It's new years eve. I'm sitting in the internet spot with small lizards crawling up the wall beside me. Saradananda and I have extended our stay in Tiruvannamalai because all the hotels are booked in Madurai. We plan on traveling south Sunday morning.
While scanning the bulletin board at the chai shop across from the ashram, I noticed a small hand-written note that said: "Friend of Bill's? Let's share some experience, strength , and hope," with a phone number. So of course, I called it.
It was arranged that a rickshaw would pick me up at the main gates of the ashrama. A British gentleman, donned in gauze-y shawl and loose cotton pajama pants (what every westerner wears here) approached and said my name. So off I was whisked in Rickshaw, chatting happily with this new found "Friend of Bill's." It turns out that he is just visiting for a few weeks with his friend, the women with whom I spoke on the phone. It was her home that we were off to.
About a half hour into the bumpy ride, we arrived at a farm ten kilometers out of town. The farm is run by a lovely Tamil family. There is a small school house on the farm, where another Western ex-pat, whom I didn't meet, is teaching local children to use computers. I then met a very enthusiastic, British, Red-henna haired, and sari-clad woman. I was shown around the farm, introduced to the family, the three of us had tea, chatted, and then had a wonderful, small, and very powerful meeting. We sat with Arunchala glowing blue in the distance with tears in our eyes, as we marveled about the miracles that have taken place in our lives, and the series of events that had led us to that very spot.
I was invited to stay for dinner, which was a traditional Southern Indian meal, cooked by the girls on the farm (tomato rice, sambar, coconut chutney). Then I was sent home down the long, bumpy road to town in a rickety rickshaw, and am now filled with gratitude and wonder. What an extraordinary way to say goodbye to another year, and hello to infinite possibility.