11 April 2010
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I donâ€™t drive much anymore. Partly because my last-century workhorse Range Rover is corralled in the garage until we can replace itÂ with an electric car. And partly because I have a private chauffeur. Like most guys, Tom loves to drive. Heâ€™s also an ace navigator, so Iâ€™m spoiled. (But then he has a private chef.) He was busy with work on the day I was invited to â€œbe the programâ€ at the midweek March meeting of the mysterious women’s organization called â€œP.E.O.â€ so I had to drive there myself.
The meeting was at a memberâ€™s home an hour north of us in one ofÂ those complicated golf course communities whose streets were laid out by the same folks who design golf holes named â€œExtreme 19thâ€ (accessible only by helicopter…really) and â€œAmen Corner.â€ I started to pray before I left our driveway. Then it hit me: â€œThis is a job for Ganesh!â€
Lord Ganesha, as his devotees call him, is Indiaâ€™s patron saint ofÂ obstacle obliteration. Heâ€™s the charming deity (or aspect of the Divine) with an elephant head who helps spiritual seekers find their way…and makes sure they get there. As luck would have it, a decade earlier Ganesh had appeared to me in a vision (see Chapter 25 in Roll Around Heaven) and certainly helped clear the way for this pilgrimâ€™s progress…along with predicting Tomâ€™s miraculous arrival in my life later on. I didnâ€™t even know who Ganesh was back then, and so wouldnâ€™t have thought to ask him for anything. It was, as my Huffington Post hero Dr. Susan Corso likes to say, â€œa God job.â€ Such were Ganeshâ€™s gifts that it had seemed inappropriate to ask him for more after that. But maybe a small request for a little temporary spiritual GPS help was okay?
â€œO, Lord Ganesha!â€Â began my fervent prayer, and thus did the flood-waters break. Monsoons suddenly drenched my face as waves of unexpressed gratitude shook my entire being. â€œLord Ganesha!â€ I heard myself cry out. â€œPlease forgive my long silence! I have been a terrible… devotee! But I do love you with all my heart and I always will and I still donâ€™t know why you chose to help me but Iâ€™m so glad you did. You changed everything!! Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!â€
To call this eruption expected would be like calling springtime a surprise. In its awakening wake, fragrant emotions bloomed within me like plumes of fresh lilac: happiness turning to joy becoming pink-cheeked glee. Who knew giving thanks could be so sweet? And who knew that an everyday request for simple guidance could unleash such a deluge?
I flew to the meeting with confidence complete, even though my directions were backwards, written for those driving in from the north notÂ the south. Only at the end did I seem lost and asked a kindly gentleman parking a golf cart in his garage for help. He smiled and pointed to the house opposite his. I was already there.
The P.E.O. women were an elegant lot and I truly worried whether RAH and its mystical messages were a good match. But once I began my talk, lights went on in eyes all over the room. Soon most of the thirty-some attendees were smiling and many were nodding in agreement. At the end I was mobbed for books and signings. One stately Maggie Smith look-alike whispered: â€œI know why you were here today. We are on exactly the same path.”Â Thus did she prove my suspicion: P.E.O. clearly stands for Perceptive Enlightened Ones.
The icing on the cake â€“ a rich Ganesh Ganache â€“ appeared when I arrived back home: a mail truck was blocking our driveway. I stopped andÂ waited and when the mailman saw me he jumped in his seat and quickly backed up to clear my path. I waved a thank-you. When I got out of the car the man was running my way. â€œMees! Mees!â€ he cried out in what can only be called perfect Bollywood English. â€œI ham so soory to block your drrive!â€ Heâ€™s from India??! Where was our usual mailman?! I told him there was no harm done, and turned to go. â€œMees, mees!â€ he said again. â€œEes there eenyting morrre I can doo for yoo!??â€ I stared speechless and shook my head, then blurted out: â€œWhere are you from?â€ He smiled: â€œOh, India, Mees. New Delhi, en the nort.â€ â€œNew Delhi!?â€ I replied. â€œIsnâ€™t that where the big Ganesh festival is?â€ â€œOh, yes, yes,â€ he sang. â€œTwenty-four February, Mees.â€ â€œBut…â€ I sputtered. â€œThatâ€™s my husbandâ€™s birthday!â€ â€œOhh, happy birdday to husband, Mees!â€ he offered with a bow. â€œHe wery blessed by Lord Ganesha!â€ And then he was gone.