When ordering online from a trusty Ayurvedic pharmacy in Rishikesh, I should’ve known it wouldn’t be straightforward.
Whilst living in India, this little place had been a hidden gem, away from the hustle & bustle of the busy Rishikesh markets – so back home in the UK, I thought I’d try ordering from their website. If anything, the entertainment value has been fantastic, but the quality of the oils I actually got is a whole other matter. So this is how it goes 😂 Only in India! Purchasing pure Rose oil can be an expensive venture in the UK at around £30 for a small bottle – so to get it in India for around £6 is a massive bonus. Anyway I accessed the website and ordered 1 bottle of rosé oil, 1 bottle of frankincense at £4 & 1 bottle of lime oil at £2 and waited. Exactly 1 month later, my parcel arrived in traditional Indian style – bound in cotton and hand stitched. The excitement was killing me, especially knowing I was getting such a top quality product. That’s why I was so unprepared for what was inside. The rose oil was there in its perfect little bottle. The frankincense was half full & the lime oil bottle looked 100 years old & completely empty. Inside was a note which read:
I only charge you half price because it’s half full and I don’t charge you for lime because it’s empty.
Never underestimate the power of death – or indeed the power of life!
Something I learned in India a couple of years ago. I’d taken myself off for some peace & quiet, away from the hustle & bustle of Rishikesh market to sit for a while on the banks of the sacred river Ganga. Ram Jhula to be exact. Where holy men bathe, and cows roam peacefully alongside them. You can’t help but notice the the interconnectedness of all living things in a place like this. On this particular day however, I learned an even greater lesson. Looking out across the river, a young boy of 11 or 12yrs old caught my eye. Barefoot and dressed only in red draped material from waist to thigh, he rummaged in the water, every so often popping something into his mouth. It was hard to make out exactly what he was picking up from a distance and after a while, curiosity got the better of me. For half an hour I’d watched this strange behaviour and had to find out. When I asked, the answer was far from what I expected. In broken English, he told me how he was collecting gold. Gold from the bodies of dead people cremated there. Gold they no longer needed, which could feed his family for a week. At this moment everything made sense. The irrational fear of death, when actually it’s merely a continuation of life.