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My Morning In India

March 16, 2010

View of St. Mary's Cathedral, known among Fools as "Our Lady of the Maytag," from Jefferson Park (found on flickr)

A making-breakfast conversation with Noa this morning, discussing the health benefits of ghee (she clarified — no pun intended — some of my misconceptions), somehow Back-To-The-Futured me smack-dab into 2005, the summer I turned 19 on the way to McLeod Ganj. (As opposed to the summer I turned 19 on the way to Buenos Aires…)

As a result, my walk to work at the First Unitarian Universalist was entirely double-visioned. The church, nestled in the brood of huge Christian hubs up on Cathedral Hill, became a Tibetan monastery, perched on the face of a Himalayan foothill. The southward view from Jefferson Park, a steeply sloped dogwalking destination between Turk and Eddy, flickered between a beautiful vista of San Francisco’s Mission District and the famous exile village of Dharamsala. Even the fragrance of city cherry blossoms, soft and cleansing in the warming minutes before 9am, somehow evoked the fresh air after a monsoon rain.

How clean the sidewalks are here, I realized. How wide and empty the streets! No crowds!

McLeod Ganj, not my photo: I didn't have a camera in India

That is, until we descended from the Hill back into the Tenderloin, sending off a dozen Wyoming University students on a daylong Faithful Fools street retreat. Then, my memory’s eye moved southward along the subcontinent, to the areas in Kerala where I spent most of my 10 weeks. The hustle, the stagnancy, the dirt and color. All these contrasts. Saints and thieves, or more often, a little of both playing out in one body. Drunken yogis. Warrior monks. Our many, many aspects. I wanted to greet all of them, welcome them, let them know how thankful I am for this messy, chaotic, uncomfortable, precious life.

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