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Going Doolally

INDIA | Wednesday, 2 March 2016 | Views [497]

I have now arrived in Pune from Nagpur via Aurangabad.

Manidhamma, having invited me to dinner the evening before, cooked by his lovely wife Sandhya and with fellow diner Sanghashree (their one year old daughter), more than kindly took me to a vodafone store to try to sort out a problem (not possible of course because I have to contact Vodagone Bengal and not Vodafone Maharashtra..) and to the railway station at Nagpur several days ago now.

Absorbed in the Buddha's teaching on craving and the middle way I did not talk to the pretty woman sitting next to me (regretted later of course!) but I did start talking to Ramakant, a retired engineer and Ghandian, principally because he came up to me and enquired knowlingly whether I was travelling to visit the Ellora and Ajanta caves. 

Ramakant, rather like my former boss Nadeem and with a similar energetic force, soon rearranged my itinerary for me and not long after invited me to stay with him in Aurangabad. In a situation like this I try to say yes and did.

6.30 the following morning we disembarked at Aurangabad where his son in law drove us to Ramakant's home for a quick refresh before the first leg of my new itinerary which saw me being transported on the back of Ramakant's chugging 7 year old moped to the tourist office, where I was to be picked up, after some discussion, by the Government Tourist Bus, destination Ellora.

Post coffee and toast I embarked on the large coach, the only passenger, persuaded not to get off it and go by private taxi by the conductor who promised to secure me an autorickshaw should there not be enough passengers for the coach to go and at less cost than that quoted by the taxi people. With some misgivings and admiration for his altruism I remained in my seat until we reached the Bus stand, where sure enough there were not sufficient passengers forthcoming. Off the bus hopping (Indian) I scurried after the fleet footed conductor to an auto rickshaw and lo and behold who was the driver? The conductor of course.

Not to worry, Massi was a good guy and I was happy to travel by auto rickshaw rather than by ac private car (I had done that for a week with Manidhamma in any case). Massi dropped me in turn at the 'awesome hilltop citadel of Daulatabad', the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves at Ellora, Aurangzeb's (last great Mughal) tomb and the Bibi-ka-Maqbara.

In brief the citadel and caves had me wishing to have seen them in their pomp, so I was a little frustrated as well as hot.., I enjoyed the visit to Aurangzeb's tomb though this was fleeting and the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, modelled on the Taj Mahal but built, like much else, with a need to cut costs that made a little squalid it's conceptual splendour, I thought, uncharitably, was money not best spent. I feel bad saying that.  

That evening Ramakant and I went out for dinner, there and back on moped, where we were looked after by an elongated Suyen lookalike for those who know her.

We were up early the next morning, Ramakant once again transporting me to the tourist centre where this time I was taken by coach, one of 5 passengers, to the Ajanta caves some two hours drive distant. 

Once again I was frustrated by not having seen them in their magnificent heyday, frustrated with myself for not hiring a guide and, my puritan leanings emerging, wondered whether it was really such a good thing to have these elaborately carved and painted caves (they are more like buildings really) rather than a simple crevice that seemed to do well enough for the Budhha, Nagarjuna, Milarepa and others.

Later I reflected a bit more on the nature of conditionality, how things as wonderful and elaborate as the Ajanta and Ellora caves and the Daulatab citadel go to wrack and ruin or even disappear completely from sight once new conditions like changing trade routes, change of patronage patterns etcetera manifest. It's all going to come to an end, even the London Buddhist Centre!!!!! Maybe even ME (surely not)!

After the hectic schedule arranged for me by Ramakant I was very pleased when he offered me to stay an extra day with him for a rest, so my last day in Aurangabad was spent lying down, doing some reading (a life of the Buddha from the Pali Canon has now supplemented the Bodhicaryavatara) and eating a little.

Yesterday, I had yet another shave, this time with haircut, reproved myself (je ne regrette rien does not apply to me - I seem to have at least two or three a day.. at least!) for this time over tipping (!) and then took an autorickshaw, overseen by Ramakant of course, to the Bus stand where I managed to get on the correct bus to Pune and to the Manusaki centre, the local Buddhist establishment, with the aid of Ramakant, Manidhamma and the kindness of a number of 'strangers'. 

So here I am in the city of Osho, having made a new friend in Ramakant. 

The expression Going Doolally, by the way, I discovered to have come from the Indian cantonment town not too far from Aurangabad where Raj soldiers who 'cracked' were sent. Today I learnt more about cantonment's but that's another blog..

Tags: forts, mausoleums, religious caves

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