(working as part of a ‘Japanese 72 season micro-climate’ artist collaborative initiative within Treesisters)
Japanese season called ‘Kanro’ / cold dew, 8th – 22nd October
Micro climate ‘crickets chirp around the door’ 18th – 22nd October
This mirco-season I have been pulled in all directions. Some troubles of my heart. Challenges in our family life.
And , just now, into intense waves of nostalgia.
Autumnal thinking in this time of thinner veils.
No cricket’s here…the grasshoppers stopped their chirping quite a while ago now….
I am already ‘late’ with this and was only going to share only this very simple gallery of my garden and the colours around…but now something quite ‘other’ burns in my soul….but first here is a small celebration of the colour around….
An email concerning the royal couple’s visit to Pakistan jerked me into intense nostalgia.
Prince William and Kate went to visit the Kalash!
The tribe I lived with (for about I year in total in North Pakistan), deep in the Hindu Kush mountains. In Nuristan district (land of lights).
Seeing them ‘live’ now brought about such a wave of intense memories. And these in turn brought about such whirling emotions.
I travelled, alone, in Nepal, India and Pakistan over about 4 years in my early twenties. This initially happened due to my travelling companion falling ill, just before we were due to fly to Nepal.
It was either go alone or loose the ticket.
So I went.
Quickly I grew to love the total freedom of being a single, white, woman in Asia. A kind of access all areas experience….
Looking back it seems quite remarkable that a young woman my age would have done this!! I cannot really imagine what my family may have gone through, as this was years before the technology available now to keep in contact….I do regret putting them through that.
But I did contact them once a month to let them know I was ok!!
And y’know, there were only about two times I ever felt in real danger! And even then, I discovered that I knew how to handle myself….a great lesson for any young woman.
The adventures have always warranted a book….or possibly two…
A while ago now I collated all my diaries into a blog, just as I was beginning to face my deep depression and I realised that I did not know anymore who I was!!
In doing this I remembered….
These diaries are crazy.
Full of short stories, poems, doodles, sentiments and snippets/cuttings….I decided to publish as they were, without editing….and have always seen this blog as more interesting to an diary archivist, than to the general public.
So private was I then that I published this anonymously…..
It can be found here if anyone seeing this has the time or inclination!! It is quite a roller-coaster!
This set me off looking for the only picture I have of me when I was with the tribe.
I quickly found that my camera put ‘something’ between me and them, so abandoned it completely. I feel quite sad about this now in some ways…but my vivid memory is all I really need.
Such an incredible experience. And really the place where I first truly was enabled to ‘live in right relationship’ with this Earth. And conversely informed me of all we are loosing in our culture.
I am sitting here, in the artden, having just sat in the middle of a huge pile of yellowed pictures in yellowed boxes and I am still smelling of ‘old drawers’ and faded incense!!
So, as this is not the place to write that book. I will share a few scans of these precious photographs!
This is my tribal, adopted (she adopted me!) mother and me.
Shringiree. Ma baba. (my Kalash sister) I will never forget her insistence that I live with them, their absolute generosity and all that I learned there through helping out with all the chores etc. Such a precious experience. This picture makes me smile as this was before the Kalash became so used to cameras etc…I dressed as one of the women everyday. I was normally mistaken for one of them by tourists and Pakistani officials, which seems funny when I look at this photo, but there were many fairer and more European looking women among them too, due to their mysterious history.
We were using my camera’s self-timer to get a ‘selfie’ and she was quite nervous as to what going to happen!! I was saying ‘Any minute now….’
This photo was also taken that first year. (I ditched the camera completely in following years) I had just completed the long 5 hour?, and actually very dangerous, walk down from the valleys to Iun, alone. This was taken when I do not think I have ever felt so free….despite the risk of being killed by landslides or wild, mountain, Afghani foresters (there was actually money on my head at one point in later years….they wanted the ‘Kalash’ westerner brought to them….for what I will mercifully never find out….very scarey!) But I remember, how I felt, posing against the mountains for this selfie….just very FREE. I was fearless!! Or stupid, naive….but always somehow protected…
Another ‘so precious’ photo, that I rediscovered, is this one, of, undoubtedly, my best Indian friend and, for a short time, lover,
A one legged, shaggy, wild man who had a deep love for Bob Marley!….
I have no idea how he is doing now, despite efforts over the years to make contact.
There were very wrong rumors about him, he was a very misunderstood individual, by both locals and sometimes visitors, and I feel concerned that other Western women may have misinterpreted his genuine proffered love for something ‘other’ and that he could have been accused of things I know he would never do! Hell, I was single and so was he! Speaking quite reasonable Hindi at the time helped me understand him more and led to my real love for this shaggy ‘hermit’. But it did become complicated, as we literally were ‘worlds apart’….but we gracefully left the more physical side of our relationship behind and remained firm friends.
I lived with him in a ‘cave’ under a rock he called ‘Mata’ (mother) for quite some time, visiting repeated times on various trips to the Himalayas.
Living a very simple life, wearing sari, smoking chillum, washing in the river, drinking from the spring and celebrating, his beloved, Shiva.
He taught me so much about all the plants that grew in the Himalayas, their medicinal value and uses, cooking on a fire and Hinduism.
Our story was real, despite being so unlikely. (I know many ‘travelling in India’, Western, friends were concerned for me, but I also know they were wrong to be!)
I have written lots about him in the diaries also.
I think of him often, in my, now, rather more mundane ‘incarnation’…..this was another place that I was enabled to live in almost perfect harmony with our environment.
Forever grateful for this joyous , deep, friendship. Joyful memories. How different my life would have been if I had stayed with him!!
Soul to soul’s ‘However do you want me’ just came on the radio…now he would have loved that tune!!
So no ‘crickets chirping at my door’….memories of a few other doors…in far away places…..
And precious memories still chirping in my mind….and bubbling gratitude for life filling my world with love and the recognition that I am.
So many extraordinary stories hidden behind so many older women’s eyes.
Most untold, sometimes remembered, but never doubt they are there…..