Karmic Connection: A Follow-up Story

by | Around-the-World Travelogues 2000, Destiny, Karma, Travel | 12 comments

Karmic Connection: A Follow-up Story

© Jennifer Blalock

Is the Universe random? Or is there a rhyme and reason why the people in our lives are with us?

During my around the world trip, I spent 2.5 months traveling in India, a vast and large country with a population of one billion people. Somehow, within the massive swarms of humanity, I met Shriram Karpur. I wrote a travelogue titled, Thriving in India, describing how we met on a train, and I stayed with his family. You won’t believe what has happened since year 2000.

Why were we on the train? Shriram, who worked in Pune, was traveling to Mumbai to be with his family for the weekend. I had traveled to Pune to spend time at the Osho Ashram but was taken aback because they required an AIDS test, which felt unsavory to me. I decided to take the train back to the Mumbai airport and fly down to the south of India for a yoga retreat.

When traveling to Pune from Mumbai, I was in a second-class, female only car. It was a delightful and easy experience. It never occurred to me that on a Friday after the work day, the train would be full and sold out. I was running late and didn’t have time to buy a ticket, so I boarded the train with my large backpack thinking I could get my ticket en route. Well, that was naïve. There was standing room only, the conditions were tight and I was struggling with my pack.

Enter Shriram, a bright and helpful young man who was thrilled to talk with a westerner. He spoke excellent English, and we connected right away about yoga, meditation, spirituality and Osho. He helped me stow my backpack, sort out my ticket, and a five-hour train ride that should have been miserable, flew by.

My plan upon arriving at the Mumbai train station was to catch a cab and find a hotel near the airport. Being a westerner is like being a wiggly, bleeding fish for the shark-like cabbies. I was confused and discombobulated coming off the train and was trying to ground myself and figure out my next move. Then Shriram, in his natural exuberance, invited me to come to his family’s house and stay the night.

My first thought was, OMG! No way! I can’t do that! The sharks were closing in and I thought, shit! I don’t have a better plan. In the confusion and chaos came clarity and trust. I said, OK. It was a snap decision and off we went. Shriram carried my backpack, and we weaved through a maze of streets. I had NO idea where I was. I thought if I made the wrong decision and disappeared, my parents would kill me.

The weekend was lovely and with Shriram’s encouragement, I returned to Pune and spent time at the Osho Ashram, which was a transformative experience. That part of the story is documented, so what comes next?

Shriram and I stayed in touch via email. I was living in France and he got a job assignment in Japan. He married Swati and they eventually had Jui. He got another assignment in Luxembourg, not far from where I lived, and he spent Christmas with my family in France. Shriram brought his enthusiasm and Indian cooking skills to a small French village and made a strong impression, especially with the teenagers.

His next move was to Akron, Ohio. His company moved him there to do consulting work with a major manufacturer. Then it was my turn to move back to Cincinnati. We landed in the same state but it doesn’t end there. Shriram took another job position in Cincinnati doing consulting work for P&G. He and Swati and Jui live 15 minutes away. How did that happen? Happenstance?


Jui, Swati, Shriram on vacation, Summer 2015

Two souls meet on a train. One says, “follow me.” The other one pauses, chooses to TRUST and says, “Ok.” One billion people. A crowded train. An American woman. A hard-working young man with a vision and natural smarts. Many Indians dream of traveling beyond their borders, and precious few can make it happen.

Two souls traveling the Universe. Where does the story end? When did the story begin?

Opening Photo: Jen and Shriram sharing a coffee in Cincinnati