It was Sugandha Iyer I met on the train between Geneva and Stuttgart. I was sitting, looking out of the window, full of nostalgia. I had lived for some time in Geneva. Many times I had been sitting on the north shore, looking out over Mont Blanc. For the first time in my life I had taken the cable car up at Mont Salève.
This was the mountain that Jean Piaget was thinking of when he asked the children if mountains were alive. No, Mont Saleve was not alive, it always stayed at the same place. But the clouds above were alive. They moved. Sometimes slowly, sometimes impatiently. Jean Piaget was my guru, my Nobel Prize candidate. If there had been a Nobel Prize in psychology.
I was ripped out of my thoughts. In front of me sat a woman, dressed in a sari. She was so beautiful. It shone about her. I had to say something. So I said it. In English. Not that she was beautiful, but that her sari was. I even t think hat I dared to ask why she was here on the train. In Switzerland. What brought a sari clad woman onboard a train in Switzerland?
So our friendship began. It took a long time before I understood how much it would bring to me. I was full of job thoughts, aspirations and disappointments. I was far too limited to understand her importance.
She gave me some hand-painted cards. They were painted on large leaves. Beautiful! I had never seen anything like this before. But did I understand the Indian beauty? I appreciated the work, but my heart was not stirred, neither by the radiance of the faces painted, nor by the elegance of the elephant.
It must have been on the train, when she told me she had been in Basel? She had shown a few paintings at a show there? That it would take nearly thirty years before I understood!