Oh, Yes it is!

It’s indeed that time of year once again
But where’s my sister, where's my friend?

She left me in Baharat all on my own
I miss her sweet face; ponder how has she grown?

Cherishing her smile, the sadhus agree
India isn’t the same since she's decided to flee

The walas the Yogis, the pups and the cows
Don’t listen to reason, we want her here now!

But placing self-serving motivations aside
Loneliness in check, no choice but abide

Her gifts, more important must be shared with the world
There’s good to be done, community unfurled

She returned home what feels so long ago
To alter the landscape and boy, what a show

Monks, murals and mayhem; a circus divine
Children galore all you need is a mime

Creepy as clowns, that’s a really bad plan
How about instead we invite Superman!

Oh wait there he is, right there by your side
I’ve got pictures to prove it; his cape is his ride

What a pair, lookie lookie, here’s a candid of you!
Decked out as Supergirl in a red underoo

By leaps and by bounds watching both of you fly
The wind beneath you, touching the sky

‘Eat dust baby’; oh wait, that’s not nice
That’s what you get without editing advice

This rhyme’s getting weird, so I’ll get to the point
Oh crap that’s no good; all I’ve got’s the word joint

Ahh…yes

It’s time once again to rejoice the day of your birth
You’re managing quite well; despite this fast-spinning earth

Steadying peace with chaos and fun
It’s not always easy to balance life’s run

And so you’ve inspired me to do just the same
Bring home some OM, in more that just name

So it’s off to our hometown to see what’s the fuss
I hope it’s okay, even Zen I still cuss

Dropping the F-bomb for fun and for play
I hope you'll enjoy; happy fucking birthday!

See you soon Lovebug!

p.s.

If my words don’t rhyme and the reason makes no sense
It’s the element of surprise, keeping Mimi in suspense

All OM that is published, dear sis deserves credit
She’s the only one I will dare allow edit

This poem may need help without her keen eye
Apologies abound, I gave it a try…

~ by Christine Fowle

Namaskar

After one year of traversing India in a solo Search for OM, something happened that forever changed my experience. My sister Amy joined me. Her arrival on the scene, and subsequent thirteen months, could not have been predicted in one thousand lifetimes — precisely what it feels we’ve been privileged enough to behold.

Impermanence however, is the Universal law and our paths are again moving in two unique directions. It is with tremendous joy that I look back at the last year. And it is with the utmost love and respect that I wish you Amy, a heartfelt Namaskar and safe journey home.

Our time together so precious and surreal
With dreamlike images to touch and to feel

But just like illusions embody the past
My dear sister’s visit, like dreams, didn’t last

Mother India she swooned, like any good daughter should
Her siblings as well, the bad and the good

As for myself, my psyche she’s lifted
Wholesome and pure, the girl was born gifted

Leaving much stronger with directions in hand
Home is now calling, another strange land

With purpose and might, moving down a new road
Reaching firm ground, her plans will unfold

With work to be started and fresh souls to heal
All efforts put forth she’ll accomplish with zeal

Friends who are missing her love so divine
Await with arms open as she too soon will find

There’s nothing to say, no words to express
How our time together was so surely blessed

A puff of white smoke, a new light of dawn
How fragile life is; the experience is gone

Magical it was, but no words to lament
It’s a rule of the game: what came has now went

The impermanence of all, a good lesson to know
Riding the wave, getting lost in the flow

Take with you dear sister, the wisdom you’ve gained
And your light will shine on, come wind or down rain

With a tear in my eye I must let you go
It’s your time now. The next role. A new show.

Gratitude and blessings, I ever drift your way
e’ll awaken tomorrow, a brand new today.

Love, Light & OM

Freedom

Freedom

Distrust for authority
Trouble with the law

Freedom
Life abundant

Pure thoughts
Swirls of sunshine
Trails of light

What happened…

I became the Man
I became the Establishment
I became Corporate America

Would the me of my youth be proud?

What’s the solution?

What's the fucking solution?

Quit.

It’s not worth my soul.

~ Written February 2008 by Christine Fowle

Questions

Questions
The same fucking questions
Thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-three, fifty
Flying

Never

Iridescent strings
What is it, how  is it
Close enough to figure it out
Aching to see

No

 

~ Written August 14, 1989 by Christine Fowle

Happy Anniversary — Birthday Poem !!!

This poem first made its appearance one year ago — and because it is indeed that time of year again...

We interrupt this esoteric and suddenly serious nature of this blog for a (40th) birthday tribute to my sister…ahem…

An orbital rotation marks a shift into bliss
A spectacular of dreams, sure not to be missed

For those with an eye on my beautiful sis
It’s indeed that time — to Plant a BIG Birthday Kiss

Mother India’s been restlessly chanting her name
Where are you dear child? Why aren’t you in the game?

Gear up. Get ready. Get set. And Go!
There is no escaping your roll in this show

The players are here; the pieces in place
It’s you we’re waiting on; your turn in the race

Yoga & mantras & kirtan & such
Her head may pop off; it’s all just too much!

Agores & Monks, High Priests & the like
They all will line up to bask in her light

A magmatic glow, iridescent as stars
Sparks will soar, colliding with Mars

Planets will sing; Galaxies will hum
Moons will shine on, engaged in the fun

What a time we’ll all have, zinging around
Who’s time for liberation when such fun is abound!

Break for the party; celebration for all
When lil’ sis arrives she’ll be queen of the ball

So make up your mind. Set your resolve.
Your big sis is waiting, controlling the mob

It can be intense and at times kind of scary
The monsters look fierce, all bloodshot and hairy

Sometimes they smell and play nasty tricks
It’s all in good fun — how they get monster kicks

But I’ve got some pranks of my own up my sleeve
I know some things you just wouldn’t believe

We’ll dazzle, disarm, confuse & distract
Little do they know it’s only an act

While clown-puppets dance on a stage with a script
The element of surprise only shoots from the hip

For real freedom lies in no agenda nor plan
The Universe alone holds the true fate of man

But until such a time sis hears the great
Mother’s call Its nose to the grindstone and balls to the wall

There is work to be done but a break in sight
Until she arrives I’ll continue with might

For years sis has nurtured a much softer side
No alter ego to disguise, maneuver or hide

For her liberation will be but a breeze
With a little encouragement she’ll find it with ease

My goals are for naught but when shared with another
She’ll serve as my muse. My sister. My brother.

She’ll inspire with grace, with joy and with love
To see her freed on the wings of a dove

With this last thought I will bid you adieu
Until we lock eyes sis…Happy Birthday to you.

All of my love.

~  by Christine Fowle
~  Photo Credit: Paideia: Songs of the Celestial Beings

Untitled

Eternally exploring for the answers to complete existence
Are the questions correct?
Will there ever be resolution?
Do I know the answers?

They stare back at me
Quest along a maze without an opening
Rose petal trails guiding the way toward Utopia
My mind caresses the thought

Destiny will bring me there
reality will bring me back

~ Written by Christine Fowle — July 1989

It's Like That Sometimes

This poem was inspired by Hari, a young Rishikesh waiter, who, when overheard responding to a curious traveler regarding the change in his usual attire replied, "It's like that sometimes."

My sister and I have adopted this mantra and applied it to the assortment of circumstances we’ve encountered, as well as to personal divergences from what previously, we perceived to be absolutes only to discover — it is like that sometimes.

It represents our transitory nature and the magical unpredictability of the world around us, while underpinning our innate ability to choose differently at any time. 

 

It's Like That Sometimes

 

In love with this life
when it's not complete strife

Drawn toward the light
we forego the night

The people, so kind
when you're not their best find

The offerings, the smiles
…transcend all the miles

Oh, so bloody hot
except when it's not

Are you feeling your best?
No. Yes.  I mean, No.  Oh, Yes.

He asks where you're from
“Which country, my friend?”

"My shawls, madam, my shop…?”
Have you time you can lend?

Is the power on?
It was.

But not now, why?
Because.

So beautiful — Divine
except for the grime.

You see my dear pilgrim,
It's like that sometimes

The children so sweet!
come right to the street

Although there are some
seek only a treat

Oh no, where are we?
I haven’t a clue

Try left, or no; Right?
Look out for the poo!

"I heal" (or was that steal?)
the tout, he may say

No worries, no problems
I'm sometimes that way

You call out to greet me
I look the other way

What, you don't want to talk?
Nope, sometimes I'm that way

The colors so vivid
the history so rich

But why is it often
there's somehow a hitch?

A country so poor
so many no door

Who says? It’s not true
there's none that has more

Diversity galore
dichotomies, even more

World upon world
so much to explore

I'm Buddhist, I'm Hindu,
no, maybe I'm Sikh

The options so plenty
but who are the meek?

The sweet Ganga flows
the temple bells chime

You see my dear human,
it's like that sometimes

Our dear Mother India,
we run for the door

But when no one is watching
we come back for more

~ by Amy King

Jerry Would Love It!

Why India??

Surely there are other, gentler, locales in which one could do, well, whatever it is I'm doing.

The best way to explain the power of Mother India's allure is through the medium of music. No. I'm not gong to sing. And it isn't the mixing of keys and strings I'm referring to either. I suppose the easiest way to know this experience is if you've been to a Grateful Dead show (Phish would also do). But it's not the concert itself that lends to the depth of this realization. It's the pre-show unfoldment that takes place in the parking lot. Yes. The parking lot.

In the moments following the breaking of dawn, hours before the band takes the stage, an empty slab of dirt silently hums with the first signs of life. Drops of morning dew slowly slide down arching blades of grass — and the daydream begins.

Pilgrimaging devotees, arriving by whatever viable means possible filter in with the rays of the rising sun. Seeking mystical affirmation, a sign, a vision, message from beyond. Nothing fancy — just an otherworldly indication that the journey was not all for naught.

Early morning zeal is handsomely rewarded with front row seats to the pre-show acts I, II & III. Hatches lift, lawn chairs unfold, canopies are pitched & the coolers come a-rollin' out. VW Buses transform: glitzy marketplace shops, make-shift kitchens, DJ booth, massage studio & spacious sky-decks. Extraordinary vantage points for examining the swirling microcosm precariously preparing to burst.

Intricately bound together by the forces of space & time, the vision unfolds in expanding moments of swift succession. An existential bizarre for the senses pops open with boxes, bins, blankets & booths, begging one-and-all: Come out to play! FRESH Vegan Muffins (no meat added), bRight sqUisHy toys, gReAt BiG fiLLeD BallooooonS, bouncy sticks & pixie sticks, bubbles & YoYos & soooo many Striped Tall Hats. Dr. Seuss would be proud — As is so very much of the crowd, Many fans are dressed like Who’s, Their only job to leave musical Clues…A road to follow, A sign to behold, Magic to know, or so we’ve been told, Just open your ears, There’s nothing to fear, the message is ready, If you’re game to hear.

Swirling heights of mayhem peak at a palpable pace.  Nothing ascertainable, abstract glimpses of the menagerie pouncing and leaping by:  a pogo stick riding dog, banana tossing jugglers, volume cranking at volatile decibels; all of Canada invited to stand next to Jimi's fire, tie-die banners maniacally waving hello, trails of streamers leading to a party everyone is invited to. A crazed continuum of rapid-fire enquiry — huh? how? what the hell was that?

There's the muffin guy again...no meat...no sir...hoola hoops! Eight of them swirling and swirling; round and round. Are those superballs? Pingng off the roofs of cars? YES they ARE!!! Do they glow in the dark?

WARNING: Serious Seekers: Don't get lost in the labyrinth. Step smartly. This way please…

Kaleidoscopic sprays assault every mental faculty. Just when one more ambush cannot possibly be dissolved and then the mooing begins. The show's about to start.

Ah yes, my point — India's kinda like that.

~ by Christine Fowle

A Birthday Poem

We interrupt this esoteric and suddenly serious nature of this blog for a (40th) birthday tribute to my sister…ahem…

An orbital rotation marks a shift into bliss
A spectacular of dreams, sure not to be missed

For those with an eye on my beautiful sis
It’s indeed that time — to Plant a BIG Birthday Kiss

Mother India’s been restlessly chanting her name
Where are you dear child? Why aren’t you in the game?

Gear up. Get ready. Get set. And Go!
There is no escaping your roll in this show

The players are here; the pieces in place
It’s you we’re waiting on; your turn in the race

Yoga & mantras & kirtan & such
Her head may pop off; it’s all just too much!

Agores & Monks, High Priests & the like
They all will line up to bask in her light

A magmatic glow, iridescent as stars
Sparks will soar, colliding with Mars

Planets will sing; Galaxies will hum
Moons will shine on, engaged in the fun

What a time we’ll all have, zinging around
Who’s time for liberation when such fun is abound!

Break for the party; celebration for all
When lil’ sis arrives she’ll be queen of the ball

So make up your mind. Set your resolve.
Your big sis is waiting, controlling the mob

It can be intense and at times kind of scary
The monsters look fierce, all bloodshot and hairy

Sometimes they smell and play nasty tricks
It’s all in good fun — how they get monster kicks

But I’ve got some pranks of my own up my sleeve
I know some things you just wouldn’t believe

We’ll dazzle, disarm, confuse & distract
Little do they know it’s only an act

While clown-puppets dance on a stage with a script
The element of surprise only shoots from the hip

For real freedom lies in no agenda nor plan
The Universe alone holds the true fate of man

But until such a time sis hears the great Mother’s call
Its nose to the grindstone and balls to the wall

There is work to be done but a break in sight
Until she arrives I’ll continue with might

For years sis has nurtured a much softer side
No alter ego to disguise, maneuver or hide

For her liberation will be but a breeze
With a little encouragement she’ll find it with ease

My goals are for naught but when shared with another
She’ll serve as my muse. My sister. My brother.

She’ll inspire with grace, with joy and with love
To see her freed on the wings of a dove

With this last thought I will bid you adieu
Until we lock eyes sis…Happy Birthday to you.

All of my love.

Sarnath

I need a distraction.

Upon attaining enlightenment, the Buddha’s gave his first discourse in the city of Sarnath, ten kilometers outside of Varanasi. Underneath a cloud soaked lead sky the rickshaw drops me in front of a Jain temple. Staring at the twenty-foot Buddha statue it begins to drizzle. There are benches so I sit under the protective cover of an awning and watch a dog carry a monkey on its back. After eating a few peanuts the rain subsides.

I cross the street.

Through a wide, paint-chipped metal gate, a Buddhist center anchors the far end of a circular stone drive. Upon ascending the steps, three golden Buddhas come into view. Perched at the back of the temple they keep watch over the marble floor and large pillars. Two monks sit in meditation and three others converse quietly in a small saffron circle.

After greeting the golden icons of liberation I move outside. The rains begin again. Avoiding the heavy downpour, I seek refuge under the protection of the large entranceway. From behind I hear a noise. It’s the guard, holding an umbrella. Upon accepting that there is more for me to achieve here, I again ascend the staircase. Bowing toward my escort I then gingerly step onto the cool marble, approach one of the thick pillars and lower myself to the floor.

Closing my eyes, I sit in silence listening to the rainfall. The tight knots inside my head begin loosening and within the air molecules of each out breath, tension slowly begins to dissipate. I’ve been resisting India. Since my arrival I’ve been tossing up walls to protect myself from the fray, a futile illusion depriving me of feeling her deep immeasurable beauty.

It’s still lightly sprinkling when I get antsy and make a break for it. As luck would have it, I step onto the street and directly in front of me a rickshaw is emptying of its passengers. I take a seat in the back. We negotiate a price and the driver’s arm waves wildly through the air as if conducting an orchestra, all the while laughing wildly at the punch line of a joke only he himself knows.

Cha Cha (Uncle), motions with his hand for me to sit in the front seat next to him.

“Nahi.” There is no reason for me to sit in front, or so I think.

He waves his arm and pats the seat. My attention is diverted; two women and a man approach; it is now that I understand. He’s sold me out. For the price, this is a private rickshaw, no doubt. But nothing but time on my hands and Cha Cha ji bouncing on the seat, whooping it up, I move up and squeeze in. And we’re off.

Rain is dripping onto my face and legs, cold against my warm skin, centuries old buildings speaking of their history as we pass. Deep rust bricks bear the remains of worn Hindi lettering; structures and cryptic looping script repeating, one after another. Men, women, bare-bottomed children, and cows share the unpaved road with rickshaws, trucks, motorbikes and vegetable carts. Graceful disorder in full motion. A thin woman draped in a sky blue sari, soaked to the bone, stands alone in the center of the swirling mayhem. She bends to the ground and picks up a bright orange brick the color of the soil and heaves it through the air, landing behind the moving rickshaw.

Cha Cha ji whoops on.

The three passengers exit and I am shooed into the back. Within moments we stop for another, a young woman. The road turns bumpy. An enormous crimson brick structure stands alone breathing under a roofless open sky. Massive chunks absent from the upper rim form a structurally jagged painting against a backdrop of translucent humidity. Great wooden doors matching in bulk are slowly pushed open from the inside by two men, one against the weight of each, swinging open time’s window and exposing hundreds of thick black cattle. Howling guttural shoves echo through the mass of hulken bodies.

Cha Cha ji whoops on.

I look down at the young woman seated next to me. Her brown skin glows in contrast to the sheer lavender fabric pressed against it. Her dark wavy hair pulled back, frames the features of a delicately sculpted effigy of a Princess past. She bounces lightly to the beat of the bumpy road and looks up at me.

Cha Cha ji whoops on.

~  by Christine Fowle

Kolkata

The aircraft drops into Kolkata. After descending the steps onto the asphalt, heavy dust clouds march forward rows of sentinels bearing thick, steely heat.

Welcome to India.

The single dusty airport terminal consists of a pass through customs and quick retrieval of my backpack, then making my way between the short metal gates. Behind it, are men gripping name signs anxiously scanning exiting passengers. Beyond the first wave rolls a turbulent sea of men gripping no signs.

kolkata__taxis_2-224x150.jpg

Refracting light under the pounding sun, a line of cabs is finally visible in between the heat waves and palm trees. Glancing at the pre-paid taxi receipt in my hand I note the overcharge of five Rupees. Approaching the black and jewel-toned cars, their stature represents a fleet of old-school apparitions of finer years past. At the stand, an Indian businessman purposefully steps in front of me. I pull a countermove.

In the steamy taxi, the man behind the wheel mops his sweating head in a profuse sweeping motion, repeatedly turning the key in the ignition to no avail. The machine finally lurches forward and roars to life. With a couple jerks a slow momentum is achieved; the auto makes it to the road and merges into traffic. The honking commences: With a general lack of signage and no road markings, sounding the horn is how pedestrians, bikes, rickshaws, people, dogs, cows, goats and the like, are warned of approaching traffic. The raucous pitches scream in a beastly crescendo of orchestral turmoil. The noise can be incessant.

Barely road-bound and the driver pulls off to the side of the pavement. This isn’t alarming. Sudden stopping is a frequent occurrence and it is just a matter of what specific odd or end is at hand for this particular driver. Bag of feed for some chickens, box of greasy car parts to fix engine trouble or in this case, pan masala; chew tobacco. He seems satiated as he sits down, rips open the packet and stuffs a hunk under his gums. If he’d waited one more minute he could’ve purchased it from the guy stepping in between cars stopped on the street. Every eight feet a driver is leaning out his window hucking gobs of black chew-spit onto the ground.

From the airport to the hotel the entire stretch is crowded with slums, shacks in various states of dilapidation, some with walls others with tarps in place of walls, measuring about the size of one king bed. The drive is enmeshed with such housing, on either side of the busy road and under the overpass. Black, sticky exhaust billows behind the rickshaws, taxis and busses.

As we enter the city, traffic begins to thin, the noise calms and the early evening air is a welcome offering. With windows rolled down, slowly we weave through crowded city streets. It is only now that finally, I feel connected — connected to the milling, the erratic city sounds and spinning wheels of Kolkata commerce.

Then I smell it: My India. It is a distinct mixture of swirling rich spices, musty darkness, perfumed incense, and faith. It pours into the taxi and caresses my skin, bathing me in the sands of time.

Namaste, Mother India.

Let’s dance.

~ by Christine Fowle; Kolkata, India —  July 2012 ~ Photo Credit: Kolkata Taxis by keribar