A pharmicist, a banker and a sore stomach
Dec 7, 2008
• Gunganatham Temple
• Suchindram Temple
• Vivekanandapuram Ashram
• Something or other Fort
Today is a cheap four-hour tour for $2.50 taking in a few temples, a fort, and a view of the Bay of Bengal, about fifteen kms from Kanyakumari. Indian time: be there at 8:30 am and we leave at 9:30. My project management ways have faded into the distant past and I’m not missing it one iota.
First to the Gunganatham Temple and every one piles out for a touch-up to their Bindi dot. I don’t say this facetiously at all: it’s their life to live it the way they chose. It’s a ‘normal’ temple but this one has a statue to the Monkey King.
We pile back in and off to the biggie – Suchindram Temple. Most, if not all Hindu temples have the basic construction: a rectangular building at the base and then rising to smaller rectangle at the top. The sides are adorned with mystical and mythical creatures and of course scantily clad maidens resembling Barbie dolls, obviously carved by men.
Artists are a funny breed – I think its called poetic license. And of course, let’s see how many sculptures we can make. It is a work of art and with lots of love! I don’t put down any artist for without them we would have no future. They are the blessed (or the not so blessed as it is can develop into an OCD) that gives the likes of me a glimpse of something I can only observe and not feel. And that’s OK.
As I wait for the other passengers to return to the van a 35 year old man comes up to me and introduces himself to me. He’s a fellow passenger. We chat for a while and his family joins us: wife, son aged 7, and a daughter aged 11. She’s a little shy, like her mummy but wants to talk with me to practice her English but she’s a little apprehensive.
He’s a Muslim and we chat about the nasty ‘so called news media’ that doesn’t report – it incites anger against Muslims. As other passengers haven’t returned we walk a spell around the temple and the little market. We exchange pleasantries such as what did I do for a living, children etc. He’s a pharmacist and then he asks if I want a coconut. “No thanks”, I say, “I haven’t eaten for three days as I have a stomach problem”. “And no, I haven’t been to the latrine – I have stomach cramps”, say I. “Oh, this is not good”, he says.
Now tell me why I just happen to bump into a pharmacist for God’s sake. He asks his daughter for a pen and a piece of paper, writes down a drug and tell me to take these pills, twice daily for thee days. What the hell, I will give anything a bash!
We still await an older couple as they haven’t returned. The pharmacist tells me that they are religious and praying. So I say, “OK, 33 million deities at one second per deity means that they will return in about 400 years. I wouldn’t have said this to a Hindu but being he’s Muslim, well I couldn’t resist.
The couple returns and he joins us in our conversation. This is another thing I like about Indians – no pretence. They are a bit like Americans, personified in that they will talk with just about anyone, about anything. He’s a bank manager in Hyderabad and his English very good so we all chat away merrily and board the van.
Next stop is the Vivekanandapuram Ashram, a spiritual mission devoted to the ‘wandering monk’ Swami Vivekananda, an Indian philosopher. It costs a whopping five rupees to get in and there’s an old guy taking the money and says to me, “Where are your from?” and for the very first time I am asked, ‘What brings you to India?” “I plan on seeing the world before I die”, say I. I don’t think this is the correct answer but it is my answer.
There are many photographs and paintings and the works of Indian philosophers, religions, leaders and thinkers. There is much to absorb in the short time we spend here but I get a glimmer of how Gandhi was extension of these great minds.
My banker friend is no dummy and we chat away about philosophy and the many religions which arose in India. We walk out and though the ashram and as I stare into space a young man comes up and introduces himself and we chat for a bit. I like their ability to – just be.
This swami was a bit of thinker but when I read about getting salvation through him it equated to Jesus and so I lost interest. This supremacy lark does get up my nose.
Next to a funny fort and there’s no sign so I don’t know what it called. But the view of the Bay of Bengal is lovely and so I take a few pictures including one of the pharmacist and his family.
We head back to town and ask I the driver to drop me off the Internet place. I ask him to give me one minute so I go to the back of the van, as I was sitting in the front seat, open the rear door and shake hands and say goodbye to those I talked with. Indians on the whole are very respectful.
I check my emails as I haven’t heard from Linda in a couple of days and there are no new emails from her. I call her daughter as I suspect something is wrong. It is, apparently she passed out due to a flu bug and has been in hospital for the last two days. Linda’s in England on holiday – some holiday!
Next the pharmacy and shades of South America come to mind. It’s a hole in the wall and I give the piece of paper to ‘the woman’ and she goes and gets the pills. I try and read the label but of course its 6 point font. “What are these for?” “Stomach pains”. “How many pills do I take a day?” “Two”. “How many days?” “Three”. “Do I take them with food?” “Yes”. I hand over $1.75 and now try to find ginger ale – nada. OK, the ritual: Banana’s and crackers.
I scoff down seven little banana’s and wafer crackers and then drop a pill. Can you believe that only after about an hour I am starting to feel fine? But time will tell.