28 December 2006
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Dec 26, 2006 6:04 AM
Subject: cooking column
I am trapped in the land of sandwiches, bangers and mash, and flat cask
ales. Every day the sky explores yet another uniform shade of grey while my
skin continues to approach the shade of white only the purest of lillies can
display. The only thing I can look up to is a surprisingly good tasting
organic carrot readily available in the grocery stores. What can I prepare
in this land that can bring the sunshine to my soul and reunite the Beatles
22 December 2006
pooja was here for a few days and left some beautiful bits of herself,
spices, and fabric, and teas and these words:
and in english
21 December 2006
also on the list of quick to decide and slow to implement, on the
advice of the Knowledgeable i have decided to start a popular column
in a major newspaper on cooking. now that i'm no longer interested in
cooking, i feel i have the necessary professional detachment to make
this endeavor a major success.
it's going to be dear abbey or doctor strangelove style, with people
from all over the intelligible universe sending in emails or postcards
of cooking questions and me attempting to write sensical responses,
with the quixotic media-luna ever-waiting in the proverbial wings.
so in order for this particular branch of the madness to take off
carry this whole cookbook marketing scheme to the next spaceship
level, i need some questions from the collective you.
that is, in an attempt at clarity:
i am asking for people to send me questions about cooking which i will
then answer and post on "cooking can be god" as first steps towards
writing a cooking advice column. they can be simple like "how do i
make a vegetarian foie gras" or somewhat subtle, such as, "my boss
invited me over for dinner. should i eat the meat if it's local but
not organic, organic but not local, or only if raw? and is this sexual
harrassment or not?"
i promise not to take the questions seriously if you take the answers
in kind. to prevent this from getting out of hand in a pontificatory
manner, i do declare that each response will have a recipe for
something edible (or bebible) that is vegetarian and in english.
thanks in advance for your kind assistance in this new, daring,
endeavor. the goal is that i'll have a dozen columns or so to show the
raving masses of newspaper editors currently plaguing me with
inquiries to my non-existent mobile handy. which means, naturally,
that if you know someone who would carry this column, do let them
ps we can have "swearing" and "non-sweating" versions, maybe.
black panthers head back to the motherland:
so my DREAM last night -- in some fancy cafe among a line of fancy
cafes with expensive dishes i would never go to order but i had to
meet some human there. the people i met there somehow associated with
the spirits of Death and Argentina -- a man and a woman -- and i went
off about Meche dying and how beautiful she is and will be and the
woman was in tears. i continued about Death not being separate, the
discretion was an illness, an illusion, a delusion of our separate
egos. The man bristled -- he had hair like Mark and waw jewish, she
had long wavy hairs. i continued it would all -- the life and the
Death -- be better seen as part of the same multifacted gorgeous
hideous kind cruel indescribable GODNESS that is the sum and synergy
of all Being (and nothingness besides). the man scraped bristles into
words of a venerable monotheism and said his god did not include
the energy immediately shifted with the camera angle from argument to
experience and i remember him saying he had of yet experienced no such
thing -- the onenes, the unity of all creation and destruction -- and
i outlined some teachings (practical injunctions) so that he might.
we continued with Meche and we were all crying, the woman said here i
have 15,000 $ and i want to give it to you so she reached into her
purse and pulled out three Argentine 100 peso notes and gave them to
me. i accepted them on the condition i could give them away and send
her a letter when i did so, thinking "nirali will know what to do with
this", the whole idea is to support people like jayeshbhai and john
giuliano budding flowers, not the specifics but the soul of these
operations and we were all crying and i walked away into the bustle of
the indian night, warm and sinister a la vez, wondering how i would
myself survive without sinking to using such holy notes for my own
luxuries, my dosa and my mangos... as i woke up.
there's so much felt about meche's sudden passing and i'm not quite
ready but to share this song pooja sang ("while i'm here") and to
reiterate how death is not some antithesis to life but rather it is
our environment, the ether we breathe, the amniotic fluid he turn
somersaults in. it can be no Other, no Alien.
in ayurveda they have this concept of all matter as being based on the
5 elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth) and each of the elements
besides ether being composed of 50% ether. analagous to the modern
physics notion that there's a lot more space than matter packed in
those subatomic particles (i havent done the research personally; that
might be wrong).
black panthers head back to the motherland:
from _Vinboa on Gandhi_ (p11)
Once a friend asked me: Should one address Gandhi or Gandhiji. I said
if he considered him a human being, a human being worthy of respect,
he should address Gandhiji. But if he thought of him as an idea, it
would be sufficient to address Gandhi. Today, for me, Gandhiji is no
longer a person, he is an idea.
Gandhiji himself was so sensitive to changing conditions that he never
had any dificult in adjusting himself to new situations. I once used
for him an expression that many found objectionable: double-faced.
There is a song of Ekanath in which he has called men of God
double-faced people in that they describe God one day in one way and
the next day in a quite different way. Gandhiji could similarly be
called a double-faced person. He never stuck to words. He was always
evolving. His mind was ever occupied with the quest for truth.
black panthers head back to the motherland:
some thoughts on the LMO while digesting and meditating yesterday in
the studio. mash has been busy or bored of me recently so ive had lots
of time to practice and to meditate by myself, which is great.
so im thining about the LMO and the notion of virutal ashram. im
thinking that goddamit we're still so far apart and its been so many
years and sometimes it seems like the big crunch is imminent and
sometimes its very very clear that i know nothing outside of this
moment and not much in it besides.
heres to the electricity lasting the length of this email and one day
me getting a laptop with a battery. and one day me never using a
laptop again. cheers. hari om tat sat jai guru datt.
of course its some sort of internet web email thing.
there's this concept of an ashram that ive done a poor job of
explaining to people. luckily the premise of the LMO-qua-ashram had to
do with the fact (and how many times did i joyfully say this to
friends and lovers) that "Ive got land!" and it turns out that wasnt
true despite the fact for 10 years my mom has been telling me begging
me please come back to sequim you have land here, do your weird hippie
famring projects here. really shes been saying that ever since bolson
round 1 and then i went back and tried a little and it was a bit of a
so heres the belated acknowledgement of that and the unfortunate
reality (as i tell baby, its not a problem, its the reality) is that
im not going to be going back to Lost Meadow Lane except as a guest
for mao's long while. so there's that. and it's a bummer because i had
all these ATTACHMENTMENTS And INDENTIFICATIONS and EXPECTATIONS
[ all recipes for disaster / not included in the cookbook ]
about the LMO and specifically Max and getting our permaculture groove
on there in a major way. theres a lot of fallout some of it being that
was my attempt at the infamous "Settling Down" and what a comical
failure and now im back on the road and loving it again and finding
myself in the footsteps of Gandhiji (looking over my writings) and
learning about Vinobaji and this whole traditional of indian wandering
mystic sages that my hair almost qualifies me for (until i get lice,
at which point i will shave it, immediately, no attachment in the face
of lice, that's for damn sure).
but anyhow. what is an ashram? well there's a lot to answer that
question with but for now i want to go back to el salvador and bring
up the nightly reflections. john would have these visitng groups come
from high school and college and every night after an intense day of
poverty beauty liberation and theology we/they would get together and
reflect a little bit, just share.
and neilu and matt and i have done similar things each night we lived
together -- prayer sessions inloud and outloud, giving thanks and
expressing hopes and, yes, desires, and making commitments to self and
to god and reflecting on what we learned that day. and in other
communities as well.
this to me lies at the root of community, and is central to the
ashram. a social space of shared reflection and understanding that not
only are we on the same path but we are in point of fact, the same
being. Being, even.
this, besides the fruit trees and frisbee, is the whole reason i want
to live with my lovers, to have this sense of shared selfhood and
purpose be more immediate. obviously it can never cease to be true,
and i can never cease to realize it, in some sense, but the realizing
is a lot more WOW and TECHNOCOLOR when im with you people.
but the basis is this shared sense of understanding and oneness that i
think any real community has. and in india theyve been doing this for
a long time so they have evolved the concept of an ashram, a sanctuary
where the seeker can take refuge, have time for their sadhana
(practices -- meditation, reading, etc), and give themselves to seva
(service, work for the world, cleaning toilets and GIS programming).
being india and venerable they've evolved a lot of customs to help out
and some that hinder even
- vows (gandhi had 11 as part of his ashram, i wrote a little thing
about, ill attach it if i can)
- guru (the master)
- admission (you go to an ashram and you have to say who you know and
your qualificatons and all this shit)
so depending on where you are those are great or get in the way but
its all about the ONE LOVE and if those help its down the road a bit.
i also want to make it clear that this concept of an ashram is not new
to anyone who is in love or feels a sense of partnership or oneness.
it is exactly That, just a name and a set of helpful functions. a nice
way of putting it that has some deeper, explicit, wearetheworld
connotations. this is not a new idea to you.
so i guess it came to me, how do we maintain that while we are
physically separated? so maybe we cant have the fruit trees because i
dont have any land just yet, but we can at least build some sort of
organizational net to help us with this shared reflection bit.
and we all do this anyhow. its called email and its fucking wonderful
and also a chain. but what if you had some sort of group that was this
family, this section of the Family, this collection of inmates, this
virutal ashram, and you could send these reflections. and theres no
argument and there's no reply or response there's just sharing and
praying outloud and what was good about today and ruminations or
whatever. at the beginning its a mailing list and we have these too
(and often they degenerate into dialogue where the point here is not
so much communication or completion but nakedness, vulnerability,
sharing, regular commmunion). does that make sense? communion more
later you could add different things if people want to be on the same
diet or share their meditation practices or i dont know, there could
be more. but in the beginning its just this mailing list with
Intention and maybe (this is something ive wanted ever since cholmes
explained what a map was to me) this map with everybody's location on
it so you can see where the family is.
the interesting technical side that has to do with the personal side
is that since the sharing is not about communication and not tailored
to any audience but god, since it will be in many ways innocent of ego
and style, it can be shared across a wider [sic] range of our lovers.
as in i dont write an email and send it to amanda then send it to uz
(usually) because my relatonships are different with those people.
whereas with this it wouldnt be about either amanda or uz but rather
this bit of light reflecting from the one to the self to the one.
of course the prerequisite for sharing somehing like this would be a
sense of total shared pathness, uncondtional love, and open
vulnerability, for which set the term 'wider' seldom applies.
the technical side is that we're all part of many ashrams making up
the bigger ashram fractally climbing up the scale up to and including
dick cheney, somewhere out there. and not all the family members know
they are in the same family with everybody else. and thats fine
because theres an infinite amount to be learned in relating to self,
even, and we dont want to blow everybody's minds just yet.
but you could have this service where im a member of the bigfun ashram
and a member of the harleydavidson ashram and i send my
daily/weekkly/inter-mittens reflection and it just goes automatically
to both of those. so you send this one email and it automatically goes
to all your ashrams (by default all boxes are checked).
thats the only non-energetic innovation to this besides the whole
cholmsian "where are my rupees map".
the other aspect i thought about had to do with the FOAF disaster (now
that myspace has won, cant the other companies use the protocols and
team up?...) and websites and passwords in general. it could be that
theres no website and all of this is done by email somehow, you get
some randomly generated private email
email@example.com and just send to that every
time and it sends it to all your people for you. when you register you
can tell your location and any profile changes are given using
generated email links that are verified craigsliststyle... so no
logins or anything. obvisouly there's some security concerns here but
perhaps they can be dealt with...
as always, id love to hear what you think.
black panthers head back to the motherland:
here in kuppadi winding deeper into the fractal. unable to be at peace
with a selfless guru hero figure ive moved into his home and am
swimming amidst the cold morning water and dirty piles of laundry.
indian domestic life: women beware. she is trapped between the
vicegrip of indian social expectations and the wiles and twinkling
lights of the modern world, ie, a life of her own.
we have come to a muddy crossroads. i sense that earlier this indian
woman, strong and resilient from a lifetime raised to work and to
serve (and occassionally to be worshipped), felt some sense of peace,
vindication, purpose and meaning from fulfilling her earth- and
god-given duties to children and husband. i sense this no longer will
satisfy her; when a woman can look at her children as chains
inhibiting her personal development and not the sum purpose of her
existence, something external has to change as well.
more than a cell phone with no credit because she has to ask,
politely, for any amount of points from her husband/master. more than
daily trips to a computer class where she is months behind and
apparently now learning programming (C++) instead of typing (the last
thing she remembers) and i catch her copying down 100 pages of notes
(literally -- the photocopies would be too expensive, her teacher told
her to do it, etc) of #include's and for loops and i ask her
"do you know what a program is" (the notes are in english)
and the answer is of course "no". so i give the recipe metaphor of the
programming world and explain this printf that mysteriously keeps
popping up on every page and she doesn't care too much because the sir
said to copy the pages and she's doing it.
which is what it is. and to be precise, its a predictable consequence
of the Robotic indian education system, which she (and everybody else)
is currently inflicting by hook and by crook, on their angelic
anarchist indian children. not for long.
the remedy prescribed by dr. ank is of course always the same. like
the famous ayurvedic doctor who would see thousands of patients
everyday, huges lines through town field and orchard (india was always
india and infinite india at that it seems), and whisper to each one of
them some dietary advice (based on the nature of their complaint),
reach into a huge sack and hand them all the same medicine --
haritaki being a dried fruit guaranteed to, ahem, whisk the plumbing
clean, and proper digestion, ahem, being the key to proper health.
haritaki, for the record, is also elegized thusly:
"even a mother can harm her children, but haritaki will never hurt you"
kinder words have nary been spoken about a cow...
any, the rememedy prescribed by dr. ank is of course always the same.
a stiff tonic of
1 part blind unconditional love
1 part earnest suspended-ego listening
1 part empathetic i am you
for regular intake and practice by the Husband of the patient. aye, i
think we've transcended that glorious phase of history, even here in
infinite ancient india, where the husband and wife have only rice to
exchange (uncooked for cooked, with chutney as interest) each evening.
it's serious people. there's really 0 communication, from the people
who know it best. and, as always -- social relations replicate
virally, from television to household, father to mother to child. the
kids come home from school or my loving guru comes home from class and
the first worlds are ALWAYS, without exception, some sort of
screeching complaint or worry (on her part) or demand or scolding (on
i think it would be culturally short-sighted of me to claim we should
all go in for furry hugs and exarcerbated politeness ("and how was
your day today honey? would you oh so please make me some tea IF you
have the time?") but in a world where meaning is found in your
personal ego and not the beauty of your children, humans are going to
need some positive personal attention in one form or the other.
that's my rant. that's the lemon pickle from 10 days of watching the
love and spirit drilled out of little girls (failing of course, thank
the gods) by "the DASH is the king of the jungle" and a slap if DASH
!= Lion from little chickoo's mouth... if not already clear i must
make it so that what im experiencing here is the natural result of a
car wreck of social forces from humans, machines, easts, and wests.
it's nobody's fault and only a passing fad in our cultural evolution.
and we are the world and the happiness is there waiting inside of us.
to wit (to wit!) -- and to end on a positve note -- a few days ago the
lady of the household came home and whiningly asked the master of the
household for the 150 points to buy a couple of pigeons (they have
three pigeons already). strongly denied and three days of intense
moping and whining met with brickwall resistance until she went out
and bought the pigeons on credit, fearing retribution the whole time.
so now she has to build this pigeon coop and this young depressed
oppressed woman who keeps the house in B- shape because she's tired
and afflicted and, yes, lazy, turns on the batteries in a major way
and builds this huge obnoxious deluxe pigeon coop for her five pigeons
and mounts it -- with the help of four neighbors, kicking myself i
wasn't here at the time -- 15 feet up in the air precariously poised
on three wooden poles. i wish to the gods i had a camera to show the
power of Woman and positive thinking; this human who normally is
worried, scowling and negative was repeating
PIGEON COOP PIGEON COOP PIGEON COOP PIGEON COOP PIGEON COOP
like dick cheney probably repeats
AMERICAN HEGEMONY AMERICAN HEGEMONY AMERICAN HEGEMONY
to herself, outloud, in english (i taught her 'coop' instead of
'pigeon house') in this maniacal voice and SMILING the entire time. it
was so beautiful and i wanted her to illicity thwart her husband (my
respected teacher, hari om) and buy silly birds every day if it would
make her smile like that and love her children and everything.
so, you know, deconstruct that.
black panthers head back to the motherland:
18 December 2006
been trying to learn how to play this for a while now, a peaceful slow
bhajan that was gandhiji's favorite, and a couple of days ago
chandrabose transcribed it for me:
P S S S | S - R S | N - D - | N - R - | R m G m
. . . .
raghupati raghava (drawn over two bars) raja ram
R g - R | S - N D | N - g R | S - - -
. . .
pathita pavana sita ram
S G G G | G - R S | R G m G | m - - -
ishwar allah, tere nam
R R m - | P - d P | m - g R | R - - -
sabko sanmati de baghavan
R P P P | m - g R | R S S - | R m G m
raghupati raghava raja ram
R g - R | S - N D | N g R S
. . .
pathita pavana sita ram
Each pair of lines is generally played twice, methinks. And then the
first pair again at the end (as it was in the beginning, so shall it
also, if you're unfamiliar with the notion, these are the equivalents
for the key of C
Ga E ga D#
Dha A dha G#
and the dot below the note means the lower octave
also, wikipedia says this.
black panthers head back to the motherland:
10 December 2006
I am. Here. My fourth visit to Kerala in as many years, my second visit to Wayanad and to lives of Chandrabose and Baby, Suhara's family, Uni's. This morning Baby, who one would describe in the West as "super stressed", "neurotic", or "heavy", woke me up at 5 am to meditate. A major triumph, which life is full of. I've been meditating with CBose every night since I got here, generally for 20-30 minutes after a big rice meal and half an hour of television. Small steps / Major triumphs. Television strikes me as the gods stoner antidote to meditation. I'm sure there's some science out there about alpha waves in the brain that can prove that (or that they have the exact function). Like LSD is the universal antidote to the atom bomb.
There's really no need for doubt. And plenty of room.
Two sits and some inverted postures later it's the tongue-tip of sunrise and I'm trying to commicunicate retrograde motion within the context of the general orbit, so as not to sound like failure. A week ago today I was with Sri Mukeshji at Nadiad, sitting at the feet of the master and learning the wisdom of Ramana Maharshi. Meditating six hours a day at least and playing the flute for another two or three. I could feel the heart, two fingers below the hirsute right nipple (yes, right), pulse. I could feel it open like Laxmi's lotus. Feel myself abandon the floatable plastic seat cushion and sink into the ocean of light. Praying in portuguese to the Om and to the Daime -- "teach us how to live".
And today it's a mess of pigeons and clocks I only could wish were surreal replicas of their omniclicking selves. It's thoughts of writing this email and picking up Pooja in Bathery and the fullness of the stomach and desire for dosa and yes, ad nauseum. A week ago I felt I had made this decision that I was "over what is called thinking", ready to give it up and enter the palace of devotion on bended knees. Om guru. Om guru. But there's always the cosmic laughter in your tea.
Luckily. And there's dusty trails and human tragedy and death all around us. To keep it real, as it were. But oh those three days.
I found Mukeshji the smiling same after six months of incommunication. I had met him early on in the pilgrimage and it struck me immediately that this was a monk I'd come back to. The Santaram Mandir is a holy ashram in Nadiad, the seat of some chain of enlightened sages who work miracles. Now it feeds 1000 people a day and runs a public hospital, giving allopathic medicines to the sick and spiritual advice to the quaking. I saw a pressure cooking machine in the kitchen than prepares lentils for 800 people in 15 minutes. There is a local saint (the Maharaj or Maharaj Sri) who sits on a chair all day with his feet up so people can touch it, lift their infant sons to prostrate themselves and be petted, offered sugar candy ("chocolate") and smiled at by the holy. Those who contribute get a bundle of prasad, holy sweets that have been offered to the gods.
I came last year looking for Gandhi -- he had stayed there and given a speech the same day, 76 years earlier. And one brother said, yes, I could stay, and assigned brother Mukesh (who has been living there for 15 years) to show me around. He gave me the tour and gave me a room and we talked about Gandhi and meditation. We meditated together a few times in Mukesh's style -- "no work, no thinking, no effort, just love".
Pretty appealing. I recorded him giving talks (satsung) on happiness, stress, englightenment and meditation. I lost the dingdong. So I had to comeback. It was overdetermined, perhaps. Except that I hardly ever go back -- I collected forty addresses and a handful of crying aunties in that trek and had no intention ever to go back to most of them. Maybe send a solar oven and some cookbooks here or there. Maybe not. So I can only assume that Mukesh exhibited some will in the matter.
The brother is Brahamachariya -- has taken vows of chastity, and checked in here before the age of 20 after a life filled with desire for God. Never felt comfortable in the outside world with his family. Always understood his place and has been peaceful and happy, by his own admittance, ever since. He is meditative communion with the Dive over 20 hours a day, and sleeps 2-3 hours a night. He works managing the housing and elite dining sections of the ashram, cleaning the samadhi shrine of the previous saint, and sitting with the current honcho. He is a portrait of gentle, unobtrusive, divine love. And he has these magic powers.
"You just sit and listen to your heart". He shows me where it is -- the spiritual heart, not the biological one. I've learned through force of experience to give up skepticism. I will do the work with your mind. And so we sit and he silences my thoughts and I focus on my heart. It takes a few hours to find it, to feel it pulsing. But once I have it, I have it. It's there. And from then on I can feel it expand and contract, listen to it's vibrations and messages. Feel it open to the vast plains of experience, bloom like a flower, shake with laughter. I can feel when it's soft and when it's hard, and so can he.
After the first sit he says, "your mind is very wild. work for me". By the second day it's calmed down and he barely has to do any work he says. But the heart, "ankur, your heart is hard". And maybe somewhere I knew that and was dreading he would too because it's the opposite of the publicity stunts but hell I know my heart is hard. I know how many times I've felt like crying and didn't, I know how much I've smilingly left, only because I've built some nasty-ass barbed wire to keep the grim humanity of it all from getting to me. I know it's part of what's made me who I am -- in a way maybe I could only have learned what I did from El Salvador and Chatila and Calcutta by keeping that heart just a little bit hard, allowing me to get it through the night. And those crystals of calcium have only hardened and grown with time.
So we work on that and he can feel it soften but I'm still struck by the astuteness of the observation and the fact I barely know this brother and he's in my mind and in my heart and if that's not a magic power then what pray tell is?
So that's Nadiad and Mukesh and I just went into all that because it's important that y'all know he exists. Because he's not a busy guy and wants to share his wisdom and love and language isn't a problem because there's not much philosophy to be had -- it's all observation and he takes care of the hard part with his magic powers. So if you're serious you can come and stay there and be wellfed and blessed (see previous post deliria) and look out at neem trees and feel the lives of the saints all around you and learn the art of the heart. But be warned that even if you practice for hours each day during and after your stay and the heartmake hotel, it's going to fade the further you go from the fountain of the master -- the peace you've found there is a Trip to the future, a foretaste of what can be experienced. Like those moments of non-dual consciousness with the mushroom -- mere foretastes of the future young man -- if you can work hard and, well, not at all.
The girls have woken up. It's another trip now. Walking in the arms of a six year old native, we wandered the back forest paths of Karakandi amidst coffee, rice, bananas, and cows. It's my new favorite way to travel.
I would like to include some quotes from a teacher of ours, Vinoba Bhave.
Vinobaji was one of Gandhiji's band of merry pranksters -- a scholar,
activist, revolutionary, and deeply spiritual being. My introduction
to his thought (and therefore, <i>pace</i> Gandhiji's "my life is my
message", his actions) came, appropriately enough, during my
pilgrimage early this year. On the last day I met one Mr. Mahesh
Kothari, who told me stories of Vinobaji, a man who walked the dusty
Indian streets for twenty-five years, enacting land reform with his
So, I persist with the assumption that anyone who reads this is just
happy to know I'm still alive and knows how important land reform is
to me -- how I've seen it and felt it to be the cause, directly or
indirectly, of most of the revolutions in the last thirty years, and
how it remains our greatest challenge, for those of us who want to see
an equiality of hope and possibility, for those of us who seek balance
with the Amazon, and for those who understand those two imperfections
-- poverty and bad housekeeping -- to be one and the same.
Vinobaji speaks to Everything with his every word, as is wont of a
true master. I was given a few of his books and will quote from one
entitled "The Third Power", a smattering collection of his talks from
1950-1968. By "third power", Vinobaji both implies and demands the
existence of a governing force indepedent of coercion and law -- the
power of Love. In my vocabulary it is decidedly anarchist,
co-operative, and self-organizing in nature -- a power that the term
"civil society" (which so many today buzz about and work on,
humdillah) falls under but does not fully encapsulate.
from "The Sarvodaya Movement: A Review" (speech at the Social and
Political Workers' Conference, Bodh Gaya, October 1968)
I began to plan for an all India pilgrimage on behalf of this 'peace
potential', but I had not spoken about my plans to anyone. Then
Shankarraoji and others began to press me to attend the Sarvodaya
Sammelan at Sivarampalli. I did not feel interested, but they
threatened to cancel the meeting if I would not come. So finally I
said: "All right, I will come on foot; I will leave Sevagram the day
My going on foot caused an explosion like an atom bomb, and yet it was
nothing extraordinary. People have always journeyed on foot, although
now-a-days it is not usual. I planned to return by a different route
which would bring me into touch with the problems of Telengana at that
So I came to a village, Pochampalli, where the Harijans appealed to me
to get them land, as they were cultivators and had no other means of
livelihood. At first I thought of approaching the government but
decided that would be of no use. So at the evening meeting in the
village I put the problem to the villagers, and was offered a gift of
a hundred acres.
I lay awake most of that night thinking about what had happened. I put
my faith in two things -- God and mathematics. I calculated that to
satisfy the needs of all the landless of India would require fifty
million acres. Could I get such an amount for the asking? I turned to
God. "If you are afraid to take up the challenge", He said, "you had
better throw overboard your talk of <i>ahimsa</i>. He who makes the
child hungry makes milk in the mother's breast". That was enough; the
very next day I began asking for land and getting it. I will not go
over that long story now. It was a wonderfu ljounrey. There were
meetings every day and every day people gave me land. I travelled in a
kind of exaltation, humming Rabindranath Tagore's song, "Go forth
alone, O hapless one", but I changed the word 'hapless' into
'blessed'. The <i>Vedas</i> also say that 'the sun travels alone'; it
was an inspiration to see the sun travelling alone through the heavens
as I travelled alone over the earth.
from "Acharyakul" (talks given to teachers of higher education 1967-8)
Patanjali thinks of God as the <i>Guru</i>, the Teacher. This Supreme
Spirit, he says, is the <i>Guru<i> of our ancient seers. In all my
reading I have not found any other book of religion or psychology
which refers to Him as <i>Guru</i>. He is called "Father of the
Universe", or "Father" as in Christianity, or "Mother". But in the
<i>Yoga Shastra</i> he is regarded as <i>Guru</i>. This is a
significant thing for all of you teachers present here. He is the
Teacher, the Supreme Teacher, who teaches us all. We, on our part,
should imitate Him in our methods of learning and teaching. This
<i>Guru</i> teaches us with the purest detachment of spirit; he is in
the highest sense disinterested; he imposes nothing on his pupils.
I believe that the work of land-sharing is of the greatest and most
fundamental importance; yet I feel myself personally more fitted for
this task in education which is before you, because I am a life-long
and habitual student. Not a day passes without my giving some time to
study. When I began to consider my whole way of life, and the
teachings and guidance which I have recived both in my inner
consciousness and from the messages of the sages, there came to my
mind the passage in the Upanishads which summarizes the whole duty of
1. Follow truth, also study and teach.
2. Maintain serenity, also study and trach.
3. Master the senses, also study and teach.
4. Give service to guests, also study and teach.
from his introduction to <i>Gandhi and Marx</i> (a book by K.G. Mashruwala)
The concepts of <i>aparigraha</i> (non-possessiveness) and
<i>samabhava</i> (sense of equality) found in the <i>Gita</i> had
taken a strong hold of Gandhiji's mind. In short, Gandhiji considered
that the only practical method of practicing <i>aparigraha</i>, in our
present society or indeed in any circumstances, is to use all one's
powers as something one holds in trust for humanity.
We may do away with the inequalities of wealth which result from an
unjust social order, but inequalities of intellectual and physical
endowment cannot be wholly eliminated. This being so, every person
must understand that whatever intelligence, bodily strength or wealth
he possesses is his for the welfare of all.
Mutual trust is the foundation of human relationships, between parents
and their children, between neighbor and neighbor, even between
nations. This attitude of confidence can be fostered by education; and
in fact a social order based on mutal trust implies that the varied
capacities of all its memebrs are wisely encouraged and used.
<i>Aparigraha</i> means that the individual should, from a feeling of
confidence, use his talents for the good of all.
from "The Third Power" (speech at the Sarvodaya Sammelan, Chandil,
Singhbhum, Bihar on 9.3.1953)
Picture a battlefield where soldiers are being wounded. Those who go
to the help of the wounded are filled with compassion; they serve
friend and foe alike at the risk of their own lives, like a mother
serving her children. There is no doubt about their human kindness and
the value of their service. But they cannot stop war. Their service is
bound up with a society which accepts war. One and the same war
machine has two parts, one to kill, the other to rescue the wounded.
The contrast between these two functions is clear; everyone can see
that one is cruel and the other merciful. War is made up of the
cruelty of the one and the humanity of the other, and both work
together to ensure that war goes on. To speak in the blunt language of
science, so long as we accept war at all we are guilty of its crimes,
wehther we fight or whether we nurse the wounded. I have given this
example to show that we must not imagine that we can create a merifcul
govenrment by a few mericful actions. Government in essence means
from "Gramdan: A Comprehensive Concept" (speech at the Gramdan
Conference at Yelwal, Mysore, 12.9.57)
The Upanishad regards the production of more food as a religious duty,
to be sealed by a vow. I am no traditionalist. I say that only if
science and <i>ahimsa</i> -- that is to say, spiritual knowledge --
are joined together, then heaven can come on earth, and for that, as
many people as possibly must be engaged not only in agriculture but in
industry. But everyone ought to have some direct experience of
agriculture also. Nothing, not even religious music and ritual,
contributes so much as agricultural work to the steadying of the mind
as well as to the health of the body. So every family should be given
at leat half an acre of land; the remainder may be farmed
the further this walks
the more this understands
the less this understands
the shortness of this path
this knows no justice --
if a boy of such age and hair
can walk into a temple of everliving saints
and having failed the domain of worldly pursuits
be fed and clothed and housed and otherwise
taught the dharma out of the great and vastness of
the human Heart?
for what has he done?
to deserve this opulence,
to be stuffed full of God's splendor and riches and rotli
and even the golden hue of the late afternoon sun off
a courts yard of neem trees.
where gandhi himself walked spoke and slept?
the perfume of orange rind hanging still in the air
a dusty city of commerce all around him
and this barefooted wandered alone
with three beds and running water and the
infinite gift of solitude at his disposal?
what possibly could he have done? what prayers
could they have said for him? may your son be honored
in all lands and epochs as the vagrant incarnation of
combless and wiry:
let him be rolled in ghee, drown in fruit,
laugh at the priests and wink at the maidens!
So I made it to Kerala, I'm terrible about calling people to let them
know I'm safe, but it's happened. A thirty hour train is a great place
to get sick and I did but I auto-reikid my way out of it with the help
of some nellika (amalki, amli, indian gooseberry, fruit of eternal
life), to find myself catching a bus from Calicut (Kozhikode) to
Sulthan Batthery last night and what was that for sale in the fruit
Yes, yes, oh oh yes. At 35 Rs. a kilo and none too sweet at that but
still a yellowing-red Indian mango. And the skies parted and darkness
shied her face and the angels dusted their bansuris blowign out
"Hari Om Tat Sat Jai Guru Datt"
And I bought two to take to Bosemash and all was right with the world.
So, welcome to Kerala, tripper. I got to his house and his first words
after "What a great surprise" (apparently CBose doesn't check his
email...) was "Now you will change into a lungi" and I did and I know
-- for this time in my life at least -- everything has changed. I wake
up to the wrestling of two little girls jabbing at me in Malayalam
(which I will learn, dammit, if I have to stoop to prayer to get it
done) and I'll never wear pants again and it's the dry season in the
wet country and the way the water beads on the flat wide leaves almost
punctures my hard heart and makes me cry.
I spent the train ride down here reading throught the 90 pages of
typed notes I have from last trip's dandi yatra and felt strangely
unmoved. I'll work it into something with punctuation no doubt, and
how much I'm not sure. But it'll be a good daily work for my time
here, in addiiton to the flute and the meditation. I feel like I'm
sinking deeper and deeper into that -- karuna sagar -- that ocean of
compassion that is out there, beckoning and chuckling quietly, waiting
for its lost tribes to sit up, lay aside their spectacles, exhale, and
let themselves drown...
black panthers head back to the motherland:
One of the fallout ideas from these last few weeks of trainings and
studies -- first with the Grandmother in New York, secondly with a
foreign-tongued Goenkaji in Dholka, and most recently with Sri
Mukeshanandji at the Santaram Mandir in Nadiad -- was some clarity on
this idea of meditation, gathering, reflection, and fees.
To collect myself, some points of preface
1. Part of what I realized with Mukeshji and the Ramana Maharshi
meditations, part of what I realized listening to my heart and
attempting this act of submission to the Oversoul as Guru, is that all
these amazing Revelations, Ideas, Visions, and Poetry with which I'm
blessed during my supposed meditations are actually (wouldn't you
know) distractions from What's Really Going On, and my attachment to
them (and boy am I attached) is holding me -- back I wont say -- but
holding me to Where It Is I Am. Not for better nor worse, but for what
it is (what it is).
2. It does feel good to have answered the dream -- to have listened to
the Master who told me (the night before I booked my ticket for India,
I believe, sometime in October), when I rose my meditative posture
because I felt something had gone terribly wrong, and went up to the
Master for advice to reveal to him my understanding -- the Master who
opened his eyes and sterned at me "You Need Training". I feel like,
explicity, that's what I've been doing the last couple of weeks, and
what I will continue, in a different form, today, as my flute practice
3. In the practice and history of Reiki there is a telling that the
Master (Usui) came down from the mountain blessed with this amazing
prana-shakti gift of being able to heal people at will, and good
Christian that he was, immediately went into the lepers quarter filled
with the listless and begging, to heal out of the goodness and warmth
of his soul. In typical protestant-myth style, the lazy beggers,
though healed of their afflication, continued to be a curse to society
and changed not their lifestyles a whit.
Now, political context and moralizing aside, the key takeaway for
Reiki is that you're supposed always to charge for instructions. Seems
like a bit of a complicated plot -- at times -- to me, but I take the
point that it helps motivation sometimes to charge for a godly
service. Why that charge should have any relation to the spectacular
economy of sin and despair is beyond me...
I went to meditate at a house in Santa Clara a few months ago, having
just returned from India and in need of some brown faces. It was
organized by Brother Nippun, Sister Guri, and family -- a beauty
weekly Wednesday event of an hour of silent meditation followed by an
hour of silent dinner, all provided as a gift to the public that the
world may have peace. The whole energy -- the event, the humans, the
Gujarati food, the openness -- was so beautiful I immediately decided
to flatter it by starting the same practice in Sequim, and from the
first week I was there we did a similar thing, every Tuesday at 19h00,
which I think still continues on license from the snow, under the
casual direction of my mother and Neilu Auntie (as she is known here
And everywhere I go, now, for some reason, people are asking me to
"teach" them to meditate (as if they don't already know) which I
interpret as code for "be an excuse for us to carve out some silence".
Which I'm happy to do as I need such as excuses as much as the next
human. And it occured to me, during this Vipassana time when I should
have been submitting my mind and casual thoughts to The Great Beyond,
that I should charge. I should charge a commitment that each person
with whom we sit in this manner should hold a sort of open meditation
event in their personal space, inviting at least other person and
perhaps many more, preparing a dinner, accepting no offerings, and
serving the stillness and sustenance in silence. And then sending me
(or Neilu) (or Nippun) (or Goenkaji) (or Jesus) a postcard.
So there's that. It's a way of changing the world almost as easy as
wrapping all your holiday presents in cloth instead of paper, a la
ancient Japanese and the contemporary Nobel laureate Ms. Wangari
06 December 2006
leaving in 18 hours for a 36 hour train ride back to chandrabose and
the land of jaca (out of season) and the flute (perennially now). i
will attend to email and the voluminous notes i have from three days
of deeply insightful ramana maharshi style meds when i get down there.
never fear i am rolling through the white elephants of india with 1.5
pairs of clothes, doctor bronners, and a laptop.
nothing of course is mine but im learning how to use It All.
ps buy the cookbook im low on money (http://cookbook.somethingconstructive.net)
black panthers head back to the motherland:
03 December 2006
"So what do you want from India, Andrew?"
"Bunch of big mushroom shroom Tablets."
And I was thinking about Soma and Amanita Muscaria and inviting you up
for chai (to Cholmes' house) when I woke up in my uncle's house and
was like, Damn, it's good to have friends.
Cholmes' place is at 103rd st at 48th st at 94th st and 3rd ave on the
Upper East Side. We drove there after a wild night of SAB [ small
amount of booyam ] in Manhattan, randomly finding an alternative music
store in the 6AM light when you had given a melody line to something
you heard at the party. And the owner had tracked it down to a
Brazilian-Italian genius whose debut was in 1941 and now only makes
high-priced t-shirts in Barcelona. He playd the record for us, though
it was warped and white with light printing on the jacket.
Before that in the grimy bowels of NYC where we ran into the guy you
had given shrooms to earlier and his pupils were wider than the LOVE;
we climbed up many flights of spiral staircase in a wretched grey
building only to emege at the top of a hill past two twin gatekeeper
panhandlers in the rising sun and birds chirping of the East Village
that seemed to offer some clean and redemption to the world. I wanted
not to trouble Andrew and walk home to Cholmes, crossing westside to
sight the remants of Times Square noctural mayhems, to put it all
together and accept darkness and light. But he drove me up.
This is all afer a party at someone's large house where I was drinking
curacao blue martinis with Bombay Sapphire and no blue curacao. The
color was real and the house maybe belonged to my fiancee's father.
The chairs were plush and leather and live tabla music and it was
good, all good. I don't remember eating but it had been too much I
know and I wanted to rest before our run but instead of running we
just jogged to the car, up the curved street of the subdivision,
picked little plastic green astroturf threads off the stalks (bright
white, no caps) and ingested.
Cholmes' house was in the save curved lifeless California subdivision,
entirely populated by Indians. The party might have been at his house,
even. Before leaving we did some math collecting tips from the
waitresses because Andrew's mushroom money had somehow gotten in
there. But we both knew our math. I asked about the other address --
342A in Brooklyn, where I had said -- and Andrew made something up
while I was talking to the rental guy. I rented either a movie or that
fusion album in some weird hardware format and the guy said he would
find me on Lost Mountain if I didn't give it back. Crossing the street
back to Andrew was almost hit several times and I flipped off all the
traffic demonstratively, swinging my extended arm back and forth to
indicate all those hurried murderous folk until I saw the line of NYPD
behind the car (which had transformed from a Chelsea Clinton suburban
to Nirali's Indian smallcar). So I got in and we bailed for the Upper
What else? I seldom dream about the psychadelic experience -- did Acid
once last summer dreaming in Kuppadi, maybe with Neilu and Matt.
Yesterday came out of 3 days of Vipassana where I understood (be
honest, Ankur) virtually none of the discourse or instruction, as they
were in indi. So I spent 3 days in silence meditating and learned
nothing of Vipasssana though it was a great set of experiences. So
much beauty in the world. So much. After, Nirali explained to me, upon
request, distributing jewels with care from her box of treasures (I
don't think she's the type to expain things; I felt honored) -- that
Vipassana "to see things as they really are" is a very powerful and
subtle technique used to understand the true natue of reality as
movement, flux, vibration. Starting with that which we're most
attached to, that to which we harbor the most desires: the body. And
of course that we desire most, are most subjective about, is that
which we have the most trouble seeing clearly.
Here I am sitting for hours trying to bludgeon or at least ward away
the shooting pain in my knee-hip complex, using Goenkaji's magic
"anitya" as a scarab.
But no, Ankur, the idea is to watch. To take yourself out and to see
clearly, to truly see what is happening.
"I think we see some small -- less than 1% -- of the beauty of this
world all around us, and even then we feel such immense gratitude.
She went on describing perfectly what I've sought to understand
through meditation over the past two years and what I came closest to
feeling during my first (and only) 10 days Vipassana sit last October.
That is, the feeling you get from Acid. My first psychadelic
experience which changed my life entirely, reoriented my relationship
to women, to desire, to life, to gods, to the planet, to Stanford, to
the permissable, to the imaginable, to the point of it all. Which I
credit, for the sake of simplicity, in making me te person I am today,
which has in large part been an intention, constructive, and rigorous
project. (in progress)
An effective, too, if new friends of mine are shocked I can program
computers, had short hair most of my life, and grew up playing indoor
games in the shadow of the best hiking in the country.
It's true. It's the unifying truth of what I call the psychadelic
experience - that suite of experiences, by virtue of my pathological
misspelling, that i will define as the experiences which touch the
Divine, defining then the Divine as that experience of pure
observational bliss, whose ego has melted back into the ocean, when
the purest most overwhelming urge overtakes you of GRATITUDE for LOVE.
"So much love. So much love to give."
And your only response is to fall to what's left of your knees
(biologically or psychologically selon the experience) and mime a beg
to be given the opportunity to express your gratitude.
I've had this experience through eros, philos, and agape, through
dance, music, and museums, with the aid of meditation, fasting, sleep
deprivation, and alcohol. Bust most often and most powerfully through
the psychedelic plant teachers -- and here I've learned to make little
distinction between that which the Amazon crafted without or within
our laboratories -- LSD25, MDMA, 2CB, various species of psylocibin
mushrooms, cacti, ayahuasca, etc.
And most recently, through life in India. So I've come around I guess,
towards elucidating a response to those questions so often put to me
-- "why do you serve? "why are going to india" --
I serve out of the gratitude I fail to describe above.
I came back to learn more about this pillar of the psychadelic temple;
for travel is no less foreign, external, or dangerous than the
synthesis of 10 silent sitting days or a laboratory crystal. Nor
should it be. A trip to India is no less a cry for help to the spirits
than the sacred ingestion of Mother Mary's Mushrooms or the Vine of
And I find myself locked in a quarter of fascinating and ever-odius
comparison among the four aspects of the Self which help to
anesthetize, to balance, the self: Acid, Ayahuasca, Meditation and
India. These four differ for me, qualatively, from the passions and
pursuits of the body -- the fasting and the sex and the music and art
-- and I'm not sure why. But that, I think, is what these writings
have always wanted to, and are now openly licensed, to be about.
Never failing to include, of course, the people I meet -- angled
shards of the godhead -- along the way, the ways in which my seva
manifests as I follow that holy dictate which came to me,
psychedelically, through one medium or another:
"walk the earth
talk to strangers
speak the truths
many and the one"
Which -- lastly now -- brings to mind a poem Rama always insisted I
read, late into the morning, encroaching upon a simmering sambar lunch
atop the cocina economica, well into our 3rd bottle of wine --
CONDENA [ por Ricardo Guiraldes ]
El crepusculo habia hecho caer mis brazos
en el recuerdo de sus movimientos.
y el horizonte me dijo:
Sobre la tierra,
Entre los hombres,
Dentro de tu pensamiento
GOD makes everything so easily. so easy, rather. Here I am trying to
compose a leter in my arabian scrawl and in sruts the boy servant,
humming. his name (and here the spanish is more accurate, for i only
know, rather, what they call him) is Vala, or Karu ("blackie"). he is
a slight child of 9 or 10 who spends his days scrubbing the floors,
brining people water, and -- most demandingly -- moving pillows and
thin indian matresses (matices?) upstairs in the morning and
downstairs in the evening, to and from my room (the storeroom). which
is to say he watches a lot of television and serves as a sort of
existential therapist for my aunts, who can release the stress of
middle class living (it's tough oppressing people and living off of
the blood of the masses. and i'm not being sarcastic. it is tough. i
do it too. in an unjust world, everybody suffers -- because the many
are one -- it's just the textures that look different in the
so they can yell at him and order him to do things and even be nice to
him and all of it. it's a good service he does for them (god's work)
and a good service they do for him (god's work), taking a kid out of
school, home, and family to work and support his own.
if there was a point i could localize beneath the general WHOA of life
here and pervasive background crushing feeling of it being out of
mango season, it's that Vala comes in this morning and sees me writing
and I fumble for the words (what's it called for the thoughts that
come in your sleep?) and tell him I'm writing down my dreams. Which is
true for an hour ago and more interesting then love letters by a long
So he's "ooh" interested and I'm lie, "yeah, you know, it's pretty
important because when you're sleping your mind is shut so all the
thoughts when they do come where do they come from not me and not you
but from well it must be god." And he "ooh"s, still interested and
sure it's not exactly true but if i could translate the level of
detail to which i understand the distinction between (there are no
distinctions, mr. shah) conscious and unconscious selves, selves and
the Self, or what in my meditations ("go see mali"), dreams ("go to
brazil"), travels ("plant trees at LMO"), and trips ("BE LOVE TO ALL
AMAZON NOW") come from which God where and what percentage was buried
desire or higher self, well, it wouldn't be exactly true either.
"ooh" still interested. do you read? turns out slight Vala is
fourteen-fifteen (it's how he said it) and doesn't read in english,
gujarati, or hindi (this with some sadness, he said) and has been
serving here for five months and been working in general now some five
my language skills are still tumble dry of course but enough to want
to teach him gujarati those hours of the day he's wathing televesion,
and to know that i'm not really the man for the job, that dealing with
the criticism of the other servants and masters will require a more
eloquent saint than me. luckily i am bien enchufado in the world of
little gandhis and teresitas and im sure ill find one tonight during
my shift at the Seva Cafe. the key would be for the tutor to come to
the house at the downtimes, so the master wouldnt feel they were
losing their safetym their comfort, their opwer. they'd probably
clamour for attention at first with commandeering distractions but
eventually -- like all children when faced with a new game -- want to
join in and help with the play soon after.
after which maybe the little gandhi teresa figure could go to the next
house or hood ("society", as they say here, by which they can tell
your class status and whether marriage would be a step up or down)
where Vala's brother (literally, biologically) works, leaving a trail
of intimate master-servant pedagogistry in his/her holy wake. that's
the lotus that bloooms in my mind at least, always brashly searching
for a way out of a good situation, making sure the operator has my
exit in hand.
last week erik poiunted out that with such a vareity of projects and
concerns and localities and affinities in tumult in my
spacetimebodymind (for lack of the appopriate german term) I really
could use a partner. his way of telling me to "settle down" perhaps.
but i can take anything well from erik and it is No Small Wonder to me
that i've basically -- somehow, wittingly or not -- arranged my life
in ignorance or defiance of that principle, and yet despite
everything, throughout it all there have been people to love and to
support me, wanting and trying so hard to be my partner in whatever
capacity i needed.
again, this false antagonism of the sacred and profane persists -- in
seeing this i see those moments of overwhelming GRATITUDE in biblical
inundation as rivulets in a vast and desolate landscape of
do you eat? www.somethingconstructive.net/jamanta
from a letter to a friend of mine:
on the way to the post office a human zoomed by on a scooter -- all
humans on scooter here this is the india -- legs together up front (as
it should be, thats why how they were made) and brightly lettered
that about sums it up. india full of constant reminders and cows
pecking at dumpsters. then at the post office there was some cultural
enrichment program aimed at me (and a dot matrix printed sign for
everybody else; my life has enough signs and visions, let this be a
MESSAGE CODES FOR MONEY ORDERS
1. Kindly Acknowledge Receipt Of This Money Order
2. Please Accept This Offering
4. With Best Wishes
5. For Your School / College Fees
6. Wishing You A Happy Birthday
7. Thanks for Rakhee
8. With The Best of Wishes For Married Life
9. With The Best of Wishes For Your Anniversary
just so we all know the acceptable occasions for sending money in this
culture. what i was later surprised to note was the absence of an
"Official Bribe" designation, but i guess that falls under #2.
later that day I get in the car with my cousin A---- and we go to the
Hotel President. there's some investory in effect (you cash and your
jewelry is what i expect) so we roll to the Hoter Inder Residency and
walk down to the basement entrance which smells a bit like a wine
seller. it is, in fact, a sort of all purpose cave, that only
five-stars are legally allowed to have in dry, dry gujarat.
and i'm not joking about the dry. the climate here is such that i'm
constipated upon arrival and my skin starts to itch and flake in wild
unshaven masses. i'm constantly looking for sesame oil or lavendar
body lotion to recover that lustry shine and morning movement to which
i have -- admittedly -- become so attached.
gujarat is also the only dry state in india, alcohol-wise, because it
is the state of gandhi. i'm sure i've lamented enough in the past that
gandhi's only real legacy here (besides a certain saint jayeshbhai and
his merry band of sadhaks) is prohibition and, india-wide, his face on
every (that i've seen) denomination of the money. can you imagine the
millions of gandhi-laden bills that change hands each day, witness to
prostitution, narco-trafficiking, bribery, extortion, vote-buying,
etc? the joy of the spectacle, part 342A.
anyhow, he walks me in and has me turn over my passport and i learn
the drill. buying alcohol is prohibited except to foreigners, who must
register with a valid foreign passport, and are then allowed to buy
alcohol once a week for up to three months, a maximum of 20 bottles of
beer or 2 bottles of whiskey each month. in addition to the cost of
the liquor, bribes are paid casually to every member of the office,
incuding the porter who puts your beer in the car. the beaurocrats --
who were very, very nice people -- took the time to separate their
money from the cost of the liquor upon putting it in the drawer, which
for me for the best part. besides them trying to play my flute, them
being impressed with my rudimentary skills (i can pretty much always
get a note out of her these days), and them thinking i was some sort
of strange saint.
the flagrancy of the whole affair was Garish. it brought me back to my
karma of having bought so much alcohol (often 300 dollars at a time,
each week) my first few years of college, illegally. walking into
E----- with my buyer and pointing to this, this this, and that, having
handed over the money in the car. then walking out as he paid and
meeting him in the car, with some fear but mostly total emphatic glee.
and now here i am trying to fit into gandhiji's frail and exacting
mold, and what is the ONE activity my family wants me to do with them
-- we don't even eat together -- but buy liquor. they have no cares as
to whom I go out with and which meditation camp i leave to, but Uncle
V---- made damn sure i better be home at 11 am today to get the family
so there's that. and i'll never forget myself thanking profusely (so
much God! so much Gratitude!) my buyer and vowing how much alcohol i
would buy for minors when it came to be my turn. oh, yes. now i have
walked 400 kilometers of gandhi's soul and have a stamp in my
(burgeoning) passport from the gujarati liquor board. yes. yes. yes.
02 December 2006
been india for a week and still havent written about new york. three
days in a vipassana jail and im either a new man or the same one i was
eleven years ago, shy and afraid of destiny.
there's only one love but the TT says south on the vernal express back
to chandrabose. always remember young earthwalkers: if you get
confused, just like to the mu-sic play.
address for the next acidic while:
psychadelic indan fairy tales (and breakfast recipes) to come.
do you eat? www.somethingconstructive.net/jamanta
16 November 2006
details to come, we hope. but i should be arriving on the 22nd or 23rd
of november and staying for a couple of months. mostly in gujarat and
kerala like last time, and, as always, unsure of the balance.
mailing address for music nutella and other sundries would be:
83 Tapovan Society
Gujarat 380 015
one billion people. one love.
21 August 2006
it's all a test. and everybody wins. all the time. except the board
exams. speaking of which, last week in the great golden state of
california, as part of my Circle of Grand Reconciliation, i spent a
few hours at my father's house in south san jose.
there could be a lot to delve into but the most memorable of the
ephemera was the cooking, as always. his wife, apu, who has been
working hard for the last twenty years, taught me a quick version of
[ a delightful indian snack or breakfast, spongy goodness with
titilating flavors and wheat free at that ]
for the 'cake':
1 bowl of besun (check pea flour)
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of ENO
2 tsp of sugar
for the 'icing'
2 tsp of sugar
1. the first and most important question is "WHAT IS ENO". and, just
as naturally, im not really sure. it looked like a small bottle cost
25 rupees in the motherland and the only decipherable characters
spelled "fruit salt". in apu's word, it was a "chemical ferment" like
"soda" but whereas too much soda ruins the flavor, "too much eno and
no problem". in the altogether likely event that you dont have ENO, i
would use a smaller quantity of baking soda. if you're aversa to soda,
i would add a bit of yeast and let it sit for 12 hours. which is
probably the original recipe anyhow.
2. you'll need a steamer. a steamer is a pot with water in it, a metal
ring or someother device to gain lift, and a metal plate to place on
top of the ring. so whatever is in the plate will be steamed. heat the
water before proceeding.
3. mix together the besun, salt, sugar, ENO, and a wee bit of turmeric
for the color. slowly add water, constantly mixing, to produce an even
batter. you want the batter to be thick but mobile, closer to muffins
4. when well mixed, light, and airy, pour/scrape the batter into the
metal plate (greased!) and set it to steam. it should take exactly 7
minutes and 40 seconds. if not it will be RUINED so be careful. hah.
5. as it steams like a happy and vegetarian mollusk, chop your
cilantro and shred your coconut. if you have another burner, toast the
mustard seeds in oil, add the asofetida and green chiles (trisected).
fry for a bit and add a cup of water (10:1 water:oil) and the sugar.
simmer until sugar has absolved itself of any prior sins.
6. when it's steamed, test it for rigorous completeness as you would a
cake. switch the steam pan for another one (you'll make at least two,
i'm sure). let the first kaman cool.
7. as each kaman cools, sprinkle sesame seed, coconut, and cilantro
liberally on top. after it cools for a few minute, poor the spicy
syrup over the top, letting the greedy risen besun soak up all the
ready to eat. great breakfast food. thank you apu.
i hear the mangos are going out of season.
and it singapore its not even considered the king.
so we're at the sunset lap of this fateful weblog, with just one
meditating musketeer in the wild infinitudes of the motherland.
there's a lot to catch up upon, personally and pubicly, and i'll be
damned if i do it now.
yoyo ma is yodling thanks to brasil (in the other room) and i'm
recovering from a reintroduction to gasoline, consumer culture, social
drinking, (they might as well be) naked women, and free internet.
and the land, the gorgeous infinite depths of beauty of the land. of
my own barn -- collapsing in on itself with a universal right. i can
feel the pull, the energy that drew me here. and now, three days
later, i'm almost ready to flee.
13 August 2006
After my first steps into Chennai, I still think that I can find my way to the bus station and travel cheap. Let's remember that now I have a full backpack and a hug bag with a tabla. Not only do I stick out as a TOURIST, but I quickly realize the bus idea is not going to work. I am just staring at the guys that have one foot and one hand barely on the bus, the rest of their bodies are hanging outside the door and being pushed out by all the other bodies hanging on with only a prayer that some other vehicle does not get too close to the bus. So I ask a rickshaw, how much to the Shivananda Yoga center. I have some address written down and have no idea where it is. He says 150 points. I ask, do you know where it is? He says yes a little too quickly as he talks to his friend. So I turn to another rickshaw, an older guy, and say do you know where this is? He says he thinks so. How much? I don't know exactly, we will have to ask some people on the way. I am at least getting a real answer, so I look at him longer cause I gotta get a ballpark range, so he says maybe 40-70 points. Okay, at least he seems more honest. The ride was easy, we talked the whole way there, he pointed out things to see, he talked about his two children and how he loves his daughter too much and she loves him too much. We make two u-turns trying to find the Food World, which is the only land mark to find the yoga center. I get out, with him feeling bad that he keeps on passing the Food World and I have bags to carry. I tell him not to worry and give him 100 points. Still wishing I gave him more, but he was happy.
Then, after being at the yoga center for a day, I had to go find the beach and mangos. So I ask some guy on the street for 2 kilos of mango. He has a huge set up with signs identifying the 20 to 30 to 40 pointers, I went with the 30 pointers. He weighs the two kilos on the balance that you don't even find in american classrooms any more cause it is such an ancient way of measuring. But it just reminds me of Iran, and I love it. Anyway, the mango side hits the bottom, so he puts a mango on the other side with the weights. Nothing budges. Now we are both laughing and he still gives me all the mangos. So I got one mango for free and then some. Life is good.
After being in the nice beachy yoga neighborhood, I have to move to the real part of the city. Now I am in the middle of it all and looking for mangos again. At the end of the road, there are a couple fruit stands. So I try one guy. He is an older, skinny guy. His wife is sitting to the left of the stand, very quiet, depressed, overweight. He is in your face, and we start bargaining. I get two kilos. Suddenly he turns to his wife and yells at her to get a bag quite violently with his hands flying in the air in disgust. Of course I don't speak the language, but it sounds like, "you piece of shit, lazy, good for nothing woman, get a bag and do something for god's sake." My heart drops and I just put my bag out cause I do not need a bag. I have my own bag. And then we argue over the price of some bananas. I just can't take it any more. So I leave saying maybe tomorrow I will buy bananas. Will you be here tomorrow? No. He wants to make the sale now. I look at him and say again, you will not be here tomorrow? What about the next day? No, you have to buy now.
Tomorrow arrives, I go back down the street. And I make a point to buy two kilos of mangos from the other lady just two stands down from the old man. He can see me buying mangos and is waving. I ignore him. As I walk by him on my way home, I acknowledge him. He tries to get close and touch my hand, which I forgot to say that he did yesterday. Do I even need to say that if I was Indian, he would never touch my hand. I move to avoid any more contact with this slimy man. He says, "my customer!" I just look at him and say that he told me he would not be here. I leave and still just feel horrible about the wife situation. I just know she is getting beaten at home. And the thought just still sickens me. I want to just give her enough money to get out of that situation. But money can't solve all the problems. At least we can make a statement with where we decide to buy food.
04 August 2006
1. from ankur in abad:
i spent the morning at the ESI (http://www.esi.org.in/) today, where
"mr. toilet" has his offices. an inspiring collection of shitter and
they gave me books on how to build my own, all varieties of composting
toilets, with and without "biogas" collection facilities. so,
basically, we're all psyched. and as jayeshbhai likes to say, "we dont
just invite people to come for lunch, we invite them after lunch as
2. from neilu in tamil nad:
tonight will be my last night at ramana maharshi's. learned many
things to do and not to do at lost mountain, unless you are into
almost naked, life size, photos of yourself up in every room. of
course i was thinking we could compromise and just put up life size
photos of dolphins up everywhere?!? but life is good.
03 August 2006
august 2nd. wednesday?
what an amazing and ridiculous day. starting with the welcome to gujarat series and quickly blossoming into a suite of Manav Sadhana miracles and meditative chats with (the one and only) rahul brown. and how do i feel? pretty shitty.
i showed up to meet rahul at jayeshbhai's house around noon. jayeshbhai is a personality in Manav Sadhana, this amazing (really its the only word) organization (too good, too real, too true to call an NGO) which has dozens of projects in ahmedabad all based in god and gandhi, giving and giving and giving, helping organize women workers and teach slum children and give away awesome food to the middleclass and set up fair trade boutiques and build toilets and basically All of It.
for his daughter's 11th birthday they invited all the ragpicking (trash-sorting) women from a nearby slum to have a sumptuous meal. we, the volunteers and foreigners, did the cooking and the cleaning. so i helped wash 100 thalis and just basked in the warm glow of thanks from 100 women to whom this meal was a straight-up benediction. with jayeshbhai playing the role of saint (id cast him every time) introducing me in the middle of lunch (late as always) as the boy who walked in gandhi's footsteps and though i may not be capable of blushing having the adoring gaze of 100 women who have worked and suffered more in a day than i perhaps ever will (excepting always my tortured postmodern career angst) certainly gets me close.
the fun never stops with manav sadhana and before the afternoon was over rahul had divulged to me the secrets of his personal meditative path (he started when he was eight) culiminating in some special members-only yoga cult and wild praise of a certain deva known as amaji, in whose mere presence he said five minutes of meditating got you as high as 3-4 hours of meditating, otherwise. this is the same woman whom a sprightly dreaded diesel mechanic once told me about -- while saving our truck's mechanical ass in the parking lot of the Port Towsend Food Co-op -- "amaji, man. she's throwing the best parties in the solar system right now".
even before the climax, shit was way too good and intense -- im still reeling from 40 hours of train overmind procesing and having just left matt, neilu, chandrabose, suharata, kanavu, kuppadi, and coconuts -- and i had to get out. like when i'm dancing for two hours and there's four more to go but so much of the ego wants to leave because... well, shit, i don't know.
jayeshbhai floated by at some moment and drafted me to cook an american breakfast for 170 people the day after tomorrow. a momentary drift of english and somehow written into my consciousness as if in stone.
the last download from this go(o)dly forest of benevolence was a conversation with heena about smilecards, a situationist kitch technique of getting people to Be. every story she regaled us with was better than the last until we were all on the point of tears at the goodness and vulnerability of (wo)mankind, sitting there amidst soft and gorgeous bedspreds and handicrafts manifest by women artisans in the dusty villages of gujarat.
a little much. a little awesome. so why am i not breathlessly ecscatic? why did i leave the party after the combined om/happybirthday singing to come home to a family with whom i can share approximately nothing, where i contribution nothing at all save more work for the servants?
these people, i think, are doing god's work. exactly was the situationists and marxists and psychadelicians and all my other teachers and guides and intellectual influences inspire me to do. women's collectivies. smiling at strangers. extraordinary acts of kindness. and i'm shocked by it, into silence, retreat, and even refusal.
of course, it must be the go. there are no other doors at which to lay this blame. my ego can't handle it. perhaps, though i enjoy and eagerly anticipate its predictable and immediate abolition in the psychedelic voyage, i can't quite handle the presence of people doing and being i want to be and do. maybe i feel shitty, puny, insignificant. a failure. a waste of potential. a cog. a robot. useless.
it's bizarre. have i been avoiding these friends and teachers, who look upon me as an equal and a friend, for years? i have no idea and it makes me want to stop, once and for all, the ceaseless whirring of my brain. sometimes i feel like the only use i have in the The Social Wiggle comes out of my intellect, helping people understand the difference between the structures of capitalism and the dynamics of a market economy, the dangers of the dualism in separating altruism from selfishness, and another purely intellectual concerns. and here i am trying to make music and do reiki and be love and maybe i should just Turn Around once again and start reading. which i really want to be done with. but, you know?
in a twist of self-referential trapping, indulging in these thoughts and words only furthers the conundrum. and the only other live option is to go downstairs to dinner. which i feel i don't deserve.
you can't beat india. an especially not gujarat. it's the fundamdentalist heart of the indian experience. of mine, at least. in all its beauteus and terroible, tasty and disgusting, divine and profane ways. i tried to fast on the train train and was forced delicacies i had dreamt about for weeks. i tried to take the bus, avoiding _scores_ of autos looking for an easy fix, and eventually capitulated to a guy offering a ten point ride (the bus is six) closer to my uncles' house. unbeatable. if on principle, to stand with the common man (or collapse, writhing, perhaps) i wouldn't have budged for less than five points, the gods would have made it happen. just to spite me. or to teach me, rather. my principles are so small compared to their reality.
i arrive at 8h00 to my uncles' cool living room. he is barely awake, huge, and kind. the family took a four day trip to goa, for 3700 points per person. free cocktails and mocktails from eleven to eleven. swimming, dancing. breakfast of eleven items. lunch of twenty-two itms. afternoon breakfast of four items. evening meal of twenty items. five star. AC rooms. very good time.
i find myself regretting not being there, though it would have obvsiously been hellish. instead i was meditating and practicing music ten-twelve hours a day with my best friend. free cocktails and mocktails eleven to eleven (dude).
"what is your program next?"
i tell my uncle, slowly, about my plans. the words come down to me from the ether, as if i had been beyond them all this time and just now could exhale, floating through a stratosphere of pure thought, ossifying into concept, to the realm of clunky verbal symbolism once again. the malayalam was gone. i was truly back in gujarat, in gujarati. surrounded by urine, pollution, and truly massive cows.
"i'm going to start a farm, an ashram. plant 108 fruit trees on my mother's ten acres of land. provide a space for meditation, yoga, art. where people can stay"
"VERY GOOD!" he's only lauded me once before, when he read "bar" alongside "restaurant" on the "o bigode" business card and discovered i too took part in the illcit pleasures of the sacred vine.
no, not that sacred vine.
"you will stay in one place, develop your mother's land. you can travel 15-20 dayseach year to the world that remains to you, but now you are stable. and you will finally make money. all this time you have been studying and spending money, we have been investing in you, and now you will make money."
he pondered a bit more, grew in felcity.
"before you were some selfish. always traveling, studying, for yourelf. now you can give back to society, share what you have learned, and take their money. in your own style. you like these mental [mansic] things, this meditation. good! now you sell it!"
one can only nod. nine months in the mothers womb. one can only nod.
"you must understand, now. you can't go anywhere without money. you have to pay for train tickets. now they can pay! it's not that you must think about money or focus on money, but you always need money and you must have money always. that is all."
nb: im planning on perhaps using the above as a sort of epilogue to my stories about the salt march privelege, the gandhi march, which i walked last march/april. it seems just about right.
after twentyfour hours of silence and fasting on my part -- and no one else's -- relegated by some kind of luck to a chilly AC compartment, i'm finally Thrown. back into contact with myself, my past, my family, my culture: the gujarati uncle.
three months and countless coconuts into my recessional memory and, no, my dear, they are exactly the same.
[ all translations are my own ]
"so, you don't have much happiness in talking?" as we are making our beds. "umm, i don't know much words"
everything comes to mind in malayalam. i need to let go. of that which i never had. i'm translating their gujarati into malayalam to understand it, filling in the gaps in my knowledge of each langauge with wild fantasy.
my confusion, obstinacy, and reluctance to be traveling so far northward, so fast, and so far from my pastured jungle are lost on the trio of moustached uncles. they laugh and i fall asleep to typical mercantile conversation of capital investment, rent extract, interest rates and commodities prices. i am born to be a merchant, a peddler, a middleman. to travel across deserts in search of damascan steel. to swap futures options of corn and soybean, sight unseen. it's all been written in character sets i've stopped trying to decipher. all of it.
by the morning we had crossed the border. i dreamt violently of mycology and cocktails, interminable millipodic spaceship teepees and the peace of cancerous growth. i could face them. homecoming is an infinite series. first the imaginary border shifting my imaginary comprehension of indiankind's imaginary tounges. then these three unknown men, to each other equal as to me, full of gruff and caring words, ordering eachother to tuck away their shoes (before the chaiman cometh) and move eachother's bags (where the much anticipated breakfast would be stored). their terse tone becomes harsh and forceful in english, losing the sweetness of dharmic duty in rough programmatic translation. if you could translate all the information, the tonal semantics, it would be closer to "oh dearest brother upon this wild and luxuriant planet, dosoever move the duffel bag of your humble servant so our well-coiffed companion may lower the intermediate bunk" than "now, you move my bag". te juro.
they drank from my water bottle without asking -- water is a public good -- and i loved them for it. overcoming the manliness of it, the resemblance towards my estranged father, the habitual rawness and angularity i immediately feel upon facing a middle-aged indian man. a future self, as it were.
they want to know my work, from where i'm coming and to where i'm going, my qualifications, how much money i can make, how much my land cost and how big is my house. and nothing else. they are not concerned with my opinions on daniel pinchback's latest book nor how much of ken wilber's true insight comes straight out of sri aurobindo. they certainly aren't interested in post-capitalism, reusable plates, sexual liberation, or gandhi.
they ask --- obviously joking, they are the princes in paradise -- if i can take them with me, to amerika. but they really want to know my caste.
"ah yes", a smiling approval i always get when revealing i'm "vaishnavaya" and my grandfather lives in ambavadi (a middleclass hindu suburb. the same questions and the same answers, the words flood back to me. i've played this part so many times before and seldom with such relish.
anything i attempt to communicate outside their pointed queries is ignored or forgotten. i am back in gujarat. i am not the director. i cannot shape the discussion. this not a language, country, or culture where i have that kind of Power.
Inevitably, it is breakfast. in a miracle of charismatic power -- perhaps the only testament to what i've learned in nine months (feels like ninety) in the hypercontinent -- i successfully avoid being purchased tea. now, at the end of the long voyage, when i could use some sugar and spice and milky nicety, i deny it.
i accept freshdates from uncle's farm. i don't ask how big it is or how many laborers he owns or how much he pays them or what the minimum daily wage rate is. the dates are cruncy, slightly astringent, and excellent. i know better, now. there is nothing to make me happier than fresh organic fruit, save frisbees and dolphins. and how could they know?
they ask about my pants, all at once, the three of them. i mumble something about gandhi and kadhi, my own design, to justify the mixedup patterns and mango stains. the alugh and pronounce gandhi in the country dialect, "gone-dhi", and i love them for it. there's a short -- perhaps obligatory, im beginning to suspect -- diversion into how nobody cares anymore, obviously including themselves.
"you know, my parent are in USA but my mom is coming back. _see_. it's not like television there. she's been there 35 years and now she's coming back, to live in india." this decision -- to quit her job and move back to india, to take care of her father, was a joy and a revelation to me. my mom unplugging from the matrix. to uncle #2 it's totally self-evident. "yes of course. she must have made a lot of money. maybe 10 crores? naturally she'll come back" he's only thinking, "35 years, what took her so long?"
two divorces. but i dont say that. and a son who failed her every expectations. but i dont say that either.
uncle #3 opens the tub of thepla. thepla is my favorite gujarati cooked food. it's a rotli with fresh fenugreek leaves (methi) and spices rolled into the dough, cooked with oil until firm but pliable. spicy and indepedent of condiment. the ultimate train food. i eat one and note it's enough. im made to eat another and note its something More than enough. but, of course, we must finish the tupper. "oh, thank you, but i have to eat breakfast at my grandfathers! and ahmedabad is only twenty minutes away!".
laughter all around dipping into vague threats. dont worry about your fucking grandfather kid. if you dont eat these greasy floured leaves youll join the rest of those young revolutionaries under the tracks of the 6801. if you know what i mean.
its hard to tell the fantasy from the hallcuination from the weirdness of india so i ended up eating three more halves just to be sure. we're finished and i note it's quite more than enough, or even healthy, as we reach ahmedabad. "you've arrived". thanks. i gather my bags.
"no mobile phone?" no. "because gandhi didnt have one?" yes. or i lost mine in sri lanka. i smile, shake their hands, and leave to the tune to the tune of what went wrong with gandhi and india in general. i've heard it mostly before, senility and stubborness in old age, appointing nehru instead of sardar patel, etc....