First Things • 18 March 2009

Night without qualities, every aspect so suave it feels empty. It is that good, a thick futon in a clean sanctuary of a 2nd floor room, tiny warm breeze, bugless except for the fearful slow mantis daring me not to brush her from the sheets, pitch dark night after I blew out the Monte Cristo candelabra, and a toilet that trickles like a 90s zen serenity fountain.

Mantis confrontation

The only mild disturbance a bit of evening traffic, more horn-sounds than engine bluster; even here in the Brentwood of Mysore there’s a honk if you’re sentient policy on the road, with most trucks blazing cartoon avatars on their lowhanging, testicular back axles and “PLEASE HONK” across a back metal bumper.

It’s 3 am now. I slept five hours thank god, though at first I didn’t know if that was going to work out. My solar plexus was pulsing as if a spaceballs alien would burst forth from my gut and when I twitched the hands lying on the crests of my hips would fly off and snap the mattress to jolt me back abuzz.

Poor taste to go manic in Mecca, though. I dialed it down with limited skill I guess the yoga has given… I’d rather sleep more and be calmer than I am now, but am getting there. The last real manic episode was a week long, three years ago, and the penultimate lasted 10 days, three years before that. No sleeping, complete loss of appetite, spitfire wits, blurring of the boundaries of self, and overwhelming, inspecific feelings of love that move both inward and outward. The chemicals that make this happen… I appreciate them and there’s nothing false about the being they make me in to, any more than other personalities are false. And nurture’s involved since I create the baseline for these experiences myself, by steadily reinforcing the gratitude-gestalt. Still, not here. Too easy to go native inside the Mysore bubble; too easy to attribute it to the not-quite-contact high—some PJ shakti cocktail—in a way that keeps me from feeling what’s really going on here energetically.

Thank god it’s at least late in the season—the parties and hookups are on the ebb and those who are here are not quite so eager to start new relationships because they’re re-entering their home’s mental space. There were still a lot of introductions yesterday though, though maybe self-protectively, or maybe just because I was delirious, I don’t remember a single new name. Not one.

Arriving around 8, driven by a man named Ramesh beneath the gorgeous stories-high aqueduct that has no end or beginning and looks to me like a concrete interpretation of the Seattle monorail, I landed and then spent the day circling inside Gokulam in an enlarging spiral out from the center stage of the coconut stand and the slightly less interesting but still bustling main intersection it overlooks.

Ramesh the driver, by the way, waited outside the airport with all the other sign-bearing drivers. His sign was block-lettered in my name and the name of my guest house, and my brother was right: I have always wanted to be one of those people with their own sign. But it’s just a nostalgic imperial style-cue here: Ramesh knew me on sight since he’d image-searched me on the drive in. But he was determined to establish a hierarchy: wouldn't sit with me for coffee or call me anything but Ma'am, scolded me for trying to carry my own bags, made me fill in a questionnaire that confirmed he had not harassed me sexually or asked me for money. Astutely service-class (a modern subaltern proletariat–talk about latent power). That quick, determined professionalism may quickly eclipse the lingering dominion of my dollars, Irish visage and SoCal English. Me the dissolute envoy from a declining empire, him the quick smart economic-subversive with a plan.

The airport is new this year and the land around smells like Montanan industrial agriculture and is staked off with telecommunications and YOUR AD HERE billboards like giant croquet hoops. I did finally begin to lose my mind those last four hours of driving with Ramesh. The sun came up on my lucidity’s retreat. We’ll see how many new sunups are required for some kind of recalibration.