A first happened today: I left the house on my own. I know that sounds a little odd, considering that I’ve been touring for almost ten years now, alone, through wierd stretches of North America. But when you lose your voice, or when you’ve suddenly become lame, your legs don’t work, and it’s like a bad dream where you can’t fly high enough above the heads of an enemy. You want to scream but there are no words.
Take an artist who has focused on communicating ideas, pictures, beliefs more than anything else, then put a muzzle on their mouth, release them into a busy Indian street, full of eyes and questions and assumptions. Whoa. What will happen if I ever end up in China?! I might need to do another tour with Ember Swift, who knows some of the language!
Let me give you an example. On the third night that we were in Varanasi(Sept 3rd), while Chris was inquiring about some distilled water for our inverter, a guy walking past me spat against the back of my sari. As he disappeared into the dark of the street, I wanted to call after him and ask “Brother, was that an accident?” Later on, when we reached Connie and Rajiv’s place (my “adopted” Indian mom and dad) I pepper-sprayed them with questions, voiced frustrations, and scrubbed away the spit. They’ve lived in India a long time. I wish I could roll with the punches better. They amaze me. Sometimes I feel pangs of jealousy when I watch their children, Priyanka and Arjun, who will grow up with East and West curled up inside their hearts like a friend. I see this confidence in Chris, and wonder if I could ever find it in myself. Maybe if you are still here, in ten years, we can compare notes on each other, looking for the changes that make us older “in a good way.” I think of each piece of snail mail you kind folks have sent me, sitting high on a top shelf in my office, every note, every letter tucked into burlap basmati rice bags. I feel blessed with what you have already shared. I’m not worthy at all.
While I’m thinking about gratefulness, i want to say thank you to the folks that have left comments connected to this blog (a feature that is currently disabled, though you can send me an email personally) For the record, I want to mention these folks by name. So…. thank you FUR, Steve, Nikkiana, Christy, and most recently Drew (who sent some helpful tips on de-bugging my Indian culinary experiences.)
The last two nights a heavy wind has been coming off of the Ganga with such force that the massive tree
behind the “school” has been shaking and groaning violently. We’ve been waiting anxiously for rain, which finally came today. Walking to the internet cafe, I notice that the gutters (read: open sewers, filled with plastic wrappers, various kinds of animal and human crap, vegetable peelings) are quickly starting to flood over. I dance across crumbling stones and broken brick while my BATA flipflops (called “Chappals” here) make sucking sounds in the mud. I look for islands of dry land, holding my sari folds in one hand, and an umbrella in the other. There’s a sari making factory along this gully (gully basically means a tiny alley way), and everyday, the gutter along one side runs pink or green. Today it’s bright blue.
I walk past scrawny chickens, past the children who greet me with a “namaste” and the crowd of rick-shaw pullers at the corner. I’m looking for the dog, deeply wounded in the back from an unfortunate fight who’s been dying, slowly, for the last two days. He’s still semi-alive, on the side of the street, eyes glassy, fur matted and covered in flies. People on the street die this way too. Friends of ours in Delhi are walking through alleys like this one, bringing them home. The Indian dinner and concert that we held in Toronto last November went towards funding these folks. (Go check out the website, since Chris and I will be working there for one week next month. (www.delhihouse.org)
I’m leaving now, to find a tailor who’ll make me a sari blouse without the pointy boobs. That’s hard to find around here, trust me.