Willow in the wind

It’s been well over a month since the last post, and what a time it’s been. Mainly because I now know where I’m going to be living for the next good solid chunk of my life. My near-year of nomadic wandering is drawing to a close soon. I’ve bought a home.

Everyone’s first reaction when I told them was “I didn’t expect you to find something that quickly!” And I didn’t either, actually. It all just sort of happened.

After leaving Bowen Island at the end of April and just before heading back to another yoga/meditation workshop with Oda Lindner at the Krishnamurti Centre, I checked out two open houses, the first I’d seen since leaving on my travels last October. My first stop was a neat little condo in East Van with a cool little loft, in an older building. It was small, but had some personality, and I could definitely see myself there. The next stop was at a newer condo in Burnaby. On seeing it, feeling the airiness, seeing the mountains out the window and smelling the trees, I realized, oh… the Vancouver place would do, but this – this is how I actually want to live.

This is my new world

This is my new world

A year ago, I might have waffled, and needed to look at another ten places before committing. This time there was more of a sense of certainty. I wanted this, but I couldn’t get too attached to the idea because I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t get it. I knew I couldn’t possibly know everything about the place buying it; things are still beyond crazy in Vancouver real estate. There wasn’t angst – it was just taking a deep breath and setting the wheels in motion. And this time it actually worked out.

The area is all newer developments, so not a whole lot of character in the neighbourhood yet, but it’s a quick stroll to miles and miles and miles of forests and trails, and there’s lots of intriguing and useful facilities nearby. For those of you who don’t live in British Columbia, Burnaby is the next city over from Vancouver, sort of like a suburb but not too suburban; I suppose it’s like Brooklyn is to Manhattan. It still has a more urban feel than not, but there’s many huge parks, enough to go immerse yourself properly in nature. (The area I’ll be living in has occasional bear and cougar sightings – so I’ll even have to be careful just how immersed I get!)

And it’s still close enough to the city that I can get in to events in town, and that friends could reasonably take transit to get to me, even if it’s a bit of a haul. It’s about the same distance from my parents as my place in Vancouver was. There’s no ferries to wait for, no ocean to cross.

I’m so ready for this. I loved my time untethered, and I will miss many things about traveling, but I’m so ready to get all my things out of storage and stop living out of bags and boxes, and sculpt a home around me that has a sense of solidity to it. I don’t know if it’s my forever home, but it’s my foreseeable-future home. I know I’ll want to travel again, but it’s time to explore roots for now, and see what emerges from this new territory.

It might also be nearing time to get a dog again. We’ll see…

There’s been so much change in my life situation over the past few months, beyond what I’ve written about on the blog. I feel like the idea of “me” has become a lot more fluid and less fixed than it used to be. I see ways that I could attempt to sculpt my life in this new place, but I know it’s not about trying to become something, but allowing myself to evolve, being open to possibility. You can’t direct the flow of the river, but you can kind of try to steer your boat a little in one direction or another. Maybe you get where you want to go, maybe you don’t.

There’s a lot of gratitude, too. I’m aware how fortunate and privileged I’ve been to be able to live in this haphazard nomadic fashion, and the circumstances that have led up to me even being able to get a place of my own. I’ve had both old and new friends step up and help me out while I’ve floundered back and forth from Vancouver to wherever, who housed me while I was incapacitated by antibiotics (India, the gift that keeps on giving), who’ve stored my stuff for me, who’ve just been there when I’ve been overwhelmed by life. I’ve got parents who’ve got my back and have helped me in uncountable ways. I’ve had what seemed at first like a breakup, but has simply morphed into a deeply caring friendship. There’s a lot of love floating about.

Eye'm not staring at you

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Looking back at the mainland

It seems really odd to be writing this blog now. It feels like adding one more scene after the movie credits have already rolled. I mean, I’m back in Canada. That’s like neutral territory. I’ve been keeping this travel blog and now I’m not really traveling, not the same way. Why am I writing? What do you want to hear about? Hi, um, I got my taxes done this week and I found a good price on avocados?

Okay, I guess there’s a little more going on than that. I came over to Bowen Island last weekend to stay for the month, and to get a sense for whether or not island/coast living might suit me. So far I have mixed feelings about it. I love, love, love the peace and quiet and fullness of the forest everywhere, the quick and easy access to the ocean, the slightly slower pace. The place I’m staying is cozy and welcoming, with pretty much everything I need. I saw a friend’s place and was in awe of the lovely home they’ve built, the sort of life they can have. Today there was a brief break from the torrential rain; I went to a beach and watched a flock of mergansers, then went on a walk through the forest to a rolling, mossy viewpoint where hummingbirds darted and a raven soared overhead. More nature here than not, which is pretty much what I was hoping for.

But I’ve also had to take the ferry four times in a week – once on arrival, once to go get the aforementioned taxes done, twice to work onsite with a client. It’s cheaper as a pedestrian than with a car, of course, but even so you lose a lot of time in your day lining up for the ferry, waiting, boarding, waiting to exit. Today I realized there’s something that I need from the mainland that may mean I have to pop back over again tomorrow, probably with my car. I’m hoping at some point to have at least a three-day stretch where I don’t have to go anywhere. But not to have the freedom to just pick up and go somewhere whenever I feel like it – hmmm, that’s a definite drawback.

Snug Cove

Snug Cove

I’m also quite aware of how outside the community I am, and how long it would take me to build up connections here. I’m here only for a month, and I know a few people here, but it’s not like I’m going to get integrated into island society in a few weeks. If I was here for the long term, it’s unlikely that my friends from Vancouver would make it over here all that often, however well intended; I know how rare it is that I see any of my friends who are this far outside the city lines. And I feel the potential for isolation, ironically, more so than I did in India. In India, there was not the remotest possibility of seeing any of my friends and family back home, so I put that idea aside and was fully there. Here, there’s a vague sense of potential: could I be visiting them? Could they be visiting me? Am I missing out on something? Aw, I wish I could get to that event but I’d miss the ferry back, or have to bring stuff to stay in town. The nearness actually makes it a little more frustrating.

I’m thinking a lot about tradeoffs in living situations. I don’t have the budget for what I truly would want, because this is Vancouver we’re talking about and prices for everything are laughably insane, no matter what they’re saying about a real estate slowdown starting to happen. So I have to choose what I sacrifice. Will it be living space? Will it be the natural environment that I crave around me? Will it be proximity to friends and family, not to mention conveniences? Given the choice – which I am not, currently – would I pick a nice, well-maintained, small modern condo surrounded by other small modern condos where I can at least walk to a park? Or would I be content with a dumpy place in need of an overhaul as long as I could look out on trees? Or would I be just as happy to find a chunk of empty land and drop an Airstream trailer into it, and learn all the daunting stuff one needs to learn about wells and septic tanks and… and all the things I don’t even know I don’t know?

I’m not sure about any of this. My instinct goes towards comfort, but also towards pushing that comfort zone a little bit. So I’m continuing to live some other lives for a while until I figure out which one suits me. I can’t go back into the way things were before I left, and I haven’t been back long enough yet to know how I’ve changed. I know there is change – I find the way I see everything has shifted, like the camera angle swivelled to another position while I was away. But what it will reveal that the other angle didn’t, I haven’t the foggiest.

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Osaka Station, Osaka, Japan

Scurry!In the past week, I’ve gone…

  • from a land where even stop signs are flagrantly ignored… to a land where people diligently obey the myriad signs with warnings, cautions, and rules such as “do not use selfie sticks on the train”
  • from a land where I’m glad enough to find a sketchy concrete hole in the ground for a toilet… to a land where I scoff if the toilet seat isn’t even heated
  • from a land of brightly multicoloured houses and dazzling, dramatic clothing… to a land where houses and humans alike are mostly dressed in shades of grey and beige
  • from a land where humans occasionally shit openly in the streets… to a land where humans are expected to bring along a bottle of water to rinse the area on the pavement where their dog has peed
  • from a land where I’m excited to be able to find a single pack of dental floss somewhere… to a land where every store bombards me with choice paralysis
  • from a high of 37 degrees Celsius to a high of 14 degrees Celsius

It’s all appropriately mind-boggling. The contrast between India and Japan is pretty much what I expected. In many ways I find it very comfortable; the weather is so much like Vancouver at the moment, and the overall sense of consideration and caution suits me pretty well. I know no one is going to butt in front of me in a lineup, so I relax, because I don’t feel obligated to assert myself. Of course I’m relaxed about other things too: being able to drink the tap water, not catching dengue from a rogue mosquito, feeling safe on the streets at night. And it’s been fun to blow my mind with things like wandering jet-lagged into a giant mega-arcade in a mall and letting my senses be assaulted with high-pitched fast-paced MIDI-sounding tunes and flashing lights and just general insanity. I mean, I was used to chaos in India, but a Japanese arcade is a whole other type of chaos, like a casino designed specifically for kids pumped full of amphetamines or something.

Because there’s actually so much familiarity and comfort, just in terms of high standards Western-style consumerism, I had a vague sense of “is that it?” I’ve been greatly enjoying myself here in Kyoto, but I’d forgotten just how touristy a tourist town can truly be, because in Tiruvannamalai it’s a very different type of tourism, and the whole experience is raw and rough around the edges – but less curated and controlled, too. My first few days here, I went to Fushimi-Inari Shrine and Kiyomizu-dera Temple, two of the most recommended sights here. I’d seen photos of them: serene, beautiful Buddhist temples. Then I got there and everything was swarming with other tourists posing with their selfie sticks. Of course, of course they would be. I just hadn’t thought about that.

Tourists at Fushimi-Inari Shrine

All those promo pics of empty, endless red gates? LIES. This is your real view.

I was a bit disappointed at first, but behind Fushimi-Inari I went on a walk partway up the mountain, and sat on the path in the bamboo forest there where someone would only occasionally wander by, and that was the sort of lovely and peaceful experience I had had in mind. Kiyomizu-dera likely has similar places to hang out, but it was a bitterly cold and rainy evening when I was there, and I had to keep moving to keep warm.

Women in kimonos at Fushimi-Inari Shrine

It is kinda cool though when some of the tourists are Japanese women who’ve rented kimonos for the occasion.

Then I went to Nara, to see the sacred deer in Nara Park and to visit the immense Todai-ji Temple. And this was the first moment I truly had of “ah, THIS is why I came to Japan”.

First of all, I’d heard that the deer will come up to you for crackers, but I hadn’t appreciated that they will basically mug tourists for all they’re worth. And that is a most beautiful form of entertainment, watching Japanese girls run shrieking from these cute fuzzy deer who’ve just come up and gently headbutted them or nibbled their pockets.

Sacred deer on a shakedown for crackers

Sacred deer on a shakedown for crackers

This poor kid didn’t stand a chance. He lost his colouring book page to a rogue deer and ran bawling to his mom. Roving deer gangs… they’re a menace to society.

The deer ate my homework!

The deer ate my homework!

Getting to pat and feed and interact with the deer just lightened my heart so much. And then I arrived at Todai-ji Temple. Sure, it was still filled with tourists. But not only were they being mauled by deer, but the temple itself was so sheerly immense and imposing that the crowds simply couldn’t distract from it. It is the largest wooden structure in the world – and this is after a smaller version of it was rebuilt in 1709 (the original temple was founded in 728).

Todai-Ji Temple

Todai-Ji Temple

It houses an immense Buddha (49 feet high) and two slightly smaller Bodhisattvas. I found a bench at the back where I could finally just sit quietly and watch people go by, and stayed there for some time, enjoying the feeling of time and space and scale.

A Very Big Buddha

A Very Big Buddha

It was a beautifully sunny day, still a bit chilly, but the cherry and plum blossoms were just starting to emerge. A little early, lucky for me.

Blossoms at Todai-Ji Temple

Horse wishes

The next day I discovered that my Airbnb had a bicycle I could borrow, and that just opened up Kyoto in a whole new way. I noodled through quiet side streets, away from all the masses of humanity and their selfie sticks, and actually found the sorts of peaceful hidden temples that I had had in my imagination before coming to Japan.

I also found out about an onsen, or public bath, that I could go to – most of them are blocked to me because I’m tattooed, and that’s still so strongly associated with crime here that it’s enough to get you kicked out of the tub. Funaoka Onsen doesn’t mind, and I was so much in need of a hot soak. Sleeping on a futon on tatami mats is nice and authentic and all, but it’s a bit like camping; it takes a few days for the body to adjust, and it sure does its share of complaining in the meantime, especially having just been hefting a heavy backpack around. Funaoka Onsen has five different tubs, including one that has electric currents running through it for an effect much like a TENS machine. Fun stuff. I stayed until I was boiled like a lobster.

I also reserved a spot in a meditation class at Shunkoin Temple. It was geared at beginners, but I’ve never really looked at Zen in any meaningful way, and the idea of getting to finally enter and experience the inside of a temple was highly appealing. And the class was really good. The instructor, Rev. Takafumi Kawakami, gave an excellent introduction to the whole picture of meditation, with warmth and without pretense: debunking the idea that it’s all about being happy, talking about anxiety and sadness coming up, discussing the process of getting from calmness to concentration to insight over time. He showed us around the main halls of the temple, and then we had some matcha tea and crackers. I really truly enjoyed it, wished it was longer, and that the instructor had been available to chat afterwards. It turns out they also have a guesthouse – I’d certainly consider staying there for a few nights another time, to be immersed in the space more.

Shunkoin meditation hall

Shunkoin meditation hall

The temple is in a big complex of over a dozen temples to the north of town, almost like a campus, but for Buddhists. As I left Shunkoin I passed Taizo-in Temple. It’s famous for its Zen garden, but by this point it was raining pretty significantly and I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to pay the entrance fee and wander about getting damp. I decided to, and it was one of the loveliest moments I had in Kyoto. The gardens are so artfully laid out, in a way that they look simultaneously natural and human-crafted. They’re nothing like Western gardens where there’s a single focal point and symmetry; they’re based more on principles of harmony and relationship between the elements. (Rev. Kawakami said the word for “harmony” gets terribly misused in Japanese advertising, but it still has a nice connotation in English, at least.) Even though it was raining solidly, even though most of the trees were still bare and the ground still a bit brownish, there was such an ease and beauty about the place, a sense that “this is perfect” even with the circumstances not being ideal. I would’ve loved to have sat there for a while, but everything to sit on was wet. Another trip, perhaps.

Rainy day at Taizo-In Temple

Rainy day at Taizo-In Temple

So on Wednesday, my five-and-a-bit months of international travel comes to an end. I’ll probably do a bit of decompressing and readjusting and catching up on things before I post next. I’ve got family and friends to see. I’ve got a lot of coding to catch up on – my remote working wasn’t really going so well by the end of my time in India, between my digestion and wrist issues and preparing to depart. And I’ve got some more culture shock coming to me! Here we go!

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Rorschach, Missy, and Yellow Dog

While I made several wonderful new friends in Tiru, it’s the street dogs that I’m most driven to write about. (This is also because they don’t mind me airing their personal business on a public-facing blog.) Here’s where things stood with them at the point that I left town.

Rorschach

Rorschach

The day I posted that last story about the dogs also happened to be the night of the full full moon. This is when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over India come for girivalam and walk barefoot around the holy mountain Arunachala, a 14km trip, which is said to be extremely auspicious. Matthew and I decided to go this time (not barefoot, thank you).

Rorschach, who’d had such a great time with us in the park earlier in the week, spotted us heading down the street and heartily kept pace with us as we joined the river of humanity along the main road. I was amused, and figured he’d come hang out for a little way and then give up once the other local street dogs started snarling him out of their territories.

Well, damned if he didn’t keep going. And going. And going. He kept one eye on us at all times, and zigged and zagged through the people, even taking the occasional smack from an Indian who didn’t like having a dog too near. Other dogs would rush him, sometimes in small packs, and he would stand his ground, barking and snarling back, and then once they’d hesitate, he’d zip back into the crowds of people for protection. He would usually trot along the outside edge of the road, looking for us, and come up and gently poke my hand with his nose to check in. He seemed pretty pleased to be in our company.

Rorschach does not want gelato.

Rorschach does not want gelato.

I eventually realized we were sort of responsible for him making it back, because he was pretty far from home, and the darker it got and the further we were from home, the more I could see him getting anxious and uncertain. We stopped for pizza (yes, pizza) on the other side of the mountain; the staff there actually let us bring him inside for a little bit, but he didn’t want to be there, and paced around nervously outside. I was worried he’d take off on his own and get completely lost. It had been an intense journey just watching him confront the other dogs and weave through the crowds, and though he’s quite an independent and confident dog, I’d felt the need to keep an eye on him.

By this point we were pretty tired, my foot was hurting, Matthew’s back was hurting, and we wanted to take a rickshaw the last third of the way. We tried to bring Rorschach, but he was convinced it was a roaring death machine and would have none of it. I couldn’t abandon him over there, so we took a deep breath and got back to walking the rest of the way through the narrowest, busiest part of town. All three of us made it back, unscathed and exhausted. Indians and Westerners alike were impressed by his tenacity, and a few folks declared him to be a reincarnated rishi or sage, or at the very least guaranteed an excellent rebirth.

Rorschach on a spiritual journey

Rorschach on a spiritual journey

Surprisingly, even after that craziness, Rorschach still followed us a few times here and there. The last time he tried to come along with me, though, I was going to a restaurant and he got chased off by about eight other street dogs while hanging around uncertainly wondering whether he should stay or go. Sorry, buddy. Not everywhere we go is going to be a fun adventure…

I learned later that Rorschach has two families in Tiru: an Indian family that seems to technically “own” him, insofar as anyone owns a dog like that, and a Western woman who raised him as a puppy. He has another name, but I didn’t quite catch it, and will always think of him as Rorschach regardless. So he is well looked after and well fed; he knows how to socialize and I’ve seen him win over other people as he won me over. He seems to me to be an uncannily intelligent dog, just judging by the way I’ve seen him deal with other dogs and other humans. I’ll miss him, but I’m quite sure he’ll do alright.

 

Missy

Yeah… Missy is not doing as well.

It isn’t about her broken leg – that seemed to heal up more or less alright as the weeks went on, and I only saw her limping one other time.

Missy and Rorschach

Missy and Rorschach

She’d already developed a bad habit of jumping on people she liked, which by this point was up to four or five of us, including the woman feeding her daily. Usually, if you have a dog that you want to stop jumping, you do something to discourage the jumping – turn aside and ignore them, distract them with treats before they can jump, teach them an alternative, incompatible behaviour. Doing a proper training session with Missy wasn’t really an option; this is a feral dog who’s never known collar or leash. Giving or even throwing treats gets complicated when you’ve got one or two extra dogs nearby competing for food, and when you don’t really want a dog’s mouth touching your hand because they’ve never been vaccinated or dewormed. I tried rewarding her with attention and pats only when she had all four legs on the ground, but that only seemed to go so far. Ignoring her and turning away seemed to work at first but eventually she didn’t seem to mind any more, and we all ended up kneeing her in the chest repeatedly just so our clothes wouldn’t constantly be covered with pawprints. Yet she would still come flailing at us full force.

If Rorschach was around at the time, sometimes you could do a sideways dodge so that she would actually land on him, and then she’d start playing and roughhousing with him, sort of taking out her energy on him. He would generally humour her, and I’d enjoy watching them play and wouldn’t have to deal with her jumping any more. They seemed like a cliché of a human couple, the solid, macho male with the dumb blonde who doesn’t quite get it.

Here they are having a fine time with an old sock, with Yellow Dog getting in on the action for once.

Then two new dogs showed up in the area, one unspayed female I ended up calling Basenji Girl, and a male I never did name. This seemed to spark a shift in the social dynamics. For the first time, I saw Rorschach spontaneously roll over for another male. And he began to gang up on Missy occasionally with the other two; one time, they chased her off, she rolled over in submission, and Basenji Girl lifted her leg and pissed on her.

I told Rorschach I didn’t think his new friends were a good influence. But that dog will do what he wants.

Missy’s jumping got worse and worse, perhaps from the insecurity of her social status in the dog world. From what had once been a sort of happy singing yowl, she started greeting her human friends with a pathetic, annoying whimper, alternating between hurling herself at us and then cringing and rolling over in submission when we made any move to stop her jumping. It became more and more unpleasant, and gradually none of us really wanted that much to do with her any more. I would give her a brief pat hello and then keep moving.

I started to notice Missy’s behaviour around the other dogs changing. When the two new dogs approached the area one night, she backed away and stiffened, then rushed them with a passive-aggressive snarling. She sounded ferocious, but her body language was cringing and fearful. Rorschach, who had been amiable with her a moment ago, seemed unsure whose side he should be on, first joining her in barking at the two newcomers, then turning around and barking back at her. They drove her back through the gate of the building where she occasionally received food, and she stayed there for a long time, miserable.

One night, Missy had rolled over for Basenji Girl, who then very casually opened her jaws and placed them, gently, over Missy’s throat. Unlike Missy and Rorschach’s tumbling play, this was not a game. Missy reacted, and whatever happened next happened so fast that I couldn’t even recount it for you, except to say it was one of the most vicious-looking, alarming-sounding incidents I’ve witnessed between dogs. I don’t even think anyone drew blood, but it was made very, very clear to Missy that she was not an equal.

After that, I would see her occasionally with Rorschach in the daytime and things would seem to be alright, but at night she was rarely to be seen. I think the Montreal lady was sheltering her at times – but like us, she was leaving in March, and with her went Missy’s main food source. In those last few days after the woman left and before I left, what I saw of Missy was a nearly intolerable, quivering, whining, jumping wreck of insecurity and desperation. She also seemed to have developed some kind of weird little grey growth on her neck – a parasite? An infection from a bite? I have no idea, but it made me nauseous to look at it, and feel even less like interacting with her. I snuck her some food when the other dogs weren’t around, but now I’m gone from there as well.

I don’t think her future looks very good. Either the other dogs will drive her into another area, or she’ll jump on some unsuspecting human who’s much less kind to her than we were. She may survive, but she is not going to thrive. After my experience with Buddy Dog, I’ve had to let go of the idea that I could truly help or save a dog that I would only see for a few months and then disappear again.

But I am sad for her. It was the strangest downward spiral to witness.

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Photo by Sheryl Sapphire Photography

It’s finally happened. After four months without leaving the orbit of Arunachala, I have broken free of the gravitational pull of the mountain and made it to Chennai as planned.

I really did expect to do some short trips outside Tiruvannamalai at some point in my visit. It just never happened. For the first two months, I felt no desire to go anywhere else; then by the time I was starting to get restless, I either had weekend plans, too much work during the weekdays, or was having enough intermittent issues with my digestion that the idea of a long car, bus, or train ride to anywhere didn’t really appeal. The last two weeks I was mostly just trying to tough it out, and not that interested in expanding my horizons any further. But it wasn’t without some worthwhile moments.

A new look for Bhagavan

One thing that happened was that Matthew and I finally launched the redesign of the Sri Ramanasramam website.  When we first arrived we had volunteered to do a few little informal fix-ups on the existing site, but then we ended up going down a sort of rabbit-hole where everything we fixed seemed to reveal another dire issue, and eventually the only thing that made sense was a bit of a reboot. There’s still room for improvement, but I’m quite pleased with what we were able to do given the circumstances.

A new look for me

Another thing that happened is that I did a spontaneous avante-garde photoshoot with a professional photographer. (What, doesn’t everyone do this when they come for a spiritual journey in India?) I met Leela of Sheryl Sapphire Photography at a local restaurant, and we got on like a house on fire. She suggested we put our creative brains together and see what fun we could have on a photoshoot. We came up with several possible locations, like an abandoned temple near the main road, and a lotus garden on the other side of the mountain. But on the actual day of reckoning, both of us were feeling pretty low-key from heat and indigestion. So we ended up exploring the garden near where she was staying – which turned out to be perfect, because we had the quiet and the privacy to really play with some ideas and outfits. She happened to have a tragically ripped dress she had been meaning to repair, and we found a handful of dead bougainvillea to match, and we just had a hell of a lot of fun with it all.

Photo by Sheryl Sapphire Photography

This was truly what I needed at this point in the trip. I’d been feeling pretty down about my body, between my guts and my wrist both acting up, and the heat starting to get to me. Posing and exploring ideas with Leela helped me feel better about being in my body, and see some beauty in myself again, not just a whining puddle of sweat and discomfort.

A gut feeling about chicken

I started feeling stronger the last few days before leaving. This was in no small part because Matthew bought us a chicken. I’m not normally a big meat-eater, but I’ve also never been purely vegetarian, and in the past four months I had only had meat twice. I suspect what happened to my digestion was partly that I got some kind of bacterial or parasitic thing, not enough to show up on the crappy hospital test, but enough to affect a body that was lacking protein and probably some other random nutrients.

And by “bought us a chicken” I have to add that the chicken was alive when he bought it, and shortly afterwards, it was not. This is how things work around here. I’ve always thought that if I’m going to eat meat I should be able to face its death; I wasn’t there to witness it myself, but Matthew thoughtfully presented me with a video that I hadn’t asked for. (He also thoughtfully offered to let me post it on this blog for you, but I wasn’t sure my readership would be so very keen. Please accept this sea turtle instead, which died of natural causes as far as I know.)

Death on the beach

No chickens were harmed in the filming of this dead sea turtle.

Back to the chicken: it’s strange to be aware of an animal that died specifically for me, not just in a typical restaurant or supermarket where it’s impersonal. I did my best not to take this for granted, and appreciate its unwilling contribution to my own body’s needs. And I don’t think I’m totally out of the woods yet, but I did start feeling significantly better from that point on. Thank you, dear bird.

From Krishnamurti to Krishnamurti

This blog started with my one-month stay at the Krishnamurti Educational Centre of Canada. I consider this to have been the first real step in my travels, as it was my first time living somewhere away from the Lower Mainland. And I truly loved that place, wandering around the shores and fields and forests and lovely old buildings.

Vasanta Vihar, Krishnamurti Foundation of India

Vasanta Vihar, Krishnamurti Foundation of India

 

Right now I’m at Vahanta Vihar, the Krishnamurti Foundation of India, where Matthew and I are staying for a few days before I head off to Japan and then back to Canada. I hadn’t expected just how much of a sanctuary it would be after the intensity and energy of Tiruvannamalai, and even of Sri Ramanasramam. It’s green, quiet, lush, lovingly cared for. The people are welcoming and the food is delicious. Parakeets and crows clutter the trees; on the ground, red and black firebugs dotter about and the occasional mongoose slinks by. The feeling here is very much like the KECC in Victoria, an informal nature preserve alongside a well-stocked library, though in general the library is bigger and the nature area smaller.

Coconut trees

It’s a wonderful place for me to regroup and prepare for the leap out of India in a few days – and into a place that’s as close to India’s opposite as you can get on this planet…

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