While collecting alms in the street today I overheard one tourist tell another “Merry Christmas.” At first I thought “what an absurd idiosyncrasy for two grown men to have in their manner of addressing one another.”
Then I realized, no, wait, it must be Christmas. This doesn’t seem possible, and yet it is.
I knew immediately upon realizing it that I must call my mother. I must. If I don’t call her on Christmas she will assume I’m dead. That’s the only possible excuse. New York is ten and a half hours earlier than here. I have no idea how that half hour gets in there. It’s one more thing that says that India is not on the same plane as the rest of the world. So I had to wait until evening, and then I begged to be allowed to use the ashram phone.
They’re actually quite nice here and no one cares that it is some other religion’s holiday today. Can you imagine if I was away at some Jesus spiritual camp and I said I needed to use the phone to call my mother for some non-Christian religious holiday? I’d probably be beaten with sticks or something. Or made to beat myself Mea Culpa style. Here, they think it’s quaint.
Anyway, I eventually got through to a carrier that would let me charge the call to the credit card number I have memorized, and I eventually got through to the home, but they told me she was sleeping. I made the poor person who answered to phone promise me under pain of violence that when she woke up he would deliver the message personally that I had called. Some enlightened avatar of peace, love, and understanding I am, eh?
Okay, I did not actually make threats. But I was very vehement.
After all the peace, love, and understanding, vehemence feels like violence.