27 February 2007

the ending times

27th of february and still racing towards a semblance of organization. its the new, new me, already in progress and never content to reach. there's a toilet scrubbing analogy here somewhere.

an infinite half week of malavika has brought our indian celibacies into scatological diatribe. perhaps its because we stayed in the house of a famous Mr. Toilet, who has received the prestigious Padma Shree award from the indian government and built over a million toilets for the open defacating rural poor.

there is also an aspect of indian not to be under-rated. the ever ever-present smell. sometimes its vas (odor) and sometimes its sugund (perfume) and sometimes its go-mudra (cow-mudra) and sometimes its kesar (saffron) but its always there. along with every other sensation -- skinny brown men cramming against you in the railway line and the hot sun ashing your bones and 11 religions in various states of harmony, all clanging bells and proclaiming their same infinite realization to be truly great (and it is!) and ever the radio.

but today is a recipe and a special request to those whom I will see soon. let's make some pickle. today I want you to buy 1 kilo of thin-skinned round lemons, yellow and full of juice. that's what the auntie recommended as making the best pickles. if you can't find those we try something else. I suspect limes will be easiest to find that meet her description: think corona bottle and we'll be on the right track.


1 kg limbu (thems the lemons)
1 tsp turmeric
200-250 grams of salt

put the salt to roast over a low flame. i think the point is to vaporize impurities (this is india) and full dehydrate it. meanwhile, with one eye to the flame, cut the lemons into 6 slices each. from point to point, the beginning to the end.

colocate the salt, turmeric and salt in a container that closes and hopefully has a wide mouth. those avoiding cancer should avoid the use of plastic. glass is best. but do what you can and take what you need. thats the basic rule anyhow.

let sit for 20 days. ill ring your bell and we'll start part two.

NB, tour dates:

new york on march 9th
connecticut on march 10th
northampton by march 11th
new york on march 13th
new york on march 28th
seattle on march 31st [this ticket not yet purchased]
sequim on april 1st

- ankur

25 February 2007

Facing mr. Bush

It's been maybe a year or more since my post-Vipassana realization that we should start a community based around a "synergistic communication system" (read:website) whose goal would be to improve the world political situation through direct and focused meditative healing.

ie MeditateForBush.com

Where every morning thousands of people would meditate for Mr. Bush's personal healing and strength on his journey wherever it may lead (us all). Premised on, naturally, the notion that people doing shitty things do them out of pain, out of a slightly misdirected desire for the Good, for their own healing. And that our healing is his own.

So there's that and it's on the infamous list. I received the following email a few days ago and it seems to take the idea to the next level. Fitting in perfectly with the fractal nature of the universe and the notion that all of your current incarnation is codified in each chromosome, and all of our current global turmoil is codified in each incarnation.

So I think it's a beautiful thing. I've edited what I perceived to be unnecessary ego from the following and as always I'm presenting an idea not the writing style. Veracity even I have no desire to vouch for -- the eternal truth of the ideas involved far surpass the validity of these particular incidents...


The World's Most Unusual Therapist
~ By Dr. Joe Vitale

Two years ago, I heard about a therapist in Hawaii who cured a
complete ward of criminally insane patients--without ever seeing any
of them. The psychologist would study an inmate's chart and then look
within himself to see how he created that person's illness. As he
improved himself, the patient improved. When I first heard this story,
I thought it was an urban legend. How could anyone heal anyone else by
healing himself? How could even the best self-improvement master cure
the criminally insane?

It didn't make any sense. It wasn't logical, so I dismissed the story.
However, I heard it again a year later. I heard that the therapist had
used a Hawaiian healing process called ho 'oponopono. I had never
heard of it, yet I couldn't let it leave my mind. If the story was at
all true, I had to know more. I had always understood total
responsibility to mean that I am responsible for what I think and do.
Beyond that, it's out of my hands. I think that most people think of
total responsibility that way. We're responsible for what we do, not
what anyone else does--but that's wrong. The Hawaiian therapist who
healed those mentally ill people would teach me an advanced new
perspective about total responsibility. His name is Dr. Ihaleakala Hew
Len. We probably spend an hour talking on our first phone call. I
asked him to tell me the complete story of his work as a therapist. He
explained that he worked at Hawaii State Hospital for four years. That
ward where they kept the criminally insane was dangerous.
Psychologists quit on a monthly basis. The staff called in sick a lot
or simply quit. People would walk through that ward with their backs
against the wall, afraid of being attacked by patients. It was not a
pleasant place to live, work, or visit. Dr. Len told me that he never
saw patients. He agreed to have an office and to review their files.
While he looked at those files, he would work on himself. As he worked
on himself, patients began to heal.

After a few months, patients that had to be shackled were being
allowed to walk freely, he told me. Others who had to be heavily
medicated were getting off their medications. And those who had no
chance of ever being released were being freed.

I was in awe.

Not only that, he went on, but the staff began to enjoy coming to
work. Absenteeism and turnover disappeared. We ended up with more
staff than we needed because patients were being released, and all the
staff was showing up to work. Today, that ward is closed.

This is where I had to ask the million dollar question: What were you
doing within yourself that caused those people to change?
I was simply healing the part of me that created them, he said.
I didn't understand. Dr. Len explained that total responsibility for
your life means that everything in your life- simply because it is in
your life--is your responsibility. In a literal sense the entire world
is your creation.

Whew. This is tough to swallow. Being responsible for what I say or do
is one thing. Being responsible for what everyone in my life says or
does is quite another. Yet, the truth is this: if you take complete
responsibility for your life, then everything you see, hear, taste,
touch, or in any way experience is your responsibility because it is
in your life.

This means that terrorist activity, the president, the
economy--anything you experience and don't like--is up for you to
heal. They don't exist, in a manner of speaking, except as projections
from inside you. The problem isn't with them, it's with you, and to
change them, you have to change you.

I know this is tough to grasp, let alone accept or actually live.

Blame is far easier than total responsibility, but as I spoke with Dr.
Len, I began to realize that healing for him and in ho 'oponopono
means loving yourself. If you want to improve your life, you have to
heal your life. If you want to cure anyone--even a mentally ill
criminal--you do it by healing you.

I asked Dr. Len how he went about healing himself. What was he doing,
exactly, when he looked at those patients' files?

I just kept saying, 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you' over and over again,
he explained.

That's it?

That's it.

Turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve
yourself, and as you improve yourself, you improve your world. Let me
give you a quick example of how this works: one day, someone sent me
an email that upset me. In the past I would have handled it by working
on my emotional hot buttons or by trying to reason with the person who
sent the nasty message. This time, I decided to try Dr. Len's method.
I kept silently saying, I'm sorry and I love you, I didn't say it to
anyone in particular. I was simply evoking the spirit of love to heal
within me what was creating the outer circumstance.
Within an hour I got an e-mail from the same person. He apologized for
his previous message. Keep in mind that I didn't take any outward
action to get that apology. I didn't even write him back. Yet, by
saying I love you, I somehow healed within me what was creating him.

It would take a whole book to explain this advanced technique with the
depth it deserves. Suffice it to say that whenever you want to improve
anything in your life, there's only one place to look: inside you.

When you look, do it with love.

24 February 2007

Her Hair

now available, recorded on laptop and video mic, in nairobi by malavika and barney

Hey man, can you tell me if I'm an XX, XY, or just X-rated?
And while you're at it would you let me know what to tattoo on the skin o' my skull?
Swallowing 42 handfuls of red pills didn't do my indecision a damn bit o' good.
All it did was mascara my third eye...
I can't decide if I wan't a 'fro or dreadlocks.
Mebbe they're all flogging the same dead horse
from which I'll make the glue to stick the soggy spaghetti on my bald head,
sprinkle some salt and pepper on my comb and run it through my do, don't I look sophisti-ma-cated?

Don't let me be Medea.
I'd rather be Medusa.
I can't escape from the
viciously visionary
delusions of grandeur
but if i'm to be a goddess
let me be the
one with the
snakes in her

The weight gone from my head makes my hips swing funny.
Funny how now doors are to heavy to hold open (ha, for anyone but myself).
Funny how now its harder to be Matahari.
Hurry up and grow, why don't you, so I can alter my ego,
dissolve it into the diversity of divinity manifest in li'l ole me...

Don't let me be Medea.
I'd rather be Medusa.
I can't escape from the
viciously visionary
delusions of grandeur
but if i'm to be a goddess
let me be the
one with the
snakes in her

20 February 2007

a shout out to the world before i go meditate or something

in the past week, two very knowledgeable people in my reality have asked if iran has oil. so i want to make it clear to whoever reads this thing, YES.

and if you have been hesitating about doing anything, now is the time. do it now, please.

and if you have any better ideas of what i can do, other than picking carrots and crying, please write me at neilunaini@gmail.com.

may you all know that god is with you always and forever. fuck, fuck, fuck.

eyes in america: in the JFK airport

[ from a domestic correspondent ]

in the JFK airport

I rode the train here and that was nice. but did a horrible pump-fake
to my brain because JFK is like the last stop right before the stop on
the same train that I take out to Far Rockaway to surf in the early
AM, like it was this morning. so a rude awakening for the bodybrain
when the 80's-stained post-industrial with passed-out homeless didn't
cross the blue water through mist at Broad Channel and become curling
waves at the end of the world with me in them, but instead let out
just one stop away, like some horrible mistake, into a subway JFK from
the future -- probably the only one in NYC where everything is
machined brushed steel and Kinkos lighting -- you could eat off the
concrete ground. it seemed like a metaphor for our time, especially
when not one, not two, but _four_ guys in desert (desert!!) camo
rolled onto the shuttle train with automatic rifles and body armor. I
tried to think of any, any scenario that has ever happened
historically in an airport that would require that kind of firepower
to stop, and drew a blank.

it's all happening very fast. all confidence and jocular banter and I
tried not to say something smart about 'why all the guns?' these guys
are younger than me for christsakes, when did that happen? we all
stopped to wait for the elevator to take us down to the terminal. the
door to the stairway to our left says "Emergency Exit Only. No
Reentry." I pondered an essay I've been thinking of writing about the
demise of stairs in contemporary society.... Stairs experienced a
brief resurgence in late 80s early 90s urban amerikan subculture with
the emergence of a mainstream (upper-class) fitness movement -- "get
some exercise, take the stairs!" -- a resurgence that however quickly
faded in the later 90s, apparently co-incident with the invention and
mass-proliferation of the Stair Master. It would never fly, I
decided....no way to get traction with that sort of thing. so we
waited by the elevator, seconds ticking by.

at some point the space marines from Dune noticed a black dude
standing there whose luggage included a backpack made of the same
desert material as them.

"you military?" one of them asked. the black dude didn't answer right
away, but finally.... "yeah".

a kind of locker-room tension entered the air, like freshman meeting
for the first time from different junior highs -- we all play the same
game, but who has the big nuts here. the guys with the machine guns
were all white. "you being deployed?"

he never looked at them. "I'm on leave....just got back from
deployment in [Iraqi city]"

slight discomfort now and shifting of feet. "uh.... what company"

he never looked at them. "XXX CFA -- field artilery"

he's been to the ragged edge. and here it's four of them to one senior
citizen in the shuttle train from the future, with the big guns and
body armor.

more shifting of feet and he never meets their eye -- any of their
eyes, even though they're all around him, talking at him; just stands
there like a statue staring into the distance. many people crowded in
the line are listening to the exchange in silence and pick up the
vibe. discomfort becoming extreme now. finally, brusquely, the leader
of the four:

"uh...this elevator's taking too long, come on"

they march through the door with the "Emergency Exit Only. No Reentry"
to take the stairs. Some people can still take the stairs apparently.

now I sit crouched between the Oasis Day Spa and Gourmet Sushi in the
terminal waiting for my flight after being x-rayed every which way and
checked repeatedly for fluids. at one point, immediately preceding the
pre-check line for the security checkpoint I passed a (apparently
pre-pre-check!) security guy sitting at a table off to the side of the
hall whose only job as far as I could tell was to repeat "no fluids.
no fluids? no fluids. no fluids?" over and over, in a voice dull and
empty to the endless press of people passing him by, apparently for
hours, maybe days....forever, neither expecting nor really receiving a
response and it freaked me out more than anything so far. more than
the automatic rifles by far, this man, reduced to a broken record, a
skipping CD that says two words:

"no fluids"

but fluids are a prerequisite for waves, as well as life. so I
supposed it fit the vibe all too well.


09 February 2007

gandhiji on sanitation

"When there is both inner and outer cleanliness, it becomes next to godliness."
- Jan 8, 1948

"He who is truly clean within, cannot remain unclean without."

"Cleanliness is next to godliness. We can no more gain God's blessings
with an unclean body than with and unclean mind. A clean body cannot
reside in an unclean city."
- Nov 19, 1925

"Everyone must be his own scavenger. Evacuation is as necessary as
eating; and the best thing would be for every one to dispose of his
own waste. If this is impossible, each family should see to its own

"Man becomes what he eats. Your water and food and air must be clean
and you will not be satisfied with mere personal cleanliness, but you
will infect your surroundings with the same cleanliness that you will
desire for yourselves."

"Corporate cleanliness can only be ensured if there is a corporate
conscience and a corporate insistence on cleanliness in public

"Poverty is no bar to perfect sanitation."


please note my feat itch im covered in mosquito bites i work in the
venice of open sewers and am compulsively cutting my nails. among a
million other projects that happen majestically and mysteriously i
will be feeding and bathing 100 meters of roadside slum children. its
on monday if you want to come and they are lovely human beings and
mothers not at all spiteful that they once were farmers and now beg on
the street because the city appropriated their land to build a (large)
road and some apartment buildings.

whatever. the whole area is a swampy sewer now, fifteen years later,
anyhow. i would advise those friends and lovers who happen to read
this to imagine the last farm you've worked on or visited. now imagine
that land converted into a filthy human sewer.


also walking around with jayeshbhai. one of many strange majesties is
the way he walks around and asks for people's cigarrettes and chewing
tobacco whenever he sees it. first they're like "what the fuck" and
then he explains somehow from the heart that smoking is bad and he's
their brother and concerned about their help and everyone (but i mean
everyone, of all castes and cleanlinesses) ends up giving him their
chew or snuff or bidis or whatever, that he breaks up and throws on
the ground...


its super weird and amazing. and everytime (this happens every 20
meters or so, we walked 7 km through the city this morning) i ask in
admiring consternation "but why do they give it to you?" and he laughs
innocently, honestly, "I dont know!" and then, "I ask them from the
heart." and then, "I dont know!"

and here I am picking up fallen chew packets for the old women. ah disneyland.

07 February 2007

just a little peace before i diet

It's past three in the afternoon and I spent the morning in the slums.
On the way home, supposedly for lunch but really to seek refuge, an
aged woman asked me for help. She was covered in dust over her sari
and carrying two heavy concrete blocks on her head and had dropped an
unopened packet of Gutka: chewing tobacco. At some point in the future
I'll develop enough moral authority to tell a grueling impoverished
woman not to chew tobacco but at this point her small solace is my

The first woman we went to see figured she was 73 years old and had
been "loose" (that is, without anyone to care for her) for 30 years.
She didn't know much about dates but the Earthquake (2001), Indira
Gandhi's death, and the Independence were how she marked time. The
story of her family dissolution is too terrible for me to retell but
she sung us a beautiful bhajan after insisting on a prayer first. She
has nothing but devotion, not even a favorite color. Antjal asked for
her dreams and she told of wanting to devote her life to worshipping
the lord, and to dying quickly and in peace.

As the Dead speak from memory: "All that I ask is a little peace
before I die". The road goes on forever and I've not been here a week.
Thoroughly confused and overwhelmed but there's a strange Italian
consort of the Dalai Lama's nearby and we keep eachother entertained
in Mexican and Argentine slang. She's in the forgiveness game and
buddy-buddy with the Huicholes but more than anything it's the madonna
and risotto that keep us sane and together.

I play more than I practice the flute and my confidence and ability
levels have crossed correspondingly. To every thing there is a season.
I've been eating only fruit and nuts for only a week and may have
gained weight. This is how Jayeshbhai and Anarben are taking care of
me. Fresh bundles of coconuts grapes and papayas every evening. I am
considering stopping the fast or moving out so as to no longer
inconvenience them, and since my main point in being here is to learn
from the light of their presence, it will the fruit (along with,
always, the darkness) that has got to give.

I got a copy of Thomas Weber's tome on the Salt March -- he was the
first person (Australian, in 1983) to recreate Gandhi's candycream
voyage through Gujarat. It's interesting to read and to see the
similarities and differences between his researched journey and my
half-baked pilgrimage. People would always ask me why I did it, even
now -- it seems to have replaced my education as
introduction/qualification (ie This is Ankurbhai, respect him because
he did the Dandi Kooch) -- and I'm slowing understanding why.

I would always say something like, "out of respect for Gandhi", or "to
acquaint myself with the Spirit of India", or "I don't know", or "Marx
wasn't fulfulling me". Which are all true but here I am reading about
Thomas Weber walking around Delhi, going to Gandhiji's Samadhi
(cremation site) and seeing the poor masses touch their foreheads to
the simple stone slab (which reads, simply, "Hai Ram") and, of course,
here I am upstairs at three in the afternoon crying. When I didn't cry
when I left my mother Suhara in Kerala or my real mother Bharti in
Sequim or my lovers here or there or any project or employment. Or any
sunrise or concert or meeting any amount of poor, sick, deranged, or
otherwise troubled souls.

But there's something about Gandhiji and Vinobaji and all these old
men I'm meeting who walked five or fifteen years with either that
makes me cry every time, every day. Crossing into the ashram to get a
book and walking by the oversized postcard replica from New York,
addressed simply to "Mr. Gandhi / India", that makes me weep.

Which is probably why I went on that walk eleven months ago and
probably why I'm having such a hard time getting started on this next
work, now.


02 February 2007

back in the smokestack

seven endless days of work and rest at a natural (read: fukuoaka) farm
in maharastra brings me through overbooked trains and hard sweet guava
to the industrial wasteland of modern gujarat with companions chanting
compassionate songs of freedom and noting the only ahimsa and navjivan
left in the land of gandhi are the names of the trains.

which isnt true because theyre all our people and all lands are the
land of gandhi. which isnt helping gujarat's case much and neither
does the billboard outside "the largest caustic lye factory in india"
which claims i am breathing clean air as i ride by, stalled into
silence at the furnace dragon spitting black bile into dusty air and
no crowds cheering MEGAWATT to make everything a dream or spectacle or
something else that we can be ironic or alright about.

manchester vs the epa: smokestacks are too dirty to be spectacular.

you can write to me for one month at:

ankurbhai shah
c/o manav sadhana
sabarmati gandhi ashram

and afterwards at

ankurbhai shah
83 lost meadow
sequim, wa 98382

in the intervening month (which we call march) i will be not/here
space/time body/mind and request all hard correspondence be sent to
the ashram in sequim.

one love