Friday, August 25, 2006

Mera Kismet

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Do not be afraid to find yourself dead, you are.
You are gone from us now.
Let go.

You are a single note searching for The Song.
You are dead and you have broken free.
You can’t understand this with your mind, it’s too much.

The sea runs in your veins
your eyes are in the stars and
the cloak of heaven is upon you.

Today you went down to the sea, it swallowed you up.
I can’t understand this with my mind, it’s too much.
Your lunch is still sitting on the table.

We wait and minutes fade like long dead stars.

There is No Hope.
This is the beginning of Hope!
I am listening for you, are you listening to me?

I am a voice inside my head telling you goodbye.
You are a pair of eyes inside my mind,
I can see the world in your eyes.

My eyes are fixed on the straight blue line that moves
from that hill to this. The sea.
Come home.

Don’t cling to the shoreline Lover,
strike out towards the horizon.

Think of a stone dropped into the middle of a still pond
Are you on the outer ring
Or radiating out from the centre?

Each day is a slow ballet through water.

Shhh.The dawn rolls onto the beach.
There, there. Have him now.
Shh shh shh.

You looked so beautiful lying there.
You looked so beautiful with mussels in your hair.
The fishes took your face.

You will never be afraid or cold again.
Yes, sign the form, this is my husband, my lover.
Son and friend and brother.

I lied, of course.
My husband is the light in the crescent moon
My lover moves in waves through long grass in the paddock.

I wake and immediately I leap to standing.
My feet hit the floor simultaneously my brain registers that you are dead.
A shocking way to start the day.

But if I roll and drowse,
the same knowing comes seeping in like the harbour tide
gradually I wake to drowning in stinging salty tears.

You must eat, I am told.
I am not in the land of the living.
I am moving with you through the darkness.

We are hand in hand in the darkness between worlds.
You are chattering and excited, your dark eyes swim.
We are heading towards the light of a fire with the innocence of children.

Soon you will lift off into that light and be free.
I will turn to find my childs body gone and
tread like an old crone back into the world.

People are kind they come, their eyes an ocean.
How can it be, how can it happen
just like that, they ask?

This is how we die, just like that.
Running laughing breathing one minute,
then gone. God calls.

I don’t ask how can it be that you are dead,
although sometimes at odd moments
other questions surface.

Like how can it be that I will never run my fingers across your chest
to stop over your heart then
cup the beat of your life in my palm?

How can it be that I will never touch you again?

The ocean of tears that separates us
is what unites us also.
You become the ocean, I will be a tear your cheek.

People try to catch hold of me.
Anchor me with words. They gurgle.
I nod like a vacant lot, my ears are full of sand.

I am with you in this dark silent profound space.
We are inside a bell and the sound is a hint of a hint of an echo
of the sound that began the universe.

It’s the middle space that occupies my mind.
They call it a split second
but it’s more like a lifetime.

This is what we have left now.
Soon your innocence will be the light all around
and you will lift off.

I won’t even know the point of goodbye
so effortless will it be.

It’s raining.
The first rain since That Day
I watch the sea build.

The sea is not my enemy nor even yours
The brown frothing murky sea that took you
is the same saucer of blue ink lit by moonlight.

The sand that shifted beneath your feet That Day
is the same sand we rolled on laughing until we cried
a day before.

Something woke me this morning, a flash.
Did you take a photo of me with your heart?
Are your near the leaping off place, Lover?

Tonight, looking at the moon I saw
that her face was your face and your face was the moon.
You are gone. Gone from me you are.

My heart leapt! It wanted to catch you.
I wanted to say Too soon! Too soon!
But I knew it was time.

I felt almost jealous of you then.
What I do?
What I do now?

A butterfly is a butterfly being a butterfly
but if it dreams
does it see its face before it was born?

Or does it just have butterfly dreams?

The thousand and one expressions of your face
flash before me at random moments
conversations and harsh words we have shared.

The pain that squeezes my heart, my stomach, my lungs
washes over me like a sudden spring tide at midnight.
I feel robbed and lost and violated.

My body has begun to feel this
It feels safer to stay inside my head
I am grief on a broomstick riding the empty night sky.

I don’t live in the house anymore
I live out here on the porch
Watching the sea.

People still come.
Every day is another version of your death.
Waves of huge sorrow wash over me.

Your life was a poem
God has perfect symphony
to bring you down this path.

Beyond this tragedy there is
your soul gone like a warrior or a bride
to God.

Only the very patient ask the right questions
Or sit long enough to hear about the me
You left behind.

The sand has shifted on the beach again.
Great pools have formed, warm in the afternoon sun.
They make me think of your eyes.

The infinite calculations of If Only don’t make it any easier
but like a carrion photographer I move from angle to angle,
freeze framing a nightmare.

In my minds eye I am roaming through the land of memory,
dwelling in pools of regret,
tip toeing around the silence.

Its the space you used to inhabit, I fall into it
like a pocket of air, like a sigh withheld.
Like forgetting to breathe.

Like a bird dropping into a thermal current.
The sky is bruised with disappointment today
It’s not a good day for flying.

A small brown bird flutters exhausted down to land.
I feel like a cancer patient - the living dead
or a mental patient - the dead living.

There is a fine line between a saint and a lunatic.
The saint sees her fellows in a state of ignorance and feels compassion
the lunatic shakes them by the throat!

The saint practises detachment, maintaining dignity.
The lunatic is attached to the madness of society.

What was us is now I.
What was we is now only me.

A society of One.

Every day we lived,
every turn we took on the road to here
was leading to That Day.

Every breath brought us closer.
Floating hand in hand, looking at the stars
thinking about Vishnu in the great cosmic ocean, rising and falling.

Meanwhile, far out to sea a wave began to gather.
There is no If Only, no Might Have Been. .
Innocence offers no protection. What is always was.

The water that laved the shore of our dreams
is the same water that filled your lungs.
Manawa kiore transmutes to a babies cry.

Tihea mauri ora.

Wherein lies the difference between great pain
and great joy?
The physical sensations are the same.

Whether the heart swells like or a red, red rose
or a mushroom cloud of doom,
is only a matter of opinion. It swells.

The surge springing from the belly to the mind of the heart
of the lover is a super nova
or a cluster bomb exploding.

Between Creation and Destruction
runs the thin blue line of our lives.
Epiphanies and desolations amount to nothing more than that.

What to do? This is Life.

Someone, meaning kindness,
talked about visiting a medium, a spirit guide.
That's like calling a plumber to re roof the heavens!

I know where you have gone.
Its where I am that worries me.

I watched myself from a distance yesterday
thinking about opening the car door
to tumble free.

My head was a black space
in the middle ground.
How close you are and how far away!

It is only time that separates us now.
Or is it?

Looking at your watch on the dresser
is the strangest thing,
my whole body becomes a question mark.

I am in a silent space then
with unspoken questions echoing inside.
Tick tick tick.

Ticking our life together away
marking seconds, minutes, hours and days that
you are gone from.

I think that if that ticking would stop
I might hear the sound of eternity
You are in that silence.

It is the New Year now.
Whatever that means.
I lit a fire outside and wore your watch at midnight .

It was a quiet night, the crickets sang in the grass
the sea in the distance, the house sat creaking
in the silence.

Just me sitting by the fire
with your watch
wondering about time.

Your friend came back from the beach
kissed me and wished for me the courage
to move into the new year.

You had a good year, he said.
It just ended badly.
Then we wept. For loosing you.

How many lifetimes have I lived?
It feels like a lot just lately
they weigh on me heavy like a winter coat.

All the time my vanity has been
peeping out
from the snugness of that interior world.

You took a shortcut to this.
One profound experience cracked open that shell
to reveal you as a god, all the time only taking the form of my Lover.

A painful process, peeling back the layers
to reveal absolute nothingness.
I wish I could shrug it off like a coat.

Like you did.

The panic sets in.
It hurts to sit here day after day
talking to you inside my head, forgetting to breathe.

In the meantime there is a physical life waiting.
Every day has been one long saturday since you went.
I need to pick up That Day, bring it forward into sunday, onward into life.

How can I change my life
when my days are impossible?
I let them wash over me like a wave.

My world is a grain of sand
on the shore of the infinite ocean.

Our moko turns one on Sunday.
That Day on the beach, amid our screams and tears
he laughed! Then back at the house he walked.

His first steps! O for the wisdom of a baby.

The evenings are the hardest to fill.
The companionable time,
playing chess or smoking on the porch.

In Goa we lay on the beach
counted stars beneath the coconut trees.
In Pushkar we watched bats from the rooftop.

I wish winter would come!
Night falls quicker then.
I feel better in the shadows.

My world shrinks to the size of candlelight
I can move around in the dark.
Nights soothe me.

These heavy humid days weigh me down.
I’m caught in the glare of the sun, too weighty to move
like a turtle in the noonday heat.

I am not angry that you died.
Not angry at you.
But I am angry.

Perhaps I am angry at others still living.
Its irrational, I know.
I am on a rocky roller coaster ride, excuse me if I scream.

My boat is a long way from shore
riding a high sea of rolling angry waves.
It demands my attention, I give over to it.

Towards others still living I have thoughts
callous and cruel, pompous and painful
wild and wicked.

Then I feel bad and sad and make an effort,
make coffee and small, small talk.
About good days and bad days.

The world passed by our gate, travelers rarely deviated.
From the sanctuary of this porch,
we tracked the lives of two spiders, observed life intinimately.

Summer has moved on
the sun slants viciously down
there is no sanctuary in daylight on this porch.

I have been out in the world
but scurry back to solitude and shadows,
the bees making love to the flowers.

The garden we planted has bloomed and died
the tide is still the tide
and always the sound of the sea.

Blue moon dawn
the mist in the valley as the day awoke.
The morning air sighs.

The first dew.
Soon the monarchs will float by
on their way to autumn days

The cows wind slowly up the hill
to be milked,
the sea imperceptibly changes colour.

You are dead
and I am still alive
What does this mean?

An earthquake in the middle of the night.
I woke
There was no one to tell.

It was only an earthquake
but it felt like death.

There is an island of peace
where the trees swoop and sway
and forest tendrils curl over your toes.

Where paths are lit by moonlight
where the breezes are silk
and bees die full of love and pollen.

All these places are alive inside of me
I hear them calling,
Let Go! We’ll catch you! Fall!

Although I am assured a safe landing
my hands refuse to unclench.
I am a rabbit frozen in the headlight of an oncoming car.

Its because of breathing
I keep forgetting to.

What do you know
now you are inside the mystery looking out,
and I am on the outside?

Alice stepped through the looking glass
through to the other side.
It was inside her own house.

I look at the mirror on the wall
I see only my Self.
Is there a way in?

Where is the point of entry
that time and tide deny to those of us
still breathing?

Within or without?

We are the ants working ceaselessly
the drone of the bees,
the fragile bones of a bird in flight.

We are a part of all those things and they a part of us
And yet
We don’t remember. So we suffer.
The sum combination of all that we see
all the unknown galaxies expanding eternally amount to a
mere speck of dust floating in the air of Gods dream.

Neither this nor this.
What a relief!

You have thrown off the interruption of this life.
I roam from east to west across the universal sky
searching for a point of entry.

This physical body is my only baggage
but it is too much,
it bars my entry at every door I knock.

I am beyond this society of pity and patience,
it bows me over.
I feel like the Ancient Mariner at a wedding feast.

Then I was turning your picture this way and that
in the candlelight, for a moment you
almost moved!

Everything dissolves!

The monsoon thunders down
the streets are rivers and the river
is a highway.

God is taking snapshots of us from heaven,
the light is blinding!

Ganga ji hungers and rumbles
the valley sweats in the torpor of her sighs.
Your ashes in one swift swirl became the hungering mother.

She took you home.

The jewelled green fields
have turned with the harvest
to a warm blanket of brown.

Who is it that bears the fruit of such labours?
The farmer or the rice itself
or the worm in the ground?

The small life in the soil,
the rain that falls
or is it the Lover?

One small grain of rice
yet even this cannot be separated
from the eternal round of existence.

Today in the mountains,
drunk from sharing the same air as God
speech returned to me momentarily,
Ram Ram!

This is why birds sing!

There was nothing but God dreaming us into existence.
A river of infinite life, rushing endlessly
tumbling down to the world below.

I trod carefully lest my footfalls awake The Dreamer.
Sleep on Beloved.
How I longed to turned and catch sight of Him!

The pregnant Indian sun gives birth
to me cycling alone in the early morning jungle
where Krishna has coloured the birds from his paintbox.

I am weeping and laughing
for joy
and sorrow.

Life is a circle a beautiful mysterious orb
of magic and delusion.
The clues are everywhere!

If all this beauty and wonder is as nothing,
What then is God?
Imagine that!

I was jealous of you, Lover.
Jealous that you went to God
but here He shows me again and again, He is everywhere.

Everywhere is Him.

I am thinking about Gods hand
and how he guides us always.

He deigns to notice
our own insignificant selves.

He’s dreaming us up!

Is this what you noticed about God?
Or was it his sense of humour?

If I think of the word courage
I know it is a word for the heart.
My heart is a lion sleeping in the long grass.

One day I will wake up and believe in the future
That will take courage.
At the moment it feels like the utmost arrogance to make plans.

But I suppose that eating toast in the morning is an act of faith
that your body will need the fuel until lunchtime.
Like buying a ticket and assuming you’ll get there.

Keke Keke

Posted by Picasa In the forest of the endless beginning, there is the precise foundation of knowledge from which to build a mortal life in remembrance of the Gods.

There is the smooth brown plain of learning and the fibre of the flax weaving the taniko of every interconnected life, there are the vines creeping and yearning and the whisper denoting increase. There are the long standing trees and the creak, creak, creak of branches in the forest. Except the forest is now a rafter, around which is slung a rope.

Swinging there is the body of every woman who ever had her fathers’ hand, her uncles’ lips, and her brothers’ penis in places on her body where they shouldn’t even have laid their eyes. She is swollen with the bitterness of self-loathing and long hours of neglect.

She has run through the forest of the night to escape him and found him everywhere. As often as she denies his existence, he multiplies and increases. He is like fingers of mangrove, his hands on her body, creeping over wet mud poking up everywhere. Or vines creeping and strangling he is sucking her life away and begging her to forgive him.

She despises herself for being frozen to the earth, he creeps all over her.
She reaches into the night long past and wraps her fingers around a tuft of hair from the topknot of Hine Nui te Po.
It opens her to another level.
There she is no body, no body at all.
She can look down on this pitiful scene and wait like she is waiting for a bus.
Hine Nui te Po holds her there like a kite.
She is floating over time and space.

She remembers when she was the light that shimmered in the first breath of day, when she was the innocence of a new born baby and the utter miracle of birth.
She remembers when she was fragile and precious and imbued with the energy of the goddess, she remembered her life from the yearning through to the desire to the conception and increase.

She was the daughter of the dawn and as beautiful as the delight of discovery. She was the shine in her fathers’ eye. She was the only female who loved him unconditionally, and for this he made her a woman.
Shh, be still. Shh.
Hine Nui te Po tells her secrets, she listens while she is waiting.

"It was the fierce thrusting of Tane that rent heaven apart from earth."
She goes there in her waiting dream.
"Women are the waaka that carry men across the ocean of existence."
He is thrusting and fumbling, breathing in her ear.
Her eyes are squeezed shut.
His sweat is stale and it stinks.
Her head is hitting the headboard; he turns like a rat and pulls the body further down the bed.
There is the sound of creak, creak, and creak.
In the classroom, she is the child with her head drooping on the desk. She has already left her tired childs body.
" See Jane run. Jane runs to Dad."
Tane gave life to woman and pulled children from his daughters’ womb. She is not paying attention in class. She is sly and she lies and she cries. She is altogether disruptive.
Tane knows a karakia to allow him entry to his daughters womb.
She doesn’t go to school any more. She still is shy and sly and still lies. Never cries. She is the girl with a plastic bag on her face, a fifteen year old in an empty playground. Swinging on a swing.
Creak, creak, creak.
" See Hine run. She runs from Dad."
The karakia took him down through the centre, he didn’t touch the sides. When she is older and putting up a bit of a fight her will spread eagle her to the four corners of the bed and tie her there.
Hine Nui te Po covers her body like a blanket.
She tells her secrets again. She comes from the centre, she gives her advice.
"Hine Titama froze the karakia in Tanes throat to save all her daughters. It is his weak spot."
She is the repository for all his anger and insecurity; she is the vessel of his loathing. He stinks of booze and stale cigarettes. He spits seed into her.
Hine Nui te Po takes her hand and turns it into a patu.
She moves in the unoccupied body of the girl, springing a surprise attack. One sharp blow to the tenga and his windpipe is crushed, he is gasping the way he usually does only this time will be his last.
He is in the shadow of every man she will ever meet and greet and have to talk to for the rest of her mortal life. This puts her at a disadvantage.
He is in the shadow of the judge who will hang her. He is the man who will employ her so he can rub his hand on her backside. He is the taxi driver who wants a blowjob for his fare and the punter in the parlour.
She goes for the rope by which she will descend to the realm of Hine nui te po. Climbing onto a chair, she swings from the rope and leaps free. From long practise, she is able to shed her mortal body quickly like a coat.
She moves quickly towards Reinga, diving like an arrow into the waters below. Flying over the sea towards the magical homeland of Hawaiiki, she passes the last post of her fathers house where sits the taniwha Parata.
He is opening and closing his mouth on the tide of man at the place known as Te Waiora a Tane and there is Tane the originator of all life, endlessly washing away the sins of man.
She absorbs him and carries on.
PUBLISHED in Huia Short Stories 4, Contemporary Maori Literature, Huia Publishers, 2001

This is the story of Mahuika, healer of wounded warriors.
Soon after the separation of Rangi and Papa, the gods fell to fighting in order to establish territories, political divisions and mandate. This was based on the knowledge that from chaos came order and also gave them the excuse for a rumble.
The world shook for centuries whilst Tawhirimatea battled with Tangaora and Tangaora with Tane Mahuta and Tu matuenga with them all. It was driving Papatuanuku mad! Here she was, suddenly, shockingly separated from her darling, a solo mother no less and all these scrapping kids!
She boiled with longing for her husband and rolled earthquakes across her thighs as she slept. The heat provided from the wispy remnant of one sigh of longing was enough to cook a hangi for hundreds continuously. Dotted all over the land sighs escaped from vents in her flesh, and bubbling pools rose to the surface which hissed and steamed when fed with the tears of Rangi for his wife.

Thus Papatuanauku knew the red hot anguish of bereavement whilst her sons rumbled on oblivious to her distress. Her daughters were more sensitive to their mothers’ plight and this is why you don’t hear any tales of female goddesses from the time of then. All the daughters of Rangi and Papa fed their lives back into the cycle of creation by throwing themselves alive into the boiling fires of Papas desire. Thus the mauri of the fire that feeds the world was born. This is the original source that provides such things as the steam off a hangi, the spark in a lover’s spat and the deep release of a ngawha; it is the original flame which springs now in the hearts of lovers, drips in beads of perspiration on their skin, is the heat between them as they sleep.

There is a place now hidden from us by the mists of time; a mountain of desire formed by the endless longing of Papatuanuku named Te Puia Awata kia Rangi. It was there on the sacred peaks of that maunga that Papa opened herself to Rangi like a flower as his tears rained down on her. In this manner Mahuika was conceived and grew to longing within. One day the mountain could no longer contain the life which throbbed within, it cracked open with an earth shattering sound and out sprang Mahuika, Fire Goddess.
She stood nine feet tall, her hair coiled licks of fire over her cheeks, when she rolled
her eyes sparks flew from them. She was so beautiful it seemed as if another sun sung in the sky as she swayed her hips in mesmerising motion.
The gods left off scrapping and gaped in awe, their jaws dropped on the ground! The women trembled with anxiety when they set eyes upon the lusty Mahuika, old grandmothers slapped their thighs; the combined twinkle in the eyes of the koroua lit up their entire corner. Mahuika danced the dance of desire and sweet slow seduction, her hips rocked the cradle of creation, her buttocks rolled, firm as gourds. They left off their fighting to woo her.
But Mahuika was unperturbed by the slavering devotion of the gods, she danced for her own pure pleasure, she sang for joy and she loved the way a fire burns, in an all consuming manner. The gods were mesmerised, they could have stood there and watched her swaying and swinging those hips for years or perhaps it was centuries, but then one god happened to break free of his trance to notice his brother gazing in open admiration at the object of his desire and thumped him on the chest! All of a sudden fighting broke out again only this time it was over ownership of Mahuika. Blood was spilled and the gods raged for many more years.
Mahuika danced and sang and swung her hips, she gathered the wounded to her ample bosom and lulled them back to vitality. She danced in the battlefields of the Gods to spur them on to feats of bravery, she sang to them to give them courage, she healed them in their dreams. Revived, they swore to possess Mahuika and fell to fighting with their brothers yet again.
It is from this time that Mahuika gave these as gifts to the world the healing heat that resides in rongoa, the warmth that coddles a newborn baby and the slow combustion in your veins as life courses through you. She is the spark in the song of a ringawera and the heat in the heart of a kitchen; she is the dance within the flame of fire as it burns.
Out of jealousy and insecurity the women busied themselves to spreading vicious scandal about Mahuika. Before long even the gods themselves began to realise that Mahuika alone was responsible for the troublesome fire which boiled in their veins. They hatched a plan to do away with her.
A handsome young man named Rangitoto was selected to woo Mahuika then steal her powers whilst she slept the sleep of an exhausted lover.

One day Mahuika was dancing on clouds and melting them with her feet when she noticed a handsome young man approaching. As he drew near, he leapt in the air and landed like a bird, she rolled her hips in response. He crouched low and advanced she crooned at him like a kereru. He rolled his eyes and stuck out his tongue, she made a motion with her thighs and shook her breasts. Closer and closer he advanced, entranced. She held her ground and her breath; he was so handsome she felt she might scorch him with the heat of her desire. So close now she could feel the warmth of his breath on her skin. When they touched it was like larva melting into the earth.
He was swallowed by the red sea of her sex, pulled under until he thought his lungs would burst then breathing under water. He was somewhere between pain and pleasure, she opened and closed on him like the eternal lotus, his heart was on fire and his loins would surely burst. They rolled like mountains and created larva spill which now form valleys in your mind; they clung together for years.

Finally Mahuika was satiated, she slept smiling. It was time for her lover to make his move and totally disarm this temptress but when he looked at her in the fading light of dusk he realised that Mahuika had quite melted his heart. It was all that he could do to pluck one small fingernail of fire from her and take it back to the world. When Mahuika awoke and saw that not only had her lover gone but that he had ripped her off as well, her anger was a rumbling earthquake. The earth shook, the westerly wind scorched the fresh young leaves of the kumara plant, a geyser erupted!
The tribe was hardly satisfied with Rangitotos’ results anyway and sent him straight back as he had hoped because by now he was madly in love with Mahuika.
When her lover returned with sheepish smiles and promises Mahuika stormed and wept but he stroked her and wept too. She smouldered, they made love for months until once again she slept and once again her lover slipped off with another nail of fire. There was an explosion that gave birth to an entire island and the errant lover scurried back to the heat of Mahuikas’ fire. She stormed, he wept. She loved him up like fire and welcomed him into her bed again. She burned for him.
He couldn’t live with her and he couldn’t live without her. He wanted to possess her but she closed off from him like a flower. She promised him nothing and gave him everything. She rolled her hips and he was destroyed. Caught between love and fear, Rangitoto blew hot and cold with Mahuika, it hardened her edges.

So passed the years of Mahuika as she fed them to Rangitoto like logs on a fire while he betrayed her again and again until she had almost burned herself out with loving him.
No longer was she the proud vibrant woman of her youth, the personification of the fire of life burning in us all. Her fire had dulled to a small glow of a flickering candle and her hips swayed rather sadly as she danced, she loved the mortal man but she learned that she could not to stay in his world.

She realised that her desire for Rangitoto was an island frozen in time. She drew the line. Rangitoto made love to her one last time and she sent him running back to the world with his ure on fire. Nothing burns more white hot than the scorn of a wronged woman, Mahuika really let off steam!

She threw fire around like a knife thrower at the circus! As a legacy to this day we have the scorch in the steam, the sting in a kuias’ tongue, the sizzle in passionate lust, the heat in self-loathing and the fire that burns in murder. Poisoned by irony, bent over with the bitterness of discovering that generosity and forgiveness (unlike love) did not last forever, Mahuika trudged off to the world of the night long past.
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Report From The Tsunami Coast

Before the beginning of time, according to local legend, there was no land where I sit now writing this report, only the vast Bay of Bengal stretching into the endless ocean.

One day the Creator asked the God of The Oceans to recede a little bit so that he might have a small piece of land; "In years to come when the entire world is in turmoil, when thugs and ruffians rule the land and violence is the order of the day, I want to see all my people in one place where the could live peacefully, with harmony prevailing all around. They may belong to different cultures and races but they will look upon each other as brethren. In short, the
land will be a sanctuary of peace."

The God of the Oceans agreed, the water receded and the land mass now known as Pondicherry was born.

Millions of years later on a clear winter morning and with no warning at all, the sea came back and with a huge hungry hand, reached into every village along the Tamil Nadu coastline taking lives and livelihoods in the space of two short minutes.

Someone from home asked me the other day "What’s it like living in the middle of a disaster area?" and I was stumped for an answer. Away from the images that are fed to the world at large by the carrion birds of the media, this tragedy is not felt on a global scale
rather as an individual tragedy that visited tens of thousands of people who populate the coastline of Tamil Nadu. So while you at home are burdened with the sensationalised view of the macrocosm, I have had the privilege not only to survive but also to witness this on the more personal level of the microcosm.

Every tragedy, every loss is personal and particular to every individual; the mother who stood screaming on the shoreline that day in disbelief and horror did not suffer less to know the scale of loss that day.
So in answer to my friend, I am not living in a disaster area, I'm just a silent witness who found herself in the wrong place at the right time.

I came here to escape the cold, the crowds and the anarchy of Northern India in the winter season and lured by nothing more than the sound of the sea and the promise of the "best croissants in the world".
Auroville is an International Community that was founded in the late sixties by the followers of a French mystic known as the Mother. The Mother herself came to Pondicherry to meet the famous revolutionary Saint Sri Aruobindo whose particular yoga was dedicated to freeing his people from the tyranny of British rule.

Sri Aruobindo established an ashram in the city of Pondicherry and it wasn’t until after his death that the idea of an International community where everyone could live in peace and harmony was raised again.
So in the late sixties pieces of whenua from all over the world (including a handful of our own Papatuanuku) was deposited in the soil of Auroville and the international community of Auroville was born.

Forty years later yours truly arrives on the scene with visions of Tino Rangatiratanga yoga in her head and puku rumbling for the taste of croissants after ten months of cake shop deprivation.

Imagine my surprise to see the modern day followers of the Mother swanning around Pondicherry in Gucci sunglasses, Rolex watches and loads of makeup fixing varying degrees of pious ness to their otherwise expressionless faces. After years of trailing around the jungles of India in the company of their holy men (The Naga Sadhu) I was quite taken aback to realise that there was a five star approach to liberation!
Onto the beach community near to the International village of Auroville, 6klms from the city affectionately known as Pondy.
The place my friend chose as the pace to stay is a guest house business which is part of the Auroville community although it remains apart from the original vision of the town expanding out in a spiral, it belongs to the community all the same and in addition to the normal high season room rate, another daily "contribution" is required to be paid to the Auroville trust.

Having settled in our bungalow on the beach I then started making enquiries about the community, the fact that this guest house was sited on a still functioning cremation and burial ground and most importantly for me, the relationship between the locals and the Newcomers or Aurovillians as they like to be known.

"They only bury people there to piss us off. " Was the response to my questioning about the burial ground.
HMMMM. And the signs on the beach, in English and not the local language? "O that’s to stop the locals from perving at the women when they want to take swim"
HMMMMM. And the relationship with the locals was evident in the demarcation line between dwellings. The locals live in humble whares made of coconut fronds, mud brick and biodegradable materials in areas known as villages while the Aurovillians live in mansions in areas known as communities guarded by watchmen and dogs and huge walls.
So within forty hours of arriving, the croissants had turned to dust in my mouth and my mouth had declared the whole set up to be yet another story of colonisation.
It all seemed too eerily familiar to our own situation at home, the loss of the foreshore, the people who want to build on our own burial ground. But it is also what saved me since we moved the night before the sea came in with a thirty three metre wave and swamped the tourist resort that sits on the burial ground.

The day the sea came in, the first clue that something unusual was happening was villagers running along the street and a general air of something is up. Since trouble is a spectator event in India we also ran with the villagers to see what was happening but by the time we reached the beach, the wave has retreated in the way that any ordinary wave does leaving behind some very disturbed Aurovillians.

Righteousness is not a pretty thing folks, I am ashamed to say that my first response to the sight of the Gucci crowd dripping water instead of jewels was to laugh, travellers cheques and American dollars were already pegged out on clotheslines. A little further down the beach was another story and hard to believe that in two minutes so many children, women, men and boats and nets had simply been swallowed up by the retreat of the sea.

Every hour another report would come filtering in from a little further down the beach, the next town, the next city and then the rest of the world. The story radiated out in shockwaves to encompass the entire globe.

But you can only really deal with this on the scale on which you live and that is on a local level. Even if the sea didn’t come like a hungry hand into your life that day, it came into the international community in which we all live- planet earth. And it didn't
discriminate between rich or poor, white or black, the sea is impervious to the idea of different nations or cultures; she doesn’t have the boundaries that we build up in our minds.

I don't believe in a vengeful God, I believe in the hungry heart and I believe that cause is effect concealed and effect is cause revealed.
If we project our own limitations onto the world and if world is Gods own eye on man then how much has our own consciousness fed and will continue to feed on this tragedy which is really the tragedy of our own limited consciousness?

We live in this beautiful world like it is our jail, the bars to our cages are our own fears and desires, so if we are currently working from a state of fear, from the belief that there is something out there to be terrified of then we have certainly proved that to be true.
But the sea is not my enemy nor even yours, the same saucer of blue ink now lit by moonlight is the same sea that swamped the lives and loves and lungs of hundreds of thousands of people that day.

I want to imagine now a world where we recognise what the sea has known since time began, that there are no boundaries in this lovely planet of ours that we don’t set up in our own minds first. I want to imagine a world where we begin to work from a state of love and knowledge that there are worlds ready to spring into existence, that our international community to which we all belong begins the moment we step outside our doors and then we all might be able to help our planet regain her balance in a world gone mad with desire.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Tantra Monks, Ladakh

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Shopping for C cups in SE Asia

It is not until you shop for underwear in Asia that you become aware of the differences in body types between our Asian sisters and ourselves. While Kiwi women of my generation were force fed milk at the school gates, and stuffed to the gills with mutton and three veg every Sunday; our sisters over the seas were partaking of a more humble diet, eating whatever the gods of the seasons provided.
The resulting differences in our body types is as obvious as being a big brown moth at a butterfly ball, which is how I always manage to feel after about fifteen minutes in Asia. Worse, the kind of loose modest clothing required of women in the East only serves to advertise my incredibly hulky size 12 frame and so I am constantly caught in a kind of stylistic nightmare, which I relieve by wearing outrageously sexy underwear.

Six months in India is hell on your clothes especially if you travel with the bare necessities as I do. I allow myself three bras since a bra has a shelf life of six months, which is the length of my visa, I don’t foresee any problems when I pack my bag.
The lingerie news in India is not good. While India may be an emerging economic giant in the East, her knickers are trailing well behind. ‘Sexy’ and ‘Underwear’ do not go together within the mind of Indian underwear manufacturers. Underwear is rarely seen and never discussed.

It hasn’t been so many years since travellers from the West hoping to make some cash in India could arrive in Delhi at the beginning of the wedding season with a couple of suitcases of Victoria Secrets collections, book a room in a Five star hotel, advertise discreetly through wedding planners and be stampeded within hours by hordes of Punjabi wedding possies in such high states of excitement that a male friend of mine who did that once, still shakes uncontrollably when he recounts the tale.

Meanwhile back in the village where I mostly live, such delights have not even entered into the consciousness of desire within the hearts of the women I know. Their underwear is as serviceable as a nuns and not a topic of civilised conversation in any case.
A trip to Kathmandu to sort out another visa is going to be my opportunity to replace the original three with something a lot less serviceable than is on offer at the local market.

Despite the overwhelming political difficulties of the Nepali people, the crippling poverty and overwhelming hardship of life, or perhaps because of it, Kathmandu is the high altitude playground of the restless West. While a peoples war rages in the hills around Kathmandu, tourists remain untouched by the tragedy and move around under the protection of both warring parties.
Consequently it is possible to stuff your face with chocolate cake within three hundred kilometres of a war where the people caught between are living on the verge of starvation.
The gap between the rich and poor in Nepal is reflected in the plate glass windows of the five star shopping area where Dior objects are displayed beside other more generic labels of the west. Politics aside, that’s where I am headed on this day to track down underwear that reflect all the style and classy sexiness I have come to expect next to my skin.

At first sight, the ground looks promising. A department store selling plastic junk, flash labels and everything else we think we need in the west. The bras and knickers are easily found and sparkle before my eyes like forgotten jewels. There is colour and sexy cut and even bling! After feasting my eyes for a dizzyingly gratifying second, I plunge into the racks in search of my perfect fit.
“Madam is what size?” The assistant materialises at my side. She is half my age and half my size, suddenly I feel like a big brown moth at a butterfly ball.
“36C,” I respond.
Her eyes slide towards her friend as she approaches. They whisper together behind hands the size of butterfly wings while I exclaim in surprise at the feast of lingerie beneath my hands, what I see is bloody marvellous! I will be home by lunchtime as the saying goes.
I remember that I don’t know how 36C translates to a metric number; perhaps that’s why the girls are whispering together. But they seem to understand my request, but appear a little uncomfortable about it. Nepali hate to refuse a request, it takes ages to get a simple “no” out of them. My delight at the find of the year begins to dim.
They call in the supervisor and as they whisper my request, I slowly come to realise that my bra size has been lost in translation.
“No?” I prompt them for a straight answer. I am, as usual, too direct.
“No, no, no,” they assure me in the negative. “What you need, Madam is the upstairs department.”

The upstairs department is the baby and mother department. I look at a variety of maternity bras; decide that no matter how inventive I get with the fold down flap, they will just not do. I shake my head and slink down the stairs where the wraithlike shop assistants still huddle together with the shock of my outrageous request.
“Yes Madam?” They enquire. I shake my head. From the reactions of the sales assistants so far, it would seem that 36C is a temporary aberration brought on by pregnancy or a freak of nature. I remember that I am the latter. The karma of a lifetime of being a force-fed carnivore weighs heavy on my chest.
In a fit of rebellion, I grab a handful of sexy little knickers, ignoring the sales girls rounded eyes and raised butterfly brows as I pay and leave. It’s not until I get home and discover to my horror (and my French lovers delight) that they have no real front to the damn things that I understand the muffled giggles I heard from the shop assistants as I left and headed for the Chinese market on the further end of town.

Surely, I tell myself, somewhere amongst the flood of Chinese goods making their way across the Himalayas into Nepal is a cancelled export order of Chinese made bras that some enterprising Nepali has turned into a business opportunity. All that happens there is that I garner the sympathy of more reed slim shop assistants and end up with a surplus of rebellious knickers.
The sun is sinking over the horizon as I head for home with the sloping tread of defeat.
At last I spy an entire city street given over to stalls selling the export order I dreamed of! Diving in, I rush from stall to stall like a mad woman to discover to my crushing dismay that everything over an A cup is actually just optimistic sizing and evidence that no Asian bra designer have ever even laid their hands on a genuine C cup. Sorting the chaff from the c cups, I am left with two serviceable nun like bras which squash my breasts into sausage roll shapes seriously undermining my confidence for the next four months and limp back to India.
Later Bangkok, the city of Botox and boob jobs promises more. I reckon that the growing boob job market is good news for C cups but alas, it is not a promising start.

As I wait for a taxi to take me to the mega mall shopping area of Bangkok, a flutter of nothingness catches my eye. A dress no bigger than the kind of scarf I wear in India, light and breezy, impossibly sexy and totally inappropriate drifts out from the clothing stall where I wait. I admire the lightness of the fabric and briefly imagine how it would feel on my skin in a tropical breeze.
“No hab.”
An old woman squatting beside her stall assesses me over a bowl of noodles.
She startles me back into reality.
“No hab what?”
The chopsticks hover before her lips.
“No hab your size,” she shoves the noodles into her mouth and chews for a few seconds. “Try jumbo.”
Dismissing me, she turns her full concentration on her lunch.

In retaliation, I rattle around her dress rack, determined now to upset this bloody smug A Cup until I find something long and loose that will be wearable in India even if I wouldn’t be caught in a bus crash in it at home. But my triumph lasts three weeks of people enquiring about my baby to realise that she had sold me a maternity dress!

The shopping area of Bangkok is a multi orgasmic feast of consumerism gone troppo, so I hold high hopes as I emerge from the taxi. This, I decide, is going to be a Big Bra Day.
The first few shops don’t seem to understand my request, they send me to a sex shop. I didn’t like the colours. I ask again and get sent to another sex shop but I explain that the point of having a bra is to cover your nipples.

Then I find my lifelong friend, Patrick the sales assistant who currently occupies the 'between gender' gender. As a fellow fish out of water, I sense a sympathetic soul. When I explain my outrageous request for a bra that is sexy but not from the sex scene and he murmurs in full understanding, I know I have made a sympathy hit."A bra that will take the 36C weight from my shoulders without calling in construction crew," I cry. He nods like a nurse in a hospice, I am totally encouraged.
"A bra that will say beneath these old-fashioned clothes beats the heart of a siren!" I think I shouted this last piece but he remained orientally disciplined as he gently took my hand and led me to the widest range of C Cups I have seen in South East Asia and the entire Indian subcontinent. I buy all three of them on the spot and I am home by lunchtime..

Published on 8/7/06 Posted by Picasa

Me and Guru Ji

Posted by PicasaMaori are intrepid travellers and have a knack of turning up in the most unlikely corners of the world. One Ngati Awa woman has managed to live unnoticed and unremarked amongst India’s most famous holy men. Currently she’s back in Matata in the Bay of Plenty, writing a book about her experiences of living with these rather fiery men and planning her next trip back.

Dianne Sharma-Winter of Ngati Hokopu ki Hokowhitu explains that the Naga Sadhu of Nerenjeni Akhara are the military sect of the sadhu whanau that has existed since ancient times. “They are the warriors of the otherwise peaceable band of wandering sadhu, the renounced and rejected holy men of India,” she says. “In earlier times, they raised armies to fight Muslim and British invaders. “They worship the god of war and are not the kind of holy men that people in the West might imagine.

In fact, for the Naga (or naked), everything is ‘open’. That means scant clothes, no money, little or no personal possessions and no pretence.” The desire to travel took Dianne to India via Kathmandu some 12 years ago. ”I was a solo mother with two kids and thinking of the furthest away place I could go once I had raised my whanau,” she says. “I told them that when they were 18 they had to leave home cos I was going to Kathmandu.”
She did that when her younger child was 16 and boarding at Queen Vic. “I was 36 at the time and had been left some money.” Since then, Dianne has been back and forth between India and New Zealand as soon as she has saved the money and as whanau concerns demand. She now has four mokopuna.
“To get the money I have worked in film, hospitality and on the roadworks! My whanau are okay with this, although they would like me to be more available for babysitting,” she says.

Dianne’s sadhu friends live mostly behind the jealously guarded thick walls of their akhara (literally ‘wrestling place’), or they move endlessly from place to holy place in eternal pilgrimage, sometimes naked except for a covering of ash. The akhara, as Dianne discovered, is not the place to withdraw from the world, but a field of combat where all comers are expected to be equal to any challenge.

“The kawa is similar to that of the marae atea where all comers are challenged and if found wanting, usually chased away with sticks. “The legacy of their early military history is visible today in their great bellowing arguments, passionate discourses and squabbles as well as in the sword-like sweeps of their stick at anyone who may have roused their temper and in their passionate insistence on instant blind obedience of their (sometimes irrational) orders.”
So how did a lone foreign woman get mixed up with these fierce holy guys?
“The Indians say that when you are ready for your guru (teacher) he will appear,” Dianne says. “I fell into being a cheli (student) from an overdose of homesickness and curiosity. I think that God has a great sense of humour to send me to these guys, but there’s nothing like a homesick Maori and when we are far away from everything familiar, I think we search it out."

“I was looking for a change from restaurant meals when a friend suggested that I buy food and take it to a sadhu as a kind of koha. The sadhu cooks the kai on his sacred fire (dhuni) and shares it with whoever comes. They are the best cooks too, so it’s where you get the best food! “The day of the sadhu is set by ritual, with the tikanga adhered to for centuries and a kawa fiercely enforced. Visiting a sadhu is the same as visiting a god and so the whole process is surrounded by tapu and noa which includes forms of address, how you pass things, even how you sit. “There was so much about sadhu life that reminded me of home - the communal living, the sharing of resources, the endless cups of tea."

Dianne wisely chose to visit the sadhu who had the most visitors. In fact this sadhu was to become her ‘Guru ji’ - the wild and free Chandon Giri.
“He looks like a K Road drag queen on a full moon Friday night!” she laughs. “There was never a dull moment around this guy!” When the sadhu decided to move location, Dianne followed him to the ancient Shiva site of Omkareshwar on the banks of the sacred Narmada River, site of a long-running controversy over a dam project that has displaced villages and will render thousands of people homeless. Reducing her possessions to one small shoulder bag and a blanket, Dianne moved into a jungle temple with the guru and other sadhu and hordes of Indian pilgrims.

Sleeping in the open, cooking on the dhuni, washing in the monsoon swollen river as well as dealing with the lack of common language and chasing marauding monkeys away from their kai, life became a daily test of survival. Eventually she aroused the concerns of the local police, who had concerns about her safety.

“Basically in order to avoid a rather unpleasant situation escalating into a night in an Indian jail cell, I claimed the sadhu as my Guru ji and so became the cheli (student) of a half naked man who lives in the jungle of India! It got me out of the police station but committed me to a lifetime relationship, and with two cops and a holy man as my witness, it was pretty much set.”

Since then, she has been accepted into the Akhara and into the brotherhood of the organisation of Nerenjeni. “My status is that of a cheli; the sadhus understand that it is impossible for me to ever become a sadhu and never pressure me about that. I come and go between India and New Zealand. Whenever I turn up, they act as if I have been away no longer than a week and life just goes on,” she says.
Dianne says she is clear in her own spirituality, and is not looking for a ‘saviour’. She just feels a deep sense of connection with the sadhu whanau. “I am the only foreign female cheli of any long standing - I have been their cheli for seven years now,” she says.

Like any female, what to wear, has always been a bit of a dilemma for Dianne especially among the lightly clad and sometimes naked sadhus. “I’ve opted to wear what is known as an Indian dress -a long dress over wide pants, just to help me blend in,” she says. The cheli’s day begins early. “Rising before the sun, my job is to first see to my Guru ji; he is usually shouting for tea, so after washing, I milk the cow and make the tea for the sadhus. After breakfast I pick the flowers and dress the temple for morning puja (karakia) that the sadhus perform twice daily and then I have another temple to care for down the road."

“The sadhus farm the land that they hold for their organisation but it’s very subsistence farming, even with their comparatively large holding of 50 acres. The day is taken up with farm business and visitors, and preparing our one meal a day which we take in the evening after puja.”

Dianne admits that people may think her mad to have taken the risk of living with the sadhus. She knows of foreign women who have travelled with so-called holy men who have turned out to be criminals or hiding from the law. “It is not uncommon to see a foreign woman travelling with one of these sadhus and to hear that she was robbed, raped or murdered. I know of two such cases personally,” she says. “But I had studied this guy Chandon Giri for some time and was more than confident in my own abilities to protect myself.”

The Naga may have a reputation of being a fierce ‘take no prisoners’ kind of holy men, but for this Ngati Awa woman, they are the burning heart of Hinduism.