David's Video: An Army Man I Won't Forget

Posted by Sheetal Vaidya on Mar 19, 2017
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[Below is the video of the touching story that David Bullon Patton shared on our second community night. Like all his sharings throughout the Gandhi 3.0 retreat, this also had a serene depth that went straight to the heart! Thanks, David, for your example! You remind us of the inexhaustible store of tender virtues that reside in all our hearts.]



Ten years ago, I decided that maybe it was time for me to leave this beautiful, peaceful country that is Costa Rica and to step out of my comfort zone. I felt like I've spent most of my life in places where I could speak the language and where I understood the culture. Now, for my personal growth, perhaps it was time to do something else. So I came to India.

If you look at a map of the globe, Costa Rica is almost exactly on the opposite side of the world as India.

Since I'd come all the way to India, I decided that maybe I should make the trip up to Nepal to the birthplace of the Buddha. Lumbini. This was going to involve some traveling -- a long train ride followed by an even longer bus ride, to cross the border. Unfortunately, two days before I got on the train, I got really sick. I must have eaten something that made me sick and the train ride was a typical Indian train ride. You know, maybe 15-16 hours straight.

For me, coming from a country that's so small, this was unimaginable. In Costa Rica, we didn't really have trains at that time, but even now, the longest ride would be 5 hours max.

So, sitting there in the train, I was taking in the lovely, beautiful countryside -- but I was also really sick. I was falling apart, like a withering flower.

One gentleman seemed to notice my condition. By this time, we had arrived at Gorakhpur, not too far from Nepal. I wasn't really able to think clearly or focus, but I did notice that this man was in a uniform, with a gun. He was from the Indian Army. Now, I grew up in a country where there are basically no guns, there are no uniforms and definitely no men in uniforms carrying guns.

When this man approached me and offered to help, my initial reaction was fear. As it is I was in a mental delirious state, but my first thought was, "Oh, is this somebody I should trust?" I looked at his external appearance and thought, "No!" At that point, I'll confess that my Indian visa had expired two days before, so I had some level of fear that I was going to end up in an Indian jail and I didn't really want to know what that meant.

Seeing me in this state, this gentleman kindly offered to actually help take me cross the border. I said, "Oh, that's great. I do need actually somebody to explain to me where the buses are and all this." As soon as we got off the train, he actually hired a private car and invited me in! After my initial paranoia that maybe I was being kidnapped, I realized that this was an incredibly kind and loving person.

He drove me and helped me cross the border. He invited me to a meal. He brought me something to drink.

As we were saying goodbye, I stepped onto the road to cross to the other side. Since I wasn't fairly sick, I didn't look properly. A bus was coming *right* at me. And this gentleman ran upto me and just whisked me away -- and quite literally saved my life!

As I was making my way up to Lumbini, to see this beautiful place where the Buddha was born ... on the way, I met somebody that was, to me, somebody that embodied many of those divine values.

On this "Ode to Women" night, I wanted to share this story, to remind the males -- that when we look in the mirror, we shouldn't make the mistake I made when I first met that man. I look at that army man's external appearance and judged him to have a certain type of values and behavior patterns. Many times, many men carry wounds. Baggage from past events in our lives and histories. But if we can look in the mirror and look beyond that, and look deeper, I think that there's so much tenderness and virtue, like this gentleman embodied -- kindness, generosity and a heart of service. I think those are the kinds of feminine values that leadership today requires, of both men and women.   

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Comments (2)

  • Gokul Agarwal wrote ...

    So true David

  • Sheetal Sanghvi wrote ...

    Beautiful story. Beautiful story-telling.