Re-Visiting Peter Matthiessen’s THE SNOW LEOPARD

Varanasi at the end of the rainy season, 28 September 1973:

Brown eyes observe us as we pass. Confronted by the pain of Asia, one cannot look and cannot turn away. In India, human misery seems so pervasive that one takes in only stray details; a warped leg or a dead eye, a sick pariah dog eating withered grass, an ancient woman lifting her sari to move her shrunken bowels by the road. Yet in Varanasi there is hope of life that has been abandoned in such cities as Calcutta, which seems resigned to the dead and dying in its gutters. Shiva dances in the spicy foods, in the exhilarated bells of the swarming bicycles, the angry bus horns, the chatter of the temple monkeys, the vermilion tikka dot on the women’s foreheads, even in the scent of charred human flesh that pervades the ghats. The people smile — that is the greatest miracle of all.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Work-in-Progress: Inspired by a Solo Trip to Dharamsala, India, January 2012

The music comes on and she recognizes Edith Piaf. Of all things to play! Is it because she is sitting by herself in this restaurant and someone feels compelled to provide her with some distraction, some light background tune, or because they do not want her to be lonely (she is, though: loneliness is always seeping out of her skin), or perhaps they worry she is getting bored, sitting by herself at a small table, eating a vegetable chapati and sipping sweetened Masala tea at 9 in the morning when it is 32 degrees Fahrenheit outside?

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En route to Dharamsala, self stopped by a small temple. She dredged up the courage to ring the bell, too (though she couldn’t ask anyone to take her picture while doing it)

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: TEAL

Love this prompt from Cee Neuner!

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A collection of short stories by the great Wakako Yamauchi who passed away recently. Her own art is on the cover. Edited by Lillian Howan, published by Hawai’i University Press.

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Bought from a Tibetan vendor in Dharamsala: “This will make you strong like _____!” said the vendor to me. Forget which Hindu god has the lightning bolt.

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College-age self and Dear Departed Dad

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Work-In-Progress: Meeting at an Ashram

A man and a woman meet at an ashram in Amritsar (Onomatopeia! You like?)

Man feels betrayed when he finds the woman’s only joined the ashram for research so she can complete her Senior Honors Thesis at Stanford. They have a bitter argument, and never see each other again.

Ten years later, they’re at a Druid conference in Las Vegas (don’t ask) and bump into each other, friendly-like. They agree to go for drinks at a bar.


“You said you were going to find another ashram. Somewhere in Himachal Pradesh. Did you?”

“I did. And you?”

“I had to go home. My boyfriend said he missed me.”

“I thought so. A girl as gorgeous as you, 21 years old, if you didn’t have a boyfriend — or girlfriend — I’d begin to wonder. You were always very guarded about your life and I didn’t want to encroach on your privacy. That’s also the reason I decided to lose your e-mail as soon as we separated. I didn’t think I’d be able to resist e-mailing you if I still had it, so I did this little ritual.”

“What kind of ritual?”

“I found a secluded field and lit an incense stick and burned the paper you wrote your email on, trusting that if the universe was working as it should, we would meet again.”

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Books Or Paper

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is BOOKS OR PAPER.

At first, self was just going to post a picture of the book she is currently reading: Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys (It is a really harrowing read, there is such delicacy in the language, but such cruelty between people). She took several pictures of the book cover, and then thought it might be interesting to include pictures of the bookmark she’s been using, a 500 rupee note, a souvenir from a 2012 trip to India. (500 rupees is about $7). It was stuck in the back of a drawer, and she just happened to stumble across it:

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And then she took a closer look at the 500-rupee note:

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Wonder if the man with the wooden staff is Mahatma Ghandi? What do dear blog readers think?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Recommended Reading: Women Writing (Comics, Nonfiction, Novellas)

Essay:

Skinning the Rabbit, by Jane Eaton Hamilton (The Sun, July 2017)

The Cone of Uncertainty: Parenting on the Edge of Climate Change, by Sarah Grey (Salvage Quarterly, 28 November 2017)

On Yoga, Diversity Lite, and the Empire of American Wellness, by Namrata Poddar (CounterPunch, 3 November 2017)

The New Bad Girls of Contemporary Literature, by Myriam Gurba (Literary Hub, 1 December 2017)

Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? by Debbie Weingarten (The Guardian, 6 December 2017)

Comics:

DC New Talent Showcase 2017

Food-Related:

In Search of Lost Butter Chicken, by Sukhada Tatke (National Geographic Traveler: India, June 2017)

Novella:

Day of All Saints, by Patricia Grace King (Miami University Press, November 2017)

I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do), by Tatiana Ryckman (Future Tense Books, September 2017)

 

 

#folklorethursday: Ringing the bell at the Bajnath Temple, Himachal Pradesh

Ring the bell and make a wish!

That, at least, is what self was told.

Himachal Pradesh, India, 2012.

Stay tuned.

Other Textures

Been reading Gendrya all day in preparation for tonight’s Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4. Which self knows already from all the leaks has NO. GENDRY. Nevertheless. It is reportedly spectacular. There is a scene in which . . . but, no. THERE SHALL BE NO FURTHER SPOILERS.

She’s posted twice on this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge TEXTURES. Now it’s time to appreciate these beauties from other WordPress bloggers!

Kudos to the bloggers!

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

If Self Had But World Enough and Time

She’d go here:

  • Antarctica, to follow in the foosteps of Ernest Shackleton
  • New Zealand, just because
  • Burma, because she’s always wanted to
  • Vietnam
  • the Nile River
  • Cuba
  • Varanasi
  • Patagonia
  • the Serengeti

It feels good to make a list, doesn’t it?

Stay tuned.

The Punjab, February 2012

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Driving to The Golden Temple in Amritsar, February 2012

Someday, perhaps, self will actually sit down to write this story.

She was heading to Amritsar with the Colonel, his beautiful wife, and the Tibetan driver. The musical accompaniment, as we crossed from Himachal Pradesh into Punjab, was “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.” Self was trying hard to concentrate.

The reason self was with the colonel was: a few weeks earlier, she’d had a huge fight with her traveling companions and parted ways with them in the small village of Bir.

Self was so angry, she remembered stabbing at some appetizers (Samosas? Pakoras?) on a plate we were all sharing, and the (Samosas? Pakoras?) kept slipping off the tines of her fork. But still she kept jabbing, thinking: I AM GOING TO SPEAR A SAMOSA IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO. And everyone was sort of mesmerized, just watching. And then finally, after a long, long moment, the woman self will only refer to as Dimples spoke up and said: “Are you okay?” Funny she should ask. No, self was most def NOT okay.

That night, self struck off on her own. On her own! In India! In Himachal Pradesh! Where she didn’t know a soul! First time in India! She couldn’t even speak the language!

She decided she’d visit monasteries and only monasteries. Which was good, because then everyone she met along the way simply assumed she was dying of cancer and was on some kind of spiritual quest.

Unbeknownst to her, the travel agent who’d arranged the trip was having a meltdown. Self called her just before she left India, and she screeched into self’s ear over the phone:

“Oh my God! It’s you! You’re alive! WHERE ARE YOU?”

Self told the travel agent: “I’m in Amritsar.”

And the woman kept thanking heaven that self was ALIVE.

(To be continued)

 

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