Please visit Amazon Author Page at

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Life's Lessons - Who taught me What? (14)

(continuation of lessons from travels)

 Speaking of air travels, two co-passengers who sat next to me in two different flights taught me remarkable things. I have communicated with one of them and have saved his thoughtful response.

One was an actor in the London theater. We were talking and he said: “You are very relaxed”. I said: “ Yes, what made you say that?”. He said: “I am an actor. I know when I am acting with someone who is new on the stage. They are so nervous that their mouths get dry. Therefore, when they say certain words, I know they are new on the stage because of the way their tongue sticks to the roof of the mouth”. I have used this observation successfully in my practice when I speak with mothers. On many occasions I was able to recognize they were very anxious and that made it possible to help them better.

The other one was an insurance inspector for the Lloyd’s of London. He specialized in investigating fires in airplanes. We were discussing how he investigates fires as to their origin, the spread and possible causes. I shared with him how we investigate origin of symptoms and causes in children. He taught me that it is all based on astute observations followed by systematic logic! Just like Sherlock Homes. We agreed that the process is the same whether we are investigating fire in a physical structure or disease in a human being!

Ninety-nine dollar tour of USA: During my first trip to US, I stayed for five years. At the end of the 4th year (May – June of 1962), I wanted to travel through USA and see the country before I went back to India. At that time, my intention was not to return to USA. My resources were limited. (The monthly salary at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was $50.00 and free boarding and lodging. And, at the University of Chicago, the salary was $120.00, without boarding and lodgings) When I was thinking how to make my dream come true, I heard from Jim Johnson of Binghamton NY(I have mentioned about him earlier), as if he read my mind. He asked what I planned to do for vacation. I said: “what can I do with the money I have?”. Jim must have sensed my frustration. He sent me a check for $200.00 and said that I should travel around the country and enjoy. He also said that I need not return the money because he intended to write it off as unpaid bills in his practice!

It also so happened that I knew one Mrs. Updegraff in Philadelphia. She worked for the Greater Philadelphia Council of Churches. She was a missionary in in a village near Pune in India at Pune and knew Dr. Malathy Jadhav of the Christian Medical College, Vellore. She said that she can give me contacts in several cities where I can stay with families who had grown up children in the adolescent age group. The only condition was that I have to speak about India at the Churches these families attend. I agreed.

In those days there was a special ticket for $ 99 in Greyhound . This allowed one to travel anywhere around the country as long as one does not retrace the steps. In essence, it was a around-the-country travel. I travelled mostly during nights to avoid hotel bills. The contacts given by Mrs. Updegraff was useful in several cities, but not in all. Therefore, in some cities I stayed at the YMCA hotels for  $3.00 for a night. 

During this trip, I saw for myself the size and beauty of the country. During day-travels, I enjoyed the beauties of nature. I experienced the friendship of people in small towns and villages. I found how helpful they were to strangers like me. I became friends with some of the people I stayed with. They taught me about various aspects of life in America.  Mr. K of Portland, Oregon taught me about dairy farming. He owned a dairy farm and even took me with him one early morning when he went to milk his cows. (One of his cows won the competition for the most yield of milk in that county and I still have a photo of that cow!) 

The C family in Klamath Falls, Oregon exposed me to logging in the Oregon area and made me visit Klamath Falls which is one of the most beautiful, mystic and spiritual places on earth. Of the many places I have visited, I will add two more to this list - Kuai Island and Bali. 

 The most enduring friendship was with Jim and Lucy in Colorado Springs. Later I visited them with Ramaa and Bama once. We visited them once more with Bama, Hari and Sheela. By that time, Jim and Lucy had grandchildren. Bama, Hari and Sheela had a wonderful time with them and  experienced life in a cattle ranch and countryside, which included hayrides. Sadly,  Lucy and Jim are no more. But I had communicated with their son until recently.

 I learnt a thing or two about life-long friendship across cultures from these visits. 

No comments: