Full Summer

IMG_1728Made it. The journey took me twenty-six hours, two planes, two trains, two cars, and a bus (let’s not count the elevators and staircases and pounds of baggage I was carrying), but I’m here. And I’m thrilled.

There’s not much in life that stands up to a warm welcome. And when you live in a community of forty or more people who all exclaim and say, “Ah, mais c’est bon de te revoir!“–“Oh, but it’s good to see you again!”–well, let’s just say I have a solid case of the warm-fuzzies.

IMG_1731I’m getting settled back into the kitchen here. I was lucky enough to return in time for the last day of a course with the venerable Beru Khyentse Rinpoche, a Tibetan master who teaches often in the West. I made this tart Sunday night for two of his attendants who stayed with us. Sorry, no recipe, as I just kind of threw it together. You can too if you’re in an off-the-cuff tart mood. It’s just sautéed bell peppers and onions layered with tomatoes and potatoes, all inside of a crumbly pâte brisée.

IMG_1735We are, as the French say, en plein été here. In full summer. It’s an apt term. There is a richness in the air that fills you up. Deep yellow sunshine, a Pantone array of flowers, and the whistle and whizz of things on wings living out their warm-season lives.

IMG_1746I am glad to be a part of it.

Suffice to Say, I am in India

No photos yet, as I’m on a school computer and this is my foray into internet-dom. They will come soon.

At the moment, I am mostly amazed that I am here. It took about twenty-four hours of travel to get here, from Los Angeles to New York to Delhi. And that’s not counting the roundabout cab ride from the airport to the center, hehe. Things of note:

The center, formally known as The Karmapa International Buddhist Institute, looks like a Tibetan monastery, and in fact most of its inhabitants are monks. Students from around the world have been trickling in. So far no other Americans, but I’ve met several Germans, a Canadian, and a Dane. Everyone is friendly and everyone is dedicated to the Dharma. This is a good place to be.

There is  a temple in the middle of the compound where people meditate and do prostrations. The statue of the Buddha there is the most impressive and inspiring I’ve ever seen, entirely gold and probably twelve-feet high. It’s quite cold here, which is very encouraging of prostration practice as it heats one up considerably. I’ve been doing one hundred a day, but I might start doing extra before bed to keep warm.

Outside the center, directly close by is all institutions; there is a hospital, the Indian Statistical Institute, and various places with Hindi names that I don’t understand, but which have impressive buildings to go along with them. A short walk away, through a park and off the nearest main road is what I would guess is a more typical neighborhood, where tall buildings stand close together, street vendors sell everything from fresh curry to room heaters, and men speed by on motorcycles while honking their horns maniacally.

There are no squirrels here, but energetic chipmunks with striped backs and a single ring on their tails. There are crows, as there seem to be Corvidae everywhere in the world; the ones here are black with gray hoods that stretch over their breast and half down their backs. The blackbirds, if they are blackbirds, have orange beaks and orange around their eyes, and there’s waterbirds with fat bodies on stick-like legs near the river that runs by a park just a short walk from the center.

I imagine I will be at the center most of the time, working and practicing, but perhaps on weekends I’ll venture out to nearby destinations of interest or to sample the local fare. Everything now is new and unknown. You’ll know when I know what life has in store.