05 February 2008

four frenchmen and mango juice

Seven in the morning on mangalwar [Tuesday] and I'm holding hands and
pretending to drink mango – out of season – juice with a bunch of
Frenchmen and natives I've met barely to never and cracking up on into
yogic pieces and of course how do I get here or anywhere.

Apologies for using a product which automatically capitalizes some
words. It's what I'm choosing to let Be for the moment.

The answer of course is a thousand dollars bicycle with 27 gears, a
built-in dynamo to power lights and charge batteries, seamless
shifters and perfect balance. Alongside, naturally, four Frenchmen
from France (which country?) a head and shoulder taller than every
Indian except their guide, an overwhelming Parisian Gujarati
Mountaineer who grew up between the Himalayas and the Alps and is as
mountainous a personality as his homes.
These four brothers (who aren't, in the western sense) have ridden
their bicycles – and yesterday took turns riding mine for a bit – from
France. To here. Ahmedabad. Almost 9000 km. I saw it on their gadgets.
Through Europe, Western and Eastern, through the Balkans and the
Hellenes and Turkey and Iran. They missed a visa for Pakistan and flew
from Dubai to Bombay, and have continued here, and will go onwards to
China. China. France. China.
Somehow they ended up at the Seva Café (the Ahmedabad Bigode, if you
remember) while I was there cooking on Sunday, and as such (being the
only Francophile and Francophone I know of here) I became the
unofficial Manav Sadhana tour guide. Which is different than spending
all day writing a book I should have finished months ago, but pretty
damn cool.
They are going to, in China, the world's first sustainable city, or
so it claims, Dong Tan, which produces more energy (and carrots?) than
it consumes. And will take either the Trans Europe or Trans Siberian
Express back (mostly) home, I can't be sure.

We met a man Manav [humanity] a few days ago who is lovingkindness
and passiveacceptance incarnate in a rare male form. He is a quiet
hero, humble in means and attitude, studying yoga, naturopathy, and
ayurveda for the last eight years.
Yesterday we spent the evening, with Manav and Jayeshbhai in the
lead, giving intense full body massages to these French cyclicsts in
their culottes as – of course, it's India – a room full of Indian men
looked on with idle chit-chat in the background. This guy Manav would
leap onto the bed, straddling a Frenchman, to use all of his weight in
massaging the brother's back. It was an awesome and comic sight.
So I don't know, this is what I'm doing. It's like this, different every day.
This morning for the third time in my short but eventful life we had
a laughing circle, mouth-closed post-yoga hand-holding circle of five
serious skinny bigode-d Indian men, three goofy French cyclicsts, and
myself, some lost cocktail of language and culture and totally at
peace. A around of mirthful laughing as meditation, another, and then
Manav stops everything to ask the Frenchmen

"Do you like Juice"
baahh, oui.
je suppose

Nodding, Manav holds out a fist as a cup and holds another hand
higher, a big thumbs down as a pitcher, pours twice into the cup – we
all follow along – and vigorously slams the cup back to his tilted
head and breaks into deep belly meditation, er, laughter.

"Okay! Okay! Again!"
And this time with gusto…

So that's the morning in Ahmedabad. Talking about partnership and the
race card, can you image what it must be like to be Four French Guys
riding through Asia? I got a bit of a glimpse yesterday during the 10
km from Ahmedabad to this retreat center at Sughad… they are more
popular than cigarettes, surrounded by a hanging smoke of smiles and
questions, motorcycles slowing on the road to chat and ask YOUR
COUNTRY everyone smiling and waving likes it's the NY marathon or the
end of the war.

The 30 minutes we road together was like a 22 km / hour parade (I had
a gadget! I could tell) and I felt, truly felt, how wonderful, how
truly wonderful, it would be not to be alone.

They ride together, go through traffic together, change tires
together, play chess while riding, hang on the trucks long Turkish

There is a chance a Gujarati poetess and Slovakian pesant may
accompany me on the next journey – planting seeds and songs from one
of Gandhi's Ashrams to another – Sabarmati to Sevagram, 800 km. The
pesant has a large flute and we're going to a Mango farm which means
everything could work out in the end.

At least, that's what the new bike is for.

back to mangolandia.

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