circa 1985, h.p. india.

circa 1985, h.p. india.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Silence and the Bomb.

One of my more lucrative side-businesses in the early days of my business in India was changing U.S. dollars on the black market. It was, of course, just a little bit illegal.

Many customers paid me in the foreign currency and I would get a premium for that when on my buying trips to Delhi and Jaipur. On one memorable occasion, during a busy day in Delhi, I suddenly realized I had lost my shoulder-bag. Having also been in the gold and silver jewellery market that day in Chandni-Chowk, the bag not only held thousands of dollars and about one-hundred thousand rupees in it, without bank receipts, it was full of gems and jewellery. A lot of the money, by the way, wasn't mine. And, oh yeah, my passport too. Basically, I was screwed, spectacularly screwed.

In my mind, there was no doubt I'd left the bag in the last scooter-rickshaw I had been in. But, trying to find it was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, and I knew it. I tried, of course. Eventually, however, close to tears, I retreated to my room at the Gandhi Guest House, sat down on the bed and put my head in my hands. Perhaps as a last resort or out of desperation, I just decided to be still, to be silent. It wasn't meditation exactly. I was just sitting, and I kept on sitting for quite a while, until a thought occured to me. I recalled briefly being at the 'Western Union' office in the 'Imperial Hotel.'

My very next thought was that I had had my bag after that. Nevertheless, I slid off my bed, with next to no hope, and shuffled listlessly down the street to the hotel. As I walked into the 'Western Union' office, there was a large crowd around a bag, my bag, all staring down at it. I knew they thought it might have been a bomb, although in that case you gotta wonder why they were all crowding around it. I also knew the police would be there any minute. I wove my way through the crowd, grabbed the bag and quickly left the building.

I was totally elated, completely relieved, thanked the creative intelligence, my lucky stars and any deity I could think of for that thought, which came from out of silence. 

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