First, there was Rajan.
After a 14 hour flight and the airline having lost my luggage, I was walking out of the New Delhi airport empty handed and having no clue where to meet with my yoga teacher training group. As I shuffled nervously toward the exiting doors, that’s where I first saw Rajan, leaning casually on the railing, holding a light smile and a sign that only read one word. “Y O G A.”
I slowly made my way over to him, unsure if he was who I should be speaking with, his smile grew a mile wide as he saw me and exclaimed “yoga! ….Vishva-ji?”
“Yes!” I sighed, relieved by recognizable name of Vishva-jiketu, owner and teacher of the Anand Prakash Ashram, where I had enrolled in a month long 200 hour yoga teacher training course in Rishikesh, India.
My yoga instructor from my hometown had been in the past a teacher of the program, and close to Vishja-vi. I believed in her the way you would believe your favorite teacher in highschool’s opinion of which college to attend. I had no question this program was the right choice me. My sister having met Vishva-ji on her own yoga retreat years earlier. I was heading in never meeting the man, but knowing I would adore him and his teachings. I was right, by the way.
Rajan was immediately the nicest person I had ever just met. During my time at the ashram, I saw Rajan do just about every job known to man. From front desk reception, food preparation, ashram maintenance, even the IT guy on occasion, he was, to me, always the friendly face that could and would answer any question. You would never feel led astray by Rajan, his care was genuine and was always there to guide you with a smile that never wavered. A few moments later, there were three of us from the program, in small gaggle behind Rajan, as we scurried out of the airport together. He guided us to a van and with another big smile and wave goodbye, he stayed behind to wait for others, as the three of us drove off with the cab driver to our hotel for the night in New Delhi.
In the van, there were Sophie and Melissa.
Sophie was a woman from Quebec, a slight french accent on her lips and a soft melodic voice. She was on the plane with me and had suffered through the same fate of her luggage. We had both jumped, light without our bags, into the taxi slightly joking about wearing the same outfit for weeks on end.
Hopping in beside her, was Melissa. Melissa had long wavy brown hair and smiled with her eyes. She carried a hiker’s Backpack almost the size of herself as her only piece of luggage and it was clear she was a traveler. The kind that you’d like to hear stories from while sipping big mugs of tea.
Blue lights pierced the night behind us as we felt our van gradually stop on the side of the road. All of us were quiet.
“Nothing to worry..just bribe.” the van driver said casually as he absentmindedly waved his hand in the air.
Welcome, to India I thought, mildly entertained now that we were driving safely the rest of the way toward to our beds for only the night, tomorrow- Rishikesh.