A silent visitor

Bhubaneswar Travel Blog

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Bina, who's quite quick to laugh despite this serious shot

Bina, the woman of the couple who are the proprietors of the hostel where I’m living, has knocked on my door a few times at night, come in, pulled a plastic chair up next to the bed where I’m sitting, and made herself at home.  I’ve been getting out my Hindi phrasebook, trying to make conversation, but have only ended up butchering the language and failing to get my meaning across.  I did look up the Hindi word for “funny,” which thankfully she understood and reacted to appropriately.


But for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what this was about.  So I grabbed one of the college students living here and asked her to translate: Turns out, Bina just wants to visit with me.  The possibility never even dawned on me.

Pull up a plastic chair and visit with me
  Relationships play such an important role in India, and they’re cultivated over time.  I was so busy trying to make conversation or interact in some way, while she was content to just be with me.  Now I understand why she was pointing at my book -- it’s okay for me to sit and read while she’s here.  I have to admit I’m finding the whole thing odd, but I’m just going with it.


And then last night the knock on the door came, but this time with a motion to go out into the hallway.  Bina had a tray of what looked like snacks.  It was 9:30 and I'd already brushed my teeth, so through hand signals I motioned no thanks.  After Bina walked away, one of the college students living in the hostel approached me.

The bednet: A must-have accessory
  She'd overheard my conversation with Bina, and I'd committed quite the faux pas.  Bina was offering to include me in her Puja prayers, which are performed by Hindus to pray or show respect to their chosen Gods or Goddesses, so as to seek their blessings.  The Puja is an acknowledgement of one's smallness and humility; the performance of the prayer removes Ego, which is truly the only hurdle on the path to success.  (A hearty thanks to Wikipedia.)  The student said, She offered you this honor, and you have refused her.  Smoooth.  Okay, okay, I get it already!  Be. More. Open.  And boy, talk about a humbling experience.


A brief postscript: The next day I asked one of the students to explain to Bina that we don’t have Puja in America and I didn’t mean to offend her.  She didn’t show much of a reaction, but she visited again that night so I take it all is forgiven.

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Bina, whos quite quick to laugh d…
Bina, who's quite quick to laugh …
Pull up a plastic chair and visit …
Pull up a plastic chair and visit…
The bednet: A must-have accessory
The bednet: A must-have accessory
Not the coziest, but its home for…
Not the coziest, but it's home fo…
photo by: debrasiegel