A person cannot visit India without leaving with a better appreciation for the art of patience. Ground transportation is thought to be rapid if the average is above 9 MPH over any appreciable distance. Trains that arrive or depart within 2 hours of the scheduled time are prompt. Yoga instructors usually show up about 15-30 minutes after the scheduled time.
Upon arrival in Delhi, I converted $1000 in US cash to Rupees. That translates into a ¾ of an inch stack of 1000 Rupee Notes. This was more than enough to live like a king for the entire month. For a little background, there are five denominations of Indian currency (10, 20, 50, 500, and 1000). The 1000 is worth about $15 US.
Last Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Modi appeared on national TV at 6:00 PM to announce that as of midnight, 500 and 1000 Rupee notes are not considered to be legal tender. Banks and ATMs were ordered closed for two days. An archaic program was planned to allow people to change existing bills into the new stuff. The papers say that 80% of all transactions in the country are cash based. Very few people have credit cards and most merchants are not set up to accept them. I had $3.30 in spendable Indian money.
The next morning, I went to visit my local friend Narayan for a cup of chai tea at his local shop. He has been running the Yogi Brown Bread Man Shop for 42 years. It is a small store selling candy, toothpaste, biscuits, rice, and other convenient items. He expressed concern for the money issue and had a very dark outlook on this decision. He felt it was very bad for his family and business. Amid his turmoil he stunned me by saying, “Are you OK, do you need money?” After an affirmative nod, he spoke some Hindi to his son. Moments later, I had 1000 Rupees that could be spent.
The next day, the banks were to open and begin the exchange process. All the rules that were reported in the press were thrown out the window. After three hours in line, I exchanged 1000 Rupees. Without additional options, I went on with my day. It is likely that the balance of my 1000 Rupee notes will be worthless. I am angry, but there is only so much a person can do before making the wise decision to let go.
On Friday, I woke up and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. When I twisted the water knob, the entire sink fell off the wall. The building is 70 years old and it was just time. The gods must have been looking out for me as it barely missed my toes. It was early in the morning and nothing could be done, so I did the logical thing by throwing my yoga mat onto my back and began the trek to see my favorite teacher for a morning class.
Surinder in the man! He teaches an amazing class and has such a kind presence. He is gentle, always encouraging, and a carrier of gratitude. At the end of each class, we all sit around and he tells us a story that always resonates deep into the heart. In yoga, breath is very important and deep breathing is a must. He used the ocean analogy about how the surface is always wavy, but deep down, there is calm and stable water. The mind can only attach to the soul during the deepest and most relaxed breath. He ended with a story of twos. Two eyes on the front the head as a reminder to always look ahead. Two legs to always keep moving forward. And two eyelids to allow people to go deep inside at any moment.
We all face daily troubles that are just surface level distractions. With little patience and a deep breath, most of them vanish. Try to name your biggest problem from this day last year……..