Enigma and Frenchies and Mountain Paths

The last few days have been weird. Two days ago I took a day off writing, because I was terribly mixed up and advancing the plot in ways that actually didn’t advance the plot. If that doesn’t make sense, then you understand exactly what I mean.

So I wandered around McLeod Ganj and down to Dharamsala proper, which my friend Laura quite properly described as a busy, dusty little market town with no other real attractions besides a museum that was closed. I did, however, manage to buy myself for about $2US a little lunchtin thing, of which Myoung and Mer have two that I’ve admired from afar. It’s segmented, meaning one can bring soup and rice and some other side dish all in one cool cylindrical lunchkit that locks shut and watertight. Very neat, and I considered bringing one for a friend but they’re bulky, so I declined.

I also wandered around the part of the mountain where the Tibetan government-in-exile buildings are, and visited the astrology department. They’ll be sending me a short-form horoscope with a listing of, among other things, their claims about what my past lives were. This, I am curious to see just out of the appreciation of amusement value, since I’m skeptical about transmigration.

Anyway, then yesterday I did a fair bit of writing in the morning, but it was only semi-productive. By late afternoon I’d wandered into town, and when I was about to head back and throw myself into writing again, I ran into Jerome, my French artist friend. He said he was going to a party and invited me along. It was a little guest house in the middle of nowhere, and almost everyone there was speaking in French (though our host, Sylvie, reminded me of my aunt Claudette and she spoke to me in the cutest broken English… “My name is Sylvie I am 16 in school”). It was a fun night, one of those parties where everyone sits around sharing food, not drinking too much, just talking. The way French people get into banter, playing a kind of comedic game in conversation, fascinates me, it really does. It’s quite different from in English, I find.

There were also some other locals there, the most interesting of which was a Nepali flautist who played some exquisite traditional songs on his flute. He had a very interesting technique, in which when he played upper notes, using only his left hand, his right hand tapped out the rhythm in a distinctive physical pattern.

After everyone was properly (though mildly) carrying the proper amount of intoxicants in their brains and blood, I took off with Ben and Jerome and the girl who hangs out with them (I forget her name) and we walked back into town. From there, we parted ways and I walked down a moonlit mountain road for about half an hour to get to the house I’m staying it. That was a beautiful sight, with this deep silence all around. I sang an old Occitan French song I know to myself part of the way, and to hear music bookendedby silence like that made me feel very different about the act of making music, of singing or playing an instrument. I hope I can retain some of that when I get back into the bustle of my life in Korea.

This morning, I wrote a lot, finishing drafts of all the rest of the major scenes but one; that, plus a few minor sections, are all that remain to be finished in my novel’s first draft. A major rewrite of course will follow. But none of that writing business until perhaps late tonight: I’m meeting that trio of Frenchies again this evening after dinner for some beers and conversation, as Jerome and Ben want to wish me—er, oops, I think I’m using a Hinglish word there, so let’s say see me off—as I leave Sunday evening for Delhi. From Delhi I’ll quickly jaunt over to Jaipur for a couple of days, sweep through Fatepur Sikri, visit Agra (and of course the Taj Mahal), and then I’ll be back to Delhi for a few days, in time for a book fair that, to hear Ritu’s descriptions, simply must be seen. I’ve got good old Don Quixote stuffed into my backpack for all the time I’ll be spending on trains and buses in the evening, before sunset, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the old madman progresses in his adventures.

And now this madman must go pay for his tickets so that he may progess in his own mad adventures….

2 thoughts on “Enigma and Frenchies and Mountain Paths

  1. Hi Gord. *sigh*
    why come back? – I wouldn’t. Although you’ve got your lunch pail thingy now so lunch won’t be such a torturous ordeal eating that sweet oily rice glug the school delivery place calls bokumbap. And there’s your job, I suppose, and people…
    Please buy some bollywood sounds if you have the space. RD Burnam? Our India-frequenting friends are in New York so I couldn’t ask more about the egyptian cotton.
    Looking forward to seeing you soon.

  2. Ah, yes, Mer, I know the reluctance of return. Band, and music, mainly. Job’s in there somewhere too, but only in a quasi-pragmatic sense. The lunch pail will help, indeed.

    RD Burnam? Never heard of it, but will keep an eye open. But here it seems all to be movie soundtracks, not organized by artist, so it’s hard for me to figure out who that is. I’ll google, I guess. I have a pile of movie DVDs, for movie night. Muhahaha.

    Ah, and I realized I’d mentioned Enigma in the post title but not in the entry. Well, I’d been talking with a nice young guy about the group Enigma, and how that first CD of theirs had been really, well, at the time it had been very wow! Gregorian chant and a dance beat; it had been unlike anything else I’d ever heard before. I’d heard it playing in all kinds of shops in McLeod Ganj and assumed it had arrived in India somewhat later, borne by late-coming hippies in reto-new-age-disco fashion. But he told me it’d been big in ’91 and ’92 when he’d listened. We agreed that the second album had been okay, the third crap, and we were both uninterested in the next release, which he claimed was coming soon. But I thought it was so funny that, all differences aside, this guy and I basically had the same thoughts about a random major techno group from the early 90s, that we’d both heard at around the same time. The world is indeed a very small place.

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