How a Dane explained Indian spirituality to me

Sometimes travel expose you to lot different things and change your perspectives, some obvious and many not so much. My trip to Denmark was one such kind. The kind of people I met in Denmark, during transit and at workplace gave me so much insight into the kind of world we live.

Sounds philosophical? Let me just cut to the chase and just say the world is a crazy bitch, but we meet some good people too at times.

I was travelling to Billund from Frankfurt and to my surprise the flight was largely empty. You could say that there were one or two empty seats in each row. In my row there was me, a Dane in his late fifties and three Canadians. Canadians and the Dane were discussing about their travels and why they were on the flight that day. There was a leather expo happening in Denmark and the Canadians had come to be the part of the trade show. Denmark has a robust leather market, especially for mink. During my interaction with people I met in Denmark, I was told that mink is indeed a huge market in the country but it is coming down in the recent times. One said, “It is because people are turning green and are opposed to leather and other products made from animals.” Despite that the drop is not so significant as to worry the manufacturers.

Coming back to my flight journey, the Dane Thue is returning from his spiritual trip in India. You see a lot of foreigners come to India to learn about spirituality. Be it Aurobindo ashram in Pondichery or Ramana Maharishi ashram in Tiruvannamalai, they are no short of foreigners staying there. The guy I met did not visit either but was coming back from Oneness University in Andhra Pradesh. I paused. It might be my ignorance, for I had not heard about it before.

When I gave him a bewildered look, he continued with his experience: “I have been battling depression all my life. I had so many relationship issues and nothing or no one could make me happy. That is when I heard about Oneness movement from my friend in India.”

Oneness is a spiritual movement that started in India sometime in 2004 and has over 14 million followers worldwide. The movement aims to help people as they are and connect with their inner spiritual self.  

So he packed his bags bundled with skepticism and reached India sometime in 2013. He did not believe in spirituality or idea of supernatural before he came to India. “I always believed that science held all the answers,” he told me. But his trip to India changed him. It made him explore parts of himself he never believed existed. “It was a surreal out of body experience and one difficult to explain in words,” he said. But he tried by giving a lot of analogies.

“I can give you an example. I met someone who just by looking at my eyes could deduce my sugar intake. I mean, how can anybody do that? I sounds ridiculous, but the doctor was always right. How do you explain that?,” he asked. “Do you believe in clairvoyance? I never did even now I’m not sure I do. But when I was travelling, I met a clairvoyant and she told me exactly what has happened in my life. Experiences like these make you confused and question. It was one such experience for me.” 

But things began to look up for him after he joined the Oneness movement. According to him, he was able to look at things objectively, accept who he was and make peace with himself. Now he comes to India twice a year and he enjoys it. According to Thue, most of the participants are foreigners from all over Europe but not much from France. The University has got very few Indians followers, he said. 

Thue  is musician with the choir group in the church, though he was not much of a believer. “I was a music teacher but the company I was working with closed. So I joined the church,” he said. Now, he is quite happy. After that we talked about many things, mostly spiritual with not much contribution from me of course.

After my flight journey, I did meet quite a few people, though mostly related to work during my stay. But the most appealing one was the steward on the return flight. He was tall, had hazel eyes and was sporting a stubble and an amazing smile. Apart from being handsome with a sexy smile, he was so polite, friendly and observant that he made the flight journey very pleasant for all of us (which is how they were supposed to be but hardly anyone is these days). I could not help but thank him and the crew for their amazing hospitality.

Since he was nice enough to talk to me, I decided to quench my curiosity about flight attendants (I only mean professional side). He was a German and goes by the name Richter.

Richter quit his job as a waiter in a restaurant in Germany to join the air carrier as a steward two years ago. Before that he had to do a six month diploma to be qualified for the post. “I love meeting people of different cultures. Being a flight attendant gives me that opportunity,” he said. In two years he has visited all continents except Australia and it has been an enjoyable ride so far.

“We get lot of privileges as the crew, like discount for sightseeing. So we enjoy it to the fullest. Recently we were in Vancouver for a week and I loved it. That got to be my favourite city till date,” he said.

But does he not get bored doing same thing over and over again, I wanted to know. “It is a work-light job. But we have to handle different kinds of people and have to awake all night, which makes it difficult. Also the charm of visit new place wears off after two years, which is what it takes to see around the world,” he explained. “But if you love the job, you will stay on. I love what I’m doing, which is being in the service industry. But some come just for fun. Those are the people, who will not make the cut in the end,” he said.

Like most, he is drawn to India due to its rich heritage and diversity. He also loves Indian food, but not the very spicy ones. “I love the food, but I still cannot take the ones that are very spicy,” he chuckled. The crew was staying in Chennai for a day and will be visiting Marina beach. It really was one of the most pleasant conversation I had during my travel.

And I thought, it was really the best way to end an overseas trip.

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