February 19, 2003

LIFE SINCE THE ROOFTOP the last time I was writing an e-mail it was because I was locked out of my apartment.  I'll relay the condensed, evaporated version.  Roommates Ravi and Pradeep not home and me without a key.  Leave and wait till Pradeep comes home (Ravi staying with Uncle in hospital).  Return home and wait on the roof.  Not a bad scene, palm trees, cool breeze, large bats eating figs and a few rats and clouds passing by through the night sky on the coast of India.  Enjoyable actually.  Then I keep waiting.  Thoughts of being eating by mosquitoes enter and I contemplate my options.  Pradeep may not come home, it is late by this time and I wouldn't want to disturb my guru.  Thousands of people sleep outdoors here everyday so why can't I? In the meantime I'm eyeing our balcony and ways to shimmy down the water pipes and enter.  After visualizing myself pummeling to the ground 4 stories down all because I didn't want to sleep outside on a nice warm roof I decide it is a stupid idea.  More waiting and thoughts of mosquito bites all over my feet. I go back to the edge and look at the balcony.  And think of a new, "safer" way to climb down the side of the building which I think I could have done (it turns out that Pradeep had locked that door anyhow so I'd still be outside).  Gradually one's limits begin to dissolve and I empathize with the stranded people in that movie "Alive".  I wonder how far one would go if need be.  Anyhow, I find some styrofoam for a mattress, cardboard for a pillow and plastic bags for covering my feet.  As I'm making my bed I hear a scooter come into the premises and think "Pradeep!!"  I go down to our door and meet him (strangely, he wasn't on a scooter at all but walking....synchronicity in action methinks)…all smiles, I'm about to relay my story when he tells me he doesn't have his key either and went to a movie until someone came home to let him in.  We laugh...what else can you do?  In the end we take an auto to wake Ravi up at the hospital, 1:30 in the morning and get his key.

   That's a little of what's been happening...urbanity.  I haven't left the city in a few weeks and have been going around taking it all in...the poverty, wealth, beauty, ritual and pollution..nauseating pollution.  One thing anyone living near the water should do soon is visit the ocean at night, esp a full moon.  I took the opportunity the other day and it was amazing.  Walking to the beach, the streets are transformed.  Quiet, dim and uncrowded save for the odd cow foraging, the odd person foraging, and several people sleeping on the sidewalks where they live.  You could walk down the middle of the street unencumbered which is unheard of here.  At the beach again a different universe.  The tide is low so the filth is further away and I do believe I was the only person on that 12km stretch (as far as I could see ).  The indigo sky meeting the calming waters and container ships with tiny lights on the horizon painted a beautiful picture.  Cross currents of waves meeting as they ebb and flow made the milky essence glow in the moonlight.

Been spending most time with my guru at his house or accompanying him around.  Sometimes while he's "practicing" I'll sit and keep "tala" for him (that is, I'll clap along in a codified manner to indicate a specific time cycle).  The effect is mesmerizing as he produces rhythms/music that he usually cannot in a concert setting. Rhythms I've never thought possible spew forth and literally affect my consciousness/perception of time and rhythm, bending it inside-out, due to the combined concentration on my own part and the beauty of the sound on the other.   Time is quite elastic and if able, one can push/pull and shape it anyway you choose. I'm blessed.  

Walking and commuting around the city with my friend Devon from Cape Breton (hey brudder) and I realize where all the people are fitting here.  There are enough slums, along the rivers and in the backstreets along with the apartments and mansions.  Still, with all these people here it isn't too overcrowded  and the pollution is from the type of vehicle perhaps more than the amount of vehicle (though I could be in error there).  And the lifestyle of many of the people here is of lower impact than in the west.  I shudder to think of a continent of 1 billion North Americans and our habits. Went to see a Tamil film in an "antique" cinema the other day.  Smell of urine is probably the antiquity and the blood stains are actually chewing tobacco and betel leaf remains.  Huge open theatre with propellers for fans and one shining light in the center of the ceiling.  Families I see on the street file in and make a space on the floor and the movie begins....loudly.  If your not familiar with these movies well it basically follows two types: a male and female star engaged in some story, interspersed with fantastic, Fosse-esque dance sequences involving dozens of people which are extremely "gyrational".  Next type is the aforementioned couple, but this time in another story and the dance/music sequence is just the two of them frolicking about in remote romantic locations which most people watching will never see.  All the same after leaving the hall I could understand the attraction of these films...pure fantasy and escape.  And the people cheer for the heroes which is fun.

Today I'll go for my first of five Ayurvedic masssages down the street.  Sitting on the floor with a wooden log weighing 10-15 lbs for 3-4 hours a day, and then sitting on the floor at concerts/houses.etc is having an effect on my hips.  Maybe if was doing this all my life it wouldn't be a problem.  Anyhow, for 60 bucks I get 5 one hour oil massage sessions which hopefully will ease me up.  I'll let y'all know.  

I should stop..I can't tell everything going on here, of course what is mundane to me upon reflection is quite bizarre and fascinating and I can't relay all of it...come and see for yourself.       


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