Bengaluru International. I just ate a Garden Vegetable Sandwich at Café Coffee Day. “Vegetables” was onions marinated with masala spices. A lot of onions. Not ideal for non-onion-consuming Brahmins just before you seal them in a small space for 10 hours.. But good for me. In this moment, I'm amused by anything that comes between two pieces of multigrain toast. Sandwiches: bad, but also cute. Travel food.
We got here an hour before schedule tonight, careening in after traffic at a time when lesser vehicles use the thoroughfare. There was some kind of subtle-body wiring running from the brake pedal, up the driver’s leg, down his arm and on to the car’s horn. He was set to hit the horn every single time he touched the brake, or approximately ten times per minute for three hours, as we swerved around trucks packed with sticks, or turnips, or leaky bags of lime, plus all kinds of two-wheeled vehicles, and potholes bigger than me.
Nevertheless, I sort of slept. Rolling around on the tiny back seat of a car speeding for Bangalore: worked ok Rx for immune system mellowing. Ready now to fly.
Last day in town. I felt content and restless at the same time. Edging in to the airtravel dreamworld—a warping of space I experience as a kind of breakdown of time. Objectively, the possibility of flying still blows my mind. Subjectively, it’s depersonalizing somewhat like a long meditation retreat. But also trancey, like practice; and a feat of endurance, like days of backpacking or driving. All such good associations. Liminal periods feels open and easy.
Breakfast this morning at Sri Durga, the seedy but Brahmin cafe for working men, where I’ve fulfilled a slowly increasing dosa quota. Fermented lentil-flour crepes and thick, scald-skinned shots of chai: who would have known this was good fuel? But the Indian breakfast is increasingly more efficient than the hippie yoga cafes with their comforting baked goods, watery chai and too-big fruit salads.
And good chai is important. Three ingredients toxic to me at home: milk, sugar, strong black tea. Put together here in to a nectar that could get you to nirvana. I won't try to drink it elsewhere, and I do wonder if it'll take a while to come off it. At minimum, a sugar detox will be in order. But here I let it fuel me and let myself crave it, so much to the better for the whole experience. I’d come back for the chai alone. No joke. It’s best at a café whose sign says Amruth… pronounced amrit.
Sri Durga is out High Tension Road, past many potholes and rocky dust piles, past a suspicious little hotel and two meat-serving restaurants, and also past an unusually large number of roaming dogs and cows. Jostling back, I had a little doubt about the coconut chutney I’d just eaten. Then skyped with my brother. The flu had pulled him up out of bed by the belly and walloped him, dammit. He didn’t know what was happening, called for an opinion.
So: closure, planespace ahead, questionable chutney, brother being sick. At eleven, my immune system goes in to overdrive. Like last October, when everybody in the house and half the shala I was assisting got the swine flu. Some moments my breath would suddenly go short, and I’d have to pound ecinacea, do one-pointed meditation on a series of lymph nodes, and cancel everything for fourteen hours of intervention in the form of sleep.
It worked good at the time. Today, I lay still for an hour. One of my few savanasas of any length in these parts (yesterday my friend Thomas and I were booted off the stage as we finished finishing there next to the warm brass pillars in which they burn ghee, told to go home take rest… though of course instead we went out and took coconut instead). Ate vegetables. Laid low. Remembered my first vipassana retreat, where I started cultivating groundedness in conversation. Finding the energy in the feet and belly, staying with that when the local chaos and others’ talk begin to get the best of me.
Locally speaking, it was a weird day. Three crocodiles surfaced this morning at the north edge of the lake, and this evening the whole park was shut down. The guys at the gate said they wanted to give the old lizards some peace to get settled in the new place, but locals said it was as likely they just want some idiot foreigner to become croc food.
Down the way in Gokulam, police rolled in and summarily shut down the coconut stand. Made off with the benches where we have taken four or five happy hours a day all season—and throughout the era for that matter. Tonight as I was heading out, Jivan the proprietor’s usually glowing older son was smiling through what could only have been an inner freak-out. Passing out the last of the green, sweet inventory to the sad and speculating crowd. Locals, westerners here for yoga, Iranians here to study dentistry and east Africans on study exchanges to obtain degrees in IT. Everyone showed up. Saddest coconuts I’ve seen.
For my organism, the tendency is to be drained by a day and a season as socially outward as this one has been. So much care and engagement-for-others happens: I go fully in to the headspace of those around me in an effort to compensate for my self-perceived strangeness. Afterwards, I have to be alone in order to recover from all that energy expenditure.
But here, the introvert cycle was replaced by a parallel operating system, just as the food logic became local. What’s efficient at home isn’t the same as what’s efficient here. Being with people today, mindful of this morning’s immune system freakout, I actually feel fortified by interaction. More than I would be from rest and tinctures.
So there’s some strength left over from this weird day. I’m excited for soulless and trancey, antiseptic and emotionally void time in planes. Isn’t it aesthetically pleasing? The mild discomfort of it is the least we should expect for the privilege of going round the world and fucking the atmosphere in the meantime. I love the way the flying cleans the slate.
Now: Bangalore, Paris, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and a quiet cycle. Send some astral immune system strength if you’ve got it to give.