Upcoming Shows

We've been named as a official selection in the Southern Circuit of Filmmakers Tour, March 17-24.

Shows are in Hapeville, GA 3/17, Madison, GA 3/20, Orangeburg, SC 3/22, Gainsville, GA 3/23, and Manteo, NC 3/24.
Learn more by going to the SouthArts blog.

View the theatrical trailer for A Gift for the Village

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

August 1, Kathmandu. Tomorrow is our last full day in Kathmandu, and I suspect Jenna and I will get up early and surprise one of the rickshaw drivers who always park so hopefully in front of The Kathmandu Guest House gates. All the drivers have asked us each day for our business, and we say no, thank you, we are walking; but tomorrow we will say yes, please, we would like a bicycle rickshaw to
Swayambhunath Stupa, but no, thank you, we don't want you to wait: we will be there for who knows how long, just watching the mani stone carvers and the sleepy monkeys and the pilgrims always climbing the hundreds of steps to the top of the hill.

Swayambhu will be busier with monkeys than when Tom and Diane and Reba were here with us, because we had the blazing sun then, and monkeys are no fools. They know very well how to hide in the shade of tangled lantana and bougainevillea thickets, and in the highest ferny and bromiliaded branches of mango trees. But tomorrow is likely to be rainy, or at least extremely cloudy, so I expect the monkeys to be bold and daring, baring their teeth if they think we keep eye contact with them for too long.

I can't wait to walk on their hill with them again. These monkeys are rhesus. They have tiny pink faces with intense burnt sienna eyes. They look forlorn for a second, then irate, then sanguine, then melancholy, then terrified. Each expression, Raphael would have given anything to paint, but god help any artist who tries to use a monkey for a model. The changes come like playing cards folding and fanning and clapping over one another when someone knows how to shuffle in a bridge. Still, a monkey goes through more than 52 expressions a minute, so could more than fill a deck of cards with states and emotions: regret, confusion, self-pity, senility, numbness, agony, exhaustion, hunger, meaninglessness, loneliness, fury, challenge, zen. Every possible face and more, always a passing perfect mask.

There is something comforting about seeing every completely convincing intensity arrive but also vanish, and so I like to walk with all the monkeys. Their angry face subsides; their hatred evaporates; their fear vanishes. In a second, their posture of confrontation and menace relaxes. The desperation goes, and a monkey
is left, contemplating the sinuous and languid eyes of Buddha looking out in each
direction from Swayambhunath stupa. A blinking, not particularly verbal monkey, sighing or remembering, or hoping, or thinking of the shape of its own shadow.

Today Jenna and I visited Mr. Bhatt and Yusef, and talked more about Tibetan stones. Jenna wanted to see fake red coral next to real red coral, and fake dzi beads next to the rare and unaffordable real dzis. Mr. Bhatt said that he and his brother-in-law Yusef can now see a dzi from five meters and guess its authenticity and worth. How, exactly? Jenna asked. There are no criteria to be certain, Mr. Bhatt said, but the recognition is sensual. And there are numerous stories about what dzis are. To be certain, they are agates, but where do these agates come from? Mr. Bhatt's grandfather and most Tibetans of that generation believed that you could see a small snake, if you were very lucky, and if you were quick enough, and threw a handfull of dust on that snake, the part you touched with dust broke off and hardened on the spot into a dzi stone, while the rest of the snake wriggled down and disappeared into the earth. Which means, of course, that this was no mere snake, but one of the wise race of nagas, who occupy a different realm, which westerners would call mythical, but which Tibetans understand as being "in a different room." Occasionally these creatures from a different realm appear here, or occupy a form that we think of as familiar. So you must always be on the alert for these opportunities to see what isn't usually possible, and which usually does not exist, but, on rare occasion, suddenly does exist.

Other stories about the rare dzi stone--which is a banded or circled agate, in browns and blacks and whites, cylindrical (the circles are called "eyes")--include the belief that they come from dragon's breath, or another story has dzis coming from the minds of dragons, who decide to implant them in secret and unexpected places, especially inside the hollow, discarded horns of dead yaks. Even the most scientific explanation of dzis say that they are simply agates which must have been prehistorically acid-etched somehow, to achieve these strange patterns, but the carbon-datings, which verify their age, leave no hints of how the prehistoric jewelers managed to do this acid-etching, since no one can replicate the effect now. (You pronounce the name of the stone ZEE, by the way.) Ask Reba Hoffman where dzis come from. She has a necklace of baby dzis, the most miniature form, very rare and beautiful. Or ask her daughter, Mary, the most expert dragonologist in North America.

Dragons earlier today, and monkeys tomorrow, in the morning. And earlier this evening, an excellent book find in Pilgrim's, a gorgeous little edition of Indian beasts, each page a sumptuous silkscreen, a collection of ethnic folk renditions of foxes, elephants, anteaters, cows, snakes.

And also time to browse in Pilgrim's section of essential oils, scents affordable only here. I selected neroli, the extremely rare Egyptian essence, and cajput, which is eucalyptus-stong. Any of you who sneeze at overpowering scents will now, at least for a time, unfortunately die in my home, because the only way for me to re-suture myself back into America without hurting too terribly and to continue something of the experience of being in Nepal is to heighten every flavor and aroma I can. So beware, my friends. Just for a few weeks, dinners on Glade Road will roar with chilies and cardamoms, and the house will smell like a harem. My cats will all be disgusted, but I will feel like Nepal came home with me.

We can't wait to see all of you. Love, Jane


giftforthevillage said...

You might see this before you leave... enjoy your last hours in Kathmandu. They'll have to last you for a few years.
Don't forget to go confirm your airline tickets. The Sahara Air place is past the good pizza place and to the right. We forgot to confirm our seats and just took what they gave us, and Reba, Diane and I all ended up in the middle of the center row for 15.5 hours. I highly recommend getting up and talking to the crew in the galley in the middle of the night. They were fun, and you may even have some of the same flight attendants we did... they know all about the project and one of them wrote a book called "The Granny and the Gay Guy." It was especially funny when he asked me, "Can you guess which one I am?" Anyway, happy trails. We can't WAIT to see you!

Joe and Carol said...

We had some blog catching-up to do since returning from LA...but, we feel connected once again! And, we met Sunil, Sarita and their son, Manoj that graduated from UK...Reba is hosting them graciously!

What a treat to walk with the monkeys! We saw photos from Reba's journey, so we can see you there. Your description of your journey back to Kathmandu seems a bit slushier than the rice fields of Vietnam!

Surely it's bittersweet to come home...bring the aromas on, and the memories of rock observing in Jolsom! We are anxious to see you, Ike too...he DOES love you Jane! Be sure to consult with Jason about a possible time for a yammy-slammy celebration...I know his schedule needs our attention and we really would love to have him for the festivities. We all have much to celebrate! We will miss your homecoming...we are off to Navarre Beach, Florida. See you around August 12th...

Safe journeying back...
Joe and Carol

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