Adventures in India

This is an open journal of some of the things I see and think about while trying to find a place to live in India. It may or may not be interesting. I make no promises.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


My dear friend John killed himself with a bullet to the head a couple of weeks ago.

He was my best friend, and I knew him for 26 years...I think.

It may have been 29 years....or 38. Maybe it was 72 years, with time off for good behavior. Now that I really think about it, I never knew him at all. He was a beautiful stranger standing beside my bed, urging me on to nobler dreams...he was a phantom guru who taught me what others refused to see.

I have often wondered what John might have been like, had he gone to Wendler Junior High and East Anchorage High, instead of Steller Alternative School...that infamous institution that prized free thinking and radical spiritual exploration.

Most people would assume that with his charm, good looks and athletic prowess, he would have been the captain of the football team, Homecoming King, or some other luminary in the high school hierarchy.

I am not so sure.

John had a natural empathy for the underdog, the outcast, the lost. He bristled at anything he considered unjust. Of course, I fell in love with him the moment I saw him. Later, when I got to know him, I told him it was because he had what the ancient Celts called the "Hero Light" flaming about his head. He had that spark...that rare "something".

Oh yeah, and he had a great body, as well.

I thought I was discreet in my unrequited longing for John.

But he knew...(as I am sure everyone else did). Most heterosexual high school males would have been disconcerted, to say the least. But not John. He befriended me completely, and helped me transform a confused and muddled scenerio into a rich, deep Platonic that will outlast this flimsy cage of flesh.

I remember riding my bike up to his house on the slope of the mountain in the summer twilight. We would sit and eat cheese and crackers and pickles, looking out over Anchorage...and we would talk about the soul, and God, and Truth...and all those mysteries one can only really talk about when one is young and hopefull and foolish.

He was a safe haven, and he invited me to lay down my tired burden of longing and just be with him.

He was the most gracious of friends. He always will be my hero.

We would sit on the couch and watch M.A.S.H., laughing at Frank Burns, because we both recognized something of our own petulant selves in his antics. Old Baron, the most noble of canines, lay close by. His big wiener body prone, begging for a belly scratching during the commercials...and he would always get it.

Sometimes, when John was angry with himself over something or another, he would bash his fist into the wall. Once he did this downstairs at his house. And I, moved by an unaccustomed macho bravado, told him if this was good enough for him, then it was good enough for me: I then smashed my fist into the same wall. I broke my hand above the right pinkie. The doctor said it was called a "boxer's break", and there was nothing he could do. John said I was nuts.

But he never did it again in front of me.

One night, I was outside in my large backyard...the mist was drifting in off the little lake. Something was stirring in the sky. I drove my '74 Pinto to his house...tapped on his window and enticed him out. I said it was to return his wallet, which I had for some reason. But John came down with me to the swamp behind my house. And there we watched the northern lights undulate like drunken blue and red and green snakes...all across the sky. Then the shooting stars came, and then the military began shooting red and green flares across the Chugach Mountains.

I remember him standing beside me in the dark, saying, "Wow! Its like a dream." And I said, "That is exactly what it is like.".

John loved lions.

He had a large painting of one in his room in high school. My good friend, Steve Pearson, told me about a lion kept in a cage in Mountain View, as part of an attraction the owner of a hamburger-stand had set up.

I took John to see it, against Steve's advice. I drove him to see this sad, bedraggled creature, lying listlessly in a tiny cage, and it pierced John to the heart. I can't put into words the anguish on his face.

I felt ashamed of the whole if I had caged the lion.

John was an expression of what was best in the world, and what is better than the world. Much later, after my self-induced fall from grace, John was there for me.

As always.

Defending, protecting, fighting for me.

He didn't approve of my self-imposed exile, but he inundated me with e-mails, letters, books, articles...encouraging, laughing, cajoling, prodding, stimulating me always to question. We talked often on the phone. The last time was when I called him from India in April.

And already the darkness was gathering.

The last e-mails he sent me were desperate and dire. And yet I didn't do anything.

I didn't see what was in front of me.

When I was desperately sick in Korea...coughing up blood in the hospital and looking at heart surgery...he Riley Lynch and Charles Wohlforth arranged to bring me back to Alaska to be healed.

When I was getting on the plane in Seattle to fly to Anchorage, I heard his voice.. He had come down from Bellingham to see me. He had lept past all the security hurdles and made it to my gate. We sat down together and spoke for ten minutes. He pressed a 100 dollars into my hand, just because he knew I had nothing. We hugged. He left.

And that was that.

I really can't write anything more.

I loved him and always will. Whatever pain he was in i pray he has found peace. I will pray for him every day of my life.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

3 India Poems

The call to prayer
fills the air
at dusk.
The hawk ignores it,
already busy
filling the sky
with slow circles
of praise.


The old brick layer
squats and lays
each brick where
it must go.

The World can sleep
safe tonight.


The dhobi beats
my pants on a
large grey stone,
punishing neither
cloth nor rock.

Sometimes she
breaks a button,
then I am caught
in between