Jaipur 5:35 a.m.
Awoke suddenly a few moments ago from a stark and all too realistic feeling nightmare: I was traveling far from home (though not here in India) and I’d been temporarily abducted at gunpoint, along with several others, and forced inside a house to a back room where I was forced to kneel face down in front of some honcho to face my fate. I instantly realized I must prepare to die immediately. I prayed for calm and courage and sought the stillest, smallest place inside of me to orient around love, forgiveness and presence, and was in a flash ordered to sit up and show my face to my captor/fate decider. I did and he seemed a bit disappointed and said something like, ‘that’s not him’ and then they said I could go, bingo. The others all remained as hostages though, and as I walked out on my own volition to take up a semi-safe station outdoors maybe 100-150 feet from the building in a gas station next door, word filtered out that about two dozen others, foreigners like me, were being held inside at gunpoint. They even sent a captor woman out with two guns to the small group of random people who comprised the folks around me, which ended uneventfully. We were mostly plotting various ways of slipping out of there back to safety. After a while I realized that it was strangely safe to either commandeer a car and drive or otherwise simply walk away and that I needed to get the hell out of there and not linger, and that seemed like it was about to happen even as more details were coming out and it was clear that whatever police and government were now involved in the process… and then I awoke to utter darkness, feeling very nervous and it all seeming very real for a while. The birds starting chirping with gusto, and the pre-dawn call to prayer started being piped over the local neighborhood sound systems, and I gradually came back. Sobering, and weird.
On the upside: it was all a dream, and I did in fact enjoy a nice day yesterday. Went to the wonderful Govind Dev ji temple in the morning with my soul brother Raju, and caught up with him a bit before climbing into work mode. Picked a sofa frame which I plan to upholster with one of these fantastic Suzani pieces, got a couple other quotes and then doubled back with my friend Robert to finish our respective buys at the textile house where we’d discovered these pieces the day or two before.
Robert’s been an unexpected find these last days—an actual friendly, open and communicative fellow westerner (of sorts, he’s from the northern tip of Australia, which is pretty far from my “west”) who’s been fun to kick around with on our hunt for cool old textiles. He had a day or so of unplanned down time which I’d overheard him mention when we were both at the same place working with one of my favorite suppliers whom he was working with for the very first time. I asked him if he had any interest in great old textiles, as I was planning to spend the next day checking out one or two of Jaipur’s best wholesale sources of same; he jumped at it even though it’s not his usual gig, work-wise, and we came to enjoy each other’s company as we ate dust and sifted through hundreds of old Gudri and Suzani and other amazing, weird, and curious items.
I came home and took a nap and then Rob and I went out to grab dinner for one of my too-rare nights out here. Talked business, margin formulas, export shop, family, life and love and have generally enjoyed a little unexpected good company on our respective journeys far from home.
Rob seems to do a pretty nice business in a range of eco-friendly items, furniture and cool lifestyle items, including working with hotels across Asia to outfit their places with various great gear. If you ever need to outfit your hotel in Asia, give a shout and I’ll hook you up with him—he knows his stuff and I’ve been impressed by his professionalism and knowledge of and sensitivity to his own business and its impact on the planet, and just his plain old decency. With so many of my friends in India here for more devotional reasons (as am I at heart), it’s also been really nice to be able to talk shop and relate about some of the other crazy and amazing reasons why he and I are both here, working.
OK, time to try and go back to bed and take some rest before the sun comes up into the cacophony of dawn birdsong.
And Happy Holi everyone!