KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We flew back to Patna on a flight that was routed through Ranchi. In 2001, the state of Bihar was split into two during a controversial vote in the Central government. Ranchi is now the capital of the newly formed state of Jarkhand and needs to be serviced by air even though there is low demand. Our nephew Chetan flew this route in January and had to make the final leg on an overnight bus provided by the airline because the visibility in Patna did not allow flights to land. We were happy this didn’t happen to us in April.
We looked forward to a relaxing week in Patna with Anil’s brother Arun and his wife Neena. They had just returned from a ten-day Vipassana Yoga course in Bodhgaya and were just getting back into the real world again. Vipassana yoga requires students to take a vow of silence for ten days while they learn to meditate. I think I could handle the silence, but sitting and meditating for up to ten hours per day would be the most difficult challenge I would face. This was the fifth time for Arun and the sixth time for Neena; they are dedicated to learning the gentle art of meditation.
Because they were used to getting up at 4:30am at the yoga centre, they continued to wake early and encouraged us to join Arun for his morning walk in the Patna zoological gardens. We rose at 5:30am and walked from six to seven. The sun is just up but the air is still cool at this time of year. The temperatures drop to around 20C in the night, a far cry from the 37C later in the afternoon.
I had been in a bit of a hurry to leave Delhi on March 29th because when we had visited with Adia and Raj in 1999, we had experienced our first earthquake on March 30th. I am superstitious enough that I didn’t want a repeat performance. Then, I had just gone to sleep and Anil was playing Scrabble with our nephew Puneet when the whole building started shaking. It was so violent that the standing fan almost toppled over. I was awakened from a very deep sleep and I remember thinking ‘this is an earthquake; we should run down the stairs and out of the building…’. But instead of doing that, I flopped over on the bed and went to sleep again. Luckily, the concrete building was strong enough to stay standing and we were safe. It turned out there was no damage to buildings in Delhi. The epicenter about one hundred kilometers north of the city, in the foothills of the Himalayas.
The strangest thing happened to me in Patna on the night of March 30th. I went to bed around 11:00pm and lay with my head at the foot of the bed so that I was directly under the ceiling fan. Sometime later, when I was deeply asleep, I rolled over and fell off the bed onto the concrete floor. Once again, I was barely awake and said to myself, ‘Imagine, I just feel off the bed...’ and then I climbed back in and went to sleep . The next day, I tried to convince everyone that there had been another earthquake, but they weren’t buying it. What other reason could there be for an adult to fall out of bed?
Editor’s Note: Excessive drinking perhaps??
The next morning when we were taking our walk in the park, we separated from Arun and his neighbour with a plan to meet at the main gate fifty minutes later. We took a longer route that day and were getting late. I spotted a shortcut, off the paved sidewalks and over some dirt, between some trees. As I hurried along, I somehow caught my right toe on a large root and launched myself into the air. I was happy to see my left wrist sliding along the dirt in front of me, my right knee took most of the force of the fall and was skinned, but at least I didn’t break another bone. I’ve always been clumsy, but this is getting ridiculous! Now I’m a little leery because I worry that fall number three is just waiting to happen.
Our stay in Patna was cut short when we learned that our flight to Bangkok from Gaya on Drukair (Royal Bhutan Airlines) scheduled for April 5th was cancelled. Drukair only flies once per week at this time of year and they decided there weren’t enough passengers to warrant the expense. At first we weren’t sure what they would do for us, but we were relieved to learn that they would transfer us to a Thai Airlines flight on April 3rd or 7th. We chose the 3rd because we need to be in Bangkok on April 6th to meet up with Audrey Hawn.
I didn’t take many photos in Patna this visit but I have included two photos on this journal entry. The first is taken in 1988 when Anil brought Raj to India for a visit. Raj is standing with Vinod, a man who has worked for the Kapoor family since he was a young man of twenty-two. I regret I don’t have a picture of him with Raj when I came to India in 1981 and Raj was a baby. Every afternoon Vinod would take him for a walk in the stroller, everyone on the street would stop him to admire the chubby, white-skinned foreign baby. Vinod loved the attention.
The second picture is of Vinod standing with his son Arjun, the youngest of his four children.