Avadhuts & Me

There is a class of being in India called an Avadhut, a kind of hyper-enlightened person that roams free living off alms. These singularities appear to be, on the mild end of the spectrum, slightly eccentric, and on the other end, just plain nuts.

About four years ago, before I had ever heard of Avadhuts, I was in Waterloo Station at the Costa Coffee waiting for a friend. As I was nursing my latte and enjoying the pageant of humanity that is Public Transportation I noticed this man in a shabby, shinny suit who was sort of bussing the tables and heckling the patrons. The staff seemed to be perfectly happy with this apparently ad hoc arrangement and I though maybe he was just some crazy old drunk that they were helping out. But his mumblings and hecklings were a bit unnerving and invasive. Not so much the what he was saying but the how: it was not the drone that most tin foil-lined hat-wearing nutters usually exude. His emissions sounded more like FOX NEWS, where the moderation of cadence and volume is so highly erratic and unpredictable you can't tune it out, even if they are talking about the weather in Des Moines on a fair day. I silently wished this man away from me, and the more and the harder I wished the faster and the closer he came. I was nervous, afraid and more than a little bit irritated that this dude was going to interrupt my few remaining moments of glorious self absorption.

But then my friend turned up and we headed off to the Hayward to see whatever was showing 4 years ago and I thought no more of it.

Now I've been in and out of Waterloo scores of times in the last four years. I'm sure I have even stopped in at least a couple of dozen times, especially when I was addicted to that of Pain au Chocolat sort of thing they do, and had to have one every morning to feel like I was going to have a good day, even if my boyfriend had bought me flowers, taken me to dinner and committed fully to the serious multi-tasking required to get me off the night before. No Pain [au chocolat] no gain.

So, last February I was again meeting a friend and suggested the Costa Coffee [I am now off of ANY FORM OF SUGAR] as a meeting place. I arrived early, got my latte, and was ready to indulge in some simultaneous people watching and self-absorption. And that man, that very same man showed up. Same suit, same greyed dress shirt, same mad mumblings and frantic table clearing. And inside of me I felt the same surge of irritation, fear and impatience to be done with the impending intrusion, especially as he was heading right for my table and no amount of mental force was deterring him. But now I knew, sort of, about Avadhuts. And a thought popped into my head, maybe as a way to mitigate my escalating irritation, etc. I though: "He is an Avadhut." At that moment he was standing right above me, and he very quietly and rhythmically started chanting my name: "Lisa, Lisa, Lisa, Lisa, Lisa" slowly getting louder and faster with each repetition. And before he reached a crescendo I looked up at him, and smiled. As I caught his eye his chanting reversed its course and he went back into his customary FOX NEWS babble and moved quickly away from my table.