the quality of sound

The quality of sound

 Viswa had been sitting quietly
on the edge of the balcony at Pappu’s
for some time
when he began to chant
one of his favorite mantras:

 AM KAM CHAM TAM THAM PAM YAM S’AM VIM DUM AIM VEEM HAM KSHAM

 and gradually the people nearby
fell silent
and began to listen 

♫ ♫ ♫

The quality of sound,
the tone of a voice,
the timbre of a song,
is crucial 

Use your voice wisely,
sparingly,
beautifully and slowly

 Allow compassion to flow
Speak the truth
gently

 Never be
in a hurry
to get to the end
of a sentence
or phrase

 Thus spoke Viswa

 He then began again
to quietly sing
bijas,
seeds,
letters of the Sanskrit alphabet:

 AM KAM CHAM TAM THAM PAM YAM S’AM VIM DUM AIM VEEM HAM KSHAM

 and continued
until thought had subsided
among those nearby

 ♫ ♫ ♫

incense baba

Incense Baba

 Incense Baba placed a selection
of his favorite incense
in an incense quiver
and then went out
for his evening stroll,
leaving a swirling trail
of smoke
behind 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Some people would hang out
near Incense Baba’s home
and wait
for him to go on a walk,
and they would follow
at a discreet distance
in order to enjoy
a fine fragrance 

Others would come out
of their homes and shops
to breathe in
the scent of the day

 And yet others
would happened upon
the wonderful smells
by chance 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

The incense today
smells divine 

Nag Champa, I think 

Yes, Goloka Nag Champa

 Nice

 The Palo Santo this morning was a treat

It was divine

 And the Sai Baba Nag Champa last week
was pretty good too 

Yeah,
Sai Baba Nag Champa is nice

But Goloka is nicer

 Yeah

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Incense Baba made his way
through the village,
pausing
at some of his favorite spaces
to exchange a few words
or share a few moments
of silence
with friends
and with kind strangers

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The moon was out
and stars were making their way
across the dark blue night,
and as Incense Baba walked home,
the scent of sandalwood
whirled through the night 

♫ ♫ ♫

martin

Martin

 Martin sat quietly
in a corner at Shanti Space

 Supplementing the postive vibe
with his gentle presence,
Martin promoted peace
and love
in the heart of Vashisht
and everywhere else
he went

 A regular customer,
he had become part of the family,
and when offered a pencil and paper,
he would draw beautiful pictures
for his friends to color

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Martin had been wanting to leave
Vashisht
for some time,
but the banofie pie
at Pappu’s place
had weakened
his resolve to go

 And every day
there he went
to eat a piece of pie
and to watch the painting
of a mural on a wall

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 A number of musicians
haunted the place,
and Martin was ever ready
to listen to them play

He would listen for hours
without making a sound
and give his full attention
to the music

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 And one day Martin met
a peaceful girl
and began to share with her
the present moment

♫ ♫ ♫

the medicine dancer

The medicine dancer

 An inspiration
to all who had seen her dance,
Navila fostered peace,
awakened passion
and quietened minds
with her graceful movements

Please come again soon,
said the owners of cafés and restaurants
where she had performed

She’s a gift
to all of us,
said some

 Her dancing
is divine
said others

 Navila began
to dance
whenever she heard
music
being played
Kalimba or mouth harp
harmonica or guitar,
piano, violin or djembe,
whatever the music
she would dance
and those nearby would fall silent,
let their minds rest
and watch

♫ ♫ ♫

Sometimes
when Navila went for a walk
she would come across
suffering or strife

On such occasions
she would begin to dance
her medicine dance
silently,
and then people
would forget
to suffer
and drama
would dissolve

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 On her last night in Vashisht
Navila and her friend Kalimbaba
walked from home to home,
visiting her friends
and for each one performing
a farewell dance

 To the delicate music of a kalimba
Navila flowed

 ♫ ♫ ♫

navila’s dance

Navila’s dance

 From somewhere not very far away
Navila heard a kalimba
and began to dance
very slowly

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The music continued
for what seemed like hours,
and Navila appeared
to never tire

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The music grew louder
as the musician drew closer,
and after a while
he and the dancer
came together

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Tenderly she danced
while gently he played

 Quiet music and silent dance,
neither in a hurry
to finish
or go anywhere 

♫ ♫ ♫

the maharaja lounge

The Maharaja Lounge

 From the Maharaja Lounge
one had an excellent view of the valley,
and it was there that Dom Baba and Om Baba
decided to wait for the tailor
to return to his room next door

♫ ♫ ♫

He might come back in a while
or perhaps tomorrow,
said the waiter

We’re not in a hurry

May we have some mint tea, please?

 The waiter left the lounge
to prepare the tea,
and Dom Baba and Om Baba
took out their pencils and paper
and began to color and draw

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 I’ll go check and see
if he’s back

Dom Baba went back to the tailor’s room,
had a look around
and then returned
to the Maharaja Lounge

He’s not back yet,
but he does fine work
There’s a very nice wool coat
hanging on a wall

Let’s wait a bit longer

And so the babas continued to color and draw
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

This is all local wool,
said the tailor
from his place on the floor
in front of his sewing machine
Vashisht’s finest

It’s beautiful

And warm

We’d like to have two shawls made,
one brown
and the other black

Black sheep
are rare around here

Yet some can be found

Yes
I’ll draw you a map
that shows where they live
and how to get there
If you can find them and sheer them,
I’ll make you a black shawl

Excellent

And then Dom Baba
prepared a chillum
and the three men smoked
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

That vest over there looks pretty nice

Black corduroy
It’s beautiful

What stitching
It’s a masterpiece

Try it on

And so Om Baba handed the vest to Dom Baba

It fits you perfectly

Bhai saab, how much for this vest?

 Well,
it might cost about 800 rupees,
perhaps only 500,
or maybe you can just give me what you want

Dom Baba then began
to prepare another chillum
while the tailor stitched button holes
on a purple kurta
by hand

♫ ♫ ♫

The tailor took another hit
and then passed the chillum to the right

At the market in Manali
you can find dark grey wool,
but if you’re not in hurry,
someone might bring some by
sometime next week

We’re never in a hurry

We can wait

We can do even less than wait

We can just be

Dark grey wool may come

Or it might not

We’ll make no plans for it

Nor will we entertain
any hope
of seeing dark grey wool here

But if it were to appear,
we would welcome it

Yes, it would be most welcome

And then the men again fell silent
and observed
as the tailor continued to sew
by hand

♫ ♫ ♫

the maharani

The maharani

 The maharani sat on her throne
and smoked
as the musicans who had gathered
for the evening jam at A High Note
began to play

Several drummers set the rhythm,
a Japanese girl got up and began to dance
and soon the maharani
was dancing too

♫ ♫ ♫

She looks strong

She’s amazing

She’s cool

She dances well

What a woman

I wonder what she was smoking

She’s got a twinkle in her eyes

She looks about the same age as my grandmother

She might be a great-grandmother

These thoughts and more
wandered around the room,
as the maharani danced with abandon
and the rhythm changed and flowed

♫ ♫ ♫