3/26/2010 to 3/28/2010 | Bihar , India

Back to Bodhgaya

I smiled politely on the outside but I cringed beneath the facade of my face as a couple of my fellow train compartment companions struggled to close the heavy brass bracelet I had just been given around my wrist.  Sarah looked on with amusement from the bench opposite me.  The 3 fellows who shared our Sleeper Class compartment a Hindu Guru and his two followers were on their way to Allahabad, Sarah and I were headed further to Bodhgaya.  They had taken a liking to me and it was not long before I was being bombarded with gifts including the brass manacle that was now weighing down my right wrist.  It was not the most comfortable adornment and I was wondering if it would be possible to remove it without the use of hacksaws, blow torches, or other means that might harm the flesh that lay in close proximity to said bracelet (It was a two person job but I did eventually manage to remove the item without harm a day and a half later).  The beads, on the other hand, were a gift that I could easily take on and off as the occasion required and I graciously accepted with genuine gratitude.  Once the gift giving had been completed, and I was sufficiently adorn with the required religious objects no good Hindu would travel with out, my Hindu companions attempted to discover through the numerologies of our names whether or not my travel companion, Sarah, and I were compatible.  After the first attempt they realized that they had spelled Sarah’s name wrong which was a complete disaster, so the calculation had to be done again.  I didn’t bother to tell them that my name was in fact Micah, not Michael which everyone in India seems to hear when I introduce myself.  Inevitably followed by Michael, Michael Jackson, to which my standard response is “Yeah, something that.” I had long ago exhausted all patience to correct such mispronunciations.  I basically answer to anything that starts with an “M” sound including Michael Jackson.  Returning to the story, apparently Sarah and Michael are quite compatible by I haven’t a clue as to myself.

It was a little late in the year to visit Bodhgaya, and the temple was much quieter that the first time I had been there. Most of the Tibetan pilgrims had returned to the more temperate climate of the hills, leaving predominately Thai and Sri Lankan pilgrims, whose homes were just as hot and miserable as Bihar in late March, to chant and meditate around the spot where the Buddha was enlightened.  Despite the heat I always enjoy Bodhgaya and it’s certainly one of my favorite religious places in India, the Mahabodhi Temple along with the Golden temple at Amritsar I find to be the two most serene and spiritual places in India.  A stark contrast to Varanasi, my next destination, a city I love, but certainly not for its serenity.

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