The best restaurant in Canberra

When I was in the Delhi airport before leaving India, a lady near me at the counter was very angry. She was screaming, “I have a first-class ticket! How is it that I have to sit in the economy section?”

The man behind the counter was telling her that they would refund the difference between the first-class fare and the economy fare. But she was so furious, she looked like she was about to strike him.

O God, then they announced that on this flight there were no assigned seats; you could sit anywhere you wanted to. When one man in the airport heard this, he said, “Now the real trouble starts!” But I was very happy because I thought I would be able to get a seat on the aisle.

I was a little bit late getting onto the plane, so most of the aisle seats were occupied. I was looking and looking for a place, but everywhere there were people. Then I saw the same lady who had been screaming about her first-class ticket. She was sitting by the window, and beside her were two empty seats. I wanted to be on the aisle, so I asked her permission to sit there.

She said, “I bought a first-class ticket, but at the check-in they told me I wouldn’t be able to sit in first class.”

Then she looked at me and asked, “Where do you come from?”

I said, “India!”

She said, “You don’t look like an Indian.”

Then I asked, “Where do you come from?”

She answered, “I come from Canberra. Do you know where that is?”

I said, “I was there only two weeks ago.”

She said, “You were there? Where is Canberra?”

I answered, “It is Australia’s capital. I gave a performance in the School of Music. Some of my friends performed and I also played there.”

The strange thing is that I never carry any pamphlets saying who I am. I can’t prove anything, and others simply remain silent and unbelieving. What can you tell them?

She asked, “Why did you go to Australia?”

I said, “I have some friends there. The other reason was to see kangaroos.”

Then the story started. I said, “I have a few friends who run a vegetarian restaurant.”

At first I forgot its name, and then I remembered it is called ‘Oneness-Home’. I told her the name of the restaurant and said, “The food is most delicious. My friend’s wife told me that it is the best restaurant in Canberra.”

The lady again started to get mad. She said, “My husband and I have a restaurant, and he is the best cook in Canberra.” She was really excited, and she stood up, as if I had said something very upsetting.

So immediately I invoked the goddess of sleep, and then everything was over. I didn’t look at her again and I didn’t speak to her.

— 29 September 1984