Shining a Light on Unsavoury Men

Flat tire in Gokarna

Quick fix!

Most of the tales you hear about being in India are negative ones. Particularly ones involving foreign women and Indian men. While it is important to be aware and take precautions, it is nice to hear another side. Here’s a story.

With two bicycles somewhat road worthy, Marieke and I set off to rediscover the magical sunset at the local beach we had shared with Marg and Swami G the previous night. Easily finding the turnoff down the dirt road towards the beach, pretty soon we heard a very loud POP! Alas, Marieke’s rear tire blew. Alerted to the sound, a kind man ran out of his house and pointed down the road. Hopeful, after two minutes of walking we found just what we were looking for: a man fixing bicycles 20 R ($0.40 CAD) and ten minutes later we had a patched tube and were on our way again.

We parked our bikes at the beginning of the beach and wandered down the empty stretch of sand where ocean meets river and sat down for another lovely sunset. Wary about the waning light, we decided to walk back towards the bikes. Looking back, the sunset was absolutely stunning, so we stayed a few minutes longer. Getting ready to head back to the ashram, I couldn’t find the headlamp I had brought to get us back on the dark roads, and Marieke had forgotten hers. Realizing I had last seen it on the beach, I made the decision to run back and try to find it, taking the risk of riding in the dark without a light. I got my cardio in for the day, but retracing our steps, couldn’t find the headlight, even with the help of a local man combing the sand for me. I ran back to Marieke waiting with the bikes and off we rode, determined to hit a lit path before complete darkness sank in. Luckily there turned out to be streetlights intermittently placed, and about half an hour later we were at the turnoff to the road to the ashram.

Fishing in Gokarna


Sunset in Gokarna

Watching the sunset.

Feeling a little stressed and fatigued, Marieke decided we most definitely needed to stop for chips at the corner store. Since that happened, I decided a bottle of local cola would also go down well, so we shared one there, returning the glass bottle to the shop. Just as we got back on the bikes, a truck full of what Marg would deem “unsavoury looking” men screeched to a stop and starting yelling at us. Alarmed, Marieke shouts at me to “ride” and we turn off to the road towards the ashram. Suddenly, a moment of clarity hits and I realize that the men are yelling “light, light”, so I screeched to a stop. Out jumps the local who had helped me comb through the sand earlier, headlamp in hand.

Laughing in delight, we handed the man 50 R ($1) and thanked them all profusely. Welcome to India indeed. A place where you need to keep your eyes open, but also your heart.

Riding the last little bit home, we couldn’t help but think what would have happened if we hadn’t stopped for the chips or cola, as we would have turned off the main road and out of sight, and how dedicated the man was to finding the headlamp. It was pretty easy the next day in our meditation class when instructed to think of a happy moment.

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