I arrived in India on January 8th, 2005. It had only been eight months since I was deported from Australia and I could not wait to get out of the United States again. After living in Australia for five years I knew there was more to see in the world and I did not want to be stuck in a country I had already lived in for 40 years. Been there done that.
I had never wanted to go to India. Many people I had met in Australia had gone there, they loved it…and they ALL reported getting sick while in India. I didn’t want to go to a place where I was guaranteed to get sick. That did not sound like fun to me. But here I was embarking on a journey I thought I would never take.
At the time I gave Paramahansa Yogananda’s book Autobiography of a Yogi the majority of the credit for my about-face-decision to go to India. I had read the book two other times before but at that time it felt more like a fairy tale than anything else. But in August of 2004, less than a year after my first Self-realization experience, I felt drawn to read it again. My Self-realization experience was a gift from God; it was an experience I had no control of and could not create at will. It left me longing for more…Yogananda had reported having such experiences in his book. He went on to describe the practices the he had been learning from his master, the techniques for deliberately achieving that state of Samadhi. Yogananda also described in great detail the feats of many great masters he had encountered who had achieved this state. I got the notion from reading his book that going to India might help me unlock some inner doors. Thus I made the decision to go to this mystical magical place known as India, the land of a million spiritual masters.
There was another reason I choose to go to India at that time… it was because India was a cheap place to live while I finished writing my book Unforgettable: A Love and Spiritual Growth Story, which is based on the seven year relationship I had with my late wife who died of cancer in 1998. Little did I know that an entirely new and exotic love story was about to develop in my life.
We arrived in Chennai just two weeks after a major tsunami hit. Although much damage was done, it was difficult to see, and was nowhere near as devastating as news reports had led us all to believe. Life was going on as usual in Chennai and all over India…except that tourists were not showing up due to their fears. A second disaster for many Indians created by the news reports abroad.
For my first two weeks in India I was traveling with a spiritual group, students of an American yogi who lives in Canada and has published many books from the writings of ancient Indian texts. We were taken to many spiritual sites located near five different Southern Indian cities. It was fun and interesting and a great way to get acclimated to India. I did get sick within the first five days of my trip, but it was manageable and I was still able to enjoy my travels.
Once the rest of the group returned home, I continued my journey in Southern India. My research told me that Kerala was the most likely place where I would find what I was looking for, which was natural beauty and a cheap place to park my bottom for five or six months of serious writing. I was lead to the Western Ghats Mountains because the higher elevation tempered the normally hot climate making it a very pleasant place to stay.
The first place I went was Munnar which had a reputation for being very beautiful. But at 5000 ft in elevation it turned out to be too cold for me at night and in the early morning. I had high hopes for this place, but it was not quite what I was looking for. I was a little bit concerned because I did not want to spend all of my time and money traveling and staying in hotels. My funds were limited and already going much faster than I had anticipated. In my mind I tried to justify staying in Munnar and to find a way to make due, but it just did not feel right to me.
I calmed the worry in my mind by reminding myself when I find the perfect place I will know it. There will be no doubt in my mind. Every part of me will be saying “yes” to it. At this point in my life I have hundreds of such experiences, which makes it easier for me to wait for what I want and not settle for less.
So I left Munnar and I headed for Kumily, a four hour taxi ride further south, still in the mountains but at only 3400 ft in elevation. Kumily is the home of Periyar Lake and the famous Periyar Tiger Reserve, host to wild elephants, tigers, monkeys and much more. Before I came to Munnar a couple of people had told me that Munnar was nicer than Kumily. So I was not so sure I was going to find what I was looking for in Kumily, but it was the next best place I had heard about so I decided to give it a try.
The drive to Kumily was fantastic. Along the way I saw many tiny villages that I thought I could make work if I had to. I made a mental note of where they were. When I arrived in Kumily everything fell into place. My taxi driver brought me directly to a nice “home-stay” accommodation. Instantly I felt comfortable with Sandhya, the Indian woman who welcomed me. She took me around back through a lovely garden to one of the back rooms. It was beautiful, I said yes to it without hesitation and even before I had asked the price. Across the street was a large plot of land that was filled with coffee trees and the sweet aroma of their flowers…it beat the ugly rundown buildings which are all too common in India.
I was pleased to find a place with such natural beauty. In my three weeks in India I had not found anything that compared to this place in beauty, style, comfort, and luxury. Sandhya’s husband Madhu was nice and friendly too, they seemed to be just the sort of people I wanted to be hanging out with. We agreed to a good price for a long term stay, I felt like I had found my home for the next five months.
The climate and atmosphere in Kumily was perfect for me. Kumily is a beautiful village, especially when compared to most other Indian villages I had seen in Tamil Nadu. It is lush and green and surrounded by mountains. The air is clean (the air pollution is beyond belief in most of the other states I was in) the homes have a touch of modern style to them. Cost of living in India is very low for someone from a first world country like me.
From the very start I loved how happy the people of India are and how well they do with their ancient ways. The men and women are beautiful, the children full of play and laughter, the families happy and strong. Men hold hands with men in the street, women with women. There are no guns around; the energy did not feel violent and aggressive like it does in America.
Within a few days of arriving in Kumily, while taking my morning walk, I met a very beautiful young lady named Rena. She invited me in for coffee and introduced me to her family, only after first inquiring if I was single or not. She was very poor financially, living in a humble brick home. Yet she seemed to be wealthy in ways that really matter. Her family was lovely especially the children, nephews and nieces, who were as cute as could be. The house was situated on a hill with fantastic views of spectacular natural beauty. There was a coffee tree in the back. I was served coffee that they had picked, dried and roasted themselves.
I thought Rena was beautiful at twenty four years of age. I was forty six so I did not even consider dating Rena or taking her for a wife. When I got back to my home-stay I told Sandhya about my morning and they told me that she had definitely invited me in with the view of marriage in mind. I was invited back a day later for a meal, so I went. As fetchingly beautiful as Rena was, I could not imagine her as my wife so I rejected their further invitations.
This is what got me to thinking seriously about taking an Indian woman as a wife. It is interesting how the Universe pushes and pulls us to make us ready for the gifts it has to offer. Without this initial meeting, I would not have considered getting married to an Indian woman.
For these people marriage is the very biggest and most important step of their lives. They take this step very seriously, especially since divorce is much more difficult than it is in other cultures. India reminds me of old testament Bible stories. The entire family, indeed the entire village, looks out for the unmarried ones and makes sure their virtue is secure. At least that is the premise…in reality it’s more like butting their noses into other people’s private business. There are far less male-female romantic relationships that don’t involve marriage, when there are they are kept hidden. I understand this is different in the northern cities, but not in these small southern villages. Married couples are required to carry some proof of marriage when they travel; otherwise the police could stop them and give them trouble. When a marriage is planned, the entire family talks about it and decides what, how and when it will happen.
(Please don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t mean this is how things should be, I prefer freedom, but their culture has created a different energy which is very enjoyable to be in.)
Sandhya and Madhu told me about their marriage. When their parents arranged for them to meet, Madhu was twenty nine and Sandhya was nineteen. They liked each other from the first meeting and agreed to marry right then and there, after spending only a few hours together. They looked like a happy family; after sixteen years together they had two children and a few small businesses. It made me wonder if an arranged marriage just might work for me too.
So I decided that I too would try and find an Indian wife. During the normal course of my day I had plenty of opportunity to talk to the native people. Being one of the very few white people there I was noticeable; I didn’t have to approach them they came to me. When I told anyone I wanted to marry an Indian woman they thought it was great. One man and his wife set me up to meet their niece. She was also twenty four and beautiful, had a wonderful family, and she was very interested in me even though she knew I as forty six. I too was interested in her, and I could feel some chemistry with her, but the astrology between us was wrong. From my own personal experiences I knew this was true. However I consulted a numerology report just to make sure, it too said this would be a difficult relationship. So I passed on her. At first I worried a bit because I thought I might be passing a good one over, but then I remembered that whenever I find really nice relationships with people, it always feels very right to me, from the very start, and in many ways with everything falling into place like magic.
While traveling around I met another twenty four year old woman, my initial impressions and again the numerology report was bad for us. So I passed on her too. I began asking, “Aren’t there any older women who want to get married?” The answer I got was that most women marry by the age of twenty five so that is why I was meeting so many young ones who want a husband. I even thought maybe I could find one who is widowed or divorced with a child or two. I love children.
About two weeks later I met a man in a quiet, tree lined pasture where I was meditating. It is difficult to get a moment of privacy in India; I usually have to climb to a mountain top to get it. This time I was in an open public place and he interrupted me. He was working; minding his cows and buffaloes, moving them from one place to another…there is a lot of that going on there. We talked and eventually he got around to asking if I was married and then offered to introduce me to someone. Two days later I meet his wife Meena and their son; I had dinner with them. The next evening they introduced me to Shyni.
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