A Travellerspoint blog

LOST

I thought I didn't want to wake up yesterday morning... so this mornings feelings towards the untimely openings of my eyes I can only describe as being indescribable. Luna woke us this morning knocking on our door, she needed to get her stuff out of our room because Bearguard was finally here to pick her up and give her a safe place to sleep. Bearguard was German not obviously not Chinese (and I will get to us in China as soon as I blow through the rest of Hawaii... and part of California... god we got lazy!). In Germany it seems that they grow up really fast, like Spartans, and so Luna at only 19 or 20 was already way more mature and adult like than I may every be. To make my point, Luna was up and ready to go with a plan already set for what she would do for the day. While I, grudgingly falling out of bed, had no idea what we would do. The temple. That was our plan. We would walk to this temple we had never been to before, didn't really have all that great description of what the place looked like, and weren't sure if anyone could help us when we got there anyways. Then what? Wait... slooooowwww dooooowwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnn. We would get to that if and when we had to. For now, one foot in front of the other, Joe and I descended the stairs of the Hostel, said goodbye to the Australian couple, Naioki, and Charles; and then we walked out into the overcast and thought it was fitting. I was glad the day was not a “bright sun shinning day.” It calmed my nerves to know that I wasn't the only person walking outside thinking, “Lets go back in and pull the covers over our head and wait for the sun to come out tomorrow.” But who knows, maybe I was the only one thinking that.

We turned down the street and headed for a bridge with some really cool architecture coming up from the road. Joe asked me for the camera. I declined interest and told him to not worry about it. I didn't want to take pictures anymore. I didn't want to loose any more memories (on a trip like this, pictures are like memories, because there is no way we can recall everything and every place we've seen and been to without “A little help from our friends.” And since we didn't bring any friends on this trip with us, not because we didn't try, we deemed our cameras as friends who we interacted with maybe more than we did with each other some days). But Joe got out the camera from my backpack regardless of my present mood. The bridge was cool, I hated to admit then, but feel free to admit now. To the right of the bridge the wide river washed out into the ocean with banyan trees reaching their branches back down into the water like weeping willows. On the other side there were two waterfalls in the distance over mounds of lava rock. Pretty spectacular, but at the moment, I wasn't in the mood for spectacular. I was in the mood to get to the temple and be rejected.

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“JOE And rain...” I thought I heard. I looked around and didn't see anyone. My imagination was making me hear things now... never a good sign. We kept walking, made a turn down the street away from the ocean, and then I heard again “Joe and RAIN!” I turned around this time and saw a white truck driving towards us. “Are you guys going to the temple?”
“We are trying to.” It was Stephanie from the chanting last night who I asked about a work stay. Driving the truck was her friend from the south side of the Big Island.

“Want a ride? Hop in the back!” We had heard this line before only 2 days earlier, and you'd think that it would cause some negative effect. But it didn't. I was just as excited to get a ride to some place I'd never been as I had 2 days earlier. Only this time I took our bags with us when we turned in a driveway and Stephanie told me that her “mada” (mom in Indian) lived here and might have some work for us and a place to stay. “But she doesn't allow any meat or eggs inside the house, is that going to be okay?” I thought for a moment and made sure that we didn't have any on us. Then I nervously said that it wouldn't be a problem, and while Joe was a carnivore, we usually don't have a fridge to put any in so he only eats it when we are out somewhere. Joe nudged me and told me thanks for calling him a carnivore in front of a Hare Krisna. I shrugged and apologized. My mouth has always had a mind of its own... and its mind had never been the sharpest.

Inside Joe and Stephanie's friend Judy (I think, I can't quite remember) had to duck as they entered the basement. Again, the basement isn't actually underground, it is just the basement like level of the house under the main floor. Inside a little woman with a nice dark tan sat curled up in a rocking chair eating some Indian looking pitas and vegetables with a bean paste. Her name was Jean, and she kinda reminded me of our Jean from Green Dragon. She was very abrupt, stern, and to the point without being someone who you didn't feel like you could tell all your problems to. She greeted us when we came in, and then went back to her food, and began talking while moving around veggies on her plate.
“I have some mold that needs washing off the walls of my room and kitchen upstairs, and I've got some vines that need cutting down in the backyard and roof. If you can do that I don't have a problem with you staying here with Stephanie and Champak.” (Her real name was Tattiana, and she was from Russia, but Champak was her Indian name). “There is an extra room down here, but only one bed, and its not very big, so maybe we can bring another mattress down. It has a lock on it, but don't loose the key because its the only one I have. The bathroom down here doesn't take toilet paper, just use the washing hose. Its much cleaner that way and better for the environment. I don't allow meat or eggs or any animal products in my house, and if you can live with that than we would be happy to have you.” And with that she looked up from her lunch and stared us down from behind her glasses. Her face I think I immediately felt at home by because she looked like what my father's older sister might look like in 20 years. Same hair style as my aunt, same face shape, just smaller (as older people get when they age) and with wrinkles and a tan.

“Yeah, that sounds great!” I said, and I think she respected me a bit for it. Her intimidation look melted away right then, and then Stephanie added “And tonight you can come to temple, and we will have a real dinner there, not just desert and tea, so you don't have to worry about food. And this week is our guru's birthday, so there will be dinners almost every night, and if you'd like to come we would be happy to have you there too.” And I felt that we had finally made it. For the next few weeks we had jobs, a bedroom with a lock, a group of people who want us to come over for dinner and music, and the place had wifi. Of course, the first place to offer a bed and free wifi and we don't have my laptop. Maybe thats Karma at its best... or maybe its just irony.

That night we walked down her street, hung a right, and then headed another minute to a staircase that led up to a garden. Through the garden's gate we headed right along the ledge that went down to the street below to another staircase on the side of a house. “This is our temple.” Stephanie told us as she took off her shoes and paced them on the rack before heading up the stairs. Yeah, we would have never found this place. It was a house they turned into a temple with no signs that would have told us otherwise. Inside there was a group of people sitting down on the carpet squares and at the front of the group in the corner was the first woman who sung yesterday night. She was singing again as the others followed along in their books. Stephanie sat us down near the middle and handed us song books, but I was having a hard time following along. First the first paragraph, then the second paragraph, then back to the first paragraph, and then to the third paragraph, then back to the first and so on and so fourth. It wasn't hard to follow once you knew the order of things, but being that it was all in Sanskrit and I didn't know the order for the first 2 or 3 songs, I was very lost.

After chanting we had a man, who's late wife bought the house to use as a temple, tell us in a few Krisna parables and then go into detail about what they mean, and Stephanie said that this might take a while. Usually she said that teachings only going on for 30 or 45 minutes. She started blatantly laughing when he had gone on for an hour and 20. When he finally finished, I didn't mind because I was very interested in his stories and what they meant to him, but I couldn't help but feel 1.) that his teachings completely contradicted Cason, my yoga teacher from Life Center Plus back in Ohio, and 2.) that both my legs were numb. He was talking about the very big ideas of Krisna and how there are 2 ways that people interpret what the Veda's mean when they talk about Nirvana. One way is that once you reach Nirvana you are completely separate from this world and are connected with the one all encompassing spirit and you are noting and you are everything (a very confusing idea, but what religion doesn't have its hard to grasp ideas), and the other way (this groups way) is that once you reach Nirvana you are connected with the all encompassing spirit, and you are not nothing, but only everything, so you are you, and you are your family, and you are your friends, you are you enemies, you are that tree over there, etc. I thought Joe may have liked this way better than Carson's way, but when I confronted him about it, he just nodded his head and told me how he liked both ways... Taoists... the religion of perpetual indecision.

Next we turned out the lights and prayed. The only lights in the room were the spotlights and twinkly lights on the front shelf that was made into an alter with 4 different figurines of Krisna standing in a sea of vines, twinkly lights, and hanging strands of pearls; and on the shelf below almost a dozen framed photographs of Indian men with prayer beeds hung over their picture frames and yellow flowers beneath them. They took inscents and long tailed brushes and painted the smoke on the alter while others rocked side to side chanting over and over again:

Haaaa-reeeee Kri-s-naaaa, Haaaaa-reeeee Kri-s-naaaaaa, Kri-snaaa Kri-snaaaa, Haaaa-reeeee Ha-reeeee,
Haaaa-reeee Raaaaa-maaaaa, Haaa-reee Raaa-ma, Raaaa-ma Raaaa-ma, Haaaa-reeeee Ha-reeeee,

and it goes on from there, the same words song in similar tones over and over again until the room becomes a frenzy of people dancing and jumping in place singing louder and louder as they offered Krisna food. Then they closed drapes over the alter and we bowed on our carpet squares as one person chanted really really fast some sort of scripture writing that at the end of certain sentences we were to say “Jaaa” in unison. I never caught onto when the cue was to say Jaaa, nor why we say it, or what it even means; so I just bowed my head to the floor as I sat in the childes pose from Yoga and waited until everyone else stood.

Then we made 4 lines down the room, the outer lines faced the inner lines, and the 2 middle lines sat back to back, and then down one row and up the other people came with huge pots of food and scooped out portions on our plates ( I think this is still part of their religious ceremony and not just a party after "church" because I believe the food we are being given now were also foods offered to Krisna during the prayer section). I ate absolutely everything even though I had no idea what I was eating most of the time! Everything they put on my plate, no matter how strange or gross it may have looked, I knew I could eat with impunity because these people were vegetarians. Unlike in China (sorry to foreshadow again, but its hard not to since we are currently in China while writing this) where almost everything I have placed in front of me I have to ask “What is this?” and then regret my question because sometimes I really didn't want to know. Once I didn't even ask, but Master Yong just held up a maroon jiggly square that looked like tofu and said “dried blood” before eating it. Yeah... I'm not to cool with eating blood. But with the Hare Krsina's, all their food was made up of things like fallafouls and really good tofu meats in curries with rice and special little bread rolls sometimes filled with sweet jellies, and it was all completely vegetarian. I ate, and it felt like thanksgiving.

Then we hung out for a bit taking with people and we discovered that the guy with the permanent smile on his face was actually from my home town! He and I talked about Strongsville for a bit, and how much we thought it was changing for the worse (and he didn't even know about the Best Buy they decided to build on our land protected by the Metro Park System). Then we headed back to our place with Stephanie and Champak (Jean never seems go to temple for some reason, I never asked), and Joe and I fell asleep to the loudest and most numerous chorus of chirping frogs I had ever heard.

The next morning I woke up to Jean blowing in what sounded like a conch shell. When I got out of our room to take a shower Stephanie was there making breakfast in our kitchen area and she said that Jean does that every morning before she prays and that she wanted to talk to me before breakfast. Luckily it was only 8 or 9 when she starts this, so it is a pleasant time to get up, and a nicer sounding wakeup call than the one on my watch (we would use my cell phone alarm... but we don't have it anymore...). I headed upstairs and talked to Jean for a bit about what I thought of temple and what my aspirations are, spiritually speaking. I told her that I want to be spiritual, but I am not a spiritual person at the moment. I told her that I am very interested in theology, and am just poking around until I find one that I can devote some passion into. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and appreciated my quest as maybe something that she had done when she was my age, so she saw merit in it. She did warn me however, to not let the quest go on too long so as to completely rationalize all religions and never come to understand the spirit behind them. Then she got to the reason she really wanted to talk to me early in the day which was to get a shopping list from me for what I would need to clean the mold. My real only item I said I would need that she might not have would be a doc. mask, and after some searching, she realized that she did not. So she said she would run out to the store and get me some, and until she gets back she gave me some nuts and dried fruits with small cracker/ biscuit/ cookie things on a plate that she had offered to Krisna earlier (and as usual, he did not eat it). When I came back downstairs Joe and I had a little breakfast, and then he went to preparing mop water to clean the floors. I decided to take a quick shower while Jean was out, and by the time she got back I was all ready to get dirty again. With a tie dyed shirt wrapped over my head tied off with a rubber-band, one yellow dissh washing glove, a bucket with my own mop water, a rag, a cape made out of an old sheet wrapped over my body, and a doctor's face mask, I was totally ready to go for this mold!

4 hours later...

Stephanie and Jean's friend from the south of the island came over to take them to lunch. She came in the bedroom and found me inching towards the ceiling with a rag in one hand, and my other hand pressed against the wall as my body shook side to side because the steep latter I had balanced on top of another step latter was still tightening into place. When I eventually stood all the way up my weight locked the two together pretty sturdily, so her worries that she should go out and buy me a taller step latter I quickly pushed aside. "Really, I'm half way done with the room, I have a good system going now." So she left with Jean and Stephanie, and Joe came up to ask me to take a break with him. I almost cried. A break? A break! I needed to get this bedroom done in the next 3 hours so that he place will air out (I was cleaning with some organic, but still bad smelling chemicals), and I wanted Jean to be able to sleep in her bedroom tonight! He just wanted to go out for a walk, but I was so worried about what they would think of me (that I wasn't a busy little bee), that I couldn't go. Maybe if he had asked while they were still here, and they saw I only took a half hour break, but what if they come back and see that since they were gone I decided not to work anymore? I dunno if it was the chemicals getting to my head or what, but I was stressed out, and I took it out on him, he who I did not see cutting down vines... and resentment began to settle into my heart.

He did not end up going out for the walk after the nasty notes I inscribed on his mind, but he did go out into the beautiful sunny day to get some rays on his chest. Seeing this I burst into tears. Why wasn't he proving himself like I was? Why was he enjoying life not like I was? Why am I probably going to die early of black lung while he gets to play outside with a machete (of which he was procrastinating doing). He wouldn't talk to me when I let him know my internal monologue. This really infuriated me. But it also made me respect him more (once the fumes stopped seeping out of my ears). I went back to cleaning. This was my decision, and that was his. I let it out of my mind, and started daydreaming about "the story" (as we call it with our Green Dragon friends back home, and it refers to the story we have been writing for probably 5 or 6 years now about assassins in the future with chi powers).

4 hours latter...

Joe came into the room again. I was almost done. Just a section of ceiling, a small section of wall, and the dreaded ceiling area above her closet that was built into the walls, so to reach the celling I would have to take down everything above her closet and climb on top of it myself! "Give me your rag, I'm taller than you, I can reach the ceiling easier. I'll get that area above the closet too, I can reach it w/o taking her bags down." If I were high off of something stronger I may have hallucinated white light beaming out from behind the crown of his head and possibly heard some sort of quire holding onto a long "o" sound. But, as it was, I just wearily let him take the rag out of my hand, mask off my face, and he gently pushed me out of the room, and then from that momentum I carried myself outside, down the stairs, and then back inside our living quarters and into the shower. When I got out of the shower I was refreshed and ready for bed. We had some dinner first I assume, but all I remember is hitting the bed and hearing Joe talk to Jean and Stephanie from outside our door. "I think tomorrow would be a good day for a little break, Rain has been working for the past 8 hours pretty much straight, and I think I'll take her out tomorrow for some breakfast or something." Jean said that sounded like a really good idea, and that I've done more today than she thought would get done in a week! (Joe agreed) So for now, with chirping frogs in surround sound, I passed out with Joe on our little bed, entangled into one another like a person who falls down on Family Guy, and perfectly content about it.

Posted by - Rain 16:33

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