I've had a strange last week. The urge to use some of my newly rediscovered lateral thinking skills has been bubbling to the surface. I found Edward De Bono's book Lateral Thinking in a book shop in Quetta and through reading it, I've found inspiration to find new challenging adventures and varied experiences.
Lateral Thinking and Cycle Touring
Cycle touring is well suited to lateral thinking. It can be the physical manifestation of a lateral thought process. For example, cycling along the main road mid-way through the day, I turned onto a smaller road which was immediately clear as being a good decision. Rather than the truckers, roadside restaurants, and dirty belching diesel lorries I was presented with quiet tree-lined homes, agricultural land, buffalo in courtyards of rural homes with women working and men lazing about.
I cycled past a colourful wedding. Fireworks were being nonchalently launched in the street with loud explosions and eardrum-poppingly loud bangs. An event I've learnt to either avoid or rock up to on my bike, depending on whether I want a mind whirling adventure into Indian culture or not. On this particular ocassion I decided to cycle away, explosions shaking my cranium and reverberating my ear drums to savour more of the quiet rural roads and pleasant cycling.
Whilst pedalling I get into the 'zone' as some people call it. Time is distorted and usually it passes more quickly. I pedal, feeling contented, observing my surroundings and listening to music. After 2 hours, I stop, I've gone through 3 albums, 3 towns, 50 km and I'm ready for a nice big Gujarati Thali (a replendent 8-dish Indian meal).
Finding a Place to Stay
That evening I had an impulsion to cycle until it got dark to see if I would still find somewhere to sleep without really planning or searching for it. I wanted to push the process to it's limit. This is India, you can't just camp anywhere. Every field around me was someone's field with many villages, people lurking behind every bush, stray kids with cricket bats, rabid dogs and religious wanderers. I arrived at a small village just as night was falling.
I drove up to the front of what I guessed was a hospital. I thought I could ask about camping somewhere as they had a big patch of land but then I thought, that's a bit of a silly idea. However with lateral thinking seemingly wrong ideas can lead to solutions. I milled about for a few seconds near the entrance peeking in, eye's upon me like I was a stripey, pink and green abyss. It looked like a regular A+E ward. I slowly skulked away and a man peered round the gate and ordered me to return. He showed me to another kindly but direct man who spoke English. He asked me 'what do you want' and I said 'I doing a world tour on bike, I would like to camp somewhere'. I didn't get his response but I was led the Hindu temple of the village.
Thus forth I was introduced to a sweet family who administered the daily runnings of the temple. I was given a seat and I sat and watched who I guess was the grandfather's eyes flicking about and his dark crinkly face and calm temperament. He Just occasionally let out a little smile whilst observing the occurences and banter of his family preparing the evening meal. His placidity was contagious. The phrase 'if you were any more laid back, you'd be horizontal' was invented in India.
A Delicious Indian Thali
I'd eaten a massive Thali at lunch so it was such a pain to have to eat loads more delicious India food. I wedged wholemeal bhaji-like cakes into my mouth - described as Indian cakes, eaten with hot milk and the inspired combination of almond and spice. I've never eaten something that tasted so healthy and so much like it was satisfying all my dietary requirements. That was just for a little snack, then we really got into the meat, or we didn't because we're all veggies now. The Jain religion is completely vegetarian. This seems to have spilled over to the Hindus in Gujarat. Handily that's rather good for supporting the swaths of new humans who are popping out left right and centre as meat is inefficient source of food.
More cakes, daal, soup, milk, rice. I started off eating with my fingers, thinking 'I'm fitting in' but then to my cautious amazement (taking into account the India factor) the daughter of the family leaned over with her fingers like she was doing a charade representing a pelican and started massaging my food. I didn't know whether to feel aroused, mothered, daughtered or what. After my 'aha, yes that's the way' medley had died down along with the family giggles, I was presented with a spoon.
Massage and Acupressure
The daughter of the family then brought out her next passion. This involved a vibrating dolphin, a rolling-pin-type contraption with special double-action, free-spinning, knobbly rollers, a spikey hardwood rotating knuckle-duster and a pile of books containing images of seemingly dismembered and subsequently re-arranged male and female bodies and accompanying diagrams. Of course, you may have already guessed, she was a doctor of Acupressure. Acupressure (a blend of "acupuncture" and "pressure") is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) technique derived from acupuncture. In acupressure physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points by the hand, elbow, or with various devices.
The vibrating dolphin had a red light, and protracted ball-shaped, vibrating prong was used to massage all of both my legs (including my inner thighs - getting close to the limit). The feeling was like when someone tickles your feet or something else equally unbearable, very intense, but also bizarrely relaxing. It just felt wrong going over my knees. The knobbly rolling pin is used for the back and the knuckle-duster for the hands - to energise. One of the theories is that other parts of the body can be affected by massaging the heads or the feet.
For example the back is the centre of the back of the hand and the legs are the index and middle finger. Anyway it was nice to have a hand massage because my hands do suffer a bit. The husband arrived later and he was a doctor in Acupressure specialising in the back. He gave me a more conventional massage, which was great. This was all filmed by a 12 year old boy, so maybe you'll see the corner of the upper part of the ceiling in our Ride Earth feature film pipe-dream.
To bring you to the moment now. The computer just crashed for the second time (thank god? for Wordpress saving drafts. Then I caught the internet cafe staff copying stuff off my hard disk - a lack of respect, stupidity, concept of personal privacy /possessions. All these things. Discovering India - warts'n'all. Sometimes the warts are the good bits- nice and chewy, and curried too! Got to go now and film some meditation. Om. Omnenonarayan Photos to come soon, but it's so slow internet.