Updated: Oct 28, 2017
When I arrived in India alone, he met me in a very crowded airport.
Madan was quite a man.
He held up a sign with "JAI" on it and a smile.
Nothing screams safety in India, so his friendship and guidance while there was priceless.
Madan was in his early 70's and had never made a pilgrimage across India before so he jumped at the chance to do it with me. He wasn't physically well and he knew a final adventure fit right into his schedule.
We got on the first train and didn't stop going until we entered every temple, mosque and holy place we could find in the south.
We approached every guru and holy man that was approachable and snuck into the presence of the ones that wanted nothing to do with us.
We acted like little kids with each other, trying to always one up the other by being "more" enlightened.
He would lie to me and say that the holy guy we were speaking with whispered to him that he was more enlightened than me. I would fall into a deep pretend meditation when he wanted to discuss something and make him wait. We had, 'who is the bigger swami contests' to see who got the best bunk on the next train.
We loved each other.
It sounds like we were making fun of our experiences, but on the contrary, we were on a very serious journey of self-inquiry.
Being present with ourselves was our cliché goal.
I left India for a while after our long journey was over. I came back a few months later and Madan picked me up at the airport again.
I immediately knew he was dying.
He looked so worn out from the inside.
The rickshaw ride back to his house was pain filled for him and therefore for me. Later, we sat very close to each other on his couch and we giggled like kids while re-reading the notes we made on our epic pilgrimage. We exchanged long excited looks at each other because we knew we wouldn't be able to for much longer.
I flew back to the U.S and called Madan right away. He was in and out of a coma and his wife put the phone to his ear for me. I sang him a 70's American hit he loved to sing to me.
I told him why I loved him. He died that day.
The oceans have waves that rise up and live then sink back down into the ocean again.
He was a brilliant wave.