Today we made the trip from Mamlapuram to Tiruvanalmali. It is evening and I am writing this in a cool and quiet room at the base of Mount Arunachala. I am going to have a lot to say about that and everything else here – but first I want to describe a bit more about Mamalapuram before it slips away.
We ended up really liking Mamalapuram. Our ambivalence dissolved as we saw the place more clearly. We visited “The Shore Temple” early one morning. Originally there were seven of these beautiful seaside temples and all but this one have been dissolved by time and the sea salt wind. Eli and I both felt the gravity and sacredness of the place.
Mamalapuram is famous for its stone carving and especially for the carving of black granite. I was told that it is the only place in the world where you can really find true black granite as there is a quarry nearby. Actually – a stone carver from Holland who has a workplace and employees in Mamalapuram - gave me a lot of information about the place. He happened to be stoned (a whole lot of people in Mamalapuram are stoned). Also he was kind of OLD – so I was surprised when all his friendly info turned out to be an effort to pick me up. I mean – why would an OLD man be trying to pick me up? Really! You would think he would notice that I'm too young for him. OBVIOUSLY I am NOT old. (So....how old do YOU think I look? Feel free to leave me a comment – no pressure).
Anyway – that was a funny moment – realizing I was getting hit on by a stoned stone carver. He wanted me to come to his studio and see his carvings. I should have asked “but wait, don't you have some etchings?” – except at that point I didn't realize what was going on. Anyway, I said “just a minute” I'll get my son – he'd like to see your carvings too. The Dutch guy said, “Oh no, I don't want your son to come. I want you to come”. It wasn't until that moment that I realized it was a pick-up-attempt. Oh so happy I had a son to go and get........ [While I'm on a slightly seedy subject, here's a seedy side note: Mamalpurmam is a place where western women over 50 come to hire a young man for a few days. Sheesh....we had no idea! Eli could made some pocket money!)
Happily, the next older man we met was a gem – a ruby actually. We met a tailor named Ruby. He is a very small, neat, impeccably dressed man. He is quite humble in his demeanor, exacting and precise in his tailoring work, and very relaxed and gentle in his shopkeeping. He has HUGE, outrageous presence and heart. We ended up spending quite a bit of time with him and a true friendship blossomed – not something I would have thought possible given the logistics and reality of the situation. The friendship is really between Eli and Ruby....I don't think the gender culture would allow an ongoing friendship between myself and him but in any case it was Eli and Ruby who had the BIG heart connection. It started when Eli kissed my feet. I had tried on a beautiful silk something-or-other. Eli was partly playing around and partly serious, and he kissed my feet. [On a sweet – not seedy - side note: people in India kiss their Amma's feet as a sign of love and respect.....I don't know if they kiss their father's feet, I'll ask about that). Well!.....Ruby couldn't believe it. He had already seen that Eli was a particularly amazing young man but that sealed the deal. He was amazed to hear that my other son is equally remarkable – (OK – it's true - this Amma is bragging a little)
Ruby really opened up then. He told us why he is so happy (and it is completely obvious that he IS so happy). He said he never really has a bad day and certainly never complains because “It all for God....what could there be to complain about”? Now – that could sound pretty cliché' I suppose, but when we heard it from someone who so obviously knows it and lives it, it was like getting a blast of Blessing force – shaktipat. We felt kind of blissed out every time we spent time with him. So we spent a lot of time with him --- some of the best time we have spent on our trip so far.Speaking of “run” - Eli did not take his side trip alone to Pondicherry as he stayed here with “The Runs” (T.D. - Traveler's Diahrea). He's pretty much better now. So I got to have him be actuality physically present to worry about rather than doing the “mama-worry” from afar.