The Way to India Part 1: The Auspicious Meeting of Arvindh

It’s Thursday, November 16th of 2017 and I began my journey towards India about 80 hours ago and as it stands I sit here writing this in the Mumbai air port, waiting for my flight towards Ahmedabad, India. Mind you, Chicago to Dubai and then Dubai to Ahmedabad was meant to be only a 17 hour journey, so as you can imagine my first time flying has been rather eventful one could say. In the beginning everything seemed relatively normal, heartfelt goodbyes, parental advice and good wishes, anxious waiting for whatever was to come next. We boarded our plane to Dubai, I managed to score a window seat at the tail of the plane, the pilot steadily moved through the preparatory phases of take off, myself anxiously turning my phone on and off of airplane mode, partially wanting to squeeze every last word I could before I no longer had access to a normal phone again and the other part of me having this irrational fear that the plane would somehow short circuit or explode because my phone happened to be receiving its limited roaming signal. After some time of this back and forth game had passed, there was the crack and hiss of the intercom beginning to come over the plane loud speakers, a friendly voice came through, the Co-Pilot informing us of a minor technical error that should take no longer that 15-30 minutes to fix. Well this would be the beginning of our first 5 hours of sitting on the plane waiting for this mystery error to be fixed on our literally brand new plane, the good news is, they had a spectacular movie collection and sooooo many snacks, it was the best, but then I got super sleepy, at which time they said we had been on the plane too long. So they decided we should leave movie chair paradise for a cruddy waiting area in the airport and right in the middle of Wonder Woman too! The lobby discomfort was quite literal as I ended up sitting and eventually sleeping on the floor for a bit, but again, good news, SNACKS!!! After some time had passed we ended up back on the plane, only to shortly after be told that the issue had once again surfaced, so this time we decided to throw in the towel and call it a K.O.

Thus began part two of the day/night/next morning adventure, the probably 200 or more people rescheduling flights, getting baggage and hotel vouchers, it went so well that cops had to be called… so really, not well at all. But by the time I was in the fray, all hostilities had ceased and everything seemed to be going relatively extremely painfully slow, but smoothly. This began some of the random conversation while in line, thus enters Pete an Australian Pastor living in Indianapolis on a mission to Bangladesh and Arvindh, an Indian guy around my age returning home to Chennai, India. Off and on we chit chatted in line, I asked an array of questions about our current situation, as I knew nothing of how such mishaps worked or how to keep myself from getting screwed over, if that was a possibility. Either way, even with our minimal talking in line this some how pair bonded us three, ending with us freezing together outside waiting for a hotel shuttle, riding together and then staying in the same hotel(separate rooms and the plane we were on got split between two hotels) But this is also where the somewhat auspicious nature of my meeting Arvindh comes into play. We began chatting as we discussed each other’s plan for India, myself being the first westerner Arvindh had ever really seen going to India to study, usually it was always the other way around. We had a great conversation about different spiritual teachers that we were both somewhat informed on, which then led to further conversation into where Arvindh was from, at which point I recalled my own connection to Chennai, a friend and teacher I had met a couple years earlier in a rather auspicious way Hari Haran, who is a South Indian Vedic Composer & Astrologer. Hari is who taught me my very first Kirtan(sacred Hindu mantras or chants to music) during his stay in Iowa City. This would also be the occasion of my first Kirtan performance as a response singer for Hari during his performance in Iowa City and if you then fast forward a couple years, Kirtan would become a defining characteristic of my life.

Thus this brings us up to the near present and the relevance to Arvindh. Recently when I purchased my ticket for India, I decided to share a picture of the ticket with my gratitude to all those who had encouraged and supported me in being able to manifest this wonderful opportunity, among the commentators was Hari Haran asking if I would be visiting Chennai to spend time with him and his family, I of course wanted to, but was unsure I could make something like this work, since he is in Southern India and I will primarily be in Western and Northern India. Now I know you are probably thinking: “what’s so special about Hari commenting on your post?” See the thing is, I have had Hari on Facebook for nearly two or more years and have maybe seen a post or two in that whole time, also I have never even realized he followed anything I posted, so it was surprising to see a post from him out of the blue, but despite this I had rather resolved myself that Chennai was just probably out of the question this time around for my trip. Now fast forward to a chilly bus conversation with Arvindh and I say: “Oh, I know someone in Chennai.” “Oh really, who?” “Hari Haran” “Oh, I know Hari, he is a popular singer around Chennai”, with this I am astonished that this random person would know my friend Hari. Keep this in mind, there are 1.3 billion people in India and there are millions of Indians in the United States, also I only met Arvindh because my brand new plane filled with hundreds of passengers had an unexplainable error that attendants who had been there for years had never seen the likes of. The sheer probability of such a thing is so ridiculous, so I have to wonder, am I being called to Chennai? The universe or in my case Lord Shiva works in mysterious ways, it is always so fascinating to me what signs might appear or what lessons we might learn if we are observant and open to receiving such messages. Only time will tell what is meant to unfold in the coming months, but surely the seeds have been planted and if properly nurtured, soon enough I will enjoy the sweetness of their fruit.

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