On this day twenty-five years ago I had a life changing experience in India. It was a Friday, and some friends had arranged for a car to take us on an overnight outing. We left Mysore around 11am and drove a couple of hours to our first stop—Sravana Belagola, site of a Jain temple dating back to the tenth century and the world’s largest monolithic carving. This famous carving depicts the naked ascetic Gommateshvara Bahubali, who stands 57 feet tall on top of Vindyagiri Hill, naked in samasthitil. It is one of the most important Jain pilgrimage sites in the world. Bahubali is clearly visible on top of the hill, miles away. To reach the temple you must park at the base of the hill, remove your shoes, and climb up about a thousand steps. It is a beautiful temple that evokes a great sense of peace. After we descended from the temple, we stopped at a small chai stand to caffeinate ourselves before beginning the second stage of our journey. My friends all had chai, and I had coffee. This is an important distinction in light of subsequent events. Our next scheduled stop was in Hassan, where we planned to spend the night. About half an hour into our journey I began to experience some severe gastrointestinal distress and asked the driver to pull over at the first public restroom we passed. My insides were absolutely on fire. It was a great relief to finally make it to Hassan. After another urgent trip to the restroom I checked into the hotel along with my friends, Ed and Rosemarie Baker, an Austrian named Walter, and a young woman from Santa Monica, Carol Hogan. The Bakers booked a room together and I asked Carol jokingly, “Would you like to share a room with Walter?” She looked at me boldly and said, “Maybe with you.” At that moment all my bravado evaporated and I quickly booked a room with Walter.
Carol and I had been getting to know each other for a few weeks, practicing together, having breakfast together, and hanging out at the Southern Star pool. She was pretty, intelligent, bohemian and slightly intimidating. I had been separated from my first wife for four years and doing my best to stay out of any serious relationship. As usual, I was fairly oblivious as far as picking up cues indicating that Carol was interested in anything other than just friendship. There had been a couple of times—once on a bicycle and another time in an auto rickshaw—when we had been in very close physical contact and there was some kind of chemistry happening, but I tried to ignore it. We all had dinner together at the hotel and I was jumping up every five minutes to run to the restroom. After dinner Carol said to me, “I’ve got some acidophilus and golden seal in my room. Maybe they would help.” A few minutes later I knocked on her door and she opened it with medicine in hand. “I’m really sorry you’re feeling so bad, would you like a little massage?” Carol was a professional masseuse and I gladly accepted her offer. For the next three hours all of my symptoms disappeared as Carol channeled some kind of healing magic through her hands. After the massage things got a little more intimate. At about 3am I reluctantly decided to return to my room, and as soon as I did, all of my symptoms returned. I spent the rest of the night in my bathroom. Obviously there was some kind of magic happening with Carol. Four and a half years later I had the good sense to marry her and after twenty-five years we are still going strong.
(If this sounds familiar, I originally posted it 5 years ago)