Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife.  
The first question was, "Did you bring joy?"  
The second was, "Did you find joy?"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Palm Wrapped In A Plum

Tensions are rising here in India.  Storms are brewing.  Lightening is flashing and thunder is rolling.  The skies above Santiniketan let loose today, rain was followed by hail.  For several minutes the temperature plummeted and I got the tiniest taste of shivery winter, which was quickly followed by a spike in humidity and the moodiness of the skies rolled through the classroom I was teaching in; Chandana and I bickered and no one seemed to want to focus, least of all me.

This morning I went to look at a piece of land that is owned, in part, by a friend of Chandana's named Konika.  Out in the middle of nowhere, the large parcel is dotted with palm and mango trees.  While we surveyed, a very large monkey galloped across the plain and for a split moment I felt like I was on a savanna in Africa which, now that I've been in India so long, feels just that much more exotic.  Konika is a very slight woman who comes across as shy, but she can surprise a person with sudden bursts of quiet laughter and strong declarations about this or that.  We shared a rickshaw last night and she got in and embraced me full on to break the tension that comes from trying to share a teeny tiny seat with a total stranger.

Konkia lives in Kolkata and makes a living doing some kind of social work.  She also comes to Santinketan regularly to help Chandana and her crew develop new recipes for their line of organic food products.  She is a busy, single by choice, nearing middle age lady who longs to live on the land, farming, using solar power and building a model village for the next phase of planetary development.  Out on her land, Konika fairly shone.

When I came home, Nicole called from Bodhgaya where she is learning to meditate.  I don't know if she is sitting under Buddha's Tree of Enlightenment, but she could.  It's there.  It also sounds like she could use a little peace of mind.  She was sounding a little bitter about India.  After swimming with the dead cows in Varanasi, I think she is a little travel worn, tired, hating the constant adjusting that it takes to live day in and day out in a country that is so foreign, a place where even the beds can piss a person off.  I can sympathize with her there.  Beds are very hard here in India.  Though I find that it doesn't bother me so much anymore.

After the phone call, I came down with a splitting headache and had to go to sleep.  Maybe I was channeling Nicole's angst.  Maybe it was leaving the house at seven to go riding in a rickshaw, which is hard on a body.  I don't know.

Later still, I made a pile of stuff to send home.  I'm cleaning house of all the clothes I won't need for the next month, as well as a pile of gifts.  But it feels itchy and dumb and even slightly hateful in that 14 year-old, "I HATE THIS!" kind of way.  My room is looking less like I live here and more like I'm just staying here for a few more days.

As of two minutes ago, I am typing in the dark.  The electricity has gone out.  Hows that for a metaphor?  I feel I don't even need to elaborate on the correlation there....oh, ok....instead of feeling plugged into this place....I'm all out of juice....or something like that.

And, just like that, the lights come back on.  Ah, sweet rejuvenation.

Walking with Konika today I wondered if I was subtly being wooed to buy into her land.  Out of the original 9 investors, only a few are even slightly pro-active about building, and only one other person is truly gung-ho.  I walked with an open heart, inviting myself to really consider the option.

Tonight I find myself caught somewhere between Konika in her village of the future and Nicole feeling so far from the familiar comforts of home.  I could see myself living out on the land here in India.  I could see going to work everyday at Antaranga or the cyber cafe I've daydreamed with Chandana about starting; I can see my friends here being my friends for life.  I can also picture my friends and family and house back in Seattle and I wonder what kind of lunatic gives up all that sweet comfort for the heat and dust and madness of a place like India.

I suspect there's some kind of hybrid possibility.  I dont' know what to even picture when I say that.  It's not like India is right around the corner from Seattle.  But maybe there's a way to have it all....???  

I can't get these trees I saw today out of my mind.   They were out on Konika's land.  There was a plum tree wrapped around a coconut palm.  I can't get over the beauty of the two disparate earthly creatures, utterly entwined with each other.  Plums in my mind speak of warm, but moderate, climates.  They are delicate, feminine somehow.   They produce fruit that is sweet and juicy and fleshy.  Coconut palms scream HEAT and radiate masculinity and sturdiness and a real survivor mentality.  They make fruit that is hard, seemingly impenetrable, difficult to eat, but the water of a coconut has healing powers.

Somehow, that is the life I want, the life I imagine for myself, a coconut palm wrapped in a plum tree kind of a life.  Or maybe that's just me.  Maybe I am a plum tree wrapped around a coconut palm. 

Maybe both statements are true.

The lights just went out again, which seems like a sign.  No answers are coming tonight.  The storm has left it's mark and we are just going to have to sit in the dark and wait for the lights to come back on or the sun to rise....which ever comes first.

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