Friday, September 9, 2011

Chance in a Million

Here is a strange but true story.

I spent the end of August and beginning of September guest-teaching at the lovely new Ocean State Bikram Yoga in Providence, Rhode Island.  I taught plenty of classes, had a great visit with Diane up in Massachusetts, went to the Salisbury Reservation with Teri, went to the Horseneck Reservation by myself, and spent "hurricane day" watching three consecutive Harry Potter movies with a fellow yoga teacher.  It was a great visit.

I drove back to Baltimore on Tuesday and it rained.  The whole way.  (In fact, several days later it is still raining and there's some sort of "flood watch.")

It sucked.

But!  There was a bright spot in the middle of that shitty 9 hour drive.

As I was driving down the New Jersey Turnpike (in a light drizzle, rather than a torrential downpour), in the middle lane, minding my own business, the car in the left hand lane started swerving into the center as if he was going to cut me off.  Thinking "this fucking idiot is trying to kill me," I beeped my horn several times to say "hey! I'm driving here, don't kill me."  The car keeps swerving over and I keep beeping my horn.  As the car pulls ahead to pass me, I look over to see the driver waving his hand in the air and grinning at me like a lunatic.


It was somebody I knew.  A friend of mine from Los Angeles who works at the Bikram Yoga Headquarters and helps out with the teacher trainings.  His name is Balwan, and in addition to being an utter fucking lunatic, he is a good friend of mine.

Who - did I mention? - lives in LA, and therefore had NO business driving around the Jersey Turnpike in a car with Pennsylvania plates at 2pm on a Tuesday.

So anyway, Balwan passes me and pulls into the center lane.  I switch lanes and drive past HIM to make sure my eyes haven't deceived me.  Sure enough, I look over as I pass and there is Balwan.  Waving and grinning.  I grinned and waved back, and finished passing him.  Then he came by and passed me again.  (More waving.)  We repeated this duet several times.

Then I reached for my cell phone and called his number.  He picked up right away.

"What the fuck are you doing here?!"

"Juliana!!  We should stop for a second!"

"I thought you were some asshole who was trying to kill me!"

"Yes!  I had to get your attention!"

Sigh.  "What are you doing here??"

"Oh!  Ah - we should stop for a second!"

Okay, okay.  I wanted to stop at one of the service stations, but those are few and far between, and Balwan (having come to New Jersey from India by way of Beverly Hills) does not really understand about toll roads.  So we ended up exiting the turnpike, paying the toll, and driving to the nearest gas station we could find.



We had a big hug in the rain and went into the gas station to talk for a second.  I couldn't really stay, since I had to teach a class at 5:00, but neither could he, since he had a flight out of Philly at 4:30.  (It was already like 2:00.)

Make long story short, Balwan was visiting a friend in Philadelphia for two days.  While he was on the east coast, he decided to go up to teach at class at the Bikram studio in New Haven, Connecticut.  Then he had to drive back down to catch his plane.  So while I was driving from Rhode Island to Maryland, he was driving from Connecticut to Pennsylvania.

I asked him if he had recognized me by my car (which is the same one that I drove in California) or by my bumper sticker (which says Bikram Yoga for You/ 26 + 2).

"Bumper sticker?  Oh!  No - mm - when I am driving, I will look to the side to see who is in the cars, and I looked and saw that it was you!"


"I could not believe.  I had to drive past several times to be sure."

"And then you tried to kill me."

"Yes!  Mm - I had to get your attention!"

"I can't believe you saw me."

"I cannot believe either!  You know, in India things like this would happen sometimes, but in United States, this never happened to me before."

Several traffic lights, one U-turn, and one tollbooth later, we were both back on the Turnpike and Balwan zipped past me at about 85 miles an hour so that he would catch his flight.  (Who taught him driving, Bikram?)  I can only assume that he made it, since this was the last that I heard of him.  I will have to ask him when I see him at the training in October.

The life of a yogi....

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