Travel adventure – going overseas without wallet

This is a travel adventure of going overseas without one’s wallet and still coming out whole.

A few days ago, in December 2017, I traveled from Delhi to Seoul in South Korea. I was an invited speaker on Data Analytics at an international conference. I got dropped me off at the Delhi International airport, went through the immigration and security counters, and sat down near the flight’s departure gate. A little bored, I look around and saw my favorite snack counter close to my gate. I walked over to the store and found my favorite snacks. When I tried to pay for it, I discovered that I did not have my wallet with me. I rummaged through my pockets and then my bags but could not find it. I became a little worried that I had lost or dropped it somewhere.

A sweet and beautiful young Indian lady, from Los Angeles, was shopping in the same snack store. She heard me saying to the shopkeeper that I had lost my wallet, and was very sympathetic. She asked me how much money I needed. I said that at the very least I needed $15 for a one-way ride to the hotel in Seoul. With great effort, she managed to scrounge $15 cash from the various pockets inside her handbag. Very cheerfully she gave the money to me. God bless her. I took her phone number and will try to return the money, even though she said not to bother.

I then frantically tried to reach out to my parents in Delhi by phone. They looked around and quickly found my wallet on my bed. I was a little relieved. I realized that I was trying to remove some of the unneeded cards and cash from the wallet, and in the process I forgot to pick up the wallet. I had checked that I had the passport before I left, but did not check the wallet. My father, a retired UN diplomat, was worried how I will manage without the wallet. But I told him it will be an adventure. We both laughed, and he was relieved.  Now the correct story was that I had ‘forgotten my wallet at home’. I texted my daughter in the US to be ready to wire me money in Seoul just in case. I also texted a friend who was coming to the same conference that I may need his help.

In the plane, I tried to meditate and keep calm. I lost all fear, and became determined to find someone who would be willing to help. I was a little concerned about the currency conversion process at the airport that I may fall just a little short of the Korean currency needed to get to the airport. I looked around for who could help.

A young Korean man sitting right behind my seat. I asked him if he could convert for me $15 worth of Korean currency to pay for one-way bus ride from the airport to the city. He talked nicely with me but found it ‘unusual’ how one forgets one’s wallet at home. He said he will think about it. I also asked the Korean flight attendants for help. They said that none of them had any Korean currency, and could not help.

I wanted to ask another Indian person. I had seen an Indian family with little kids in the departure lounge right behind me. I looked for them in the plane. I saw a family sitting close to my seat. It was a different young man. He looked pretty blissful sitting there with eyes kinda closed. I approached him. He said he lived in Seattle, and had worked with Microsoft till very recently. I told him about my situation. He agreed to lend me $15. But then he said his wallet was in his bag up in the storage, and he will give me later. I came back to him with a copy of my Big Data book which had some brief description of me as an author. Finally, when we landed in Seoul, he gave me $15.

Now I was confident that I will be able to make the trip without any hassle. I had enough money to reach the city. I had friends at the conference. Hotel bill was prepaid. I did not need any additional money, as I did not need to buy anything. I had carried some home-made vegetarian food from home. I returned to Delhi from the conference safely two days later. I contacted them both my benefactors so I can return the monies. I can’t thank them enough.

I believe there are no ‘accidents’. It all happens for a reason. We don’t know how many dots get connected for some event to happen. Somehow I developed the confidence to manage an international trip without carrying my wallet. Anything is possible!!

Lessons: check your documents and wallet before you leave for a trip. Do good to others, so nature will provide support back. Both the US-based Indians whom I approached, helped; that warms my heart!!

 

 

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Bliss is me

Bliss is me

 

Bliss is my current state

From Bliss I come

Into Bliss I am going

Bliss is the source and the destination

Bliss is all there is

In Bliss all distinctions arise

In Bliss all distinctions merge

Bliss is the alpha and omega and everything in-between

Bliss is #1 and #2 and #3 and all the way

Bliss is here there everywhere

Bliss is inside and outside

Bliss is with everyone

Bliss is everyone’s fundamental right

What gets in the way of Bliss

As Bliss is all there is, Bliss gets in the way of Bliss

How so?

Lower forms of Bliss … pleasure and happiness get in the way

How to remove the obstacles

The obstacles too too must be Bliss as Bliss is all there is

By being aware that we are Bliss here and now, and we do not need to traverse any path to get to it. The obstacles will reveal themselves to be a gross form of bliss that our senses and mind are able to perceive. Mind and body develop preferences for certain grossified bliss forms based on how often and close they appear to them. The game of more, more, more is unending like a dog chasing the tail. Higher bliss and knowledge can pull one out of that chase and catapult to an awareness of infinite bliss within. Then all is within and without.

We have everything; we are everything. That is the nature of Bliss. That is us.

 

 

Experiencing the Vedic City

We today completed 3 months living in our new Vastu house in Vedic City. Here is one anecdotal report on the benefit.

A friend of my daughter’s visited us in Vedic City, Iowa, to join in the celebration of my daughter’s graduation from college last weekend. She spent two days and nights here. We discussed about how this place is special. When she returned back to her home in Dallas, she sent a message that she was ready to learn Transcendental Meditation.

  1. She said that she observed that during her visit, people communicated very differently than in her home town. They hugged differently, and shook hands differently. The experience made her feel that the niceness must be because of the environment, i.e. because all the people here are meditators.
  2. I had also had a brief conversation in which I impressed upon her the knowledge of Consciousness, that beneath all our differences, at the transcendental level we are all one. That we have infinite power of creativity and invincibility within us. And how that is the way to survive and thrive creatively in a world of robots and drones.
  3. This friend had stayed with us in our Vastu house, so my daughter feels that also must have made a difference in shifting her consciousness. This same friend had earlier felt that TM will be incompatible with her faith, and that they were overselling the practice.

Our university offers a free ‘visitors weekend‘ program to help people experience this place for themselves. Once one has experienced the total peace of the environment here, one wants to be associated with it. Of course, this place is not for everyone, its effect depends upon one’s own desires and predisposition.

International Yoga Day 2017

I think that International Yoga Day is a laudable initiative to bring emphasis and attention on Yoga.  I wrote about it last year too, calling it the Independence Day of the Human Spirit.

Yoga is ‘cessation of the activities of the mind’, as defined by Patanjali in the first phrase of Yoga Sutra. Yoga has 8 limbs.  Asanas is one of them. Meditation is another.  Asanas prepare the body and mind for meditation.  All good meditation centers avoid televisions and aggravating foods that would interfere with the practice of inner peace and quiet.

I have met Swami Ramdev. His vision is almost unfathomable. Have visited Yog Gram too. I want to go to Coimbatore to see Satguru’s center; have heard great things about it. Have met Sri Sri RaviShankar a few times and learned his technique too. At our own campus (set up by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) in Fairfield Iowa, everyone meditates daily for long periods for the dual purpose of self-development and world peace. I  have also been to many Vipassana centers and done their 10-day courses.  Every guru has a different meditation technique. They say there are 108 ways to transcend!

No guru is without detractors who would call their followers as a cult, sometimes somewhat justifiably. Ramdev made yoga popular. He propped up Narendra Modi in his bid to become Prime Minister of India. And he is giving foreign companies a run for their money. He has completely upended marketing practices. He is a big part of India rejuvenation.  … despite all his faults.

 

The Modern Menace of Heart Attacks

The Modern Menace of Heart Attacks

Too many people in their 50s, known to me, around the world, have died of heart attacks in the last few weeks. Makes me wonder, and worry!!
1. A close female cousin of both my wife and mine, of my wife’s age, died of heart attack in Jaipur, India, after a couple of months of kidney failures.
2. A close friend’s male cousin, a cardiologist, in Chicago, died while in late 40s.
4. A former female close family friend from Austin Texas, now residing in Chicago, of my wife’s age, died of heart attack.
5. A younger brother of another close classmate friend, also my age, died in Nepal, of heart attack.
6. A close classmate, in Dubai, was lucky enough to survive from a massive heart attack.
7&8. Two former colleagues from my first job in Wipro in Delhi, died of heart attacks in Pune and Delhi respectively.
For each of the first two in this list above, both of their parents are still alive and healthy. So heredity alone is not to blame.
What is happening? I spoke with a cardiologist friend in Ames, Iowa, who is a nephew of the friend #5 above.  This cardiologist had to rush to India an year ago to save another of those young uncles after a heart attack. This doctor friend said, at least India is sitting on a ticking time bomb of heart attacks. Bad diets and sedentary life styles are to blame. Even doctors sit all day and don’t move at all, he said! Sitting is the new smoking. And if I may add, sugar is the new nicotine. Stress is the ultimate killer though!!
Folks wake up! Get off your hinds!! Move around!!! Smell the roses. There is no iron clad guarantee of long life no matter what the actuarial statistics indicate. We are not immune from the environment we all live in.  Take care of yourself.  My classmate completely reversed his diabetes. My dad completely reversed his hypertension. Through proper diet, exercise, pranayama, meditation and yoga.
PLEASE go on a healthy diet before the doctor prescribes a bland boring salt-free diet.  Being sick is no fun. It is bad enough for yourself, ans othing feels or tastes good. But it is difficult for your family. And it is devastating and heart-breaking for your elderly parents should you they still be alive!! And it is pretty bad for your finances!!! Try Ayurveda and Acupuncture and Naturopathy and Homeopathy if you need a cure.  Please also learn to meditate. All this might save, and prolong, and enliven your life!!!
Updated: June 18, 2017
Happy Father’s Day!
Since the above post many other known people have died, from cancer and heart issues. They were all close to my age, or a little older.
9. A healthy, recently retired, close friend in Austin suddenly died on a visit to India, two weeks ago, from lung and heart issues.
10. A Cleveland friend’s neighbor, my age, dropped dead from heart attack outside his house a few weeks ago.
11.  A close local Iowa friend, a bubbly long-term meditator and our realtor, died of cancer two weeks ago.
12.  A local Iowa faculty colleague, died of cancer one week ago (after suffering for a couple of years though).
13. A local Iowa friend’s brother, who lives in Toronto suddenly died on heart attack a few weeks ago.
14. A close IIT friend’s dad in India had a fall, and then his heart gave up during surgery, a few weeks ago.
15. An IIT alum just a couple of years senior died suddenly of heart attack in Atlanta earlier this year.
Message: We should be grateful to be alive. Should not take a single moment for granted. Do not delay till tomorrow what we can do today. And take full care of health!!

An eternal love story …

A love story that began in the 1940s…

Earlier this month, both parents of my close friend in Delhi died within a span of just 12 days. It is a big shock to their entire family. The mother passed away first. My parents and I had known her for a long time. We visited my friend’s house to offer our condolences. At the time of our visit, my friend’s father was not in good health. However, he regaled us with stories of their love story. He said that they had a love marriage in 1949. Love marriages were not acceptable in India even a couple of decades ago, and this was much before that!

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The boy and the girl both lived in Lahore (now in Pakistan) in pre-partition India. There were neighbors and knew each other. The girl would daily take surplus buttermilk to that neighbor’s house, and they kinda fell in love. After partition of India, both the girl’s and boy’s families independently moved to India. The boy found out the family, and took up some work in the shop of one of the girl’s uncles. Two years later they were married with full approval of families of the boy as well as the girl. They were just about getting to be 18 at the time. He also said that they had never had a fight with his wife in the 67 years of their marriage; she always got whatever she wanted.

This story fascinates me since love marriages were frowned upon while I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s. India is far more tolerant that what we give it credit for. India also has a lot more variety of life styles than the canonical media would like us to believe. Another interesting thing is that the man passed away immediately after the successful completion of the 12th day rites of his wife’s death. He had told his children that he will not go before their mother’s 12th day rites were over. What a fascinating chemistry between the two spouses!