UNIVERSAL DHARMA

So Many Roads ~ BACK TO EUROPE

"Some people complain that roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses."

~ Anonymous ~

Since suffering is the response of the mind to things we regard as un-pleasant, if we would learn to look at things in different ways, much of our suffering would cease. This requires a willingness to change, and let go of old habits ~ easier said than done, but not impossible.

From Benares, I went to Lucknow, ignorant of its history and es-pecially of the Great Siege of the British Residency during the Mutiny of 1857; it was just a break in the journey to Delhi, and I stopped long enough to watch a movie ~ “2001, A Space-Odyssey” ~ before getting a train to Delhi. There, I bought a few souvenirs, and then boarded an overnight train to Ferozpore, crossed the border to Lahore the next morning, and passed quickly through Pakistan and the Khyber Pass to enter Afghani-stan once more; I’d got a visa before leaving Delhi. In Kabul, Ghazni, Kandahar and Herat, I bought more souvenirs, and at the Iranian border, afraid of being caught, threw the tablet of soap down the toilet before going through Customs and Immi-gration; I wasn’t as daring as Oeuf had been!

In Teheran, I took a bus through to Istanbul, taking two days and nights and costing just $20, which was very reasonable; we broke the journey at night to stay in hotels along the way.

Coming into Istanbul was always something of a thrill, to see the splendid skyline while crossing the Bosphorus by ferry, and looking forward to a few days’ rest and some nice food ~ choco-late pudding in The Pudding Shop, for example.

How I went on from Istanbul to Ljubljana, I don’t recall, but guess I hitch-hiked, and again stayed with the Kavseks for a few days, before taking the road north to Austria. That evening saw me in a small town, sheltering from the rain under the eves of a building while eating something given by my friends for the jour-ney; I had nowhere to stay. While I was standing there, an eld-erly lady came out of her house opposite and seeing me there came over and kindly invited me, in her broken English, to spend the night in her home. She was taking a risk with a com-plete stranger, but then, maybe I was, too; I was only too happy to accept, and after giving me something more to eat, she made up a bed for me on her lounge-room floor. She was a widow, and I still remember her name: Annie Glantshnig, and when I left the next day, she gave me some money to help me on my way. I wrote to her several times, and received replies, until the contact ceased. Unless she’s almost a hundred now, that kind lady must have gone to another dimension. May she be well and happy wherever she now might be! Many, many people have helped me in so many ways.

Passing through Germany again, I went to Denmark, to stay awhile with David’s parents (the guy I’d met in Israel the previ-ous year); they took me to Legoland, near their home. Next, I went to stay with Pete again, who was pleased to see me and hear all about my trip east.

That summer, I went again to Amsterdam, where the authorities had grown tired of hippies sleeping on the streets and had made available a large hall where they could sleep and shower for a nominal sum; this was great, because the previous year it was hard to keep clean with nowhere to stay.

One day, while busking with two other guys on Dam Square (I was playing an Indian instrument I had with me, while the others had a guitar and a flute), the police came along, and because people had put coins in the lid of my instrument, they took me to the nearby police-station, where they confiscated the money, and let me go with a warning not to do it again. I swore at them as I went out, and then, with my friends, went to a different place to busk, and soon had more money than earlier.

I met an Austrian by the name of Fred Haupt (Haupt is German for ‘head,’ so Fred Head), and because we got along alright, we decided to go to Copenhagen together. I was later to regret this, as I took him to Pete’s first, where we spent several days, and while there, unknown to me, he must have taken advantage of Pete’s family’s absence, to go through their upstairs rooms ~ I learned about this upon my return from Copenhagen, alone. This was despicable! On the way from there to the capital, I no-ticed he had some Danish money which he hadn’t had before, but I couldn’t accuse him of stealing it, as he might have got it elsewhere; but it caused me to be cautious with him. In Copen-hagen, we learned that there was an empty house where we could sleep, and so we spent our nights there. In the middle of one night, I was awoken by someone whispering hoarsely: “That Austrian guy ~ he’s trying to rape that girl”. He was too much of a liability, and so I left him, and returned to Middelfart, where Pete told me his suspicions of him; I was deeply embarrassed to have brought such a person with me.

Retracing my route, I went back to Amsterdam for another while, then on to Rotterdam to visit the Dutch guys I’d met in Istanbul the year before; in turn, they visited me in England shortly after-wards, and stayed for a while. What I did with my smuggled hash-haul, I don’t really remember, except that I never made much money from it. Pete and his younger brother visited me for a while, so I guess we smoked some and I gave them some to take with them when they left.

My money gone, I had to find a job, and got one two miles from home in a cheese-packing factory ~ anything would do for a while and the pay was somewhat better than at other jobs I’d had, and what with the occasional overtime I worked, I was able to save quite a bit. My co-workers there regarded me with some-thing like awe because of my travels, and one of them even said: “I wish I could do what you do.” I said, “You can. Go with me when I go again,” but it was too much for him to make the break and go off into the unknown.

 

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