Mary Morgan’s India Journal

I was deeply touched by the affection of the men of India.  These two men, the captain and the cook on my houseboat, are both married and have children. But they have lived together and slept together on this boat the past six years.

January 21, 2010:  MEN LOVING MEN

Blog contributor and world traveler Mary Morgan is in the middle of a five-week journey through India, her first time in the country.  While there, she is visiting Indian families, seeking out ashrams and working with a publisher on a proposed Indian edition of “Dr Spock’s Baby and Child Care.” Follow her daily posts are after the jump…

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Our new blog contributor, Mary Morgan, just visited India for the first time.  Entries from her journal are below.  Her journey began and ended in London, and the final journal entrey is below.  See a gallery of her photos taken in India here.
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RETURN TO LONDON

I’m back in London now.
Seems Strange.
I sit at a table to eat, rather than sitting on the floor.
I eat with silver ware, and not with my hands as before.
The streets are bare of crowds, cows, dogs, and children.
I eat at the Royal China Club.
Lobster and Spanish Soup.
White Eel with orange peel/Black bean sauce
Mixed seafood fried rice wrapped with egg white  / abalone sauce.
Mango pudding with warm black forbidden rice.
I pay $60 rather than $2 for my dinner.
I wonder which is the real world.
I conclude that both are real.  India and London.  Both real but very different.
I”m back in one world, but I have my heart in the other world.
Mary Morgan, London, January 30, 2010
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INDIA: WHERE THE HEART OPENS

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Oh, India. You are a beacon of Light.

You are not just the tanks in the Republic Day Parade.

You are so much more than war.

You are the little ones with light in their eyes.

You are the green rice fields, lovely rivers and waterfalls.

You are also the dying on the streets, and the poor in mud huts.

Giving all that you have to this world.

Your mountains of fire and energy.

Your children of laughter and play.

Your old ones with years of living in their eyes.

Many birds, cows, snakes, dogs and goats.

More people than anyone can count.

More people on trains than anyone cares to count.

All the trash in the sea.

And all the beautiful water lilies right in the middle of this trash.

Boats of beauty, and cultural charm.

Fishermen diving down into the waters for mussels.

Aranocula and the caves with Silence and Devotion.

Gurus with light and fire in their eyes.

Babies who are eager to live.

Mothers who are eager to have their babies live.

You are the country which shows the world all it’s colors.

And you are the place where the heart opens to discover it’s true Recognition.

Mary Morgan, Delhi, January 26, 2010

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RAMANA’S ASHRAM, DELHI

Early this morning, Papu and I go to the Ramana Ashram here in Delhi, close to IIC, where I am staying.  Here I am the only person in the hall for prayers and sitting. And unlike the crowds of people at Aranocula, there is only one other that comes. The devotee who washes, dries, and prepares the huge life- size photo of Ramana and the altar.

The devotee is an old man, with stiff joints, causing his movements and walking to be a little labored. He is dressed in a little short skirt, the one tooth in his mouth still in place, and his eyes full of that light of devotion.

He comes to the altar with his butter lamps, fresh flowers, ringing bells, and his chock. His devotion from the heart is so powerfully felt. I see how every gesture is to praise what Ramana is about. He goes about his preparations. I sit in the back of the hall. All is in silence. Except for the few times he sings very softly to Ramana.

I watch as he greets the life-size photo of Ramana. First he throws water all over the image. And if it had not been with such devotion, it might have been funny. It was funny in a way to see splashes of water in Ramana’s face. Then he tenderly dries it with a towel. As he dries the face and hands and arms, he sings very softly to Ramana. This devotion brought tears streaming down my face. To be so touching, so tender, so devoted to Ramana, was to be Devotion itself.

He places each item from his bag just so. The altar is prepared with loving devotion and grace. As he gets up and down, you hear him moaning from the tired old bones that don’t move as they once did. He has probably been doing this same ritual for 50 years or more.

Putting on his warm wool hat, and now replacing the short skirt with a long one he begins a more formal ceremony with the ringing of bells, and butter lamps circling, and flowers being tossed.

As I begin to leave, he motions for me to come. I kneel at the altar. He hands me flowers to present to Ramana. I see the devotion in his eyes. The Loving Devotion to Ramana. I place the flowers on the altar in front of Ramana with the prayer that this Devotion be realized here in my daily life. That I know it as I have seen it here. That this Devotion I have discovered here be discovered when I wash the dishes, or take out the garbage.

The Devotee now gives me the white choke on the forehead, then the red dot between the eyes. Then he motions with his mouth wide open and his one tooth showing, for me to open my mouth. I open myself as well as my mouth, and before I know what is happening, he puts the white choke in my mouth, and I swallow. Not knowing what has happened, I realize that he is pleased that I have now taken into my body what I have witnessed.

How can I now not realize the Devotion that I have seen, been apart of, and now have taken into my body?

Papu waits for me to come out. We go for Chai. The warm chai washing the rest of the white choke down. I feel the Devotion to Papu, and all that he has given to me.

We leave later for our trip up to the Himalayas to stay in his family home.

With Devotion of the Heart, Mary Morgan, Delhi, January 26, 2010

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ROWING WITH THE LUNATIC FISHERMAN

I found a fisherman with a rowing boat. I thought it would be great fun to row out to the Chinese fishing nets at sunset. The guy was very insistent, calling me at least five times today. His eyes were red with fire and his look made me uneasy from the beginning.
I did get to row, even though you might not call it rowing. He had two solid wood poles tied to something that looked like coconut shells for blades. The poles were very heavy and there were no oar locks. Just string tying the poles to a piece of wood placed in a hole on the side of the boat. Very heavy rowing, and very small blades made the hauling heavy.
I rowed across the harbor and up the side of Fort Island. He decided to take over, and got very close to other boats and ferries taking off from the docks, with black smoke filling my lungs. I asked him to stay away from the boats, but he was not interested. He said to me, “Many US can see!!”
Finally I insisted on returning as it was getting dark, and he had no lights on the boat. He refused and I was stuck. I couldn’t make him turn around. It was either swim, or just stay put. Not much choice.
When he finally did turn around to head back to the hotel, a huge ship was coming. He insisted on crossing her bow very close. I shouted for him to stop, and we almost got hit with the boat, but they saw us and turned away.
That was the final blow. I got out of the boat, and paid him, and felt happy to be alive.
I did have a nice time on the water until the end when all got very dangerous.
I’ll forward photos from the rowing and none on the dangers, as I was not so interested in photos at that time.
Best to have a captain who will agree on how to go boating next time. Can’t assume that they will hold to the same rules of the water as I do.
Next time, I’ll get my own boat.
Mary Morgan, on Cochin Island, Kerala, India, January 24, 2010
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THE PORT CITY OF COCHIN
I’m now in Cochin, one of India’s largest ports and home of the Indian Navy.  I am at the Taj hotel on Wellingdon Island where the naval base is located. Surrounded by water, there is boat traffic coming and going. The hotel offers a cruise at sunset where I’ll be able to see the island.
I  had a hard time at the train station this a.m.  It seems the station master has locked up all of the toilets.  So for women, there is only one toilet and far away.  So every one is needing that one toilet, which was occupied by a man when I arrived.  Waiting, I tried to secure my bags out in an adjoining room.  When I came out of the toilet, (which was a hole in the floor), there was a women peeing.  She was not able to hold it.  And her pee was running all over my bags.  I know what its like when you have to go and all of the toilets are locked. So we smile and part.
The ticket masters are the only rude people I’ve met in India.  They try to keep secret all that you have to know about catching the train, so that it makes for confusion.  When I get on board, some one is sitting in my assigned seat.  So getting a seat assignment is a joke.
I arrive Cochin, but it is another name at the train station.  So if you didn’t know that, you might miss it.  Erannakulam Junction is the name of the station. No mention of Cochin anywhere.  But you might not be aware of this.  And asking the station master only irritates him.  So he locks up all of the toilets so that women are forced to pee in waiting areas where luggage is placed.
Mary Morgan, Cochin India, January 22, 2010
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LIFE ON THE RIVER

The woman on the banks washes her clothes. As we pass she calls out to the crew: “Are you lonely??” I tell her no, they have a woman on board.

We see a snake in the water just in time before I jump in.

There are huge bats handing from the tops of the trees with folded wings, resting during the day.

A huge buffalo is taking his bath as we pass.

The water is used for most every thing. One is washing clothes. There is loud slapping of the clothes on a flat rock to clean them. Then they take a bath in the water scrubbing the feet on the same flat rock. Then they wash the dishes in this river. And gather water for cooking and drinking. And it is then used as the toilet by humans as well as animals. And all garbage goes into the river, including plastic bottles.

The plastic bottles line the beautiful water lilies.

I am presented a white water Lily today by the crew, who goes into the river after it.

The river is also used for all transport, something like Venice, or the canals in Forida.

Floating supermarket comes in with goods since there are no roads to these parts of the lakes where people live isolated. The one place in India where there is open space.

Birds come to us by the thousands. The electric wires are covered with terns of different kinds, all facing into the winds. Some dead birds hang from the wires from electrocution.

This morning I take the sheet off my bed and make an awning for the captain, who was in the sun all day yesterday. I fasten it with velcro, and my seamanship proves worthy and they are now shaded for their steering.

Tomorrow I depart the boat at 6:30 a.m. Thomas, a Cathlic from Kerala, will pick me up and take me to the train station, for an hour trip to Cochin. There I will check into the Taj for two nights. Cochin is actually on Willingdon Island which is occupied with Portuguese fishermen, the Indian Naval Station, and should be interesting with all the fishing I am been enjoying.

I woke up early to the sound of devotional singing. The captain is found of devotional songs and has a lovely voice. At first I was unhappy by his wanting to tie up for the night with a blaring speaker with singing. Then I saw on his face the love he had for music, and I entered into the devotion that he had invited. And all changed.

When I got up, the cook was already at his fishing, so I joined him and got a nibble. But he caught two small fish. Sitting quietly at the water’s edge watching the sun rise out of the water in silence. They all three have a great eye for the birds, so I give them my bird book on Southern Birds.

A bootlegger arrives to climb up into the coconut tree we have tied up to. He beats the branches with a bone from a bull. The sap is harvested and then mixed with some homemade alcohol. I had to politely decline the invitation for a drink so early in the day.

That night another tree climber arrives. When he climbs, he does not beat the tree for the bone. He gets the juice, and then when he comes down, he bows and thanks the tree for it’s contribution to his alcohol brew.

A man is bathing in the water with his ducks. A naked baby watches close by. A snake comes peering out of the rocks. A fisherman hauls his fishing nets.
A floating “super store” comes because no one has roads to get to the markets.

We are all happy to find a very narrow cannel with overhanging trees for shade. They bring the nature to our door. Snake and buffalo join us, with goats and chickens on shore. Many surprises around every corner. Such abundance with new experiences everywhere.

We stop and tie up for the night at a small canal, in the dense forest. The birds are all singing as they head home to roost. Many songs continue into the night as the stars and moon come out. No rats come tonight because the dog has taken his watch beside the boat. I feed him ice cream from the ice cream store, and he has taken up guard duty. I sleep soundly in the middle of all of this.

Mary Morgan, Aboard the vessel Immaculate, Touring the Back Waters of Kerala, India

View from inside the houseboat Immaculate, Kerala, India

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MEN LOVING MEN
I have been so very touched by the affection of men here in India. I was told that the gay population is much larger than people think. They just don’t get very excited about it. There are people who take herbs to develop breasts.
Some have the surgery. And the “Queen” is one who is greatly respected both inside the gay community as well as outside. She is a bit older, and has deep respect for her wisdom as an elder, as well as for her position or rank in the gay community.I am told that most of the gay men are married, and it is common knowledge that they still have relationships with men, but no one minds. It’s not a big deal.

I didn’t think much about it until I came to the boat. The cook and the captain are openly affectionate. The cook puts his head in the captain’s lap when they are together, and they sleep together every night. It is not complicated that the captain is married. His wife calls and they have a wonderful time. No one minds. No one cares. It is just a lovely affection that two men share. And it is so touching to see. And how different it feels from all of the judgment we put on it.

There is more affection with fathers. I see many more men with babies than in the North. But when I see them, it is more with affection than with discipline.

Men walk openly with their arms around each other and holding hands. But you would never look on this with judgement. And the sexual relationship is not something that is seen as “hidden”. NOTHING is hidden here. There is nowhere to hide. There is no problem with it. And I am warmed by the affection I see given everywhere. As a result, no one feels damaged by guilt and no one has to be hidden. There is no coming out of the closet here. Because there are no closets to hide in.

These men are sleeping together now out on the deck as I write this. They are lovers and friends both. They would not be embarrassed by their affection. And they have been together for years. It’s not that it is a passing thing or a one night stand.

I”m very touched by this. I don’t think that I will be able to go back to a narrow view of gay sexuality again. This is probably how it looks most places in the world. If only we could learn to see their love this way.

Mary Morgan, on a houseboat, Kerala, India, January 21, 2010

Gireesh, Pradeep, Satheesh, crew of the houseboat Immaculate

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Above: Mary Morgan in Kerala, India
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ON A HOUSEBOAT IN THE BACKWATERS OF KERALA
Children jump off the taxi boat in school uniforms and pink bows in their hair.  The taxis are no more than cut-out bark canoes. There are also “saucer” boats which are round and very shallow like a saucer, about four feet in diameter . They are used to set nets. Very young children are placed in these saucer boats and no life jackets are in any of the boats I’ve seen.
The rats have come on board and they are running back and forth on the rooftop of the boat.Boats are the means of transportation here on the back waters of Kerala. Not just for fishermen, but for everyone. One man comes with duck eggs from his duck farm. Women come to work the rice paddies paddling their black-hulled boats.

Unlike other sections of India, Kerala is more diverse. There are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other cast. You might see a temple, a mosque and a church all on the same bank. Because of Pakistani threats, all cars are inspected for bombs. We have to put our bags through security as if we were at the airport. The cars are examined with a mirror to see if bombs have been planted.

The ruling government of this state of Kerala is the Communist Party. It will rule for five years before elections are held. However, the poor are effective very little with either party.

The head of the Communist party in West Bengal died on Sunday. The coverage of this event was fascinating. The paper went into great detail about the removal of his eyes before the body could leave the hospital. They never mentioned his wife. And I couldn’t make out what he did for the 60 years he held office. Only that he was viewed by thousands, and that he dressed well.

The children on the banks of the river call out to me and run down the river shouting, “Mary, come back!”

There are three local crew guys who take wonderful care of me, and are keen on birds, so I will leave them my bird book, which they find so fascinating. They now know the names of all of the birds, and can identify them both in their native language, Manala, as well as English.

Mary Morgan, on board a house boat in the middle of a lake in the back waters of Kerala, heading to Cochin, January 20, 2010

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FISHING IN THE ARABIAN SEA
Today, opening the sliding doors of my room to a sea of wonder. Small fishing vessels are lining the shore with fishermen. Fishing with eel.They are diving for mussels attached to the rocks under the water. Also they are hauling lobster traps. Not anything like what we have in Maine. The traps are made only from coconut leaves, and rocks are placed inside to keep them anchored in the water. They don’t bother with line or buoys. They just throw the trap over, dive into the water with it, and place it down amongst the rocks. How they can remember where the trap is the next day is beyond me. To anchor the boat, a rock is tied on to a long line and thrown over board. The lobsters are small, about the size of my hand. They do not have the claws like Maine lobsters. They will sell these at the market and also at the hotel.
The fishermen all smoke, not tobacco, but a strange leaf called Bigi, and are almost all thin, and very dark skinned. I could not contain myself when they asked if I would like to go out. First they must ready the boat and take the traps ashore. So I jump into the boat immediately. He takes me out around the corner and out into the unknown waters.
Hole in the boat where boat is taking on water. No one seems to mind that the boat is taking on water, as you can see with the hole in the bottom. The boats are all made from four logs which are only placed side by side, and there is no corking or glue or pasting them together. Just tied with a small string. Very low to the water.  A rock tied to a small line is the only needed equipment.  There are no seats in the boat, as the fishermen just squat. However, they made a seat for me with a branch of the coconut tree.
Off we go out of the bay and around the point to the fishing grounds. The fisherman paddles with a piece of Bamboo which makes a good hollow paddle for both sides of the boat.
After we return, I ask for a “glass”, (mask) and flippers. I find them for rent, and go out again. This time, I dive with the fishermen, but no camera and no photos. I find mussels and crabs, and something that looks like a hermit crab.
The divers are carrying a net bag around their waste. I contribute my catch to their bags. It becomes very heavy once it is filled with mussels. I go down into the waters with the divers, and find fish, crabs, mussels. But in order to get the best ones, you must go further down, because the old ones are on the top, and they are not good. The larger ones will bring the best price. I also went down with the divers who take the machete. They use the machete to cut huge clunks of mussels from the rocks. Once they get the larger clunks of mussels free, then they bring them to the surface in one large bunch. Once placed in the boat, then he returns to his sitting place in the boat, (which is no seat at all), and cleans and separates them there, throwing back into the waters all of the unused pieces of old broken mussels. This attracts an eating frenzy, where all kinds of fish show up. Sergeant Majors, Jacks, Puffers, and once I spotted two beautiful large butterfly fish, with very long dorsal fins. I dove down to have a closer look. Such amazing fish, both with this long flowing crown of a fin. Gold and Black strips. Lovely.
There were more puffer fish than I had ever seen in one spot. One diver caught one, and brought it to me. I held it in it’s blown up body, then released it to swim away. Later I was to find one floating on top of the water dead. I picked it up and swam it back to the boat, with great cries from the boatman, who was frightened of it. I decided to take the long swim back to shore, which took some time. The fisherman says that I can go out with him tomorrow. I will go to the beach at 6:00am to find a mask and fins.
By 10:00 a.m., all of the fishing is finished. The boats loaded with mussels are brought in and their treasures admired by all, and then packaged up for market. Mussels are separated into large size and medium size. The larger sizes are sold mostly to the hotels. The prize today went to the fisherman with a huge fish, looking like a tuna, but called by another name. He catches it with small bait, something like a small fish attached to a larger hook. There was great heated discussion among the crowd. It seems there was an offer on the table for this fish, but the fisherman was insulted by the 600 Ru, (about $10), so he declined. But not without great discussions. Instead he opted to sell it off piece by piece, and the fish is cut up and sold by the piece.
Five huge heavy bags of mussels are lifted up and placed on top of a man’s head. He carries all the bags on top of his head with perfect balance, to the “toto” rickshaw waiting to take the mussels to market. The wife of the fisherman comes with money to pay off the “stern man”. Then she goes off to market to sell the mussels.
Then what happened was most amazing. The boats are completely disassembled. The small twine holding the four logs together, is simply untied, and the whole boat falls to pieces in a snap. The pieces, four curved logs, are then hauled up the beach one by one, and placed to dry. Without drying, the boat are not waterproof for the next day. The  logs come from trees in the mountains and are a name that is unfamiliar. They are bound with only two strings, one at the stern and one at the bow, and put together and taken apart in less than a minute. They allow me to help carry the heavy long logs up the beach. We wash away any shells from the mussels, and I carry the water.
It seems they have fished these waters for thousands of years using this same technique. Just to be in the water with this event was such a privilege. I will return tomorrow. I don’t want to risk my camera, but I”ll see if I can secure it so that I can take photos of the boats on the beach.
Mary Morgan, Fishing in the Arabic Sea, Kerala, India, January 18, 2010
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SOUTH INDIA, THE REAL TASTE OF KERALA

Ensconced in the southwest corner of India, Kerala enjoys all the blessings of nature, including a long coastline, rugged mountains, rivers and waterfalls, forest, and sunshine.

The cuisine of Kerala is linked to it’s history, geography and culture. The Hindu are primely vegetarians, and Muslims and Christian are usually not.
Coconut, which grows in abundance in Kerala, fish from the sea, rice and tapioca are major starch ingredients.Kerala has been one of the world’s greatest exporters of spices for thousands of years. Black pepper, cardamon, cloves, ginger and cinnamon play a big role in it’s food.

I swam in the Arabic Sea today with my Indian family with three children. The 2-year-old had never been in the sea, and the father never allows his children in the sea, but since I didn’t know that, it was lovely just to bring them all to the water, and watch them discover the sea for the first time. The 2-year-old boy, Amar, calls me “auntie” and hurls himself into my lap.

I have placed an order for dinner tonight of the following.

Hoppers. This is a fermented rice pancake. It usually comes with a vegetable stew, flavored with coconut. These were the best surprise. I had never seen them on the menu until now. They are a soft, light pancake, with just a slightly fermented taste, freshly made and served warm.

They have a variety of pickles. Raw moovandan pickle (mango), yellow lime pickle, Rani pineapple and green chili pickle, beetroot pickle, yellow fin tuna pickle, Arabian sea prawns pickle. They are all spiced with hot spices, so they don’t do well for me.

I ordered a vegetable dish called avial. It is made with local vegetables simmered in yoghurt, coconut and cumin paste. The chef assured me that it was not spicy at all. One bite sent my mouth into flames. This is what they call “not spicy”. I decide to order another vegetable dish and see if they can lower the spicy hot peppers.

The brown rice dish was excellent. It is a local rice, known only to Kerala. It is a large grain rice, and has a unique flavor, with a woody, earthy taste, and sometimes listed on the menu as “bran.”  This rice is rich in fiber and flavor. I have not seen it anywhere else in India.

I have Chamomile tea because drinking chai this late can keep me awake. The chai tastes different here. I was told today that it is probably the milk in the chai which gives it a different taste. Buffalo milk is used in the north, which has a richer flavor. In the south they would use mostly cow’s milk. The Chai that Papu drinks in the streets of Delhi is the best.

Mary Morgan, Kerala Region, India, January 17, 2010

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ON THE EXPRESS TRAIN TO TRIVANDRUM

Out the window I see windmills not unlike the ones you see in California near Sacramento. The winds are high in this area, making wind mills a good source of energy.

The soil is very red here and they make red bricks out of it. The bricks are stacked in piles along the tracks and in huts of bricks, sometimes with thatch roofs.

I watched a man step into a tub and then take it into a lake of lilly pads. He harvested the tender stems of the lilies and put them into the tub.

Now at Nagercoil Junction en route to Trivandrum, at the very tip of India, on the Western shore.

I will stay at the beach for a few days and hold meetings with the Cleveland Pediatrician’s family and friends. Then I go to meet with the head of the Academy of Pediatrics in Kollala, and then take a boat up the back waters to see what living on a boat will be like.

More rice fields, banana orchards, and sugar cane, herds of black buffalo, each with  white egrets on their backs. A white throated Kingfisher with his bright blue wings sits above watching from the high line wires. Lots of standing water which gives home to the mosquitoes. I do well by sleeping in my netting and red sheets, a gift from Diane Levy.

Even though it is 85 degrees, people here wear ear muffs because they say it is cold. Most all of the children have on wool hats. And babies wear something to cover their heads, even though there is nothing on their bottoms. They all put anklets on the babies to protect them from evil spirits and sickness.

I was told last night that a pregnant woman must walk twice a day to get her baby to turn head down. The driver and his wife are expecting their first baby. They walk two times a day in order for the baby to be in the right position. It was an arranged marriage by their parents, and he only saw her once before the wedding. They now live together in his father’s home with all of his brothers, but all of the sisters have gone to live in their husband’s home. The families would never leave the decision of marriage to their children. It is too important.

The people in the South have a Southern accent which is much faster than the North.  I sill can’t understand what they are saying.

Each time the trains stop, there are about 50 men running up and down shouting “Chai, Chai;”. And all of the people aboard the train rush out for their cup of Chai. Then all of the boarding passengers find it hard to get on the train. Then there are the passengers who are getting off. It is all with the cries of “Chai!!Chai!!” Lots of noise. Lots of confusion. And mad rushing.

All 11 million going in and out of trains each day. That’s the aliveness of  India.

Mary Morgan, India, January 17, 2010

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I FEEL FEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME

Sitting outside on the train station platform, and scared shitless. No one here right now, and dark.  Just two dogs trying to fuck.

I’m alone, as my driver brought me here four hours early. The mosquitoes are keeping me company. Hot and humid.

But mostly, I feel fear for the first time.

I must put on some anti-bug juice. With eleven million Indians getting on trains tonight, why is this platform  so empty? That emptiness is what I’m seeking.  Here it is staring me in the face.  And I say to it, “That’s not what I had in mind”.

I have left the Aranocula Mountain, and now en route to the very tip of India.  I will have a bed on the train.  I love the trains.  But it is a real hassle to board, find my bed, and get situated.  They like to keep it a secret as to where first class passengers should go.

I have noticed that India is NOT interested in my personal preferences.  And does not cater  to my every whim.  In fact, it could care less as to what I want.

A guy just approaches me and is staring behind me, making this very interesting. Another one joins him.

I think I should get the hell out of here.

What do you think?

If I make it to Trivandrum, I’ll send an e-mail. If you don’t hear from me, my agent is in Delhi.  Navin something.

Lots of love and hold me in your prayers.

Mary Morgan, on a station platform somewhere in India, January 16, 2010

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A LIFE-CHANGING ADVENTURE

India has been a life-changing adventure.
The amazing experiences have been beyond all expectation.
I came by the ashram this morning.  A dead man was laid out on the path.  Both eyes covered as he had just died.  No one hurrying to cover him up.  Death and Birth are both so much a part of everyday life.
I leave Aranocula tomorrow on a night train to Trivandrum, which is in Kerala, the very tip of India.  I will be seeing the head of the Academy of Pediatrics in India.  Then I take a rice boat into the back waters for a real adventure up to Chocin,  an island with fishing boats in the bay.
I return to Delhi for meetings with sales and marketing people and then a train up to the Himalayas.   Eleven million people get on trains every day in India.  So just the experience of finding the right train,  the right compartment, and the right seat or birth is an adventure in itself, especially since they keep it a secret which one you have until the last minute, making it much more interesting.
India is alive with colors, and beauty and smells, and open sewage, and mosquitoes, and lovely people, beautiful children, and fascinating birds.   I go out into the streets for my daily walks.  I climb the mountain and sit in silence in the caves for meditation.  And I go to the local temples to see how people have been coming to this place for thousands of years for their spiritual practices.
I’ve managed to keep myself healthy so far, and I’m very careful about what I eat and drink.
I have three mosquito nets with me, and all of them have been put to use.
Weather is hot here, but cold in Delhi and further North.  The Indian people are so very welcoming, and I feel so privileged to be a part of their country and culture.
Mary Morgan, Aranocula, India, January 15, 2010

——-

WHAT GOOD AM I IF I DON’T KNOW WHO I AM?

What good am I, if I don’t know who I am?

What good am I, if I come all the way to India, and sit at Ramana’s feet, and yet I don’t know who is sitting at those feet?
What good am I, if I have all the teachings, if I don’t use those teachings to discover who I am?
What good am I, if I go through my life with all these great teachers, and still I don’t know the Self?
The REAL invitation here, is to discover who I am.
To discover who I am not, Seeing that, Knowing I am not that, then leaves only THIS that I am.
Am I willing to let go of all that is not?
Am I willing to step into the Fire of Aranocula and burn all the disillusions in my life?
Am I willing to Surrender to that Fire, to that Burning?
Do I really have a choice?
Or is it already happening, and I”m just the watcher of it all?
Mary Morgan, January 13, 2010, At the foot of Aranocula, India

——-

SITTING IN RAMANA’S CAVE

Climbing the mountain this morning before sunrise.  Sitting in  Ramana’s cave for 5 hours.  Such energy deepens this Knowing.  If Ramana sat here for 20 years in silence, surely I can sit for a few days in that same place.  What was present there, is present now, and is present here.

Mary Morgan, Aranocula, India, January 11, 2010

——-

TODAY I SAW MY FIRST DEAD PERSON IN THE STREET

It was startling.

Life and Death are so very close here.

There is a man who lives with the monkeys here in the trees. He is without clothes and without shelter or food.

All of the men here wear saris as skirts. They fold them up and make the skirt short, above the knees, so that there is no problem when going over to the side of the road to relieve themselves.

There are graves here, unlike in the North where they give the bodies to the Ganga.

There are also mosquitoes, due to the standing water everywhere. I am concerned about malaria, and take my medication regularly.

People bathe in the waters, then use it for a toilet, and then drink from it. All the water here is no good. I drink only the bottled water and brush my teeth with it.

The mountain is beautiful and holds so much mystery.

Satsang with Mooji is my main interest now. I go early in the morning, with my rickshaw driver. And today I sat right next to Mooji, feeling his Powerful Presence. The question he gives does not require an answer. But it does require attention. This question needs nothing more. If you follow it, you will need no other questions. Follow it to the source.

The embrace is so moving. Mooji opens his arms and his heart to each visitor. Why are we not greeting everyone with this same embrace? Why are we not embracing life with this same embrace? I forget why. Don’t remind me. Let me forget. And in that forgetting, let me remember to embrace Life with that same Love.

It is the gift given, which we cannot keep. It is given in order to be returned back to the world.

We are that gift. Given to the world. Let there be an opening to that embrace.

Mary Morgan, January 8, 2010, Satsang with Mooji, Aranochula,  India

——-            View of Aranocula from my window

SATSANG WITH MOOJI

For this I came.
My first day at Aranocula, I wake early, 5:00 am and sit having miso. At 7:00 am I go for chai and breakfast.

The restaurant is cold with AC, and all of the windows which look out on the mountain have shades which are drawn, so there is no view.

I take breakfast out by the pool overlooking the mountain. A hawk with deep seeing comes to visit and sits on the fence.

I call the auto toto to take me to Mooji. Everyone knows Mooji, the teacher from Columbia, who lives in London and comes to Aranocula to hold Satsang. And LIFE has seen to it that we just “happen” to be here at the same time, at the same place.

The driver drops me off at a house with four stories. People in the yard waiting in Silence. I join the queue.

When we are allowed to line up, it is 8:45 am, and I am in one of the 10 lines downstairs. I realize that there is strong energy rushing through my body, and there is an explosion about to happen. It has nothing to do with food or water. Maybe a bit tired and maybe anticipation of what is to come. Or is there something more happening here already?

We are allowed to go, one line at a time, up to the roof of the house, which has a tall thatch roof. Over 200 people come daily for five days, then two days off, then back the next five days. Today is special because Mooji will give Shoti.

Mooji comes in and sits. He looks each and everyone in the eyes. You can feel that you are in the presence of Great Presence. And this presence manifested in this body/mind, resonates with that presence. He begins by calling people to come forward with their questions. No prior talk is necessary.

There is an immediate opening to what is being given. Words, yes. But more than words. The Shati is strong. He never hurries anyone. Children come up to speak to him. Some very young, and ask questions such as: “What happens when I die?”  Answers are simple, direct. With young as well as old.

He points out which questions come from the mind. But not judging. He says “This is not fully understood now, but it will be. It may take time”.

He speaks of the Fire, and I am a house afire. He says there is something beyond “I am.” I raise my hand. He calls on me to come up.

“This house is afire. Don’t put it out!! Let it burn!!” Yes, he says. Die before you die. That is what is happening. Dying happens. And what never dies, and what is never born is Realized.

I knew there was something beyond “I am”. That nothing. Not even nothing. No words. I came all the way from San Francisco. FOR THIS I CAME. He gives me that knowing look. We embrace.

Everyone he speaks to, it is the message for all. What comes, comes. What goes, goes. See what remains. Gentle, and so very giving. So generous with his time and energy, with no effort.

After Satsang, we all go downstairs. Mooji sits and gives Shati. I come up and kneel at his feet. Shati so strong even this “I” is blown away. We embrace and we both cry. He kisses me and holds me, whispering “Great!!” We look at the light in each other’s eyes. There is strong Transmission. Time stops. No separation. All is ONE. What is Realized is deepened.

If this is only an experience, then it comes and goes. If it is the Realization, Realization never goes. You can’t UNDO what is Realized. “YOU” can’t be realized. Only Realization happens.

There is no YOU. No one. I am. That is God. Beyond even that, where even God does not go.

Nothing to grasp. Unless, of course, the mind begins to grasp. But with no identification with mind, then let even the mind grasp. but see it without identification with it.

This is too many words. Just THIS alone is enough with no words, no thoughts, no nothing.

The world calls. As it will call again. But no identification with body/mind is necessary to go back into the world. No separation from it either.

Sitting quiet with it all.

I thought this morning that I would climb the mountain, go to the Ashram, visit Ramana’s cave and go for a swim. But all of that busy activity was stopped. Taking care to recognize Stillness. Realize that a great shift has happened here. Don’t try to sit and analysis it. Just honor it with Silence. Be quiet.

Don’t hold on to it. Don’t try to reproduce it. That is all mind. Awakeness needs nothing.

No need for anything. Satisfied. Being Still. Resting. Then Deepening.

Mary Morgan, January 7, 2010, Aranocula, India

——-

Security guards at the hotel

——-

DINNER AT PAPU’S

I’m writing from the Delhi Airport, on route from Delhi to Chinnai.

In the lobby there is a player piano.  Eveyone stops and stares at it. I stopped and heard the music I had known before.  Beautiful and moving.

The fingers begin to play.  I cry.  The piano sings.

Then I notice that I am surrounded by police and security guards. I guess a little too open.  One must be careful.  They question me, and where I am going? Are you traveling alone?  Where is your man?  All for the sake of a little music.

I am now on my way to Ramana’s home, his mountain.

I wake at 4:00am.  Check out at 5:30am, Papu comes at 5:40am.  And we go straight away to Ramana’s ashram for prayers.

There is the blessing for this going forth.

The morning is dark with fog.  The streets are empty.  Except for the farmers heading to market with their bicycle carts of vegetables.

Papu is a little embarrassed  when I say good by to him.  He will keep my winter clothes as I won’t need them going South.

Photos are a bit hard to export.  They have clogged the system, so I am discouraged to try more.  Therefore, I must write the pictures to you.

Going down the escalator, I am behind a Mongolian mother with her baby on the back.  So lovely she speaks to her baby as they travel together.

Papu took me to his home last night for dinner.  He says:  ”You will take food at my house tonight.”  They serve me food, but no one else eats.  They sit and watch as I eat.  A small heater is brought in and placed at my feet for comfort.  In the middle of dinner the whole heater sets on fire.  Heater bursting into flames, Papu rushes to unplug it.  And rush the heater out with fumes and smoke filling the room.

The most remarkable thing is that Anita sits and laughs, being as calm as if it is all a joke.

I am a little concerned that the whole place will burn down.  She giggles and smiles at me.  I see how it is with them.

Mary Morgan, Delhi, January 6, 2010

Papu, Mary’s driver in India

——-

VISITING A CHILDREN’S HOME AND A HOSPITAL

This morning I found a whole new family of black face monkeys waiting for me when I opened the windows.  They came and sat with me as I went out to listen to the Ganga.

Later Papu and I went to Laxman Jhula to go into the Ganga.

I had a lovely visit at the Ramana Garden children’s home, where 250 students reside, with gardens and restaurant.  Here there are untouchable children that others would not take.  They provide a home and school, and meals for all of these children until age 13, 8th grade.  The owner of the school lives in Colorado, but it is run by local Indian teachers.

I also had a visit to the local hospital.  There I met with the head of the hospital, who told me that next week they would begin a 7 day drive to treat every child, age 0 to 5 for polio.  They go into the homes and give drops.  He tells me that they have very few cases of polio as a result of this rural health drive.  The treatment is free and they go out into the homes in all of the areas in India.

He tells me that Malaria, Dungee, Thyroid, and Swine Flu are major challenges.

The hospital has a mother/child center where they teach mothers breast feeding and it’s benefits.  Mothers who come to that hospital are paid 1,400 Ru. for having their babies in the hospital.

We returned to the hotel to find the battery on the car dead, which lead to great excitment.  Papu finally called a “toto” driver.  He came and took out his battery, put it in Papu’s rented car, and then started his car.  They removed the battery, and it was then placed back into the toto.  The driver of the toto, Papu, half the staff of the hotel, and the manager came to take part in this exciting event.  We all hope that it will start again after we get to the train station in Haridwar.

Lunch at Big Ben across the street from the train station in Haridwar.  Very hot spicy food.  So I re-order asking for a soup without the red hot pepper.  We have the lovely Indian bread, fresh made, and steaming hot.  Dal is served with a little cream, and a milk-like cheese with gravy sauce and mixed vegetables and ginger tea.

I made the train, and am now on my way back to Delhi, where I’ll meet with the publishers tomorrow.  I also will go for prayers at Ramana’s ashram, and will see Navin.  I depart on January 6th for Aranacula, by way of flight to Chennai.

Mary Morgan, on board train from Haridwar to Delhi, Monday, January 4, 2010

——-

SEEING THE JOY

There are beautiful ducks form the foot bridge over the Ganga River at Laxman Jhuda.  Comerants in the River, and Brittens on the shores.

I arrived Delhi with NO motion sickness, greeted at the airport by a heard of screeching parrots.  They bring me alive, and all the birds of Lodi Gardens join the orchestra.

Dense fog has caused three train crashes in this area, and many car collisions, and cancelation of flights.  One trailer truck over turned, and the driver sits outside, builds a fire and waits.  The headlines of the India Times reads:  ”Fog Swamps North India, 7 die in accidents”.  And I have just purchased a train ticket back to Delhi.  There was a three train collision due to the fog.  I guess radar doesn’t work here.  On the front page is a photo of people injured,  confusion, and broken train fallen off the tracks.

The drive up to Rishikesh took 10 hours rather than 6.  So I decided to get a train back to Delhi for Monday, Jan 4, in order to meet with Penguin Publishers for the second time.

The drive from Delhi to Reshikesh was filled with sights I could never have seen other places.  On top of a huge pile of buffalo, cattle, and human waste, there is a squatting woman patting the patties that will be used for fuel.  Later she will pat the patties of Indian bread for her children.  The piles are then covered with sugar cane scraps.  On the very top of one was the blue winged Kingfisher.  Shit pile with breathtaking beauty on top.  That’s India.  The beauty, the cow shit in the streets and in the water, the beautiful people, and the dense fog and crazy drivers.

The driver, Papu, stops so I can pee.  I walk off into the unknown, pee, then look up.  Two beautiful black bellied plovers are watching me.  They are larger than the ones I know.  They look at this crazy scene and then take flight.

I have been so privileged to find a mother of three, two young boys and a four- month-old baby girl.  She bathed and dressed the baby and I took photos.  She gives her ample dusting with Johnson and Johnson talcum powder, and then tops it off with the black make-up for the eyes.

It is freezing in Laxman Jhula.  There is no heat in the rooms of the hotel.  I sleep in my clothes, sweater, hat and scarf, with all the blankets I can find.

I have not made it to Reshikesh yet.  For three days I thought I was in Reshikesh.  Now I find I am up at Laxman Jhula.  Today I go to Ram Jhula, down the river.

The visit to the Guru in Laxman Jhula was the highlight.  I just walked up three flights of stairs in an unknown house and there he sat.  We had two visits.  He speaks perfect English.  And he has the Light in the eyes.  So lovely to see this and feel his joy for Life.  That’s what it’s all about.  Seeing the Joy regardless of what is offered in life.

Mary Morgan, Laxman Jhula, India, January 3, 2010

——-

THE REAL INDIA

In the streets of Laxman Jhula I find the real India.

The people in the market, the monkeys on the foot bridge, the German restaurant, the Indian Guru who was MOST interesting.

I found that I am NOT in Reshikesh at all, but a place between Ramman Jhula and Laxman Jhula, North of Reshikesh.

Here I walk over the foot bridge across the Ganga River to a road that leads me up the hill to an Ashram.  There sitting is a Guruji, who speaks perfect English.  And speaks about Ramana.  He says that Ramana was realized by age 14.  But he lived for many years after that.  And that he came back into the world.  Not just staying in the cave.

He says that this body is also Aranocula and that the real cave is the cave in the heart.

He was wonderful with joy and love.  We have met now for 2 days and I enjoyed our conversations so very much.

I also found a mother who had a four-month- old daughter.  I photographed her bathing the baby and giving her teething medicine.

Johnson and Johnson has the only child care book here, so their products are sold here long after the Academy of Pediatrics has outlawed the use of talcum powder because of inhalation into the lungs of the power dust.

I listen to the River sing each morning.  I walk and see the birds.  I found a birthday party yesterday.  I watch people bathing in the river, but I am not drawn to bathe.  Found all kinds of people on the bridge, a group of guys who are on the baseball team, and a Playboy with a Playboy shirt whom I photographed, and a dancer from Delhi and a young woman from Georgia.  The “Saints” all come to eat at this Ashram, and ask for money to be photographed.  The streets are filled with cows, and dogs, vegetable carts, motor scooters, and people, with music, traffic noise, and conversations, and the merchants calling out.

Not much internet service and no phone service, except for local calls.  So I am so happy with this, as too much takes away from what is here now.

With love and overwhelming JOY,

Mary Morgan, Laxman Jhula, India, January 2, 2010

Lodi Garden, one of Delhi’s finest restaurants

——-

ALL TEMPLES ARE THE “RIGHT” TEMPLE

After going each day to Ramana’s ashram here in Delhi, I find that I have gone into the wrong temple.  How did I know they had wall to wall temples in this place?  I knew something was missing when I didn’t see his photos, and the priest kept saying Ramana is not here. Something you would never say in the Ramana’s places I have visited.

Then through a deeper seeing I could see that all Ashrams are the “Right” temple.  All are the same.  I entered a door I had no idea would take me to the same place as if I had entered through Ramana’s Ashram.

Be Still, and know that I am God.

Be Still, and know.

Be Still,

Be.

Being the Indiscriminate Lover of what is.

Be that indiscriminate Love.

Be that.

Be.

All True Teachings point us to the same emptiness.

When I was in the “Wrong” temple, it was the same as Ramana’s ashram.

There is no place where He is not.

All gods are Ramana.

All Beings are Ramana.

All Beings are.

This Indiscriminate Love does not mind that I go and sit in either ashram.

Can the Cave of the Heart Open to any ashram, any gods, anyone?

This Indiscriminate Love sees through HIS eyes.

The flower in the garden.  The Parrots in the trees.  They are all Lovers of all temples.

Even the streets with their horns and noise.  There you will find this Indiscriminate Love.

Open to that Love, and all is ONE.

On my way now.  The Journey North.  The Journey within.

This Love, This BEing, This Journey, ONLY THIS.

Mary Morgan, Delhi, January 1, 2010

Lunch at Lodi Garden Restaurant, Delhi

——-

I SURRENDER TO THE MOMENT

As soon as I left the airport in Delhi, a whole flock of Green Parrots came screeching down to greet me. From then on everything came alive for me. Ramana is so powerfully present here. I see Spirit in everything everywhere.

So amazing to see this life here. People lying in the streets and on the grounds. At first you might see this as old and tired or sick. But I also can see it as just relaxing into what is. And to just Surrender to the moment. So I join them and Surrender myself to this amazing place.

We are all connected. What a powerful teaching this is. To see this part of the world through Ramana’s eyes. I found his huge photo just down the road from the International India Center, where I am staying. He called me to it. And I now go there for my prayers, sitting and meditation with other sitters.

I am resting now. And will meet with the publishers tomorrow. And I have shipped boxes of “Baby and Child Care” to give out. I will leave December 31st for Rishikesh. Papu, my driver, says that he must go into the waters of the Ganges, and how can I resist joining him.

Will send photos later. It is cold in Delhi at night, and I find I have no heat. And no internet reception. But this is one of those times when I realize that things are different here. And like the people here have shown me, it is to Surrender to What IS.

I am full of gratitude and love for this experience. I feel you with me,

Mary Morgan, Delhi, December 29, 2009

——-

BOXING DAY IN LONDON

I went out today, but without my camera.  So we’ll have to post the website trailers of the shows I saw.

I walked up to one of the great book stores, but it was closed.

So I went to the New London Theater.  Even though it was a sell out performance, I could get a front row seat. War Horse is a WWI story about a boy and his horse, about loss and reunion, and Love and War.  The Horse was made so real by the people who played him, from walking around inside of him.

I walked across the Thames on another foot bridge.  The views of the city are wonderful.  Then had a walk down on the banks.  Discovered the Victoria Embankment Gardens.  Beautiful and so peaceful.

I had the best chai at an outdoor coffee shop near by.       And walked over to  St. Martin-in- the-Fields.  There a German woman told me to sit far up high in the back for the best sound.  She was right.  I closed my eyes and heard Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” like it was the very first time.  So deeply and clearly.  I cried through the whole performance.

Then walked in the dark with the moon above, through James Park, to the Victoria Monument, to Buckingham Palace, and on through Hyde Park, to the Marble Arch, and up to Churchill’s Hotel for a carrot juice treat.

Tomorrow, there is a concert at the Wigmore, just around the corner at 11:30 a.m.  Then I plan to walk up to Regency Park and on to the London Zoo for a look at all of the birds.  If Drunts bookstore is open, I’ll look for a bird book for India.

Then I plan to go to high tea at one of the nice hotels.  Just for the fun of it.

A guy from Morocco  walked me home last night.  Lovely writer with lots to say about that part of the world.  He is not allowed to enter India and they refuse him a visa.

I leave Monday night for India.

With my “do not get motion sickness” medicine.

Very excited about India.

–London, December 26. 2009

——-

CHRISTMAS EVE IN LONDON

I spent the day walking the River Thames and saw lots of interesting things under the bridges.

I  found that St. Paul’s had Christmas Carols, a free offering.  The all-boy’s choir was lovely with beautiful tenor voices, which matched the amazing acoustics . They have celebrated Christmas at this same site since 605 A.D.  And many of the carols were sung in old English or Latin. They ended with:  ”In the beginning was the word… and the word was God.”  This was the piece which really opened me.

The restaurants, the tube, the buses and all the shops are closed for the next 3 days.  It will give me a chance to walk in all of the parks. I love the walks in the Arab section of town, with the people, and all the colorful loot on the sidewalks, and the smells, the food, and people of different colors, speaking different languages.

I met an Indian woman, a pediatrician who just returned from India.  She was very thrilled to see that a book about child care might be published.

I”m going to two different Christmas dinners tomorrow.  One at 2:00pm and one at 6:00pm.  I should be all “stuffed” by the time I”m through.  Since there is no public transportation, I’ll have to walk it.  But I’m well bundled and warm.

Beautiful music, good food, and wonderful river. The river was perfectly clean, with no garbage. What a wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve.

–Mary Morgan, London, December 24, 2009

Below: London streets at Christmas, including Daunt Books, one of  many great bookstores, Starbucks, one of few places open on Christmas, and  Le Pain Quotidien. (Click on individual photos to enlarge to full-screen size.)

Mary Morgan, China Club, Baker St., Westminter, London, December 28, 2009


The divers are carrying a net bag around their waste. I contribute my catch to their bags. It becomes very heavy once it is filled with mussels. I go down into the waters with the divers, and find fish, crabs, mussels. But in order to get the best ones, you must go further down, because the old ones are on the top, and they are not good. The larger ones will bring the best price. I also went down with the divers who take the machete. They use the machete to cut huge clunks of mussels from the rocks. Once they get the larger clunks of mussels free, then they bring them to the surface in one large bunch. Once placed in the boat, then he returns to his sitting place in the boat, (which is no seat at all), and cleans and separates them there, throwing back into the waters all of the unused pieces of old broken mussels. This attracts an eating frenzy, where all kinds of fish show up. Sergeant Majors, Jacks, Puffers, and once I spotted two beautiful large butterfly fish, with very long dorsal fins. I dove down to have a closer look. Such amazing fish, both with this long flowing crown of a fin. Gold and Black strips. Lovely.It seems they have fished these waters for thousands of years using this same technique. Just to be in the water with this event was such a privilege. I will return tomorrow. I don’t want to risk my camera, but I”ll see if I can secure it so that I can take photos of the boats on the beach.Mary Morgan, Fishing in the Arabic Sea, Kerala, India, January 18, 2010

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One response

  1. hi its me yash rana from india rishikesh I’m a chef I read your story its really amazing about indian culture I love it. Thanks

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