Shoes for Sparrows

September 6, 2011

On Tuesday my new pair of gaudy jeweled sandals went missing from my room. All of my other things were locked up, and my roommate’s shoes were still there. Of course, I’m not very sad; I hated those things. I couldn’t walk in them, and they reminded me of how I selfishly bought shoes for myself instead of saving my rupees. At this point, there was no way I was going to buy another pair. I started wondering, how long could I make it without shoes? I had big plans of crossing India barefoot, a daring adventure. (The shoes turned up, but I happily gave them away to another traveler who liked them.)

This morning when I was checking out of the niwas, the attendant noticed by bare feet and I explained that I had lost two pairs already, and that the Divine didn’t want me to wear shoes for a while. He tried to give me his flip-flops, and I said no, but then he pulled out a pair of black slide sandals from under his cot, saying here! I took them, with many thanks, because it would have been foolish and rude not to. When I put them on they fit perfectly, the most comfortable shoes in the world.

I think I am finally learning how to graciously receive an offered gift, even if I feel initially hesitant or uncomfortable. That feeling is just your prideful independence getting in the way (of which I have a healthy dose), and your rejection of aid is depriving the giver of an opportunity to exercise compassion. I leave North India with a heart full of gratitude. I have learned many thigns about how to trust in the Divine which have deeply touched me, that (if I may borrow from Hamlet) all I have to do is but notice the providence of a sparrow to find God’s promise for my own. All I can do now is pay it forward, and hope that someday I will have the chance to care for a fellow sparrow who has wandered astray.

Delhi, ho!

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

– St. Augustine

I have been hatching a plot to go to Delhi for a creative writing workshop. Society staff member Harvinder, who used to be an IB school principal before coming to the society, will give the workshop. Now she writes curriculum that incorporates integral education for mainstream schools. Really cool stuff. Harvinder is a fiery, no nonsense poet, teacher and English major herself. The workshop is three days long, and I’ll be staying at the Sri Aurobindo ashram there. Delhi is the society’s Center for Media and Communication Arts, so I’ll be interested in what’s going on there.

After the workshop I’ll be staying with Maneesh’s aunt Arti near Delhi University for a few days. The Taj Mahal is only a day trip away!

I am taking the train almost the whole way. It takes two days to get to Delhi on the train, so I’m leaving on Wednesday. Taking the train is a trip in itself, and I’ll get about 5 whole days of train travel to read, write, and stare wide-eyed out my window.

My last stop will be in the far north, in the Punjab region, in the city of Amritsar. I’m very interested to see the differences between the north and south India, in food, dress, climate, everything. India is so diverse and varied; I love it.  Amritsar is famous for the beautiful Sikh Golden Temple, built on the water. I’m staying with my good friend Shabd’s friend, who is now a teacher at the school they both attended together.

I found this map online. I’m going north, north, north, then coming back on the same track. You can see how how far New Delhi is from Pondi, about 3/4 of the length of the country. Amritsar is on the northwest border, printed very small.

I will be back to Pondi in about two weeks. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to post, but I will definitely write about all of my adventures. I will likely find internet every few days then post a lot at one time.