My stalwart friend Kaushik arrived last night on the 9pm train from Madras. Trouble was, the 9pm train didn't arrive till 2AM. Seems the Madras-Vijayawada line was flooded, and every single train (five of them) coming southward had to be allowed to pass first, before the northbound train could go. They didn't let one southbound train go, or two, and then the northbound one; they made all the southbound trains go first with the result that 100s of Kalachakra-bound pilgrims arrived in a strange town at 2AM. Fortunately, the state transport bus was still there waiting for us. I had gone into Vijayawada to meet Kaushik (it's been 2 years since I've seen him) so we finally arrived back in Amaravati at 3.30AM.
Earlier in the day, I rented a room from a Telugu Brahmin family, the Suryanarayanas, right down the block from the Dalai Lama's temple. It is lovely; the ladies come out before dawn to draw tradiional kollam designs with chalk in front of their doorways. At the same time the monks in the Temple are working round the clock to construct the Kalachakra Mandala, which will take about 7 days. On January 16th we will all be allowed to view and "enter" it, then the monks will destroy it and disperse the sacred sands into the Krishna River.
In more bizarre ritual news: Every evening at 6pm promptly, the "fogger man" comes round with a giant machine, sort of a reverse lawn-blower, puffing fumes of DDT into the air (I mean great, white visible gale-clouds of DDT). This is to get rid of the mosquitos, a distinctly unBuddhistic activity. What no one seems to have told the municipal authorities is that it will get rid of the humans as well (or worse, cause birth defects). Yesterday the man actually disrupted a press conferece at Media Centre by coming directly into the building itself. Foreign press correspondents covered their faces and ran for the exits.
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.