Saturday, June 05, 2004

Night horses 

Haven't watched the sun rise as the moon sets in too many years. Had the chance to this morning, as doorsteps were swept and dirty bits cleaned and puppies played in the soft greyblue light that washed over everything and I let hot coffee warm my chilled insides. Have felt cold quite a bit, these last few days; temperatures drop as night falls and I find myself seeking the comfort of a soft sweatshirt or bright shawl to envelop and warm me.

Guess this is it, the home stretch. The seven or so weeks I have left don’t seem like very much at all anymore, and paying for my last month’s tuition at the shala very soon will surely bring it all home: my time in India is on the wane.

Have missed: good cheese. Decent wine. The option of short skirts and higher heels and pretty dresses. Old friends. Singing on the quiet subways en route to practice. Neighbor’s cat greeting me on the landing as I come home. Swimming in a salty clear sea. Hot sun on bare shoulders. $5 slices of pizza. Unabashedly guzzling cold clean water straight from the tap. Having a trough-full of mixed greens followed by not-too-sweet ice-cream. Decent chocolate. Meals at City Diner. AA batteries for my Discman that last beyond half an hour. Just-made bagels and cream cheese. Post-practice early Sunday brunch. Not being scrutinized wherever I go.

Much easier, what I know I’ll miss: saying “thank you” to Guruji every morning. Driving through dark fields under skies bright with stars en route to practice. Neighbors’ dogs and kids greeting me as I come home. Chettanah’s sweet voice ringing out Goodnight from across the street when I call it a night. Spicy thali meals and dinky laddoos loaded with nuts and fruit and ghee and syrup. Shots of chai and coffee available for two or three roops everywhere. Roadside coconuts. Fun signs and sayings everywhere. Saturday sunrise. Sunday led class. New friends. Temple music riding the morning breeze. Women in the brightest of colors balancing the most improbable objects on their heads. Choosing which temple I am “feeling” today- there are Kali/Durga, fancy Ganesha, low-key Ganesha, Siva and Narasimha all within minutes form home. Enjoying a lungful of sandalwood incense- sometimes immediately followed by a blast of fresh cow dung. Flower wallah’s cry of “Ouaiiii” and sadhu’s woeful cries in the mornings. Dodging dancing butterflies as I chase clouds on Scooty. Playing Frogger as I weave in and out of traffic in town, each venture an adrenalin-filled surprise replete with new images and vistas. Taking rest after practice in the quiet of the dim loft of the ladies’ dressing room. The anticipation building in the minutes pre-practice as we quietly await the guard to let us file into the shala. Two-dollar hair oil massage. Glass bangles at twenty cents per dozen. Garlands of sweet jasmine at five roops per meter for my hair or flower floating pot or strung over my entrance or wrapped around Scooty or placed in a crystal bowl on coffee table, filing my place with the smell of Greece. Having neighbor-now-friend Ellie a name-call away across the street. Troops of black- and brown-bristled pigs with their four or six or nine offspring trotting across the street, tails wagging. Pastel walls and soft light. Altars and temples everywhere. Hot afternoons subdued by sudden cooling downpours. Just-made peanut-butter and toast at breakfast. Having time to and for myself. Having legions of clouds within view. Scrawny roosters importantly announcing dawn’s arrival- two hours early. Smiling neighbors. Being called madam or aunty. Letting the bright breeze or jugfull of hot water wash away everything. Lunches at Gita’s and dinners at Tina’s. Smiling dark eyes and choruses of “HiYEE!” and “Whatsyername” wherever I go.

Even though I will take it all with me, even though I know I will come back, leaving will be hard.

O lente, lente, currite noctis equi. From Ovid: Run slowly, slowly, horses of the night. Said horses pull Time’s chariot, and he wants the night to stretch out so he can spend more time with his mistress.

India is my mistress, since New York has my heart and Greece is my soul.

O lente, lente, currite noctis equi.

"Lente, Lente currite equii noctis"

Is this really Ovid? I'm only familiar with the line from Chris. Marlowe's Faustus. Can you clarify? Thanks!
Mike in VA.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?