December 2009

At month’s commencement, a visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, for yet another trip into its spectacular Gem Vault, and to take in two special exhibitions: Fabergé, Imperial Jeweler to the Tsars, and Spirits and Headhunters: Vanishing World of the Amazon. Later, to the cinema, for Red Cliff, The Blind Side, and Avatar and, on Boxing Day in Floresville, The Princess & the Frog – all recommended.

From leisure time in Texas to ten days of teaching at the Kripalu Institute, a significant part of which I spent tramping about in the six inches of snow that a day-long storm dropped. It was my first serious snowfall in several years, and though beautiful to gaze upon, it was a chill reminder of how grateful I am for Kripalu’s sauna, and for not having to live frozen for months on end.

Among the many pleasant experiences of those days two particularly stand out, the first being the visit to my weekend class of Satya Moses, who at my request delivered an excellent five-minute extemporaneous account of the 24-hour fire vigil he had successfully completed the previous April. The poise and clarity that he was able to bring to his delivery at age 14, and the adept fielding of a question put to him, impressed his audience nearly as much as they impressed me.

The other noteworthy moment came during that weekend class when participant Eva Shah introduced herself to me as a school friend of Manu Daftary who now lives near Manu in Boston. Manu and his parents Prafull and Kamla were the first noteworthy people that I met on my first visit to Bombay in January 1974; they were emerging from the Ssi Hai restaurant just as I was about to enter, and when I asked Prafull if it was a good place to eat, he whipped out some money, pressed it into my hand, and suggested that I and my friend Rob eat there that night and then eat at their home the next night. The Daftarys and I became great friends, and Kamla took me on as her third son.

When during our first dinner together I asked the Daftarys for advice as to how to pursue my interest in Ayurveda they directed me to the Punshis, who lived in the flat just below them; it was through the Punshis that I met Pandit Shiva Sharma, who arranged for my admission into the Tilak Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya. It is thus thanks to these two families that I remained in India, learned Ayurveda, and met Vimalananda; and so it was with a grave nod to the power of synchronicity that, little more than a fortnight after meeting Eva, and but a couple of hours after my midday arrival in Bombay on New Year’s Eve, I attended an afternoon memorial service for Mrs. Leila Punshi, who had succumbed on the Monday previous. Prafull is now the sole surviving member of the two couples who set in motion the series of events who made me whatever it is that I am today, and so it is to him that I send my best and most felicitous wishes for a thoroughly pleasing 2010! Live long, dear sir, and prosper!