When the meditation retreat in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (California) was over, I returned to Japan as a guest of a Portuguese friend (a big hug, Artur). In his apartment in Nagoya, we had our usually long and delicious conversations. I could reactivate my voice, silenced during the long retreat, and my ears, because he sparked in me curiosity with fantastic stories about his last and recent trip to India.
I went out to the terrace. It was January and it was snowing heavily. I took a deep breath of frozen air, and went back into the apartment. The idea of returning to the streets to wander in those conditions no longer seemed so attractive. I asked my friend, “What’s the weather like in India right now?” “These months are the best, before the heat of summer,” he said. I looked outside through the glass, and without turning around I added, “I’m going to India.”
He explained to me the details of the trip. The first thing was to apply for a visa at the embassy in Tokyo. During more than three years I had been living in Japan, and after so many trips all over it, it was incredible that I had not yet visited the capital. Now I had my chance.
I grasped my homeless stuff (sleeping bag and stick), and traveled to Tokyo by train, with the idea of staying over several days there (I also did not want to abuse the hospitality of my friend). I spent the night in the gardens of a castle near the embassy, and early next morning I formalized the paperwork. In three days I would get the visa valid to enter India immediately.