Posted by: bobroth | December 16, 2009

TRIVENDRUM, INDIA

DECEMBER 16 • TRIVENDRUM • 7:15 AM

Running a bit late this morning so I will hurry with a few highlights…

We are in the seaside resort town of Trivendrum, on the southwest coast of India…

We head out in a few minutes to a library where Maharishi gave his first public talk ever on Transcendental Meditation back in 1955. This will be the last stop on the last day of our 10-day tour, tracing the early days of Maharishi and the start of his teaching meditation…

We are here because 18 months ago a man called out of the blue and said that he wanted David Lynch to make a film on Maharishi. The man was a very successful movie producer and had heard much about Maharishi over the decades and felt that now was the time to make the film—and David was the guy to do it. So he arranged the financing and here we are.

Recollections from yesterday…

Our drive from Madurai to Kanyakumari, the sacred site for Mother Divine for Indians, was a breeze. For the first time we had a wide open four-lane highway—at least much of the way…

As we headed farther south, the feeling grew more relaxed and the landscape grew  more tropical. David said the land the trees looked a bit like the southeast US:  like north Florida or parts of Georgia…

Then like a Hawaiian island… The landscape turned table-top flat with tall mountains jutting up suddenly from sea level… And miles and miles of groves of coconut trees… Lush, moist, thick…

Too soon, we veered off the four-laner onto a narrow one-lane road and steered through crowds of people, cows and goats, and cars and trucks (and for some reason,  lots and lots of very old, very packed, very stinky buses)…

Anyway, you know the drill by now…

So, more on Kanyakumari…

First of all, I love the sound of “Kanyakumari.” So tender. Maharishi traveled here to the southern-most tip of India after his visit to Rameshwaram. It was here, Maharishi said, that the inspiration first came to teach this effortless approach to experiencing the transcendent–the ocean of intelligence, energy, and bliss that lies within everyone…

Our caravan of six white Toyota vans snaked its way through congested traffic as we neared the holy city. Finally, we just stopped along a jammed frontage road, unloaded video cameras, lights, and audio systems, and headed in the direction of a shrine in honor of Kanyakumari.

We arrived to find that the shrine had just closed and would not open again for three hours. But David didn’t mind because the shrine was not his destination. Rather, he was headed to a site  about 200 yards south, right at the water’s edge, where Maharishi said he had come to meditate 54 years before. So there on hard, stained concrete, leaning against concrete pillars, David and I meditated…

After 20 minutes, I glanced over to see if David was done. He had a settled, blissful countenance on his face, and continued on eyes closed. This despite hordes of pilgrims and tourists (and beggars) stepping across him, standing over him, staring at him… and bells and horns and loudspeakers wailing away in the near and far distance. After 45 minutes I opened my eyes again to see a smiling Dave looking my way. He nodded, and we got up and headed back to the vans with five video cameras trailing along, capturing the kaleidascope of sights and sounds for the film…

On the way, we dropped into an air conditioned shop and purchased several small, white conch shells (a local gift item) for friends back in the States and made our way through the crowds to our eagerly anticipated air conditioned van… (I mean it was hot… and humid)…

We ate lunch at a roadside stop (vegetarian dosas packed ahead of time by the kitchen staff at our hotel in Madurai), drove for 30 minutes and then pulled over for some fresh coconut juice.

(Note: The coconut juice was delicious–but it was also a bit warm from the hot sun and lacked the requisite icy punch I so desperately needed. So I got an ice-cold Pepsi which really did the trick.)

As we headed out of town we talked about how our ten-day trip was drawing to a close and David said he felt really good about everything. Because despite the interminable airport lines and and stifling traffic jams, and noise like you can’t believe, and dirt and trash. Despite all of it, our overwhelming memory is of the sublime, almost transcendental kindness of the Indian people. The abstract but so very real spiritual content of the life of the land which lies just beneath the surface and mainly, complete amazement at what one person–starting out alone from the Himalayas –was able to achieve is such a short, short, short period of time…  (More on that later…)

The great thing about this trip is that literally every moment of every day has been new–completely and utterly new and unexpected. I never knew what would happen when we left our hotel in another unfamiliar city early in the morning and I had no idea where we would end up at the end of a long day.

And that was certainly the case, after 8 hours in the car yesterday, when we arrived at our final stop in Trivendrum. Where would I sleep, I wondered? And shower?

So I must thank my angels of safe travel (and our generous film underwriter!) for the elegantly beautiful, quite luxurious Leela Hotel in the Kovalum region, on the beach of the Bay of Bengal. It was by far the nicest hotel of the entire trip… (To save costs, we have been staying at modest, cleanish inns along the way.) We arrived, checked in, sat for few minutes outside on the veranda and watched the sun set into the bay (with Christmas music humming softly in the background!) We were then escorted to our rooms, and sank into the ease and the peace of a room both clean and comfortable…

Later, nothing else was on television (how much can you hear about Tiger Woods, anyway?) so David and I watched a really bad French movie–with English subtitles–on the Bronte sisters (who wrote Withering Heights, Jane Eyre, etc). I mean what could be better at the end of a long day than watching a bad French movie with David Lynch–and taking in his mumbled comments of disdain!

My two bowls of tomato soup arrived (a standard fare by now… safe and tasty) and David had a sandwich… He drank chai, I had mint tea. By 9 pm I could barely keep my eyes open, and I went back to my room, leaving him stretched out in his chair…

I slept well, and today, we head over to the library in Trivendrum …

David will tape interviews of few people who remember Maharishi’s early visits to the city. Then we will pack up the camera equipment and head to the airport…

Most of us in the film crew will fly to Mumbai. From there David will catch a flight to Delhi and then go on to Paris for a few days of art work, and then back to his lovely wife, Emily in LA.

I will stay one night in Mumbai and then fly to New York City tomorrow.

I still have a lot more to say, but the phone in my room is ringing and our crew is asking why i am not in the lobby. So I will sign off now, and carry on from my hotel in Mumbai tomorrow.

As before, thanks for listening.

Bobby


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