the silent zone

The silent zone

 A bit tired
of all the talking
and all the horn honking,
the traveler walked to the edge of the town
in search of a quiet place
to sit

 I can still hear the horns,
he said to himself
when he had reached the bottom of the hills
on one side of the town,
so he decided to climb up and over the hills
to see if it was quieter
on the other side

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 From the top of the hills
the traveler could see another town,
but he could not hear
what it had to say

 The town of Silence
was divided into twenty-four zones,
and in each one silence reigned
for a different amount of time

 In Zone One
for one hour each day
everyone would be
as quiet as possible,
and when that hour would be
would change from week to week
One week it might be from two to three in the afternoon
and the next from three to four in the morning

 In Zone Two
everyone would be quiet
for two consecutive hours a day,
as in Zone One,
the quiet time would vary
from week to week

 In Zone Three
the people were quiet for three consecutive hours a day,
in Zone Four for four
and so on

 In Zone Twenty-four
silence was sovereign
the entire day

 The traveler descended
into Silence
and slowly made his way
to Zone Twenty-one

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 After sitting quietly
for quite some time,
after having enjoyed the singing of some birds in a park,
the traveler got up and began to walk
towards Zone Thirteen

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 I too
was suffering from a lack of silence,
said a girl
that the traveler met in a café,
so I moved here
It’s a great place to live
There are tree-lined canals
dividing each zone,
so sounds rarely travel
from zone to zone,
and one can move about
according to one’s need
for silence

 Often silence is more beautiful than words

Shall we sit quietly?

 The traveler nodded in agreement,
and the two friends drank tea and sat
in silence

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 In search of the ultimate silence,
the traveler walked to Zone-four
There he sat and meditated
and went further and further inside
beyond the chatter
of the mind
and to the other side

 ♫ ♫ ♫

kaleidoscopes are cool

Kaleidoscopes are cool

 Japanese girls
keep appearing in my dreams
Always different ones,
and last night there were two of them

 One of the girls said,
Catch me if you can
I told her that I don’t run anymore
and that perhaps we’d meet up later
The other one stayed put,
so I hung out with her for a while
She was making kaleidoscopes
and I asked her if she would make one for me
She said yes
and she let me choose the glass
Purple, green and blue
were the colors I chose,
and she made me a very nice kaleidoscope

 Kaleidoscopes are cool

And the Japanese are cool too
When they do something,
they do it well
or they don’t do it at all

like the Germans and the Austrians

 And the Swiss

But they don’t know how to make nuclear power plants very well

but then nobody does
All of those plants are going to have a problem

Nuclear power sucks

Fortunately some countries have gotten the message
and have stopped producing it

like Germany

 But some countries that have never had a plant
still want to build one

like Viet Nam

 One accident there
would kill everyone in the country

It’s not worth the risk

 It’ll probably take one more big accident
like Chernobyl or Fukushima
before everyone on the planet finally agrees
that nuclear power is not the way to go

 It would be nice if everyone were to realize that
before such an accident

 There was at least one positive consequence
as a result of Fukushima

Germany shut down all its nuclear power plants

 So did Japan

but the politicians there want to reopen some of them

 I guess they didn’t get the message

 Maybe the accident damaged their brains


 And it would be nice if people would stop building tall buildings

they block one’s view of rainbows,
the sunset
and other cool things

and they’re all going to fall down one day

 Like the World Trade Center

it’s just a matter of time

 Five stories is the limit I would set
for buildings in a city

The five-story ones in New York are nice

 In Santa Barbara the limit is four stories
And it is the only city I know
that has gotten prettier with time
The façades of many of the ugly buildings,
the ones built after the second world war,
were redone in the colonial style
so that they would blend in with the pretty buildings

 Most of the architecture before the second world war was alright

and then something happened
The whole planet took a turn for the worse after the war
The quality of workmanship,
the environment
and a lot of other things

but there have been a few good inventions
since the second world war,
like avocado ice cream
and the Internet

the Internet is pretty useful
I support advances in communication and healthcare,
but most of the other things that people keep inventing
don’t really improve life on earth

We don’t need faster planes and trains
or to spend time on the moon

 Slow trains are great
You get to enjoy the passing scenes

 A blend of the best of the old
and the best of the new
would be great

A lot of people are leaving the cities and becoming farmers
and learning how to do things the old way

growing their own food,
making their own clothes,
and doing everything by hand

 It takes longer,
but why hurry?

 An axe makes a lot less noise than a chainsaw

 Carrying water from the river
keeps me in good shape

 Bathing in the river
means I don’t need to build a shower
and install plumbing

 The river is great

Let’s hope this one stays clean


 Farmers are cool

They’re super cool
And they’re more useful than businessmen
You can eat food,
but you can’t eat money

We need farmers,
but we don’t need businessmen

 Farmers are cooler than businessmen

 Much cooler

 It’s almost time to milk the buffalos

Let’s go

 The buffalos are cool

And they’re super meditative
and easy to get along with

 They chew each mouthful of grass very slowly
at least twenty times before they swallow

they’re never in a hurry

 And so the two friends
made their way over
to where the buffalos were hanging out

 ♫ ♫ ♫



 The first guest of the season
had been released earlier that day,
fully restored
to his original condition,
and a new guest had just arrived

 Good beautiful morning

 Good morning

 Welcome to Rishimukh
Are you a doctor or patient?

are there any other catagories?

 Most people seem to be
mostly one or the other,
although it is sometimes hard to tell
the difference between them
and everyone seems to be
a bit of both

 I’m not sure
which I am

 Don’t worry
While you’re here
you’ll find out
who you really are
I’ll show you to your hut

 And so the farmer led the guest
to a hut near the aqueduct

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Darshan with nature
is one of the best medicines

 Sitting quietly under the soap nut tree
does one a lot of good

 Listening to the crickets and toads
sing lullabies at night
has cured many people

 Hanging out
with the wild pig and the monkeys
and all the other animals
can be quite therapeutic

 Watching and listening
to the birds and the butterflies
helps to still the mind

 Pulling weeds and watering the flowers
and helping out in the garden
is a good way to reconnect
with earth

 We grow most of the food we eat,
without chemicals,
and we make everything fresh every day
We don’t have a refridgerator

 Enjoy the fragrence and the feel of the flowers
as well as their elegant beauty
Some of them
are smoother than silk

 Please feel free to sing, dance and make music
whenever you feel inspired

 Try to avoid using any electronic devices
while you are here
And please leave your telephone turned off

 I suggest that you get up early enough
to watch the sun rise,
that you make sure to see the sun set
and that you go to bed early,
advised the doctor
And don’t miss the stillness

 The farmer then left the guest
to suffer or to explore
as she liked

 ♫ ♫ ♫



 Would like to watch an ice cube melt?
asked a man who was staying in a hut nearby


I brought one from the village

 The man led the guest
over to his hut,
from which he took a rapidly-melting cube of ice
He placed it on the ground
and together they watched it grow smaller
in silence

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Are you a doctor
or a patient?

 That depends
on your point of view,
and that point of view may change
with time

 Would you like a tour of the land?


 And so the man began
to show the guest around
and to explain to her a few things
about her new home

 We have coffee at breakfast
made with milk from our buffalos,
a tender coconut in the late morning,
freshly-pressed sugar cane juice
with just the right amount of lemon after lunch,
lemon juice with a hint of cardamon at three o’clock,
the best chai around at 5.20
and an herbal tea with all meals

 We haven’t yet had
lemon juice and sugar cane juice on the same day,
but if that ever happens,
I think we’ll all imagine
that we’ve died and gone to nirvana

 And the food here is the best in Karnataka
Everything is made fresh each day
We grow our own rice, corn, peanuts and sugar cane,
we cook with cold-pressed peanut oil
taken from our peanuts
We have mango, coconut, avocado, cashew, lemon, jackfruit
and many more trees
We grow our own papayas, bananas, pineapples and sugar cane,
and eggs we get from our ducks

 Be mindful of what you do
and how you do it,
and you’ll have no problems here

 The cobras are pretty shy
and would prefer to avoid your company
as much as you’d probably prefer to avoid theirs
Just be aware
that they’re around
and of where they’re likely to be
and you’ll be fine

 Leave your story behind
Don’t worry about the future
Just be

 Feel free to borrow an instrument from the music room
and play with the band
before and after meals in the dinning area
and at the evening fire

 The forest is down there,
the river is on the other side
and lunch is at one o’clock
I’ll leave you now
and see you at lunch

 Thank you
for showing me around

 The guestt then began
to wander around on her own
and greet all of the flowers,
admiring their colors and forms
and breathing in their scents

 The scent of honey
wafted through the air
and blessings began to flow
in her direction

 ♫ ♫ ♫

scent and sound

Scent and sound

 May the scent you wear
be as subtle and pleasing
as that of a frangipani tree

 May the voice you speak with
be deep and quiet,
gentle and slow

 And may you be aware
that not everyone in town
wants to hear your conversation
or inhale your perfume

 That is what was written
on a sign at the entrance
of Café Quiet

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Luli’s father
could hear her voice,
and it seemed
that he could hear no other

 Perhaps he was just pretending
not to hear what others said
in order to avoid
having to talk with them

 Or perhaps he had trained his ears
to only let in
pleasing sounds

 We can learn a lot from the Lao,
she said,
for example how to talk
on a telephone

 They understand
that the microphone on a mobile phone
is quite good
and that there is no need to shout
into everyone’s ears

 They speak so quietly
both in person
and when on the phone
that those who are standing,
or lying around nearby
cannot hear
what is being said

 The Lao are smart

They understand telephone technology
better than most

 And they don’t go around
infringing on other people’s rights

 I don’t think Lao
has ever attacked another country

 Or tried to impose their way of life on others

the communists have done quite a bit of killing
and forced a number of unpopular changes
at home

Their government kind of sucks

So does ours


 An annoying ringtone
then sounded loudly
and continued to disturb the peace
until the owner of the phone
finally got around
to answering the call

 Sounds like she needs a different job

 And a different boyfriend

 She sure complains a lot

 And wears a lot of perfume

 I think she used the whole bottle

 And it looks like she’s going to talk for some time

 Let’s go somewhere quieter

 Somewhere where the air is fresh

It looks like the waiter
is going to ask her to leave

 She doesn’t seem to understand
why anyone would object
to her presence

 There she goes

 In a huff

 I love this café

 Me too

death and life

Death and life


 At a little past four in the morning
the door to the wood storage area under the oven
slammed hard against the stone wall
as a leopard silently dragged Claire
away from her puppies

 Everyone on the farm awoke
and wondered what had happened

 At sunrise the puppies were found alone
and leopard tracks were seen
here and there

 She must have been sleeping

And none of the other dogs
barked a warning

They must all have been sleeping

 The leopard is rather stealthy

 The other dogs don’t seem very upset

 They must understand
that everything comes and goes
And rather than be sad
because of a loss
they delight in what they have

 They’re like the characters in Aki Kaurismäki’s films
They accept life as it comes
and live free of drama

It is what it is
No point in complaining

 Crows don’t take death so well
I once found a dead crow near my hut
and I picked it up and took it to the rubbish pit
All along the way
about forty other crows crowed loudly in protest
I think they thought I had killed their friend

 One of the puppies also died last night
and we’re going to bury her near the yoga hut
and plant a tree on top of her grave

 I’d like to have a tree on top of my grave too

 So would I

 Cemeteries are kind of cold and depressing

 And they take up a lot of space

With all the people on the planet,
all the cemeteries are going to fill up pretty soon

 Cremating is not much better
Too many trees are cut down
for funeral pyres

 It would be much nicer to plant forests

It would be nice to visit our friends
who have departed
in a beautiful place
full of life

 We can give the puppies buffalo milk

 Like when Susi was a baby boar
and had been abandoned by her mother

 I’ll prepare a new bed for the puppies in the kitchen

 I’ll warm up some milk

 Claire was a good dog

 And a good mother

 And a good meal for the leopard

The leopard keeps the dog population
at a sustainable level

 And it keeps the boars under control too

 The planet could use something
to keep the human population at a sustainable level

It’s kind out of control at the moment

 It would be nice if people stopped breeding mindlessly

 One can always adopt

There are plenty of children without parents
No need to make more


 I haven’t seen any boars around lately
except for Susi

 I think they’re waiting for Peter
to plant more peanuts

And the monkeys are waiting
for the bananas to ripen

 Me too

Naturally-ripened bananas are the best


 The monkeys are pretty cool

When they’re not taking the bananas

 Or the mangos

 Or the papayas

 They’re a lot like us

Not much difference
I saw one picking flowers the other day
and then eating them

 The butterfly pea flowers taste pretty good

 I like them too

 I saw one of the crocodiles yesterday
It was lying on a boulder near the river

 We’re lucky the crocodiles around here
don’t eat people

Both the leopards and the crocodiles
leave us alone

 The cobras leave us alone too

 As long as we are mindful of what we do
and where we step,
and if we give them some space

 If we leave them alone,
they leave us alone

I haven’t seen any of the bears around lately

 Me either

 But I found a dead scorpion in my room the other night
And it was missing an arm

 I wonder what killed it?

 Maybe a bigger scorpion

 I saw an orange one in the stack of wood
near the fire pit

 I saw some bright red dragonflies
above the swimming pool
Really little ones

 There’s a frog hanging out in the shower

 It’s probably resting
The frogs were singing all night last night
with the crickets and the toads

they’re back
I think they were on tour for a while

 The bats over near my hut
screeched all night
They’ve been eating those little berries
in the big tree by the haystack

 One of the water buffalo
was singing for a while last night too

She’s in heat

 Water buffalo are cool

They’re super mellow and friendly

 The ducks are cool too

They quack really quietly

 And they’re friendly


 The geese are really loud

 And unfriendly

 And super stubborn

The other day when they were making their rounds
they wanted to pass between two huts
and I happened to be standing in their way
Rather than go around me,
they squawked until I moved out of the way
There was plenty of room
for them to pass by,
but they wanted to have
the space to themselves

 Maybe they were afraid

People who are loud
are often afraid
of not being noticed

And people who are quiet
don’t feel the need to attract attention

 Some people are like geese

 And some are like ducks

 I prefer ducks

 Me too

 Do you think those black and yellow centipedes bite?

 I’m not sure
They haven’t bitten me yet

 The orange and blue colored ones
look a bit more aggressive

You don’t want to mess with them

 Did you see the owls yesterday morning?
They were both on the branch behind Hanuman House

but I saw one of them about an hour ago
It was perched on the roof
of Shiva House

 Have you seen the new cluster of bees,
the one behind the kitchen?

They just moved there a few days ago

 The bees in the eucalyptus tree over by the bicycle shed
have been making a lot of honey
I can smell it every time I walk by

 Me too,
especially in the early morning
and the late afternoon

 Have you seen the jumping ants?

They jump down from trees and land on you
if you stand still long enough

 Some of them swing on spider-like threads
like Tarzan

I call those ones tarzants

 A python has been using the road that goes to the village
Yesterday I saw a deep wavy line etched in the dirt
It went from just inside the gate
to about a third of the way to the crossroad

 I wonder if it was coming or going

 I hope it was going

 Me too

 I wouldn’t mind the darshan of a cobra,
but I don’t think I’d feel very comfortable around a python

 Me either,
but if we meet,
I think we’ll manage somehow

if it’s meant to be,
it’ll happen,
and whatever happens will be okay


 Cobras are pretty mellow

It’s possible to share a space with them

 Just don’t knock down an abandoned termite mound
or lie on a haystack

They like to hang out in places like that

 Just then
the donkey began to bray

 Maybe he wants some flowers

 Let’s get some for him


 And so the two friends went to pick some flowers
for the donkey to eat

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 A few orange-breasted woodpeckers
flew overhead
and landed in a mango tree
while a flock of parrots
headed towards the cashew grove

 Three brown sheep,
a ram, a ewe and their lamb,
made their way to the meadow next to the citrus grove,
accompanied by the old man
who shepherded them,
and some black and red butterflies
fluttered around
the lavender hibiscuses

 Susi was let of the pen
that she shared with Youssef the camel
and went on her morning walk in the woods

 All of the other animals were let out as well,
and they began their walk
down to the river
where they could run and play
for a few hours
before returning for lunch

 Youssef led the way,
followed by the Ganesh the bull,
his harem of cows and his children,
and then all of the water buffalos
and finally the donkey

 Camels are noble creatures

 And elegant

 Ganesh looks pretty strong

 I think he could knock down a stone wall
if he wanted to


 I think it’s time
to bury the puppy
and plant a tree

let’s go

 And so the two friends
made their way
over to the freshly-dug grave
with flowering plants and a tree
to mark the resting place

 ♫ ♫ ♫

the museum of unwanted art

The Museum of Unwanted Art

 Yet another painting
had been dropped off at the back door
of the Museum of Unwanted Art,
so the curator made her way up from the vaults
to inspect the new arrival

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 What do you think it is?

 I’m not sure
It kind of looks like a scarecrow

 I think it might scare away
just about anyone who looked at it
It might even scare off a burglar

 Let’s let the docents decide tomorrow


 The assistant then put the painting in the lounge
where the docents met every Thursday,
got really stoned,
and then tried to figure out
in which gallery to put the paintings
that were of an extremely ambigous nature

 Some of the paintings had been inherited,
most had been received as gifts
and all of them had been unwelcome
in the homes of their previous owners

 Most people dropped off their paintings at night,
hoping not be seen
by the person who had painted the painting
or the one who had given it to them

 Some artists would visit
now and then
to see if any of their paintings
had made their way
to the Museum of Unwanted Art

 In the wing for paintings
that appeared to be unfinshed,
a supply of paints and brushes were available,
and visitors were encouraged
to finish the paintings

 Not all of the paintings
were an eyesore
or mediocre at best
Some of them were rather good,
and now and then
a true masterpiece would be donated
by someone
who had no appreciation of fine art

 And for those interested in exceptionally bad art,
a room known as the torture chamber was reserved
for the worst of the worst

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The museum had been open
for only a few months,
and yet all of the walls were full,
and in the storage vaults below
the curator was quickly running out of space

 What shall we do?
she asked
at the docents’ meeting on Thursday

 We could donate them
to prisons for white-collar criminals
and hang them in their cells

 That would be cruel

 I think it’s a good idea

 They might hang themselves

 The planet would probably be better off
without some of those guys

some of them ought to leave this dimension
and reincarnate as a tree or something
before attempting to be human again

 We could give some of the paintings
to the architects
who designed the ugly buildings in this town
and tell them that if they ever design
such ugly buildings again,
buildings that we have to look at every day,
we’ll kidnap them and put them in a cellar
that is full of ugly paintings

 Great idea

 Yeah, man
It’s about time to put a stop
to bad architecture

 Let’s leave the front door unlocked at night,
so that thieves can easily take
whatever they desire

 Excellent idea
Let’s start tonight

 We could burn a few of them every day
when it starts to colder
That way we wouldn’t have to cut down any trees
for firewood

 Let’s have an auction
Paintings that some cannot stand the sight of
might appeal to others

 I quite like that one of the purple turtle

 Me too

 People have a tendency to value more
things they have to pay for,
so if we had an auction,
people might like the paintings more than before

 And by thus increasing their value,
the paintings would find their way to new homes,
where they’d be loved and cherished

 We could also encourage people
to adopt a painting

 Good idea

 And perhaps we should do something
to discourage people who attempt to paint
without divine inspiration

 Hitler sent some of his paintings to Kandinsky
and asked for his opinion
Kandinsky sent them back
and told Hitler that they sucked

and then Hitler changed his job

 And went on a world tour


 We shouldn’t discourage anyone from painting
One of them might start World War III

 We should neither encourage nor discourage
Who knows what would happen as a result


 It would be great if people would stop trying to be painters

People should stop trying to be anything

They should just be

Think of all the trees
that are cut down every year
to make frames and to support canvases

 Save a tree,
just be


 Painters should wait for inspiration
and allow creative energy to flow
rather than think about
what they’d like to paint

Less thinking
and more being

 So where shall we put this painting?

 It’s not really clear
what it is

 Maybe it’s upside down

 The colors are nice

 Let’s smoke another joint
and then decide

 And so the docents continued to smoke
and to decide
where to hang unwanted art

 ♫ ♫ ♫

the scarecrow

The scarecrow

 Rangaswami had been resting on the farm
for just over a week
when Peter decided it was time to let him go

 He had been hired
on a provisional basis
at the request of his father,
but every time someone saw him,
he was just standing around,
sometimes with a tool in his hand,
doing nothing

 The other workers complained
that Rangaswami would spend ages
tying his shoes,
inspecting his fingernails
or adjusting his lungi
whenever sacks of rice had to be loaded,
or carried somewhere

 He’s useless,
said some

 He doesn’t know how to do anything,
said others

 He’s not a worker,
he’s a rester,
said everyone

 Because Rangaswami had a brain like a buffalo,
his father had had to pay quite a lot of money
in order for him to pass his exams at school,
but to no avail
He had been unable to find a job anywhere
No one would hire him

 He had wanted to join the army,
but they wouldn’t take him
because he was too short
Then he tried to get a job as a policeman,
but they wouldn’t take him either
because he couldn’t run
And every other place he had tried
had turned him away

Please, Peter,
give my son a chance,
Rangaswami’s father had asked
I know he’s useless,
but he needs to find a way to support himself
I don’t know what to do with him

 Peter had finally agreed
to give Rangaswami a job
on the condition that he would really work
and not just stand around,
but the according to everyone on the farm,
he had done nothing but stand or lie around all week

 What shall we do with him?

 He’s lazy
I’m going to fire him tomorrow

 Can’t we find something that he can do?

 There’s nothing he can do
except rest

 He’s pretty good at standing around and doing nothing

 Maybe he could work as a scarecrow in the garden
We could give him a pitchfork
and tell him to stand near the tomatoes

 He might squash them all
if he decides to lie down and take a nap

 Or if he falls asleep and then falls down

 We should give him a final chance
to see if there is something he can do well

 I’ll give him three more days
to convince me that I should not fire him
And if he fails,
on payday I am going to divide his salary
among all the other workers
who did his share of the work for him
and tell him not to come back to rest

 And so it was
that Rangaswami came to work
as a scarecrow

the blanket fairy

The blanket fairy

 The temperature had dropped
to the edge of being cool
and becoming cold,
so at three in the morning
the blanket fairy began
to make her rounds,
going from hut to hut and making sure
that everyone was warm enough

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 It was a bit cooler last night


 I was too cold and tired to get out bed
and get another blanket,
so I just lay there and shivered

 Me too

 And then the blanket fairy appeared,
unfolded my extra blanket
and put it on top of me

she did the same for me

 Life in this dimension is great

the blessings keep flowing

 Each one equal to
or better than the next

 What could be better
than the blanket fairy?

 That blueberry chocolate from Finland was pretty good

it was really good

 Maybe someone else from Finland
will come and bring us some

that’d be cool

 Finland is cool




 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

 ♫ ♫ ♫

calling on the king

Calling on the king

 The sun was no longer unbearable,
a cool breeze had begun to blow,
and it was nearing the time
for a late afternoon walk
along the ghats in Pushkar

 I wonder who lives in that palace over there,
the one with the cool domes

 Maybe one of the Rajasthani kings

I heard there are a few kings in town this week

 Shall we go call on the king
and see if he feels like hanging out?


 And so off they set
down the steps of Gujjar Ghat
and to the water

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 A troupe of blacked-faced monkeys,
gray langurs,
sat quietly at the top of Chari Paidi Ghat,
a flock of birds stood silently to their right,
and on their left
a group of humans mingled

 A dog passed slowly
through monkey territory
as the two friends walked
along the lake below,
now and then passing a cow
that was moving in the opposite direction

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 At Hanuman Temple
on Yogya Ghat
some old men were singing bhajans in Sanskrit,
at the far end of the lake
some drummers were playing an African rhythm
for the departing sun,
and somewhere off in the distance
someone was ringing a bell

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 It looks abandoned, man

All these palaces look kind of abandoned

 Let’s knock on the door

 And so he did

 And to their surprise,
the door immediately swung open

 Good evening,
said the butler

 Good evening

 How may I be of service?

 We’ve come to see the king

 And you are?

I’m King Dom,
the king of the streets,
and this is my street musician,

We’d like to offer the king a song

 Please come in
and have a seat
I’ll inform the king

 King Dom and Kalimbaba entered the palace and sat down
on some of the softest cushions they had ever seen,
dark blue, purple and green,
and enjoyed the cool silence
of the room

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The king will see you
Come this way, please

 The butler led the way
through a number of passageways and courtyards
to the sitting room,
where the king was sitting
on his throne

said the king
as he got up and walked towards his visitors
I’m Ganesh

 I’m Dom
and this is Kalimbaba




 Nice throne

 My grandfather had it made
when he became king

 Beautiful carvings


What kind of throne do you have?

 A Mexican hammock,
Mayan weave

 A royal hammock

 Most comfortable throne I’ve ever had

 Would you like some tea?

 Some tea would be very welcome

 Oolong or Darjeeling?

 Darjleeling in the evening
is a pleasure

 King Ganesh nodded to the butler
and then motioned to his guests to sit down

 My throne is not really very comfortable
I prefer sitting on the floor

 Me too
I’ve never cared much for chairs
Kind of limiting
The floor is the best throne

 The three men sat down
on woven straw mats
and King Dom took out his chillum

 Do you smoke?

 I do

 King Dom handed King Ganesh
a thola of charas
and said,
I just got back
from Great Himachal National Park

 It smells delicious

 It was rubbed a few days ago
by a teacher from a nearby village
and his students

 King Ganesh tried to hand the thola back to King Dom

Keep it
I’ve got plenty more

 He then took out another thola
and began to prepare a mix
When it was ready he loaded the chillum
and then offered it to King Ganesh

 Kalimbaba struck a match,
King Ganesh boomed the chillum
and the three men smoked
in silence
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 And while the kings cleaned
the chillum and the stone
Kalimbaba took out his kalimba
and began to play Viswa’s Journey

 Gentle music flowed
and the butler returned with the tea
and a jar full of cookies

♫ ♫ ♫

 The tea is excellent

 And the cookies are really good

 My girlfriend made them this morning

 The men continued to eat and drink in silence,
and when no cookies were left,
King Ganesh said,
Let’s move to the music room

 He got up and walked over to a wall
covered with a mosaic of some camels at an oasis in a desert,
pressed a hidden lock
and a secret door swung open

 King Ganesh led the way
through a narrow passage and up a flight of stairs
to a room filled
with almost every kind
of musical instrument

 Nice collection

 A hidden treasure

 Feel free to play
whatever you like

 King Ganesh picked up a bansuri
and began to play an enchanting melody
while King Dom and Kalimbaba
had a look around

 ♫ ♫ ♫


 Yeah, man
Nice song

 King Ganesh walked over to his medicne chest
and took out the royal chillum
and a thola of charas

What a fine bouquet!
said King Dom

 Malana cream
Buried under the mud somewhere in Goa
and aged for two years

Vintage charas at its best

 What a beautiful chillum
It looks like one of Marco’s

 It is
He made this one for me
the last time I paid him a visit

 And the cover is gorgeous
Did Lucy knit it?

 She did

 I see that we have some friends in common
Marco has made all of my chillums
And Lucy has knit all the covers

 King Ganesh began to prepare a mix
and Kalimbaba sat down
in front of a harmonium
and began to play
Music for a King

 ♫ ♫ ♫


 King Dom had boomed the chillum
and then passed it to King Ganesh

 Good stuff, man

 King Ganesh smoked
and then passed the chillum on

 Great taste

 Kalimbaba handed the chillum to King Dom,
and round and round it went
while outside the bats began to hunt

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The call of a peacock
broke the silence,
and then King Ganesh said,
Shall we go and sit
with the silent baba on the roof?


 Sounds good to me

 And so King Ganesh led the way
up a spiral metal stairway in one corner of the room
and through a trap door in the ceiling

 The moon is orange tonight

 And the stars are especially bright

 The baba is in his hut

 The men walked over
to a hut made of bamboo and straw,
pressed the palms of their hands together
in front of their hearts
and silently greeted the baba
Then they sat down
and sat quietly for an hour

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The arrival of a carrier pidegon
was a sign that it was time to get up

 The men took leave of the baba
and then King Ganesh accepted the offered message

 My girlfriend is coming back tonight
She took her camel to her village this morning
so that it could visit its mother,
and she sent us some opium

 King Ganesh removed a small pouch from the bird’s leg
and took the opium out

 Fresh is best
Her father must have collected it this morning
Shall we have some?

 King Dom and Kalimbaba nodded yes

 Do you prefer to eat it or to smoke it?

 I prefer to eat it

 Me too

 So King Ganesh divided the opium into three portions
and then gave some to his new friends

 Looks like Hanuman is coming over

 From the roof they had a clear view of the lake and all the ghats,
and the men could see a troupe of monkeys
running and leaping towards them gracefully,
jumping over walls,
swinging from trees,
and always landing softly

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 King Ganesh summoned the butler
and asked him to bring up a bunch of bananas

 Greetings, Hanuman

 Hello, Ganesh

 Make yourself at home
Some bananas are on the way

 The monkey king and his troupe
made themselves comfortable
while some geckos took their positions on a wall
and some pigs squealed and oinked in the distance

 ♫ ♫ ♫

these bananas are good, Ganesh

 I had them brought up from Hampi for you

 Thanks, man
Feel like drumming?

 I do

 Go get the drums, guys,
said Hanuman to his troupe

 The monkeys climbed down the spiral stairway,
gathered a number of drums, bells and gongs
and brought them up on the roof
And soon everyone was playing a compelling rhythm
that ever changed and flowed

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Mind if we sleep here tonight, Ganesh?

 My palace is your palace

 And so the monkeys returned the instruments to the music room
and then returned to the roof
and settled in for the night

 King Ganesh and his friends
said goodnight to the monkeys
and went back inside
and down to the den

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Nice crown, man
Where’d you get it?

 This one belonged to my father
I don’t wear it very often

 I don’t wear mine much anymore either

 Sometimes I wear one that my girlfriend made for me

 I usually make one out of flowers
when I feel like wearing one

 Sometimes I wear a feather


 This opium is nice

 A subtle presence

 The men then fell silent
and lay down on some cushions
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫


 A gypsy girl in a purple sari walked into the den

 Guys, this is Lala

 Lala, King Dom, king of the streets,
and Kalimbaba,
his street musician

The two friends greeted her in turn

 How’s the opium?


 My dad says it’s the best he’s grown in years
And I made some more cookies

 You’re an angel

what’s up with the abandoned look?

 In ’47 the government took the palace from my family,
but then they didn’t do anything with it,
so in 1968 I moved back in,
and Lala’s family moved in a few years ago
There’s plenty of space
and I don’t mind the company
Her parents divide their time
between the palace and their farm

 These cookies are really good

 They’re bhang cookies

 They’re delicious

 So basically I’m occupying my former residence
and I maintain the abandoned look
to avoid attracting too much attention
A lot of the kings have moved back into their palaces
We keep a low profile
and the cops leave us alone
The place looks abandoned,
but we’re but fully stocked
Lala does most of the cooking,
but I like to cook too

 Tonight we’ll cook for you
Lead the way to the kitchen

 King Ganesh got up and led the group
down a set of stone stairs
and to a large kitchen

 We’ve got pretty much everything one could want,
but if there’s something you need,
we can send the butler out to get it

 King Dom and Kalimbaba had a look around
and thought about what they could make

 I’ll make a soup and bake some bread,
said Kalimbaba

 And I’ll make a salad and a dessert

 King Ganesh went to get his bansuri,
and when he returned he played
a haunting melody
while Lala danced slowly and gracefully
and King Dom and Kalimbaba began to prepare
the evening meal

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 I think the soup could use a bit of weed

 I’ve got just what you need

 King Ganesh went to his medicine chest
and came back with several ounzes
of Idukki Gold

 Nice, man

 Kerela’s finest

 This soup is going to be good
And the bread is almost ready

 The salad is done
and dessert is chilling in the fridge

 Let’s eat

King Dom served the salad
and Kalimbaba took four baguettes out of the oven
and placed them on the table

 Bon appétit

The friends then began
to enjoy their meal
while the soup continued to sit
over a low flame

 ♫ ♫ ♫

this salad is fit for a king

 And this bread is divine

 I think the soup is ready

 Kalimbaba went to get the soup,
and as he was serving it,
a pack of street dogs nearby began to howl,
and their beautiful song echoed
from palace to palace

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 I think the soup is beginning to take effect


 Good soup, man

 It was delicious

 Is everyone ready for dessert?

 I am

 Me too


 King Dom then went and got
the whole wheat puttu,
covered in chocolate sauce
and laced with California Sunshine,
that he had prepared

 A Kerela specialty,
he said,
as he served his friends

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 That puttu was excellent

 Yeah, man
It was really good


 Shall we move to the drawing room?

 Good idea

 Let’s go

 And so the four friends
made their way
to the drawing room,
very slowly,
stopping now and then
to admire something
that had caught their attention

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Nice room, Ganesh

 Yeah, man
Super space

 Pens, pencils, charcoal and paper are over there,
paint, brushes and canvas are in the corner
and crayons are in the top drawer of that chest
And you are welcome to paint on the walls if you like


 King Ganesh decided to draw Lala
as she sat meditating on the floor,
King Dom went for some paper and the crayons
and Kalimbaba began to paint flowers
on the walls

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Some music would be nice

let’s go back to the music room

Shall we take the short way
or the long way?

 The long way

 Yeah, man
Definitely the long way

 King Ganesh then led the way
from the drawing room into the library,
and when he removed I Am That from a bookcase,
a secret door swung open

 A powerful book

 Nisargadatta sure knew
how to explain things


 King Ganesh passed through the doorway
and into a narrow passage
that went both to the left
and to the right

 The king went left
and the others followed,
slowly stepping
until they reached the wine cellar

 My grandfather used to collect wine,
so he had this celler made
I use it to store honey that I take from the bees
that live in the hives built in the walls

 The older homes in Himachal
have beehives in the walls too

that’s where I got the idea
Would you like to try some honey?



 I’d love to

 King Ganesh took a jar from a shelf
and placed it on the table in the center of the room
Then he opened it and poured
a bit of honey onto four spoons
and handed one to each of his friends

 This is from spring last year
One of the best harvests ever



 It’s the most delicious honey I’ve ever had

 What a treasure

 And this is from late summer this year


 It’s very different

 But just as good

 I have honey
from each year for the past thirteen years
Shall we try them all?


 Definitely, man

 I never put my homedmade honey on bread
or mix it in a drink
It is perfect as it is
If I were to dilute it with something else,
it would not be possible
to appreciate the subtler characteristics

 And so the four friends sat
around the table and savored
an incredible variety of honey
until they had tried them all

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Let’s take a bottle of mead
and head up to the music room


 Sounds good

 And so the king
took a bottle of mead from a rack,
which caused the rack to swivel open
and reveal yet another
secret passageway

 Up and up and up they went
until they reached two doors
King Ganesh opened the one on the left
and everyone stepped into the music room
He then closed the door
and from inside the room and it appeared
as though it had never been there

 The king opened the bottle
and served his friends,
Kalimbaba took out his kalimba
and began to play Dominique’s Dance,
and soon both of the kings and Lala
were dancing slowly

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 After a while
King Ganesh took out a microphone,
connected it to a lead,
and then plugged it into a jack in a wall

 I have a secret connection
to the loudspeakers on that island in the lake
You can play a lullaby for the whole town
if you like

 Kalimbaba moved his cushion
a bit closer to the microphone
and then began to play Lullaby for Pushkar
while the others lay down
to rest and dream

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The night came to an end
and the sun began to rise
Kalimbaba took out his kalimba again
and began to play
a lullawake

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Thank you, Ganesh
Thank you, Lala
for your hospitality

 Yes, thank you
We’ve enjoyed your company very much

 And we’ve enjoyed yours
Come again
the next time you’re in town
And please,
accept these gifts
in memory of our evening together

 King Ganesh handed King Dom
a thola of two-year old Manala Cream,
and to Kalimbaba he gave
a Rajasthani mouth harp

 Thank you, Ganesh
We wish you both
an excellent day

 And then King Dom and Kalimbaba
took leave leave of King Ganesh and Lala
and went for a walk along the ghats
as the birds sang Good Morning

 ♫ ♫ ♫

see you in another dimension

See you in another dimension

 The season was coming to an end
and the characters
were beginning to move

Some headed south
for the winter,
and others north

A few went west
and others east,
like stars in the evening sky
moving slowly

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 It’s been good
sitting with you
these past few months

 And with you

 Thank you
for your silence

 Thank you
for yours

 See you
on another stage

 In another dimension

 And so,
in the ever-changing roles they played,
the characters left the scene

 ♫ ♫ ♫

smoke and silence

Smoke and silence

 Two Israeli girls came up on the roof
and sat near Kalimbaba and his friends

The men had already been sitting quietly for some time
Now and then
one of them would utter a word a two
in a low voice,
and occasionally they would prepare a chillum
and pass it around
Sometimes Vishwa would quietly chant a mantra,
and a pair of djembes lay nearby

 The girls took turns
glancing nervously at the group of friends,
and one of them took to staring

They did not speak to each other
or to the men,
and when the chai that they had ordered arrived,
they decided to leave it untouched
and go away

 Too much silence for them

 It must have made them feel uncomfortable

 Maybe it was the mantra

 Or Vishwa’s beard

 Or Dominique’s lungi

 Or the feather in your hair

 Maybe they were afraid
of what the drums might do

 The men fell silent again
and continued
to listen to the birds
and enjoy the view

 ♫ ♫ ♫


the pear room

The pear room

 The apricots and plums
had almost finished
and the pears were just beginning
to ripen

 Plum season didn’t last long,
said Kalimbaba

 Yeah, it was way too short

 Those plums were good

So were the apricots


 I think some of the plum trees further up the hill
still have plums on them

 Maybe we should take a walk up the hill

 Yesterday as I was walking home
I saw an old woman with a basket full of plums
She must have seen my face light up
because she stopped and gave me a handful of plums
And she wouldn’t accept any money

 Dude, you lucked out

 Yeah, man
Did you follow her home?

 No, man
I was in a state of bliss
Those plums kept me immobile for at least ten minutes

 A plum goddess she was

 Man, those pears look good

 Yeah, I love fresh pears

 Me too

 They should be ready soon

 I’ll ask the owner of my guest house
if he has any pear trees

And so Kalimbaba and his friends
for some pears to appear

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 A couple of pear farmers walked by,
each with a basket full of pears on his back
Some children nearby saw them
and rushed over to take a pear each
out of a basket

 Go away!
Don’t take our pears!
said one of the farmers,
but the children paid him no heed
and ran away with pears
and with smiles on their faces

 Kalimbaba decided to follow the farmers
to see where they stored their pears

 It didn’t take long to find out
because just a few houses further down the path
the men disappeared
They had entered a large building
and Kalimababa got the entrance just in time to them
reach the end of a long corrider
and enter the last room on the right

 Kalimbaba went inside the house,
peered inside the room
and discovered that it was full of pears!
The entire floor was covered in pears
and in some places the pears piled waist high

 The men had begun to unload the pears in their baskets
and Kalimbaba asked them
if he could buy a few

As many as you like,
said one of the farmers

 Forty rupees a kilo,
said the other

 Kalimbaba offered one of the men a hundred rupees
and the man then began to fill Kalimbaba’s bag
with freshly-picked pears

 Thank you


 And then Kalimbaba went to find his friends
and share his good fortune

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 These pears are delicious

 They’re great

 Where is the pear room?

 It’s just over there,
in that purple house

Now we know
where to get pears

 The friends then continued to eat
pear after pear

♫ ♫ ♫

 The next day Kalimbaba returned
to the pear room
to buy a few more,
and then he went to his afternoon haunt
and shared them with his friends,
first peeling away the poison
that the farmers had applied

 Pear prasad,
said Viswa

 Pears are great,
said Dom Baba

 Long live pear season,
said Ajay

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The following day Kalimbaba went back to the pear room,
but all the pears had disappeared

 They’re gone,
he told his friends
The pear room is empty

 The farmers must have taken them to the market

 We need to find a new supplier

I’ve seen pears in that room over there,
the one with the metal door that rolls down,
but the door is almost always closed

 Let’s take turns keeping watch
When the farmer returns,
we’ll ask if he has any pears to sell

 I’ll take the first watch

 And I’ll take the second

 And so the four friends arranged
to keep a lookout
for the elusive owner
of the second pear storeroom

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Has the pear farmer turned up?

 Not yet
No one has even glanced at that door in passing

 It’s been a few days
Maybe he took them away
and sold them during the night


 We need to find another source

 Just then Dom Baba came along
smiling happily
and holding a half-eaten pear in his hand

 I just came across some more pear farmers,
he said
And I bought three kilos



 Right on!

 Dom Baba handed out pears to his friends,
and then they all ate in silence
for a while 

♫ ♫ ♫

 I wonder when the apples will be ready

 The ones on that tree over there look pretty good

I can’t wait for apple season

 See that room over there?
The one with the green shutters
That’s where they store apples


 We’ll have to keep an eye out
for apples

 They should be ready soon

 Freshly-picked apples are great

 They’re the best

 Almost as good as pears

 Maybe just as good


 And so the four friends sat
on the balcony of their afternoon hangout
eating pears
and waiting for apples

 ♫ ♫ ♫



 Kalimbaba wandered
from place to place
and from space to space

 He traveled with little money,
never knowing
where he would eat or sleep

 As the sun approached its zenith,
he arrived in a new village
He walked to the square,
sat down on a bench
and in silence observed
what was going on
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Some birds landed
in a tree nearby
and began to sing
Kalimbaba listened to their song
for about half an hour,
and then he took out his kalimba
and began to play

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The birds listened
for a while
and then they took off,
only to return soon
with gifts in their beaks
They brought a key
and a dark blue feather

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Kalimbaba thanked the birds
for their songs
and for their gifts,
and he offered them some sunflower seeds
Then he placed the key in a pocket,
put the feather in his hair
and set off on a walk
around the village

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 An old café
in a quiet corner of the village
called to him,
so Kalimbaba went in and sat down

 There were a few low wooden tables
and some soft purple cushions,
silence streamed
from the stereo speakers,
and a painting reminiscent
of Picasso’s blue period
hung on a wall

 Simple and elegant,
an oasis of calm,
the café was a place
where a few vagabonds
and some of the local characters
to drink tea quietly,
speak mindfully
and enjoy moments
of silence

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Kalimbaba asked for a pot of tea
and then observed the scene

 The tea arrived
after a while

and it was excellent

 After he had
a few cups of tea,
Kalimbaba took out his kalimba
and began to play

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Your music is very soothing,
said a man at another table                    

 When I listen
to you play,
my mind withdraws
and thought subsides,
said another

 I have plenty of room for guests
If you need a place
to rest and sleep,
you are welcome to stay in my home
offered an old woman

 Your coat looks a bit threadbare, brother
I have more than I need
Come by sometime and choose one

 Thank you, friends

 Try this pie,
said the owner of the café
The plums are from a tree out back

 It’s delicious
Thank you

 Kalimbaba ate
the piece of plum pie
savoring each bite

 And then he began to play

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Your money is no good here,
said the owner
when Kalimbaba tried to pay
for the tea and the pie
Come again anytime
Your music is medicine
and we’d love to hear you play again

 Thank you, friend
Kalimbaba then took a beautiful seed
out of his seed pouch
and offered it to the owner

 Plant this seed
in a place that gets lots of sun
and soon you’ll have plenty of shade,
beautiful flowers
and delicious fruit

 Thank you

 And so it went
wherever he traveled:
When people listened to his music,
their hearts would open
and they would give
whatever they had
that they felt he could use:
a coat, an old guitar or a meal,
a smile
or simply a gentle presence

 And once he was offered
a bit of land
Some villagers built for him a dwelling,
planted some fruit trees, flowers and a garden nearby
and told him that this could be his home
whenever he was around

 Come with me,
said a girl
There’s something I’d like to show you

 And so they left the café
and walked
to where a spider was weaving
a sublime web

 It’s beautiful
Thank you
for showing it to me

 And then they watched
as the spider wove
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Can you show me the way
to the old woman’s home?

 She’s my grandmother
I’ll take you to her place

 And then they walked
to the grandmother’s home
in silence,
listening to the birds sing
along the way

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 It’s a beautiful room
Thank you

 I have more rooms than I need
You are welcome to stay
as long as you like
And in the room across the hall,
the one with the purple door,
you’ll find some old instruments
that haven’t been played in a long time
Feel free to have a look
and take anything you like

 Thank you, ma’am

 The two women then left Kalimbaba alone,
and he went about creating an altar
with some pretty stones and pine cones,
some feathers and flowers
and a few other things
that he had found in nature
along the way

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The girl had come up for a visit
while Kalimbaba was having a look

at the musical instruments

 There are some very nice instruments here,
he said

 They belonged to my uncle
Nobody plays them now
I’m sure they would love to be played again

 These djembes are beautiful

 My uncle used to play them for my grandmother
She loves to dance,
especially to the sound of drumming

 Do you play an instrument?

 I play the piano
We have one downstairs in the music room
And I play the violin

 The violin and the djembe
go very well together

 Shall we play tonight
at the café?

 I’d love to

 My grandmother is preparing dinner now
I’m going to go and help her
Please join us in about half an hour
Afterwards we’ll go to the café

 I’ll be down soon

 And then Kalimbaba continued
to look at all the instruments
and chose a few to bring along
to the café

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Dinner was delicious
Thank you
I also enjoy cooking
Perhaps tomorrow
you’ll let me cook for you

 With pleasure
Our kitchen is open
to all who like to cook
Let’s head down to the café

 And so Kalimbaba, the grandmother and the girl
gathered their instruments
and headed down to the village

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 This tea is excellent

 It’s my grandmother’s secret blend
She has a large collection
of herbs that she’s gathered,
and whenever we come here,
she brings a special mix
made just for that particular evening
to share with everyone
Your grandmother is pretty cool

 Shall we play?


 Kalimbaba then took out two djembes
and began to quietly play
one of his favorite rhythms

 The girl took a seat at the piano
and soon began
to play as well

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

 Someone had begun to sing Thumbakkam
and a few others had joined him
Then the grandmother got up
and began to dance
and soon a few others
were dancing as well

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Kalimababa and the girl
began to play louder
and faster,
and the dancers flowed
with the rhythm

 The singers continued to chant

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

 and eventually everyone in the café
was singing and dancing

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The musicians began to play slowly
and quietly again,
as slowly and quietly as possible,
and everyone sang

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

 for a while 

♫ ♫ ♫



 Ajay was on the edge
of singing Thumbakkam with his friends

 For more than a week
he had been hearing it sung all over town,
and each day
the number of people singing it had increased
until it seemed that he was the only one left
who wasn’t singing it

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

They’re singing it again,
he thought
I can’t escape it
There’s not a place left in town
where I can sit without hearing that mantra

 Ajay resigned himself
to having to listen to Thumbakkam again
and then he sat down near his friends
and began to feel the vibe
of Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Ajay didn’t want to sing Thumbakkam
He had resisted all week,
but something inside him
was urging him to give it a try

 There had been a few other signs
that he ready for a change:
He had begun to carry a feather the week before,
and he had been seen kneeling at the temple
and caressing a djembe
He had even been seen admiring a chillum,
but he had yet to smoke one

 Viswa, Dom Baba and Kalimbaba
continued to chant

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

 and Ajay could feel the vibration
of each bija,
each seed of sound,
and soon he could resist no longer
and began to sing
along with his friends

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

♫ ♫ ♫



 The sun was beginning to set,
and Kalimbaba was playing one of his favorite rhythms
on two of his djembes

 Viswa listened for a while,
and then he began to chant
a new mantra

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

  Dom Baba soon joined in,
and after a while Kalimbaba stopped playing
and began to chant the new mantra as well

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 It has no meaning
It’s just sounds,
said Viswa
It just appeared

 The three friends then resumed chanting, smiling and laughing
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Let’s go to The Chillum Den
and share this mantra
with our friends

 Good idea

 And so they went,
Viswa, Dom Baba and Kalimbaba,
to vist some friends
and chant for them

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 That’s a powerful mantra, man,
said Mandeep
I could feel it strongly

 It took me to the edge
of somwhere and nowhere,
said Oli

 That night when he went to bed,
Kalimbaba could still feel the vibrations
of the mantra

 And the next morning when he woke up,
he felt as if
he were on a mushroom trip
He went to the hot spring for his daily bath
and there he met Viswa and Dom Baba

 Hey, guys
I can still feel that mantra

 Me too

 I can as well

 Let’s chant it some more

 And so they did
They chanted their new mantra
while sitting in the hot spring

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Over the course
of the next few days
the three friends often chanted the new mantra,
both when they met
and when they were alone

And soon the whole village singing

 Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

throughout the day,
and the level of conciousness among the villagers
reached a new high

 Thank you, Viswa,
said some
for sharing your mantra with us

The mantra arrived
on its own,
inspired perhaps
by a bit of drumming

 Thank you, Kalimbaba,
for inspiring the mantra

 I had nothing to do with it
Thank the Africans
for creating and sharing
their wonderful rhythms with me

 Thank you Dom Baba,
they said

For what?
I caught it the same as you
It came flying through the air
and took hold of me,
and it hasn’t let go since

 Let’s chant

Yes, let’s

And then,
as the sun began to set,
everyone in the temple square
began to chant

Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They-ey
Thumbakkam Thumbakkam They

 ♫ ♫ ♫

a new inspector

A new inspector

 A new police inspector
had been posted to the town,
and one day he got in his jeep
with three of his men
and drove to the end of a road
in a nearby jungle in Kerela

 We’ll have to walk from here, sir

 How much farther is it?

 It’ll take about an hour
to get to the village, sir

 We’ve got to let those tribes know
who’s in charge around here,
said the inspector

 Yes, sir
Right you are, sir,
replied one of the constables

 Lead the way

 Yes, sir

 And so the men set off
on foot
to pay a visit
to one of the remaining tribes in the jungle

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Is it always this hot around here, constable?

 Yes, sir

 These mosquitoes are ferocious

 Yes, sir
Quite ferocious, sir

 And there sure are a lot of ganja plants around here

 Yes, sir
I think they’re native to the region, sir

 How much further is it to the village, constable?

 We’re almost there, sir

 Then the men fell silent
and continued on their way

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 After a while they came upon a settlement
and saw a man sitting alone

 Hey, you
Come here

 The villager remained immobile,
so the inspector walked over
to where the man was sitting

 Are you deaf?

 The villager looked at the inspector
and said,

 Do you know whom those ganja plants over there belong to?

 Their mine
Beautiful, aren’t they?

 They’re illegal

you’re insane
Everything in nature
has a purpose
and a place

 According to the law in Kerela . . .

 I am the law around here

I’m the new inspector in town
and I’m in charge of enforcing the law

 And what right do you have
to be on our land

 The state of Kerela
has invested in me
the power to do as I please,
and now I am going to have to take you in

 Let me put on some clothes first

 The villager went into a nearby hut,
and some time later he came out again,
this time wearing his chief’s costume
and carrying a large drum

 The policemen stood dumbfounded
as they stared at the chief in his ceremonial outfit
complete with jangling bells
and a large feather headdress

 The chief began to beat his drum,
and within minutes
all of the men in the village had arrived

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The chief allowed the inspector and his men
to soak in the shift in power,
and then he spoke

 Tie them up

 The policemen protested,
but they realized that they were outnumbered
and outspeared,
and soon they found themselves bound
to tall poles that appeared to have been made
for just that purpose

 You won’t get away with this,
said the inspector
I’ll have the lot of you thrown in jail
Just wait until I come back with reinforcements

 It’s nap time now,
so you’ll have to be quiet for a while,
said the chief

 I’ll talk as much as I want

 You have two options:
If you like,
you can voluntarily be quiet while we rest,
if you prefer,
we can gag you

 The inspector reflected for a moment
and then chose to remain silent

 We’ll talk more later,
said the chief

 He put a bit of cow dung
in each policeman’s hair,
and then he and the other villagers
left the policemen to roast
in the hot sun
and attract flies
for a while 

♫ ♫ ♫

After a couple of hours,
the villagers began
to reappear

 Some of them brought out a large brass cauldron,
hung it over a firepit,
filled it with coconut oil
and made a fire underneath

 They don’t still boil people in oil around here, do they?
asked the inspector

 I don’t think so, sir,
replied the constable
I’m pretty sure they stopped doing that a few years ago

 My grandfather used to bury policemen
up their necks near an anthill,
said the chief,
and then he would put a bit of honey in their hair
Do you see that anthill over there?

 He pointed to a nearby anthill,
where four men were busy digging holes

 And my father preferred to burn them at the stake

 What do you usually do with them?
asked the inspector

 Have you ever tried tree frog poison?


 It’s great
It kills within seconds
Fortunately we’re all immune to it
because since we were toddlers,
our mothers have given us a drop every year
We put it on the tips of our spears and arrows
Would you like to try some?

 No, thank you

 There are quite a lot of things
that can kill a man
in the jungle

 Yes, I’m sure there are

 You see,
we don’t like foreigners coming on to our land,
land that we have lived on for centuries,
and telling us what to do

 We’re not foreigners

 Do you speak our native language?


 Then you are a foreigner
And you outsiders have been rapidly destroying
everything you set your eyes on,
whereas here in the jungle we maintain
the balance and flow
The less of you there are,
the better off the planet will be

 If you let us go,
I promise we’ll never come back

 I wonder if that’s true
I’ll consider your request
Meanwhile I’ll let some of our cobras
keep you company

 The chief signaled to one of his men,
who then opened a basket,
took out four cobras,
and draped one around the neck
of each policeman
The cobras greeted the policemen
and then made themselves comfortable
The policemen felt very uncomfortable,
but they chose to remain
as still as possible

 The chief then returned to his hut
and stayed there
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫

said the chief,
shall I set you free,
or would would prefer to spend the night
with the cobras?

 We’d prefer to go home

 And never come back?

 And never come back

 If you ever come here again,
I’ll call a tiger
and invite him to eat you
Or perhaps I’ll ask an elephant
to stomp on you

 I promise we won’t come back

 And it seems that the air
in the tires of your jeep
has gone missing
I suppose you wouldn’t mind walking
back to town

 We wouldn’t mind at all
You can keep the jeep

 If you hurry,
you can get out of the jungle before dark,
which is when the wild boars come out
Ever been stabbed by one?


 Hurts like hell

 We’d be happy to leave right away

 And never come back

 And never come back

 The chief nodded to a group of his men
and they untied the policemen

 Thank you
May we have our shoes and guns back?


No problem
We were thinking of getting new ones anyway
we’ll be off then –
with your permission, of course


 And so the policemen
slowly made their way
back to the road,
trying to avoid all of the thorns that covered the path,
thorns that they could not recall
having seen that morning

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 I don’t think they’ll be coming back, Chief

 I think you’re right
Go put some air in the tires of the jeep
and then park it in the cave
where we keep all the other ones

 Okay, Chief

 And then chief
and the rest of the villagers
celebrated the departure of the police
by smoking a bit
of Idukki Gold

 ♫ ♫ ♫

a japanese party

A Japanese party

 At one of the Japanese settlements
a few friends had gathered
for an evening of song and dance,
food and drink
and conversation

 From a distance
it was impossible to tell
that something there was going on
The stars, the moon, and a few candles
illuminated the meadow
and the stream nearby

 Musicans played their instruments
or sang
just loudly enough to be heard;
some people drank hot sake,
and some had it cold;
and those who smoked
smoked the finest quality charas or ganja
one could buy

 In low tones people conversed
listening to others
complete their sentences,
and then allowing
a moment of silence
before adding some words of their own

 ♫ ♫ ♫

Would you like some tea?

I would love some tea

 A gentle girl
poured some tea
into a cup
and offered it to Kalimbaba

It’s delicious
Thank you

 He drank his tea
enjoying each sip,
and when he had finished,
he took out his kalimba
and began to play
and flow
with the others

♫ ♫ ♫

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:


 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,
beautifully and slowly

 Allow compassion to flow
Speak the truth

 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
letters of the Sanskrit alphabet:


 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

♫ ♫ ♫ 

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


 The Palo Santo this morning was a treat

It was divine

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

Sai Baba Nag Champa is nice

But Goloka is nicer


 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Incense Baba made his way
through the village,
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 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
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
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

♫ ♫ ♫

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

On such occasions
she would begin to dance
her medicine dance
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

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


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?

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

♫ ♫ ♫

a different breed of listener

A different breed of listener

 We’ve come to listen

We’ve been waiting
for some good listeners
to play for 

The art of listening
to music,
listening without talking,
listening to each note,
to the silence between the notes,
to the words among the notes,
was a dying art 

Many had lost the ability
and the desire
to listen properly,
to give their full attention
to music
and silence 

A tribe of listeners,
true listeners,
authentic listeners,
purebred listeners
still existed,
but they were on the verge
of extinction 

Please sit,
we shall soon begin to play 

The small room filled slowly
as listeners quietly
trickled in 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Seated on cushions
on an old wooden floor,
the listeners were ready,
their voices silent
and their minds quiet
and open to receive 

And when a tanpura began to drone,
the listeners gave
their full attention
to the notes and tones and harmonies
that came their way 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Cameras, telephones
and all other electronic devices
that made some sort of annoying sound or light
were not allowed
inside the concert hall 

Those who dared
to create a distraction,
to risk a beep or a flash of light,
those who did not care
about the others present
and that their actions detracted
from the beauty of the music,
were banished from the concert hall
until they had completed
a ten-day vipassana meditation course 

Some people quickly learned
to appreciate music in its pure form,
undiluted with conversation
and the capturing of images,
to offer it the respect
it deserves 

Others remained oblivious
to the pleasures and intricacies
of unadulterated music 

♫ ♫ ♫

One by one,
a sitar, a tabla, a bansuri and a slide guitar
joined the tanpura
and began to play,
and just when it seemed
that nothing could be more divine,
a voice began to sing
an evening raga 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Sing words
only if you have something worth saying,
taught the master at the music ashram upstairs
Otherwise keep quiet
or just sing vowel sounds,
which can be very nice
And enunciate properly
There’s not much point in singing words
if nobody can understand what you’re saying
And don’t whine
Create something beautiful,
embody beauty
May your music be medicine
for those who listen 

With those words in mind
the raga singer continued to sing,
captivating her listeners
and leaving no room
for the mind to wander 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Those who knew how to listen,
who enjoyed listening,
loved the concerts
at the music ashram’s concert hall
It was one of the few places in tow
where one could listen
to music
in peace and quiet

 The musicians played,
the singer sang
and the listeners enjoyed every note
and every moment of silence
until the last note
was played

♫ ♫ ♫

the dogs of vashisht

The dogs of Vashisht

 Morning, Kriya

Morning, Jacko

Want to play?


And so the two friends
rolled around in the dirt
and bit each other gently
for a while

 ♫ ♫ ♫

Let’s go for a walk


And so they headed off
in the direction of the waterfall,
smelling flowers
and chasing butterfies
along the way

♫ ♫ ♫

There’s a new dog in the village

You mean that Rottweiler Saint Bernard mix?


She’s really cute

Yeah, and she’s growing quickly

I’ve heard people call her Thola

And I’ve heard some call her Charas

How many names do you have?

About ten

I’ve got eight that I know of

Are you hungry?

A bit

Let’s go back to the village and make the rounds
and see what we can find

And so Jacko and Kriya began the journey back
to the temple square,
stopping at all their usual feeding places
along the way

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 The milk they give us at the purple house
is pretty good

fresh is best

Too bad all those Hindus are vegetarian

Fortunately the Muslims sometimes give us meat

 Some of that vegetarian food
is pretty good

and some of it is excellent

I really like the masala dosa they give us at Shanti Space

Me too

I feel like taking a nap

Me too

Sun or shade?

It’s a bit warm today

Shade it is then

And so the dogs lay down
in the shade of a wall
in the temple square
and rested
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

In the late morning
some other dogs came by
to hang out

Hey, guys
Rainbow Baba is back in town
Just rode in on his bike


He gives a pretty good neck massage

Almost as good as that Japanese girl
who sometimes hangs out at the German Bakery

Yeah, she’s pretty good
Maybe she’ll come again this afternoon

 I hope so
I can relax around her

She’s not like all those fake babas that kick us
just for sleeping near the entrance to the temple
I mean,
we behave much better than most of those Indian tourists
who come and defile the temple all day long

they take photos of people bathing in the temple

And they talk really loudly

And they keep hitting that bell
as hard as they can

And some of them don’t take off their shoes

What a bunch of degenerates

no respect for the temple

Or for peace and quiet

They behave like animals

Dude, we’re animals too

but we’re a higher caste than they are

but they don’t know that

That’s because they’re ignorant, dude

and they lack compassion

They have no understanding
of how things really are

Some of them do

Yeah, man,
some of them know what’s what

Not many though

No, not many

That French baba seems to understand

he knows

That baba from Kerela,
the one with the black Enfield,
he knows too


There are some interesting characters here

There sure are

do you remember when that Swedish dude
started throwing stones at the temple?

Yeah, man,
the locals killed him

Throwing stones at the temple
was pretty stupid


He was high on acid

That explains why he had been behaving strange all day

That punishment was pretty extreme

they could have just tied him up for a while
and then had a good talk with him
when he returned to his senses


 They beat up another foreigner last week,
the one who going out with the baker’s daughter

Yeah, they got him good

They treated him like a dog


I wonder why
He was always nice to us

he used to pet me every time our paths crossed

Seemed like a nice kid

he was one of us,
a real dog

And the girl was really into him
They seemed to get along well

But her family was against him

 What a lame family

 Yeah, super lame
I let my daughter go out with whomever she likes

Me too

And then the dogs fell silent
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

I’d like to go for a ride

Me too

Almost nobody gives me a ride anymore

Me either

People used to stop and offer me a ride all the time

Yeah, me too,
and sometimes they’d take me to Goa
The beaches there are great

I prefer the ones at Gokarna

Me too

I got a ride to Rajasthan once
It’s really hot there

Tell me about it
I once spent a summer in Hampi
What a sauna

It’s nice up here in Himachal

except for in winter

Yeah, man,
winter sucks

Almost nobody offers us food

And it’s really cold

Sometimes people let me sleep with the cows

Cows are cool
They’re super warm

that guy who lives over by Mushroom Guest House,
gives me something to eat every day –
even in winter

Yeah, he’s cool

He’s got a good heart

He knows how to share

Where are you guys thinking of spending winter this year?

If I can get a ride,
I’ll go down to Kerela
I’ve got a friend there who I’d like to see

I’m going to try get to Kodai

I’ve got family in Gokarna
and I promised my mom I’d visit

Anyone feel like coming with me
to visit the pack in Old Manali?

I’ll come with you

Me too

And so Jacko, Kryia and their friend
headed down the hill
and across the bridge
to the other side of the river

♫ ♫ ♫

It’s pretty over here

Let’s explore

I’ve been in every building in Old Manali

No way

It’s true
I used to live over here
I know every room in the village

Show us some of your favorite ones


And then the dogs began
to walk around,
going into homes
now and then
and greeting friends they met
along the way

♫ ♫ ♫

Let’s go back to Vashisht

it’ll be dark soon
and the cars won’t be able to see us very well

 Cars suck


Except for when they give us a ride


And then the dogs headed back across the river
and up the hill

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey guys
How was Old Manali?


We had lunch behind the pizza place

I love pizza

Me too

Shall we make the rounds again
and have dinner?

Good idea

I’m feeling kind of hungry too

Have any of you tried the leftovers
offered by the new woman in town,
the one living in the blue house over by the school?

Dude, stay away from her
Worst cook in Vashisht
I almost died after eating her aloo parantha

Yeah, man
She’s the worst
I vomited for five minutes
after eating her vegetable curry

Let’s go to Sham’s place for dinner

Good idea

he’ll have something nice for us

And that old man in the house next to his
sometimes throws me a bone

 And so off they went
along the path and up the hill
to Sham’s home

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you, Sham
That was really good

Yeah, man,
it was excellent
Your wife is a great cook

Sham pet each of the dogs
for a little while
and then they headed back to the temple square

♫ ♫ ♫

Looks like we have the square to ourselves tonight


What do you guys feel like doing?

Let’s howl


And so the dogs howled
in harmony
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Where shall we sleep tonight?

Under the stairs by the bakery
is a pretty good place

Sounds good to me

Me too

Nobody will step on my tail there

 Let’s go

 And so the dogs walked over
to the stairs next to the German Bakery
and settled in for the night

♫ ♫ ♫

the last of his tribe

The last of his tribe 

Bhairava Maharaj appeared
to be the last of his tribe
or one of the remaining few

Not many of the foreigner babas
from the early days
were still around,
and none of the others
had been seen lately 

One morning Dom Baba and Om Baba
decided to pay
the maharaja a visit

Namaste, Maharaj

Hare om 

We bring you mangoes
and song 

Let’s smoke 

And then the maharaja
loaded his chillum,
one of the biggest chillums
the babas had ever seen 

Nice chillum 

Beautiful carvings 

was a good year for chillums 

When the chillum was ready,
the maharaja offered it to Dom Baba to boom,
and then the three babas passed it around 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

And when the chillum was finished
and had been cleaned,
the maharaja prepared another
and then another one after that
He prepared chillum after chillum
and the three babas smoked,
pausing only now and then to make music,
until it was time for bed

 ♫ ♫ ♫

three djembes

Three djembes

 The sun was setting,
clouds were traveling,
dragonflies were flying
and Luke took out his djembe
and began to play

♫ ♫ ♫

Every day
around the same time
Jason could hear the sound of a djembe
coming from somewhere

One day
he listened for a while,
and then he took out his djembe
and began to play as well

Neither Luke nor Jason knew
who the other drummer was,
nor exactly where he lived,
but from that day on
together they played
every evening
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Ali had been hearing
Luke and Jason drumming together
for several weeks,
and one evening he took out his darabuka
and joined the jam

♫ ♫ ♫

Months passed
and Luke, Jason and Ali
continued to drum
every evening
from different corners of the neighborhood,
each without knowing
who the others were

Sometimes they passed each other
on the street,
or met
in a shop,
not knowing
that the person they had nodded to
or to whom they had said hello
was one of the other drummers

Sometimes they wondered
with whom they were playing,
and sometimes they suspected someone
of being a drummer,
but they prefered to enjoy the mystery
rather than know for sure

♫ ♫ ♫



For the fifth day in a row
the foreigner went to a small restaurant
near his home in Hanoi
He spoke with the same waitress
who had served him all week
and asked for the same thing he had ordered
the previous four days
Then he sat down at a table

 The waitress,
a young girl fresh from the countryside,
soon brought the food, a glass and a warm can of Coke,
but this time
she forgot the ice

That was the Vietnamese word for ice,
not to be confused with đa (banyan tree),
đả (hit),
đà (beam)
or đã (already),
and the foreigner knew this word,
knew how to pronounce it properly,
so he asked the girl for ice
and she replied
with a lack of comprehension

The foreigner saw a glass of iced tea
on a nearby table,
so he took a clean chopstick,
walked over to the other table with the girl
and with the chopstick pointed to an ice cube and said,

Trà đá?

Không trà đá

Trà đá?

Không trà đá

Trà đá?

Không trà đá

Iced tea?
The girl repeated several times

not iced tea
the foreigner replied

He then resigned himself
to the idea that he would not be getting
any ice that evening
and returned to his table

A minute later the girl brought him
a glass of iced tea

The foreigner took an ice cube
out of the glass,
held it in one hand
and with the other pointed to it and said,

The girl appeared not to understand,
so a local guy who was sitting at a nearby table
said loudy in Vietnamese,
He wants ice

The girl finally understood,
took away the iced tea
and came back
with a glass of ice



Shantanu sat in silence
in a corner at Shanti Space
keeping the space calm
and quiet

♫ ♫ ♫

There’s no need
to speak
all the time,
Shantanu knew
There is often a time
and a place
for talking,
but more often than not
is more beautiful

Shantanu understood silence well:
the art of being silent,
being comfortable
with silence,
enjoying silence,
loving silence,
being silence

He also knew
how to listen,
and how to converse
without interrupting
the flow of words when others spoke

♫ ♫ ♫

May I join you?
asked a woman


I see you here
almost every day,
sitting alone

I’m doing café meditation

What’s that?

I sit
and observe
and remain equanimous
while drinking tea


I teach meditation
in the Silence Studies department
at Shanti University

A master of silence,
he had spent many months
and with others
in silence
at Damma Sota,
the Goenka vipassana meditation center in Rahaka

What can you tell me about meditation
and silence?
the woman asked

Speaking mindfully
and using the language in a beautiful way,
Shantanu shared his insight
while the sun began to set

♫ ♫ ♫

the lullaby singer

The lullaby singer

The man could not sleep
He had been trying for over an hour
to fall asleep,
but thoughts continued to plague him

♫ ♫ ♫

At about eleven he decided to call
the lullaby singer
He had heard of her from a friend
who also suffered from sleeplessness
now and then


Are you the lullaby singer?

Are you having difficulty
getting to sleep?

I am
I haven’t slept well in weeks

I’ll come right over

The lullaby singer wrote down the man’s address,
put a few instruments in her bag
and soon she was on her way,
riding her bicycle
through the autumn night

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you for coming
I can’t seem
to turn off my mind

Lie down, friend
Soon you shall sleep

The man lay down
and the lullaby singer
then took out her violin
and began to play
music so beautiful
that the man’s mind lost
its ability to think
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

And when the man
was on the edge
of sleep,
the lullaby singer stopped
playing her violin
and began to sing
the most enchanting melody
the man had ever heard,
and soon he was asleep

♫ ♫ ♫

She continued to sing
for a little while,
and then she left her card on a table,
let herself out
and rode home,
humming along the way

♫ ♫ ♫

Heirloom seeds can be sent
to: Lullaby Singer
13 Jacaranda Way
or deposited here:
Flower Bank
Account # 336699

That was what was written on the card

I’ll do both,
thought the man

He then got on his bicycle
and rode to the heirloom seed shop
He selected a number of his favorite flowers
as well as some fuit and vegetables
Then he went to the post office
to mail some of the seeds
and to Flower Bank
to deposit the rest

♫ ♫ ♫

Good evening

Good evening
Are you the lullaby singer?

What can I do for you?

The crickets and toads
are not singing tonight

Would you like me to sing for you?

Yes, please
The animals usually sing me to sleep,
but tonight they are elsewhere
or silent

Where do you live?

The lullaby singer
wrote down the woman’s address
and soon she was on her way again
riding through the night

♫ ♫ ♫

You have a beautiful teepee

I prefer to sleep outside
so that I can hear the animals better

Are you ready for bed?


As the woman lay down on her blankets
the lullaby singer took out her vargan,
and then she began to play,
imitating the sounds of nature
as she had learned to do
in Yakutsk

♫ ♫ ♫

The telephone rang again

Good morning

Good morning, my friend
I’d like to treat myself
to a lullaby

What time would you like me to come over?

Would ten o’clock be possible?

Of course
Do you have any special requests?

If you could bring your guitar tonight,
that would be wonderful

I’ll bring my twelve string

Thank you
See you tonight

See you then

And so the lullaby singer arranged
to visit one of her regular customers

♫ ♫ ♫

I love power cuts
The town becomes quieter
and darker

Only moonlight
and the stars

And the crickets and toads

Are you ready for bed?


And then the woman got into her hammock
and began to swing
back and forth
while the lullaby singer played her guitar
and sang
a lullaby

♫ ♫ ♫

Good afternoon

Good afternoon
Are you the lullaby singer?

How may I serve you?

A friend recommended you
She said you sing beautifully
Could you come
and sing for me tonight?

I’d love to
What time would you like me to come?

I like going to bed early,
at around seven or eight
would be great

I’ll see you at seven

Thank you

And so the lullaby singer
wrote the man’s address in her book,
put a kalimba in her bag
and then went to her garden
to sing to her plants
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you for coming

Thank you for inviting me
Are you ready to sleep?


And so the lullaby singer
took out her kalimba and began to play
slowly and gently,
and after a while
she began to sing

♫ ♫ ♫

And long after the man had fallen alseep
the lullaby singer continued to sing
to the delight of the owls
and the other beings nearby
until she felt
like riding home

♫ ♫ ♫



 I haven’t been able to rest
my mind for weeks,
said the man
I keep thinking
about a problem
Thoughts occupy my brain constantly
They’re torturing me
I’m trapped
in the habit
of thinking about the problem,
lost in memories
of the past
and fantasies
about how the problem might be resolved
in the future

There is a way
to regain control of your mind,
said his friend
Today is Thursday
Stop thinking about the problem
until next Thursday
And every time you realize
that you are thinking about this problem,
ask yourself what day it is,
and if it is not yet Thursday,
stop giving energy to those thoughts,
don’t entertain them
Then when it is Thursday again,
feel free to think about the problem

I’ll give it a try
Thank you

And so his friend left
and the man began to think
about the problem

♫ ♫ ♫

 I’m thinking about the problem,
the man realized,
and so quickly he stopped
giving it his attention

A minute or two passed
and then he began thinking
about the problem again

And so it continued
throughout the day
and into the night:
The man would think about the problem for a while,
eventually realize what he was doing
and then stop thinking
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Friday came and went,
Saturday too,
and with each passing day
the number of thoughts
related to the problem
had become so few
and far between
that they commanded little attention

 Finally it was Thursday again
and the man was feeling well and rested
Wednesday had passed
with barely a thought
about the problem
passing through his mind

He considered giving some thought to it,
but then decided there was no need
and to wait
until the following Thursday
before thinking about it again

♫ ♫ ♫

night ride to hanoi

Night ride to Hanoi

 The sun was setting
and the dragonflies and bats
were out catching dinner
as the two friends approached the village 

It’s the blue house on the right 

They pulled up in front of the house,
got off their bikes
and greeted the beekeeper

They’re all back now,
he said
as he closed the door to the hive

 Thank you
We’ll take good care of them 

The men strapped the beehive
onto the back of one of the Minsks,
paid the beekeeper and said goodbye
and then began
the return journey to Hanoi 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

It began to rain
soon after the men left the village

They had already covered the hive
with a raincoat
before leaving the village,
so they stopped only for a moment
to put on their rain gear 

The moon had risen
and the stars were beginning
to show themselves
The men got back on their bikes
and continued on their way 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

The rain fell like a waterfall
and soon the road was flooded,
so the men kept to the center,
where it was not as deep 

The rain continued to fall,
and as they were passing through a small town
they came upon an especially long and deep channel
in the road

Think we can get through? 

It looks pretty deep 

Let’s try 

They put their bikes in gear
and began to cross,
revving the engines along the way
to keep the water out of the exhaust pipes 

The first bike made it across,
but the second one did not

 Drying the spark plug didn’t help,
and the local mechanics were unable
to get the bike going again
before they closed shop for the night 

We could have put your bike
on the roof of a bus,
but the last bus to Hanoi
has already left 

And without our passports
we won’t be able to check in
to a hotel 

Perhaps I could tow your bike
back to Hanoi 

And so Danny tied one end of a rope
to the back of his bike
and the other
to the handlebars of his friend’s 

Stay close
so that nobody tries to drive between us
They won’t be able to see the rope in the dark
And don’t allow too much slack
or your front wheel might get tangled up in it

 And then the two friends
and about ten thousand bees
resumed the trip back,
in the dark
and in the rain,
to Hanoi 

♫ ♫ ♫

ganesh and hanuman

Ganesh and Hanuman

 Morning, Ganesh

 Morning, Hanuman

 Nice lungi

 Kerala’s finest

Green with a purple stripe
A good combination

One of my favorites
Where did you get your kurta?

Women’s Cooperative

 Nice fabric
Nice buttons

Cotton and coconut

They go well together

Like chai and a chillum

Shall we have a chai?

An excellent idea

And a chillum?

Another excellent idea
Did you bring your Italian chillum?

Of course

And so Hanuman went to prepare some chai
while Ganesh prepared a chillum

♫ ♫ ♫

That was a good chillum

And this masala chai is just right
Cardamon, ginger, jaggery and cloves
and something else


Yes, of course
That’s the difference
between a good chai
and a great one

And then
with big smiles on their faces
and a twinkle in their eyes,
Ganesh and Hanuman
continued to enjoy their chai
in silence

 ♫ ♫ ♫

 Hanuman took out his drum
and began to play,
and soon Ganesh joined him
on his trumpet

And after a while the neighbors
and other people in the streets
began to dance

♫ ♫ ♫

Where do you usually spend the winter?

They built me a temple for me near Hampi
on top of a cliff
just across the river
I have a great view of the ruins
and some of the locals make music for me
It gets pretty hot in the early summer,
so I often come up here for a few months

I winter in Kerala
I’ve got a small temple in the jungle
You should come visit

I will

And invite Parvati and Gayatri to come with you
if you meet them along the way


And then the two friends
parted ways
as Ganesh got on his Enfield
and rode away

♫ ♫ ♫

the cousin

The cousin

I’ve got a big problem
My cousin just called
and he’s in Manali with his family
I’m going down to see them now,
and I’ll have to invite them here
to see our café
Hopefully they won’t come
I’m going to tell them that I’d love
for them to come,
but I would hate for them to get stuck
in a traffic jam for two hours
If, however, they decide to come,
I’ll call and let you know
that it’s time to stop smoking
anything other than tobacco
And don’t talk to me about charas and chillums
while they’re here

Dude, when your family comes
I’ll ask you if I can borrow your chillum again

Nooo, Dude
They’ll kill me
I’m not the first sikh in the family
to cut my hair and stop wearing a turban,
but nobody knows that I smoke chillum

Hey, Mandeep
I’ll go home and get my t-shirt with the hemp leaf

And what if Kailash comes back
to pick up his weed?

And what about Sheena?
She might come and sit on your lap
and ask you to smoke a chillum with her

Dude, this is not a joke
Rohit, you’re banned from the café
while my family is here
Guys, make sure you tie him up
or handcuff him somewhere
And someone will need to stand guard
at the bottom of the stairs
to prevent Sheena from coming up
Do whatever is necessary
Take her out for ice cream or something
If she insists on trying to get past you,
tell her you’ve got a tola of Manala,
first rub
and that you’d like to give her half
Take her to your place
and find a way to keep her occupied

Okay, Mandeep
Just give us a call as soon as you know,
or send a text

Mandeep left
and Rohit said,
Let’s smoke a chillum

Are you going to go get that t-shirt?

No, man
We’ve got be cool for Mandeep’s family
Can’t get him in trouble

Does anyone have Sheena’s number?
Maybe one of us could invite her
to go eat ice cream or something

 I don’t have it

 Me either

One of us’ll have to guard the entrance then

I’ll do it

And I’ll take Rohit home
and tie him up

Let’s smoke that chillum

And so Anji and the guys smoked
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

He sent a text
They’re on their way

Put out the joints
Empty and clean the ashtrays
No more talk about drugs
until after the family leaves
Rohit, go home
Sai, make sure he gets there
and tie him up,
then get back here as soon as you can
Domanique, you stand guard at the bottom of the stairs
If Kailash comes,
tell him not to talk about his weed,
and if Sheena comes,
take her somewhere else,
offer her an Italian clay chillum
I’ll pay you back

Okay, Joy

Let’s go, Rohit

And so Rohit and Sai took off
and Domanique went down the stairs
to stand guard
Shantanu cleaned the ashtrays
and the others put away their chillums
Krishna went to get
some flowers for the tables,
and Anji began to prepare
some Punjabi dishes

♫ ♫ ♫

A chillum baba arrived
and tried to go up the stairs

I’m sorry, Baba
said Dominique
as he blocked the way
Mandeep cannot smoke with you today,
but he invites you to come back tomorrow
to smoke his Italian chillum

May I speak with him?

he’s not here at the moment

I’ll just have a chai
and then come back tomorrow

the café has just closed for the day
We’re not serving chai right now

A glass of water would be fine

The pump is off because the power went out

I’ll drink back at the temple

And then the chillum baba moved on

♫ ♫ ♫

They’re coming,
whispered Dominique
from his post at the bottom of the stairs

The others tried not to laugh
and took their places
at the tables

Guys, this is my cousin
and his family

Introductions were made
and the family was seated,
and soon delicious Punjabi food
covered the table
and conversation flowed

The weather is great this time of year

Yeah, it’s a good time to be here

Except for all the family tourists
that come and cause traffic jams

And defile the temple

Sorry, Mandeep

Maybe they didn’t hear you,
whispered Sai

And everybody acted
as if nothing had been heard,
except for Jerome,
who couldn’t stop giggling

♫ ♫ ♫

Jerome went into the bathroom
and tried to stop giggling,
and then a shout was heard from below,
Plan B!

Sheena had pushed her way past Dominique
and was running up the stairs
with Dominique close behind her

Mandeep quickly went up the passage to the roof,
just as Sheena got to the top of stairs
Sai tried to intercept her
but Sheena ducked and went under his arm and shouted,
Hey, Mandeep,
can I borrow your chill . . .

Jerome acted quickly
and began to play Shanti Song,
and before Sheena could finish her sentence,
She had turned into Shanti
and tuned in to the local vibe

♫ ♫ ♫

Good thinking, Jerome
said Sai after the family had left
and Rohit had returned

Yeah, man,
you saved me
Let’s smoke a chillum

And so Mandeep prepared
his finest chillum
and offered it to Jerome to boom

And then the friends smoked
in peace and silence

shanti space

Shanti Space

Good morning, Krishna

Good morning, Shantanu

What kind of soup are you making today?

Tomato carrot pumpkin,
onion, garlic, potato,
mint, cilantro, basil,
jaggery, salt, pepper, ginger
and love

My favorite

Is Manav here?

He’s up on the roof
mountain watching

Nice music

Debashis Bhattacharya
Hindustani Slide

Master of the Indian slide guitar

The right music
for the moment

I’ll be on the roof

And then Shantanu walked up the stairs,
sat down at a small table,
took out his sketchbook
and continued a drawing
he had begun the day before

♫ ♫ ♫

Shantanu liked to draw
the people he encountered at Shanti Space
and everywhere else he went

Mountain watching
is something I never tire of

It can be habit forming

A good habit

A healthy habit

Have you finished your drawing?

I have

Let’s have a chai

And so Shantanu and Manav
went downstairs
and asked for some chai

How much milk would you like?

Just a little

I’d like about half a glass

Ginger and cardamon?

Yes, please


A little

And then Krishna went to the kitchen
to prepare the chai

♫ ♫ ♫

Krishna served the chai
and a minute later came back and asked,
How’s the chai?

Just right

Right on the edge

Just enough sugar to offer a subtle presence

But not so much as to mask the other flavors

And the milk?

Just as I like it

Me too

Is there any soup left?

Enough for two

I’ll have a bowl

Me too

And so Krishna went back to the kitchen
to heat up the soup
while Shantanu showed Manav
some of his drawings

♫ ♫ ♫

They’re not all complete
Sometimes people leave
before I finish
and I’m left with a partial impression
of how they were

Which allows us to imagine

The soup arrived,
and the men began to eat

Salt and pepper?

I’d like a little pepper

I like mine just as it is

So Krishna brought out the pepper,
and then the men continued to eat
in silence

♫ ♫ ♫

There’s that flute again

I wonder where it’s coming from

Yesterday I heard it when I was on the roof
I looked around
but did not see anyone

A hidden musician

A hidden master

Someone who does not want to become famous

That soup was good

Sure was

Almost as good as yesterday’s

Or perhaps it was a bit better


Could I have a lemon tea?

I’d like one too

With sugar
or without?

Save me the trouble
and put in a bit of sugar for me

Just a little?

Just enough to be noticed

A mint leaf?

A mint leaf would be nice

And so Krishna went to prepare the tea,
and there was a subtle shift in the vibe
at Shanti Space
as the flute continued
and the men fell silent

♫ ♫ ♫

Manav, chillum?
offered Mandeep

A chillum would be great

And so Manav
went into the Chillum Room,
joined chillum circle
and sat down

Rohit prepared the chillum
and Mandeep boomed it

With flowers
in the center of the circle
and soft cushions on the floor,
the men smoked in comfort
and beauty

♫ ♫ ♫

After the chillum,
Manav returned to the terrace
to drink his lemon tea

How’s the tea?
asked Krishna

A very little bit of sugar
could be added

I agree
about 18 granules

And so Krishna added a bit of sugar
to each of their cups
and to his own,
and then the men continued to drink
their tea

♫ ♫ ♫

That extra bit of sugar
was just what the tea needed

And that mint leaf was a nice touch

Really nice
Next time I’d like try two leaves

Me too

Manav, chillum?
offered Mandeep again

An excellent idea

And so Manav returned
to the chillum circle
and smoked
his second chillum of the day,
and Shantanu began to draw

♫ ♫ ♫

Do you mind
if I bring a bit of my own food
to supplement
what you offer here?
asked Shekel

No problem

And may I keep some things in the fridge?


And so Shekel prepared his breakfast,
put his cheese in the fridge
and ordered a chai

A lot of milk,
no sugar,
a bit of cardamon
and some ginger, right?

That’s how I like it

And so Krishna prepared
a chai for Shekel

♫ ♫ ♫

May I have a chai, please?
asked Dominique

How would you like it?

Let’s prepare it together
And let’s add the ginger only at the very end


And so Krishna and Dominique
prepared a chai together
just the way Dominique likes it

 ♫ ♫ ♫

putting in the ginger
at the very end
was an excellent idea,
said Krishna

It’s the way it should be done

May I have black tea, please?
asked Abhi

Would you like a bit of lemon in it?

That would be nice


Just a little

A mint leaf?


And so Krishna went
to prepare another tea

♫ ♫ ♫

Krishna, chillum?
offered Mandeep

And so Krishna went into the Chillum Room
for the third chillum of the day

As Sai prepared the chillum
Shantanu came in and requested a chai

How would you like it?

However it comes,
but after the chillum
There’s no hurry

Manav then boomed then chillum,
and around it went
to the right

♫ ♫ ♫

That was a good chillum

The best so far today

And so it continued
throughout the day,
chai and chillums,
conversation and silence,
music and more

♫ ♫ ♫

May I have one more chai?
asked Shantanu


I see that you are tired
Shall I prepare it myself?

That would be great
Thank you

And so Shantanu went into the kitchen
and prepared his chai

♫ ♫ ♫

May I pay in tolas?

We accept Manala Cream and Lapas Jungla
What did you have?

A milk chai,
a black tea with lemon
and a soup

That’ll be ninety rupees

And yesterday I had
two bowls of soup,
a lemon nana
and a milk coffee

So ninety and one seventy
is two sixty,
or about a gram of charas
Only half a gram if it’s first rub

First rub it is,
my sister made this last year

And so Manav paid his tab,
Shantanu continued to draw
and Dominique returned
to the chillum circle

 ♫ ♫ ♫

the chillum museum

The Chillum Museum

Good morning, Sai

Hi, Mandeep

There’s a new exhibit
at the Chillum Museum
Dominique is in town for a month
and he brought his collection with him

Let’s go have a look

Let’s smoke a chillum first

Good idea

And so they prepared and smoked
their first chillum of the day

♫ ♫ ♫

How much does it cost to get in?

Half a tola for both of you
and anyone else you feel like inviting
to join you

Do you accept ganja?

No, sir
Here at the Chillum Museum we only smoke charas


Mandeep took out his charas pouch
and gave the curator half a tola

Thank you, sir
Enjoy your time
at the Chillum Museum

Mandeep and Sai went in
and began to walk around

♫ ♫ ♫

look at this one!

Italian clay

And check this one out
It’s got a carving of Shiva

What a beauty

This one over here
was made by Marco

And this one used to belong to
Maharaj Mahinder of Kulu


Here is a three-flower chillum!

And over here is five-flower one!

Which chillum shall we choose?

How about the one that Marco made?

That’s a really nice one

They’re all really nice

They sure are
Okay, let’s use the one Marco made

And so Mandeep and Sai
made their way
to the Chill Out Room

♫ ♫ ♫

We only use Malana Cream
with this chillum,
said the curator

That’s fine with us

The curator then prepared
their second chillum of the day

♫ ♫ ♫

Sai, please boom the chillum

Sai took the chillum,
said Boom Shiva
and then smoked
with Mandeep
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

That was a good chillum

An excellent chillum

I love interactive museums

they’re great,
especially this one

Let’s smoke another chillum

Good idea

And so the curator prepared
another chillum

 Would you like to join us?
asked Mandeep

I’d love to

Please boom the chillum

And so the curator boomed the chillum
and then smoked
with Sai and Mandeep
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

element of chance

Element of Chance

shall we have a game?
asked Joy

if we can add
an element of chance,
a few additional pieces and rules

Tell me more

Before taking a turn,
a player must roll a six-sided die
that has two green, two blue and two purple sides


The player then chooses a wooden tile from a cloth bag
On each tile is written the name
of one of the sixty-four squares on the chess board,
for example B5
On the chosen square the player then places
either the green, the blue or the purple triangle,
depending on the roll of the die
If the square is already occupied,
the triangle is placed under the chess piece

What can these triangles do?
asked Joy

They have special powers

Shantanu then took out the bag of tiles,
the die
and three wooden triangles

The green triangle allows
the piece under which it is located
to move twice,
but the player is not required
to move that piece
nor is the player required
to move it twice
If the player wishes
to move the piece twice
and moves it to the square with the blue triangle
on the way to its final destination,
then either the second move option is forfeited
or the blue triangle will not effect the piece
I think both options are nice,
and the players can choose which rule applies
before the game begins


The blue triangle prevents the piece it is under
from moving at all

Like a magnet

The purple triangle requires the piece it is under to be moved
If that piece cannot be moved,
then the nearest piece must be moved
If two or more pieces are equally distant
from the piece under which the triangle is located,
then the player may choose
which one to move

I really like the purple triangle

Each triangle stays where it is
and remains in effect on that square
until its color is again chosen by the roll of the die
and it is moved to another square

Those are some pretty cool rules, bro

When two triangles occupy the same square,
the one that most recently arrived
is placed on top of the other and goes into effect
The one on the bottom remains inactive
until either it
or the triangle on top
is moved


If a player has a green triangle under one of his pieces
and a purple one under another,
he must move the piece that is on the purple one

Right on
Let’s play

And so the men set up the chessboard,
and then they played
Element of Chance

♫ ♫ ♫

These additional rules
are destroying my strategy

 They level the field

Joy looked at the board
and realized that for the first time in ages
he would have to lay his king down

♫ ♫ ♫

the wedding dinner

The wedding dinner

The wedding band began to play
their horns and drums
and to walk from the temple square to the bride’s home
with half the village trailing behind,
singing and dancing

♫ ♫ ♫

I’m a bit hungry,
and I don’t feel like cooking

Shall we eat at the wedding again tonight?

We should definitely do that
The food last night was great
Even if I were not hungry,
I’d go back there to eat

Seven courses of pure delight

That first dish was delicious

the sweet dish is always great

The third curry was great too,
the light yellow one

that one was my favorite

Mine too
And the last one was pretty good too
What a surprise

horseradish curry done just right,
not too strong,
not too subtle

It was perfect,
and it was the last thing I expected
I didn’t even know horseradish curry existed

Me either

That’s the nice things about these weddings:
You never know what you’re going to be served
Each course that arrives
is a complete surprise


And so the Jerome and Kailash
made their way
over to the bride’s home

♫ ♫ ♫

We’re just in time for the last seating

Look at those brass cauldrons!
They’re enormous

Biggest I’ve ever seen

The boys took a seat on the ground
among the rest of the villagers
who had come to eat
and waited
for the feast to begin

And it wasn’t long
before the first course arrived

Sweet rice
It doesn’t get better than this

And then the next

This coconut curry is fantastic

And so it continued
until the seventh course had been served

What a meal

it was really good

We should come back tomorrow

I think today was the last day of the wedding
I saw the groom carrying the bride away
on his back this afternoon,
to his village
and to another party there

Oh, well
I guess we can cook for ourselves for a few days

Until the next wedding


I hear the baker’s daughter is getting married next week

I remember when his first daughter got married
Those sweet pastries they served were divine

they were pretty good

Look, everybody’s getting up
It’s time to go

What do you feel like doing?

Let’s go to The Chillum Den

Good idea

And so off they went,
Jerome and Kailash,
to The Chillum Den
to make music
and listen beautifully

♫ ♫ ♫

shanti temple

Shanti Temple 

At Shanti Temple
the Temple Music Ensemble
has been playing non-stop
since the moment the temple was completed
three thousand years ago 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Twenty-one musicians play,
at least three at any given time,
and at least once a day
all twenty-one
play together 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Shanti music,
a shanti vibe,
a place to simply be
and to listen beautifully 

♫ ♫ ♫

shanti song

Shanti Song 

Jerome began to play
the introduction to Shanti Song,
and soon after Sheena realized
that she had not been Shanti
for a while 

She sat down,
stopped talking
and observed
while Jerome sang:

Shanti, Shanti
have you gone? 

The beauty
of your silent presence
has been missing
for too long 

Let us feel the power
of your peaceful vibe

Take off your make-up
and let your true beauty shine 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Thank you, Jerome,
for reminding me again
to be Shanti 

Welcome back, Shanti
It’s good to see you again
In honor of your return,
please boom the chillum 

So Shanti took the offered chillum,
smoked with her friends
and remained Shanti
for a while 

♫ ♫ ♫

traveling with a piano

Traveling with a piano

Pierre traveled
with his grand piano
everywhere he went

One morning he felt
it was time for a change of scene,
so he loaded his piano
onto its trailer,
hitched the trailer to his Enfield
and rode off

♫ ♫ ♫

I hear Kodai is nice
this time of year,
a friend had said the day before

Pierre had been wanting to spend
some time there for a while,
so when he got to the first junction,
he took the turn to the left
and headed towards the land of chocolate
and mushrooms

♫ ♫ ♫

Pink and yellow lantana
and morning glory
lined the way
up to Kodaikanal

The Enfield performed well,
and by late afternoon Pierre and his piano
had arrived

He made his way down
to Shanti Farm,
greeted his old friend,
unloaded his piano
and had a bath in a stream

♫ ♫ ♫

It’s beautiful here, Neville

And you came at just the right time
Mushrooms are growing

Fresh is best

Shall we smoke a chillum?

I’d love to

And so Neville prepared a chillum,
and then they smoked
in silence
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Some music would be nice

I’ll tune my piano

And so Pierre tuned the piano,
and then he began to play
Lullaby for Neville

♫ ♫ ♫

Neville had fallen asleep
by the time Pierre stopped playing

Pierre lay a blanket
on top of his friend
and then went to his room
and sat quietly
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

By five o’clock the men had risen,
and soon they were on their way
to one of Neville’s
favorite fields

It’s not far
and the walk is nice
If you see a bison,
remain calm,
look it in the eye
and let peace flow
from your heart

♫ ♫ ♫

Here we are
And here are some of our little friends

They’re beautiful

And strong

And then the two friends began
to pick mushrooms
for their trip

♫ ♫ ♫

I’ve got about two-hundred,
said Neville

And I’ve got about a hundred

150 mushrooms
is the perfect dosage

More than that
and we might not remember everything

And taking less would be a waste of mushrooms

Let’s head back to the farm

And so they walked
back to the farm

♫ ♫ ♫

Neville and Pierre
admired the harvest,
divided it into two bowls
and then sat in silence for a while

And then they began to eat

♫ ♫ ♫

After a few hours Pierre got up,
went over to the piano,
and composed a song

♫ ♫ ♫

That was beautiful, Pierre
Thank you

Thank you, Neville,
for listening so beautifully

Let’s have some tea

Yes, let’s have some tea

And so Neville prepared
a pot of tea
as the night slowly turned to day,
and then the friends drank
in peace

♫ ♫ ♫

shanti girl

Shanti Girl

Shanti Girl got up one morning,
meditated for a bit
and then decided to walk into town

Softly she stepped,
as quietly as a Japanese girl,
and mindfully she spoke
with the folk she encountered
along the way

♫ ♫ ♫

Off in the distance
Shanti Girl heard a quarrel,
so she slowly made her way
in that direction

♫ ♫ ♫

Her silent presence
among the quarrelers
had a calming effect on them,
and soon they began to speak
in a gentle tone

And when the conflict
had been resolved,
Shanti Girl continued on her way

♫ ♫ ♫

At a sidewalk tea stall
Shanti Girl noticed
a woman sitting forlornly

Across from the woman she sat down
on a little wooden chair,
took the woman’s hand
and held it
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Are you Shanti Girl?

but I prefer to be called Shanti

Thank you, Shanti
I’m Anusha
And I’m fine now
Thank you

And so Shanti leaned over
and whispered into the woman’s ear,
May today be the best day of your life
Then she rose
and wandered on down the lane

♫ ♫ ♫

let’s be shanti for a moment,
said Shanti calmly to a man
who was complaining about some drama in his life
There is another way
of looking at things
Let’s remain silent,
close our eyes
and carefully observe
for a little while


And so Shanti and the man
sat quietly,
closed their eyes
and observed
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

You must be Super Shanti

Please, call me Shanti

Thank you, Shanti
I see things more clearly now

Shanti gave the man a hug
and then meandered on down the road

♫ ♫ ♫

An old woman sat crying on a curb,
so Shanti sat down next to her
and held her hand,
and then she began to sing
an evening raga

The old woman stopped crying,
and soon she too
began to sing the evening raga

Everyone nearby
stopped what they were doing
and listened
to the most divine music
they had ever heard before

♫ ♫ ♫

And soon a group of musicians came along
with a sitar, tanpura, tabla
and a slide guitar
They joined Shanti and the old woman,
and played
for a little while

♫ ♫ ♫

The musicians brought
the raga to an end,
and then they continued
on their way

And when they were again alone,
the old woman said,
Thank you, Shanti
The last time I sang,
I was a little girl

You sing well, friend
and beautifully
May you sing every day

And then Shanti ,
humming softly,
flowed on down the road

♫ ♫ ♫

Why worry about so many things?
said Shanti to a man she had found
sitting on a park bench
I haven’t had an emergency
in over twenty years,
and drama has disappeared from my life
Do less,
be mindful
and be compassionate
Your life will take care of itself

Perhaps you’re right, he said
Maybe I could relax a bit more
Thank you, Shanti

You’re welcome
And may tonight be the best night of your life

And yours

And then Shanti got up
and walked on down the path

♫ ♫ ♫

An angry young man
stood outside The Shanti Club

They kicked me out,
he complained

Cool down
Cool the story down,
Shanti replied
See yourself in the show
Detach yourself from your role,
take a step back,
be quiet
and observe what’s going on
inside and out

The young man sat down
and closed his eyes
Shanti placed her hand on his shoulder
and Anger returned
to the form of a seed,
to see if the young man would water it again

♫ ♫ ♫

Shall we go in?
I’m not sure they’ll let me

They will
You’re shanti now


And so into The Shanti Club they went,
and then they danced,
flowing gently with the vibe,
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫



Mikko got up early
because the road ahead was long
and he hoped to arrive
at his friend’s home
before nightfall

He carefully wrapped
a couple bottles of vodka
in his sweater
and placed them in his rucksack,
in case of an emergency,
and then he made his way
to the road

♫ ♫ ♫

Mikko found a nice stone to sit on,
and whenever a car happened along,
he rose
and stuck out his thumb

♫ ♫ ♫

Where are you headed?
asked the driver


Get in

And so Mikko got in
the dark green Wiima

Nice car
I don’t see many of these around anymore
Is it a ’57 or a ’58?


Have you been waiting long?

Ninety-three cars and trucks
passed by
before you stopped

Hitchhiking is hard in Finland

Almost impossible

I’m Vannte


Nice to meet you
Shall we enjoy a bit of silence?

Silence is precious

And so in silence they continued
on down the road

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you, Vannte
for the ride

Thank you, Mikko,
for your gentle presence

Please enjoy
this incense from India

Goloka Nag Champa
My favorite
Thank you

And then they shook hands
and Mikko got out

Vannte drove off to the left
and Mikko sat down to wait
for his next ride

♫ ♫ ♫

Two-hundred and thirty-three cars passed by,
and then an old Finlandia,
painted the colors of a rainbow,
came to a halt

Hop in

Thanks, guys
Nice ride

That she is
Where’re you heading?


Lappland is cool

Yeah, Lappland is super cool

I’m going to visit a friend
for a few weeks
and to watch the aurora borealis flow


Yeah, man,
the aurora borealis is cool

The driver then lit a joint,
all the guys smoked,
and then they enjoyed the scenery,
and the comfort and beauty of the Finlandia
in silence
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

This is as far as we go
You’re welcome to stay at our place
for as long as you like

Thanks, guys
Perhaps on my way back
I’ll drop by for a visit

Cool, man
May your cookie jar never be empty

May today be the best day of your life

Mikko got out of the car,
gave his new friends a few sticks of incense,
found a nice place to sit
and waited
for a new friend to arrive

♫ ♫ ♫

And it wasn’t long
before a black Korvensuu
drew up next to him

Where are you going?


Get in

You speak Finnish well

I’ve been here a while

And you speak slowly
like we do

Slow is good

Slow is great

I like to drive
at fifty-three
kilometers per hour

Fifty-three is fine
Gives one a chance
to see
and to enjoy
what’s going on nearby


And a 1913 Korvensuu
is an excellent choice
for a slow trip

And so they headed north

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you very much
for the ride

Thank you
for playing such lovely music
along the way

This my favorite incense from India

Thank you, Mikko

And then,
as the car disappeared,
Mikko found another stone to sit on
while the moon began to rise

♫ ♫ ♫

It doesn’t look
like anyone is going take me
the rest of the way
thought Mikko,
and then he remembered the vodka
that he had packed for emergencies
He took a bottle out
and stuck out his thumb,
and the first vehicle to come along
came to a stop

Nice bike

’43 Ural
Where would you like to go?

To Lappland

Where in Lappland would you like to go?

Mikko gave the man his friend’s address

Get in

Mikko climbed into the sidecar
and off they roared
on the beautiful midnight blue Ural

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you, brother,
for the ride

Thank you, brother,
for the bottle
and for the incense

Mikko then introduced
his new friend to his old one,
who said,
Would you like to come and watch
the aurora borealis flow
with us?

I’d love to

Let’s have a sauna first

Good idea

And so Mikko and his friends
took a bath in the sauna
and then sat down to drink,
and to watch reindeer roam
and the sky flow

♫ ♫ ♫

the silence between phrases

The silence between phrases

It was getting a bit noisy,
so Jerome took out his guitar
and began to quietly play

♫ ♫ ♫

One by one
the talkers realized
that something else was going on,
and they began to listen

♫ ♫ ♫

A few less waves of sound,
a few less voices striving
to be heard,
and once again
it was possible
to enjoy the space
between words
and the silence between phrases

♫ ♫ ♫

shanti time

Shanti time

Sheena awoke
and decided it was time
for a change

She went down to the Chillum Den
and into the Quiet Sitting Room
and sat
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

The songs of birds
came through the open windows,
and Sheena listened
until she felt she knew each one

And then she got up
and went for a walk

♫ ♫ ♫

The scent of a wild rose
drifted across Sheena’s path,
and so she stopped
and smelled some flowers
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

A trail of ants
winding up and down
the trunk of a Plumeria tree
caught Sheena’s attention,
and so nearby she sat down
and observed
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

would you like to buy some cherries?
asked a cherry walli

They look delicious

Try one

they are delicious!
I’d like half a kilo, please

So the old woman
wrapped some cherries
in a large green leaf

What do I owe you?

Today they’re free
on the condition
that you eat them mindfully

Sheena agreed,
thanked the woman
and continued on her way
down the path
and into a forest

♫ ♫ ♫

Sheena sat down
on a large flat stone
and began to eat the cherries

♫ ♫ ♫

Remembering the film
Rivers and Tides,
Sheena began to gather
twigs, feathers, seeds and stones,
and then she created
an ephemeral work of art

♫ ♫ ♫

A dog appeared
and lay down next to Sheena,
and she then pet him gently
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

The dog got up
and waited
for Sheena to do the same
Then together they walked
back towards the town

♫ ♫ ♫

The dog stopped
in front of a semi-wild home
and lay down in the tall grass
among some wildflowers

Sheena knocked gently
on a small blue door
and it slid out of sight
She walked into the house
and over to a circle
of flickering candles

Would you like to draw?


And so Sheena stepped into the circle
chose some pencils
and began to draw

♫ ♫ ♫

It’s beautiful

Thank you

I’m going to the Chillum Den soon
to make music with some friends
Would you like to come?


And so Sheena
and her friend
walked over to
the Chillum Den

♫ ♫ ♫

Hi, Sheena

Hi, guys

Want to play with us tonight?

I don’t play anything

Would you like to


take the maracas
and shake them gently
like this

Sheena’s friend shook
the maracas
for a few moments,
and then he gave them to her
and she shook them
while her friends played,
and they all made music
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

we have never before experienced you
in such a shanti mood
for such a long time
You have been a pleasure
to be around,
so tonight you are the guest of honor
Please boom the chillum

Sheena took the offered chillum,
said, Boom Shiva, silently
and then boomed the chillum
and smoked
with her friends

♫ ♫ ♫

This is a really nice chillum

Italian clay
I only bring it out
on special occasions

It’s beautiful

And it’s yours

I can’t accept
such a generous gift

We insist
Welcome to the Shanti Club

And then Sheena
and her friends
enjoyed a gentle and quiet night

♫ ♫ ♫

in the shade of shiva

In the shade of Shiva

An argument began
and then anger and sharp words flowed

♫ ♫ ♫

And then one of the men fell silent,
sat down
and turned his head to the right

The other then remembered
that he too had a way
to connect with his true nature

They sat in silence
for a while,
and cooled down
in the shade of Shiva

♫ ♫ ♫

Calmly and respectfully,
the conversation continued

how shall we resolve
the problem?

Perhaps it’s not really such a big problem

Maybe not

I can do this

And I can do that

Problem solved

Shall we have some tea?

An excellent idea

And so the men stepped into
a small tea house
and became friends

♫ ♫ ♫

the gentle tribe

The Gentle Tribe 

Jerome sang
as he wandered around the town,
and after a while he came upon
a Buddha field 

He fell silent,
sat down,
closed his eyes,
turned his head to the right
and reconnected
with his true nature 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

The Buddha got up and left
and then Jerome got up as well
and continued on his way
to The Chillum Den 

Om shanti 

Om shanti 

May your cookie jar never be empty 

May your cookie jar never be empty 

May today be the best day of your life 

May today be the best day of your life 

And so in kind Jerome replied
to all the strangers
who greeted him along the way 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Bon jour, Jerome 

Bon jour 

Have you had your shanti time yet today? 

I sat for about half an hour
a little while ago
The urge to meditate
is impossible to resist
in a Buddha field

Tell me about it
I was late for work the other day
because I came upon one
Got any plans for tonight? 

I’m playing at The Chillum Den later on 

How many songs do you have in your quiver? 

Seven complete ones 


And then the two friends sat down
on a nearby bench
and remained silent
for a while 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Hi, Jerome 

Hey, Samir 

Going to The Chillum Den? 

Want to come sing with us?


And so,
from different places around town,
Jerome and some of his friends,
members of The Gentle Tribe,
made their way,
alone and in pairs,
to the Chillum Den 

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Jerome and his band
tuned their instruments
and soon they were ready to play 

Charsis and ganjaredis,
it is with great pleasure
that I introduce to you tonight
The Gentle Tribe
Enjoy the music,
and may tonight be the best night of your life

♫ ♫ ♫ 

Some of the charsis and ganjaredis sat
while others stood
and a few lay down
The rest of them danced slowly
to the never-ending,
ever-changing rhythm
of The Gentle Tribe 

♫ ♫ ♫

the chillum den

The Chillum Den

On the edge of Charsi Cliff
above the Beas River
sat The Chillum Den

Through a long passageway
carved through the rock
at the top of Charsi Cliff,
Rohit walked

♫ ♫ ♫

Welcome, sir
Good to see you again

 And you, m’lady

 And who are you now, sir?

 I am

And where are you?

Here and now

Welcome back
to The Chillum Den, sir

Thank you, Anji

Please leave all your electronic devices here

Yes, ma’am

Rohit placed his phone and his iPod
in a soundproof drawer
and then made his way through
a short tunnel on the left
to the Tea Room

♫ ♫ ♫

Good evening, sir
Nice to see you again, sir

Good evening, Joy
It’s good to be back

Rohit then walked over
to window overlooking the river below
and sat down

♫ ♫ ♫

What will you have to drink, sir?

A pot of lemon, honey and charas tea
would be most welcome

Yes, sir
An excellent choice, sir

I see you have brought your own chillum today, sir
A beauty she is, sir

Been in the family for three generations
One of the first ones Marco made

The Bently of chillums
And she’s in perfect condtion

A clean chillum is a peace chillum

Respect the chillum

And as the maître d’ walked away,
Rohit continued
to sync with the vibe

♫ ♫ ♫

The tea arrived
and Rohit drank
until the moment came
to choose a room

There is an ensemble from Japan
playing in the Quiet Music Room tonight,
the Room For Laying Down is full at the moment,
the Ganjaredi Room is nearly empty
and the Silent Sitting Room is about half full
with chillum babas

I would like to smoke
in the Silent Sitting Room tonight

A fine choice, sir
The cushions have just been refilled and recovered
with Himachal hemp
laced with the finest of Nepalese embroidery
May this day be the best day of your life, sir

May this day be the best day of your life as well, Joy

Rohit then made his way down
a stone stairway
to the Silent Sitting Room

♫ ♫ ♫

Good evening, bowed the chillum master
maintaining the sacred silence

Good evening, bowed Rohit

He handed his chillum
to the chillum master
and then took a seat in a corner
of the purple, elegant and soft
Silent Sitting Room

And then the chillum ceremony began:
The crusher and the filler
prepared his chillum
with Manala Cream,
first rub,
the best in the Parvati Valley

Rohit said, Boom Shiva,
the chillum master lit a match,
Rohit boomed his chillum
and then he smoked
for a little while

♫ ♫ ♫

The chillum master took away the chillum
and brought it back clean

Rohit closed his eyes,
turned his head to the right
and melded with Shiva
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

The chillum babas sat in a circle
as straight as could be
and fully focused
as they passed their chillum around
with their right hands
to the right

♫ ♫ ♫

Ten rupee Varanasi
or Italian clay,
nothing else is worth a try,
said Mandeep
over in the Ganjaredi Room

Except for homemade by my grandfather

Your grandfather does make a nice chillum, Sai

And Manala Cream
is the charas of choice

Lapas Jungla is not bad

And this Idiki Gold we’re smoking
is pretty good

Kerela’s finest

The chill out dance
is going to begin soon

Let’s smoke one more chillum

Good idea

They signaled to the chillum master,
and his boys came over
to crush and fill

♫ ♫ ♫

A door in the floor
of each of the rooms
opened at nine o’clock
And those who so desired
made their way down
to the Dance Den,
lured by the rhythms
of Indian classical music

♫ ♫ ♫

Hi, Rohit

Hi, guys

Rainbow Turban is DJing tonight


Let’s dance

And so the charsis and ganjaredis danced
the chill out dance
as the rhythms changed
and flowed

♫ ♫ ♫

may today be the best day of your life

May today be the best day of your life

One morning Mandeep got up early
and went on a short walk
through the village

May today be the best day of your life,
said a passing stranger

May today be the best day of your life,
replied Mandeep

What a nice way of greeting they have here,
thought Mandeep to himself
as he continued on his way

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Mandeep

Hey, guys

Want to meet Shiva?


Come with us

And so Mandeep and his friends
took a short walk
into in a nearby forest

♫ ♫ ♫

This looks like a nice place
to sit for a while

It’s a great place

Is this where we’re going to meet Shiva?

Shiva is already here

I don’t see him

You will

And then his friend
took a few things out of his bag
and prepared a pipe
with Yopo

♫ ♫ ♫

Mandeep took his medicine,
sat down and closed his eyes
and was immediately transported
to the space of Shiva conciousness

Hello, Mandeep

Hello, Shiva

You are pitch black
and have no face

This cloak lends me the illusion of form
but I wear no mask
I simply am
pure flowing darkness

Yes, I have been here before,
thought Mandeep
I’d like to be able to access
this space
at will

To his left the sun shone brightly,
a world of love and light,
form and sound,
and to the right lay shade,
dark, calm and quiet
Mandeep turned his head to the right

♫ ♫ ♫

This space is always here,
Just sit down, be quiet, close your eyes
and turn to the right

Mandeep tried
going back and forth
a few times,
turning his head to the left
and then back to the right,
and discovered that he could face straight ahead
and maintain his balance
on the edge
of light and darkness

♫ ♫ ♫

Mandeep opened his mouth,
breathed in deeply
and soon he was filled
with invisible prasad

To the left or the right,
it doesn’t really matter
It depends on where the sun lies
Stay centered
on the moment
Be aware
Flow with the Gentle Tribe

♫ ♫ ♫

The gentle and enchanting notes
of a Sansula kalimba
drifted into his realm of perception

Mandeep opened his eyes
and entered the flow of light,
never again to forget
the way home

♫ ♫ ♫

rainbow turban

Rainbow turban

Singh combed his hair well
with the help of his mother,
he folded his new turban,
and then he tied it carefully
so that the seven colors,
violet, indigo, blue,
green, yellow, orange and red
formed a rainbow

And then he went out for a walk

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Singh
Cool turban

My grandmother made it
Seven meters of pure hemp


Are you going
to the Rainbow Gathering next week?

I am

See you there
May your cookie jar never be empty

May your cookie jar never be empty

And then,
shining brightly,
Singh continued on his walk

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Singh
Nice turban

Yours is pretty cool too
Did you tie-dye it yourself?

I did

Are you ready?

I am

Let’s go

And so Singh and Sai
caught a cab,
a beautiful black and yellow Ambassador
with a dark green strip,
and rode to a friend’s place
in style

♫ ♫ ♫

The taxi pulled up
in front of a large and beautiful home
and Singh and Sai got out

Hi, Singh

Hi, Rohit

Singh offered his hand to the gardener
and they shook hands

Good to see you again, brother
This is Sai



How have the Brahmans been treating you?

You know how it is
They’re on a bit of a power trip

Those Brahmans, man
Some of them really suck


the era of the Brahman mafia
is coming to an end

Yeah, their days are numbered
Hang in there, Rohit
We’re doing our best
to spread love and light

Thanks, guys
And then Singh and Sai
went inside

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Singh
Glad you made it

Hey, Bhaiji
Sai, this is Raj,
Raj, Sai

Welcome, Sai

Nice to meet you

I hear you’ve been Brahman bashing again

Not at all
We’re just promoting love and friendship
We’re all the same, man

Yeah, man
We’re all just a variety of manifestations
of the same energy

Man, you Sikhs are always fighting
for something
let’s go to the smoking room,
said Raj

And off they went
to have a smoke

♫ ♫ ♫

Raj prepared a chillum
with Manali Cream,
Singh plugged his iPod into the sound system
and soon they were smoking
and listening to Ras Michael sing
about peace and love

♫ ♫ ♫

would you like to eat
some mushrooms
with us?

Magic mushrooms?

Fresh from Kodai

I’ve never had mushrooms before

They’re just what you need


And so Singh took out
his mushroom pouch
and divided the mushrooms
into three small bowls
They each took their portion
and then sat in silence
and in the dark
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

They’re here

Or we’re there

We’re all here

Sai took out a kalimba
and began to play
a gentle song
while the others listened

♫ ♫ ♫

The evening became night,
spent mostly in silence,
with moments of music now and then
Insight and loved flowed,
and then the night became dawn

With a new understanding
of the way things are,
Raj took off his Brahman thread
and then burned it to ash

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you, guys,
for introducing me
to this space

You’re very welcome, brother

Let’s invite Rohit to join us next time

An excellent idea

It’s a nice time of day for a ride

Take my Enfield

Thanks, man

And so Singh and Sai
retied their turbans,
got on Raj’s dark blue ’72 Bullet
and rode off into the early morning light

♫ ♫ ♫

they want cookies

They want cookies

It’s beautiful here

Those blue flowers are really pretty

I haven’t seen anyone,
not even a cow,
for over an hour

Me either
Just forest and meadows

Woof woof woof

Woof woof woof woof

Woof woof


They sound a bit aggressive

I’m not sure they’re going to let us pass

Woof woof woof

Woof woof woof woof

Woof woof

I think you’re right

They want cookies,
said a voice
from the other side of the trees

Do we have any cookies left?

A few

And so the wanderers took the cookies
out of their bag
and fed them to the dogs

♫ ♫ ♫

They’ve quietened down

I think they liked them

I liked them too

they were pretty good cookies

Let’s see what’s on the other side

And so the wanderers,
having made friends with the dogs,
continued on their way

♫ ♫ ♫

to Café Way,
said the owner

You have a lot of dogs

Sixteen at the moment

And they like to bark

They’re all barkaholics,
but that’s fine with me
This is a rather selective café
Not many people know about it,
even fewer find it,
and of those who do,
only some get past the dogs

Only if they happen to have cookies

That’s right
or something else
that the dogs sense is worthy of this space,
like a gentle nature
I leave it them to decide
who gets in
Have a seat

Seeing no tables or chairs,
the wanderers made themselves comfortable
on the lawn

♫ ♫ ♫

This a great place for a café

It’s gorgeous here

That guy has been gone for a while

Maybe he went to get a menu

♫ ♫ ♫

The owner returned,
sat down on the lawn,
and began to roll a joint

What kind of food do you serve here?


Do you have anything to drink?

There’s a spring over there by the apple tree

So the wanderers got up,
walked over to the spring
and had a drink

this water is good

It’s delicious

Well worth the walk up here

We should come here again

And bring some food with us

And cookies


They returned to their place on the lawn,
accepted an offered joint
and smoked in silence
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

The dogs began to bark,
heralding the arrival
of a chillum baba

Namaste, Babaji




The chillum baba took a place on the lawn
and began to prepare a chillum

Some cows are coming

They’ve come to mow the lawn

And so the chillum went around
while the cows
mowed the lawn

♫ ♫ ♫

One of the wanderers reached into his bag,
took out a mouth harp
and began to play

The other wanderer took a harmonica
out of his pocket
and joined the jam

The owner went and got his guitar,
the chillum baba began to sing
and soon they were all making music

♫ ♫ ♫

It’ll be dark in a while,
said the owner
You best get back to the village before the bears come out

Thank you
for the delicious water
and for creating this wonderful space

Thank you
for visiting
Come again

And then the wanderers began to walk
back to the village,
picking wild strawberries along the way,
and the chillum baba headed back
to his cave

♫ ♫ ♫



Morning, Indica

Morning, Sativa

Another beautiful day in Himachal

A wonderful place to be
a cannabis plant

Except for when those DEA people come
and try to kill us

I hate it when that happens

This our home, man

we’ve been here like since forever

We’re the real natives here

who do they think they are
coming here and uprooting us from our home

And killing us

They ought to be put on trial
for ganjacide

and discrimination too

At least we don’t live in a house

Or in Idaho

Yeah, man
Some of my relatives were killed there last month

I hear Hawaii is nice

Jamaica too

I’d love to go to Jamaica

Me too
We could grow all year

Back when I was a seed
one of my friends got stuck in a shoe
and traveled to Qatar,
but some cops at the airport found him
and killed him

That sucks


Do you ever see your parents?

My mom turned into a nice shirt

Mine too
I saw her last week

And my dad became a bag

My dad died when he was young


No, a cow got him

Cows can be dangerous

I almost got trampled on the other day

I have relatives in California
and they live on an organic farm

I have relatives in Uruguay
As long they don’t congregate
in groups larger than six
they are allowed to be

They can live there legally?



Mujica is cool

The coolest president in the world

A model for others


We have thirty-six ayurvedic properties

We’re healers

And yet people treat us like Hitler treated the Jews

They spray poison on us

Or uproot us

They kick us out of our homes

And take away our land

They make us live in ghettos

Himachal is a pretty nice ghetto, dude

we’re pretty lucky

India is not so bad
The people here pretty much leave us alone

it’s mostly those annoying DEA agents
that try to harm us

Maybe we should move to Uruguay
We’d be safe there

I think they have a lot of cows there, dude

I’d rather be eaten by a cow
than uprooted by the DEA

It might be hard for us to move

Our children could go

If they get stuck in a shoe

A shoe that’s going to Uruguay


sermon on the couch

Sermon on the couch

Chai was served
and a Shiva beedi went round and round,
and then Ananda began to speak

There’s no need to go
from guru to guru,
just go inside

Don’t be spiritual,
be natural

Be quiet and observe

Be simple, humble, loving and joyful

Put yourself in the story,
play your role in the scene
Don’t try to get acknowledged
Don’t create false duality,
get out of the scene

Abdicate the mind,
go beyond the story

Don’t try to be somebody,
be nobody

No need to dress differently,
blend in

Skip the sadhu trip,
an ashram is only slightly better than a police station

Don’t run to catch a train

All is good

And these are just groups of words

You understand

♫ ♫ ♫

joshua tree

Joshua Tree

So Joshua Lee left Hanoi
and flew away
to Joshua Tree

♫ ♫ ♫

When the sun shines,
I am fine,
said Joshua Tree,
and the chill of the desert night
passes right through me

Be like me
Be a tree
Root yourself in the ground
and sway in the wind
Be a home for other beings

Thus spoke Joshua Tree
to Joshua Lee,
and he too
became Joshua Tree

And as a tree
he could simply be
between this thought and the next

may your cookie jar never be empty

May your cookie jar never be empty

What do you put in your cookies
that makes them so delicious? 

and just the right balance
of a few other ingredients 

Yes, ever since I began to eat
one of your cookies every day,
I have felt well balanced
and full of love

You feel that you are full of love
but in fact you are love
There is no difference
between you and a cookie
Both are just expressions of love 

Yes, sometimes that is how I feel,
but then the feeling goes away 

Don’t limit your idea
of what you are
to your body
Remember that you are love
and nothing more 

I’ll try 

No need to try
Just be
It is enough to realize
your true nature 

May I have a few more cookies?
I’d like to share them
with others 

I have an unlimited supply
of cookies
Take as many as you like
to share
with other aspects of yourself
You are love
All is love
Be love
And may your cookie jar never be empty

high in the himalayas

High in the Himalayas

The last of the herdboys had left
and the cows were on their own for the summer

What do you guys feel like doing today?

Let’s go check out that pasture up near the ridge
It looks lush and delicious


And so the cows took a walk up the hill
to graze among the apple trees
and the pears

♫ ♫ ♫

These purple flowers taste really good

So do these yellow ones

These white ones over here are pretty good too
and the grass is excellent

This weed over here is some of the best I’ve ever had

And so the cows spent the morning
eating grass,
watching butterflies
and leaping
high into the air

♫ ♫ ♫

I’m thirsty

Me too

Let’s drink some water

Good idea

And so the cows walked slowly,
taking their time,
in the direction of a nearby stream

♫ ♫ ♫

This water is really good
Much better than what they give us in town

Fresh is best

The higher the better

Man, this water is clean!

Look at the fish
They look like rainbows

Rainbows are cool

If we go over and stand behind that waterfall
we’ll be able to see a rainbow

Let’s go

And so the cows headed further up the mountain,
stopping here and there
to try the local delicacies

♫ ♫ ♫

Dude, try this grass over here
It’s amazing

Dude, this whole hillside is paradise
These little blue flowers are divine




And then the cows had a mooing session
and sang
until they felt like moving on

♫ ♫ ♫

That rainbow is pretty cool

It’s awesome

And this cave is nice and cool
Let’s have a rest

The other cows agreed
and so they all lay down
and took a nap

♫ ♫ ♫

I dreamed I was walking in a field of tall grass,
grass that came up to my shoulders,
and it was the most delicious grass I had ever tasted

I dreamed I spent the day in a cannabis field
eating my way to the center

I had a nightmare
I dreamed that the humans came back early
and forced us to return to the village

Let’s go take a bath
That pool of water down there looks pretty inviting

Yeah, man,
let’s go

And so down they went
to the bottom of the waterfall
and took a late afternoon dip
in the pool

♫ ♫ ♫

I’m a bit hungry

Me too

I could eat a whole meadow

Let’s head back to the pine forest
There’s some excellent tall grass between the trees
and those big boulders

Yeah, that grass is high end
Pure Himachal oat

Pure is nice
but I prefer a good blend
Oat and clover is my favorite

Oat and clover is pretty good

Barley and clover is pretty good too

barley and clover

Barley and oat is not bad
With a bit of clover

barley, oat and clover
What a treat

Let’s go

And off they went
to the tall grass
to have an early dinner

♫ ♫ ♫

What shall we have for dessert?

How about some ganja?
There’s a nice patch of it over by the cherry trees

Sounds good to me

Let’s go

And so the cows headed over
to the cherry orchard
to nibble on some weed

♫ ♫ ♫

Man, I’m full

Me too

Where shall we sleep tonight?

Somewhere safe from the bears would be good

Yeah, man
Those bears are dangerous

Bears, humans and flies,
the bain of our existence

I’m not sure we can do much about the flies,
but we might be able to defend ourselves against a bear
if we all get up and run towards it together
Let’s take turns standing guard

Good idea

I’ll take the first watch

I’ve got the second

Wake me when it’s my turn

Anyone know a good bedtime story?

My cousin crossed the big river last year
and never came back

Maybe he got eaten by a bear

Maybe he found a place without bears

Or humans

Or flies

Perhaps we should go there

It’s worth a try

let’s cross the big river tomorrow

Sounds good to me

Yeah, it looks pretty green over there

And maybe there won’t be any bears

Or humans

Or flies

We’ll find out tomorrow

I’m tired

Me too

Time for bed





And so the cows lay down
for the night
and began to dream

♫ ♫ ♫



Welcome, Friend
Would you like a cup of tea?

Thank you
Some tea would be most welcome

And so the host poured tea
for the visitor
and himself
And then they sat in silence
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

What brings you to my home, Friend?

The sound of tea

You could hear the tea from gate?

but I could hear the kettle sing
and I imagined that some tea might get brewed
I enjoy listening to tea
as it flows
from teapot to cup
and when it rests

I enjoy the taste of tea
as it passes over my tongue,
its fragrance,
its hues and texture
And now,
thanks to you,
I will enjoy the sound of tea
as it flows
and as it rests

The host poured more tea
into the cups

♫ ♫ ♫

Some friends are coming over soon
to make music
Do you play
an instrument?

but I listen beautifully

A dying art

I give my full attention
to the moment
in which I am

You are welcome to stay
and listen

The host poured more tea
into the cups
as the musicians began
to arrive

♫ ♫ ♫

Inspired by cookies and tea,
the musicians improvised
for about an hour,
sending out waves of sound,
playing softly and loudly,
quickly and slowly,
and the listener sat

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you
for the music

Thank you, Friend,
for listening so well
Another cup of tea?

One for the road
would be much appreciated

And so the host poured more tea
and everyone listened
to the tea
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

serve the song

Serve the song

The song had already begun
when Elad arrived

He sat down,
ordered some tea
and listened
to the other musicians
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

And when he felt
how he could serve the song,
Elad took out his djembe
and began to play,
and softly,
adding subtle hints of flavor
to the song

♫ ♫ ♫

And when the time was right,
Elad played powerfully, deftly and beautifully
while supporting the others
as they played

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you, Elad,
said the others
You served the song well

Elad smiled and finished his tea,
said goodnight to his friends
and continued on his way

rainbow woman

Rainbow woman

Anh lived on the edge
of a forest
in the hallow of a very large tree
She slept on a bed of pine needles
covered with the skin of a bear,
and she ate fruit and nuts from nearby trees
and vegetables from her garden

Some of her friends,
Parrot, Monkey, Spider, and Dragonfly,
came often to visit,
and every evening Spider would weave a web
to keep the mosquitoes out
She would also leave a message
written in silk:
sometimes an image,
a flower,
sometimes the score
to a piece a music
for Anh to play on her violin,
and sometimes a poem
or simply a word
like Dance!

And so Anh danced
through life,
and all the beings in the forest
danced with her

♫ ♫ ♫

One day after it had rained
Anh went on a walk
Birds sang and toads croaked,
and when she came to a clearing
she lay down on Great Stone

And as she was watching the clouds
slowly dance
a rainbow moved through the sky
and landed on her
She sat up,
closed her eyes
and began to meditate

♫ ♫ ♫

When her mind had become still,
Anh began to hear Great Stone speak
as waves of energy flowed through him
and into her

♫ ♫ ♫

Anh stood up and stretched
her branches into the sky
and her roots into the ground,
absorbing light and water,
drinking her fill

Firmly grounded
and able to sway with the wind,
fearless and full of love,
Anh moved gently
through the forest
and beyond

♫ ♫ ♫

space 868

Space 868 

A place of calm,
a place to create,
a space to be:
Space 868

♫ ♫ ♫

Welcome to this space,
You can paint on the walls
if you like
Make yourself at home

♫ ♫ ♫

Weaving a diaphanous web
of peace
one wave at a time,
Mollie surfed
the West Marin vibe

As an ocean
and a wave,
she surfed a long board
along the edge of life
in Bo*

♫ ♫ ♫

and mindfully
Mollie moved
and spoke

Mmm hmm

*Bo = Bolinas



After she left her village
Shiori began to notice
many different ways
of being

She traveled
without her mind
telling her what to think and do,
embracing all
and shining brightly

♫ ♫ ♫

Who are you?

I am called Shiori

That’s a nice name
What kind of poem are you?

I’m a rainbow poem

yet ever present


Do you always rhyme?

but I am in harmony
with all
I am the space between the words,
the silent presence
between the textures, flavors, sounds, scents and sights

And then they sat in silence
for a while


You are a beautiful poem, Shiori

I am
nothing at all,
merely space
filled with vibration
Keep the vibe high
my brother
and share this poem
with me



Fifty-three kilometers per hour
is an excellent speed
at which to return home
by motorbike,
thought Luke

With the sun ahead setting
and a girl sitting behind
he rode
through the Valley of Pai

♫ ♫ ♫

What do you do?
asked the girl 

I see to it
that the valley blooms
in every color 


And that music flows
through it

Right on
Where are we going?

Where would you like to go? 

Somewhere special

I’m taking you home

To your place or mine? 


Where is that? 

and now 

And so they rode
through the present moment

♫ ♫ ♫



Scott crossed the border on foot,
and with his guitar slung across his back
he set off into the jungle
without a plan

♫ ♫ ♫

ສະ ບາຍ ດີ

Sa bai di

Do you speak English?

A little

My name is Scott

I’m Syri
Would you like some coconut water?

I’d love some

So Syri climbed up the nearest coconut tree,
unsheathed her machete
and cut down a bunch
Then she climbed back down,
opened one of the coconuts
and offered it to Scott

Thank you
Mmm . . . It’s delicious

Fresh is best

Syri cut open another coconut for Scott
and then one for herself

What kind of guitar have you got in there?

Steel-string acoustic

Feel like making music?

I do

So Scott took out his guitar
and began to play
Among the Coconut Palms,
and after a while Syri took out her ncaas
and played along

♫ ♫ ♫

We’re having a party tonight in my village
Want to come?


Syri then shouldered the remaining coconuts
and set off down a path


And so Scott followed Syri
deeper into the jungle
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Your village is beautiful


And quiet

We’re Lao
What’s the point in being loud?

Silence is cool

We like being able to hear the animals sing
And when we party,
we sing too
That’s my dad over there
I’ll introduce you

Dad, this is Scott
I found him in the coconut grove
and invited him to the party

Scott, this is my dad
He’s the village chief

Welcome, Scott
You can sleep in the guest hut tonight,
and we’ll build you your own hut
if you decide to stay for a while

Thank you, Chief
You’re very kind

I see you come from the Bedhead tribe

Yes, sir
I’m pure Bedhead

Scott set down his gear,
took a feather out of his bag
and then offered it to the chief

This is for you

It’s beautiful

Peruvian parrot

Thank you, Scott
Do you smoke pot?

On occasion

Let’s smoke then
Syri, could you roll us a peace joint?

Sure, Dad

 I’m horrible at rolling

Me too

Let’s smoke down by the river


So Scott, Syri and the chief
went down to the river
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

The sound of a gong
rang out three times

That’s the dinner gong
Let’s head back

So Scott and his hosts
returned to the village circle,
where Scott was introduced
to the rest of the village

Welcome, Scott

We’re glad you’re here

Make yourself at home

Would you like some soup?

I’d love some soup
What kind?

Tomato space soup

You guys know how to start a party
What’s the celebration?

Your arrival

How’d you know I was going to be here?

Our shaman told us

That’s . . . impressive

She told me to wait for you
in the coconut grove

I’m glad she did

You’ll meet her later
She’s meditating now

This soup is really good

My mom made it
Have some more

So Scott had another bowl
of space soup

as the villagers began
to tune their instruments

♫ ♫ ♫

Gongs began
as the sun lay down
and soon they were accompanied by drums
and a stone xylophone

One of the men handed Scott a drum
and invited him
to join the circle
And then they all played
while the moon began to rise

♫ ♫ ♫

You play well, Scott
You fit right in

You’re too kind

How about singing us a song?
We hear you’re pretty good with a guitar

I think I might have a song or two in me

And so while one of the men made a fire,
Scott went to get his guitar,
and when he returned he began to play
New Friends

And after a couple minutes
some of the others took out their ncaases
and added another dimension

♫ ♫ ♫

Nice song, Scott

Thank you, Syri
That’s some pretty strong soup your mom made

It’s a tradtional Lao recipe
Would you like another bowl?

Thank you
I think I’ve had enough soup for now

Would you like to try our homemade liquor?
My dad just went to get a couple bottles

A little home brew would be very welcome

There’s my dad

Hey, Scott
You sing well

Thank you, Chief

Would you like a drink?


Shall we begin with a banana liqueur
or some jackfruit wine?

Both sound good
Let’s start with the jackfruit wine

Jackfruit it is

The chief poured three glasses
and then lifted his and said,
To impermanence,
without which you would not have been able
to join us this evening

To impermanence,
said Scott and Syri

And then the three of them
had a bit more to drink

♫ ♫ ♫

Do you dance, Scott?

I’ve been known to move to the groove

We don’t completely trust people
who don’t dance
It’s time for the lam vong

 And then Syri led Scott back to the fire,
where they joined the circle
and began to dance

♫ ♫ ♫

What a great dance:
slow and graceful

We like to do things slowly
What’s the hurry?

Slow is good

I see my grandmother over there
I’ll introduce you

So Scott followed Syri
to a big tamarind tree,
below which sat an old woman
embroidering a shirt

Grandma, this is Scott
Scott this my grandmother
She is our shaman

Good evening, ma’am

Good evening

That’s a beautiful design

It tells a story

In Peru there are women who drink ayahuasca in ceremony
and then the next day embroider their visions

This story is something like that

Do you use sacred plants?

Plant medicine is a part of our ceremonies
We’re having a ceremony the day after tomorrow
and you are welcome to participate

Thank you
I’d like that very much

Go back to the party now
We’ll talk again

So Scott and Syri took leave of the shaman
and headed back to the fire

Feel like playing us another one of your songs?


So Scott took out his guitar
and one of his harmonicas
and began to play
The Long Way Home

And after a while
some of the fiddlers and khene players
joined him

♫ ♫ ♫

That was a pretty long song, Scott

I like to enjoy the journey

You’re beginning to sound like one of us

Maybe we’re not so different

We are different expressions of the same thing

We interare


The harmonica and the khene sound good together

Yes, they are in harmony
Will you sing us another song?


And so Scott played and sang
song after song
together with the villagers
until almost everyone
had wandered off to bed

♫ ♫ ♫

Are you going to stay up a bit longer, Scott,
or shall we let the fire go out?

I’m about ready to lie down

How about singing us a lullaby?

I think I can do that

So Scott took out his guitar once more
and sang
Lullaby for Māyā
for Syri and the few others
who were lying around the fading embers

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you, Scott
for sharing your music with us

Thank you, Syri
for inviting me to the party

I’m off to bed



As Syri walked off to her hut,
Scott packed up his instruments
Then he went to his hut and lay down
and listened to the frogs and crickets sing
as he drifted off to sleep

♫ ♫ ♫

Good morning, Scott

Good morning, Chief

How’d you sleep?

Very well, thank you

Would you like to come with me down to the paddies
and watch the rice grow?


So Scott and the chief walked down to the rice paddies
and watched the rice grow
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Morning, Scott

Hi, Syri

Morning, Dad

Morning, Syri

Are you hungry, Scott?
Breakfast is just about ready
Fruit and soup

Fruit and some soup sounds great

Papaya and banana are in season now,
and so is magenta dragon fruit
It’s great with goat’s milk,
and our goats eat weed,
so there’s THC in the milk

Right on

So Scott had breakfast
with Syri and her family,
and then he went back
to watch the rice grow
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Notice any change?

I think it’s grown a little taller

The more you pay attention and observe,
the more you’ll see
Is that a flute in your bag?

It is

The rice might enjoy hearing you play

You might be right

So Scott took out his flute
and began to play
for the rice

♫ ♫ ♫

That was beautiful, Scott
The rice will probably grow a bit more than usual today
You play your instruments with love
It can feel love and responds

Do you talk to the rice?



Would you like to go see some caves?


They’re about two kilometers east of here
It’s a nice walk through a banana grove
On the way back you can help me carry some bananas


So Syri and Scott set off for the caves,
listening to bird calls
along the way

♫ ♫ ♫

This cave was used as a shelter
during the war
Now we just come here sometimes
and hang out
The acoustics are pretty good,
so sometimes we music here
Can you play a ncaas?
I brought two

I can try

So Syri and Scott made music with the cave
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

It’s almost lunchtime
Let’s get some bananas and go back


So Scott and Syri climbed down to the banana grove,
cut down a few bunches of bananas,
and headed back to the village

♫ ♫ ♫

Do you have a knife, Scott?

I’ve got a pocket camping knife, Chief

You’ll need something a bit bigger
if you’re going to stay here
I’ll be right back

The Chief headed off towards his hut
and shortly returned

This dagger belonged my father
He made it himself
and now it’s yours
Keep it sharp and carry it with you when you go for a walk
If a python grabs you,
don’t hesitate to use it

It’s beautiful

The handle and sheath are rosewood
and the blade is steel

Chief, you’re too kind
It should stay in your family

You are part of the family now, Scott
While you were at the cave we had a meeting
The village has adopted you

I’m honored, Chief
Thank you

And you’ll be needing a machete
This one will serve you well

She’s a beauty too

Cocowood handle,
water buffalo leather sheath,
and the steel is very strong

You’re too generous

Not at all
How would you be able to cut down a bunch of bananas
or open a coconut
without one?

Thank you, Chief

That’s the lunch gong
Let’s go eat

And so Scott and the chief
joined the others
and ate lunch

♫ ♫ ♫

The papaya salad is delicious

It’s my grandmother’s recipe
Have some more

So Scott ate a bit more,
and after lunch,
while the others were napping,
he tied his dagger to his belt,
picked up his machete
and went for a walk

♫ ♫ ♫

Scott made friends
with a number of dogs along the way,
and one of them decided to tag along
Together they walked
through fields and among trees,
collecting seeds and flowers
as they wandered

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Scott
Nice flowers

A few are for my hut
and the rest are for you and your family

Thank you, Scott

And I got some seeds
from a few of the plants
If you don’t mind,
I’ll plant them around my hut

Go ahead
Plant whatever you like
I see you’ve met Mango

Yes, she joined me on my walk

She’s a good companion
We’re shelling peanuts under the cashew tree
Want to help?


So Scott joined Syri
and a few other women
and shelled peanuts
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Good afternoon, Scott

Good afternoon, Chief

I would like to show you something

So Scott followed the chief
into the jungle
to a clearing

Seen one of these before, Scott?

That’s a pretty big bomb, Chief

There’s a few them around here
Presents from the CIA
One guy opened one and lost his life
Since then, whenever we find one,
we just clear the area around it
so that nobody bumps into it
by accident

Good idea

I’ve heard there are NGOs that go around defusing these things,
but they never come here
Do you know how to read and write, Scott?

More or less

A friend in another village found this book in Vientiane,
but the language is a bit technical for me
Do you understand it?

The Chief handed Scott his copy of
How to Defuse Unexploded Ordnance

Scott had a look
and then said,
Um . . . I understand most of the words,
and in theory it seems pretty straightforward,
but this bomb has been here for quite some time
and it is probably not very stable
I suggest we get an expert to help us

Yes, that would be best

Perhaps for now we could plant a ring of trees around it
to absorb the shrapnel if it explodes

Good idea, Scott

Perhaps even a triple ring

Yes, three rings would be good:
teak for the inner ring,
rosewood for the middle
and lenke for the outer ring

Good choices
I didn’t know that lenke grows here

The French brought it with them
from colonies in Africa
It’s great for drums

It would be nice to make a drum

We’re planning on making some more soon
You can make one too
There’s a lenke grove in the Valley of the Elephants


We’ll plant the trees the day after tomorrow
The medicine ceremony is tomorrow night,
so we’ll rest all day and not eat

Sounds good, Chief
How did you learn to speak English so well?

I spent a year in Luang Prabang
during the civil war

At a school?

No, working
I didn’t go to school
I’m natural

I think I spent way too much time in school
There’s not much I learned there
that I still use

We homeschool our children
and teach them practical things
like how to build a hut,
grow food,
make clothes
and kill a python

A roof to sleep under,
food to eat and clothes wear,
What more do you need?

A good knife and a machete

And maybe some flowers

Yes, some flowers
and bees

Bees are cool

In a day we can build a hut that will last about five years,
we make our clothes from hemp,
so they last a long long time,
and most of the food we eat grows by itself
We encourage it a bit with buffalo dung and compost,
and sometimes we apply a mixture of oils, herbs and spices
to keep pests away

Organic and sustainable

The traditional way


We live simply and have a lot of free time
to meditate,
make music,
do nothing
and just be

What a great way to live

Would you like sit in the sauna before dinner?

I’d love to sit in the sauna

It’s in the hill near the big avocado tree

So Scott and the chief walked back to the village
and over to the big avocado tree
Then the chief led Scott into a small cave
and down a few meters below ground
to a sturdy wooden door

Here we are:
our subterranean sauna
There’s a cold spring just a few meters further into the cave
and a deep pool
We can bathe there before going in

It’s surprisingly light in here

There’s a natural skylight above the pool

So Scott and the chief disrobed
and jumped into the cool pool
before heading into the herbal sauna

♫ ♫ ♫

It’s pretty hot in here, Chief

We’ll take a break and jump into the pool again soon

And it smells really good

We use a lot of herbs
Some people say thirty-two is the the perfect number,
but in our village we use thirty-three

Scott and the chief sat in silence for a bit longer,
and then they went out and jumped back into the pool

♫ ♫ ♫

I think I know what the thirty-third herb is, Chief
You put weed in the mix, don’t you?

That we do

You guys really know how to have a sauna

Vapor is much easier on the lungs than smoke
It’s a nice way to ease into the evening
Let’s go back in

So Scott and the chief went back inside
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

I think I just heard the dinner gong, Chief

Then it’s time to go back

So Scott and the Chief climbed out of the pool,
got dressed
and headed over to the kitchen

♫ ♫ ♫

Smells good, Syri

 Spicy steamed catfish
Just caught it

What can I do to help?

You could sing us a song


So Scott went and got his guitar,
and when he returned,
he played and sang
High in the Subterranean Sauna

♫ ♫ ♫

That was delicious
Thank you

My mom cooks pretty well
You’ll need to stay here about a year
if you want to try all our dishes

The temptation is strong

I’m going to the Valley of the Elephants tomorrow morning
to gather mushrooms
Would you like to come with me?


I’m going to bed early tonight
See you in the morning

Goodnight, Syri

While Syri walked off in the direction of her hut
Scott and the chief sat in silence,
observing the embers
of the cooking fire

♫ ♫ ♫

Do you know any more lullabys, Scott?

I know Lullaby for a Fire

Let’s hear it

And so Scott tuned his guitar
and then played and sang
for the chief and the fire
before saying goodnight
and going to bed

♫ ♫ ♫

Morning, Scott

Morning, Syri

Thought I’d find you here
Watching the rice grow
can be addictive

It’s very relaxing

It’s time to gather mushrooms

So Scott got up and followed Syri
to the Valley of the Elephants

♫ ♫ ♫

See the python up there?


Don’t walk under the cashew tree
It might drop down and try to squeeze you

I see it now
It’s enormous

And perhaps hungry
Let’s go this way
It’s not much further
You can hear the elephants trumpeting

♫ ♫ ♫

It’s beautiful here

The elephants keep it nice
They only take what they need,
they don’t knock down all the trees and take them away

Elephants are smart

A lot smarter than some people
Let’s gather mushrooms
I’ll show you which ones to look for
They grow in elephant dung
I see one over there

So Syri introduced Scott
to the local magic mushrooms,
and then they wandered around
collecting mushrooms
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

My basket is full, Syri

So is mine

Let’s go back

We’ve got a lot of mushrooms

We prefer to take a high dosage
Eating only a few is not enough for serious work
Mushrooms are medicine
We don’t take them for fun

Syri thanked the elephants
for their help
and then she and Scott headed back
to the village

 ♫ ♫ ♫

Here you are, grandma
We gathered the ones on the eastern side of the river

Well done, child
Scott, your medicine shirt is ready
Please wear it tonight during the ceremony

The shaman then handed Scott the shirt
that she had been embroidering

It will help you on your journey tonight
Syri helped with the translation

Scott examined the shirt and noticed among
the intricate patterns
a number of phrases on the sleeves:
Be here now
Pay attention
Have no fear
This too will pass
Observe carefully
Be mindful

It’s extraordinary
Thank you

The ceremony begins at eight
We meet in the ceremonial hut
Get some rest

Scott and Syri took leave of the shaman
and went to their huts
to rest

♫ ♫ ♫

The medicine gong rang out three times,
deeply and slowly

Scott opened his eyes,
got out of his hammock,
put on his new shirt
and got ready for the ceremony

Shortly he joined the others
in the ceremonial hut
and sat down in the circle
between Syri and the chief

The gong rang out again three times
and then the door was closed
All of the candles but one were blown out
and the shaman began to sing

♫ ♫ ♫

When she stopped singing
silence took over


And after a while the shaman went around the room
filling the bowl in front of each person
with mushrooms

And when she had again sat down,
everyone began to eat

And then while waiting
for the medicine to take effect
the villagers sat in silence


An hour later the shaman began again to sing
her medicine songs,
and the mushrooms began to teach their lessons

♫ ♫ ♫

Scott opened his eyes,
looked at his shirt
and knew that all was well
And then the night continued
in silence and in song

rest and music

And by the time the birds began to sing,
the mushrooms had made everything clear
and Scott understood his true nature

He noticed that his guitar case was near the door,
so he got his guitar and tuned it
and then played and sang his own medicine song,
a song that had come to him in the night,
a wordless chant called
Beyond Words

♫ ♫ ♫

Afterwards Scott and the other villagers
wandered back to their huts
to rest
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Good morning, Scott

Morning, Syri

How’s the rice?

It’s growing steadily

Lunch is almost ready


So Scott walked with Syri
to the kitchen
and enjoyed yet another
fabulous meal

♫ ♫ ♫

That was delicious, ma’am

I’m glad you like our food, Scott

Is it time to plant the trees, Chief?

That it is
Some of the guys dug the holes this morning
We can dig up some saplings now

So Scott, the chief and a few others gathered
33 teak,
66 rosewood
and 99 lenke saplings
and then replanted them around the bomb

They’ll grow quickly here
Everything grows quickly here
And if we give them a bit of compost now and then,
they’ll soon be able to protect us from the bomb

Are there any other bombs around here, Chief?

They’re all over the place

If you show me where they are,
over the coming days I can plant trees around them

Sounds like you’re thinking about staying with us for a while

This is a great place to be

You’re welcome to stay as long as you like
And if you design a hut,
we’ll help you build it

I’d love to design and build a hut

Let me know where you would like it to be
and I’ll put it to the Council of Elders for approval

Thank you, Chief

Let’s go bathe in the river
before the sun goes down

So Scott and the chief put away their tools
and then walked down to the river
and had a bath

♫ ♫ ♫

We should celebrate your decision to stay, Scott
We’ll make a fire after dinner

A fire would be great

Let’s head back
It’s almost time for dinner

So Scott and the chief dried off,
and as they were getting dressed,
the dinner gong rang out
three times

♫ ♫ ♫

This bamboo root is delicious

It’s one of my favorites dishes

Your mom is an excellent cook

She loves to cook
She puts love into everything she does
That’s why it tastes so good

You want to build the fire, Scott?

Sure, Chief

So Scott prepared the fire,
and soon it was burning nicely
All the villagers came with their instruments
to welcome Scott again,
this time as a new member of the village

I’ve got a big pile of rocks you can use for a foundation, Scott

And I’ve got plenty of reeds for a roof

And there’s a lot of dried bamboo behind my hut you can use for framing

If you prefer mud bricks, we can make some tomorrow

Thank you, friends

How about singing us a song, Scott?

I’d love to sing a song

So Scott went and got his guitar,
tuned it to the Laotian vibe
and then began to play and sing
Welcome Home

♫ ♫ ♫

The party lasted for hours,
and finally only Scott and the chief were left

The fire has gone into hiding

I’ll see if I can find it, Chief

Scott blew on the embers
and a small flame arose

Tomorrow morning we’re going to look for a lenke tree
to make some drums with
You are welcome to help us choose one,
and you can use part of the tree for your drum

Thank you, Chief
I’d like that

It’s bedtime for me, Scott

Goodnight, Chief

So the chief wandered off to bed
and Scott kept the fire company
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

into the kula

Into the kula 

Scott released another song
into the kula,
and as it made its way
from living room to living room,
folks began to imagine
a different way of living

♫ ♫ ♫

Upon seeing that his fridge
was bereft of beer,
Scott headed down
to the local bar

Hey, Scott
That new song of yours is pretty good

Thanks, brother

A folk song about fringe folk
It’s inspired the whole neighborhood
to be just who they really are

Right on

What’ll you have?

A pint of dark

Excellent choice
I’ll have one too

And so Scott and the barkeep
drank and talked
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Evenin’, Scott

Hey, man

You gonna sing tonight?

I just came by for a beer

Beer is comprised of non-beer elements

And a song is composed of non-song elements

That it is

Sounds like you’ve been listening to Thich Nhat Hanh

He was in town last week
and I went to one of his talks

My glass is empty of beer

Mine too

Frank, could we get a couple more pints?

Coming right up

Thich Nhat Hanh is alright

Yeah, he’s pretty cool

Everything is interconnected

And impermanent

This beer and I interare

And we are drinking mindfully

Perhaps it’s time for a song
Mind if I play the house guitar, Frank?

She’s been waiting all night for you to ask

So Scott got the guitar and tuned it,
and then began to play
Coffee in the Morning, Beer at Night

♫ ♫ ♫

the other side of the other side

The other side of the other side

Der Wanderer ist dem Lärm der anderen Seite entflohen
über den Hügel
zu der anderen Seite der anderen Seite 

♫ ♫ ♫

Elegante Einfachheit,
österreichische Qualität:

Ein Ort,
an dem Ruhe herrscht

A place
to just

♫ ♫ ♫



Tue nichts,
empfahl der Gastgeber 

Sei still,
empfahl der Stein

Sei einfach da
und jetzt,
meinten die Zauberpilze

♫ ♫ ♫


Vom Zauberstein strömte
eine Stille,
und unter dem Zauberbaum kehrte
ein sanftes Wesen

♫ ♫ ♫

sang die Gastgeberin
als sie ihre Trommel spielte
Sei frei!

♫ ♫ ♫

Hanumans Heimat

Peterpower und Peterstil

Blumen voller Einsicht

Tiere voller Liebe

Das Wesentliche,
frisch and fein

Ein einfaches Dasein


♫ ♫ ♫

make music, not noise

Make music, not noise

Word spread
throughout Hanoi
that there was a street cleaner who made music
as she collected the trash
Other street cleaners began to do the same,
and soon the entire city was full
of merry music makers

♫ ♫ ♫

It’s wonderful,
said the locals
The street cleaners have inspired us all
to make music instead of noise

♫ ♫ ♫

Then one day
a local official decided to organize
Hanoi’s first Trash Cart Music Festival
at Hàng Đẫy Stadium

The street cleaners began
to polish their compositions
and to meet once a week in small groups
to improvize and jam together

Some added gongs, triangles, additional bells
and a few other things
of varying shape and size
to their carts
in order to increase the range
of possibilities

♫ ♫ ♫

On the day of the event
the stadium was filled to capacity
All the street cleaners in Hanoi had gathered there,
and before a panel of judges
each one played her cart in turn

The crowd cheered and applauded
at the end of each piece,
and after the last woman had played,
the judges announced their decisions

Five million đồng was awarded
to the winner of each category:
most original composition;
composistion most pleasing to listen to;
and most creative collection of objects used to create music

Five hundred thousand đồng was given
to each of the participants
so that they could buy more instruments
for their carts

And for the grand finale
all the women played together,
improvising their way
into the realm of legend

♫ ♫ ♫

the street cleaner

The street cleaner

Hoa made a few last stops to pick up garbage,
striking her bell at each stop
in the typical, boring way
Then she returned her cart,
went home and washed,
had something to eat
and went to bed

♫ ♫ ♫

She rose at 5 am,
prepared to leave for work,
and soon was out the door

She paused for a bowl of phở[1] along the way
and then again to pick up her trash cart,
and before long she had reached
her first stop of the day

Like every day,
at every stop,
she took out her metal rod
and prepared to strike her bell
to inform people that it was time
to bring out their trash

On that day, however,
something unusual happened:
A few moments after she began
to bang away at the bell,
three drummers appeared
and began to play with her

Although taken by surprise,
she banged away as usual,
clang, clang, clang, clang, clang,
while the drummers accompanied her
with a steady rhythm

♫ ♫ ♫

And when Hoa stopped banging,
the drummers vanished
She collected the trash and put it in her cart,
swept the area nearby
and continued on to the next trash tree[2]

When she got to her second stop,
she again began to bang on her bell,
and this time a different group of musicians
came out to play
and accompanied her monotonous banging
on triangles and cow bells

♫ ♫ ♫

And when she stopped,
they disappeared

Hoa picked up the garbage
and then pushed her cart
to the next collection point,
and this time when musicians turned up,
with gongs and wooden bells,
she altered her banging,
got into the rhythm
and made music

♫ ♫ ♫

The next time Hoa stopped
was at a tree near the cathedral
The bells began to ring
and she joined in

♫ ♫ ♫

And at the following tree
a musician with a stone xylophone appeared,
and together they created
something beautiful

♫ ♫ ♫

And for the rest of the day,
every time Hoa stopped to pick up some trash,
one or more people came out,
sometimes large numbers of people,
and made music with her,
using rhythm sticks,
pot and pans,
and anything else they could find

♫ ♫ ♫

The following morning
when she got to the first tree,
she began to play her bell
in such a beautiful way
that people came out just to listen

No other musicians joined her that day,
but she didn’t care
She was quite happy
making music alone

♫ ♫ ♫

[1] Phở is a noodle soup, usually chicken noodle or beef noodle, and it contains a variety of herbs and spices. The Vietnamese love to eat phở for breakfast.

[2] In Hanoi people park their motorbikes on the sidewalk, so when they put trash in the street, they put it in front of a tree. If they put it just anywhere along the curb, it might block motorbike access to the sidewalk.

the tea den

The tea den

From his sitting room window
Ricci looked down at the street
and decided to go for a walk

Through a labyrinth of passageways and staircases
he descended
East or West?
he asked himself
and then decided to go left

♫ ♫ ♫

Upon reaching one of his usual haunts,
Ricci entered,
sat down
and waited for the girl to bring him
a pot of tea

♫ ♫ ♫

It’s an auspicious day
for a tea ceremony
said the sole other patron in the café

As Ricci gave an Indian head wobble in reply
the man rose and continued,
Here’s my card
We begin at seven sharp
Good morning
And then he left the café

Entheogenic Tea Ceremony
@ The Tea Den
33 Tisane Lane

murmured Ricci
as he lay the card on the table
He poured himself another cup of tea
and then observed the flow
of people walking by

♫ ♫ ♫

Ricci put the card in pocket,
paid for his tea
and stepped outside
A number 13 bus was approaching
and when it stopped,
Ricci got on

Welcome aboard,
said the driver

This is a nice ride you’ve got

Newest addition to the fleet
She’s got solar panels on the roof and wifi,
and by pressing this button
I can make red lights turn green


Ricci then chose a seat
and rode
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

What’s your name, Mister?

My name is Ricci

Where’re you going?

I don’t know
Wherever this bus is taking me

What do you do?

I sit, I walk
and sometimes I take the bus

After a while the child stopped asking questions,
and then Ricci enjoyed the view
in silence

♫ ♫ ♫

At the end of the line
Ricci got off
He looked around
and then began to walk back
to the center of town

♫ ♫ ♫

Nice coat

It is what it is,
Ricci replied

Purple is cool

The deeper the better

The light turned green
and Ricci crossed the street

♫ ♫ ♫

Looking for anything in particular?

What can you recommend?

A Ya Ho Wha 13 album just came in

Which one?

Penetration: An Aquarian Symphony

Father Yod at his best

So they say

Got any Sun Ra?


I’ll take both

Ricci paid for the records,
thanked the man
and left the shop

♫ ♫ ♫

Can I interest you
in a book on the solar system?

I’m an inner space traveler

I’ve got The Art of Living by Goenka 

Remain equanimous

And I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj

I am

So you’ve read that one too

Got anything by Terence McKenna?

Food of the Gods

I’ll take it

Ricci paid the man
and then continued his walk through the park

♫ ♫ ♫

Back in his flat,
Ricci put on the Ya Ho Wha 13,
made a pot of indica tea
and read
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Ricci glanced at the photo of Meher Baba on his wall,
went to the Dharma Seed website
and downloaded a talk,
and then listened
while the late afternoon light
flowed by

♫ ♫ ♫

At 6:15 Ricci began
to make his way to The Tea Den
It wasn’t far,
but he prefered
to never be in a hurry

♫ ♫ ♫

Good evening
Come in
Welcome to our den

Nice place

Once a year we invite someone new
to join us
This year it was my turn to choose

I see

We gather here
once a month
and drink
Last month we had peyote tea
and the month before, San Pedro
Tonight we are drinking mushroom tea,
and the ceremony is about to begin
The others are in the den

Ricci followed the man
into a  candlelit room
Thirteen soft archairs,
arranged in a circle,
surrounded a wooden table
upon which a china tea service was laid out

Friends, this is Ricci

Introductions were made
and Ricci was offered a chair

We stay together
in this room
until the ceremony is over
and maintain silence
unless exceptionally inspired
Respect for the medicine
is imperative

The tea was poured
and all but one candle blown out
Ricci drank his tea,
closed his eyes
and waited
for Mushrooms to arrive

♫ ♫ ♫

Time faded away
and Mushrooms began to teach
Ricci became the flow
and ceased to exist

♫ ♫ ♫

As time began to return
and dawn neared,
the ceremony came to an end

That was some pretty strong tea

Panaeolus cyanescen

Thank you for inviting me

We meet on the third Thursday of each month
You’ll always be welcome

Then Ricci and the others parted,
leaving the house
one by one

♫ ♫ ♫

living among mushrooms

Living among mushrooms 

Morning, Luke

Morning, Mushroms

Had breakfast yet?

Not yet, guys

How long has it been
since your last tune up?

 It’s been a few weeks

And how’ve you been?

I’ve been feeling slightly out of tune
for the past few days

Well, we’ve got some pretty potent medicine
and we’ll be around
for a day or two

Thanks, guys
Perhaps on my way back

We’ll be here, Luke
One for the road?


And so Luke ate
a mushroom
and then continued on his walk
in the countryside

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Luke

Man, you guys are everywhere today

Some elephants were here a couple nights ago
and left their dung all over the place,
and then it rained yesterday morning
and was sunny all afternoon
Perfect conditions for us


Feelin’ hungry?

Kind of

Fresh is best

 It is a nice day
to go on a journey

We’re ready

And so Luke and Mushrooms merged,
and the illusion of separateness
faded away

♫ ♫ ♫

Sit like a stone
for a while,
murmured a gentle wind

So in silence Luke sat and thought
about nothing
at all

♫ ♫ ♫

Observing the subtle vibration
flowing throughout,
Luke got up
and walked on

Hey, Luke

Hey, Thoughts
You’re back

Mind if we entertain you
for a while?

Not right now, guys
Best you just flow on
I’ll watch as you pass by

Are you sure?
We can be
whatever you want us to be:
Anger, Fear, Jealousy, Pride
We can dwell on the past
or worry about the future
Just tell us what you’d like
to feel

Man, how about you guys
just leave me alone for a while
I’ll let you know
when I need some thinking done

Alright, Luke
We’ll be here
Just water our seeds
and give us a little attention
and we’ll thrive

And so,
free of thoughts,
Luke ambled on

♫ ♫ ♫

Greetings, Luke

Hey there, Elephant
Good to see you again

I see you’ve eaten

Thanks for your help

Anytime, Luke
Watch out for thoughts
They’re around

They keep trying to distract me

Thoughts, sensations, emotions,
they come right at you sometimes,
like a spear or a web,
they wound or entangle
those who nurture them

They try to occupy
and control my mind

I simply observe thoughts
and they lose their power over me

Yeah, vipassana meditation:
Observe the flow
and remain equanimous
Have you taken a Goenka course?

It comes naturally to us,
but sometimes I listen from a distance
I like the sound of his voice

Goenkaji is gone,
but his teaching remains

I recommend his course
to all humans

Yeah, me too
You feel like playing frisbee?

Sure, Luke

And so Luke took out his frisbee
and he and Elephant played
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

I’m gonna to get going, Elephant

Alright, Luke
Be well

You can keep the frisbee
I’ve got another one at home

Thank you, Luke
There’re a few others in the herd
who enjoy playing

See you around

Later, Luke

And then Luke set off
down the path

♫ ♫ ♫

Afternoon, Luke

Hello, Spider
That’s a pretty web you’re weaving

It’s a new design
This is the prototype


It can support more weight
than previous webs
It’s a new kind of weave

That’s awesome
Could you make me a hammock?

I could,
but you might never be able to get out of it
I do, however, have something else
you might be interested in:
silk strings for your guitar

I’d love some silk strings

I see you have a seven string guitar

It’s got an infrasound string
Most people can’t hear it,
but elephants can
I use it when I play
at elephant parties

I’ve got a set ready for a six-string guitar,
and I can weave an infrasound string now
if you feel like waiting

I’m not in a hurry

Me either
Never am

Slow is good

And so while waiting for Spider
to make the seventh string,
Luke put the other six on his guitar
and played
while Spider wove

♫ ♫ ♫

These strings sound great

Glad you like ’em, Luke
Here’s the infrasound string

Thank you, Spider
What do I owe you?

Nothing at all
Please accept them as a gift

That’s very kind of you
Thank you

You’re welcome, Luke

It’ll be dark soon,
so I best be on my way

Alright, Luke
Watch out for those webs over there
They’re my negative vibe filters
They help to keep the vibe positive

Right on
I’ll be careful
Enjoy the sunset, Spider

Take care, Luke

And as Luke walked
towards the setting sun,
he heard a call to howl
off in the distance
And as he drew nearer,
a dog chorus began to sing

♫ ♫ ♫

Evening, Luke

Hello, Dog

I saw you playing frisbee with Elephant earlier
Maybe sometime you and I could play

I’d love to
Do you live around here?

See that dude in rastaflage over there?


That’s my house
I share it with him

I’ll bring a frisbee
the next time I come this way

We’re having a howling session
over by the big tree
Want to join us?


And so Luke followed Dog
over to the big tree,
joined the group
and began to howl

♫ ♫ ♫

You howl well, Luke

Thanks, guys

You’re welcome to join us
whenever you’re in the neighborhood
We’re going home for dinner now
Come again soon

I will

And as the dogs headed home,
Luke sat down under the tree
and oberved the early evening sky

♫ ♫ ♫

Greetings, Luke

Hey there, Python

Don’t worry
I’ve already had dinner
Just thought I’d see
if you wanted to hang out for a while

Pull up a log

And so Luke and Python
sat in silence
and remained equanimous

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you, Luke
It was a pleasure
enjoying silence with you

Most talk
just adds flavor to essence,
and not all flavors are palatable

Quiet is queen
among us

That’s awesome

I’m going to take off

Alright, Python
Be well

Goodnight, Luke


And as Python climbed up into the tree,
Luke began to make his way home,
guided by the light of the moon

♫ ♫ ♫

Greetings, Luke

 Hello, Tortoise

You’re walking almost as slowly as I am

Slow is good

Slow is excellent


Gives one a chance
to be mindful

Being mindful is good

Mushrooms are good too


Perhaps if all humans were to eat them,
a more sustainable paradigm
for living on earth
would come to be

A shift towards love
for the earth and all beings

You understand

And then Luke and Tortoise
walked side by side
while the moon and the stars
slowly flowed by

♫ ♫ ♫

Well, this is where I call home
I’m going to go sleep under that boulder over there

Okay, Tortoise
It’s been nice walking with you

Goodnight, Luke
See you around

And then Luke wandered
in the general direction
of his home

♫ ♫ ♫

Upon hearing the sound of a violin
off in the distance,
Luke stopped
and listened for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

When he opened his eyes,
Luke saw that he was surround by frogs
They beckoned him to follow
and then hopped in the direction
of the violin

Thank you, Frogs,
said Violin Girl

The frogs hopped off
and she put down her violin

I’m Feather

I’m Luke
That’s an extraordinary violin you’ve got there,
and you play it well

Most five-string fiddles
have an extra low string
This one has an ultrasound string instead
I use it to communicate with bats and frogs
and a few other animals

That’s cool
So you sent the frogs

I asked them to invite you here

That piece you played was haunting
and beautiful,
and it seemed to last for hours

It did
You were sitting out there
for about three hours

A song should never be hurried

Would you like a cup of tea?

I’d love a cup of tea

And so Feather brewed
a pot of tea
and then they drank in silence
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

I usually meditate around this time
Would you like to join me?


Mushrooms and meditation,
a powerful combination

One of my favorites

And so Luke and Feather meditated
while the crickets and the frogs sang
and the owls hooted hello

♫ ♫ ♫

I see you’ve met Spider

Yes, she gave me these strings

She also wove the strings
that are on this fiddle
Shall we play?


And so Luke tuned his guitar
to Feather’s fiddle,
and then they played
and infra-ultrasonic song
for all the creatures
walking by

♫ ♫ ♫

The sun is rising
I’ll be on my way
Thank you for the tea

You have a home here, brother,
and will always be welcome

Thank you, sister

And then Luke gathered his things
and set off
down the path

♫ ♫ ♫



Könntest du mir sagen
wie spät es ist?

Es ist überhaupt nicht spät

Vielen dank,
sagte der Ingo,
und ging dann weiter 

♫ ♫ ♫

Servus, Freund
Könntest du mir sagen,
wo ich bin? 


. . . und wie spät es ist?


Danke, flüsterte der Ingo,
und ging dann weiter 

♫ ♫ ♫

Was machst du hier?

Ich bin halt da

Wohin willst du?


Wer bist du denn?

Ja, eigentlich niemand

Und wer sonst? 

Na ja, Gott bin ich auch

So ist es
Spielen wir Schach?

Ja, gerne

Was sonst?
Du kennst die Regeln?

Sie sind wie die Regeln
des Lebens


Und so der Ingo
und der Türhüter spielten,
während nichts passierte

♫ ♫ ♫

Weißt du,
was auf der anderen Seite
der Tür liegt?

Sogar die Tür
ist nicht einmal wirklich da 

Das meditieren tut gut, gell?

Zauberpilze tun auch gut


Dann saßen die bieden Götter
eine Weile lang
in Ruhe

♫ ♫ ♫

Also, Freund
Ich gehe jetzt 

Na gut
Ist recht


Und so nahm der Ingo Abschied,
und ging dann weiter
die Grenze zwischen Sein
und Nichtsein

bed head

Bed head

this bottle is on me

What’s the occasion?

My new book has come out

Cool, man
What’s it about?

It’s called
Somewhere Between Almost Combed
And Pure Bed head

 Right on

It’s about finding the right balance,
the right edge
on which to live
I met a semi-wild girl
living on the edge
of a jungle,
and the book is about
her way of being


She has a stable connection with reality,
she doesn’t create any drama,
she lives in harmony with nature
and every night she sings
a subaudible song
in the jungle

Is that sort of like infrasound?

It is
Most people can’t hear her sing,
but some animals can,
and whether one hears her or not,
the effect remains the same
It’s the power of intention that matters

What’s her intention?

It depends on the song
Usually she sings
to promote compassion
and love

That’s cool
Are you going to sing tonight?

 Maybe a bit later

And so Scott and his friends
enjoyed their whiskey
while Will Oldham
finished his set

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Sott

Hey, Will

Those were some pretty nice songs

Thanks, brother
Glad you could make it
Devendra’s not here yet
You feel like playing for a bit?

Sure, man

I’ll introduce you
this is Scott
His songs will take you on a journey
to a place from which you will never return
to the way you were

Dude, you’re too kind

And then Scott took out his guitar
walked on the stage
and played a song about breaking free
from the paradigm
of having to pay money
just to be

♫ ♫ ♫

Great song, man

Thank you, sister

Only humans are so greedy
as to try and control
all the land
and make others pay
to use it

some people can be pretty lame

paying rent sucks


I’m 彩虹

My name’s Scott
I’m going to play another song now


Ladies and gentleman,
this next song is about
living the dream
in the absence of sincerity
among the mendacious businessmen and politicians
who keep trying to exploit
the rest of us

And then Scott played and sang
with power
and conviction

♫ ♫ ♫

That one was pretty good too

Thank you, Rainbow

You understand Mandarin!

I do

Can you play a subtle song?

I think I can do that
I’ll play one more
and then Devendra will come up
and play some of his

And then Scott sang and played
a song of love
in Mandarin

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Scott

Hey, Devendra

Your songs are original and real
People quiet down and listen
to what you have to say
Thank you for sharing

Those are mighty kind words

Let’s have tea tomorrow afternoon
There’s someone I’d like you to meet:
A record producer
who I think would be interested
in recording you

Dude, that’d be awesome
Thank you, brother

Devendra then took the stage
and Scott sat down
at Rainbow’s table

What’ll you have, Scott?

I’m drinking whiskey tonight

Me too

And so Scott and Rainbow
had a bit to drink
and talked a bit more
while Devendra sang
about a sight to behold

♫ ♫ ♫

Where do you live, Scott?

I’m living a peripatetic lifestyle
at the moment
and have only an abstract address

No problem
We can go to my place
if you like

I’ll say goodnight
to my friends

And so Scott had a drink for the road
with his friends,
and then he and Rainbow
took off



Welcome to my garden

Thank you
for inviting me in
It’s beautiful

You’ve passed by before

I’m Luke

And I’m Flower
Shall we go for a walk?

I’d love to

This is Karuna
Let’s walk at her pace

Sounds good
Hi, Karuna


Do you eat mushrooms, Luke?

I love mushrooms
Do they grow around here?

Several kinds
live in my garden:

Psilocybe cubensis and Psilocybe cyanescens mostly,
but a few others
have made a home here

What do you think the chance is
of finding mushrooms today?

Pretty good, I’d say
It rained yesterday morning
and then it was sunny all afternoon
Shall we go and have a look?


And so Flower and Luke
ventured further
into the garden
in search of mushrooms

♫ ♫ ♫

Does Karuna often follow you
when you go for a walk?

and sometimes I follow her
when she decides to explore
I have learned a lot from her:
She takes care of her basic needs,
which are few,
and then she relaxes
She travels light
and is very patient,
she is quite happy alone
and also enjoys the company of others,
and she doesn’t feel the need
to always be doing something
She spends most of her time sleeping,
and the rest playing or hunting
or just hanging out

That’s excellent

And she seldom speaks,
just now and then
to convey something essential
or to add a bit of flavor
to what is going on

Right on
Silence is cool

Live like a cat, Luke,
and enjoy the dream

I’ve been slowing down lately,
doing less,
observing more
and simply being,
meditative being
And I think I see some of our little friends over there, Flower

I think you’re right, Luke
Let’s have a look

And so Luke and Flower walked over
to where some mushrooms were growing,
sat down
and began to eat

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Flower
Did you see the rainbow yesterday?

I sure did
It landed here in my garden

Rainbows are cool

Rainbows are medicine


♫ ♫ ♫

There’s a lot of pretty flowers
in your garden, Flower

Shall we continue our walk?
We can stop and smell the flowers
along the way

That sounds great

Let’s go

And so Luke, Karuna and Flower
continued their walk
in silence,
greeting and smelling
the flowers they met

♫ ♫ ♫

Flowers are cool

They’re very cool,
and we can learn from them too
Flowers never get angry or sad
They enjoy both the sun and the rain
And they don’t mind dying
They just are
Live like a flower, Luke
Just be

Let’s sit for a while

And so Luke and Flower
sat down among some flowers
that were swaying
in a gentle breeze

♫ ♫ ♫

 There’s a lot of birds
in your garden, Flower
And they sing pretty well

They like it here
because of all the trees

trees are cool
I plant a few
wherever I go
I’ve got some jacaranda seeds
in my pocket
Mind if I put some in the ground?

Please do

And so Luke sowed some seeds,
as he listened to
and imitated
bird calls

♫ ♫ ♫

Do you like watching clouds, Luke?

I love watching clouds

There’s a meadow nearby
It’s a good place
to just be
and to watch clouds

Let’s go

And so Flower, Luke and Karuna
made their way to the meadow,
lay down
and watched clouds

♫ ♫ ♫

The clouds are dancing, Luke


they come to be
and then they’re gone

They become something else

They interare
with everything else

I’m a cloud

You’re a cloud, Luke

And so Luke and Flower
rose from the grass
and danced
until the sun began to set

♫ ♫ ♫

Would you like some tea, Luke?

Some tea would be awesome

Let’s head back to the house

And so Luke, Flower and Karuna
walked back
as the sun set
and the stars

♫ ♫ ♫

This tea is delicious

It’s from my garden
and made with rainwater
that the clouds dropped

It’s excellent

And so Luke and Flower
a pot of tea
and listened
to the crickets and toads

♫ ♫ ♫

I’m going to meditate
for a while
You can join me if you like

A bit of meditating
would be great

And so Luke and Flower
closed their eyes
and sat in silence
for a while

♫ ♫ ♫

Are you hungry, Luke?

A little bit

I don’t usually eat much
on days I’ve had mushrooms,
but I often have a snack
I made some cookies yesterday
and they’re not bad

I’d love a cookie

Have as many as you like
And I have a guest hammock
and you are welcome
to stay the night

Thank you, Flower
I love sleeping in a hammock

And so Luke and Flower
ate cookies for a while
and then they said goodnight
Luke got into his hammock
and sang to himself
a lullaby
until he fell asleep

♫ ♫ ♫

Morning, Luke

Morning, Flower

Breakfast is ready

This fruit is delicious

It’s from my garden
Just about everything I eat
grows here

That’s great
Thank you, Flower,
for everything

You are welcome back
anytime, Luke
Take this bag of tea

That’s a lot of tea, Flower

Share it
with those you meet
along the way

Thank you

And then Luke took leave
of his new friend
and whistled to the birds
as he walked away

♫ ♫ ♫

harmony and nonbeing

Harmony and nonbeing

In the middle of autumn,
as the weather grew cooler
and the hoa sua trees shared their scent,
Ali noticed something:

The birds and the horns,
the shouts and the whispers
blended together,
making music

♫ ♫ ♫

And the clouds,
released from identity,

♫ ♫ ♫

Ali realized his true nature
and awoke




Greetings, Friend

Who are you?

I am

Got a stage name?

People call me Luke

I’m known as Harmonious Flow
but you can call me Flow

That’s a cool name

What tribe are you from, Luke?

I hang out with the Rainbow tribe

That’s a nice feather you got in your hair

Rainbow lorikeet
It’s yours now

Why thank you, Luke
That’s mighty nice of you
We’re having a pow wow tonight
And you are welcome to join us

I’d love to

You’re welcome, Luke
It’s time to send a smoke signal
to some friends in a nearby valley
Do you feel like smoking?


Follow me
You can put your bag and guitar
in that teepee over there


Then Luke and Flow walked over
to the fire circle
and began to lay a fire

♫ ♫ ♫

That’s a lot of weed
you’re putting on that fire, Flow

It grows wild here, Luke
and in abundance


And so Luke and Flow fed the fire,
took a few deep breaths
and signaled Flow’s friends

♫ ♫ ♫

What kind of rainbows do you get around here, Flow?

We’ve been rather bereft of rainbows lately, Luke,
but my sister,
Dancing Flower,
saw a triple rainbow last month

Rainbows are cool

They are indeed
If you like,
perhaps tomorrow we could invoke some rain
and then summon a rainbow

That’d be excellent!
Do you have a rainstick?

We all have one

Dude, that’s awesome

Do you know any bird calls, Luke?

I know the calls of the city birds in Hanoi
They have three:

bird calls

The longest one is used to get someone’s attention,
the shortest means no
and the one in the middle means yes

I can teach you some of the local bird calls
if you like

That’s be great

And so Luke and Flow
practiced bird calls
as the fire

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Flow
Did you ever play Cowboys and Indians
when you were little?

We don’t play dualistic games, Luke
We raise our children to understand
their true nature

Good idea
I still get stuck
in a thought jam
now and then,
but for the most part I just observe
the flow

Thoughts have colonized most people,
and therefore they suffer


Do you drum, Luke

I love to drum

We’ve got a few djembes in the music teepee
Want to play?

Most definitely
Since when has your tribe been playing djembes?

We’re fusion Indians, Luke
We use all kinds of drums
We don’t limit oursleves
to any one culture
We use the best of the new
and the old
from every culture we’ve had contact with
All traditions have a beginning
and an end
Some of our traditions have been discontinued,
some have simply changed
and others have only recently come into being
There are no mumpsimuses among us

That’s excellent

And so Luke and Flow drummed
until Flow’s friends

♫ ♫ ♫

Luke, these are some of my friends

Guys, this is Luke

Háu, Luke

Hey, guys
Nice to meet you

And so Luke learned the names
of Flow’s friends,
and then they all drummed together
for awhile

♫ ♫ ♫

And when the sound of a conch shell
was heard,
Flow announced that it was time to eat

Luke, this is my sister,
Dancing Flower

Hi, Luke
You can just call me Flower

Hi, Flower

And so met Luke all Flow’s relatives
and the rest of the tribe
as together they ate
a meal

♫ ♫ ♫

Let the pow wow begin,
said Flow’s Father,
Flowing Stone

And evening then filled with music
and dancing,
and laughing

♫ ♫ ♫

And when it was time to dream
the dream within the dream,
Luke returned to his teepee
and lay down
while the tribe was singing

small om

Morning, Luke
How’d you sleep?

Like a rainbow

We’re having a sweat lodge tonight, Luke,
and you are welcome to join us

Thank you, Flow
I’d like that

We won’t be eating today,
and we’ll remain silent
until the ceremony

Sounds good

Just be shanti
Quieten your mind,
pay attention
and observe

Will do

Be natural


And so Luke spent the day
and with others
in silence

small rests

It’s time, Luke

And as they neared
the ceremonial teepee,
Flow said,
We call this space the timeless machine
Step inside
and out of time
Switch off your thoughts,
and shut down your mind

Luke and Flow then joined the others
and sat down,
and the medicine man began
to sing

♫ ♫ ♫

El Abuelo
o el Maestro, Luke?
Peyote or mushrooms?
As you are our guest,
tonight you choose the medicine

Mushrooms and I are good friends
and I have yet to meet el Abuelo

Peyote it is then
First we will smoke
the peace pipe,
from which many blessings flow

The peace pipe was passed
from friend to friend,
and then a basket
of peyote
went around
and around

♫ ♫ ♫

Know any medicine songs, Luke?

There are a few
that flow through me
now and then

Feel free to sing

And so Luke played his guitar
and sang
in the dark

♫ ♫ ♫

That’s some strong medicine
you got there, Luke

And so Luke
and the others
took turns singing
their medicine songs
until the morning birds
began to sing

♫ ♫ ♫

Before you go, Luke,
let’s have one more dance:
a rain dance

And then everyone walked over
to the music teepee,
picked up their rainsticks
and began to dance

♫ ♫ ♫

And after awhile
some dark clouds formed,
and soon it began
to rain

♫ ♫ ♫

And when the rain had stopped
and a rainbow had come,
Luke knew it was time to go

We usually spend the summer in this valley
and winter near the coast
You’ll always be able to find us
Take this bow
and these arrows
Let the bow teach you
And take this pouch of seeds
for when you have a home
And this satchel
of sacred weed
is yours to share
with those you meet along the way

Thank you, Flow

Thank you, Luke

I made these mocassins for you, Luke,
said Dancing Flower,
so that you may tread softly

They’re beautiful
Thank you

And after a round of hugs
Luke put on his mocassins
and continued
on his way

♫ ♫ ♫

medicine woman

Medicine woman

You are ready now, Diane
Take this wand
and go

Thank you

And with a wai
Diane turned and walked
out of the forest

♫ ♫ ♫

This would be a nice place
to meditate,
thought Diane,
so she sat down
in a meadow,
and closed her eyes

♫ ♫ ♫

With her senses heightened,
Diane rose
She fashioned herself a dress
of flowers,
put it on
and continued on her way

♫ ♫ ♫

The patient rose,

You are a gift
from the universe,
Thank you

I am the universe
And so are you
We are one
Be well

They bowed to each other
and the patient then walked home

♫ ♫ ♫

On the edge of time
Diane wandered
from place to place,
and space to space,
healing all
she passed along the way,
with her hands,
with a look,
with a smile

Humble and quiet
and vibrating at the speed of love
Diane flowed

♫ ♫ ♫

Be simple
Be natural
Be love

With these words
and her presence
in the here and now,
Diane fostered joy
among those she met
and enabled them to see
through the story
of being

♫ ♫ ♫



Would you like some scotch?

I would


That’d be great

It’s on the house


That was a really nice song
you just sang

Dude, you’re too kind

You’re welcome to play here anytime
and drink what you like
for free

And so Scott drank
for a little while
and then he played some more

♫ ♫ ♫

This next song
is about living on the edge
of bed head

And while Scott played
his harmonica
and his guitar
and sang with his heart,
the crowd in the bar
learned a few new words

♫ ♫ ♫

That was a great song, man
What tribe are you from?

I’m from the bed head tribe

Right on
Can I buy you a drink?


And while Scott and the girl
the sillage of the song
was replaced by
a new vibration

♫ ♫ ♫

Will you sing a little more?
asked the girl

I can do that

And so Scott picked up his guitar
and said,
This next song
is about racing the rain
on a motorbike
at the edge of an advancing cloud
in a lush green valley
as the sun is going down

♫ ♫ ♫

Your songs are
They are beautiful,
a panolpy of impressions
There is a space I want to show you

I’ll pack up my things

And so Scott and the girl
said goodnight
to those who remained,
and then they left the bar
and walked
into the night

♫ ♫ ♫

ali baba

Ali Baba

While the other drummers held the rhythm,
Ali went off
on a tangent,
exploring the realm
of possibilities

♫ ♫ ♫

And by the time he had returned
to the rhythm,
the space cookies were ready

Would you like one?

Yes, thank you
How strong are they?

I’m not sure, baba
Let’s find out

So Ali ate a cookie,
had some tea
and then rode off
into the night

♫ ♫ ♫

The next morning
Ali awoke,
looked around
and wondered where he was

Who are you?
he asked the girl lying next to him

I’m Linh

How did I get here?

The police brought you last night
because you couldn’t find your way home
They found my card on you

You’re the girl from the music shop


Do you know the time?

Time does not exist

The sun is high
I have to go
to work

Observe carefully
as you make your way
through this week
Several paths await you
Choose well

I’ll try
Thank you

Ali played
a song on his whistle
as he descended the stairs
and disappeared around the corner

♫ ♫ ♫

That cookie was rather strong,
said Ali
when he returned to see
the cookie wallah

Would you like another?

I’d better not

Бeлoмoр Baba just came back from Peter
and he brought me a few packs
Would you like to smoke?

Why not?

So the cookie wallah
prepared a joint
Russian style
And then they smoked

♫ ♫ ♫

Have you seen any rainbows lately?

Last week I saw one
out on the edge
of town
where mushrooms grow

Magic mushrooms?

Panaeolus cyanescens
Very nice
Would you like some?


For here or to go?

To go
I have to teach tonight

Maybe later the mushrooms will teach you

Thank you
I have to go



♫ ♫ ♫

Later that night
Ali sat down
and prepared a pot of tea

And after awhile
magic began to flow

♫ ♫ ♫


Привет, Ali

Those mushrooms were excellent

Hanoi’s finest

Very clear and insightful

Yes, they are wonderful teachers

I feel like I’m in a film

A dream perhaps


Do you want to continue
or would you rather wake up?

The dream is often quite nice

Like a good story
that you wish would never end


Being awake is nice too


Just being is great


Would you like to drum?

Yes, that would be nice
Do you have any cookies?

Regular or magic?

Magic, please

So Ali ate
another cookie
and then began to drum
with his brothers
and sisters
in Hanoi

♫ ♫ ♫

a call to be

A call to be

The evening call to prayer
and the scent of the hoa sua trees
floated through the air,
and Tacchan felt it was time
to tone the letter e

♫ ♫ ♫

The flowers beckoned
and Tacchan decided
to go for a walk

As the butterflies and dragonflies
flew home for the night,
the fireflies came out
and joined the frogs and the crickets
as they sang hello

♫ ♫ ♫

Live like a flower,Tacchan
Just be,
said Blue Flower

Thank you

And as Tacchan continued
on his way,
a chorus of dogs howled,
the night birds called
and the spiders wove their webs



I’m here,
holding the space,
cooling the story down

Peace flows in,
love flows out,
and joy connects them

Like, you know
I mean,
you understand

Meditative being,
one pail at a time

Cow meditation,
a place for transformation,
Shiva consciousness

This is a place
to simply

♫ ♫ ♫

A shiva beedi
at an auspicious moment,
into silence,
the wanderer

♫ ♫ ♫

Living among cobras,
ever mindful
and in tune with the vibe,
the wanderer graduated
from herself
and her story came
to an end

She left one day
and continued on her way
to create another place
to be

living among cobras

Living among cobras

Greetings, Friend


Are you ready?


And so Cobra bit
and the man lay down
to wait
for death to come

♫ ♫ ♫

He had been living on the edge
of being all and nothing
for some time,
and that edge had been getting sharper

A wave
becoming what it had always been:
an ocean
And as the dream began to dissolve,
the man began to awake

♫ ♫ ♫

Letting go
of what had never been,
from the limits of imagination,
the man began to levitate
in the pitch-black stillness
of non-being

♫ ♫ ♫

In the absence of fear,
bereft of desire,
pure awareness flowed

buddha’s guitar

Buddha’s guitar

One evening on a train heading towards Berlin,
Scott was given Buddha’s guitar

♫ ♫ ♫

That’s a mighty fine guitar you got there,
said Scott to the man
sitting on the opposite side

Yes, sir
She’s a beauty
And she plays well too
This was Buddha’s guitar

You’re kidding

No, sir

And then the man began to play
The silencing of the mind,
and moment by moment
Scott’s mind grew quieter
and then it was gone

♫ ♫ ♫

The compartment became a Buddha field
and Scott realized his true nature

That’s a great song

Yeah, she’s a pretty one
And this here guitar’s now yours

You’re joking

Nope, she’s all yours
She was given to me a guy named Wilhelm Blume
back in 1963
He came to La Jolla in ’61
with a long board and this guitar,
and for two years he played every night on the beach
One night I went out for a walk
and I came upon him singing what sounded like medicine songs

What kind of medicine is that you’re singing?
I asked him

Moksha medicine,
he replied

And so night after night
I sat on the sand by a fire and listened
to moksha medicine songs
until one night Blume said to me,

God, I’m going back to Germany
and I want you to have this guitar
It belonged to Buddha
and it was given to me by . . .

And he went on and told me about  the Hillbilly
who had given the guitar to him
and the cowboy who had given it to him
and so on until finally he told me
that this guitar was made by Siddhārtha Gautama

That’s cool
My name’s Scott, by the way

Mine’s Flower
but that’s just my cover
Some people call me God
One more thing:
You gotta promise to never sell or abandon this guitar
When you feel it time for you to part,
give it to someone
who will play it with love

Well thank you, God

Dude, you’re God
I’m God
Who are you thanking?

Old habit

Where you headin’?

Nowhere, man

Right on

drei cookies

Drei Cookies

sang Chica,
awakening love
in all she encountered
as she walked

♫ ♫ ♫

Choose a subject
name a price,
get a poem
read the sign
on the wooden table
in front of Chica’s typewriter

Would you write for me a poem
about the color green?
asked the girl
I offer you three hundred dollars
or three wishes

I’d like three wishes, please

And so Chica began to write
a poem
about the color green

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you,
said the girl
It’s beautiful
The most beautiful words ever written
for me
Thank you
Take this jar
Inside are three cookies
Each cookie will grant you a wish
if you eat it
and mindfully

Thank you

The girl bowed slightly
and walked away

♫ ♫ ♫

Servus, Chica

Servus, Blume

Was hättest Du gern?

Ich hätte gern ein bißel was zu essen

Magst Du ein bißel Pollen?

Ja, gern
Drei Cookies habe ich schon,
aber ich sollte sie noch nicht essen
Mir ist es lieber zu warten,
bis ich weiß,
was ich mir sonst wünsche
Jedes Cookie wird mir einen Wunsch erfüllen,
und ich möchte sie nicht verschwenden

Und so aß Chica
Pollen der Blume
Und sobald sie satt war,
wurde sie in ein Schmetterling verwandelt,
und dann flog sie herum,
alle Blumen im Feld besuchend

♫ ♫ ♫

Im Wald,
ein Mensch wieder,
erwachte sie

Ich wünsche mir nichts,
dachte Chica,
weil ich ja alles schon habe,
was ich brauche
Ich selber bin die Liebe
Ich bin Gott
Aber trotzdem möchte ich
ein Cookie essen

Und so aß sie eines der drei Zauberkekse
und ging spazieren

♫ ♫ ♫

Servus, Chica

Servus, Baum

Geh ein bißchen weiter,
bis zum Zentrum
des Waldes,
bis zum Zentrum
deines Wesens
Die Wolkenkunst
fingt bald an

Danke, Baum

Und so ging Chica
zur Wiese,
die im Zentrum des Waldes lag
Sie legte sich hin
auf dem Gras
und sah nach oben,
die Wolken beobachten,
wie sie Form annahmen
und sich auflösten

♫ ♫ ♫

Und Chica auch
löste sich aus,
und fing eine Reise an,
eine Reise nach nirgendwohin,
eine Reise nach innen

♫ ♫ ♫

Danke, Cookie
Danke dir

Es ist schön,
daß wir reden können


Du bist in mir,
und ich bin in dir


Dualität gibt es nicht

so ist es

Es gibt keine Probleme
in diesem Raum
Hier kannst du einfach sein

Cookie hörte auf zu reden,
und schwieg weiterhin,
und Chica reiste weiter
nach innen

♫ ♫ ♫

Nach einer Weile
fing Chica zu merken an,
daß ihr ganzes Körper
und zwar sehr intensiv

Und von der Tiefe ihrer Seele
began sie zu singen

Sie sang
und sang
bis sie ins Gesang
verwandelt wurde

began sie zu schweben
als Gesang
reiste sie überallhin
Überall war sie

♫ ♫ ♫

Und dann später
in der Stille des Nichts
schwieg Chica
in der Stille ihres Wesens

♫ ♫ ♫

Iß mich

Wie heißt du denn?

Cookie der Liebe

Wer ist noch da?
Cookie der Weisheit

Und wen habe ich schon gegessen?

Cookie Ungenannt


Und so Chica grub
in ihre Tasche
bis sie Cookie der Liebe
Und dann aß sie es

Plötzlich wurde ihr ganzes Wesen
mit Liebe erfüllt,
und Liebe strahlt
von ihr aus

♫ ♫ ♫

Wie Jesus und Mohammed,
wie der Buddha
ging Chica weiter,
reine Liebe,
mit ihrem Gesang:
Ich bin alles,
alles ist in mir
Und es gibt keinen Unterschied
zwischen mir und dir

♫ ♫ ♫

Und am Ende des Tages
kam sie in einem Dorf an,
wo sie bemerkte,
daß sie mit den Tieren
reden könnte



Streichle mich,
Dafür schnurre ich dir ein Lied vor

Und als Chica die Katze
zu streicheln an fing,
began die Katze zu schnurren

Und das Schnurern war so schön,
daß sie die Katze zu streicheln
nicht aufhören könnte
Die ganze Nacht sangen die Beiden,
manchmal zusammen,
manchmal allein

♫ ♫ ♫

Und in der Früh
als die Sonne die Landschaft
zu färben began,
hörte Chica
von der Tiefe ihren Tasche
eine leise Stimme

Guten morgen, Chica

Grüß dich, Cookie

Was meinst du?
Hast du Lust mich auch zu essen?


Und so aß Chica das Cookie der Weisheit
Und Vögel begannen zu singen
Und Chica sang mit:
Nichts bin ich,
ja, ich bin nichts

♫ ♫ ♫

“Love says ‘I am everything’
Wisdom says ‘I am nothing’
Between the two,
my life flows”1

Und so war es
Zwischen der Liebe
und der Weisheit
fließte Chica

1 Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

coming home

Coming Home

Looking for a home,
village to village,
drumming, dancing, and dreaming with the villagers,
Cedric travelled

And after having visited many, many villages,
Cedric came to a village
called Here and Now

And it was there that he was invited to stay

As he approached the village,
walking as usual,
Cedric sensed something special

Trees grew everywhere
And every kind of tree:
trees from Africa,
trees from Asia,
trees from California

And the trees told him their stories
as he drew closer to the village
They told him what they felt,
what they wished for
And they told him that each one of them
hoped to one day
become a drum

So Cedric paused on the road
and took out his drum
and played a song for the trees
And the trees danced in the wind,
and the birds sang a song of welcome

♫ ♫ ♫

And the villagers heard Cedric’s song
and they came out to greet him
They brought flowers and incense,
and they invited him
to enter their village

All through the day and into the night
they sang and danced,
ate and drank,
and told stories

♫ ♫ ♫

And by the end of night,
as the moon gave space to the sun,
the villagers had offered Cedric a home with them,
and Cedric had decided to stay

Together they drank the sacred honey
from the sacred cup,
sang the sacred songs
and played the sacred drums

And in the days that followed
they built him a home,
made of trees and stone,
and filled it with music and love

Dreams became real
and one night a girl with a kalimba
came to Cedric in his dreams
and played for him her song

♫ ♫ ♫

And in the morning
when he walking in the forest,
Cedric met the girl with the kalimba
She played him her song and then he played her his
And then the sky filled with rainbows
and together they returned
to their home

you’re in china, man

You’re in China, man

Where am I?

You’re on the circle line, dude


In Beijing, man


You’re in China, man

Scott looked around the carriage,
thanked the man,
and got off at the next stop

♫ ♫ ♫

I’m sorry,
I don’t speak Chinese,
said the girl

Do you speak English?


Where are you from?


Right on
What are you doing here?

Not much
I just got here

Yeah, me too

Then Scott took his guitar out of its case
and began to play,
and people began to gather round
and some began to dance

♫ ♫ ♫

You stop make noise,
said the policewoman

I speak Chinese

Stop making that noise

It’s music, sister

I’m not your sister

At the subatomic level
we’re all brothers and sisters, babe
Would you like to sing?

I only sing at karaoke

Want to try singing
and now?

I don’t know that song

I mean
would you like to sing
while I play?
You can just tone if you like


And so he played
while she sang
the letter “e”

♫ ♫ ♫

Would you like to have a beer with me
after I get off work?

I’ve never gone out with a cop before

I promise I won’t arrest you

Well, okay

I’ll come back
in about an hour

And she did
and off they went

♫ ♫ ♫

So what happened?

I don’t know, man.
I went outside to make a call,
and the next thing I knew
I woke up on the subway in Beijing
without any money,
and without my passport

How’d you get back?

I walked mostly,
and sometimes I hitched a ride
And I made music
in exchange for food
and a place to sleep

How’d you get across the border?

I played and sang a lullaby
until all the guards on both sides
fell asleep
Then I just walked across

Cool, man

square in nature

Square in nature

Andrei awoke
to the sound of strumming
and realized that he was
inside a guitar

Light shone through the sound hole
and he managed to climb up
and slip through the strings

♫ ♫ ♫

Remembering his mission,
Andrei set off to find out
what was square in nature

Dodging the ants
as best he could,
engaging, occasionally, in battle with them,
he observed the treasures
they carried
to their home:
hexagonal fragments
of honeycomb,
triangular chips,
pentagonal slices of star fruit,
and salt crystals
that were square

♫ ♫ ♫

His mission accomplished,
Andrei got back into the guitar
and waited
until someone came and played

It wasn’t long,
and as the music moved
faster and louder,
Andrei was transported back
to his time and place

a new vibration

A new vibration

One morning
Anh decided to go for a walk
in the mountains
to look for a cave she had heard about
And so she set off
while the birds were singing

♫ ♫ ♫

Into the forest she walked,
and she was greeted by oak and pine,
redwood and zebrawood,
cedar and jacaranda,
and every other
kind of tree

♫ ♫ ♫

After a while she came to a cinnamon grove,
where she lay down
among the leaves
of a cinnamon tree
and soon began
to dream

♫ ♫ ♫

You will only find it
if you don’t really care
whether you find it
or not,
said Cinnamon Dream
This way or that,
yes or no,
rain or shine,
either way is fine

♫ ♫ ♫

Anh awoke
and continued on through the forest
until she came
to a large meadow,
where millions of flowers
of every kind
danced in the wind:
agapantha, marijuanita, protia,
peace flowers, winter flowers, hoa buom

Anh oi

Hey, you can talk!

Of course
All flowers can talk
Most humans don’t hear us
because one can only hear subtle voices
when the mind is quiet,
when one is fully present
in the moment

Do you have a message for me?

In the mountain over there
something interesting
you might find

Thank you, Flower

You’re welcome

And so Anh walked
through the meadow
in no hurry
towards the mountain,
for moments,
sometimes hours,
along the way
to talk with other flowers

♫ ♫ ♫

When she came to the foot
of the mountain,
Anh sat down,
closed her eyes
and began to feel
the mountain’s energy

♫ ♫ ♫

After some time,
and with her eyes still closed,
Anh stood up
and walked along the edge
of the mountain
until she sensed
the mouth of a cave
She opened her eyes
and entered

As her eyes adjusted
to the change in light,
she began to notice drawings
on the walls,
and when she could see
like a cat,
she began to walk
into the cave,
in a gradual spiral
to the left

♫ ♫ ♫

Now and then Anh paused
to look at a drawing,
and then she moved on
until she came to one
that seemed to be alive
She sat down
on the ground
and looked at it
for awhile

♫ ♫ ♫

A sense of invitation
pulsated through the drawing,
so Anh stepped into the image
and through
to the other side,
where she embraced
a new vibration

moon glasses

Moon glasses

The moon had risen
and owls were singing

To see better
the flow of energy
and the heart of all matter,
Anh put on her moon glasses
and decided to go for a walk

A chorus of frogs, insects, and birds
and few other beings
greeted her as she made her way
through the forest

♫ ♫ ♫

As she walked,
she saw how she was part of the forest,
how she and the forest
were one

Feeling the vibrations
of the trees she passed,
feeling at home,
feeling in tune,
Anh flowed

♫ ♫ ♫

Upon reaching a clearing,
she paused
to watch a group of elephants
to the rhythm of the night

♫ ♫ ♫

Welcome, Anh
Come dance with us,
they called to her

So she joined the elephants
and danced throughout the night with them,
releasing her worries
and absorbing love

♫ ♫ ♫

In the morning
as the elephants showered,
Anh said her goodbyes

No longer in need of glasses
to sense what was real,
she continued
on her way

the forest dwellers

The forest dwellers

It was autumn again
and Andrei set off
for a walk in the forest
to gather magic mushrooms
He knew the forest well,
and it had been his friend for years

♫ ♫ ♫

When by nightfall he had not returned home,
his friends began to worry,
for every year a number of people went into the forest
and never came out again

He’s been taken by the forest,
said some

Perhaps he was eaten by a bear,
said others

The next morning they searched the forest,
from dawn until dusk,
in vain
They found only some shiitake mushrooms,
which they took home and ate

♫ ♫ ♫

Welcome, Andrei,
said one of the forest dwellers

Thank you

Your friends think you got lost,
but we know the truth
Now that you are here

you can never go back
to the way you were

Yes, Mushrooms just enlightened me
Now I know what is real
and what is not

Some of us came here
to the forest
to get away from others,
some in search of a different way
of life,
and some were just out for a walk,
perhaps in search of Mushrooms
And like you,
all of us ate Mushrooms
and decided to stay
in this space
We are vibrating at such a high level
that those who come looking for us
cannot see us
unless we choose to show ourselves

I see

And so Andrei became one of the forest dwellers,
became one with them
and with the forest



One morning Jason woke up
and decided to go walkabout
He packed a few things
and said goodbye to his friends,
and while they played and sang
a song for the road,
he walked away

♫ ♫ ♫

Dropping jacaranda seeds
along the way,
Jason left a trail of trees,
so that one day he would be able
to find his way home

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, man
Got any spare change?
asked a beggar

No, man
I’m broke, too
Would you accept a song?


And so Jason took out his guitar
and began to play,
and when he began to sing,
a rainbow came flying through the sky
and landed nearby,
illuminating a pot of gold
in some tall grass

What’s mine is yours,
said Jason

Yes, let’s share it,
agreed the beggar

And so they helped themselves
to pieces of gold,
and then continued on
their separate ways

♫ ♫ ♫
Come home with me tonight,
said Temptation


And so he went
to bed with Temptation
and stayed the night

♫ ♫ ♫

Stay forever
here with me
Be mine,

I cannot stay
I must be free
to love
I am a bee
I visit many flowers

And so Jason took leave
of Temptation
and continued down his path,
picking flowers along the way

♫ ♫ ♫

And as he wandered
through a meadow
with millions of flowers
swaying for attention,
one called out

Hello, Jason

G’day, Flower

Would you like to try my pollen?

Well, yes
I would

Then come inside me

And so Jason entered Flower

♫ ♫ ♫

I am a free flower, you know
Many bees visit me

I don’t mind

You’re welcome back anytime

Thank you
for the moment

And then Jason headed off
towards the sound of drumming,
and as he drew near,
he slipped into another vibration

♫ ♫ ♫

Welcome to the circle,
drummed the drummers

So Jason took out his djembe,
joined the circle
and began to play

♫ ♫ ♫

And as the drummers drummed,
a voice from another dimension
began to send out waves of love

♫ ♫ ♫

The drummers stopped
and magic space music
filled the air

Welcome to the sacred family,
We have three messages for you:

Quality over quantity

and die
like a flower

Be love

Thank you,
Thank you,

Would you like a cookie
for the road?

I reckon that’d be nice
Thank you

And so Jason ate
a space cookie
and took off

♫ ♫ ♫

Overflowing with love,
Jason became a magnet,
attracting love,

Life is a precious moment
filled with love,
he thought
as he wandered
from village to village,
allowing himself to be seduced
by life

Singing and playing
for his meals,
for a bed;
befriending all,
Jason traveled,
in tune

super paul

Super Paul


Hello, Paul?


My name is Sexyko
I know it is very late
I’m sorry
I need your help

What can I do for you?

Can you please come over to my place?
I’m alone tonight
and I’d rather not be
I got your number from a friend
She recommended you

Yes, okay
Send me your address
and I’ll be there soon

♫ ♫ ♫

Thank you for coming, Paul

My pleasure

And mine too, I hope

♫ ♫ ♫




My name is Akiko
My friend, Sexyko, gave me your number
She said you were doing some research,
and I’d like to help

And soon Paul was on his way again
driving through the night

♫ ♫ ♫

Paul, come to Long Bien Bridge
as quickly as you can

Another jumper?


I’ll be right there

♫ ♫ ♫

Xin Chào

Xin Chào

Have you been in the river before?


It’s not very nice
Kind of dirty
I can think of some nicer things to do
Would you like to come over to my place?

Well, okay

And so Paul and the girl got on his bike
and rode away

♫ ♫ ♫

You can’t have me, Paul
until you find a way to my heart

Romantiko hung up the phone,
but Paul wasn’t worried
He slung his guitar across his back,
got on his bike,
and raced across town,
for a moment,
the racers
as they circled the lake

♫ ♫ ♫

Paul plugged his guitar into the neighborhood PA system
and began to play
a song of love

And soon the whole neighborhood was watching
to see what would happen

And it wasn’t long
before Romantiko came to the window
and lowered a rope ladder

The neighbors cheered and whistled,
and Paul climbed up the ladder

♫ ♫ ♫

Are you Super Paul?

You can just call me Paul

You have been following me

Yes, I couldn’t help it
You are like a magnet
You seduced me without trying
You are like kryptonite
I am powerless to resist your charms

Well, I hope you regain a bit of your power
when we get to your place
Or would you prefer to come to mine?

♫ ♫ ♫

And so it continued,
night after night,
day after day

Paul passed his time
helping girls in times of need



Get in
and I’ll take you
to one of my
favorite places
When we get there,
you can pay
or give
what you like

That was what was written
on the wooden sign
hanging from the front of the old black cyclo,
its cushions soft and green,
the wooden armrests sanded smooth
and smelling of coconut oil
Rising from a small hole in an armrest
a stick of incense burned,
and from a thin glass vase
that rested in a hole in the other
a flower sent out love

♫ ♫ ♫

In the late morning
on a cool, clear autumn day
an old man got in,
and he did not say a word
Silent as well,
the cyclo driver set off
to one of his favorite places

♫ ♫ ♫

After a while they arrived
at an old tea house
Inside it was calm and peaceful
In low tones some of the patrons spoke,
while others sat in silence,
sipping their tea,

Would you like to join me
for a cup of tea,
asked the old man?

I’d like that very much,
replied the driver

So in they went
and slipped out of time

♫ ♫ ♫

In the afternoon,
after his nap,
the cyclo driver awaited
his next fare

It wasn’t long before a young girl,
climbed into the cyclo
and said,
Let’s go!

And off they went,
winding their way
through narrow streets,
the scent of the hoa sua trees
in the air

♫ ♫ ♫

He took her to Lenin Park,
to a place where people were drumming,
and when they got there,
the little girl asked,
Would you like to dance?

And so they danced,
the cyclo driver
and the little girl,
to the rhythms of the drums,
to the singing of the birds,
to the sound of the wind
as it passed by

♫ ♫ ♫

As the sun was setting
and clouds danced,
pink, purple and orange
filling the sky,
a cat jumped into the cyclo



And off they went
from here to there,
while the day turned
into night

♫ ♫ ♫

Across Long Bien Bridge,
and then down to the river
they rode

The insect orchestra
is about to begin

The cat purred loudly
and then jumped down into the grass
and walked away,
her tail swaying
to and fro

♫ ♫ ♫

In the early evening
a young woman
got into the cyclo and sat down

I’m a bit hungry,
she said

I know just the place

And along the tree-lined streets
they rode,
turning here
and turning there,
the scent of incense
drifting through the air

♫ ♫ ♫

Kem xôi!
My favorite!

Mine too

Will you join me?

With pleasure

And so they sat down
at a little plastic table,
on little plastic chairs
Sidewalk cuisine
at its best

♫ ♫ ♫

I can’t walk as far as I used to,
said an old woman
as she climbed in and sat down

And off they went,
carefully avoiding
all the bumps and dips

♫ ♫ ♫

Shall I buy one ticket
or two?
asked the old woman
when they pulled up in front of


And in the dark they watched some scenes
glide across a screen
to the sounds of a forest
at night

♫ ♫ ♫

I’m in a hurry,
said a woman
near the end
of summer

So through the night they rushed,
strands of her silky black hair
brushing against his face

♫ ♫ ♫

They arrived at the train station
in time to decide
between the last two trains
of the night

Will you take $500
or would you rather come with me?

North or South?

It doesn’t matter

I’ll come with you

So into the station they went

leaving hanoi

Leaving Hanoi

Hey, man
Could you tell me how
to get out of this place?

It ain’t easy, dude
I’ve been trying to leave for years
There’s thirty-six streets
and five gates:
One leads to Lao,
another to Cambodia,
one to China,
one to the ocean,
and one to nirvana
You’ve gotta somehow make your way
to one of those gates
and slip through

Thanks, man


So Scott shouldered his bag,
slung his guitar across his back
and headed down the road

♫ ♫ ♫

Upon reaching Guitar Street
Scott turned left
and entered the third shop on the right

Good morning
What can I do for you?

I could use some new strings

Regular or magic?

Magic, please

Just got these ones in
Made by a guitar wizard from Lao
With them on your guitar
you can go anywhere
Doors will open

What do I owe you?
Nothin’, man
Magic can’t be bought or sold
It must be given freely

Dude, you’re too kind

And take this magic guitar pick
Just hold it in your hand
and you will become a channel
for music from other dimensions
You won’t be able to choose
what is played,
but the Guitar Spirits always play
what is right
for the moment

Right on

And so Scott put the magic strings on his guitar,
took leave
and continued on his way,
leaving a trail of magic notes
dancing in the air
behind him
as he walked and played

♫ ♫ ♫

How much is a one-way ticket?
Scott asked

A few million

I’ll be back in awhile

Scott walked to Busker’s Lane
and soon a crowd had gathered,
drawn towards the music
as if an irresistible magnet
were at play

♫ ♫ ♫

Money rained into his guitar case,
and when Scott felt that he had enough,
he wandered back
to the station

I’ve got the money

Have you got a visa?

I didn’t think I’d need one

Things have changed
Now they only let in people
who can show that they understand
the importance of community
and that they can get along well
with others

And so Scott left the station

♫ ♫ ♫

And as he drew near
the town circle
Scott began to dance
to the rhythm of drums,
his soul syncing with the vibration,
which extended welcome

He joined the circle
and sat down,
accepted an offered drum
and began to play
a variation,
yet the same

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, man,
that was nice
You fit right in

Thanks, brother

If you go to my website
in a little while,
you’ll find a link
to a recording of the music we just made

Cool, man

And then Scott wandered off
in search of something
to eat

♫ ♫ ♫

As he was walking
Scott became aware
of the scent of basil
He turned left
and went down a small lane
which was lined with hundreds of basil plants
of every kind

He entered a restaurant
and sat down

What can I get for you?

I’d like a pesto pizza, please

Coming right up,
said the waitress

And soon enough
a pizza found its way
to Scott
And then another
And then one more
The pesto was so delicious
that he couldn’t stop eating
He had become addicted
and felt he might never be able to leave

Hey, younger sister,
he called out
Your pesto is like kryptonite
It has weakened my resolve
to leave this town
Help me, please
I need to get out of here

Well, I was about to close anyway
It’s naptime, you know
Would you like to join me?


And so Pesto Girl locked up
and led Scott through a maze
of passages and tunnels,
arriving finally
at her home

Pesto Girl shared
herself with Scott,
and then they rested
and soon began to dream

♫ ♫ ♫

Wakening to the call of a drum
Scott rose and asked,
What’s that?

It’s 4.20
Every day at this time
music which was recorded earlier
somewhere in the city
is broadcast through loud speakers
on every corner
There’s one right outside my window

Thank you
for everything
I have to get going

Be well
You’re welcome back

And so Scott made his way
back to the station
accompanied by the sound
of drumming

♫ ♫ ♫

The girl at the station
watched the drumming video online
and then said, Okay,
I’ll give you a visa
There’s just one more thing
you need to do
before I can sell you a ticket:
You’ve got to write a poem
about where you’d like
to be

And so Scott took
a ticket application form,
thanked the girl
and headed back
towards the center
to a quiet place
where he could write
about living on the edge
of wilderness
and civilization

♫ ♫ ♫

As Scott wandered
around the city
thinking about the poem
he came to a dead end,
to a wall,
a division
between thought and reality
Writer’s block,
he thought
How am I ever going to get out
of this city?
I’m going to have to write my way out

He sat down
on a wooden crate
and leaned against the wall
He refilled his fountain pen,
took out the ticket application form
and began to write
what he had composed in his mind
thus far
And as Scott, the ink and the paper became one,
thought subsided
and insight and wisdom began
to flow
The wall began to weaken,
and soon it was no more
and Scott was on the other side

♫ ♫ ♫

Back at the station
Scott collected his ticket,
thanked the girl once again
and made his way
towards the gate
at Rainbow Bridge

And as he was walking down Rainbow Way,
a street paved with stones
of every color,
Scott heard the cry of a guard:

You can’t go this way
There are ten thousand things
you haven’t yet done

Dude, you’re just a dream,
said Scott to the guard
as he walked on by
And as he walked
he took out his magic pick
and he played them magic strings
on his guitar
The gate opened wide
and Scott walked through
and then across Rainbow Bridge,
as the Rainbow River flowed

space rainbow

Space rainbow

The rain had been falling
for hours,
and with it a sense of peacefulness
had descended upon the village

♫ ♫ ♫

And when it stopped,
the flow of day had darkened
and the sky was full of stars

In the distance
the whistle of a train called out,
so Anh walked over to the tracks

All aboard!
whispered the conducter
and Anh got on

Soon underway
the train moved towards a rainbow tunnel
that arched across the tracks
and seemed to extend forever
into the night

♫ ♫ ♫

The train entered the tunnel
and the passengers were illuminated
by rainbow light

Red, orange, and then yellow
Green, blue, and violet
and then finally purple
The train reached the end of the tunnel
and then it took off
and flowed into space

♫ ♫ ♫

The train became pure energy,
the passengers as well
in the absense of being

in the elephant’s garden

In the elephant’s garden

to this space, Luke

Thank you

How’d you get here?

I came by mushroom
How about you?

By meditating

Would you like to see my garden?

I’d love too

And off they went,
Luke and Elephant,
to explore

♫ ♫ ♫

Is that a sandalwood tree?

Sure is, Luke

It smells great
Mind if we stop here for awhile?

Not at all
It’s about time for my nap anyway

Yeah, mine too

Goodnap, Luke

Goodnap, Elephant

And so they lay down
beneath the sandalwood tree
and began to dream
within the dream

♫ ♫ ♫

And when they rose,
Luke and Elephant continued
their walk around the garden,
stopping now and then
to hang out with a tree

Hey, Elephant
How old are you?

I’m timeless, Luke,
and so are you


This a place where time slows down
and then disappears
We’re on the edge of emptiness,
on the edge of a dream,
on the edge of thought
between illusion and reality


Wanna go watch clouds?

That’s exactly what I want to do

And so Luke and Elephant walked over to a meadow,
lay down on the grass
and watched some clouds dance by

♫ ♫ ♫

Hey, Elephant
How did you escape from the dream?

I went through the elephant door

Is it like a big dog door?

It’s the biggest door imaginable, Luke,
and it’s always open

Where is it?

You’re on the threshold right now, Luke
You just have to quieten your mind
until you can hear infrasound
Then evaporate
and become like a cloud,
ever present,
ever changing,

yet at times without form
Be a cloud, Luke
Just be

In tune with the universe,
Luke began to move
like a cloud
beyond the limits
of imagination,
and then he began to levitate
in the void

♫ ♫ ♫

Luke returned
to moolamaya,
to polyrhythmic thunder,
as thirteen elephants came running
for a visit

Hey, Elephant
Are those your friends?

I hob nob with them
now and then,
but mostly I spend my moments

Tonight we’re going to have some grass
and then make a stomping circle
You can join us if you like

That’d be awesome!

So Luke and the elephants had some grass
and then began to stomp around,
until the circle lost its form
and they all began to dance and leap
and sing

♫ ♫ ♫

Moolamaya, man

Moolamaya, Luke
Enjoy the pleasures of illusion
and remember how to get home