The next morning wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be. I guessed without having to get out of the bed that in the room there was a rather mild temperature. How did I know? Because I didn’t jump when I turned from facing the wall to facing the big window and lifted my lovely three layers of blankets by accident, leaving my kidneys exposed to the open air.
Despite my impeccable anticipation for the day ahead, that morning I didn’t get up quickly. Instead, I sat, still keeping one of the blankets around me, and looked around. With all the hectic activity of the last day, I didn’t really look at my room in detail before. Aside from the big sliding window, the balcony outside, the table in the middle, the stove and the rocking chair, I noticed for the first time that the roof that ended in the window, was more inclined than the other half ceiling, which was built horizontally. Another thing that I didn’t realize the first day I came here is all the strange items that stand in between the hundreds of books that occupy three quarters of the shelves in the room. Those caught my attention for a few minutes and so I stared at them trying to figure out what they were, always of course, from my bed.
After a while, not being able to guess what all those items were, I gave up. That’s when the sight of the compass that stood in my bedside table, aroused my curiosity again. I took it to have a look and I opened it. It still indicated the west.
“Will that be the direction of my first destination?” I thought.
At that moment I heard a knock at the door.
“Is that you, Sen?” I asked
“Yes, it’s me, Ilan, it’s Sen Gin. Are you awake? Can I come in?”
I got up in my pyjamas and slipped into my leather boots lined with wool. Sen Gin had a funny grin on his face.
“Good Morning dear Ilan” he said still with that grin on his face. “Everything is ok here?”
“Oh Sen, I’m so happy” I said “I feel so at home here!”
“Well, Ilan, if you don’t mind, let’s have a tea and a little chat. It’s time I tell you a bit more about the journey you are about to undertake”
“Yes, of course, I’m listening” I said while getting a bit anxious about it.
We sat around the table, and Sen made a tea. This time he told me that it was Tibetan tea and it smelled like spices.
“There’s pomegranate, ginger, rhododendron, caraway and much more in it. Tibetan people call it Loong Tea.” he explained “this tea helps you balance your body and your mind, gives you courage and determination, clarity to all your senses, and…it’s tasty”
I smiled and nodded.
“Now listen to me, Ilan, are you ready?”
“Aha” I said.
And so the man explained to me all about the compass to start.
“The compass…” he told me “…is synchronized with your inner awareness. You must know…” he continued “…that the compass will not open if the quest that you are meant to achieve, is not yet fully achieved. You will know for sure that you have achieved it, as soon as the lid eases itself and lets you open it. Only then, it will show you the direction you must walk, to go in search of the next step of your quest. You understand?”
“What if it doesn’t open even if I think I’m ready to move on?” I asked.
“hahaha!” he laughed “Do you think you can trick this compass? Besides, the compass won’t open when you think it might, but when you know it will.”
Sen gave me a few minutes to meditate about what he just said to me.
“Yes. I understand…” I said
“Any more questions?” he asked
“One more thing…what is this symbol here for?” I showed him the button with a circle drawn on it, and a dot in its center.
“This is here. It’s the Guild Halls. If you are lost, before you despair you can turn the lid and point the arrow to that button. The lid will open at all times when you need to take that action. The compass will indicate the direction you must take to find the closest invisible gate nearby…you find the invisible gate, cross through it and you’ll end up here.”
“An in…visible gate!?” I asked while twisting my face in astonishment.
“Aha.” he said, “I’ll leave this part for you to find out.”
I checked the compass one more time and made sure I understood its functioning, by explaining it one more time to him. Although it sounded complex at first, it was pretty simple.
“Now, where’s your map, Ilan?” He asked
I went towards the bed, and took the map that also stood on the bedside cabinet, and opened it on the table in front of Sen.
“That wasn’t there before!” I exclaimed while pointing at the new bit of revealed map “Nor the red trail!”
“Each time you use your compass, a new trail or clue will be revealed to you through your map. See?” he pointed at the red trail that crossed through the mountain range in the west“ and that’s where we are now. That’s where the Travelling Artists Guild Halls are. Here, in Namtse.” he said while he pointed at the name of a Town” then awaited my reaction eagerly.
“Wow! It’s amazing! This town where the Guild Halls are, is called Namtse?!” I was amazed at the similarity to the word Namasté. It made a lot of sense.
“This town was founded with the purpose of raising awareness in all the people that visited it, even if just for a day” he said expecting an answer from me.
I meditated again on his words, and knew what I was going to tell him and so pronounced myself…
“You know, Sen, I know exactly what you’re talking about” and continued sipping the delicious tea from the cup that I held in my already warmed hands.
(Making of the compass; I altered a round wooden box with acrylic paints and glued plastic jewels on it. I made the inside by lifting a compass with cardboard.)