Dream Crashing On The Way to Paradise

The plan was that I would arrive a day early in Chiang Mai and check into Sripoom House. Then, I would head over to my favourite restaurant that caters to westerners like me. There, I would pig out on delicious food that I could only dream of in India.

When I went south to Gudjarat and the ashram, I did not anticipate having to eat white rice, dahl, chapatis and overcooked veggies for the next three and a half months. I did import sea weed, vitamins, minerals and Super Green powder to supplement the Indian diet. It was not enough. (I now understand how much of an oasis the Poona ashram/commune/meditation resort was. We had the safest most varied diet in India. Even fresh salads that you could eat without fear of the usual tropical third world diseases that accompany such actions.) Even with the supplements and the Yang Cheng-Fu form, my body slowly lost it’s vitality. On top of that, I ran into a new to me Indian hazard. It’s called the loudspeaker.

When I first visited India in 1976, to own even a small radio was a luxury. In the early nineties, electronic goods, though more accessible, were still something special. Now, even a small mud and wattle shack has a satellite dish on the roof. Owning a sound system is common. The Narmada River is lined with ashrams and temples that all seem to have loudspeakers stuck at odd angles from their roofs. The various priests and sadhus think nothing of playing recordings of ‘devotional music’ and chanting at any time day or night. Two o’clock in the morning, there is a burst of very loud music for fifteen minutes. Or, maybe some chanting around that time that went on for an hour. The guy in the next village believed that everyone wants to hear ‘the name of god’ from 5:30 or 6:00 every morning at a volume so high that it sounded like he was outside my window. For nine years, my time of deep sleep had been from 5:30 in the morning. This was totally disrupted. Even when he slacked off a bit and turned down the volume, my body would be in stress while the music was playing. It was often beautiful music, it just was often too loud and at the wrong time of day. There was a nine day music festival that had the ‘music’ so loud that it was literally pounding on my body. Even the Indians in the ashram had trouble with it. For some reason, I was more sensitive to it and could not ‘just accept it’ as I was advised. The result was my never establishing a good sleep pattern once my old one was broken. And, of course, my body suffered from the tension.

So, why would I stay so long in such a place? A good question. The answer is a man named Baba Puranand Bharti. From my first meeting him at the ashram when he came for a brief visit, I knew that whatever discomfort I was going to suffer, it would be worth it to spend time with him. It was. To explain to my satisfaction would mean a very long dissertation that may not even make sense in the end. To be near Baba is to have the opportunity of experiencing a very deep state of bliss. During my time in his ashram, there were events and understandings of which I am very grateful. Much was an affirmation of my life’s trajectory and much was a deepening in my trust in existence. In addition, I made some very dear new friends and got to better know some already existing friends.

So, I stayed. And, had dreams of delicious meals that I would eat in Thailand.

My departure from India was through the Ahmedebad Airport. There was a four hour drive after lunch to arrive in the prescribed time. When I wheeled my cart past the army guards into the terminal building, I found myself at the end of long serpentine queue (line in ‘merican). It eventually ended at a single baggage scanner. It took half and hour to reach the scanner belt. Along the way, I had a feeling to avail myself of the services of the plastic wrap machine for my larger piece of luggage. As I stepped around the scanning machine to retrieve said bag, the man say’s “open your bag.” Those were not the words that I wanted to hear. I said, “what does she want to see?” (there was a woman in the driver’s seat.) He says again, “you have to open your bag.” I say in an exasperated tone, “what does she want to see?” To my amazement, the woman in the driver’s seat waves me through! So much for security.

I will skip the interminable waiting in the check-in queue and, then, the hour and a quarter late departure that I am sure was because of the inadequate number of check-in queues. Between the check-in and my gate, I bought a veggie burger. I had him microwave it to kill any life that might be lurking in it. Just filler for this hungry traveller.

There was a transit in Mumbai (Bombay) to a flight to Bangkok and, then, a short flight to Chiang Mai. I nibbled on three planes and in three airports. I slept maybe two hours. I got dropped at my guest house so tired that I was afraid I might not get as many meals in at my favourite restaurant as I was hoping.

I lay down on my bed waiting for sleep. Within the hour I was writhing in agony gulping in breaths. Then… Well I won’t go into the details of the experience of food poisoning. At some point during the day I had enough energy to yell out for help. No one heard me. When I eventually was able to make it to my room door, it was late at night. No one heard me. Some time in the early morning, I woke to find that I was over the hump and feeling better (very relative term here!).

In the morning, I extended my stay by four hours and paid extra for the damage. At two in the afternoon, I got a ride in a red truck out to Baan Hom Sumanphrai School of Thai Massage and Herbal Medicine. I arrived into the hands of the two most wonderful people. I was not a pretty sight.

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Tick Another One Off the List

Dear Friends,
The good news is that I found out that I can get to Rajpipla and back by shared Jeep or rickshaw for only 10 rupees (20 cents) each way. Sounded preferable to risking life and limb on the back of a motorcycle. I have used this new mode of transport several times now.

Below is a photo of a normal rickshaw. It differs from the shared rickshaws in that the shared rickshaws have an extension on the back with two facing benches that are big enough to hold two small Indians each. I lost track of how many Indians actually fit in them. This is the first new rickshaw that I have ever seen in India. It won’t look like this for long.

NewRicshaw

My first time to catch a shared rickshaw, I walked the ten minutes out to the one lane paved road and waited only about ten minutes before a rickshaw pulled up.

As far as I could see, the shared rickshaw that stopped for me this time was full to over flowing. However, the driver waved me around to the other side and pointed to a space on the seat next to him. Well, there was a stray sadhu on the other side, so, I figured it was a legitimate way to go. The ride into town is ten minutes on winding country road with assorted bumps and potholes and, then, about five minutes on a two lane main road. The one cheek that fit onto my portion of the seat did fine. The rest of me was suspended between the hand clutching the roof strut and my foot on the edge of the floor was less than happy. Being set down in town was something that caused me considerable joy.

When I had finished my shopping, I was headed to the place where you catch the shared jeeps when up pulls the afore mentioned rickshaw. The driver smiles at me and indicates the same piece of his bench. I shake my head in horror. He understands and scoots over to give me a full portion. It’s hot and I don’t want to wait, so, I accept. This was a much more pleasant experience for yours truly. However, the man on the other side of the driver did not seem so pleased. When we turned off the main road, we came upon some construction at the railway crossing. The driver stopped and went to see what was happening. Everyone piled out to stretch their legs. I was just beginning to loosen the long ones when the driver came hurrying back and jumped on his seat. It was time to go! I hopped on my side only to discover that the man on the other side had slyly taken a full portion in my absence and I was back to one cheek again. I made it home.

So, not being one to be dissuaded by one setback, I ventured forth the next time that I had to visit the tailor. I was fortunate enough to get a ride from one of our guest for the trip into town. This time, I passed by the rickshaws and got a ride in a shared jeep.

The Rule of the Road in India: If your vehicle will not move under it’s own power, then, you have too many people on/in it. Below is a “shared Jeep”. I have never had to ride hanging onto the outside. With this one, there wasn’t even room for that.

JammedJeep

Upon arriving at the place where you catch these vehicles, I was directed to the front seat and a young man slid forward to make room for me. There were only five of us sharing the driver’s bench seat. One time, I was the first passenger on the scene and got a the best seat. In the middle section on the driver’s side. You have to get in and out on the passenger side. I had people arrive when seeing me in my place give me a dirty look before turning away to take what they could get. Even little old ladies acted in this way!

Here’s a photo from the inside of a jeep when I was in the middle of the middle seat. The front seat has six people with a guy hanging off the left side. You can maybe see the arm of the guy sitting on the floor to the right of the driver with his arm wrapped around the steering column. The guy you see on the far left is actually sitting on the seat of a man that you can’t see. The bag of bread rolls belongs to the guy hanging off the side.

The view from the middle seat.

The view from the middle seat.

Yesterday, it was time to go pick up the clothes from the tailor that were supposed to have been ready three days earlier. I went one day after the due date to find that the fabric had been cut but not stitched. So, I had to return. I then realised that this was what had happened the previous time. What I should have done is go in two days before due date so that he can finish it for me on time. (I have since talked with other people about my experience with my tailor. I’m very fortunate. One friend had to wait one year for a shirt to be made!) When I flag down the shared taxi going into town I’m lucky and a 12 year old girl makes space in the middle seat for me. I only have the one leg hanging out with foot resting on the running board. We start up and thirty seconds later she leans across me to let loose a long stream of saliva onto the road. Thirty seconds later, the same. This continues all the way into town. I figured that she must have been practicing for a statewide contest as no one needs to spit that much. It was an uneventful ride otherwise.

So, my tailor had my Kurtas ready and I bought a few provisions, drank a coconut and headed up to the edge of town where the jeeps were waiting. I waited, and, waited, and, waited. Then, the group of people suddenly headed back down the line to a jeep that already was half full. By the time I reach the scene, there was only on space left and that was beside the driver with my knees under my chin, my legs twisted and my hip aching all in ten seconds. Plus, the gear shift was under my legs. This was dangerous territory! I got out. I looked around. I was in no mood to wait for I didn’t know how long to catch another jeep and maybe be in the same predicament. So…

The good news is:
I will never again climb up the back of a jeep onto the roof and settle into the roof rack on a quite comfortable extra bald spare tire with one foot braced against the back rail of the rack to keep from flying out the back whilst facing backwards then bending forward and holding the two side rails in a death grip in order to stop from flying forward. As we hurtled down the highway I asked the universe why there wasn’t a good traffic jam when you need one. Manoeuvring the country road I kept my head down not knowing whether some improvising Indian had strung an electric cable across the road in the last few minutes at just above car height.

We finally came to my stop. I managed to unclench my hands and, with every part of my body shaking, I clambered down to wobble around like a drunken sailor. I have no idea how I managed to retrieve ten rupees from my wallet for the driver. As I staggered down my dirt road, I said to myself, “I should have done this when I was in my thirties, so that, I would know better than to do it in my sixties”
——–
Kundan! You get in the house. Right now.

Yes, Mom.

Will The Real Mt Shasta Please Stand Up!

I am writing this to you all as an assurance that I did indeed experience Mt Shasta and surrounds and return to you all. My good friend, Sheelu, picked me up at my sister’s house and we drove through the 103 F heat to the Casa de Plunge. (Also known as The Lake House, it is the holiday home of my brother, John.  and his wife, Stephanie, on Lake Shasta.) The next morning found us driving up to the mountain that is so famous and well known in certain circles. the high point of ten day for me was the visit to Upper Panther Meadow. This is the site of  a spring that is sacred to the local Winimum Wintu people. It is the place of their origin. The meadow is also the home of a small flowering bush that takes two to four hundred years to grow to a height of four inches.

These flowering bushes are only four inches tall.

Unknowing people have trampled much of this rare vegetation. Twenty- five years ago, there was a ” Harmonic Convergence” in the meadow that destroyed most of these plants in the meadow.  Since then, signage has been erected and, the day we visited, there was a volunteer guide to tell us about the place. Something of interest was the Vole tunnels where they hibernate with separate rooms for their food, sleeping and shitting. In the spring, the rains wash through the evacuated tunnels and mixes the contents into a wonderful fertilizer for the meadow. Very cool.

Vole Tunnels

As we arrived, the guide was just finishing talking with three ladies in white. Just before they moved on, one asked him if there had been any recent ‘ascensions’. We were to find out that in 1930 , a man named David Lloyd, after drinking an elixer of St Germaine ascended body and all up into another dimension  in front of witnesses on Mt Shasta. OK. This only the beginning.
As we were leaving, a man in the parking area told us that Mt Shasta has entrances to the underground where the Lemurians live at the centre of the earth. I didn’t know about this piece of history, but, when Lemuria was destroyed, some of the Lemurians escaped through tunnels to the middle of the earth and the entrances are somewhere around Mt Shasta.  The reason that there are clouds swirling around the top of the mountain is so that you won’t see the UFOs as they fly into the secret entrances on the mountain. (There’s so much that they didn’t teach me about at school!)  This same man sleeps out and communicates telepathically with the UFOs. They reply by blinking their lights.  Maybe they figure that he can only send, not receive.
Now, I know there is a rumor going around that Sheelu and I were abducted by aliens while on Mt Shasta and I want to say that …. Mmmm … Arwagl …mndoobiel… Nngblta …. and that’s what happened. Other than that, we had a very good time on the mountain. I was tempted to either join the Lemurians  or  ascend but being such a Libran, I couldn’t decide, so, I’m still around in this dimension for a while yet.
Having settled those important questions, we moved on, over the next few days, to enjoy some of the vast amount of beauty that the region offers in this dimension. A visit to nearby Castle Lake where we jumped naked in the cold clear waters and hiked up a trail was a very refreshing treat.

Castle Lake

On our last day, we went a distance to Burney Falls where we had a picnic by the lake and, then, walked the loop trail for an experience of something amazing.

Over the stream below the falls.

As I stood captivated by the water roaring in true tumult above me, I reflected on how it just kept pouring and pouring, constantly fresh and new, different water from moment to moment. For thousands of years water has kept moving over these falls. I was reminded of the feeling I used to have as a kid in my bed at night imagining infinity.

Burney Falls

The falls comprise the above ground water that shoots over the top, but, there is also underground water that bursts out of the wall. Here is photo taken amongst the mist.

Sheelu and I eventually tore ourselves away from the falls and made our way to another great miracle. Having dinnern with John and Steph. Below is a photo of us all at the Dogwood Diner in Dunsmuir. A couple chefs moved up from the city to open this little place in this lovely little town just down the road from the mountain. Our laughing waiter brought us wonderful salads followed by extraordinary mains. I had a tart that was bliss melting in my mouth. It was an evening of relaxed story telling and the pleasure of the company of loved ones.

Dogwood Diner

My Newish Razor

It all started when I decided to shave under my chin again. I have been just trimming closely for quite a while now. It feels much better than scraping a razor across my neck. However, it takes a while to do properly and needs to be done more often. Maybe I’m getting lazy.

I proceeded to the local store looking for a good old fashioned double edged safety razor. In amongst a multitude of plastic razors I could only find some generic double edged razor blades. No razors to hold the blades. Puzzled, I went to another big store. Same selection. Only cheap plastic thingies with clip in cartridge blades. I broke down and bought what was on offer.

I was underwhelmed. The cartridge had three blades imbedded and they did a lousy job and were impossible to clean; clogging with beard hairs. With much frustrated work, I managed to do the job.

Perhaps it was an unconsciously purposeful event, I left the cartridge razor handle behind when I went up to visit my sister. OK, start the hunt again. Same result! Big selection but only those crappy plastic things. I mentioned my dilemma to my sister. She went into her endless closet and came out with a small tin box covered in a very worn khaki cloth covering. Inside was an authentic chromed steel double edged safety razor and a small box for the blades, as well as a removable metal shaving mirror. Printed on the inside, “‘Property U. S. Army’,  the Gillette Logo, ‘Known the World Over’, ‘Khaki Set’.” It had belonged to her father-in-law. He carried it through World War One. I did a little research. The Gillette safety razor was patented in 1903. During WWI, the US Army distributed these razors to all of their personnel. By the end of the war, 3.2 million razors had been distributed. This is one of those. (Gillette, now owned by Proctor and Gamble, no longer makes double edged razors. You have to import from Europe or China. Merkur, a German maker, one of the best today, makes “The Merkur 41”, a copy of the razor that I now own.)

Back to the store for blades. Cleaned up the old set. Loaded up. Hot wet towel to the neck. Lather. Slide the razor along. So smooth. Easily cut a through a two week old growth. Done in no time. Loosened the blade holder and rinsed the whole thing. Eazy-peazy! Now, that’s what a safety razor should be.

Ruminating that night, I remembered those displays of “safety razors” at the stores. Two brands have a monopoly of the market in the USA; Gillette and Schick. By only offering their crappy products with cartridges, they are limiting customers to only using their cartridges while  also manufacturing a device so poorly that you will need to replace the whole unit on a regular basis. Over the years, their advertizing campaigns have convinced people that these cartridges are more efficient. What a load of shit. I have decided to call this “The Gillette Syndrome” and will comment further in my next post.

Dysfunctional Government

One of the reasons that I vote outside the two party system is the concept of an “opposition” party. The present Australian Coalition is an unfortunate example. They lost the election by a slim margin and, instead of helping to get the business of running a country happening, their sole objective is to oppose anything that the Labour party proposes. They believe that if nothing gets done, then, the electorate will blame the governing party and elect the coalition. They have become attack dogs instead of mature adults.

The Coalition is still attacking the roll out of the National Broadband Network even though their opposition to the scheme was pointed to by the Independents as one of the principle reasons that they sided with the Labour Party to form a government. Is this insanity?

( I should point out that the Republican Party in the USA are doing the same thing. Also, I suspect that the Labour Party would be doing the same if they were out of government.)

This is all very discouraging. Members of Parliament are meant to represent the interests of the whole country first of all. The fact is that there will never be complete agreement on any issue. What should be happening is the forging of the best solution no matter who proposes said solution.