He ( The customs officer in India) said: ‘You have to go to Benares. That is a very spiritual place, the river Ganga is there so you must go there!’.
So I thought okay, whatever he says you know, he seems to know what he’s talking about so I said ‘All right! I’ll um, I’ll do that!’
He said ‘Okay, I’ll meet you this evening at 6 o’clock and when I’m free from duty I’ll arrange the train for you don’t worry. Don’t worry, I’ll take care! Don’t worry!”
So I had really come to India. That was for sure. I was quite overwhelmed by it all, by his personal approach you know, it was so personal you know, shockingly personal. It wasn’t like you know some officer ‘Okay… passport please. Thank you, okay. Move on.’
Nothing from that impersonal, invisible kind of way of life that I was used from before. From days where I lived in Holland where on the trains people never speak with each other, No way! Nah, no one would speak to a stranger, forget it! And in the winter right, when we sit in trains it gets dark early, like 3:30 in the afternoon 4:00, it gets dark, it gets dark here even earlier. Anyway, in the train it’s dark like that right. So the people they are watching each other but not directly. They are looking in the windows at each other. And then when the eyes cross, the eyes are quickly, you know, you see the eye’s turn away! Looking at the ceiling or something! And that’s all. How different was the Indian train?!
Shoot that was really was something else, you know, first of all it was very cosy, you know, there were lots of people there. But the train I was on was really something else. It was a train like you never seen before! I was on this train, and of course in India on the trains when you go especially second class it can be pretty crowded! So people will not just sit on the benches, which are by the way made of wood, but they also sit in the luggage racks, right?! The luggage was everywhere else, I don’t know where it was but the people were sitting in the luggage racks! So I was looking up at them quite amazed, you know, I’d never seen people in a luggage rack before!
And there was a man again with a turban on and he was just sitting there in the luggage rack, going like ‘Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama.’ So my mouth was hanging open I was looking like ‘WOW!’ Especially as the journey was going on and it it took about one hour and he was still chanting ‘Rama, Rama.’ I was looking like ‘wow!’ Wow! You know, This is quite something. I was impressed!…… (contd in part4)
(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Oslo, Norway 06/06/1999)