The Week

‘Desparately Seeking Mumbai’
by Maria Abraham
(The Week. March 26, 2000)

Citizens of this city of excesses seems to be on a new mission. Searching for something beyond stocks, status and shimmer. For a span of eight days there was a different kind of glow over the city — a halo of spirituality. The Sankaracharya of Kanchi, Mata Amritanandamayi, Mata Nirmala Devi and the Dalai Lama blessed the city with their presence. While the Sankaracharya inspired the nuclear scientists, Nirmala Devi advised IAS officers. But it was the Dalai Lama who evoked a surprising response. The elite and the weel-heeled of the city stood in the sweltering heat for four hours just to fight their way into the auditorium where he was to speak.

Models, actresses, politicians, businessmen all nudged and shoved, waving VIP passes. Meanwhile, the endearing figure in maroon robes and rubber slippers, was doing the rounds of a special exhibition. It was truly amazing to see people's reactions. Awe, reverence, adoration and uncontrollable tears. The Dalai Lama, apparently oblivious to all the commotion, went around laughing and joking and missing nothing. He paused before a photograph, puzzled. He bent his head to the right and then to the left and said, 'I have to stand on my head to see this right.' The picture was upside down by mistake and he noticed it among the dozens of others.

Which Way?