The insane heat and the blinding brightness of the sun did not keep me away from going to the caves at Ellora. After all, this is something I had been looking forward to since my middle school days--ever since we read about Ajanta and Ellora. I did wish, though, it were significantly cooler.
I was at Ajanta. It was beyond the wildest of my imaginations. Thus, to some extent, I was worried that Ellora might be a letdown.
But, it wasn't.
In fact, visiting Ellora at the end of it all was a wonderful bookend to these three months of learning experience, which began with Mahabalipuram. But, wait, I am getting ahead of myself!
I saw quite a few familiar faces at Ellora. I don't mean the Buddha statues, but the tourists--American, European, and Japanese and Koreans. The senior-citizen Japanese tourists seemed to be a lot reverential at Ajanta and Ellora, perhaps thanks to their Buddhist faith.
As I walked around, feeling humbled for the nth time, I paused to make sure I was not in the way of the young woman who was focusing her camera on a certain spot, while her significant other smiled at me as if he recognized me. This couple was one of the tourists I had run into earlier at Ajanta.
Here, too, I felt that the couple was American. When the woman was done clicking, I remarked, "hey, looks like our paths cross again."
They nodded their heads. "Where are you folks visiting from?" I asked them. My American instincts were correct after all--they were from Ohio! She had spent a few years in California as well, in my old territory of the Central Valley.
"I have been in India for a month now" she added, "but he came here a month before me." They were spending their time at an ashram at nearby Nasik. "Being here is so peaceful compared to our professional lives as nurses. We will be here in India till our money runs out."
I told them I went to the US for graduate studies and stayed back, and have been only a visitor to India since then. They were all too familiar with such Indian stories. "It is amazing that when we tell people we are from Ohio, so many Indians seem to know about Ohio State University and its engineering program."
"I was at USC, lived in California for a while, and now am in Oregon" I said.
"We used to drive down to USC for football games when we lived near Sacramento" she said.
The guy, who was bald and with a well-trimmed beard, replied that he had been to Portland and liked it.
"I hope you find your peace. And then move to Oregon" I wished them as we parted.