It was a stiflingly hot morning, the sun blazing directly above our heads. However, armed with umbrellas and caps we made our way along the dusty streets chattering, laughing and catching up on snippets of news as we walked along.
When we arrived at Nochur's house, we found it abuzz with activity. Family members and students were engaged in various preparations here and there and word was, they would be making a trip away later that day.
My friend Bhasiji, a well known visitor in this place, strode into the house without ceremony and bade me follow him up the stairs to a lovely, bright room on the top floor of this newly built home.
At the entrance we met Nochur, his hair an unruly black confusion that had grown rather longer in the months since i had last met him. With a bright smile he carelessly pushed it aside and bade us welcome.
He was clothed in a simple long white dhoti, the traditional dress of Brahmin priests in the south of India. His forehead was splashed with vibuti, (sacred ash that is placed on the forehead of practicing Saivite Hindus) and cuncum, (red vermillian paste). It appeared that we had come just as he was finishing up his morning puja.
We were warmly greeted and urged to sit, all in the simplest and most unaffected fashion, while he continued pottering about with his ritual offering bowls and oil lamps.
The windows in this room are large and to north they had been thrown open to give an unobstructed view of the Hill, Arunachala. This is one of India's sacred 'lingams'. There are five spread out in different locations around the country, each one representing one of the elements. Arunachala represents the element of 'fire'.
We settled ourselves down on a rug and gazed out at this majestic view. Arunachala rises steeply from the plains that surround it and forms a very striking pillar of ancient rock.
Suddenly Nochur turned around. The manner in which he did this particularly caught our attention. He looked at us for a moment without saying anything. There was a bright sparkle in his eyes and an animated and radiant expression on his face. In that moment it looked as though he were suspended in time and space, framed by the majestic spire of the Hill, his right hand raised and the first finger pointing over his back towards it. 'Yesterday, i had a most unexpected visitor!' he said with quiet intensity...
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