Wednesday, June 28, 2006
JOURNEY TO THE EAST 1
A traveling party of six left for India with the Orient express on the day of the new moon the 11th. September 1969. They were two musicians, Sander and Niller, two young women, Jytte and Giesela, Giesela’s 10 months old son, Ananda, and I.
First stop was Istanbul. Niller and I went to the Blue Mosque, where we sat down to meditate. It was a surprise when passing people tossed money in front of us.
On the train through Turkey, a farmer in his best clothes who had been visiting the capital adopted us. He got us a compartment and kept everyone out that he deemed unfit company for us. Ananda was a great hit and in spite of our protector he was kidnapped for many hours and was brought back, spoilt but happy.
In Erzurum, the frontier town, we stood outside the station among a crowd of other traveling hippies when a big luxurious car stopped. The well-dressed young man driving the car asked if we wanted a hotel. He told us that he owned a hotel, cheap and clean, and if we were interested he would take us there. We all squeezed into the car, and went to the hotel, which lived up to his promise. He then asked us if we would like to go to a hot spring that night for dinner and a soak. When Niller offered to baby-sit, we accepted the invitation.
The young man was not alone when he picked us up; a big, swarthy, unsmiling guy was with him. As we left the town and sped through the desert along a dark lonely road, we were suddenly all caught by the same paranoia. We looked at each other and we realized how easily Sander and I could be disposed of, and Jytte and Gisela be at the mercy of these two unknown Turkish men. We were afraid even to talk about it because our host spoke English; instead we silently started praying.
Finally a complex of houses with lights turned up and the car turned in and parked. The hot spring was real enough, and we had a delicious dinner. When we declined to drink we were offered big joints. We had more or less overcome the paranoia but now a cause for concern turned up: the bathing separated Sander and me from the girls; we were alone in a room with a rather big pool and did not know where they were. In order to keep our spirits up we started to sing OM and it echoed loudly in the bare room. Suddenly our host came in and hushed us. We got out of the water, and he led us to a dressing room where the girls also were. He showed us a golden tablet with a surah (a chapter) from the Koran that he wore on a chain around his neck and he assured us that we had nothing to fear, he was a true Muslim and was in love with Jytte and would never hurt her. As the girls told afterwards, he had come into their bathroom buck naked, but just then our OM started to resound through the building, and he had left to stop us. The next day when we passed the frontier he was sitting there in a café to get a last glimpse of his beloved Jytte, who, typically Danish and attractively blonde, had completely turned his head.
The pictures from the top down: Jytte, Gisela, Sander, me and Niller.