Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Weather Report

Yesterday was sunny and a little hot (Dharamsala hot, not Delhi hot), and Margi was feeling good in early afternoon, so we went to Bhagsu and did the walk up to the waterfall. Margi wants everybody who's done the walk with her before to know that the pool at the bottom of the waterfall was really full, deep enough that it was shoulder height on a (short) Korean man who alternately stood posing for photographs and swimming about.

We spent some quiet time on her favorite rectangular rock slab above the cascades, listening to the water, then visited her friend Aju at his chai shop nearby for a cup of delicious extra-ginger chai.

Today began sunny, then turned to early afternoon rain, lightning and thunder. I've just been out walking around the temple grounds, now that the rain has stopped, after a morning of writing in my room.

It's beautiful here, and we're having a good time, and Margi obviously thrives in this environment. She still has some days of weakness and illness, with the aftereffects of the chemotherapy and general bodily depletion, but she also has many very good days, like yesterday.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

chemo #5 non-update

Forgive me for taking so long to write to you about chemotherapy #5 but there was this hawk gliding through the sky so effortlessly and yet exuding such pure power—not even the remote hint of a diesel engine tucked away somewhere under those sunlit auburn feathers. I was compelled to stop (really, I had the pen in my hand) and witness the soaring loops and curls and sudden dips. Naturally I had to wait until the hawk was clearly out of sight before I could again lift the pen (it had slipped out of my hand) and I had to make sure that the bird was not planning a return. It required my full attention (and quite some time) to make this judgement.

Just when I was sure I’d done a good job and could resume (okay, begin) my letter—this magpie plucked some kind of large (grape-sized) berry from the tree to the right and carried it, with such expertise-- by beak, to the green netted roofing below my balcony. There the bird proceeded to roll the object about on the woven tarp while prodding with the point of it’s bill in order to break it open—then it poked at the seed and alternately wiped the sides of it’s bright yellow-orange beak on the netting. This prrocedure was meticulous and complex and I’m sure you’ll understand that if I’d glanced down even for a moment to the pen (which I admit was still sitting idly upon blank paper) that I might have missed a very important part of the process that the magpie used to negotiate it’s prize. I can tell you from experience that this task also required full focus, as well as the self discipline to resist almost-certain distraction caused by the display of the magpie’s two, extra-long and so-blue tail feathers, both tipped in white as if the bird carelessly dipped its signature feature into a bucket of bleach. And then there’s the weight and fall of these showy accessories that look slightly too heavy for flight and yet somehow still elegant.

So now here I am thinking of you as always (really, I imagine you are here at my side assisting in the observations) and finally my work is done and I’m ready to write to you about chemotherapy#5— (I have the pen in hand) but wait-- the blue flycatcher has arrived...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

At Pema Thang

We're settled into rooms at one of Margi's favorite guesthouses, Pema Thang. We transfered there from Angus's house yesterday afternoon.

After walking around the temple grounds on the hill below and opposite the guesthouse yesterday afternoon, and having dinner at a restaurant not far from Pema Thang, we separated with the idea that we'll meet up for dinner tonight.

Those of you who have been here know that if Margi is walking all the way to the temple grounds, and up and down the steep hills without trouble, she's doing just fine. She's eager to get back to making collages, and in fact may have started that today.

I now refer to where we are as "Dorlindia." Margi and I became friends at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony 13 years ago. We've agreed we'll have plenty of separate private time in which to do our work. We also made a ground rule, though, that if she needs something at times we aren't planning to be together, she'll call me.

She looks great, she's eating well, she seems completely recovered from the bug that bit her just before we left Delhi.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

In McLeod Ganj

Just a quick note to let you know we arrived safely in McLeod Ganj. Margi had a hard time on the train this time because she was seriously depleted and feeling unwell - she blames it on the insecticide sprayed in the hotel corridor the day before we left the Prince Polonia, on top of chemo #5. I didn't realize how weak she was feeling until after my first India post. She has given me permission to tell you about her swan dive backwards in the middle of the night - the most graceful faint imaginable, crumpling backward so that her head landed gently on the Salman Rushdie novel conveniently placed about five feet inside the door. Neither of us slept a great deal on the overnight train, her from indigestion, achy body and general debilitation, me from concern that she might tumble down again.

However, now we are safely enconsced at Angus's beautiful house above the town, and after resting all day yesterday her appetite has perked up, she's looking much better, and we've even gone for two short walks together.

Day after tomorrow we'll move to the Pema Thang guesthouse in town, but for now we have an idyllic spot up the mountain, a good place to rest, rejuvenate, and read (the three rs).

Monday, May 22, 2006

leaving Delhi

hello hello,
well, i have just said goodbye to Margi and Penelope and will miss all the adventures that they will be having! it was nice to hear Penelope's reactions to India since i'm so used to the oddities (like becoming an attraction just because you're a foreigner)and the auto rickshaw wild rides.

i'm sure that Penelope will love Dharamsala as much as Margi does and will appreciate having the quiet time to write and relax after the few hot and busy days in Delhi.

i leave tomorrow morning for another town in the foothills of the Himalayas called Shimla. well, actually i am going to Dolanji, which is south of Shimla. it is the where the Menri Monastery is located. The Menri Monastery is the home of the Tibetan Bon (the indigenous Tibetan religion)and there is also an orphanage and school for the children. if you want to get more information.

i became involved with this group through my volunteer work at Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. Latri Nyima Dakpa Rinpoche, the administrator of BCH, has given a couple of talks at Pacific Asia Museum on the Bon tradition. so, i figured, while i was in the neighborhood (so to speak), i would visit them! i'm looking forward to seeing the town and their organization.

i am also hoping to visit Shimla and some of the towns in the area, but am leaving my plans open to see how it goes. Shimla was the summer capital of the British Raj and is supposed to be nice.

i will come back to Delhi when Margi and Penelope return and will be here for Chemo #6 and then will be flying back to LA.

but for now i'm back on the road. i'll be missing my traveling companions but am looking forward to getting out of the heat and congestion again and seeing something new!

In Delhi

I was delighted to see how well Margi seems. The morning of my arrival she had just had chemo #5 (she promises to post to the blog about this soon), which went smoothly. She was bright-eyed and luminous, just as she has always been. And not even skinny! She's been eating well, and is normal weight.

In Delhi she stays in her room to rest and recuperate, and it's obviously good for her to do that here. It's true what I've been told: Delhi is hot, dusty and crowded. But I've had kind guides (Jennifer and Carolyn) to take me places the last two days. Jennifer flew home night before last. I was very happy to meet her.

This evening Margi and I depart on the night train to the town at the foot of the Himalayas where the train ends. When we get there tomorrow morning, there will be a taxi (already arranged) to take us up to Dharamsala. For the first few days we'll stay at the home of her friend Angus, then transfer to a guesthouse in the town. I'm looking forward to pine forest inhabited by monkeys, cooler weather, and natural beauty at Angus's. Carolyn leaves Delhi in a couple of days to visit friends at a monastery. We'll see her again around June 8, when we return to Delhi.

I've actually enjoyed - in a hot, sweaty kind of way - seeing some of Delhi, experiencing several autorickshaw rides (the drivers truly do believe they're immortal, and it's best for the passengers to adopt the same attitude), visiting the Red Fort and the Rajgat, being viewed myself as a tourist attraction (Indians kept sidling up at the Rajgat and asking to take pictures of themselves with me - something about my height, gray hair and fierce face, I guess), and having some wonderful Indian food. Most of all, it's great to see how far Margi has come since the diagnosis.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Flying out this Thursday

Looking forward to my flight to New Delhi on Thursday, May 18. Well, okay, I'm not looking forward to the actual FLIGHT so much. But I'm excited about seeing Margi and Carolyn, and meeting Jennifer, and experiencing India for the first time. I'll be there until June 9. I'll try to post some news before long.