(Scroll down to read the first two accounts of The Journey to the East)
After two weeks in Herat we went to Kandahar. Here Ananda got sick and couldn’t hold anything in. I was frightened, one night he looked so thin and greenish that I thought he might die. I remembered how I had heard that prechewed food was the most digestible, and I asked Gisela if she would mind me chewing food for him, and she said that was OK with her. Next morning, as I cut me a piece of bread in the room where he was lying, he started screaming. It was like he knew what was in my mind and I chewed some bread thoroughly and gave it to him. He sucked it off my finger eagerly and then screamed for more. I chewed and fed him until he was satisfied and from that moment his recovery was rapid.
We made an excursion to a shady park next to a dry riverbed. I took acid there and was sitting in meditation when I felt an urge to open my eyes. I front of me stood a half circle of Afghans, all looking at me. I was stunned for a moment, but then I smiled and immediately they smiled back and with signs invited me to join them. I sat with them around a big red Afghan rug, just like the one in my childhood home. They were good to be with, no trips, no words necessary, just this row of shining black eyes and friendly smiles.
In Kabul I spend hours everyday in the hotel’s pleasant garden working on my translation. It is strange to think how this place of medieval peace a few years later was brutally catapulted into the twentieth century, in a war that forever destroyed the old Afghanistan.
We left Kabul after two weeks and went through the Kyber pass to Pakistan. Now Mother India was calling strongly, and we didn’t tarry in Pakistan. At the Indian frontier the Pakistani police officer found fault with Jytte’s passport, but we had learned to be philosophical about that kind of problems. We sat down, tea was ordered, and soon we were on friendly terms. After half an hour the police officer was satisfied; he took Jytte’s passport and stamped it without any commentary, and we were free to cross the border.
I don’t know how much of the exhilaration was due to the fact that we finally had reached the goal of our voyage, how much due to the actual atmosphere of the place, but I remember the feeling of relaxing into the embrace of this mild countryside as we walked towards the little border town. From there we went to New Delhi, and my first destination was my friend Fut (picture), whom I had originally planned to go to India with. He had preceded me and was now living in an ashram in the Himalayan foothills by Nanital. Niller and Sander wanted to come with me, while the women had their own plans.
Arrived in Nanital we asked for directions and were pointed to a mountain ridge: up there over the edge. The boys set out in a brisk tempo and were soon lost from sight. I took it step by step, slowly, and before I reached the top I came upon the two, panting and exhausted, taking a rest. The impetuosity of youth! As it were, they went down the mountain the very next day, and Sander I didn’t see again in India.
Fut’s ashram had a great view of the Himalayan range, and his guru welcomed me eagerly - a little too eagerly for my taste! He had great plans for enlarging his ashram to receive more Westerners; it smelled of money more than of the Spirit. I decided it was not what I was looking for, and after having rested for a couple of weeks after the hardships of traveling, I took leave of Fut and his scheming guru and returned to New Delhi.