Fact is stranger than fiction

Chittar Dam backwaters

In Ambadi, the Manager’s bungalow was at the top of the hill. The driveway curved around the bungalow, past the servant’s quarters and garages and the stable of my horse and up the hill until you came to a gate. Then the road dropped down to the waters of Chittar Lake. There are some amazing views of the lake from the top of the hill. Toward the bottom was our coconut nursery. We had some Malaysian semi-tall trees with coconuts you could pick simply by reaching up from the ground, the water of which was so sweet that you would perhaps think that someone had injected sugar into it. The nursery also had cocoa and cashew trees, a few clove trees (one of the most beautiful trees) and of course, lots of coconut trees. Along that side of the hill were teak trees, some of them full-grown and extremely valuable. That is why I had a couple of guards with dogs, stationed in the nursery with instructions to patrol that area in the night as there was always danger of theft. If there is enough money in it, people will take risks.

In the winter that year, there was a course being offered in Mysore on understanding unconscious psychological processes. The course was facilitated by Michael and Alexandra Merrill, from America, who were famous for these workshops. I decided to attend, and it was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. My wife was not interested in the course and so she stayed back in Ambadi.

Communication between Mysore and Kulasekharam was not the best in the world with our phones in Ambadi being on the lam most of the time. While I was enjoying the course, I was concerned about my wife as she was alone in the estate. Of course, that is not like being alone in a city. In the estate, everyone is family. I knew that my assistants, Suresh, Roshan, and Sunil would call on her sometime in the day, every day and check to see if all was well. We had excellent staff; Perumal the cook and butler, who was a far better cook than butler. His dosas were legendary. There was Santiago’s wife, Teresa, who was Perumal’s assistant. And other servants. And there were Bonnie and Hooch. Bonnie was our Doberman, brown and female and about 90% human without any bad human traits. Hooch was our Rottweiler. Perhaps the most intelligent dog I have ever had. I trained him in one week flat, which with any other dog would have taken at least a month or more. Hooch, despite the fearsome reputation of his breed, was the gentlest individual that you can imagine.

Watts Carter’s fresh water tank and my view every morning

Suresh and he had a unique relationship. Suresh would come to the bungalow. Hooch would hear his bike and lie in wait for him at the top of the staircase coming up from the side of the tennis court (yes, we had a full-size concrete court). As Suresh came up to eye level, Hooch would stand up and with his head held low between his shoulder blades, would stare at him. Suresh would stop and stare back. There they would stand, staring eye to eye, neither of them blinking. It was a test of nerves for both, and they both loved it. If you have ever tried it, animals cannot stand the human stare. They will either look away and back off or in the case of large predators, they will attack. That is why you never look at a large predator in the eye. But in the case of Hooch and Suresh, it was a game they both enjoyed.

As I mentioned, I was in Mysore for the course. On the eve of the third day of the course, I had a dream at about 4.00 AM. I do not have particularly vivid dreams and I almost never remember what I had dreamt. This one was different. I saw everything in the dream as if I were there and watching. Full detail and color. And what is more, I remembered every detail when I woke up. I woke up feeling disturbed by the dream and had to remind myself that it was only a dream and not real or anything to be disturbed about. I could not go back to sleep and in any case, it was close to the time for the morning prayer and so I remained awake.

Before I continue this story, let me tell you what I dreamt. I dreamt that I was standing at the gate behind the bungalow in Ambadi. I saw the lights of a truck coming up the road to the Chittar Lake boundary. The truck came up the road and through the gate. It was loaded with four teak trees. There were men accompanying the truck. Everyone was working silently, obviously the trees had been felled and loaded on the truck and were being stolen, right there before my eyes but as it was a dream, there was nothing I could do. The truck drove along the road, past the bungalow and down the drive and out of the estate. I was very relieved that nobody went to the bungalow where my wife was alone. That is when I woke up and that is why I was feeling very disturbed. I had seen all this in technicolor as if I it was happening before my eyes. Maybe it was. I have no explanation.

I completed my usual morning routine, had breakfast, and went to the class. The exercise that day was to draw whatever dream we had seen the previous night. We were given large charts and packets of multicolored crayons. I was happy that unlike my usual dreamless sleep, I had seen a dream the previous night. I got down to work and drew my entire dream on the chart in multicolored detail. It was 10.30 AM and time for the morning tea break, when someone came from the office of the conference center where the course was being held and asked for me. He said that there was a phone call for me from Ambadi. I went with him, and it was my wife. She said to me, ‘Last night there was a theft on the estate.’

‘Yes, I know’, I said. ‘They stole four teak trees and the truck drove out from behind our bungalow and went down our drive.’

My wife was surprised. ‘Who called you about this?’ she asked.

‘Nobody. I saw it all in a dream. I was there watching it happen.’ Alexandra told me, ‘That is called synchronicity.’ I brought my ‘dream record’ (the chart with the picture that I had drawn of the dream) home and to this day, it is a record of something I cannot explain.

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