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For her, it was just another trip into the forest with the ox and cart to gather firewood. For me, it was just what I needed.

It’s been three months since I returned from my annual vacation in India. Time flies, huh? By May, I usually have my tickets for next year’s trip, but the coronavirus pandemic has put the kibosh on that. Will I be able to fly to India next January? I sure hope so, because we  all need a vacation, especially stressed-out business owners like me. While thinking about India, I had a flashback from my recent trip.

One sunny morning, on a wide forest path near Pondicherry, I was on my morning hike, surrounded by singing birds and exotic trees, when I saw a big ol’ ox lumbering towards me. As it drew nearer, I noticed it was pulling a wooden flat cart carrying a chain saw. Seated on the bench, looking like a stagecoach driver in a Western movie, was a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman in her twenties. As she passed, I said, “hi” and, in an American accent, she said, “hi” right back. The conversation ended there.

I was dying to say, “Who the heck are you and how on earth did you end up on an ox cart in Southern India?” but I minded my own business. Every so often I looked back, wondering where she was going. I assumed that she was headed into the forest to gather firewood, but, like many things in India, it was all a big, refreshing mystery.

I sure hope I can fly to India again in January—come on researchers, come up with a cure for COVID-19! If I do go, I’ll be back on that trail on another sunny day, in a world of singing birds and exotic trees and big mysteries, where the only problem I’ll have is what to do with my abundant free time.

And the only stress will be on that ox’s shoulders.

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