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“Cremation Inspirations Ganga Blues & Hues”

India Travel Diary 20 : From  Varanasi to Agra

Monday April 8th 1991

Slept into to seven am, a night of strange dreams, something sparked by my new Tibetan crystal which I finally moved away from my bed. Sabubu suggests it’s the astro turf influence cuz she did allot of similar dream stuff last night, something we have been practicing. In the dream realm all occupants are merely aspect of yourself, however at times there will be outsiders visiting your dream time. It is possible to meet other people in your dream, the easiest practice is meeting your love partner in the dream. Before you settle in to sleep you take a moment to look into each others eyes, openly and lovingly then when you enter the dream you will recognize them by their eyes though they might not look the same as in real life. Sometimes they might come as animals, and the interesting thing is you might share a place in the dream or an event, but when you recount the dream it will be from the individual perspective, emotion and mental attitude. The dreams were indeed coated in dark forces, outside in the night the cry of mocking birds announcing weird psychic forces at work.

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Boys by a temple on Harishchandra Ghat Road

We left in search of a homeopath, and by ten AM we found ourselves being led through the small streets of the old city of Benares by a young boy and to the office of Dr Kuilasnath Jaitly, one of few pulse doctors in all of India. The entire home of Dr Jaitly is made of stone covered in cement and painted a pale blue color, we were lead to a second floor bedroom where an thin old man sat in his bed wearing pajama bottoms and a sweaty baggy white Tshirt. He was wearing large black frame glasses and the lenses have been hazed over concealing his fading eyesight. His brother sat close by and took notes as the old man spoke in Sanskrit. The old man helds my wrist with two fingers, first he did the right hand then the left, he farted and burped and he worked, then in Sanskrit he recited a list of over 12 ailments which had affected me in the last four years, all of them very accurate. Midway thru the diagnosis, Dr Jaitly’s son came in and took over transcribing the Sanskrit into Hindi. His son was a twenty six year old Gemini and Sabubu and him got along, the father then took Sabubu’s pulse, as we were leaving Sabu hit her head on a low doorway, which I could see shifted her energy, I took a picture of her which she did not appreciate but somehow I felt it was important.

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Dr Jaitly Sr doing a pulse reading on Sabu

We then went down to young Dr Jaitly’s office and sat as he made notes and we all enjoyed some chai. Then came the diagnosis, the cure and the price, at first we flipped out, we had no idea what the level of commitment was, we had do abstain from sex, eat only certain foods, for the next three months, and that was for both of us. I flipped out, got angry and left, Sabubu followed, as she caught up with me and I settled down we talked it over and went back. finally we agreed that we should maybe surrender and accept this opportunity, I apologized profusely for my base reaction and asked for his forgiveness at ungrateful transgression. In a sweet figure eight motion of his head “acha” as he lifted his hand palm out, “all will be well”, we shook hands bowed politely and left, the remedies would be ready in a few days.

Both of us burnt out we went home to the rock pile where Betty and Wilma hammered bricks into small stones. After six we went to Harishchandra ghat to watch the cremation and do some watercolor. After a while so many men came and dumped their ignorance on us that we got up and went to sit at the burning pyre of two cremations taking place. One body was completely gone while the other was a neck an arm stump legs a chest cavity, a rubber black shape as the fire keeper poked it deeper into the coals. At times the sweet suffocating smoke of cremations wafts up and suspends me in a timeless trance, somehow a remembrance that calms my soul and lets me know that everything is going to be OK.

In the early evening we walked along the ghats and went to have a masala dosa by candlelight, and afterwards we visited a young Brahman antique shopkeeper and we bought matching dark blue Bihar wedding hats. On the way back we came out Dashashwamedh Ghat which is the main ghat where the large parasol Yogi’s and Sadhu’s come in the daytime, there we met a small hunchback who sold us a set of eight dolls representing the main Hindu Deities, we then sat with him for a while talking about Varanasi’s history. I took a picture of him and Sabu sitting together we then walked the Ganga’s twenty or so ghats towards home near the Harischandra where a toad sung away Sabubu’s depression in an instant.

Tuesday, April 9th 1991

We got up early and went to The Restaurant where the keeper burnt this sweet incense hashish like putty, it reminded me of this small piece of incense given to me by Sylvia Yanni while on an art tour in Rome, she claimed it was incense from an Etruscan Tomb. It had such an incredible effect over me, a truly mind altering soul expanding experience.

Earlier we walked to the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, on the way to the restaurant a rickshaw hit me and never stopped, I also had a bottle thrown at me while they yelled something about “Go home American”, remember the Gulf War is still on and we are now in northern India, and to mention I did cut my foot at the Hanuman Temple. But things did turn out for the best when we bought the two swastika Shiva lungies and then we sat in a restaurant eating masalla dosai and tripping on the fabulous incense.

Now we were ready to go to Sarnath, the place of Buddha’s sermons, with our wheel of the law lungies, we sat beneath the banyan tree where Buddha had preached, trying to get some rest and meditate away from the heat of the midday, we also saw fabulous birds, and collected feathers. I found a goat’s upper jaw and teeth but decided I had enough of those so I left it by the side of the road and we made our way back home by auto rickshaw but unlike the ride there, we ended up sharing with a ole saree babe and school boys, in a rickshaw with a leaking fuel line. Back home wrote letters, had some chai and tea biscuits, did a bit of bed top yoga, trying to avoid the over head fan and we passed out. We slept till 5:30 got up and took the ghats way back to Dr Jaitly’s office in old Varanasi, to pick up our medicine. It turned out to be quite an armload of medicine, we spoke with Old Dr Jaitly’s brother and his son for a while. On the way back we realized that Thai customs on the way back might be a problem. The Ayurvedic medicine was in small packets and looked alot like brown heroin, and by the way it tasted like dirt and alum that made our mouths pucker up and dry out, much water was consumed. The medicine tasted allot like the Tibetan medicine balls from Kathmandu.

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Brahman shop where we bought our hats

We hurried back to the Brahmin Antique salesman shop a painting for our friend Anna Bogigian who lives in Cairo. We had chai with him and looked at more curios with him. I have always been able to hold certain objects and sense their owners history, so I had a great time, we looked at Shiva hands, nut crackers, a woman and man riding a peacock, and the best was the large square Mogul period coins and miniature one stroke paintings, which we bought for Anna. We then went off to eat and wound up at a small Hanuman Street Temple with a sitar and a banjo blasting through a small one Shiva eyed Amp, with one man on tablas and a man on a melodium reciting verse and praise and comment to Hanuman the had were the Flo and Eddy of the street sadhu set.

The resident holy man push started anyone that came into reach of his midnight temple, Sabubu drew and I played the tambourine, we stayed till late and the streets were empty, we went home and packed for Agra in the morning. Good night, two o’clock in the morning watching the thunder and lightning making it’s way down the Ganga valley once again, drifting to sleep to thunder clasps and blue lightning light illuminating our room.

Wednesday, April 10th 1991

Sleep until 5 AM. Azan and to the ghats for a ride to Aurangzeb Mosque at Hindu Ghat come Islamic Mosque. ah 10 AM two hours to train time 16 hours to Agrahhhhhhhhh Taj Mahaland. We took our last walk to the Ganga to get a bottle of water. When we got there, Sabubu dropped off her Bovine Sex Club T shirt. We went to Harishchandra ghat, and there by the two burning pyres with that sweet smoke and the floating dead donkey, the swimming man and the woman doing her laundry, I had prepared a small clean bottle, and I filled it and capped it. I reached down and took the water into my hands and lifted it in front of me to the sky, then I brushed it over my head and forehead and namasted a short prayer to the wonder of the Ganga and the Earth Mother.

As I walked along the river bank I was caught by a shape on the beach and I reached down to pick it up, but an instant before touching it realized it was someone’s un-cremated index and palm, “do not pick up interesting objects on the beach in Varanasi”, something to remember when walking around ghat’s.

Returned to the hotel to head for Agra, on the train platform at one stop we did the white museum while Indian men watched us (the white museum is a collection of misleading white people behaviours that we have perfected to confuse onlookers, this is something I first started when I was touring with the Fastwurms in Japan). Soon the fourth wall collapsed and they started talking to us, they boasted that the largest bananas in India came from this area, wherever that was, we had been riding on the train for hours. One man shook my hand and when he shook Sabu’s he howled like a woman and ran off screaming waving his arms in the air. We told them we were married and had two children, Tom Thumb and Thumbelina, we said we wanted to bring them along but they were too small to travel.

We continued to roll along, one day into our sweet pungent ayurvedic gritty like dust and dirt medicine. I have so much to work out on myself, my guilt which locks me into certain predictable patterns of behaviour, my anger which makes me reckless and unfocused, my sense of wanting to be accepted by compromise. We slept in the coupe, sleeping and spooning till our 4:30 AM arrival in Agra.

Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Well the Taj Mahal I must say “Now that’s a tomb.

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Napo at the Taj Mahal

Thursday April 11th 1991

On arrival we got a ride with Amin auto rickshaw pilot and we hired him for our visit as tour guide. A very upfront guy who for ten rupees took us exactly to where we wanted to go, the Agra Lodge which turned out to be a large round Colonial property, with allot of green gardens. It was six AM, sunrise as we looked back across General Cariatpa Road, across the golf course towards the rising sun, the Taj Mahal appearing pale blue against a lilac sky, with isolated pale pink clouds, ooohh. We retired in one of the outside rooms of our Gandhi roulette wheel room . We slept until eleven; we had made plans for the next day with Amin as our tour guide to Agra.

This conclude the first part of my India Travel Diary, with over thirty thousand words written and possibly another hundred thousand to go. My next entry will be photos of the trip, but not all of the thousand images I will also include some of the one hundred watercolors. I have been working on this manuscript in hopes of eventually completing a book of this journey. Reader wherever you are, I hope you enjoyed the reading to date, please stay subscribed for other journeys and experiences and thank you for reading and possibly laughing from time to time. Make your way to India, I assure you most sure and certain it will breathe life into your heart and soul. NB

 

 

 

Old Varanasi street by the Ghats

“Sharing a Berth with a Dead Man to Varanasi”

India Travel Diary 19  : From Kathmandu to Varanasi (Benares) 

Wednesday April 3rd 1991

We spent the next two days checking out Bhaktapur Durbar Square and a Shiva on Snakes temple, we took pictures and people chased us away, the dogs howl all night on the full moons in Kathmandu because the monkeys come into the city and it keeps the dogs up and working there howling chords. At one of the Temples, I was sitting eating some trail mix when a large red monkey jumped up from behind me and sat a foot away looking at my food. His eyes were on the plastic bag, and he kept looking at me then the food; then in an instant he grabbed the bag. Foolishly I did not let go the bag and we locked eyes, I refused to let go and was challenging him but in my head a voice was clearly saying “Let go, don’t take this guy on”. Still I refused to let go as I looked into his eyes and received a clear telepathic message “I could rip you to shreds in an instant silly man”. Then to my surprise, he let go in a audible huff shoving the bag towards me and jumped away in an instant. I sat there paralyzed and relieved thinking how stubborn and stupid I was. We headed home to reflect, shower and rest. Sabu did get a picture of me and the monkey in our showdown, I will be posting only images of India in a forthcoming post “Nuttin’ But Pics o India”.

I decided to write a letter to the Fastwurms about how things were when I left for India and the prospects of having the group breakup, etc. We had set up the room with candles and had decorated a small fort around us. Sabubu painted while I wrote the letter.

I really didn’t understand how they felt they could micromanage my life, the cult aspect of it was a bit shallow and phony, the smugness made me uncomfortable and slightly twitchy. I already had expanded far beyond my expectations by taking on this trek through the Indian subcontinent and into the foothills of the Himalayas. I was feeling like letting go of all the pain of receiving the Dear John letter from my fellow Wurms. I was well beyond this, so I was asking they reconsider the implications of what they were proposing and the outcome. With all that I had experienced to this point I was ready to share some new outlook on future work. 1990 had been an extremely busy year; we had managed to climb out on top, a lot more visible than we had ever been, we where set to have a quintessential Canadian Art Experience.  

 Friday, April 5th 1991 VARANASI-BENARES, Uttar Pradesh

 Altitude 88 feet above sea level, hot and dusty

Sabu resting before the night from Hell

Sabu resting before the night from Hell

 Such an aversion to uses after the Kathmandu coffin buses that we took the train from Raxal and went way out of our way to Samastipur Junction. We thought it was just a short trip, but it turned out that we were back in the land of conflicting information and as it turned out it was a dusty train night through the heat of the northern plains of India.

In the final train to Varanasi, we found our seats in second class, there was a dead body on my seat, and the men moved it into the lowered seat above me. The guy taking care of the body slept in the opposite top bunk above Sabubu’s side of the berth. The body was wrapped in orange, red rags and a long white flowing scarf. The rail car had no shocks and I spent the night clinging to the bunk as I was repeatedly slammed down on the hard dusty vinyl, sometimes being slammed from six or ten inches in the air. The dead mans keeper kept snoring all night with Sabu kicking his bunk from time to time to interrupt  his nasal horn blasts.

 The window was open to keep the air circulation and smell down, but it also let in clouds of dust, to add to this night through hell, was the dead man’s chatta (white scarf ) around that fluttered through the air like a long silk snake. At times I would awake from a brief rest from exhaustion to have my face covered or being tickled by the dead man’s scarf. I kept grabbing it and flinging it back up, but soon enough it was back in my face, I finally had to get up and tuck him in while trying not to get flung onto him.  We got in at 7:30 AM with a film of dust on us. Two men came in and took the ultra rigid dearly departed of to the ghats, when we got out of the train station his relatives were busy tying him to the roof of a cab; to the ghats my good man. All the dirt on us had us looking more indianoid than ever. We stepped out onto the train platform in the early AM, the smell of incense and shit filled the train platform, where Sadhus (Holy Men) got off the train along with business people and families traveling.

Sitting down by the Ghats

Sitting down by the Ghats

Varanasi is the Hindu hub of for the dead on their way towards their next incarnation. This is the most hardcore Sadhu fashionistas we have ever seen, naked suffice a conch shell tied on with a lace as a protective cover for the package. Well smothered in a white powder which is Dunni, or burnt cow dung, the hair is really natty, ultra natty dreads, conks that have conquered gravity well beyond anything anywhere else on this planet, and to complete the look is the long pickle fork or trident representing they are followers of Shiva. Walking out of the train station bodies are being tied to cabs, or auto rickshaws to go to the ghats.

 Saturday, April 6th 1991

After a long rickshaw ride we found the Om Taka Taka Lodge, we checked in, showered, made love laughed and slept. Then we woke up washed our laundry  and got dressed to go change some money somewhere, somehow. We ended up near the Golden Temple where  bodies were wrapped in red and gold on stretchers,were  being carried along to the burning ghats. We bm’ed for cash and went searching for food which took most of the evening. Varanasi has this Madurai kind of madness thing going, one saying we heard from a rickshaw driver with a wistful look in his eyes “ Ah, to die in Varanasi is most Auspicious, so beware when crossing the street, the cab drivers will run you down”. To live and die in Varanasi also known as Benares is  a sure entry into Hindu Heaven, we have yet to see a model of this heaven though we have a few postcards. Back to the lodge to sleep and dream to awake in the early am for a walk by the ghats at sunrise. Hot still air, the smell so enveloping, kinda sticky smoke wafting, and somehow I found it  soothing and  reassuring, this smell of the dearly departed burning corpses at the ghats.

 Sunday, April 7th 1991

Got up with the sound of azan and went out down the street leading to the Harischandra Ghat, where the burning of untouchables takes place. I felt compelled to be a stand in relative and sit by and meditate and watch the Ganga flow. We walked along the Ganga and got a boatman to take us out onto the water for a better  witnessing of  the daily assembly of thousands that bathe, pray, cremate, and inter mingle. Moona Kal is our toothless oarsman. We saw many bathing Hindus doing there morning ablutions and prayers as the various ghats prepared wood pires for the days cremations. Our lodge is at the Harishandra Ghat, we had to get a postcard because photos are forbidden. I got to row my baby on the Ganges, made our oarsman a bit nervous he was worried his boss might see him relaxing and possibly assume he had made me row, so we gave him some more rupees to relax and enjoy the ride for a while. We raced the other tourist boats and we did manage to get some great photos as we moved up the river.

Our faithful oarsman Moon Kal

Our faithful oarsman Moona Kal

 Later we went to the Mother India Temple, which houses a marble land relief of the entire subcontinent from the Himalayas to Sri Lanka. The marble is forty by forty feet in size, they should have a replica of this at all the airports when you arrive so you can get a better understanding the vastness of this place. We did the Bm and also got our tickets to Agra for Wednesday. We rickshawed  around town then went home for rest from the crowds and slept to the sound of rolling thunder and pelting rain but soon the sun returned  along the Ganga, while we slept part of the hot day away to awake after four  hours or more.

 Cremation uses 360 Kilos of wood and costs approximately five hundred rupees, the Harishchandra’s or Untouchables had there own ghat, relatives would come to Varanasi and sit along the street leading to the ghat and beg for money to buy the wood to cremate their relative. Sometimes this could take weeks or even months, this was a health hazard and so the government installed an electric crematorium and the fee is 50. rupees. I was told that people who die of cobra bites, smallpox victims, children and Brahmin Holy Men are wrapped in cloth and rocks and simply slipped under the Ganga.

In monsoon season the river can rise more than twenty five feet, as you go along the river you can see the markings on the steps and buildings of the highest monsoon seasons with all the record breaking years marked in white paint. Some of the floods have made it a long way up into temples and peoples homes.

There are over twenty five ghats for various sects, Jains, Brahmans, Nepali, Southern Tamil, Rich Man and of course Outcasts.

 In the evening we went to a bargain basement wedding ceremony where the minister priest sadhu just recited long prayers like songs and did some aside and commentaries and jokes, he was self accompanied on the harmonium along with a group of musicians on stage behind him, also along with them a young boy dressed as Lord Krishna and six young girls danced out the wedding proposal and beatroval . Then a another Sadhu came and did a show , all of this by some miscommunication with our rickshaw driver that was suppose to take us to a Sitar concert but instead took us to a wedding. We laughed and sang and dance and had great food and left in the dark hallucinating from all that energy, everywhere Muslims recovering from Ramadan, and ready to jump Sabu, we hurried home. We painted and did some yoga then slept. that’s the night of bad dreams including the one I just wrote down, it seems I am getting these weird tormented Fastwurm dreams on a regular basis.

 Dream Demi Lune

…in a hill village near a khola I am speaking with Kim and Dai about Fastwurms, Dai insists that the group as it exists must be dismantled and I must be rid of, Kim is quiet and I am on the verge of tears but Kim and I don’t talk but mill around the camp. Then there is an attack on our camp and everywhere there is panic and people are being slaughtered. I can’t find Kim or Dai, I then look at the ground and it’s all blood and mud and art materials running in colors along body parts. Then the sun runs behind a dark cloud and everywhere as the sun disappears descends death and ruin. I see a cat with a blanket, and it is telepathic and it tells me it is going to get very cold and allot of people won’t survive, as the cat nestles amongst the recently slain corpses for some last remaining body heat. Then in the dark I start up this short mud hill, when I get up there I slip and when I get up my eyes are sealed shut. I lift a motorcycle from the mud and one of the fighting warriors gives me the hand of a young maiden and tells me to take her away from this place. Then Sabubu and I are in the khola, in the sunshine both cackling and laughing trying to wash down our Tibetan medicine balls.

 

Our chilly morning swim in Langtang Khola

“The stoned westies of Lama Hotel”

India Travel Diary 18  -Lama Hotel and back to Trisuli Bazaar

 Friday March 29th 1991

 Next day we walked to Lama Hotel, it is a base camp for Langtang.  Westies were sitting outside a café listening to Pink Floyd and the smell of hash was in the air, I still can’t understand the need to be stoned in such a wondrous place.  We walked onward on the trail till we reached the Langtang Khola once again, the water was really so cold, I built an ebatu  for the  Fastwurms (Fastwurms was an art collective I was part of)   and wondered what was going on with them back in Toronto. Then we decided the stoned westies hangout of Lama hotel wasn’t for us and  walked back  down to Ama’s, she made us some milk tea and we traded some rice that I had originally brought as an offering at the Monastery at Gosaikunda for some noodles. Then we made our way back down the valley to our first camp. We camped next to the Khola, it was hard to get a decent fire going, we sat in the moonlight  by the khola looking at sixty foot black snakes with wings slipping through the rocks of the  river, our illness was providing us with spectacular hallucinations.

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Back at Ama’s Evening Lodge

 Saturday March 30th 1991

We made it back to the sulphur spring on the second day, and decided to look for the source of the smell. I found a pipe leaking hot sulphur water in some bushes, someone was getting it from the other side of the khola. So we spend some time looking for a place to cross, the water was ice cold, deep and moving very fast,  the boulders were either too big too far apart or too wet to grab. After an hour we found a spot to cross, at one point I had to make my body into a bridge so Sabu could cross over me.  We made our way up the mountain for about 500 ft till we found small-abandoned camp, possibly a high pasture camp,  earlier in the day we had seen a red panda and some monkeys, so we knew we weren’t alone out here. So we rigged the roof of one of the stone huts to shelter us using a mylar blanket.

Map of our trek and our sulfur pool camp

Map of our trek and our sulfur pool camp

We spent the afternoon camping by the hot spring, reading,  talking and blessing this place. We cooked some noodles at the camp then went down to the sulphur hot spring, where in the afternoon I diverged some water to a large stone and mud hole. We set up candles and ate chocolate and watched the moon appear over the mountainside. All the pictures of this place didn’t turn out because unknown to us at the time was that the camera wasn’t advancing the film, so it goes. I did however manage to make a watercolour of the trek and our shepherds camp.

Sunday March 31st 1991

Got up and decided to go on my own climbing straight up as far as I could go in less than thirty minutes. I found myself much higher than I thought I could go, I had managed to go up several hundred feet when I stopped. I looked down and there was this large eagle feather on the grassy ground. I turned to go down and realized how steep the hill was, a bit too steep for walking down on long green dewy grass. It took me a lot of holding back my energy, keeping my heels dug into the dirt if possible, trying not to fall on my back because I knew if I slipped I would most likely tumble down for several hundred feet unable to stop. A few times I slid on some loose soil and started to slide, so I would claw into the grass and flatten my  body while kicking to get a grip into the soil.  So the thirty minutes up took an hour to come down, and soaked in sweat and thankful to be on level ground. We made our way down the valley and found another stone outcrop to make our camp, we were visited by passing kids. During a furious thunderstorm that came roaring down the valley we were visited by  two young Tamang girls ducked under an overhanging rock face with us, to smile, eat chocolate, giggle and chat with Sabu and I. We  waited for the rain to slow down and we took some pics that didn’t turn out.  It was such a simple, and peaceful moment ahead of a night of freezing, and shuddering in the cold sleeping in a clearing by the side of the trail.

Monday April 1st 1991

Chilly selfies  in the Himalayas
Chilly selfies in the Himalayas

It was a cold morning and that gave us the determination to make it back to Dunche today regardless of how long it would take and get a warm bed and a warm meal, under a solid roof. This morning on our way running down the valley we passed a Tibetan house were a prayers were helping a sick and dieing man, there were drummers outside, and prayers, we did our blessing for a while and prayed then we excused ourselves most respectfully and moved on. A very strange thing about the trek was that all the time we were out there we never saw the peaks of the Himalayas because of fog, but as we approached Dunche the fog lifted and we realized the enormous scale of the mountains we had just visited, truly humbling and much taller and massive than we had imagined.

When we arrived in Dunche just after sundown we went to have a chai and a cookie but when we saw the bus back to Trisuli Bazar we jumped in and made it down the mountain in record time, in Trisuli we found a room, I took a picture of it but decided to look for something else.  It was so creepy that we found another room empty with about fourteen beds in it,  so we stashed our stuff under our beds by the window and went out to check out a festival in the full moon. It was a festival of drunken angry Nepali men, dog kickers, and card fights, it was like that episode of Star Trek “Festival” where every night  after sundown when it’s festival where  it’s mayhem, rape, killing and wanton destruction

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First scary room which we turned down

We went back to our fourteen bed bedroom, I have to add that all the beds were singles and they are set along a wall side by side with barely any space between them at the foot of the bed there was barely eighteen inches of  space with  hooks along the length of the room, sort of a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs set up. We settled in by the window to sleep while the rumble of drunken Hindus went on way into the night.

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Second room with fourteen beds

In the morning I opened my eyes to a room of fourteen snoring, scruffy, hung-over festival guys. In a panic I woke up Sabu  very carefully covering her mouth and a silent shush finger on my mouth and pointed to the snoring men. No need to explain, Sabu got it and we tip toed out of there before any of these morning boners would realize there was  blonde western girl in the room. I wanted to take a picture of the scene but worried the click of the camera might awaken the sleeping mob.

Tuesday April 2nd 1991

 We walked out into the street, to see a jeep getting ready to drive back to Kathmandu.  We decided to spend any amount money and simply get back to something a bit more civilized. The jeep broke down a few times but eventually, after many hours, almost the entire day, we found ourselves back in the familiar room we had left behind, and our bicycles waiting for us. I also got to see myself naked for the first time in fourteen days when I saw myself in a glass mirror. On the trek, the best mirror was polished semi crumpled aluminum mirrors. I had lost over thirty five pounds, I usually weigh a hundred and eighty pounds and now I weighed a hundred thirty seven pounds. I was extremely strong but I had too much skin and cellulite. When I did my yoga I was able to do my sun salutations with incredible strength and flexibility. At one point  Sabu and I sat cross legged across from one another and I was able to pick her up by her crossed thighs and lift her over my head, I was truly amazed. 

 

 

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“Sick but happy on the Langtang trek to Lama Hotel”

India Travel Diary 17  - From Dunche to Ama’s Evening Lodge

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Tuesday, March 26th 1991

We left this morning reluctantly, sick, dragging our feet, as we wandered along the path with Dunche disappearing around the corner gone and now suddenly here we were on this well worn path in the Himalayas . Everyone ahead of us used this path, everyone we met was tied to this trail for survival in some way. There was tall rhododendron trees all around us and you could hear the monkeys howling and screeching or making other big noises in the forest that climbed up and away from the trail. After a half hour we stopped and had a dip in the Trisuli Khola, we collected a few small stones that had mica and silver inclusions and started our walk to Bharkhu at 1844 meters. We got there but only after a slow climb, at one point Sabu fainted so we rested at Buddhist graveyard site for an hour or so. We decided to continue late into the day and passed Bharkhu and decided to continue on to Syabru at 2230 meters which we reached by  6:30 PM just as it was getting dark.

We stayed at the silly smoke longhouse, with a fire pit in the middle of the room and everyone sleeping with their feet towards a main fire pit that ran the through the centre of the lodge to keep warm. It made me think of all the communal long house stories I had read, in different cultures around the world similar to the longhouses of the Haida on the BC coast. It sort of had this smoky Viking type of memory for me, but the double order of potato pancakes and potato soup made us sicker and so we ended up sleeping on the deck outdoors in the cold night air. Everyone was coughing and it became obvious everyone had some sort of cold which I caught and ended up with the most intense head cold I have ever experienced; I was unable to smell anything anymore and this hung onto me for the entire trek. I was having a visual and audio experience with no olfactory grounding information about the Himalayas and the trek, so no chance of being able to find associative scents later on that could immediately transport me to this incredible experience. We taught two sherpas Dorje Serpa and Nino Tengsu some hand games, like thumb crusher, and paper rock scissors, and hand slapper.

 Wednesday, March 27th, 1991

The next morning we continued and now determined to alter our style to camping in the open air, a favorite of mine I called renegade camping. We started up the Langtang Valley and once again swam but this time it was the Langtang Khola. Slowly our bodies were getting used to the idea of being cooler and there really is nothing more exhilarating than jumping into a mountain stream to wash and dunk. The Langtang Khola is glacier fed, so we certainly were getting used to these icy dips. We tried to reach Lama Hotel but now hemorrhoids had joined the head cold circus, and Sabu dysentery had us moving slowly.

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Camping under a rock face for the night to avoid night lodges full of sick people

We decided to camp outdoors under an outcrop of rock. We found a great spot and cleared it out and set up camp, I built a small fire in front of that he rock face which reflected heat onto the rock face and kept us warm. A survival trick I had learned in twenty below zero Georgian Bay snow squall it’s allot of work but it will keep you alive. By sunrise, if there is a visible sunrise you get a great sense of self empowerment. On the fire we cooked some fish and noodles and settled down to eat, on our impromptu bed of leaves and twigs, I took some time exposures of our camp, we were visited by young sherpa elves women who giggled and pointed at us. The sound of the nearby khola and the crackling fire refracting on the rock above us throwing shadows was hypnotic.

 Thursday March 28th 1991

 The next morning we had a small fire and made some tea and biscuits. We continued on our way to Lama Hotel but lost time at a massive rock slide. We came around a corner to see an incredible heep small car size boulders and bigger chunks it extended along the valley for a quarter mile. It took a long time to climb cross, crawl around and shimmy under all the boulders, and it was somewhat terrifying as we looked up the mountain side wondering if there was anything else scheduled to come down. As fast as we moved we still had to be cautious, the boulders were sharp and unforgiving and on the other side we found a sulphur spring but couldn’t reach it so we decided to press on but before we weren’t going to reach Lama Hotel that night but by good fortune we came found the Evening Lodge. It was perched a ridge and you could see the flickering lights of Syabru way down the valley. When we walked by Ama was feeding her baby, she took out her tit and of the young boys mouth and smiled and said “There”. We laughed but that tit looked like it could shelter and feed all the kiddies of the world and so we decided to stay.

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Sabu, Ama and I in front of the Evening Lodge

Ama sang by the fire and baked a fabulous momo, later she let us eat in bed and as we listened to Kraftwerk on our primitive Walkman. We slept and dreamt with the sound of the crackling fire, in this cozy windowless house of stones and with it’s ancient timber roof.

 

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Shiva shrine, with abandoned Sadhu’s tridents as offerings

 

Sabu cycling in Kathmandu

“Running from Mobs of Angry Nepali Villagers”

India Travel Diary 14 – From Birgunj to Kathmandu 

Saturday March 16th 1991 Kashi Toppu Wildlife Sanctuary

Up at daybreak once again to watch birds, but for some reason very quiet, so after a while Jan went back to the lodge and we decided to go swimming in the Ganga Tributary with little risk of beaver fever.

The Sapta Koshi is a tributary of the Ganga. The silky cold water and silt bottom made it a fabulous experience, and as always somewhere in the bushes the curious Nepali eyes watching the naked pale skinned westies frolicking in the icy waters. We returned to the lodge to have porridge with Jan, and discussed our days activities. We lazed about and went back for another swim and managed to fill our crotches with silt, then back to rest in the noonday heat. Woke up around three thirty and decided to split for Birgunj, we packed hastily, said our goodbyes and exchanged addresses with Jan.

We crossed fields of coriander carried by the scent, the scarab beetles rolling dung were nowhere to be found. We crossed the fields by the elephant penis cutters village. We saw a group of kids, one of them a small boy of five, stood there with a large penis between his legs. Was it his or where they playing with the elephant penis, I guess we will never know but the thing hung down twelve inches and as huge as his legs.

He ran off and hid behind a tree stump. We decided to cut across a field and there in the middle was enormous vulture laid out, we stopped and decided to count coup on it and each took three large wing feathers. I noticed in the corner of my eye two men running towards us from far away, waving their hands yelling. Soon other people came out and joined in the pursuit, at this point we were already running with our feathers. We had no idea what had just happened but we didn’t want to discuss it with the villagers. As we approached the highway we could see  a large Leyland lorry barreling along in the right direction, so we ran out just ahead of it and were able to flag it down. We rushed to the vehicle hoping the driver wouldn’t spot the villagers midway through the field shouting with fists in the air waving machetes and sticks. Sabu jumped in the cab with the Sari ladies and the driver and I was in the back with the worker dudes. We later found out the feathers were part of a good crops offering and also to ward off other seed eating birds. We left the feathers with a Lama in Dharamsala later in the trip.

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Narrow escape and still alive, thank you Guardian Angels

Sabu took a picture of me, I have a very big smile on my face, saved in a nik of time. We made it to Itahari and got a overnight bus to Birgunj for our trip to Kathmandu and possibly a trek into the Himalayas and try to get closer to the Tibetan border.

Sunday march 17th 1991

Birgunj, Nepal

Arrived at 4 am on Sunday, walking around the main square where all the buses stop, we watched boys assembling bus engines, after the parts had been cleaned in varsol or kerosene and greased up. We had chai and watched the teen mechanics at work show, they seemed to know what they were doing and I was impressed, truly impressed. We got a room at Hotel Kalas and got a few hours sleep. Later today the buses leave for Kathmandu. We went to the market to buy supplies for the trip, and we stepped out into bustling  dusty Birgunj sunlight, with clouds of flies, flies on the food, flies on the beggars, flies on flies oh my, and revving buses kicking up dust and exhaust.  We bargained for seat tickets B1 and B2 for the late afternoon overnight ride to Kat, no way was this clustro boy sitting at the back of a coffin bus.  We went to the market to buy our provisions one of them being sanitary napkins for Sabu.

“Two things to remember girls if you’re going to leave the cities and wander the small villages stock up for your monthly mentalations. Sabu’s exact words as I contained my laughter “Holy Bleeder, do you have any tampax”. The guy started dumping ten packs of something on the counter. “Do you have tampax, you know for bleeding lady parts, you know for women they have menstruation?”   “Oh, Mentalation; is it clear or cloudy?”   “No! Tampax, pads man”,   “Yes, most sure and certain we have tablets, I am sure it can cure it”. While we are on the subject of bodily maintenance I would suggest stocking up on toilet paper before venturing into the remote regions. Asking for toilet paper in a small village store will produce a lot of laughter from the shop keepers, and if you are lucky you might find a twenty sheet mini roll, eventually we gave up and did as the locals do and enough said, you figure that out.

Then we took it to the market, where we had a bit of a confrontation over the price of cucumbers. The cucumber showdown.  We were not so far from the bus station or lodge. The market is an impromptu kind of thing, we were conserving on cash on hand, and sometimes banks aren’t on hand, so going into Kathmandu we were trying to conserve. We also had lost touch with the value of things at home versus here in rural Nepal, but we had never seen a 16 rupee per kg for cucumbers. We could understand a double rip but this was four times the usual price. Very expensive, maybe you should keep them where the sun don’t shine, so they won’t rot any faster. We tried to bargain a bit when the pan teeth pie eyed cucumber vendor shouted at us to go back to our own country. Sabu got kneed in the back, as we backed away from the assembling crowd and headed back to our hotel to eat and sleep a bit before our trip away from this dust bin town, it is really desolate in a country in John Ford western kind a way. Would make a great set for a remake of High Noon or a Fist Full of Rupees. Finally at six PM we bid farewell to Beergrunge as we so rudely renamed it.

All night dust along the road, Beene and I got cheese and bread and water bottles as we set off for Kathmandu, on ultimate crap coffin buses. If you had to get out, there’s only the front door or front windshield all the windows have bars on them to prevent advanced boarding by the travelling crowds.  In actual fact I believe there is no real road to Kathmandu, it’s dust and dirt trail full of potholes and rockslides and every night from Birgunj some twenty buses leave in a chugging convoy. We had three flat tires, we finally left at eight PM thru the night, with stops of men changing  tires, and banging on the axles. At dawn we stopped in the cool mountain town for chai, we stood away from the bus stand across the road looking down a long sloping abyss and a brook furiously babbling downward, best we not dwell on the precipice that could gobble up this chariot of Arjuna.

 Monday March 18th 1991

Kathmandu , Nepal

At  the bus station in the early morning  we met Krishna who  took us to the Sita Home with a room overlooking the Monkey Temple, one of thirty amazing temples.  We realize that somewhere in there we had missed St  Patrick’s day no real loss, catch it next year. Erin Go Bragh!

We managed to get up in the evening after sleeping off our eleven-hour bus ride. We went for a stroll around the neighborhood and were glad to see that everything we needed was available to us. For the first time since arriving in India Nepal I had meat, chicken curry with rice, silly western person you shall see what awaits you. Seeing all the temples and doing a trek are our main objectives, our room was facing Swayambhunath Monkey Temple

We bought embroidery tools and thread and headed home to personalize our clothing and sew badges.

This morning after breakfast we got bicycles which the vendors brought to the hotel, so we could get around town without relying on auto rickshaw drivers.

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You want to mess with me white boy? They will challenge you if provoked.

Our first temple of course was the Monkey Temple which was up the road from our hotel. This temple is on a hillside at the pinnacle of a thousand steps, on either side monkeys and beggars compete for attention and handouts. Along the walk are Buddha statues in various sittings, or with various mudras many of them painted deep pink orange. At the top we circumvallated the Stupa while watching some old Nepali man having a showdown with a red monkey. The monkey looked at the man’s knife, in disgust as if to say, “asshole, you would have to use a knife with me”.  The man won, they will back down, but do you really want to test a sixty-pound teenage male monkey? We went to the National Museum where we did some sketching of the artifacts in the museum . Sabu did a drawing of Maya Devi and the dream of the birth of Buddha.

 

 

 

“The Nepali Bee & Bird Show”

India Travel Diary 13 –  From Siliguri to Kashi Toppu Wildlife Sanctuary

 Wednesday, March 13th 1991

This morning got up and took the bus to Siliguri, from there after a blue turban candle lit lunch in a Punjabi beer hall we taxied to the frontier of Nepal.

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On the border of Nepal and India

And with  a slow  deliberate promptness made it through Indian customs then crossed the one kilometer bridge and then through Nepali customs, we made our way to a tree lined avenue where we found the bank and did our currency change while Sabubu was schmoozed by the clerks.

Itahari, Nepal

Afterwards we went off to get our tickets for the bus, Nepal has these old coffin like buses with bars on the window, no escape for the disenchanted and a test of mental strength for the claustrophobic.  The insides are upholstered with velvet, shag carpets, bangles, bells, portraits of Krishna, altars with burning incense. We head to Ithari,  a crossroad dustbin which we reached after 150 kilometers in body numbing five hours, we arrived at night and were able to get some semi decent accommodations at the Nepal Lodge, with Elvis Rajna Ali Presley as the inn keeper. We tried to find some food in the fly infested town but wound up back at the lodge, retiring to grumbly tummies, I wondered how many grumbly tummies were out there tonight.

Thursday March 14th 1991

Kashi Toppu Wildlife Sanctuary, Nepal.

We got up early, around 7 AM to get a bus, we went out into the square where all the buses were lined up, people walking around, and are waiting for a bus to Kashi Toppu Wildlife Preserve. We got an omelette and veg pakora, two teas, and four pieces of toast with jam for 85C US. Well well well, in the north things are very different, buses break down with stunning regularity but prices are cheap.

Well our bus broke down somewhere a half hour out of town, as the driver and his sidekick decided what to do, as we found out we were waiting  for a replacement part or another bus. So here we were by the roadside, we decided to try and hitchhike and behold we got  whisked away in a large pale green embassador with all the disembarked passengers of the bus looking on in surprise. It was like a movie unfolding,  the driver and navigator were military men in the front seat, and we sat in the back with  Mohan Krishna Kharel, a lawyer. They took us to within miles of our destination to the local police station, chatting about life in Canada and sharing insights about Nepal. As we pulled into the small town a large bee came in a window and all the occupants started to panic, and no matter how I reassured them I honestly thought everyone was going to jump out of the moving car. When we got into town everyone bailed and I got a bee out of the car without harming it, it’s an agreement I have with the bee kingdom to serve and protect all bees in their daily travail.. Many heartfelt thanks were exchanged for the bee extraction service and we thanked them for the comfortable ride.

At the police station we had a lengthy conversation with the chief of police who was more interested in our travels and in Sabu. Our questions about the reserve and our search for the warden at the reserve seemed to be of no interest to them. We left unsatisfied and back out in the heat of the day as we started down the dusty main road until we came to a crossroad with a sign pointing down a dirt road for the two kilometer walk to the Wardens house. On the way we met the assistant warden who told us that the warden was in Kathmandu but to go  on ahead to the office and that he would be with us in a few hours.

Sabu mentioned on how, when we were in Darjeeling that the Head Lama of the Orgyen Kunzang Chökhorling Monastery wasn’t there, but in Bombay and that is why we didn’t get an answer at the door. We are always searching for patterns of events or numerical events to give us clues at what might be coming along or taking place. Coincidence or not?

Well the  OKC Lama is in Mumbai, and the Warden in Kathmandu, and as we have just learned, the Living Goddess will soon make a public appearance in Kathmandu and decided to put that on our itinerary. So we waited in the office, played games, sketched, ate peanut butter, then finally Jan, a Swedish bird watcher arrived and introduced himself and gave us the heads up on what was going on.

He took us on as students and we booked our bird watching times for the next few days.  Soon after a group of people showed up, villagers, it seems some local farmer got pissed off with the game preserves champion elephant’s rampage in the farmers fields, so he had chopped off it’s penis with a machete. Now the elephant went on a rampage and disappeared into the underbrush. They think the elephant could be as far a sixty miles away. It will probably bleed to death, so a search party was being organized to go and get it. To many tigers out there for me to go and look for it, besides we soon would have our own beasts to tend with.

We were shown our room, though it was suppose to be a room, it really did look more like a stable with two impromptu cots set up, a small bench and a candle.  When we got the candles on we realized the room was inhabited by these huge cockroaches , Sabu and I each had our own cot, we played magnetic chess under Sabu’s mosquito net. We put on a kraftwerk tape in order to chill out a bit, and we started seeing more of the large roaches, so on the way back to my cot I decided to thump a few with my shoe. Well, they all started flying around the room and I barely got back under my net in time to witness them assaulting my net revealing large pincers. I hadn’t realized just how nasty these things looked as they continued to hurl themselves on my net. Very uneasy night of sleeping with all clothes on, even a hat.  Tomorrow it is bird watching at dawn with Jan, and swimming in the Ganga tributary.

Friday, March 15th 1991

Up at the crack of dawn and much to our surprise all the bugs had gone as we readied for our bird watching lessons with Jan the birdman of Septa Kosi Camp. We saw over thirty varieties of birds, some river eagles, egrets, a kingfisher that was viridian green with a red beak and orange head. But best of all  we saw a Bee Eater from ten feet away, using a scope, we enjoyed such incredible detail. Then a  thunderstorm chased us back to camp for breakfast of eggs and toast and chai. We did our laundry, and went back out to do some more bird watching till seven when dindin was served. Dahl bat and rice, I already am tired of this food and it has just begun.

Rose RInged Parakeet

Rose Ringed Parakeet

Black and white Kingfisher

Black and white Kingfisher

Open Billed Heron

Open Billed Heron

Egret

Egret

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Indian Darter

Indian Darter

 

Blue Tailed Bee Eater

Blue Tailed Bee Eater

Drongo

Drongo

Other birds we saw was drongos, cuckoos, ospreys, parakeets, open billed heron, black white kingfisher, Indian darter, then we stayed outdoors to stretch out on a bridge over a gurgling stream and did some star gazing. We went home to settle in for dream until a curious George in the window, woke us up and I had to chase him away.

 

 

Ghoom Monastery

Stopping by Ghoom Monastery for butter tea & tsampa

India Travel Diary 12 Darjeeling 

Saturday March 9th 1991

Darjeeling, West Bengal

Well until now we had this dream like high regard for Tibetans, because we hadn’t met the inn keeper of the Hotel Tara who turned out to be a complete A-hole when we had the audacity to mention his place was dirty and how we froze all night. He went ballistic on us with a tirade of Tibetan which we couldn’t understand but got the message as he shoved us out of his hotel.

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Napo near Observation Hill, Darjeeling

We were able to get another room at the Prestige, a bit more upscale, then we did a shopping spree in Darjeeling, hats, and a cool rat boy brand knife, tea cookies, and chatahs to keep the cool night air off our shoulders, just simple things to have to make ourselves feel good. We followed that up with a meal at a Tibetan restaurant, and we discovered the momo pie and soup. A young girl gave us our Tibetan lessons, and upon returning to the Prestige, the ole Tibetan grandmother had a good laugh at Sabagee’s seventy rupee hat. Cold night, huddled tight in a spoonish sleep praying for sunrise.

Sunday, March 10th 1991

Tomorrow is the annual march marking the thirty second year of exile for HH the Dalai Lama and marks the beginning of the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese. We got up before sunrise and went to get a view of Mount Kapunchanga at sunrise; its peek is twenty three thousand feet. We then went onto Ghoom via a backroad and we stoped at the Aloobari Monastery, but nobody home and so the monkey and the tiger continued onto Ghoom. There by the railway station I found an eagle feather as this nineteen year old monk named Thapkhe, came up along the road to show us the way to the Guru Shakya Monastery. At first he was reserved as he led us up the steps behind a house, with some women washing laundry on the steps and others hanging it out to dry. Then we continued through the gates into a courtyard and as I came up I tripped and fell, and a young boy monk asked, “Where are you going? And I answered, “Yes, where am I going? Sabu and the monk, Thapkhe laughed as I looked up from the ground in the monastary courtyard. A group of young boys ran out and we were lead to the main part of the temple, one old lone monk sat at the back with a cymbal and twirly drum doing a rampant beat while he recited his prayers from a long horizontal prayer book, as he flipped pages he never missed a beat he looked over and smiled. Thapkhe showed us all the various altars and murals painted eighty years earlier. We then made an offering and were ready to leave when the monk in prayer motioned Thapkhe to have us sit and have some butter tea and bread. A very typical food eaten by the monks, especially when they travel, both items are easy to make under most severe conditions and are sustaining and nutritious.

Tsampa and Butter Tea

Tsampa and Butter Tea

The butter tea was a bit salty, nothing I could easily gulp down, it leaves you smacking your lips, I guess it’s Tibetan lip gloss for the harsh sunlight at these high altitudes. We told them of our journey and they told us of the monastery life for young boys and the education system, parents who cannot afford to educate or care for there boys send them off to monastaries. All of this went on while the lone monk resumed his prayer, then without loosing a beat, in his prayer he said goodbye to us. We walked out and Sabu took a photo of me in front of the Monastery.

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Thapkhe and young students at Ghoom Monastery, Darjeeling

We made our way over the hill past a Gurka Military Outpost and stopped in the local graveyard. We decided to stop to rest in the sunlight; we found a spot away from the gravestones on the side of a hill and laid down to rest. I fell asleep and when I awoke I had something in my hand. When I examined it closely I realized it was a human finger bone, I only recognized it because I use to have a fossilized finger bone in my bones and stones collection. I laid it down and realized I had been lying on a grave.I didn’t remember my dream but remember it being very peaceful sleep. Slowly in the late afternoon the fog descended, hiding all the snow capped mountains. At this time of year the fog descends from sunrise to ten thirty or so, then returns at sundown for a few hours. In the evening I drew while Sabubu did her meditation.

Tuesday March 12th 1991

We got up at six to catch the sunrise at Observatory Hill were we met Tony and Linda, he was from London and she was from Wisconsin. They had completed the eight day trek to the base camp of Mount Everest. They looked very thin and rough, obviously spent from the trip we went for breakfast together and exchanged information about Nepal and the does and don’ts. We then separated ways, we stopped at the homeopath for remedies then home for washing clothing and sewing a package for the GPO; all along we have been creating care packages of things we don’t want to carry with us and shipping them by sea post. You had to get some cotton, a sewing needle and some strong thread. You start by putting your things in a small box and then wrapping it in brown paper, after which you wrap in cotton and sew together. Then at the post office you can use the large brush with the ink pot to write out your street address. We used the return address part to fill in with an alternate address in Canada, just in case it didn’t make it to the first address. Went to GPO to drop off our package where the post office agent melts red wax onto the threaded areas and impresses the local postal seal into the wax. We then do a short prayer for safe journey bidding it farewell an safe journey for three months in the hull of a ship, through time to ourselves on the other side of the world in the future. The agent respectfully watches patiently as we do our parting prayers.

Then went to the other side of the mountain for clothing drying in the tall grass and letter writing, sketching and sleeping in the sunlite. Later we did the rupe exchange on the BM for extra cash. In the evening we went for a typical Nepali meal, a pungent non exotic, non Indian meal with basic dahl and rice, on the way home at Observation Hill we were treated to a pan, by the pan man. It was a cool blustery night as we watched him make it, taking a beetle leaf and smearing it with tar like goo, then laying lines of spices and beetle nut shavings, then looking up and smiling and putting other mystery ingredients none of which I could identify. It took a lot of chewing and struggling not to have it pop out of my mouth out onto the street. After twenty minutes of hard chewing I was still trying to break it down, I don’t think my teeth could benefit from the continued use of pan. It was interesting and enjoyable but nothing I would go searching for. In the afternoon we went to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute to get maps and information on treks, we also bought some badges.

Next to it was a zoo, the sad Darjeeling zoo, a large cartoon like iron bar cage held a Siberian tiger. His head was as big as my torso, I was mesmerized by his size and power and it lay there panting. I walked up slowly taking care and stood a few feet behind it’s head. He yawed and the size of his mouth and his incredible fangs made me step back. As it yaned and leaned back looking at me, in it’s eyes I realized he was extremely pissed off and probably would have loved demonstrating his frustration on me. We also saw the sad manic depressed pacing back and forth psychotic leopard, the sleepy moping timber wolf, the brain dead monkey, and the eagle that had no equilibrium and was either about to fall over. Then he would fall on his side and roll around the cage and suddenly would pop up only to go through more swaying sea sick rolling onto getting up again. All zoos suck and I really don’t see the point of any of it, it reminds me of the crying gorilla at the Bronx Zoo that sat in his cage sobbing and refusing to make eye contact. Went home to draw and paint, write and sleep, tomorrow it’s doubling back to Siliguri then on to Kakatrabitra, Nepal the site of a wildlife preserve.