Thursday, February 26, 2009

Journals - India, Africa



"They remain slaves because they can't see what is beautiful in this world."

"Any talented decadent can make unreality believable.  To make reality convincing is another matter, a matter for only the greatest masters."

New Delhi, India
December 30, 2008

I am here to prove all those fearful and cowardly people wrong.  Those who doubt, who feel that life happens to them, rather than make life, happen.  

We are here for one reason only:  To choose love and the righteous path in the face of everything and everyone that tells us to act otherwise.  As spiritual love warriors, we have to accept being burned, we need to revel in the risk and insecurity, because the safe way, is death.  

If we choose life, then be prepared for a wild ride, with courage.  Determination.  Perseverance.  Hard work.  Embrace the struggle, and all things will come.      

On a train to Jaipur
January 23, 2009

Travel, like the cinema, is a grand party in this country.  Everybody happy, joyously sharing what little they have, together.  Extraordinary manners for such uncivilized people.  

Traveling in India tempers my cruelty, makes me realize the wonder and magic of this place.  My frustrations and disappointments dissipate in movement.  

Ajmer, Rajastan
January 26, 2009

On the way to the most holiest of shrines, my woman, sitting next to me on the bicycle rickshaw, begins to weep.  The rickshawallah looks back at me, and I just shrugged my shoulders.  

It is a powerful place.

I got off and left her outside, indifferent to her, unable to care.  I was on a mission; to make it to the center of the shrine, give an offering and make a wish.  

Quite suddenly I was approached by a well dressed and handsome Muslim.  I was immediately impressed.  He was a kind of 5 star guide/fakir.  I told him I had a 100 rupees and a wish.  But he looked through me, told me not to worry.  

I waited on no lines and while masses of people packed themselves in, waiting, I was praying with the head priest.  And then afterwards, I was let into the center, thrown in.  This I had to do alone.  It was a bejeweled room, filled with chaos and madness.  Screaming and crying.  And all I could do was smile.  I'd never felt more at peace.  

Money, money, everybody wanted your money.  The inner priests, everybody wanted to bless you, I took what little more I had and gave it to whoever wanted to bless me.  

There was a child inside, being held, his nose began to bleed, and the blood went everywhere.  And it left my heart so tender.  And before I knew it I was thrust back out into the sun.  What a profound, beautiful place.  

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
February 7, 2009

I've come here, passing through, on work, to see a doctor friend of mine from ten years ago who I met in New York.  I met him when I was still on the medical school path and right before I was to go to Namibia, with a grant from UNICEF.  I was 22 and wanted to change the world.  And now I am older and, well, I still want to change the world.  Though I wouldn't put it quite in the same way.  Not change it, more, change myself, work to make myself strong and true, to fight the good fight.  It exists, but in oh so subtle forms I have realized over these years.   

My doctor friend went on a Fulbright 20 years ago and never looked back; adopting children, settling down, saving and bettering lives.  He was an automatic hero in my eyes back then; I was fascinated and in awe.  

But now I was indifferent and didn't want to spend too much time around the horrifically deformed and sick people in his midst.  I admired his courage, patience and honesty - he was a New York Jew who made no airs of sainthood.  But everything else about him left me cold and perplexed.  Everything about him was a mess.  If he wasn't a famous doctor, one would think he was a mental patient who lacked female companionship.  His house was a mess; his car filled with garbage; his nails uncut and dirty.  He was absent-minded as one could understand, but something just wasn't right.  His loneliness and having given up to do anything about it, distracted me from his nobility.  

But it went beyond aesthetic, there was something inhuman in the way he went about his work.  It was as if there was nothing else in the world he could do without completely falling apart.  All I could think about was how much love he needed.  And why it was that he was alone with all these kids in his house, and what was it that prevented him from opening up and sharing his beautiful life instead of being lonely through altruism.  

But he has found his niche, but somehow it felt like he was pouring water into the ocean.  The essence, left untouched.  That it was also more about him than anything else.  

I left, after only some hours with some patients, and didn't want my entire time to be in a clinic, warping my perspective of Ethiopia in the process.  Kind of like all those people who go to Calcutta to Mother Theresa's and leave without realizing the majesty of the Bengali Renaissance.  I knew there was more to this place than sick people and I went in search of it.  

I started wandering the city, an ugly city, a modern unplanned nightmare.  Dead, poor and stagnant, though full of people so beautiful, and a sense of some past greatness.  Christianity is also a profound undertaking in Ethiopia.  As well as coffee and food.  A refinement and confidence not felt in other parts of Africa I have been to.  

I ended up focusing in the hedonism; sex and cigarettes, great conversations and a whirlwind of movement so grand, that I will never forget.  

1 comment:

White Lotus said...

miss you man