Purple flowers began to drop
from a twisted vine
that had grown up the trunk of the big pepper tree
and spread out among the branches,
signaling that it was time
to serve the evening chai

 Butterflies fluttered
from plant to plant,
having their evening meal,
and a great variety of birds sang their songs
and looked for a bedtime snack
while the ducks waddled and quacked
and the workers began to return from the fields

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 A hint of cardamon
and just the right amount of buffalo milk
made the chai at Rishimukh
the most delicious chai in Karnataka

 Homemade music
accompanied the birds
as Vannte played his guitar
mantra style,
repeating a beautiful melody
over and over again
because no one ever grew tired
of listening

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Which flower
do you think will fall next?

 Hard to say
They’re all ready
to fall
at any time

 We should be ready too,
to leave this life
at any time

 I’m ready

 Me too

 But let’s enjoy it
as long as we’re here


 Flowers never die
They just change form

 Like us


 ♫ ♫ ♫

 A light dinner at six
while the sun sank to the west
and the moon began to rise in the east

 That roti was right on the edge
of perfection,
hard enough to maintain its shape
yet soft enough to tear

 And the soup was just right,
filling, but not too heavy

 That Finnish chocolate was pretty good too

The Finns sure know how to make chocolate

 The crickets had been singing
for over an hour
when all at once
ten thousand toads began to croak

 I guess it’s time
for the evening jam session

 The power then went out,
for the fourth or fifth time that day,
and everyone returned to their room or hut
to fetch the instruments
they wished to play

 And then on drums and guitars,
a harmonium and a harmonica,
a kalimba, a mouth harp and more
the Rishimukh band took everyone on a trip
through a musical wonderland

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 By seven thirty
almost everyone was pretty tired,
and one by one they left
and headed off to bed

 After putting away the louder instruments
the few who remained
walked down to Viswa’s hut
to have a smoke and sing and play
a little longer

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The call of a very large being
passed through the night
and everyone stopped to listen

 What do you think that was?

 No idea

 It sounded like the howl of a very large wolf
and the trumpet of an elephant
mixed together

 There it is again

 Maybe it’s Hanuman

 Hanuman is usually pretty quiet
even when he’s doing battle and rescuing girls

he’s a silent servant

 I think what we heard
was a passing truck
that sounded like a big wolf

 And an elephant


 Maybe it was a chupacabra


 Just then the dogs began to howl,
warning of something
and telling it to keep away

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The leopard is usually pretty quiet

he likes to surprise his prey

 I saw one of his paw prints this afternoon
down by the river
It was as big as my hand

 Without walls
it might be hard to keep him out of the huts

 He hasn’t eaten any people around here
Mostly he goes for dogs and ducks
and other small creatures

 The dogs then fell silent,
that they would not be chosen that night,
the people returned to their huts
and went to bed
and some owls hooted
throughout the night

 ♫ ♫ ♫

café quiet

Café Quiet

 A flock of humming birds
sat quietly in a tree
that stood silently outside the window

And a few of the regulars
and one or two others
spoke in low voices
or said nothing at all
while they enjoyed their cookies and tea
at Café Quiet

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 A pack of Israelis
came pouring through the door,
oblivious to everyone
and everything else
around them

 All of the birds flew away,
the cat hid under a sofa
and the dog began to howl

 Even the monkeys
that had been hanging out at the temple across the street
decided go on a run through the town

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Good afternoon
I would like to invite you
to enjoy the silence
It’s the specialty of the house,
said the owner
after the chosen people
had selected a table
and settled down
and begun to try and order
everyone around

 Perhaps you haven’t noticed,
but since you arrived
the rest of us haven’t been able to hear
the silence
that we have come to love

 The chosen people looked
as though they could not understand
why anyone would object
to their babel and hullabaloo

 If you must talk,
would you please do so quietly?

 Rather than apologize
and quiet down,
they all got up and left,
leaving a trail of invective behind

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Perhaps they are afraid
of silence

 Or perhaps they simply know
no other way
to be

 I think they’re just rude in general


 They think they’re tough,
but they have no idea
what it means
to be really tough


 I bet they couldn’t complete
a Goenka course

ten days of silence

 And the silence was the easy part


 The regulars and the other lovers
of silence
then returned
to their peace and quiet

 ♫ ♫ ♫