This trip came about because of Sanjay, a classmate of mine at the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque and a truly remarkable man. He is an allopathic physician, an ophthalmologist, born and raised in India and currently living in Holland. He trained in India specializing in eye surgery, and decided to work in the foothills of the Himalayas caring for villagers. He even fashioned his own surgical instruments so they could run off of a car battery, sometimes the only reliable source of power in a remote area. He went to England and Holland for additional training, met his wife there and stayed. As his interest in Ayurveda grew, he came to Albuquerque to study, which meant being away from his wife. They were trying to sell their house in Holland before our program started, but the house didn’t sell so she stayed behind. Exceedingly humble, Sanjay would occasionally drop a snippet of information or ask a question in class that revealed a glimpse into his deep storehouse of knowledge and experience.
This past summer, Sanjay returned to India and came to Vaidyagrama on the recommendation of one of our teachers. He spoke with the lead physicians and staff and saw the grounds and felt it would be a wonderful place to study and learn more. He outlined what we had covered in our program at the Institute and what he was hoping to learn next, and with the staff they arranged a three-month syllabus accordingly. The five of us who decided to join Sanjay in this adventure felt it was a rare opportunity, partly because we’d have the benefit of Sanjay’s shepherding presence with us.
So, it came as a shock when, a few days ago, we received an email from Sanjay stating that he is not coming. After two years on the market, they just received an offer on their house, and at the same time they found a rare, ideal apartment to buy. The timing was such that he had to jump now to make it happen. He sent his regrets.
I was floored. I hadn’t realized until that moment how much I had been counting on Sanjay’s presence. I had been enjoying such a sense of security and comfort knowing he would be here – that he could serve as an intermediary with the staff at Vaidyagrama, that he could provide guidance on Indian customs, that he could speak at least one of the local languages, that he could even take care of me if I were to become ill. As I sat reading his email message in a small apartment in the middle of enormous, cacophonous Mumbai, which suddenly felt VERY far from home, I thought, “Oh my God, I’m on my own.” And I was scared.
I believe that events unfold according to a greater design than we can see, that there is something to be learned or gained from every situation, even (or especially) the difficult or “bad” situations. Since getting that email a few days ago, I am now relating to this whole trip in a different way. I feel like more of a participant in creating my experience here. Rather than turning to Sanjay if I have a question, I will turn directly to my teacher to ask for what I need. Rather than hanging back and letting Sanjay do the talking out in the countryside, I will step forward. I can’t foresee all the ways that Sanjay not being here will change my experience, but apparently this is the experience I am meant to have.
I have Sanjay to thank for getting me here; it was his negotiation with Vaidyagrama that made the program happen, and it was the promise of his presence that made me feel confident enough to get on that plane back in Albuquerque. He got me to Mumbai, and I guess that was as far as I needed him. Now I’m in India’s hands.
Om namah shivaya….