bombay, a lady carried a dog onto the plane in an ordinary handbag. From time to time she would open the bag, and the dog would jump up. Then she would talk to the dog for a few seconds before closing the bag. The lady was calling the dog Tina, which is our Upasana’s former name. So many people saw the dog on the plane! Can you imagine? I am sure it is not permitted to carry a dog in that way.

While waiting at Customs, I happened to be behind this lady. She was very smart, very pushy and very restless. Just because I was behind her, I was able to make headway in the line. Otherwise, I would have had a much longer wait.

— 27 February 1986

The Long Island seeker

When I first arrived in India, a bald-headed man came up to me near the Air India office in our hotel and said, “Sri Chinmoy? Sri Chinmoy?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “I can’t believe it!” His eyes were swimming with tears. So soulfully he was shedding tears and embracing me. His soul knew who I am. He created a real scene in the hotel. So many people were watching!

He told me that he used to come to our meetings three years ago and then he stopped. He knows Adhiratha and he was telling me how Adhiratha stands next to my chair when he is guarding on stage on Wednesday nights. He also knows Sumantra and Ayoddhri.

He said he had come to India to visit some spiritual places, so I gave him the names of a few places to see. He said that he wants to start coming to our meetings in New York when he returns. He is a construction worker from Long island.

— 27 February 1986

In search of a Guru

In another case, a boy named Brad had been my disciple for a few years in California, but then he had left the path. Brad was going to India to search for a Guru. He and another seeker were going to visit a few spiritual places. I don’t think the other seeker was looking for a Guru.

I happened to be on the same plane that they were on, so Brad found his Guru again in me. In his case, he touched the soil of India only to go back to America.

— 27 February 1986

Travelling by car and train

From Dhaka I went to Chittagong by car; it took six hours. I wanted to visit all the places that I had read about in history and geography books. I wanted to see those sacred places where Sri Ramachandra and others were supposed to have visited. Now they have become places of pilgrimage. But in the end I was only able to visit my family homes in Chittagong and Shakpura.

I came back from Chittagong by train. I was in an Indian first-class car, which is like an American third-class car, or worse. They played very loud music, which was almost like jazz.

— 1 March 1986

Delayed by the ‘flood’

While in Calcutta, for four days I tried to get in touch with my family. But the line was always out of order. There is something called a ‘lightning call’, which costs eight times more than a regular call. I said, “I am ready to pay.” But even the lightning call was not successful.

So I flew to Madras without informing them. Every time I go home, my brothers and sisters arrange to have a car from the Ashram meet me. An Ashram driver comes to Madras and takes me to Pondicherry. I know the driver well. It is usually a three-hour drive. But this time, because I could not get in touch with them, I had to hire a car. It was the biggest mistake!

Somebody came and said, “I have a car.” When I went to the car, that person disappeared and I saw somebody else there — a driver with two helpers.

As soon as I entered into the car, I thought, “This car is older than the oldest. But I can’t get out now. My things are inside the trunk.”

The driver tried to reassure me. He said. “Oh, no, no, this is a very good car.”

We started out at 8:30. The car broke down three times over the next four hours. Around 12:30 we had gone only 70 miles and still had 40 miles to cover. Then they had to change the tire!

They were saying that we were delayed because there was a flood and there were no bridges.

I said, “Where is the flood? I don’t see water here.”

They said, “No, two weeks ago there was a flood.”

I said, “Two weeks ago there was a flood, and that’s why you can’t drive now?” What can you do with people like this!

— 1 March 1986

Changing drivers

At 1:15 I was only five miles away from our house in Pondicherry. The driver said he could not go any farther because he didn’t have a Pondicherry license.

So the two friends of the driver took another car and went to a nearby hospital and brought back a car and driver with a Pondicherry license. Usually drivers charge five rupees to go to our house from there; 10 rupees maximum. But this driver said, “At this hour you have to pay 75 rupees.”

He was shamelessly overcharging, but 75 rupees is only a little more than five dollars. I was so happy that I would finally arrive at my destination that I gladly agreed to pay him.

— 1 March 1986

Paying the Madras driver

The Ashram charges only 200 or 225 rupees to take me from Madras to Pondicherry. I had told the driver at the airport that I would give him 450 rupees for the ride. That is about double what the Ashram charges.

But even then, that man didn’t trust me. “In case anything happens, could you give me some money in advance?” he asked. What was going to happen? But to prove my innocence, I gave him 100 rupees.

But then look what happened! After so many hours, still he could not take me all the way to Pondicherry. I gave him his full 450 rupees, but I was so disgusted.

— 1 March 1986

You are saving me

The man who asked for 75 rupees said, “You should not give him the whole amount since he is unable to take you the whole way.”

Meanwhile, the three who had brought me from Madras wanted a share of this man’s 75 rupees. They said, “You have to give us something because we found you a passenger.”

The two drivers had a serious argument because the second driver didn’t want to give them anything. He said, “I am saving you because you can’t drive into Pondicherry.”

I said, “No, you are not saving them. You are saving me.” Then I begged him to take the 75 rupees and just drive me home.

When we arrived, I gave him 80 rupees.

— 1 March 1986

A big favour

The first time I went back to India, I took a taxi from Madras to our house in Pondicherry. A young couple was going to the Pondicherry area also, so I said, “You don’t have to pay. You come with me. I will sit with the driver and you can sit in the back.” They were so moved by my generosity and very grateful to me.

In those days I carried my money in a little bag with no strap. When we finally arrived at my house, I was filled with such joy that I just opened the car door and practically ran to my house. O God, I didn’t realise that I had left my bag on the seat next to the driver.

The driver drove away and had gone about half a block when the wife noticed that I had left my bag there. She was very short, so God knows how she saw my bag. Her husband was tall, but he didn’t see it. So the wife told the driver and he brought the car back. Then the husband came out of the car and gave me the bag. The driver had known that the bag was there, but he didn’t want to say anything.

So I did them a favour by saving them 300 or 400 rupees for a taxi ride, but they did me a much bigger favour. I had so much money in my bag, as well as my passport. It is because there are good people like this on earth that we still exist. Some divine forces always protect me in time of need; still the divine forces are not sleeping!

— 1 March 1986

The Elephanta Caves

During my visit to India, we went to some sacred caves called Elephanta, where they keep Lord Shiva’s statue. To get to the caves, we took a boat from Bombay, and then a little ferry to the island. You have to go up hundreds of steps to get to the sacred area, but there are strong young men there who will carry you up in a chair if you are too weak to go up the stairs yourself. In my case, I climbed up the stairs, but I paid to be carried down by four men. It was a frightening experience, because the chair slants downward when they are carrying you, and they go quite fast.

A lady at the caves begged me to take her picture. Then afterwards, she wanted me to give her five rupees for allowing me to take her picture.

— 1 March 1986

A banquet in London

The London disciples arranged a banquet like the one the Governor of Agadir had given us. Ten or twelve people were sitting around each table and we were being served.

They gave me a cake with 200 candles for my 200-pound lift and started singing, “I can lift up 200 pounds.” They were singing the song so cheerfully and confidently that I began to suspect them.

I said, “You people are really great. I just wrote the song in New York and already you have learned it. When did you get in touch with Tanima?”

They said, “We didn’t get in touch with Tanima. We just changed the words to one of your old songs!”

— 16 March 1986

A cake with candles

We were at the Springfield Diner celebrating the birthday of one of the disciples. I went to the counter and asked them to bring a cake to the table and to put candles on the cake. The lady looked puzzled, so again I said, “I would like candles on the cake.”

Finally the waitress brought the cake to the table, along with half a cantaloup. She was about to put the cantaloup on top of the cake when everybody started laughing. They asked her what she was doing.

She said, “You asked me to put cantaloup on the cake.”

I said, “No, I asked you to put candles on the cake.”

So this is how she understood my English!

— 26 April 1986

Invitation to tennis

This morning in Berlin, I came back from my walk at around a quarter to eight. It had been very cold outside and I had not taken my jacket, so I was shivering.

When I came into the hotel, a middle-aged Englishman came up to me and said, “Do you play tennis?”

I said, “Yes, I do.”

Then he asked, “Could you come and play with me? Nobody is at the courts.”

Unfortunately I had not brought my tennis racquet on that trip, so I had to excuse myself.

— 7 June 1986

Good Indian hearts

Today in Berlin when I sat down to eat something in the Maharajah restaurant, I put my bag on the floor at my feet. But when I left, I forgot to take the bag with me — and it had my passport and wallet inside.

I discovered that it was missing four hours later when I was about to enter into the hotel. I went back to the restaurant and everything was still there — passport, money, everything. I wanted to give them gifts to show my appreciation, but they wouldn’t take anything.

I have the bad habit on occasion of calling Indians ‘rogues’. You have no idea how many times Indians have deceived me! So because I am an Indian, I am entitled to speak ill of them. But here I found good Indian hearts. They had been wondering why I had not come back sooner for the bag, and they were so happy to see me.

These people had no greed — only sympathy, kindness and oneness. I was so deeply moved.

— 7 June 1986