In Amritsar I meet Michael Bones, a guy with long hair and a big beard. I have been hanging out with a lot of guys with long hair and big beards lately. What is different about Michael is that he is blond and Australian and doesn’t were a turban. Nevertheless, he blend in perfectly in the Golden Temple. Michael is volunteering at an orphanage in Delhi. He tells me that I should come to visit him and make pancakes in the slum. It was around Diwali, Hindu Christmas, which makes it difficult to find a train ticket from Amritsar to Delhi.
I am put on the waiting list, number 158.
When the train leaves I am still on that waiting list, but I jump on anyway, getting cozy between two wagons. The guards doesn’t think this is as brilliant as it looks, but after bribing them they kick someone of a bed and put me on it.
The next morning I arrive at a Delhi station. I wave off a couple of rickshaw drivers. I ask them for the bus, they tell me the bus doesn’t drive today. I said I was going anyway. And they said: ‘In that case: the bus is over there, number 108.’ pointing at a bus station.
When I entered the bus, a man with a short grey beard greeted me and told me to put my bag on the luggage rack. After giving the conductor 40 rupee for the bus ticket, I took a seat in the front of the bus and waited for the bus to fill up and drive off.
Right before my stop, the grey bearded man stood up and started shouting at the conductor. A man with a briefcase joined in, as did an old woman, and a young guy in the back shouted something.
Everybody looks at me.
An old man behind me smiles at me and wiggles his head a couple of times. The conductor calls me over and I walk along all the passengers who are staring at me, the green mile. ‘Yes?’ I ask the conductor as calmly as possible. He doesn’t say anything, but just hands me 20 rupees. I looked at the money somewhat confusedly, then at the bearded man and the man with the briefcase.
‘You paid to much.’ said the man with the briefcase.
I thanked the grey bearded man for standing up for me. He was too angry to accept my thanks and just murmered something. Completely surprised I took my seat again. The man with the briefcase gave a speech to the bus. It sounded like he was saying: ‘This man is guest in our country and we should respect them. We should not try to cheat on them because they help our country.’ I truly felt like I was part of my own little Bollywood movie.
Before I met Michael, I met a medium on the street. He said he could read me, that he knew my future. ‘Come with me to this dark alley.’ He said with a mysterious voice. ‘Great idea!’ I replied with a big smile. He wrote something down. ‘What is your favorite color?’ My favorite color is ultra-violet. ‘Green.’ I said. ‘open up.’ he handed me the paper. Green it read.
Impressive magic trick.
He took my hand. ‘86 years old, you will be 86 years old.’ according to my hand. He said: ‘so before India you were… in… Pakistan.’ I must say that was pretty impressive. I only met two other people who had been to Pakistan, so getting that one was more than just chance. I decided to go with it and hear him out. He told me: ‘You have a good heart. You are friendly. But sometimes too friendly. You are not critical with your friends. But great things will happen to you.’ I could live with that. He warned me that I was too indifferent, too kind, and that I trusted people too much. ‘Maybe…’ I said. ‘Yes! You live in the maybe… everything is in the maybe! You cannot make up your mind, everything is random, you will get in trouble.’
‘Maybe, I’ll see what happens.’
‘I know what will happen. I can tell you. Pay me 20 dollar and I will tell you.’
‘I’d rather not know my future.’
‘Being ignorant! Your ignorance will ruin you, it will destroy you!!!’ He said with a squeaky evil voice, his face changing from a calm modest Sikh guy to an evil wizard, head tilted down and looking up beneath his eyebrows. ‘You will die a painful death!!’ That was a sudden change in future perspective.
‘Okay’ I said. ‘I’ll see. I suppose death might be painful anyway, and at 86, I think I could accept a painful death. Thanks for the heads-up though.’ I walked away with a big smile. ‘Your future is dark!!’ He yelled at me ‘dark, I tell you!!’.
After I’d met Michael, I saw the medium again looking for other lost souls. He tried his tricks on Michael. He told Michael: ‘your friend has a good heart, but he is ignorant.’ Michael agreed and we left to the orphanage.