|Fire works lit the sky|
I had my maiden trip to the US, the land of perfume, in June 2006. The purpose was to visit my brother in LA. But, just before boarding the flight, I was a bit nervous. For, besides visiting my bro, I planned to attend Prem Rawat Maharaj Ji’s [also known as Guru Maharaj and Balayogeshwar, is a native of India, who teaches a meditation practice he calls Knowledge] meetings to be held in and around LA; meet the congregation thereat and have interaction with them.
Raised in a closed and conservative environment and tied to a restrictive cultural stake, I had been an introvert for long … a pants wearing frog living in the well. So, I worried about my shyness … worried about how the Americans, as they belong to a high-strung, no-holds-barred, permissive society, would be disposed to a brawny Asian. I knew it was only my misconception. Nevertheless, it was nagging at my mind all through my journey.
4th of July, 2006. America was celebrating her Independence Day. I saw congregations of well-dressed white people standing or sitting in the meadows in a park. Children were screaming with joy and some of them peddling their tiny cycles around the park. A happy, festive mood hung in the air. All necks remained craned to the sky, eyes too riveted on it.
My bro’s family and I were sitting in a lonely meadow shawled with mists. Since we felt the place was not comfortable to watch the fireworks, we shifted ourselves to another place strewn with dried and dead leaves. When the show was about to start, we found we’d missed our car keys in the place where we were sitting minutes back. We rushed to the spot and started googling for them. We got disappointed thinking we would be missing the fireworks if we would search for the damned car keys.
When we were wringing our hands in utter helplessness, I saw an American lady coming to our rescue. She introduced herself as Dorothy Lessing -- may be a Brit American. She said:’Hi, I know what you are searching. Please go watch the fireworks and let me find out your keys.’ She smiled at us and then engaged herself in ‘the operation-search-keys’. We were a bit hesitant and then, at her persistent insistence, moved reluctantly a few yards from the meadow and started watching the grand sky show.
Lit by the fireworks, the sky looked more ominous than ever with a potpourri of colors. Sparks of light traveled across the sky; they suddenly transformed themselves into shapes of lions, tigers, elephants and deer. Then we saw a fully blossomed flower with honeybees swarming it. There were shadows of men and women holding hands; an American flag was found fluttering. Crowds screamed with joy and excitement. We stood mesmerized, unable to take out our eyes from the sky.
After regaling the crowds with their amazing feats of lights, the fireworks came to an end and the sky became grey again. People started leaving the park and the cacophonies of car horns brought us out of our trance.
‘Enjoyed the fireworks,’ Lessing asked us. She stood before us letting out her captivating smile, our car keys in her hand. She didn’t watch the fireworks, but spent her time in tracking down our keys.
‘Sorry, Lessing’, I sputtered as I was intrigued by a sort of guiltiness. ‘It’s because of us you couldn’t watch the fireworks.’
‘Oh, no, she laughed. ‘I can watch the fireworks next year, but you can’t. You’re our guests … going to be here for some time.’
‘What a hospitality,’ I exclaimed, overwhelming with emotions.
‘Please say American hospitality’, Lessing laughed again, and in no time disappeared into the crowd.
While the sky still remained calm and grey, I had a lot of fireworks going on in my mind which ultimately burnt out all my misconceptions about US and the citizens. The country now seemed not the land of perfume, but the land of hospitality.
I could still smell the perfume of Lessing’s hospitality.
Image courtesy: Google