IN DEVOTION TO THE DHARMSALA MOUNTAINS

{some reflections made on the mountains and sweetness of meditation}

Today, the mountains were particularly spectacular, let me tell you, there was no need for glasses or binoculars, for the mere vision of them would bring holy water to the eyes, healing anyone in its path. They jutted out, razor sharp hips and edges where light would hit in parallel lines, turning each crease of the fabric of snow upon mountains into soft peach, indigo satin. Crowned like a godly halo, the kings of the valleys sat patiently, waiting to be bathed in gold. The blooming light from the red biscuit sun tiptoed, leaving behind a trail of lemon light sitting straight-spined like prickly baby hairs on new mountain skin.  All dressed in their sunset gowns, these kings and queens sank back into the soft pillow of the sky, the color of flower petals: a melting from pale, new violet to deep wine, like spilled paint, lathered with a butter knife. And if you tilted your head back enough, amidst her guardian bright tufts of clouds, you would see her. The moon, an elegant milky fingernail, cutting the sky apart with a smirk that implied she’d seen it all: you dancing on the roof below, countless times.

The sweetness of meditation: 

It is the feeling that is indescribable, beyond human petrified symbols such as ‘stillness’ or ‘vacuity’, for they are a mere skeletons of reality. It is the feeling of blowing on a pile of weightless ash with a single exhale, or the complete collapse of a sandcastle, with the sweep of a satin nightgown. Smaller, lesser, lighter than the bare wisp of vapour emanated from whispering lips. Slighter than the sound of a vanishing mid-born intention. And that’s when you realise the marble under your feet, holding the equation to what you’ve always thought was frigidness, bed-rock hardness was actually a door into something minuscule. An ink spot sitting comfortably, languidly stretching out, amused at the pattern at the tip of your finger. It urges you to look closer, squint, yet it will only show itself if your spine unlocks, muscles melt like butter and your gaze drops nearly to sleep. Only then, in that sweet promising moment edging into darkness, will that minuscule microcosm pull back its curtains for you. Once you open the door, it is sharp as the rays of noon sun, biting through the fangs of winter cold, crawling invisibly under your skin like an unknown yet completely familiar traceless shiver of a lustful memory. That’s when you know it’s gotten to you. And at last, you ingest every last drop of its essence, and you’re all of it. You explode like a sunset flooding the sky completely, leaving behind infinite traces like clouds cut up by a child and thrown into the air, to have them stick to the clear blue canvas sky as if it where a whiteboard. 

You realise you’ve been dog barking at the reflection of the moon all your life.

It’s a gloomy, cloudy day, which happens to the consequently lead to very cold temperatures. I’m wearing an immeasurable amount of layers and a lukewarm hot water bottle. There’s a cut in the crease of the fabric in the sky and the sun bleeds through it hazily, like melted white chocolate. The prayer flags whistle in the wind- their limbs running urgently, trying to catch the last train of the night. The big tree in front of me swings its big head- a mop of oblong leaves forwards and backwards, like a melodramatic lover, weeping at the balcony. Meanwhile, the tall, stark, mustard bamboos stay still like statues of living things, crystallised by medusa. The wind or threat of the rain is not a source of discomposure for them. And I, sit by the steps of the gompa, splayed and scattered like the unfortunate bougainville flowers blown off their branches at the ripe age of their effervescent magenta.

I’ve realised that my mood reflects the weather like a mirror. On cloudy, murky days, this body walks slow, feels mellow and seeks warm comfort. Its breaths are longer and deeper and time moves slowly. Every sound elongates at the touch of the ears, and every taste tiptoes up to it like a silent ballerina. This body and mind just want to fall back into the bunch of feathers that composes the sky. Make me some warm tea, read me some bedtime stories, let’s bake some cookies and give them all to our neighbours. But mostly, what I seek, is human body warmth.

And on days where the sun blazes its radiant teeth out, reflecting infinite rays, this body opens up like a bud and follows the light like a sunflower. It becomes pure gold, malleable, there, yet not there- motion of a compendium of sparks exploding. I’ll gobble the world up and sprint across all oceans, exhale breaths full of love with hands in prayer over my racing heart. The world is my garden, flamingly alive, every lead and cloud and rose petal breathes in unison with mother earth and this blood that is of mother earth. Nothing is mine. My fingertips loosen their grip and become like the hands of each mother: transparent, yet powerfully there, healing. Like vines, I wrap this self around each everlasting yet fleeting present moment. Come sit with me in this enchanted place of a dream and let’s marvel at it all, with a pen, a book and  pair of sunglasses. Sprawled like lazy caterpillars on this grassy meadow. 

Hello, I sit on a small bumpy rock in the middle of these yellow rice paddy fields that roll like small waves on ocean foam ridges. Sitting where I am, if you tilt your head slightly higher, you’ll be met with the forked spines of naked trees, fanning out their branches like hair in the wind. And even behind that, you’ll find what I’m really here for: these mountains: relaxed, as if on a reclining chair, yet vigilantly aware, they stare back at me. Their white snowy eyes, blurred azure shadows of mouthes and deep dark arms of furry trees- all bare through my pupils, with gentle insistence. And what is this soft whispered urgency of the mountains? It is the truth that has been begging to come home to our fluttering hearts. The reason to why we always long for a home we can’t reach for. For we do not know, like blind moths stumbling, that the power and essence of these icy snow-capped giants already runs through our bloodstream. It is the air we exhale, it is the glue to our flesh and bones, it is the string to our words and songs, it is the last moment before we roll into sleep, it is in the deepest cry of our human sorrow, and the lightest feather of joy. And even when your breath has been snuffed away or your heart misses a beat, in that absence of all, that clear, pure, power undresses itself completely. 

I walked by the fire he had created with sticks and dead bougainville, and wrinkled leaves. We nodded to each other and I silently placed myself next to him. He put out his hands in front of him, and I imitated. We both tried to communicate- me looking straight into his dense light brown irises, trying to decode something, while he stared back at me blankly. “Ok.” He would reply to my questions. I would nod back at his hindi. Both of us knew this was going nowhere, yet there was something intimate that remained when one shares a fire with someone. Both beings seek for the same primal need of comfort. The fire crackled like ice-shards cracking into millions of pieces, patiently and elegantly. The wind blowed and the soft red flames hid their own ashes for while, which then sneaked out like sheep after the wolf had gone. They were persistent: these slow, laughing, blames, as we fed them smaller branches and they exhaled in relief. For some time, the wind changed direction, blowing bits and pieces in the lanky man’s direction. He lowered his cap, keeping his head down in his squat position. He asked me if I was from America, and I said no. Then we sank bak into silence. He sneaked a cigarette, which he hid below his crossed arms, and then we both went back to watching the fire as if it were the only thing keeping us alive. After some time, he got up and walked away. A few moments later, I followed suit. 

Advertisements

fishing in your subconscious waters

I’m itching to write, as if I were presented with a scab that has remained forever unpickable. I crave to write and write and have this pencil glide from page to page to scroll to keyboard, from material to technological, my words shall keep speaking. Kingdoms of two meter waves, rosie autumns, misty minds, suffering, hoping for catharsis. I crave to write about this whole existence, the earth and all the systems within it, and of course, the systems within and of course, the unknown, when we turn the lights off. In this little controversial mind of mine, I shall clear some space for a little writing laboratory. Test tubes and microscopes, sieves, gloves and the whole lot. You see it’s a science. One must first dip themselves into the waters of imagination, with gloves, carefully extract samples from different kingdoms: darkness, despair, adrenalin, jealousy (and we usually go for the nastier ones, harder to grab, more likely to bite your finger). And once you’re back from that expedition, you examine them under a microscope, these little twitching encapsulated potentials. With some wit and pincers, you tie them together to form a little world of yours, where gravity might be slightly different. Another warning: you can’t really control when these urges to dive into these creative, inviting, dangerous waters will come. Whether your head rests on a pillow, hair relaxed, body decompressing for sleep, or whether you’re at a coffeeshop, or on a rollercoaster, this urge simply does not care. You’re thrown into your diving suit and pushed into your subconscious synovial fluid. Down under there, the sky varies often, blanketed by the indigo wine and occasional lighting strikes. You might find some familiar structures, bits of picked up memories. You might find grieving faces- suppressed pain never nurtured. Now… I don’t want to spoil your exploration nor uncover too much of myself in this. All I can say is, remember to take your backpack.

on gender identity & sexuality

Recently, gender has been such a recurring topic in my mind. To the point where I think in cycles, realise the paradox in each assumption I make, and come out frustrated. On one hand I love the dichotomy between feminine and masculine, what each represents and how some days I feel like embodying one more than the other. Some days I want to be bright, impulsive, explosive while other days I choose sensuality and nurturing and reflective energies to embody. I love to hop between these realms which have been encapsulated in human forms: “feminine” and “masculine”. It feels like a game. However, at the same time, I see the uselessness to have to group characteristics and attitudes into two categories. Why do we do this? By doing this we are defining what we cannot be once we state that we belong to one label and not the other. Isn’t it something in excess? An unnecessary part to add to our identity, and an unnecessary stress and struggle. Removing the label, sometimes, I feel like I can breathe deeper and create myself better. The clay in my hands no longer needs a cut-out, and I feel myself expand. I never really realised this was a cage until I saw the metal columns. When I don’t stick a name to my “gender”, it’s as if gender didn’t exist, and it was just me, this human, being itself in this world, surrounded by other humans trying to also reach their ideals of themselves. I don’t need to announce to the world that I am only one category of gender, because I don’t want to exclusively identify only with a certain set of principles, ideals, expectations. I am not feeding into this concept by society, I personally reject it. Saying my gender is female or male, I’m left with an inner question mark, where I’d like to not even stand in the middle, but completely out of the spectrum. This human body, made out of flesh cells, proteins and all, is simply my outer manifestation, but I identify with my creative essence which is boundless, nameless, ever changing. And the same with sexuality- in my reality, it will not exist. It is unecessary, and I will never know completely that my whole life I will only be attracted to a certain “gender”- for that also is just a concept. It’s all just mind play things. I will fall for who I fall for.

However, I still do understand where these labels come from. In order for us to feel like we belong, for us to create amazing communities, for us to bond with people like us, and for convenience. Sometimes we also feel safe once we give ourself a label, we feel like we know ourselves a little bit better. You are free to choose whichever label you like, or create one yourself. I think that is a beautiful human process. As for me, I’ll stay on the side-lines, a little lump of clay that never fully hardens. I don’t know who the fuck I am, and I’m great with that- in fact, I enjoy it. I enjoy this constant evolution without the strings of societal concepts. It allows me to be whatever or whoever I want. I simply Am. Beyond words and forms, I am. And I am here to create and love.

meditations

On the rare occasion where I settle down and stop my wheels of blood from rolling, I sit down to watch the burning trail I’ve made- the friction between the soles of feet and unnerving city cement. I cremate the moment and look at its ashes. All that exists are the flames, the heat, the black dots dancing across vision. I empty my vessel, picking and scrubbing at all corners of this machine. I unhinge the engine and I’m left with splutterless silence. Suddenly, I realise how obsolete certain things in life are, yet at the same time, the intentionality behind everything. Immortalising this moment, I immortalise myself. I, who thought I could conquer and bellow tyrannically over soul and mind, control life like a maniac. Now I dress in titter tatters, sit with simplicity, hold rocks in the palm of my hands and happiness comes in with mischief. Caught red-handed, I surrender my fortress, my megacity of plan-thoughts and let the moment pierce my skin like a subliminal vaccine. Protecting and giving asylum. The future in my head is now past-tense overgrown weeds, that only belongs to night terrors. I realise its opacity, and in turn, my solidity as I breathe. Thick, unkempt hair and rosy cheeks. Elbows propped against knees. It’s all at ease and I exist, slightly hovering above this body.

a conversation with my alter-ego

I’m sitting in this room, having tea and scones with myself. It’s rather a very fancy space. Painted white bricks, a nice table, red velvet chairs. The tea is earl gray, and the scone comes with a little pot of cream. Of course, this whole set up has been stolen from one of my memories- how else is imagination made? I am indeed quite rusty at this process, for fear has been nagging it’s tail in my face. But today, emotion has prevailed and I can’t find myself doing anything else but writing- for it is all I can really make myself do. You got to always give something back in this energy exchange.  You take in the form of breath and space and time. You have to give back. It can be in the form of creativity, happiness, awareness… Anything pure. So, everything else has been crossed out on the  “giving” list, and writing sits there like an awkward child, waiting for me to claim him finally.
My alter ego sits opposite me, across the table. She’s been served the same as me: tea and scones. I want to say hello, but I’m scared and disgusted. She has my face, and it is really the only time I can fully see myself directly in real life. I have this narcassistic need to crawl up to her, look at her from every angle, but then I remind myself that she is not me. Right? Her name tag says Anthea.

“Speak,” The voice that comes out of her lips is of a higher tone, but of course it is, why am I taken aback? The only voice of mine that I’ve heard is but an echo in my defective human eardrums.

She crosses her legs, and I don’t. Before speaking, I really take a good look at Anthea. Her hair’s flying everywhere, as if no one had touched it in a year: mouldy, hay-like, half-black, half-yellow. But in contrast, mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick has been applied perfectly to her face. Two little ghostly shadows rest on her cheekbones: she is thinner than me. Her skin glows like a halo, her fingers are like a pianist’s, but a real pianist. Maybe she plays piano? She wears a huge white shirt with a blue circle- I recognise it. It fits her like a huge bag, it’s obvious how tiny her body is beneath that cloth, and it looks good. Not the way it looks on me. As she waits for my reply, she brings her hands up to the table, and graciously lifts the teacup to her mouth. Her arm is covered in porcelain ink tattoos, drawings of flowers and some other amorphous slightly dark shapes. The skin is pulsing and red and raw.

“Those new?” I ask.

She stops midway, and places the cup back down. The ding between the ceramic and glass table seems like it is made in heaven.

“Yes.” She speaks with confidence. “Who are you?” she adds on.

“I am me.” I look down at my hands. I’m wearing something I think seems familiar. “And you, are my alter-ego.”

“Oh no, no. You, my dear, are my alter-ego. I am original. A unique creation.” She replies, with that voice that just seems too abnormally high in pitch.

We both lean forward at the same time: I guess we do have the same brain with the same reflex-impulses. I stare into my own eyes.

“What do you do?” The words barely come out of my dry lips. I’m sweating and she’s stone cold.

“I’m an artist, a writer. I’m intense. I like adrenaline, and caffeine and rushes- I like extremes.” As she says this, she lights a thin cigarette that she allows to balance precariously before her food. She cuts the scone into a million tiny slices.

“I like my body to extremes- these bones, seeing them, remind me of my mortality. It’s what drives me to live my life. And the feeling of this smoke? It makes me lightheaded, and the fact that it’s slowly destroying me just puts me in the best mood for creation.” She says this, as she keeps the smoke lurking in her lungs. Her small, pinpoint breasts roll outward, then inward.

“You are destroying yourself to make art?” I say. I don’t know what to feel. This all sounds too familiar of an idea.

“I don’t know, really. This is all just so temporary. I’m just playing around like an alchemist, with these limbs, this face, this living breathing machine. I like to be in control. I’ve written books about my  emotions- killed my way to get up top. I have a girlfriend – I think she hates me, but also maybe secretly loves me. You see, I’m just oh so paranoid she’s going to run off, so I like to interrogate her, tie her up. In my free time, when I’m not networking, of course. That’s me, that’s what I do. There you have it.” She says all at once.

“Friends?” I inquire, almost desperately.

“Oh, so many. I get invited to parties, I’m an artist! A self-destructive manipulative artist, testing the limits- who doesn’t like that at a party? I have pictures of my friends, but I can’t really remember all their names, of course. Human memory is stunted.”

My whole body starts shaking and I stare at my veins portruding. She watches this happen but doesn’t speak a word. Goddamnit. I take the teapot sitting next to me and throw it right at her face. I want to watch her disappear, disintegrate like a projection. It hits her, and she bleeds and her head hits the wall behind. She screams. Fuck. Who made me throw that? Why did I throw that? I’ve never heard myself scream since I was 13. It’s a painful sound that cuts me to half and makes me forget everything but that.

She doesn’t disappear. She’s real and she crouches down on the floor, grasping her eyes. There’s no anger when she cries. It’s like she knew it would come.

Salty tears start building up and soon enough I’m crying, at the same rate as her, and in the same position.

“Oh, my alter-ego. Why are you so cruel?” She weeps and squacks out. Her voice is scratched now, patchy.

Those words hit me like ten blows. I want to say, Look at who you are. I thought you were who I wanted to be.

Then I look at myself.

I don’t say a word.

We spend the next thirty minutes patching up. We place the teacups, teapots, scones back to exactly where they stood. We clean the blood off the floor, we place the chairs where they were meant to be. We smell the flowers. Then, for last, we sit at our respective places and eat.

She looks more reserved now, as if scared to talk. Her cat-eyes glance at me, like a hurt creature. We both swallow the food. She takes smaller, planned-out bites.
“So what do you do?” She breaks the silence after an hour.

“Well…I’ve just finished school. I’m hopefully going to a monastery for six months. I’ve been trying to write my first book, but I’ve completely hit a block. I’ve been trying to be a good person, I guess. I have lots to do on my mind, I want to get it done. I want to help. But yeah, I wake up, have some food, try to be okay half the day, try to meditate, think of what to have for dinner. If I have to go out, I need to keep my heart in check: it races like crazy.” I reply solemnly.

It just spills out, as if someone had pressed some inner button.

“So in short, you don’t do much.” Her voice assumes one of a therapist, non-judgemental and full of hidden questions. I recognise that tone.

I nod.

“Did you attack me out of jealousy?”

I shake my head, after a moment of hesitation. Then I do it with more assertion.
As if some bell rang, we both get up in unison, with force, like little kids at the last class before break. She sticks her bony, pale hand out. I look at her once more. I only recognise myself in the eyes. I stick my hand out too, to shake her hand.

“I will never understand you, my alter-ego. How can you live this way?”

“Me neither, my alter-ego. How can you live this way?” I reply.

Before I can grasp her hand, and have some kind of closure, she disintegrates.

I, too, disintegrate a split second after her.

I can only hope to become a balance between the two.

Train Ramblings

How many people have sat on this very train and contemplated the comings and goings that have comprised of their life? Most probably a lot. Their eyes have most likely settled upon the tiny ghostly dagger marvels that seem to speed across the window with familiar urgency. This G-sharp piece of music I’m listening to races at the same speed-  it’s urgent changes and screams perforate the air around me and now even the trees seem to be running away from me as I sit. The train tiptoes to a silent, shy stop and now it all grows a little softer, a little more honey-dewed. The white daisies stretch their necks with a morning glow, opening their faces towards the white fence they lie behind. Yet, all these musings remain but a mere distraction to the agenda of the travelling mind. So as the train keeps trudging into the near future, the picturesque nature slowly eases the true thoughts to come out of the passenger. And this is where me, myself, and any other passenger differ: both immersed leg-deep into our own personal waters, yet each facing different tides. Though no matter the size, they all affect us with the same magnitude and feeling of nostalgia. So the thoughts that were meant to be, spiral out like curls towards the shore, and we pick them up, one by one, like unique seashells, decoding each ages pattern with affection from the past. It’s a moment of serenity that only a train can allow. A moment of transit, where for once, the human being is not expected to achieve a thing, and sitting still is the most one ca do. Our soul, at once, is uncaged and starts expanding beyond the window until the clouds guide it back home, between the veins of our heart. Until the call for work beckons us back to reality.

city hair

And just like that, like a breath of fresh air, or a warm breeze, like the handing of summer into autumn, she disappeared. Without much of an eruption, silently, she was catapulted into the world, with her hair still on fire. What now? So as she slithers beyond alleys, she waits and braids her hair into waterfalls and forks. She’ll spin tales of what has been on these forks, and turn them into tridents. The city is noiselessly noisy, white and somehow, suddenly, holding these tridents of tales, she feels incongruent.

When the sun sets and the city’s ablaze, where will she go? Which gates will open for her now? Now unchained, she’s free to frolic and fight the night till the early hours- but the red, raw, skin on her wrists ache for the chains, somehow. Because with the chains come the tales and turbulences. So she dreams of those chains and metal, gates and fences, waking up to the taste of iron.

The next few mornings she wants to cut her fire hair- each strand maliciously weighing down on her (and she’s got her luggage for that.) So longingly, she’ll twirl her hair and twirl down her path, with the past twirling behind her. For a while, for now, she knows she’s a lizard with a chopped off tail. Left behind, it moans and wriggles. “Take me back, I beg you!”

 

So she nurtures this beautiful tail of hers, composed of all the colors she’s collected throughout the almost 24 months. Her hands trace ridges and scales and stop upon the empty spots, white, like the city, begging to be filled. “Just a little more, one more drop.” Those spots remain as they are, and both the tail and her learn to accept white as a color.

 

The day she leaves, looking down from the plane window, she can point out the treasures she’s buried and disowned on the land. She’ll see the souls down there and her, up there and all she wants to do is stitch the two worlds back together. And the past still glistens like an emerald palace, an open wound and her hair’s still ablaze, ignited like a cigarette. She’ll come back home alight, like that, glowing and dripping adrenaline. “What a wild ride it’s been.”

Time passes. She begins weaving her old world into the fresh, impatient new one. She never knew she could do that till now