Monday, September 7, 2009

2009 09 07. Monday.

I hopped on the local bus at 7am to get to the train station at Kayamkulam about 20km distant. I got there early and was able to find a seat. But soon the bus totally filled and people had to stand. I saw an old Indian lady standing and gave her my seat. She was reluctant to take it when she saw my cast but I motioned her to stay seated and not get up. The bus started its trip and soon got very crowded! It was a definite challenge to stand in the rocking, bouncing bus with only one hand to hold on with. But somehow I managed. We got to the train station and I scored a general seating ticket for the next train north to Kochin. Then I grabbed a quick dosha and sambar breakfast with a side of fried banana and some unsweetened chai. Yum!

The train was even more packed than the bus! By some miracle I was able to get a seat about 40 minutes into the trip (a very nice Indian man offered one to me, Thanks!). My feet get really painful if I stand for a long time. The seat was hard (not good for my skinny butt) so I pulled out my inflatable seat cushion, huffed and puffed for a moment to blow it up (that got me some funny looks, didn't care), jammed it under my bony, unpadded butt and breathed a pleasurable sigh. Without that cushion, the trip would be pure agony. Trust me, its happened a few times. You people with big cushiony butts don't know how lucky you are.

People were jammed in all around me with some young energetic toddler dressed in yellow on my left who liked to bang on my arm and kick my leg. I totally didn't care. But the mother went bonkers seeing her 2 year old child beat up on some poor westerner in an arm cast. Soon the kid got moved to the other side. Whatever. I settled in and did Amma mantra, 108 Names and the 1,000 Names for the next 2.5 hours. Time slipped by mostly unnoticed as the train gently rocked its way northward through the incredibly lush post monsoon Indian countryside. The magic of sadhana. The sun shone bright and the ceiling fans in the compartment were working overtime. Thank god.

Got off at Kochin and was walking toward the exit when some young Indian man leaped toward me, tapped my arm and said "AIMS? 120 rupees!" Sold! I followed him out of the station to his auto-rickshaw and we buzzed over to AIMS (Amma's hospital) in the crushing, smoggy and dangerous Kochin traffic. Inside the rickshaw were two horrible garish pictures of Jesus. I touched my heart and then Jesus' heart to get His darshan. I'm a darshan junkie. If you have even a whiff of saintliness be careful cause I'll be touching your feet like flies on a freshly flattened squirrel (I'm from Kentucky so I can get away with similes like that). Is that a simile? One of you English majors help me out here.

After he dropped me off and I paid him he told me about his health problems. No wonder driving an auto rickshaw all day for years in a typical smog choked Indian city of 5 million.

I got to the hospital and the nurse took off my casts and bandages. Gruesome! The inside of my left pinkie is covered with about 15 stitches. Really horrible to see! Like something out of a Hollywood horror film. Jeez. But there's almost no pain and I finally got to wash my left arm which felt wonderful. Some guy came and took my arm measurements for a Velcro splint which will be ready tomorrow, so I'll spend the night here. The doctor said I should have no scar but I told him a nice long garish scar would be cool! I could make up all kinds of fanciful stories about how I got it. He just smiled. Crazy American! My doctor here (Dr. S. Iyer) is apparently one of the best micro-surgeons in India and is on the board of the Indian Society of Micro-Surgery. I'm in good hands. Left the doctor to grab a meal and then went to the local internet cafe where for the next 2 hours I sweated, swatted mosquitoes and got caught up on this blog. Also responded to a lot of emails.

At the hospital canteen, I had a nice talk at dinner with Keshav. He's an Indian computer guy who worked in the States for a few years (he's now living and working near Mumbai). He got very interested in Christianity while in the States when he found a warm and welcoming Christan church there. We had a nice time sharing about the core principles common to Christianity and Hinduism (I've had the same general discussion with a number of Indians over the years, standard conversational fodder). Then he shared some of his frustrating experiences here at Amma's hospital. He said on a few occasions some of the staff was very rude to him. We both agreed that at Amma's hospital, the staff should try to embody Amma's teachings of love and compassion. But people are people and Amma's devotees are no different. Like all of us we have our egoistic patterns.

Went back to the internet place for more blogging and emails. The guy said he closed at 9:30pm but he let me stay till 10. Cool! 20 rupees (40 cents) per hour. Internet here is slow but manageable.

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