Missing Mugs She was anticipating the trip to Kovalam and looking forward to it as something special. More so, considering that they were not going out often (treatments and her flue), so that each outing was counted and treasured. On holiday, days were considered "successful" if you managed to move your bo... ehm... body from the front terrace to the pool and back; trips were planned, arranged in advance and considered a major achievement! Shortly before the time to go to the boat and leave the island towards their destination, the housekeeping lady disturbed the couple. She was asking about something very casual. In detail, she was looking for the two white tea mugs, that were to be kept in the room at all times. Scarlett used the mugs and returned them to the kitchen for cleaning. Apparently it was a mistake as mugs were now missing in the room.
Scarlett went to the kitchen to check upon the mugs but the waiters could not help at that time. The mugs vanished “for real” and this news upset Scarlett and spoilt her mood for the trip. Such a little nuisance, but damn it was upsetting! Tiger approached Scarlett and promised it would be sorted but her temper was too clouded to cheer for the trip.
Kovalam Both were heading to Kovalam - the nearest district to their resort - for shopping and a browse on the local beach. Scarlett did not enjoy the boat or the taxi to their first shop.
Scarlett sighed and left the car, looking at the unattractive windows of the store. "Two white mugs, shopping in Kovalam," she gloomily thought to herself, not in the mood for Indian cloths which looked like those in the German c&a or English m&s.
Turned out, that in India, the fabric shops were also selling carpets, paintings, jewelry and crafts. Tiger thoroughly inspected little wooden elephants. "Sandal wood, sir! It’s a tradition to keep elephants and Ganesha at home for good luck", the shop assistant did not hesitate to repeat the phrase standing by Tiger's side, keeping the customer informed. Those souvenirs made of Sandal wood were more expensive that any other display. Scarlett was keen on a scarf made of silk and wool. The so called pashmina scarfs. Having had no luck with selling the elephants to Tiger, the shop owner threw different scarfs onto the counter, unfolding them in front of Scarlett. The colors were horrible and Scarlett’s mood worsened! What a granny shop in deed, she shook her head slightly denying the offerings and turned around to seemingly-browse-but-actually-leave. Tiger did negotiate and buy the little elephant before leaving, so the couple "opened" the shopping season and headed to the next shop. The driver took them to another fabric store, mainly full with "ready to buy" saris and Indian cloths. Some spices and body care products filled the cashiers counter. No luck, nothing interesting for the couple here. Looked like shopping was not working really.
They looked in a local supermarket for a leather notebook, not finding any they ended up buying packaged nuts. Yet another fabric shop. Cheap scarfs. Scarlett found her color, this time lady sellers listened to what she was looking for and showed matching scarfs for a price of 350 Rs. Scarlett tried one on. The sewing threads were hanging down visibly and you could see it was no good quality. “I would not buy anything today if I walk away from this shop!”, she thought in fear. “So be it”, she left the scarfs and told Tiger she would not settle for the cheap quality goods.
Running out of cash, they stopped at a bank. Coming out of it, at the crossing, there drove some Europeans, on a bike, with no helmets nor any protection - into the "mad" Indian traffic. "That's brave!" Tiger commented. "Delicate white mugs," Scarlett thought and only nodded to Tiger.
They had a small break, then sat in the car and Tiger directed the driver back. They entered another shop. This time it looked promising. A chess board. Some weird cats and horses. Interesting paintings. Scarlett noticed buddha drawings. He was sat facing his back to the observer. Scarlett was charmed.
The scarfs were also chosen and thank to the neighbor who gave the couple a princely orientation, the shals in the shop were not more expensive that the orientation price. The shop owner was selling jade bowls to tiger, Scarlett still fascinated by the Buddha painting and staring at it. She liked the colors. She liked the story.
Meeting Mr. Cashmere
Tiger grabbed Scarlett by the hand, once they dropped off the shopping bags in the taxi. "We are walking to the neighbor shop, please wait for us here," her informed the taxi driver. Scarlett really wanted to go to the beach or a restaurant instead of yet another shop; still she followed Tiger and her destiny.
The final store looked similar to the last one: displays, chess, cloths and jewelry in the deep back of the room. The owner came up to her, explaining the souvenirs. She politely nodded but was not really interested in the items at all.
Tiger and Scarlett walked deeper into the store. The owner picked up a metalic bowl from the counter. Holding a "stick" in his hand, he handed the bowl to Scarlett saying: "Do you know what it is?"
She shook her head, looking at the patterns of Buddha on the bottom and the patterns that decorated the outside wall.
Tiger picked the bowl from her hands, saying: "I know!" He started rotating the wond on the inner side of the bowl. The shop owner prompted: "On the outside, on the outside..." and smiled.
Tiger repeated the movement on the outer side of the bowl. An intrinsic sound was produced, the bowl chimed like a bell in the church, sending waves that were vibrating right into one's body (and soul). Scarlett had never experienced something like this live before. Magical, astonishing, spiritual. "This is the Tibetan sound bowl and it sings the sound 'Ohm'. If you continue playing it, it follows a certain mantra for meditation." Scarlett stood there shivering and smiling. She wanted to know and see more. The owner caught the interest, which was hard to hide as Tiger asked: "How much do you want for the bowl?"
The owner looked behind the counter and put a number of baby bowls on the table. Those were cheap and nowhere near to the sound of the magic Buddha bowl. The bowl cost a fortune, but it was so cool.
The patterns decorating the outer wall were gods' presents to Buddha once he reached enlightenment: symbols included: a sea shell, an endless knot, a pair of fish, a lotus flower, a jewelled parasol, a vase, a wheel, a victory banner.
The taxi driver dropped them off at the ferry station.
Both sat there in silence first, waiting for the boat. Then Tiger said: "I had a period in my life in 2015-16, where I could not feel the ground under my feet - so much was changing around me in my life. At that time I visited a spiritual advisor and she also had a sound bowl and told me mystical stories: about an old man "so be it" and about a bird in the storm "hold your wings still, do not flatter".
The trip back was spooky or should I say spiritual? Backwater river was black, the darkness surrounded the boat. All they could see was a small spot of light, that shined from the boat. Jumping little frogs in the water, disturbed by the moving boat. There was Backwaters' mystery, as they were heading towards the floatels.
It was 19:51, when they reached the restaurant for dinner. Scarlett felt a bit hungry but the trip and the purchase was worth it. The magical bowl, she constantly thought to herself. At 19:55, the waiter came and Scarlett used the chance to clarify the issue of the missing white mugs. The waiter disappeared in the kitchen and returned at 20:00 with news: the mugs were picked up by the house-keeping lady from the kitchen this evening and are in her possession again. Sorted. Dinner can start and Scarlett's conscience was clean. Her mood was up. She felt free. Renewed, enchanted by the mysterious Tibetan bowl they purchased and adventures of the day.