I was returning on SPRINT AIR (the airline that I haven’t heard of until recently) from Orlando to Dallas. I just had 4 hours of sleep previous night, or pretty much all nights that week. I was almost like George Clooney on the move “UP IN THE AIR” and was pretty much up in the air most of the week. So, I was hoping to catch some good number of Z Z Z Z’s on the 2.5 hr. Flight. Given that I had a layover of 4 hrs in MCO airport, I was extra keen of catching a nap. I also did not want to end up in the news;“Young (OK, I am not so young anymore) executive falls flat due to lack of enough sleep”
As I approached my seat, I saw two pets. A Poodle and a Maltese, on my designated seat. I am not a Dog enthusiast, so I really do not know about different breeds out there. A FB friend identified the names of the dogs for me. I thought these pets were about to move to the luggage area in the flight. I guess the passenger carrying the pets saw mixed expressions on my face and said, “Don’t worry, these won’t make any noise. They are zillion times better than little kids”. I didn’t know what to respond, as I was not really worried. I said, “Are they coming along with you?” He said with a big smile, “ Yes, they have more frequent flier miles than me”. Both pets were in a duffle bag, and were quite cute and weren’t’ making any noises even looking at all the passengers in a tightly closed air vessel. They were just making soft little coo sounds
As the hostess shut the airplane door, my fellow passenger closed the 95% of zipper of the duffel bag and stowed it under the seat in front of him. I have asked, if he is required to pay for his pets ticket. He said, “NOPE”. They fly free. I told him I never saw a pet travelling on a flight, and especially right next to me. I asked him, if any airline gives him a hard time and do not let him carry the pets, knowing that some of the passengers may complain to the airline. He said, he carries a doctor’s certificate, which says that he suffers from OCD and ADHD, and that he needs to have his pets travel along with him. He said, his psychiatrist friend gave this letter to him, though he rarely requires to flash it. I was quite amused how he used or abused “Trust” system in America and asked him, if I can take the photograph of his doctor’s certificate as my souvenir. He wide opened the letter and let me take a photo of his doctor’s certificate :-). I have resisted the temptation to post the certificate here, but respected his privacy and trust bestowed upon me
Let me give a pseudo name to his passenger to respect his privacy, given that he said he would send me an FB invite soon. Let us call him John Smith (most popular name in the US at one time, like Patel in Gujarat and Rao, Kumar or Reddy in Andhra). John looked at me, “Apologize me for saying it, I really like Curry”. I said, “Oh Cool”, though I thought his statement was little clichéd. BTW, I was travelling along with my colleague, Pulakesh Barma (this is not a fake name). He was seated next to me. More about him later
John continued to engage in conversation with me. He asked, me if I know Yoga. I thought he was asking another clichéd question knowing that I am from India. I said, “Yep. My wife is a yoga teacher”. He said, he practices Bikram Yoga, and checked if I know Bikram. I haven’t really tracked Bikram, but said, “I know him quite well”, to avoid disappointing him. He began to show various photographs of his yoga postures on his iPhone 5. Did you read it properly? It is iPhone 5. It was just yesterday, the iPhone 5 was released. I was pleasantly surprised, as I haven’t gone to Apple Store yet to touch and feel iPhone 5.I eagerly said, “Let me feel the iPhone5”. He was more than eager to share it with me, but realized it was shut down as the plane was taking off, and promised to turn it ON once the plane reached certain altitude
He then started talking about how Yoga is helping him handle the stress. He showed his photos before and after yoga. He looks damn fit now. He told various types of meditations that he does regularly. He talked in detailed about his discussion with Bikram, and how Bikram become a billionaire in US and the cars Birkam owns and drives. He asked me, if I read the book, “Autobiography of a Yogi”. I said, I have begun it, but did not finish as the book was little abstract and difficult to read. I forgot to tell you that John Smith is American born, to a Brazilian mother. His biological father is Japanese.
John then turned his iPhone 5 on. I eagerly took the phone in my hands and felt immediately disappointed. The phone did not give me any goose bumps or generated WOW frequency within my body. It just appeared as iPhone 4 was stretched diagonally. John said, iPhone 5 is very fast compared to iPhone 4, but I really failed to notice it as there was not Internet connection on the flight
John began to show various images of yoga postures, Bikram studio, and meditation music files. He showed me, “yoga nidra” and asked me if I know it. Yes, I said, my wife typically plays Yoga Nidra cassette at the end of the yoga exercises for meditative sleep. I told him how one hour of Yoga Nidra is equivalent to several hours of regular nap.
Looking at his exuberance, I have told him various types of Yoga adaptations out there and shared details of Art Of Living Yoga, and Kriya Meditation. He eagerly noted everything and “I want to learn as much as possible”. I have shown dozens of meditation MP3 files on my iPhone and asked him to try it out. He immediately plugged his headset into my iPhone and tried 20 minute OM meditation and went into deep meditation.
That is only 20 minutes break that I got from John’s banter on various topics :-). He woke up after 20 minutes and appeared fully relaxed. He then talked about Surya Namasakar, Kundalini Yoga, and Seven Chakras. He started telling me the names of each chakra and it’s positions within our body. He then showed the highlighted text of his various quotes from Hinduism centric books he is reading. He pulled a book of OSHO out of his duffel bag and asked me if I read it. I did read few of OSHO books and acknowledged the same. I told him to read books on Infinitheism(www.infinitheism.com) and listen to Satsang online and told him about the Alma Mater group. Then I played him beautiful fusion Satsang melodies from Art of Living teachers / musicians (Rishi NityaPragya, VikramHazra, etc.) I have on my iPhone.
Pulakesh was in deep sleep. I looked at John and said “Hey man, you have born in the wrong country. You are almost half Indian”. He replied smiling, “Yes, Man. I am born in a wrong country”. But then again I immediately corrected him, “Wait. May be you should be glad that you haven’t born in India. 95% or more folks in India do not have most of the knowledge you have on Yoga. You probably would have become one of those statistics too, if you were born in India”. I told him that, thanks to the western adoption of Yoga, now Yoga is considered as hip in India too. Else, Yoga was considered to be old fashioned, associated with some religion, or reserved for folks who are in spiritual path or for those who are dressed in saffron colored clothes
Pulakesh woke up with our banter. I asked Pulakesh, if he knows seven chakras, and Kundalini yoga. As always, with a big smile, “Sai, I have no idea”. John looked at Pulakesh and said, “Oh. You are also Indian. I thought you are a Chinese guy. You look so fair”. That was quite hilarious to me. We both told John that, Pulakesh is from Assam, northeastern part of India.
John asked me, what I do for living. I told him, I work for a Software Testing Company and we test various software applications out there including the one John uses on his iPhone. I asked John what he does for Living. He said, he is a consultant from MGM Hotel Group (the group which owns popular casinos) in Las Vegas. His job is to identify potential high net worth customers (or should I say, “victims”) who will be interested in playing at MGM casinos. I have asked him, what is the USP of his offer and how he would convince them to choose his Casino group vs. other casinos in Vegas. He says, he attracts them with great discounts, and great hotel packages.
I asked John, if anyone ever would win at the MGM. He said, no one (or most) ever wins at any Casino in Vegas or other location in the World. Odds are heavily in favor of Casino. Some folks might win in the interim, but at the end everyone would lose, and mostly due to big egos. I asked, if he gets cursed for encouraging them into playing at casino. He said, he cheers them up as long as they are winning, else he would step back once they start losing and start cursing. I asked if he makes them promises of guaranteed wins at his casino. He said, he would never make such a promise. Only promise he makes is that they will have great time at their casino, and they do end up having great time. Given that they are high net worth customers, losing is really not a big deal for them.
I asked him, if John is married (typically Desi question, I guess). He said he has a LIVE IN girl friend who is also into similar profession but with a different casino in Vegas. They meet about once in 3 months, as they both are constantly on the road. He says, he often dates with strippers in Vegas and showed me photographers of strippers he dates (obviously they were naked), and said very happy to be single. He then shows quotation from OSHO, and why being alone is a cool thing too. I told him, he is at both extremes of practicing yoga, and then dating strippers and porn stars in Vegas. He said, he is actually doing an optimal balance between both. He said, “If I do only yoga and nothing but yoga, then wouldn’t I be considered as fanatic or extremist?”.
John seemed very happy with state of his life, travelling around the world, identifying potential high net worth customers for MGM, now that it is a level playing field for players across the world.
As the plane landed in Dallas and John continued to Vegas, we exchanged our email addresses with me promise him to sharing more details on AOL, Fusion Satang Music, Infinitheism, etc.
What are the odds of meeting an American who is part Brazilian part Japanese, works in Vegas, deeply into Yoga & Meditation, leads an exotic life dating porn stars and strippers, quotes Osho, and travel along with two pets seated next to you ?