On the roof of the Leela Palace hotel in Delhi, there is a rooftop pool.
From the minute the pool attendant opened the large doors for me, and I gazed into the infinity pool lined with sparkling glass tiles, I forgot all of my plans for the day and felt a strong urge to go for a swim.
I currently have a pinched nerve in my shoulder, that is making my whole back and arm achy, and I hoped that a swim and a day of relaxation in this wonderful pool, would help to release the pain.
Back in our room I put on my bathing suit, covered myself with a fluffy bathrobe and made it back to the pool.
I chose an elegant shaded canopy and spread my body on of the comfortable towel- covered sun bed.
The pool attendant brought over to us a big complimentary basket.
Inside of it was an ice cooler loaded with rose-scented, cool face towels and many small bottles of mineral water.
In the basket there was also a bottle of organic suntan lotion, two lemonades and a selection of newspapers and magazines.
We spent hours swimming and resting, relaxing, reading and contemplating life and thoughts.
I thought about how I strangely missed the big painting I was working on at home, in which I am attempting to depict our earthly existence as spiritual beings caught in a dream of illusions.
The work has been very meditative and soothing, and it has taken me deeper into layers of thoughts I did not know I had.
I also thought about some things that I saw the day before while in Delhi.
On one occasion, I saw a young girl who was begging at the traffic light.
The minute she saw us inside the car, she banged on the window asking for money.
Years ago we encountered dozens of kids begging at traffic lights.
They swarmed around our car banging on the windows like protestors with a vengeful fury.
At that time, it was still not known that those kids did not beg money for their own food and living, but were actually slave laborers for the mafia, which collected in this manner, large sums of money for its own agenda.
The movie “Slum Dog Millionaire” brought this fact to the attention of the general Indian public, which became furious and stopped giving money to street kids.
As it turned out, the mafia will even go so far as to blind healthy kids in order to make them look more pitiful and thus arouse the compassion of the public that tends to give more to infirm and disabled kids.
Our taxi driver at first just waved the begging girl away, but when she persisted he got out of the car and yelled at her.
In an angry voice he told us that these were not homeless kids, but employees of the local mafia, that also involved many city officials who benefited from the collected money and in return, turned a blind eye to the dealings of the mafia.
He nodded his head saying that he hated this, but that it will take some time to eliminate this phenomenon from the streets, because as long as those who have the power to stop it, actually benefit from it, they would not attempt to eradicate it.
The only thing that could stop it, is if people were to stop giving money.
It is sad to realize that the money given by the caring public, supposedly to help street kids to buy food and clothing, actually goes into the hands of the mafia and corrupt politicians.
The taxi driver dropped us at Vasant Kunj which is a new and swanky shopping mall in Delhi.
We wanted to buy a hat for Jules because he forgot his hat at home, and I also wanted to browse at a local bookstore for non fiction books that were only printed in India.
There are many fabulous stories and great writers who never get published in the West, and I found many good books that I wanted to buy, but because we were heading to the countryside on a hiking expedition, I limited myself to two good books.
The temperature of the water in the pool was just perfect for a hot day in Delhi.
I alternately swam and read, enjoying our stay at this luxurious hotel.
I knew that this was the last taste of luxury we will enjoy on this trip.
All of the other hotels and guesthouses on this upcoming trip will be charming, but none of them will come close to this level of luxury.
Not that I’ll mind the lack of luxury, but it has been nice to cherish it here because we paid for it already.
My mind drifted again to a man that I saw yesterday mowing the grass at a park.
When he took a break from pushing the heavy non-motorized lawn mower, he climbed on a narrow metal rail, and sat there resting on his haunches.
Many times in China, Morocco and India, I saw people resting and eating in this crouching position, but I never saw someone crouching this way on top a narrow metal railing, as his choice of the most comfortable place to rest….
I stood there admiring his PERFECT balance.
His feet did not wobble, his knees did not go numb, his body was sturdy and calm, perfectly flexible.
This man had a perfect relationship with his body… No achy knees or joints, no disorienting mind…. His body was neither a burden to him, nor an altar of worship.
I thought of some of my friends back home who do yoga five times per week.
They still cannot maintain this posture of motionless balance as this man did.
Maybe it is our upbringing and our expectations of what a body can and cannot do….
Or maybe it is our thinking minds which are restless and constantly on the move, that make us less stable and more wobbly…
A racing and insecure mind, a hungry and doubtful mind, does not promote balance and stability in the body.
On the other hand, a calm mind that is quiet and is not busy judging, is not agitated.
It knows instinctively and internally, eternal Truths…..
I wish I possessed such a mind….
I reflected about how, like many people, I have a love-hate relationship with my body.
Like many people, I fluctuate between going to great lengths to make myself (my body) beautiful and comfortable, while at the same time I hate it for its limitations, for getting heavy when I eat too much… For being clumsy and lacking in balance and stamina, when I wish it to be energetic and strong….
We had a fabulous dinner at our hotel.
We had a delicious dish of Kashmiri Morel mushrooms with green peas and spices.
Everything we ordered was tasty and prepared with fresh ingredients.
That night as I got ready to slip into sweet dreams, I made myself comfortable in the clean and soft sheets and I vowed to heal my mind….and to learn how to live with a quiet mind and to allow the naturalness of my body simply to be….
I realized that this is why I travel…
I travel in order to learn from the people and places I visit, so I can advance my own understanding and grow to do it better….
This man with his faded worn clothing, was a superb teacher of Truth for me today.
We laughed as I asked Jules to imagine his own mother, or my mother, climbing on this railing to crouch on their haunches while eating their lunch…. The image was too funny for words.
Maybe one day I will achieve his level of natural ‘being-ness’….
I truly hope so….