I lay in bed under my lone purple and white-spotted comfortor in my bachelor pad near the TV Tower in Darjeeling. I wrestle, or am being bombarded (to put it more in-line with its felt-sense) with bouts of moodiness, depression, vagrant thoughts, and a general psychological and physical feeling of unwellness.
I once again collapse and slip into a restless semi-rest. Not focusing, I stare at the Dalai Lama’s picture on the book to the side of my pillow, a visage unimaginably glowing and confident. Far away from how I feel: but that’s why it’s probably good to be around it.
Suddenly, blaring Hindu devotional music stirs me and makes me somewhat cognizant of where I am, psychically and physically. I was feeling like I could relate to how my friend told me she had been feeling like she was dying 24 hours a day. The feeling may be less regular in my case, but it was an apt description of the moment.
The music is sweet and uplifting, raising the vibration of the whole street, which its tones fill.
Indian spiritual music often has a somewhat sexual aspect to it — the back-and-forth call-and-response between higher and lower tones (often male and female); the uninterrupted rhythm; the ecstatic crescendos and peak-experience pitches that the singers reach in their vocal offering of bhakti.
This sort of music also reminds me somehow of being born, or the birthing process, which makes sense if it’s somewhat sexual as I hypothesize. Birth, death, sex.
Maybe birth-sex-death is, after all, a better description of our experiential gradual process than “birth-life-death”. Only sex, in all its greater and broader implications, in between the beginning and the end of each incarnation. The longing for unity, the incessant and painful and totally lucidly natural inner-outer-secret push-and-pull for creation, to be a creator — to get a glimpse into just what kind of creation we are anyway.
My hips want to move in all kinds of ways to those tabla beats (you can hear the players’ finger-tips smothered with some kind of ancient Ayurvedic tabla-powder); they want to make a mark all over the universe, maybe like one of those science-fiction-looking emblems inside golden squares at the top of Dzigar Gompa’s outer wall; a mark not in any spoken language or even any mutally intelligable visual image, but one that captivates, bringing mystery and trackable imprints — I want to dance, but I cannot.
Will you dance with me?
I take a look in the mirror and feel pity and compassion and sadness for the boy I see looking back at me. Boy in that he suffers so; but I feel much older than that. Much older than I really am. Like much older.
India has definitely taken a toll on my health. And it worries me at times. Physically, certainly… and perhaps, I am begining to think, psychologically.
More than my appearance — where did my energy go?
So many factors are contributing to this feeling. I know. The seemingly endless Darjeeling monsoon, the food, the weight loss, the stress of my studies, the loneliness.
Knowing that there’s a woman I care about back in America who’s suffering, and feeling that there’s little I can do. And my empathy, perhaps, feeling and taking on her pain.
The general suffering of samsara-as-usual, and all the bad habits and unresolved and unhealed parts of my psyche I brought with me. The bad vibes of my listless Tibetan neighbor, and the unfriendliness of most of his landlord family. The recent disappointment in the behavior of what I thought was a good friend here; and very recently, the harsh and condemning reaction to my reaction to it by my best friend here. Having just barely enough money to survive. The uncertainty of what I’ll be doing after December when school ends, and not knowing exactly how long I’ll be in India/Nepal. The obstacles I feel in breaking through what seems like the standoffishness of Darjeeling Tibetans. The pressure of knowing that I’ll be a translator when I get back to the States. The state of world affairs even, perhaps, and the lack of regular communication with my best friends back home. Only getting water from my tap twice a day.
Oh, I’m complaining far too much.
But this ain’t easy. I realize.
The music outside my curtain still lingers, continuing its pacifying trance-inducing melody. It emanates from the Hindu temple right next to my house. I didn’t realize it was a temple at all until recently, when a few nights ago a live and long night Hindu jam session kept me fro the sleep I wanted so badly after being exhausted by the escapades of “Tenzin Tashi” (as he called himself), the master-mind con artist whose schemes shook the whole city; the final and most famous one, which eventually became his downfall, was a game that my friends and I were unwittingly directly involved in, and it led to the unjust beating by the police of an innocent boy in the name of revenge and getting a few hundred rupees from my friends. Another story altogether.
But that night’s energetic puja made me realize why I would see older ladies bow their heads and pray in the direction of my house as I walked down towards Chowrasta, the main Darjeeling market, on my way to my morning coffee and school. No, I didn’t think that they recognized my apartment as the seat of enlightenment for all the buddhas of the past, present, and future; but I did put two and two together and realized that I was living next to a Hindu temple (or why not put two and one together, to make the pan-religious Trinity).
The owner of the store below my apartment building, with his demeanor making me think he might be the descendent of some kind of Nepali nobility, tells me it’s a Durgha temple. Durgha, the goddess of fire. I contemplate the implications.
I step outside onto my patio. The times of day are almost undifferentiable, with the swath of clouds perpetually wrapped around the sky, like the Tibetan silk offering scarves, khatag, draped in infinite numbers over the heavens, but with a less auspicious feeling. One the rare clear day, I can see Sikkim, and out there in that land once a foreign kingdom to India, one of the largest statues of Guru Padmasambhava in existence is visible, it’s copper coating sometimes even shining a bit; hopefully sending forth laser-sharp grace-waves of warm healing towards me. I need it.
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