Between Thailand and India
I’m in limbo. Floating.
For all the temples, the Buddhist idols, the conversations with monks, the meditation, my first real lesson in Buddhism comes about by accident. After an hour in flight to New Delhi, the captain returns us to Bangkok due to mechanical problems. He tells us they will work on the plane overnight and we’ll fly out in the morning. I’ve left Thailand, not arrived in India and haven’t officially returned to Thailand because back at the airport I have to surrender my passport to get the hotel voucher. I exist in some meta-state, somewhere between Thailand and India, between past and future.
In the hotel room, I spend a few minutes reading the bedside book, The Teachings of the Buddha. Its simplicity is compelling. ‘Monks, a thought is like the stream of a river, without any staying power; as soon as it is produced it breaks up and disappears.’
I run a hot water bath because it’s the first time I’ve seen the combination of hot water and a tub since leaving Canada three and a half months ago. I throw in some bubble soap, watch the water foam up, and get in. The stress and excitement of long-term travel begins to settle as I soak in the tub. I scoop out handfuls of bubbles, blow and flick them. It is quiet. I listen to my breathing, my heart. The tap drips into the water. Bubbles burst with a constant fizz. Eons pass.
The warm water has opened my pores and I feel like I’m breathing through them.
I inhale and exhale like a fish, hearing nothing but air. Afterwards, I am drawn back to The Teachings of the Buddha. ‘Monks, a thought is like the stream of a river…’
I have no thoughts. I have forgotten about India and Thailand. And time. I am nowhere.
I am here. That is all. AQ