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Pray And Love by HabibaELG

For there years I avoided reading Eat, Pray, Love.  No offence to Liz Gilbert, its just that for three years living in India I wanted an unmediated experience. I wanted to see India as she was and not how some author – or some professor, or journalist s perspective.

OK.. I have now given in and amidst all the beautiful prose I find myself godsmacked with a reality

That I have not played the game. It’s probably a suppressed old thought that Rachana is more driven by poverty thinking than she admits under a facade of caste superiority and business sense.

In Pune I had been warned  I had returned with friends, including my yoga teacher Pooja and her family, from an Arya Smaja ashram in Parli, Maharashtra..

I had been struggling for a few weeks , cycling to harven, yoga, a Hindi class and then home for breakfast at 11am.  My income was drying up.

“You are getting weaker every day” said Pooja. “Rachana is coming next week. Yes?  You must sit her down and talk about getting married.”

“We will not be getting married. Remember we spoke after Parli? I said I am better alone?”

“Is there another man?”

“No. Rachana is convinced if she married the person will die. She will not marry anyone.”

Deepak looked at Brian with what he thought was an overly serious frown masking his childlike insecurity.  “Rachana is not a good person.”

Brian knew the facts. Against their simplistic worldview it was hard to argue.

How could he condemn her?

“I thank you for your concern, Vikas, but I cannot agree. When people lose everything they make mistakes. She is desperate – and made one mistaken then another to fix it – then another. It becomes a habit.  It does not mean their bad.”

Pooja looked away – thinking, frustrated, guessed Brian. She doesn’t believe me does she? She is annoyed because I haven’t followed her advice in the past.

“She is not confused. I have spoken to her. My marci has cancer … Rachana has no cancer.”

“Pooja, you haven’t seen the blood coming out of her eyes and nose.”

“Your heart is bound to Rachana – you are too attached to her … Here people are cunning. You have a very good heart. you are …   um….what is the opposite of cunning?”

“Naive?” Her face was blank  – perhaps she did not know the word.

“There are changes in Australia. I have six months to find a way to make money in India, so I can live here.”

“You need forty thousand .” entoned Vikas.

“.. a month?” he nodded. “I am thinking I should stat a business. Perhaps Bowen Therapy?”

“You have money to invest?”

“No. There’s nothing left.” feeling demoralized as he heard Pooja’s groan of disgust.

“She has taken all you money?”

“Not all. I spend 70,000 rupee every three months on aeroplanes. “

Both shake in disgust. But they have no solutions to offer.

“Rachana is not a good woman” (OK the guy who said that said it to impress his girl frend who had just warned me).

Now, over a year later, no longer in Pune but instead i fly to Australia via Bhopal.  A year that included Rachana’ undergoing radiotherapy.  A year in Bhopal, I am saving from Brisbane to return there.

There is no doubt the equipment Rachana wants for the clinic could be a money spinner. If it works it may make my staying in India a reality: a financed reality.

Every time I restart funding my flight back there are other expenses – the government taxes, fees, unexpected delays ….. and more money.

It’s like Wayan in  Liz Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love when given $18,000 US ‘needing’ more for land:

“Is she fucking with me?”

“Darling …Of course she fucking with you.” My heart drops into my guts with a splat.  “But not intentionally … you need to understand the thinking in Bali. Its the way of life here to try and get the most money out of visitors … Your her miracle benefactor and this might be her last chance to get a break. …. don’t get angry ..{or} you’ll probably lose her, and that would be a pity she is a marvellous person and loved you.”

Does this sound like Megan Stacks description of Afghani warlords playing the USA military for more money and weapons? After all, Bhopal city was founded by Mohammad Dost, an Afghani who broke every rule of civilized war to get ahead.

Not really. We al prioritise out experience by what we value most.  When we can love a person for who they are without expectation, then perhaps we can no love.

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