Feeling slightly less crappy now that I am hopped up on a combination of aspirin, coffee, ginger tea and ayurvedic cough syrup. A blot of Tiger Balm under each nostril ensures I can breathe. Paracetamol kills some of the pain of having what feels like 2 golf balls in my throat.
As I sat in the hillside Takhyil Peace Cafe ("we boycott all products made in China") I saw a near-continual stream of dressed-up Tibetans. They were mostly older folks all in their traditional finery, with those off shoulder fuzzy robes and braided tassles in their hair. Some even were wearing the special headdress with chunks of silver and coral. One girl's head was so covered in nobs of amber and coral she looked like a pincushion from Mars. They were all carrying 8x12 manila envelopes. I could see by the way they carried them that the envelopes contained something precious.
A young Tibetan man at the table next to me asked me what the word 'Boycott" meant. "It means Do Not Buy," I explained. I took that opportunity to ask him (through my croaking, raspy non-voice) where all the dressed-up people were coming from. They were new arrivals from Tibet, he said; all new arrivals get an audience with His Holiness and are given 8x10s of The Buddha Avalokiteshvara and of His Holiness. I felt somewhat cheated that I had missed such a ceremony; even to photograph all the dressed-up people exiting the Tsulagkhang clutching their packets would have been great. Of course, I have an excuse - I am sleeping off laryngitis and what feels increasingly like strep throat. Stirling says it's the Full Himalayan Flu. Maybe Toto (an Indian nickname) will make me another hot toddy using his 100 Pipers whiskey. His family has military connections so he always gets the good, imported stuff.
The Gu-Chu-Sum (former Tibetan political prisoners') program needs English speaking conversational partners. They get together every day but Sunday at the LungTa Cafe at 6.30, just to chat with native speakers and help the program members learn better English. I would love to do this - as soon as I get my voice back. Don't think I'd be much help right now.
I couldn't speak at all at last night's impromptu Christmas pissup at McLlo's, so I got to overhear an amazing story. This young man at the holiday gathering had just spent a month in Tuva and Mongolia learning Tuvan throat-singing and living with a herding family in outer Mongolia. He even got to meet Ondar, who is like the Tuvan Mick Jagger, and Huun Huur Tu, who are like the Tuvan Rolling Stones. I have 2 Huun Huur Tu albums myself so this excited me tremendously.
Their village was 2 days' drive from the nearest town, which was a three hour flight from the nearest city. They all lived in the yurt and he helped with the herding, riding horseback every day. That part sounded awesome. What wasn't so awesome was the food - he said it's mostly sheep fat, and they would make sure to save the most prized part of the sheep - the upper butt back - just for him. He had to scrape the sheep lard off the roof of his mouth with his index finger after every meal. The good part, he said, was that he got so frustrated with the situation that he would run off to a hilltop and write in his diary every day. He wrote an entire diary in 2 weeks.
Ginger-lemon-honey in hot water has got to be the best drink in the world. For everything. So why can't you get it in America?
Sirensongs: Indologist At Large
Somewhere between Kangra, Kashmir and Kumbakonam, India
Sirensongs moved to India in 2002 to complete her six years' study of the ancient temple dance, Bharatanatyam. Apprenticing with a revered master in Madras, she learned a great deal; however, most of it was not about dance.
Disillusionment and childhood memories of "Tintin In Tibet" have led her to adventures as a spiritual investigative reporter throughout India, Nepal and Sri Lanka; as documented on this blogsite, her Flickr photo portfolio and various newsmedia (see sidebar).
She holds a certificate in Spoken Sanskrit from Rashtriya Samskrta Samsthan (deemed university, New Delhi) and is a lifetime member of ABHAI (Assoc. of Bharatanatyam Artists of India). Sirensongs is inordinately proud of her ability to read street signs and argue (successfully) with taxi drivers in Malayalam, Hindi, French and Nepali languages.
Her Tibetan, however, is still a total disgrace. She's working on it.
Quote: "Why do people go to India to find themselves? India is where you go to LOSE yourself."
Unless otherwise noted, every word and photograph on this website, including the phrases "Spiritual Investigative Reporter" and "Indologist at Large," is original and copyright from 2005 into perpetuity by Sirensongs (yes, I have a real name I use for legal purposes). It is not public domain. It is not there for the borrowing. If you would like to use it, write and ask nicely. Karma is a bitch. Thank you.