Building Relationships

George phoned to say that his day with Karaj had been cancelled but he was coming anyway. Perfect. We were meeting Sunil at 11:00 and George’s train would arrive at 11:10. He expressed some doubt about whether he would be able to catch the train. I cut him short. I knew he had plenty of time to get to the station; there was no need for this kind of self-doubt. As it turned out he did miss the train. At the station we waited for 35 minutes and he still didn’t arrive. I said we’d wait for 5 more minutes and then we’d get on with our day because if and when he arrives we’ll just bump into him in the street. Sunil had a hunch about which train he might be on and he was right. Within seconds of the deadline George arrived. This was to set the tone for the day – everything would fall into place and the entire day would flow seamlessly from start to finish.

Our priority was clothes shopping for Sunil. With Dev in our midst it was easy and Sunil made it even easier. I was struck by how decisive he was with the clothes he tried on. He later said that he had felt indecisive – perceptions are funny things. Thinking about it, it should be no surprise that the shopping was so easy because not only was Dev’s fashion expertise available and there was also a wealth of (male) support.

At the end of the day Sunil invited us back to his home. I felt uncertain (I later discovered that this was Sunil’s uncertainty – good learning point) but said yes. Everyone agreed so we headed for the car. Kuldip had helped Sunil put up a dart board in his garage which I was delighted about. I explained the rules of a game to the men and we set about having some fun. I began to see why men have a reputation for never growing up. Games are an ideal way for us to interact and grow. They allow us the chance to spar with each other as nature intended and they allow us to be men. Throughout the games of darts we taught each other German and Punjabi and had great fun doing so. The languages are so close to each other. I never realised.

After a few games of darts we sat down to play ‘sieb’, a Punjabi card game. The rules were quite complicated but Dev explained them very clearly and I listened very well. I did not become frustrated at my lack of immediate understanding. As with everything else, there is a process involved and all I needed to do was to concentrate enough to allow the information to be absorbed. The consequence of this particular process is understanding. After the games of cards I had played in Prague, I was confident enough in my own ability to know that I could play and enjoy the game. It was indeed a very enjoyable and mentally demanding game and as we played, natural breaks appeared during which we would discuss philosophy, religion or the therapeutic process.

We talked about the different relationships which different religions have with God. In Christianity the relationship is Father and Son, in Sikhism it is Master and Servant, whilst the Sufis regard God as their lover. Sunil and Dev said that whatever my upbringing and no matter how hard I try to get away from it I will one day return because all the answers are contained within it. They explained that they had both turned their backs on Sikhism for one reason or another but had ultimately found their way back to it. This reminded me of the insight I had here about the depth of our conditioning. It goes back generations. There is, therefore, no point in wishing I were someone else. It doesn’t matter who I am, my problems are the same. Just relax. I already have all the answers.

Things flowed just as well as everything else had all day. I really enjoyed the games of cards. As we sat in the garage Sunil and George had an opportunity to recount the awful day they had yesterday. Sunil had failed to put antifreeze in his car despite registering the fact that none was in there. He didn’t realise until the radiator cracked, and spent the day bashing himself up for his mistake. George was sucked into a game by his wife and didn’t realise until she started complaining to him about what he had done. Again, he spent the rest of the day bashing himself up. We talked about trying to be kind to ourselves and smiling when this happened instead of making ourselves feel worse. I recounted an episode from a Thursday men’s group during which Karaj told Leon exactly this. Sunil remembered the incident but George didn’t. This was a lesson to all of us and we took it with us to the meal.

At the restaurant we continued talking at length as we ordered and waited for the food. When it arrived we ate in complete silence. It was both comfortable and beautiful. The perfect way to round off a fantastic day. At first I had dived into my food but when I saw Sunil with his eyes closed I remembered the first yoga retreat I attended, where I had learned to appreciate the value of eating properly. I slowed down.

After the meal, we paid and returned to the garage. As we sat talking about how much we all appreciated and enjoyed the silence during the meal, I was reminded of Karaj’s feedback to me not to relax too much, but to move my arse. I decided to get up and throw a few darts. I invited the men to a game of round the clock which finished our evening off wonderfully well. Again, Wales came to mind as I remembered the games of pool we played. How Dev plays his ruthless game, Sunil plays well when he’s having fun and I have a need to entertain. It was the same with the darts. I won most of the games but it wasn’t enough to win – I wanted others to enjoy my victory. I wasn’t sure whether I was showing off or entertaining. In a way, an entertainer is just a ‘Please Others’ show-off, I suppose.

[Karaj: Cockiness. Entertaining does not allow others the space to feel. Entertaining makes people happy when they may need to feel their sadness.]

It was time to leave. We all hugged and left Sunil’s to return to my house. It was nearly 2am. I navigated Dev back home. Since Edinburgh I have become a very competent navigator – an excellent example of what can happen with a little self-confidence. As Sunil had explained the route out of his town I had doubted my own ability to pull it off. Fortunately I recognised this doubt and quietly said to myself ‘I can do this’. I did it. At one point I was a little lost and when Dev asked me if I knew where we were, I was honest. Within seconds we were back on track.

What a truly great day it has been. We spent quality time together doing things we wanted to do. There were no disputes, no arguments, no pressure and no hassle at any time during the day. We supported each other, talked with each other and also enjoyed the silences. We walked, and played together, we ate together and laughed together. More important than anything, we all built relationships with each other. This is what Karaj had talked about the day before. Whatever we do it is all about developing relationships. Without relationships we make life very difficult for ourselves and without the kind of relationships I experienced today my life would be an emptier place.

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