Watching U2 plug their latest album
on Asian MTV.
Shades and skullcups and cigarettes
sun-tiered colour’d rooftops
under cloudless sky
framed in rough-plank chai-stall doorway.
Bright too the eyes of old Tibetans passing
and round, prayer wheels in hand.
I take another glass of chai.
The world, so old, too new, so suddenly
Enacting quick-focus zoom in-and-out
Identity-crisis montage edited by chance
- Bollywood boys in black do L.A. rip-off
gun-toting and mad,
Miss India at 7-1, AIDS rife in Bengal –
Auss-ie crick-et Auss-ie crick-et !
(small boys teach me the mantra)
Tibetan eyes smiling in the sun,
exile eyes out of rubble of
The kid changes the channel –
Mumbai romantic purelands.
How many units will U2 move
here in the northern mountains?
There’s only one e-mail joint in town.
The sign says Padmasambhava spent sometime here.
only one Westerner here to
spend some time.
Getting lost on the way
to the lotus born’s cave.
The path was unmarked
followed goat-trails, under the weird old trees
Found old Rinpoche,
‘just passing through’ he said,
showed me the inner sanctum
butter-candle burning low –
>-< OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM >-<
You come out
and you realize it never had a beginning.
The TV has been spinning
Cymbals clashing midday
high electric sun on the lake
- saints all lived here Hindu Buddhist Sikh
honoured this murky water as
wandering how long how far,
Seeing the world without a lens through the eyes of emptiness:
little girl prostrating the length of the lake
mangy dog eats old shit
guys arguing on corners slip away
ecstatic singer who starts long before dawn,
it’s sundown and he’s still going
young mother who washes her face from
pitcher of sacred water.
Himalayan cactus dies hard
under heat of countless suns
in place of these eyes
paradisal snow high up
meets the clouds
echoes water-glint of terraced farm-holdings
old woman with cows,
long languor of sunset over those masses
The Rinpoche had asked me
“Where are you from”?
Didn’t know to tell him
I don’t know.
Rewalsar slow-fades imageless
In falling light the lake
to the dark places.
Tso Pema, Himachal Pradesh, November 2000
Tibetan mani mantra audio: Mani mantra