A Problem-Free-Philosophy

October 2009

It took us about nine months to finish the house. Well, it was actually not really complete, but we moved in, as soon as one of the rooms had four walls and a door. Money was getting less and that way we could at least save the money we would otherwise spend for the rent in the guesthouse we stayed at.

The kitchen was not ready either, so we put the gas stove in a corner of the provisional bedroom, where we slept on mattresses on the floor. Most of the time life was taking place outside anyways and the camping adventure like living style even had a touch of romanticism. We had no running water and there was still a wall missing in the bathroom, too. We improvised and hung a mat where that wall was supposed to be, so that we could at least use the toilet with some privacy.

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Everybody who has built a house probably knows that it is never really finished for good. There is always a bit of work somewhere, things to repair and to improve.

…WELL, IMAGINE IN INDIA !

We discovered what really went wrong during the construction only once we started living in the house;

that much for ‘No Problem!‘

which is the phrase I got most of the time as a reply to my questions while the house was being built. Actually it is one of the sentences you get to hear most of time if you have a doubt or are worried about something and expect to get advice from an Indian!

INDIA IS THE LAND OF NO PROBLEM !

I wondered for example why the wastewater from the kitchen and the bathroom was flowing through an open gutter and not through a pipe, why the wooden window frames did not close hermetically and why the floor was anything else but a plain surface.

One evening I was lying on my mattress on the floor staring at the ceiling and discovered with dismay a huge bump in one of the corners. It looked pretty ugly, as if someone had dropped a huge wrecking ball on top of the roof or as if the house got hit by a meteoroid right on that spot! I called Baba immediately and angrily pointed at the nasty bulge:

“Look up there! What is this?”

He shrugged:

“Oh, yes… There tin sheet a tora (little) broken when making roof; but, NO PROBLEM!

I sighed loudly doubting that any “mystery” would ever see any problem where I did and thought about what could be done to fix the ugly corner. Maybe I should try something artistic and paint a 3-D planet on that bump, which might look nice.

Nothing like that ever happened; today it is still the way it was back then. I actually completely forgot about the silly bump. No problem!

Maybe it all depends on the point of view. Perhaps if someone here tells you ‘No problem’ he refers to himself. No problem for me, then why should it be a problem for you? Or maybe: Maybe it is a problem for you, but not for me, which means ‘No problem’.

Once I even found these two words being used as an advertising slogan on a signboard at my favourite guesthouse in Rishikesh:

‘Last Chance Café – The No Problem Company’

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This sounded pretty much suspicious to me when I first saw it, but I have to say that it was actually all true! In the end I got married with a helping hand of the No Problem Company and things that seemed impossible eventually became reality.

I start to think that the No Problem Philosophy is a magic key to open certain doors; possibly not the ones you wanted to open, but maybe precisely those which you had to cross!

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Mysteries of an Himalayan construction site

January 2009

When I first saw the piece of land we had bought, I wondered what kind of house could possibly fit on it; the plot looked pretty small. I thought that it might be big enough to put a larger tent on it, that’s it! It’s not that I didn’t like the idea of living in a tent or maybe a nice tipi, but after all the stories about leopards in the area we got to hear from locals and more after having seen one in full daylight I actually preferred to have four solid walls around my bed.

Construction site

After we had all the property papers in our hands, the first thing that Baba and I did was to celebrate a small puja ceremony on the plot amidst the high grown grass and flowers, together with the tourists who stayed at the same guesthouse. We chanted some mantras, lit incense and shared some food.

It took Baba a couple of weeks to gather the working people, who first proceeded to flatten the earth of the plot. To my great relief the land afterwards looked double the size and

YES! A REAL HOUSE COULD ACTUALLY FIT ON IT !

I never thought that I would ever have to bother about things like building a house! Until now I have always been renting the places I’ve lived in. First of all because buying a property of any kind was out of my range and second because it makes it easier to change residency whenever needed or wanted.

The only thing we knew for now was that we wanted to build three rooms: One for us, a living room and one guest room. Another thing I was sure about was that I wanted to have the bathroom inside of the house and not outside like most guesthouses of the area. Having an outdoor bathroom is a good thing, but due to my earlier experience with a leopard sneaking around the guesthouse all night long, restraining me to use the urgently needed bathroom, I had made up my mind. Otherwise we had no idea how people usually build a house in the Indian Himalayas. Baba tinkered a cute, roofless mock-up out of cardboard, showed it to the workers and on that base the building process started in the Indian way.Mock-up

He woke up every morning at six o’clock to go to the construction site to keep an eye on the situation all day long. People here are paid by day, which means that more slowly they work the more money they will get. Leaving them there alone meant that they would take things really easy and sit somewhere most of the time smoking beedis.

First, my German mind had an accurate idea, about how things should be done and eventually look like. In my opinion, I explained myself very clearly and everybody seemed to understand. My main job though was to cook and bring the meal to the construction site, where Baba and I would sit and have a picnic together.

Day after day when I arrived there with my tiffin, I had to discover that my plans for the house actually were not understood at all or simply completely ignored.

First I tried to fight it, but after only a couple of months to not become completely crazy, my German mind surrendered to the facts of the Himalayan construction “system”. After three more months I was just happy with the thought that soon I would have a new roof over my head and had no more expectations about the result at all.

It is very popular to hire mysteries from Bihar for building projects. A mystery is the Hindi word for the head workman. I didn’t know that for a long time and as in India people are often called by their profession, I thought that it was pretty funny that so many people had such a cool name like mystery!

The reasons why the workers from Bihar are very popular is that they have the reputation to be very good at their job and that they don’t drink excessively as their colleagues from the mountain area do. They also get paid more than the local workers, which usually brings jealousy issues along.

Winter had come and it got pretty cold, so whenever something had to be finished the same day, the local workers demanded to get paid in addition with “Gulab” with the excuse that it helped to keep them warm. Gulab translated means “rose” and is the brand of a local alcohol that smells like battery acid. Some say that if you drink that stuff regularly you end up getting blind, which I can pretty much imagine after having tried it once out of curiosity.

Well, maybe this is the reason why some of our walls have a certain angle which slightly reminds of modern art.

Of course, we also had our Bihari mystery and soon one of the workers said that he wanted to receive the same salary as him. Baba explained that he would do so, if he could somehow prove that he was able to do the same work in the same time with the same quality result.

One day, when I came to the building site, I wondered why the two arches on our porch differed visibly from each other.

The explanation was simple:

There had been a competition between the Bihari and the mountain mystery, which the latter lost!

But there was one thing that the Biharis and the local workers had in common:

After paying day, they did not show up for a couple of days without saying a word and then reappeared as if nothing had happened.

By the way:

If you like, feel free to watch the little movie about the construction process on the following link:

An adventure called life

September 2008

The three of us really wanted to stay at a peaceful place for a longer period after the intense time in Baba’s native Bihari village and Baba´s Food poisoning drama in Bodghaya. We  definitively needed a large amount of relaxation!

What a better place for that than the beautiful countryside of Almora in the Himalayas, which we had only recently discovered?

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We checked into an even nicer guesthouse with a large garden and found out that most of the accommodations in Kasar Devi include a kitchen. When you have traveled for a long time, you eventually get tired of eating out at restaurants, which are all offering mostly the same kind of menu. Having a kitchen made us more than happy, and it was also a way to save some money.

Someone had offered me a thick Indian cookbook for my birthday. First I thought that this person didn’t like me very much, because I had to carry the heavy volume with me through the whole country. But Pagli and I, both of us love to cook and we eventually went through the illustrated pages with the same excitement as a couple of teenager boys would do while reading their first playboy-magazine.

I love good food and admit that eating is something that makes me very happy!

Besides of spending much time in the kitchen, we wandered a lot through the beautiful lush green nature of the monsoon scenery, admiring the diversity of colourful flowers and collecting chanterelle in the forest. When it rained, the temperature cooled notably down and then Baba, Pagli and I would sit on the bed wrapped in blankets, drinking hot chocolate prepared of fresh milk coming directly from the buffalo, while telling each other stories or singing bhajans to the sound of Pagli’s Banjo.

The time had come to think about how life would go on from now on. Here I was, sitting in the middle of a small piece of paradise with my sadhu…

…BUT THEN WHAT?

Baba was not keen on living in Europe and not by a long shot I would dare to take him there to do any silly job and press him into the speedy western society. He was a free spirit and taking him to the other world would more than sure make him fade like a cut flower. Neither did I want to go back to the ignorance of an office job.

Kasar view

Life is too short to live only for making money that one will probably spend anyways in things that don’t really bring along any happiness and eventually will decay.

I could not come up with any alternative lifestyle, that appealed to me and that I actually would be able to put into practice in the west.

I loved Baba just as I loved India, even if at times the country made me really crazy. So, why not try to build up a life somewhere here? Of course, it is a place very far away from “home” and it was a big decision.

But my life-philosophy is:

If you don’t try, you will never know!

What was the worst that could really happen? Europe would not run away and I could go back there if I needed to do so anytime.

Now, the question was where in India?!?

I remember how Baba’s family in Bihar suggested us to build a house there in the village, as they owned a lot of land.

HA! NO WAY!

I would not survive there for even a month without going completely nuts!

On the other hand there was my beloved Rishikesh. But buying something there was too costly and everyone in town knew my Baba as he was part of Rishikesh’s sadhu society. A picture of dozens of sadhus coming to sit day and night at our place to enjoy chai, chillum and chapatis came to my mind. Nothing bad about that, but on a long-term that was not really an option!

Flowers in KasarWe decided to give Kasar Devi a try, we really loved that place. People are respectful, there is the tourist season when to meet nice people from all over the world, but also the off-season to enjoy the peace of the simple village life. The climate is pleasant, too, as it never got unbearably hot, though  the short winters can be pretty chilly.

Only a couple of weeks later Baba found a small piece of land that we could afford. This went so fast, that I interpreted it as a sign that things were flowing towards the direction they were supposed to.

Time had come to start a new adventure: The beginning of a new life in a new place

Escaping the Bam-Bholes

View Kasar

July 2008

It was raining season in Rishikesh; which means: PILGRIM SEASON! This is when thousands of pilgrims, many of them from Hariana, invade Ramjhula. Waves of young men clad in orange march 24 hours a day through town shouting: “Bham Bole, Bham Bole” to announce their presence to Lord Shiva. They carry holy water from the Ganges up to the Neelkanth Temple to offer it to the Shiva Lingam. One rule is that the water shall never touch the floor, so all the dhabas and chaishops on the roadside build improvised holders where the pilgrims can hang up their holy offering during their breaks. What I found very funny is that they come back from the temple wearing their underpants on their heads! ‘Strange rite’, I thought and then found out that they do so to dry their pants after having bathed in the temple compound. I wonder what the Indians would think I they saw a horde of Westerners marching through town with their underwear on their head…

Anyways, things get tough for a foreigner during this time of the year, as the pilgrims usually give them a hard time. The foreign tourists actually get evacuated by the authorities from the hotels and guesthouses next to the pilgrim trail and are sent to accommodations in more peaceful areas. So it happened to us and we decided to simply escape from all the turmoil. Baba and I had made friends with a girl from America and we decided to travel together. None of us felt like traveling too far, so we checked on the rarely used travel guide to find nearby attractive places. I hate to read instructions of any kind and also dislike reading guide books! We went through the section of Uttarakhand and stumbled upon Almora, which was only a one-night-trip away. I liked the melody of the word “Almora”. There was not much text to read about it, but as we skimmed it and read

“There is a nearby town called ‘Hippie-Land’ by the locals; ask for accommodation at the chai shops on the road”

it was decided: CHALO ALMORA!

As soon as we left the town of Almora after having survived another crazy local bus ride through the mountains and arrived in the village, I fell in love! It was simply beautiful! Peace, pure nature, village life, cool, fresh air and colorful flowers everywhere! I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland. Actually there is not much to do for tourists, life there is still pretty much authentic. No shops with tourist stuff to buy, no courses or classes, no distractions; it is the perfect spot to chill after having traveled through “Indian hard-core tourist places”. The scene really forces people to calm down, to be with themselves and nature.

We found a simple guesthouse where we spent a lot of time in the roof-top restaurant while the monsoon was pouring down and simply enjoyed the amazing view through the big windows, which offered a great view over the ever-changing clouds, rainbows, valleys and hills while we were munching on chocolate pancakes and sipping chai. It was off-season there, too and we only met one more backpacker. One day early in the morning I stepped out of the room and could not believe my eyes! The rain had stopped, it was a bright clear day and there they were, as if somebody had hung up a painting just in front of my eyes:

THE SNOW-COVERED HIMALAYAS !

Himalaya range

I had no idea that they were that close! Shame on me! Maybe sometimes reading a guide book is not a bad idea, but if you don´t read it you might get blessed with unexpected surprises like this one.

Some peaceful weeks later, Baba suddenly received a phone call from Bihar. His 103-years old grandfather was dying and his last wish was to see his grandson he had been missing for too many years. Since Baba ran away from home at the tender age of eleven he had returned to his birthplace only once after 17 years of absence. After the initiation to Sadhu-life you are reborn as a new being and should break all the attachments to your previous life, which also includes the physical family; at least until you have reached a certain stage.

But once it happened, when Baba and I were visiting Benares, that he suddenly became very introverted. When I asked him what was wrong, he said that soon it would be Rakshabhandan, the festival when the bond between brothers and sisters is worshipped and that he would like to see his sister again. Varanasi is not very far from his birthplace and I told him that I would buy him a train ticket if he wished to go there. He called his Guruji to ask permission and when Baba received his blessings, he took a train to Patna. All of his family thought that he had died and was more than pleased that he returned as a Sadhu, which is believed to bring seven generations of good luck to the family.

So now the grandfather wished to see his beloved grandson again. For some time the three of us were just sitting there wondering what to do. The Himalayas are pretty far from the plains of Bihar; to be more precise about 1000 km, which can be translated into 2 days and 1½ nights of traveling in pubic transports.

Uma in Wonderland

My friend looked at me and asked:

“You feel like going on an adventure?”

“Why not?” I replied

“Okay, then… CHALO BIHAR!”

Himalayan Highway to Hell

May 2008

During the six years I live in India I went on a lot of bus rides and of course  none of them was actually pleasant.

The Himalayan roads are situated on rank 5 on the list of the world’s most dangerous roads and the worst bus ride experience I ever had by far was driving down the Himalayas from Gangotri:

The weather was miserable, it was freezing cold and rainy. Shortly after the departure it started raining cats and dogs. Soon it rained so much, that I could barely figure out what was happening behind the dirty bus windows.

The bus driver did not seem to worry at all and rushed along the incredibly steep slopes. At each bend the brakes squeaked in anguish; and inside of me, my nerves did just the same! I felt as if I was sitting in a rollercoaster instead of in a public transport. The only thing I could see when looking outside was the sky; not even one inch of the narrow road was visible.

To cap it all, a thunderstorm came up gradually; soon the bus was not only shaken from side to side due to the extremely bad road conditions, but the strong wind contributed an extra thrill to the situation. I wiped the mist from the window and distinguished broken trees and electricity poles on the side of the road. Colorful plastic bags, branches and metal objects were whirling high up through the air. I held on tight to my seat and for some reason the movie “The Wizard of Oz”, with the scene where Dorothy’s house gets lifted up to the sky by a tornado, came into my mind. I would not have been surprised at all, if suddenly a cow or the wicked witch of the east would appear from out of nowhere swirling by my bus window.

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While Sita Ram Baba was complaining loudly about the driver’s craziness, I silently supplicated and prayed to all the 330.000.000 Hindu Gods. I felt terrified like never before and truly believed that I was spending my last moments on earth. I always thought that my life was good and happy and that if I had to die, it would not be such a big deal; everybody has to do so sooner or later.

In the end, death is the only thing that will come to all of us for sure!

But in that precise instant I suddenly realized that I had been wrong; I was not prepared to die at all! I still wanted to have kids and see them grow! I felt the urge to hug my family and friends who were far away back home and after all I still needed to meet my parents before I died, to tell them that their crazy daughter had married an Indian Sadhu without their knowledge!

..and by the way…

Where the heck were Toto, Tin Man, Lion and the Scarecrow?!?

Sita Ram Baba was still complaining and now started to threaten the driver with peeing into his stainless-steel-indian-tupperware-container if the bus would not stop immediately!

Suddenly the two jeeps that were driving just in front of us braked hard and so did the bus with a long and extremely loud and awful creak. The passengers had to hold on hard to avoid being catapulted towards the front; a huge tree had crashed onto the road, right in front of us. That was close! First nobody moved; then several Indian heroes jumped off the vehicles into the pouring rain and started to pull on the immense tree, which of course did not move an inch. As if it would help Sita Ram shouted:

“This not working, you Stupids! You need one elephant!”

 and grimly climbed off the bus to follow nature’s call.

A long queue of vehicles started to line up behind us. After about three hours of waiting in the standing bus and observing, like in a movie, how more and more Indian heroes dressed in different styles tried to pull and push on the tree, the rain ceased. Eventually someone tied a rope to a jeep and they succeeded to drag the tree to a side. From that moment on I had the feeling that the bus driver was driving a bit more carefully.

Writing and reading this post made me remember how precious life is and that I really should try harder to be aware of that fact more often in everyday’s life.

It will end one day and I for sure still have a long bucket list and much cleaning up to do before I will feel ready to leave this body; although I wonder if I will ever feel prepared for that last journey…

Thank you, crazy life, for being just the way you are!

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Honeymoon With Rumpelstilskin Part 1

May 2008

After so much excitement and nerve-stretching situations, Baba and I were looking forward to our honeymoon. Just the two of us! Anonymous and without having to satisfy anybody’s expectations!

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We decided to visit the Hindu pilgrimage town of Gangotri, where the holy river Ganges has its source and therefore is said to be the abode of the goddess Ganga. When we mentioned our plan while sipping on our cup of chai at Kashi’s Chai Shop, our good old Baba friend Sita Ram suddenly started to wallow in self-pity:

“Me always want to go Gangotri, but never possible… Now me now very old, possible die and never see Gangotri…”

Sita Ram BabaI guess that he was in his late sixties. He was this particular Sadhu who reminded me so much of Rumpelstiltskin; he was small, thin, wrinkly and brown. Usually he kept his grey hair matted into a couple of thick dreadlocks under a turban. He always showed a toothless grin and with his sly glance you could never be sure if he was joking or talking in serious. He uses to complain a lot about whatever and enjoys saying his piece; a habit some people could not deal with too well. But I kind of liked him and in the end, Baba and I decided to take him along with us to Gangotri. The deal was that once we would arrive there, he would go his own Baba-way and we would enjoy our longed-for honeymoon.

Many Sadhus travel to the Pilgrim places once the passes are open to the public from May to September and the heat gets too intense in the plains. Some few go there to retreat and meditate, the rest of them basically to collect their annual “salary” from the pilgrims.

At some point, after a long time of bumping up and down in the local bus with a complaining Sita Ram Baba in our back, people started to pull out shawls, woolen caps and gloves.

“How exagerated!”

I thought. Well, only twenty minutes after I understood. We must have passed a certain hight level, because suddenly it became freezing cold. I was not prepared at all for that, actually I wore my flip-flops and a thin sweater and felt incredibly cold.

The first thing I did after arriving in Gangotri was to buy a woolen shawl and socks. The place was already very busy and it was not easy to find a room. There were only a few guesthouses and they were more expensive than what I use to pay while traveling. Sita Ram stayed in a Sadhu spot under a balcony where other Babas were sitting around a fire pit. I felt a bit sorry for him due to the cold, but in the end he was a Baba and probably knew how to get along.

It was really tough to leave the warm bed in the morning. As I opened my eyes I could see my breath. The water was so cold that I wasn’t sure anymore if my teeth were still there after I had brushed them. We decided to have a warm breakfast and a cup of chai.

Cave Gangotri

Sita Ram was already waiting for us in front of the guesthouse and invited himself to come along with us. Like usually, he was complaining. The three of us sat down at a window place in a restaurant at the narrow main road that lead to the temple. I agreed with Sita Ram, the chai in deed tasted horrible, it was made with powder milk and a lot of water. All groceries have to be brought up to this hight of 3100 metres which made it expensive and the choice was limited and of poor quality. In the off-season, nobody lives in the village.

I looked out and saw the holy men sitting in a long line begging for money and witnessed how some of them were getting really angry when a pilgrim gave them only a few rupees or nothing. Here, it seemed there was not much of a difference between being a Sadhu or a simple beggar; this made me really sad. My Baba must have read my thoughts and said

“Yes, many Babas sitting here all season. They begging much money for living the rest of the year; like job. Good Baba not doing like this. Good Baba sitting possible, somebody giving than he can take. He taking what god giving from heart, not asking, asking…”

We decided to take a walk through the area. Sita Ram followed us like a puppy, it was like being on a honeymoon with the senile grandfather. Anyways, the nature was amazingly beautiful. The holy glacial water rushed through ivory colored rocks that formed beautiful shapes. The dense forest with its rocks, mushrooms, small caves and high trees seemed to be enchanted and with the muttering Rumpelstiltskin in our backs I felt like strolling through a fairy-tale landscape. We came to a big rock with a cave entrance. A Sadhu was sitting silently inside the cave at his dhuni, the holy fire-place. He invited us for a cup of chai and the Sadhus had a respectful conversation. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the place and was happy to meet at least one Sadhu who seemed to take his chosen path seriously.

Gangotri cave

In the meantime our quiet guesthouse had been invaded by a large Indian family of about twenty members of all ages. The terrace was crowded with playing and crying children, women in  sarees were running from one room into another banging the doors and grandmothers and grandfathers were yelling at each other. Our room was in the middle of all that chaos, which was pretty irritating. I guess that the family was on one of the typical pilgim-marathons, where they book a bus to visit several holy places. They don’t stay more than one night; they wake up, pray, eat and chalo!.

At 4 a.m. we awoke by the sound of rattling dishes, yelling and singing sounds coming from the bathrooms in the neighboring rooms. The pilgrim family also had brought along a complete kitchen equipment! It takes quite a bit of time until about twenty people finish with their shower, breakfast and wash all the dishes. No way to fall asleep again! After half an hour I gave up and sat in the first rays of sunlight on the terrace watching the family clan rushing to the temple.

Singing in the rain

People ask me sometimes, when the summer season starts up here. I think that we actually have two summers.

The first one is before the monsoon from April to June, when everything is so dry that your skin starts peeling off and your hair crackles at your touch. The landscape then looks pretty desolated. All is tainted in a uniform brown shade due to the pine trees that shed their needles everywhere. There shouldn’t be so many pine trees here, the original forest was much more green and dense, but unfortunately the British cut it off to build the railways and planted the fast growing pine-trees instead. Nothing can grow beneath the thick layer of dead needles, so the locals have to burn them. The dense smoke added to the dry air blocks the beautiful view to the valleys. They found a few ways to recycle the pine-needles. Some is used for bedding the cows and this year a tractor was collecting them on the sides of the roads to make mattresses out of them.

The second summer and my favourite season begins after the rains from September and October. Everything is lush green, butterflies swirl around, colourful flowers grow everywhere and the sweet scent of the Cannabis plants fills the air. Nature seems to invite you to soak in as much energy as possible to store it for the approaching winter.

The raining season though can be quite tough. The first rains after the dry season feel like a blessing being poured down on you. In some countries with monsoon climate it starts raining every day at the same time. Here you never really know, how much and how long it will rain, though the weather forecast is sometimes right. It can rain only for a couple of hours, the whole night, days or even more than one week. Nevertheless the mountains are a good place where to spend the monsoon. We don’t have the thick, stuffy humidity and the temperature stays pleasant.

On the first couple of days of continuous heavy rain, I get into a romantic mood. I enjoy staying inside the house, reading a good book, watching a movie or just sitting on the porch with a cup of hot chai to observe how the rain pours down incessantly. The small path that passes by our house and leads to the village has already turned into a narrow whitewater channel dragging sand, earth and plastic bags along with it.

Approximately on the third day I start to feel bored. Sitting on the porch is not that much fun anymore either, as after a couple of raining days temperature drops considerably. I do some housework and catch myself humming rain songs like “singing in the rain” or “it’s raining men” to cheer me up.

The next day I wake up and expectantly pull the window curtains aside; still the same scene. I start feeling like in the movie “Groundhog Day”; it seems like exactly the same day is starting again with every sunrise. The song “raiders on the storm” comes to my mind – not too much cheering. As I look closer, a huge crack across our terrace catches my eye. I want to swear, but pull myself together and just sigh: “Om Namah Shivaya”. A heavy smell of mould has started to fill the house. The road to our village is blocked due to landslides, the trucks cannot supply groceries and we eat mostly rice and potatoes.

On the fifth day I don’t even want to get out of my bed anymore that by the way, has started to feel pretty damp. I feel melancholic and think about all the summertime parties with barbecues and good German Beer back home. Eventually I get up. Our house stands in midst of an immense cloud pierced by constant raindrops. My mood has reached its lowest point. I look up and detect with horror water drops coming through the ceiling of our living room. I put a little bucket under it. Next I find a mushroom growing out of the cement in the laundry room. No mold, a real mushroom! I call Baba and show it to him. He wants to eat it:

“Maybe this magic-wallah” he says.

I forbid him from doing so and proceed to its destruction. I sit on the porch with my chai and cannot get the Milli-Vanilli song “Blame it on the rain” out of my mind. This sucks!

What to do… inhale, exhale… this day will also go by somehow.

Day six: A MIRACLE!

The sun is shining and the birds are singing. It seems as nothing has happened. Well, now there is the crack crossing the terrace and this time the roof has to be repaired without any further excuses. We scrape our last rupees together to invest them in the repair work.

We have to take all the blankets, mattresses and clothes out to let them dry in the sun and get rid of the mouldy smell. But under a blue sky, things seem just half as bad as they are.

I do not complain; if you think that your own situation is bad, you can be sure, that someone else’s is even worse. This year the region of Uttarakhand has suffered catastrophic floods. People lost their homes and lives.

I should be thankful for trivial things like mould, a crack in terrace and a leaking roof.

Om Namah Shivaya!

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