I got this friend, let's call him Jerry. I've known him for years and I love the guy, but Jerry is clearly of a different breed. For instance, India - there is not an amount of money that you could offer me that would be convincing enough for me to take a trip to India for amy reason whatsoever. Jerry, on the other hand, willfully goes there seemingly as often as he gets the chance.
Every so often, Jerry shoots off an email to us from India to let us know what he's up to and thus far, I have no clue just what the fuck my dear friend is talking about. So, in an effort to better understand Jerry I am asking you dear reader for some help. What follows is an email I received from Jerry direct from India today. If you have any idea what he might be saying, please drop me a line.
First off let me apologize for the group email thing....but slow computers and limited time prevent me from writing, at least at first, to all the people I'd like to reach from here directly. Well, its been everything so far........the swings here are tremendous....from a few days ago from where I was saying, "How could I have stayed away so long, this place is just MAGIC, to yesterday as I was stuck in bed all day with a fever saying, "Please, just shoot me, then take me home".
The trip started that way actually. I was in Delhi for a few days in the guesthouse there with the cold I had brought with me from the states....s the hustle and bustle of Delhi (how many people in Delhi?....20-30 million) wasn’t exactly cool. Then after a death defying drive to Rishikesh (I swear the car and rickshaw drivers here would mop up our auto racing circuit), I felt a lot better. The life here in Rishikesh has been good and simple. We are staying at a very basic hotel right on the Ganges.
Every morning I get up before sunrise and go to the holy river to do my breathing exercises. After about a half hour of that I go back to the hotel and either make some chai for us......or either head to the temple or to a local yoga class. The yoga class is an absolute trip. The teacher has a militant tone and its par for the course that in trying to say "stretch" he says "stress". So here we are in this freezing cold room, and its like he has tourettes because he'll say something first like "stress de elbow" then he'll scream it "STRESS DE ELBOW". It’s all I can do to keep a straight face.
Yoga wise I'm not so hot. My left shoulder continues to bother me, but I got some advice from the MA who I basically came here to see, so that will help in time. I also treated myself to an Ayurvedic Massage and he too gave me some exercises.... so hopefully I'll be able to do my thing soon, which would be good as the Sivananda Organization has accepted me to help teach their teacher training in March. On days where I'm not "stressing de elbow", I go right to the temple in the morning. Prayers start around 7 and go till about 8:30- 9. These beautiful people are out there, again it's still freezing in the morning and these old people are out there pounding the tabalas, playing the harmonium, and going on and on. It's all I can do to follow it in the book I have, and they sing for about two hours non stop; it’s beautiful. Then, we have breakfast. We eat dried banana leaves pinned together with a few tooth pick looking sticks, cut into the shape of a dish or bowl, we eat with our hands, and its usually some puris (fried bread patties, some chickpeas and some potatoes. I have my own mug for chai (which has enough sugar to rattle teeth) which is delicious. Then with luck we get to have darshan with the Jivanti MA of the temple. We (westerners) are treated very very well. We are usually ushered ahead of the locals and she always asks if we have eaten, are well, etc. After that, we usually go back to the hotel.
Alan, who plays tabala for Krishna Das, who I am traveling with, is teaching me the fundamentals of tabala. It’s an uphill battle. There is a music school that I will now donate money to (I'm also donating to program removing cataracts ....60 % of all blind people are in India, 70% of those simply have cataracts! and the same woman doing this also has a program for a leaper colony). A few hundred dollars is going to change hundreds and hundreds of peoples lives. No administrative costs, a great "bang for your buck" Anyone interested can write me. Anyway, at the music school, they all want to be Eminem or 50 cent and here I am learning tabala!!! So I go there and show them some basic songs on guitar, and a Hanuman Chaleesa on guitar, and they've taught me a raga. It’s interesting to have a universal language to speak, especially with kids, as my Hindi is limited to "Thank you". And there has been great music happening here lately. We've been lucky enough to see classical Indian masters recently, although through the remnants of last nights fever, it wasn’t exactly joyous on my part. But the sun is shining today and the fever is going down and by tomorrow or the next day I will be feeling fine again.
Anyway, we usually return to the temple around 4 in the afternoon. Jyoti (which means little) Ma passed away last year on the 21st so the temple is having a special ceremony for her that started a few days ago and will go through the 21st. They’ll say/sing a chapter of the Ramayana as part of the ceremony. I enjoy following along with the English translation. The symbolism is directly transferable to our 21st century problems and situations (go figure!)
Please don’t "reply all" as some people on the list specifically don’t want that. I look forward to hearing from you and wish you all love from India...In Peace, Jerry