India: Mumbai blog

15th Jan. The Old Bombay Club

My friend Shama who I’m seeing after some 20 years invites me for lunch at the Willingdon Club: spacious, gracious and privileged. In the hall hang portraits of British colonials in whose days of course Indians were not allowed anywhere near the club.

We sit in the closed veranda overlooking beautiful gardens as Shama orders Chinese lunch and tells me of the various summersaults and hoops she had to go through to become a member some 40 years earlier.

Someone ambles over to join us, ‘Ah here’s another actor. Leena is also in the same line of work’ He pulls up a chair. ‘You know of course that Salman Rushdie in town for the casting of Midnights Children.’

‘Yes yes I know. Have they seen you for anything?’

‘No they haven’t but you know I’m in it. I’m in the book. We used to go to school together.’

Later as we part, Shama says, ‘You know Leena. India is good for the soul. Try and come back if you can. I did it.’

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I am on the plane in my way to Mumbai for Goenkaji’s ‘Great Gratitude Gathering’ on January 17th.

All those who had taken a ten day Vipassana meditation course between 1969 -1979 in what Goenkaji called the ‘gypsy camps’ before there was an established meditation centre, have been invited to the Global Pagoda in Mumbai so that Goekaji can thank us and expres his gratitude!

I feel full of gratitude to be able to attend and a bit like a lost daughter returning home.

And as I sit here on the plane, I am remembering my very first course, a double course during Dec/January 70-71.

We had arrived in Delhi in December of 1970 having driven overland across to India from Europe in a VW van. My husband was going through some sort of a mental crisis and my father had suggested we attend the World Conference of Scientific Yoga taking place in Delhi where we might meet someone who could advise us. So we attended the conference and nearby, J. Krishnamurti was also giving talks and so we attended those as well and hung around with other youthful western ‘seekers’. One of them, Bob Lane, told us that a bunch of them were all going off to Bodh gaya where there was ‘ A far out Burmese millionaire cat teaching a technique of meditation called Vipassana which enables you to do what Krishnamurti talks about.’

‘What’s that.’? Someone asked

‘Well, you know, Choiceless Awareness of course.’ Replied Bob.

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