Mr. Singh had returned to Mumbai, but now he's back. When he first arrived, he made a tour of the block, saying hello to all the neighbors. Of course, Ralph is gone now, so he missed his last chance to take tea with Mr. and Mrs. Singh. (Ralph thought the invitation weird and made a face.)
Thursday morning, I joined him for yoga on the porch. "It is very important that you do this every day," he said. "If you do so, you will avoid every disease," he added. Mr. Singh is 74.
Somebody passed on a bicycle and waved. Do you know him, I asked. No, but it is important to greet everyone anyway. We generally do that here and apparently they do in India, as well.
We pressed the middle of our palms to help our hearts and squeezed the places between each finger. Then we followed our thumbs left to right to exercise peripheral vision. We threw our arms straight up over our heads and to the side like cheerleaders.
We shared big, belly laughs - which were easier than you'd think without any provocation.
Later, we sat quietly in the lotus position with our fingers in a position to open the root chakra.
Sitting silently, I really noticed sounds. Trucks rumbled along Tchoupitoulas Street and boats blasted their horns. I was aware of being very close to the river. Exposed power lines crisscross our street like the Third World and crackled under the morning dew. Doves blissfully perch there as if thousands of watts of electricity weren't passing beneath their feet.
Mrs. Singh does her yoga poses indoors because it wouldn't be proper for her to sit outside like us. Mr. Singh gets a government pension that allows him to trip around the world. He wonders at my constant activities. Women in India who do not marry never leave the family home. Why doesn't the government provide assistance to independent women? My brothers should be helping me, he said.
Well, that doesn't happen here. Brothers don't help. You have to purchase your own health insurance, which doesn't actually cover anything anyway unless you are mortally ill. You pay taxes toward social security, which supposedly will help later on, assuming the system doesn't collapse before you get there. It's the American way! and we love our freedoms. Like the Danes I met a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Singh thinks we need a new system. Yup.
Mr. Singh noted that the U.S. has a close relationship with Pakistan. I said I thought that was just temporary to have a place to land planes so we could raid Afghanistan.
He said we all have responsibility to care for each other - no matter what religion. And we must care for the little animals, too. I said I still miss Sami and he nodded. We should all be vegetarians, he said.