Zatopek arrives

As you know, the immortal runner and Olympic gold medalist Emil Zatopek spent two days with us in Zurich on 14 and 15 June. Right from my childhood I have been a great admirer of his, so I am deeply grateful that Zatopek came from Czechoslovakia to visit us. So many unforgettable experiences we all had with him and his wife, Dana!

Our plane reached Zurich at eleven-thirty, and at twelve o'clock Zatopek's plane was supposed to arrive. Kailash, Abarita and I went with two photographers to another platform to wait for him. His plane came on time, but there was a problem with his bag. He had a small bag — you can call it a briefcase even — for his wife and himself. But they wouldn't allow him to carry the bag on the plane. It had to go in the baggage compartment. He said later that in America we can take big, huge boxes and all that, so he felt it was ridiculous that they wouldn't allow him to carry such a small bag.

We were watching him through the glass door as he was waiting by the carousel for his bag. Everybody's luggage came, but his was missing. He is my best friend in that way. So many times everybody's luggage comes except mine. Even returning to New York this time, I arrived yesterday and only today my luggage arrived. You can call my stories hilarious or painful.

We were all excited because we could see him, but he couldn't come outside to meet us because he was looking for his bag. At one point while we were waiting, ten or more middle-aged and elderly ladies asked me, "Is Zatopek here?" We pointed him out, "Yes, he is there." They had gotten their bags and everything, and, O God, now they wanted to see him. For about half an hour or more they were waiting outside — only to see Zatopek. They were so eager and anxious to meet him. Perhaps, for the first time, they were getting the opportunity to see him in person, When he was young, when he was a champion, they had heard his name. Now they wanted to see him.

At long last he came out and I approached him. He recognised me. I wanted to shake hands with him, but he immediately folded his hands in the Indian way and said, "Namaskar." Then he started talking to me in Hindi, using a few Hindi words. He was asking me if I wanted to drink hot tea. Then he asked, "How is it that Hindi is easy, but Urdu I could not learn?" He and his wife were in India for four months. We were talking and talking about various things.

A French disciple was using my movie camera, but there was nothing inside it — wonderful! But fortunately thirty or forty very nice pictures were taken by Marco. Then Zatopek and his wife went to their hotel to take rest.

Sri Chinmoy, Salutations, numbers 1-4.First published by Agni Press in 1981.

This is the 449th book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.

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by Sri Chinmoy
From the book Salutations, numbers 1-4, made available to share under a Creative Commons license

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