I’m sitting in an auditorium in a school in Thailand. My cousin is next to me planning courses.
I spent the morning stretching on top of a brick staircase in the sky. The steps were falling apart and as I walked up it hoping the structure wouldn’t crumble beneath me. The staircase didn’t seem to lead anywhere except to the platform at the top, at the edge of the clouds.
On one side was a stream, flowing slowly, the clouds moving at the same slow pace but in the opposite direction.
I felt myself centered in the middle, between the sky and the earth. Some sort of Thai music was coming closer to me and as i bent over and touched my toes I saw motorbikes pass beneath me.
I continued my walk and found a few temples. A man smiled at me and gestured for me to come in. I entered and found many of the Indian Gods I’d been confronted with in India. Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, Lakshmi the god of abundance and wealth, and Ram. I said some words to them all, bowed and left.
Then the man called me over to the wall and offered me a bowl of this brown colored liquid with ice cubes, I took a spoonful and found some tapioca pieces inside. It was really sweet and really nice, sort of like drinking cool air with flavor. I folded my hands in prayer and bowed my head and signaled a thanks, a gesture called “wai” in Thai.
Later I found some small children who grabbed my hands through a gate. They said hello and when I responded back they broke out in giggles. Before I turned a corner to get back en route I made the “wai” gesture to one little girl who was all alone and she smiled in delight as if we shared a secret and she bowed back at me.
I’ve worked with as many adults this trip as I have children. The kids here speak in noises and exclamations, their animated faces speaking whole sentences at times. So expressive. I told one girl I was leaving today and she goes “”WaaaaHH?! Today? I think you stay all week?” Another girl named Aom comes up to me and says “When you come back?” I smile at her, touch her hair lightly and say “Soon, I hope.”
Last night I took a life drawing class at my cousin’s neighbors house. The model was the most beautiful, elegant girl I’d ever seen. We listened to this musician named Emancipator and all shared the images we made of this girls body. There’s something so satisfying about creating something out of nothing. Placing ink lines on a paper, that with time, create a whole image, a moment, a feeling.
I interviewed one girl named Helen, from England. I asked her “if she wished she had a word that could describe one feeling what would that word or feeling be?” She told me she wasn’t good with words and that there aren’t words for most things she feels. So I asked, “what does a feeling without words feel like?” and she said;
“I’m so bad with words, I’m on the verge of saying a bunch of stuff……(then she held her toes for awhile and thought)…
”OK, so it’s like when you’re really hot and you’re a bit apprehensive about going into the cold water but you know it’s gonna feel really good….it’s like the feeling of going into the new year, not knowing where I’m gonna be or what country I’m gonna be in, or what language I’ll be speaking even… but I know it’s gonna be good, it’s like the content feeling I feel now.”
I like when I get wishes that resonate so much with my own heart. After she made a drawing of a girl standing over a large body of water, the water rippling out from the middle.
I’m headed to Kolkata tomorrow and then to Varanasi. I got an email from a loved one there who said it reminds him of an old city in France, so ancient and beautiful.
Back to my samosas, chai, and Indian wishes.
I will miss the scooters here, the way I hold my hands up and close my eyes as we glide through the large open roads, and the way the clouds look like they have each been sculpted and painted especially for me, and the birds who dance and dart like bats around the sky.
And of course the sticky rice, mango and “rambutans”: little magic fruit that hold little white grape eggs inside.
Happy New Year and be well wherever the road has led you.