I know I have not written here for weeks. And this is no excuse, but tough to find computer time sailing on a house boat, or between swigs of champagne in Jodhpur palace, from the back of a camel, in a mud hut in the Thar Desert, in between slurps of the opium tea taken from the giant hands of a Bishnois tribesman or even at India’s largest Mosque.
Yes India is internet savvy, but I brought only an IPOD touch and eking out an email was a deep lesson in frustration, so no I have not blogging. But I am ready to regale and unfold all.
At first learning the beautiful Indian poem I had taken with me seemed as if it would be simple and easy, given the travel time, planes, buses, vans and the rest, but I was seduced to the point of numbness by the surfeit of imagery and living poetry.
The women are swathed in shocking techno colors in silk and cotton and look for all the world as if the biggest gala of year were around the next sand dune or over by the cow munching at the temple. Jewels, silver and beguiling children whose eyes are ringed with kohl to ward off the evil eye all captivated me. The smells, yes some horrible, the tanneries, the waster, the sewage, but the good aromas of masalas and jasmine took up residence in the front of my brain and I cared about nothing else.
My taste buds were won over by giant prawns grabbed from the river and tossed in garlic and chilies, the rice was different at every meal. The lentils, Dahl was green, black, yellow, red and sumptuous. The breads were hot, crunchy, spicy with seeds or dusted with onions.
I was rubbed with hot oil and many hands unknotted my modern shoulders and made them ready to sit in private yoga classes where I rolled my eyes up into my shining skull to see the future where colors played, bounced and danced.
In short, my senses were so engaged that I fell asleep at night not thinking about the words of my poems, but rocked by the sensual roil of India from North to South, from Jain temple to red draped mosque. In my notes, scrawled in the bumpy van as we traversed the back roads I see things like
“Red dust filling the van, villages blur by.” Or “Flame of the forest trees bright against the dirt road, first ones after the desert.” And at the Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel, ” Tonight there is a moon, fireworks and a sand storm, who needs written poetry.”
After my opium tea I thought the poem would just leap into my head instead all I could do was look at the horizon and plunge into the spring fed pool and ogle the bubbles emanating from my nose.
But as ever the poem finally made its way into my connective tissue and today as I walked in laser bright sunshine along my Hudson River I saw this poem float before me.
The jewel of stars.
by Subramanian Bharati, 1900
Moonlight, the stars and the wind,
By placing them in front
And drinking the honey thereof-
A poetic frenzy seizes us;
That atomic thing called Mind-
We shall let it roam free.
Should one wonder at the bee that sings
While imbedded in a tasty fruit?
Oh, Mind! Go hence to join
The jewel of stars.