Friday, December 30, 2005

Waiting for the Geezer

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.

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