Two days ago I moved from Haunted, or is that Hunted, Hill House to Hotel Tibet, more expensive, but cozier and in the middle of town. The air is so dry up here (elevation 1800 meters, that's 5400 feet for us Yanks), I have to smear my body in coconut oil to keep my red skin from itching, but it's so cold, the coconut oil is always congealed into solid mass. I immerse the jar in hot water to melt the solid mass into liquid. But first, I have to get hot water, by going into the hallway, and flipping the main switch (why it can't just stay on is a mystery) for my "geezer." Then I go into the bathroom and turn on the wall "geezer" switch with its glowing red light, and watch NDTV for about 20 minutes while I wait.
Yesterday's headlines were all about the attack on Bangalore Institute of Science. A suspected Lashkar-E-Toiba affiliate group sent a lone gunman to lob a grenade and shoot up the main gate, killing one math professor and wounding 4 others. Now there are reports of bomb threats on New Year's Eve in Bangalore.
Looks like my New Year's Eve will be spent here in McLeod Ganj, doing shots of whiskey in hotlemon ginger(strictly under the table; we are back in India now so it's only a "beer bar." Places serving hard liquor are seedy "stag bars"). I'll be in good company with Tom, the insane Irishman; Toto, the insane private-school Indian; Gretel the British painter; Laura and Lauren (from NY and Missouri respectively) and HipHop Lobsang (exactly what he sounds like - a HipHop Tib).
New Year's Day will be 12 hours spent on the posh, 700Rs bus to Delhi, only because there are no more seats on the 400Rs bus. I'm going to tell the bus man that Tom is my husband so we can sit together. I hope Tom won't mind. Any two foreigners of opposite gender are usually assumed to be married, however unlikely it may seem. We'll arrive back in Majnu ka Tilla sometime on January 2nd AM. Then I catch a 3pm plane to Hyderabad, hopefully to meet up with my friend Madhullika who works for the local NDTV affiliate. Somehow, I will get to Amaravati, where the entire world, it seems, is converging for the Kalachakra initiation. Koshek, my stalwart friend from Madras, and I will be meeting there for the first time in 2.5 years.
How am I going to charge my camera and IRiver batteries while staying in the tent? Can I balance my devotional participation with journalistic impartiality? Will I succeed in maintaining a bodhisattva's outlook while sharing public baths with my fellow 100,000 campers? At least there will be little need for hot water, with highs around 85 F. in Andhra.
Stay tuned for more news as it happens.
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.