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Emily: Trainride daydream

October 8, 2011

It was no shock to anyone that Emily had neglected her blog for well over a month.  Always jumping around…quite like a flea.  And in her defense, quite like a flea with a pedigree pup on her plate; too enthralled with wandering through the thicket of fine hair, too busy burrowing beneath the scales of skin to sip on sweet nectar, and often too frazzled by the jarring movements of her host to sit back with pen and paper and reflect…and more often than not, this flea thought…”I am just a simple flea that no one should take interest in, and having no thumbs I can’t begin to imagine how I might use a pen…”  Scholars maintain that the written language of Fleagli has been lost for generations; in fact…however, I digress…

Oct 2nd, 2011. On another sweaty afternoon, Emily found herself on another train.  Sharing a compartment intended for eight passengers with twelve other adults and one baby (rather doped up on opium), she was wedged between a rusty arm rest and a rather plump woman in a sea green sari.  Her arm accumulating the sweat of the lumpy lady, the family opposite her showing no sign of relent in their staring, she attempted to escape.  Out the window, past the plethora of squatters shitting on the side of the tracks, past the bicycles and rickshaws accumulating at the railroad crossing, her mind transported her through time and space…to fresh air…on a mountain side…

Dharamsala.  Waking up to feeling cold was a stark contrast to nearly a month of waking up drenched in sweat.  This couldn’t possibly be India anymore – the humidity of August was absent.  No horns sounded in the distance.  And where was the thick air salted with exhaust and the shouts of early morning vegetable sellers?   Outside the drafty door a pony shuffled around the cement slab trying to shield itself under the eaves of the tin roof.  Pellets of rain pounded, the symphony nearly deafening.  Careful not to disturb the girls sleeping on either side of her, she was silently thankful of her impulse purchases from the misty mountain town of McLeod Ganj just a couple nights before – tugging the wooly green hat around her ears and zipping up her blue rain jacket she simply sat and listened and was.   Three days passed this way – timeless and fleeting all at once.  She scaled giant boulders, ate orange mushrooms gathered from the forest, watched monkeys wrestle under wispy clouds that rolled through the mountains, wandered up the rocky path to Triund’s snowline (absent of snow this time of year), tiptoed past cow pies while spying out her out space to donate to nature, sliced vegetables hauled up the mountain by donkeys, gazed up into the blanket of black and stars as the campfire crackled by her barefoot, mud-caked feet.  The hike down (much easier than the six hour ascent) was made bittersweet by the promise of a possible glimpse at His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for a mere twenty rupees.  Chance would have it that on the very five days that she happened to be in Dharamsala, he was giving his first public speech that summer.  And luck would have it that as she and her comrades sat amongst the crowd of dreadlocked hippies, red-robed monks, and worldly travelers that she spied him walking by.  His speech, translated from Tibetan to English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Hindi on the fuzzy frequencies of tiny radios was…nothing special.  Or so it seemed at the time.  He spoke of compassion, of asceticism, of meditation and the path to a happy mind.  It wasn’t until she was wandering away that it struck her – his ideas didn’t inspire her to change, because they were thoughts that pervaded her mind for years.  It was a blessing to feel so at home in the company of strangers in a strange land so very far from home.  Simply being was a blessing.

Eyes stinging with exhaustion, head aching, her mind fluttered back to the present.  The compartment reeked of baby poo and the eyeballs ogling her seemed to have multiplied.  Sixteen hours of train ride remained before she would be delivered to the holiest of India’s holies: Varanasi.  Toting the backpack her sister had given her when she left the States a mere two months ago, she climbed to the third tier bunk of the crowded compartment.  Nestling her ukulele against her chest, she drifted off to dreamland to frolic with the friends of yesterday on the plains of nowhere at all.   The jumping flea would reflect on her journeys again soon…maybe on another train ride…in another town…soon.

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