17 July 2006


A few words from Neilu. Nearing the end of my stay in India, I am having an overwhelming feeling of the pure BEAUTY of things here. After weeks of feeling overwhelmed, frustrationed about not being able to speak the language, and dreaming of being an amazing tablaist, here is a post. Ank wishes I could have contributed every day. Guess this will have to do.

beautiful things
--another stanford grad that we met in kanava said last night that it is all about working with play, and then included creativity and art to describe what he is trying to create on a plot of land he has not bought yet in india. which brought up a strong visual memory of me hand washing clothes in a bucket of water at mali's grandparent's home many months ago while ank played the flute. granted, i actually enjoy hand washing clothes, but being able to listen and sing music while "working" does just make everything different.
--only using a bucket of water and a cup for showers. and finishing with coconut oil in the hair.
--i can't find a trash can anywhere in india.
--in the smaller towns, mirrors are rare. but even finding myself in a home that is financially well off i was surprised. the father is a lawyer, the family owns a house and has a maid cooking all the food. i walked into their bathroom. first of all, there was a toilet to sit on, which i haven't used in months. and after getting past the toilet, the nice tiles, etc. i noticed there was no mirror. so i did a little, "there is no mirror" dance knowing things will be different in america.
--infinite rice meals during lunch time in kerala for 13 points (1point=2pennies).
--commutes: whether i am travelling on foot, by bus, or rickshaw i have never been surrounded by so much amazing landscape. a few things i see everywhere are rice patty fields, cows, chickens, goats, coconut trees, jackfruits, mangos, women carrying firewood barefoot on their heads, people walking and talking everywhere in the streets, and monkeys congregating on the ledge of a huge cliff filled with fruit trees and vegetation in the monsoon
--listening to my music teacher playing the tabla or flute and taking everyone in the room to some far off place. and watching him enter his zone of pure emptiness filled with this vibration from a piece of bamboo or wood covered in goat skin. the playing may only last a few minutes, but i feel like the music in forever. (hopefully that is a good enough reason for him to say that music is his first marriage, then his wife.)
--8am at my music teachers home. i get to watch him put make-up on his two daughters, ages around 3 and 6. this involves black eyeliner under the eyes, on the eyebrows, and a dot between the eyebrows. this is not the pencil eyeliner i have seen used in the states, but the black smuggy stuff that is put inside the lower eyelid.
--walking to work with my music teacher's wife. she just got this job this week after paying some guy 300points weeks ago promising a job weeks ago. then entering the city and finding out that there is no job for her. now she is down 300pts, equivalent to two hours of music lessons for my teacher or almost equivalent to half a month's wages for a woman doing office work. and after some depression in this situation, and me practicing the sedona method with her, she is now rushing to work every morning at 8:30am. but the beautiful part is the walk. we cut off the dirt road to take a short cut, cutting through all the back yards, ending up with mud all over our feet, me losing my flipflops in the mud, and washing our feet at some well in someone's backyard. i am so proud of her. and she keeps saying, are you okay, and i just can't explain who blown away i am by the walk, her inner strength, and mud all over my feet.
--entering homes and seeing pictures of the family in large frames hanging high on the wall. remembering that krishna is everywhere and in everything. the reminders are even in the blinking christmas lights around some jesus figure on the buses. but these are all just reminders, simple reminders, to be thankful for it all.
--putting the name of your children on the front windowshield of the rickshaws or on the side of the buses
--ankur playing his flute by candlelight since the electricity (well the locals say the current)seems to cut out quite often. and realizing that ank's nose and skin is starting to share a lot of resemblance to the spiritual icons i see everywhere.
--women in their saris with colors, oh so many vibrant colors and designs.
--sitting in the computer stalls, reminding me of office jobs in new york, and selling cooking com bigode. yes, even watching ank get the word out about his book is beautiful.
--and finally, watching all the parts of the world meet in geographic location and in age. i almost want to cry while recording matt playing music from south american ceremonies on his guitar with my music teacher playing the flute and a ten year old student on the tabla. wow.

I could go on, but I am trying not to spend my time in India sitting at a computer. The chickens might get lonely at home. And I am supposed to be practicing the tabla. And the little bit of news that filters through makes me wonder how the pure beauty can coexist with all the suffering. but the bombs have even stuck in india. so it helps me remember that running away is impossible. we can only LIVE inside it all.

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