Wednesday, February 17, 2010

India (And How She Helped me To See Myself)

The Dalai Lama distributed
his cup full of grace
and I
accepted with palms up
body rigid, pushed through assembled masses
of exiled Tibetan New Years
to a waiting coach
with no suspension
seen off by a beautiful new friend
to rock nausea through my guts
but still I did not spill

Delhi in her finest bedclothes
stained in spots with pre-dawn
rickshaw drivers
and our coach stopped to kneel
at the feet of them
250Rs. (250% the going rate)
my fingers grate the sleep from my eyes
bargain for my right to 110%
tax for white skin
our second sleepless day begins
the cup full of grace
holding every silver drop
in a rickshaw hopping red-light "suggestions"

We stop
We are 5:30am (5 hours early)
to appointments
at Max Super Specialty Hospital
medical tourism headquarters
our driver moans for 50 more
me, two bags, a tired girlfriend
and a frothy cup of grace
ignore the pleas
50Rs. more
broken English that misses
the "magic" word
for undeserved surplus

Inside we fight our heavy eyes
order chai
receive "VAT"
pull the stopper
and slip a cheeky drop of grace
into soggy paper cups
we slowly sip
my belly rumbles
bus-ride-busted bowels respond
and I shit my favourite underwear
while in an uncleaned hospital latrine
I struggle off the many too-warm layers
a mostly full cup of grace
waits on a cafeteria
table top

My a1/a2 vertebrae pop
so I XRAY a 3-day headache
and a patronising patriarchal physician
the girlfriend pays 3000Rs. more
for hers
and nearly cries
there was a cup here somewhere

We hit the Hard Rock New Delhi
Mexican import bottle beers
and Nachos
my one-day late
Valentine's reprise
in an A/C shopping mall
away from the grey skies of smog
my tab on an empty pocket
I.O.Her 2235Rs.
but 2 beers is like grace
the kind that makes this 3.5-day headache
static-rumble loud

We catch a movie to avoid the crowd
I buy new headphones to drown them out
Sherlock Holmes plays too loud
we dip tissues in the silver stuff
and pack our ear holes
for tympanic protection
finish up
and arrange a battered auto-rickshaw
to the wrong railway station
which I discover after endless queries
(A working miracle in themselves)
muted by new headphones
filling the cognitive areas
left between
the scattered 3.7 day headache
ipod off and hidden
we ride the metro
on 500 grams of paracetemol
and 8Rs.
to Old (not "New") Delhi station

Engines and cars
and cabooses and cars
and engines
splash through shit-covered tracks
and on the edge of collapse
near falling in
the crowd and luggage
surge and scream
a man collapses under the press
I help him up
save his life
and remember the cup I'm holding
somewhat chipped
by the press of countless writing

Jump aboard 3 cars off
fight my 30Kg load
through upper-class passengers
to A1-12 and 44
opposite ends
penalised arrangements
for moments late booking
no matter
my sleepless battered brain
is 4 days deep
and I'm at my "seat/sleep"
jacket off
and pillow of dirty clothes
(for safety) pack away
passport, portable hard-drive
(with lifetime of pictures)
card wallet?
just a few drops left
cut my lips
on the rim
knock back the contents
graceful nightcap
dream of nothing
8.6 hours of gracefulness
to grey morning skies
slipping by this tinted window
grace used up
so the Wala sells us cups of chai
and my addled mind
fits and seizes
my epilepsy tablets still packed deeply in
this dusty rucksack
I dump hot magma chai
all over my crotch
too dehydrated to construct even a tear
I lay back
close the curtain and fall
forward into the next destination
where I'm dreaming visions of Himalayas
snow covered
and cold like home
2.1 weeks of beard growth
are itching
naturally gracing my face with warmth
existing untrimmed as is
simply 'is'
I 'am'
this and that 'are'

i order another chai
no spill
no fit this time
and the silver stuff inside
slides down easy
the ground is creaking
or clacking
there are
2156 Kilometres
and a lifetime to go


samantha said...

My breath was caught in my throat until the last paragraph.

kaare.iverson said...

that's very sweet of you, thanks

Autumn Rose said...

so good! It really captures that trip....I had sort of forgotten how epic it really was. You just learn to cope....well, sort of :) haha. muah!