adventures of a fearless (mostly) globe trotting seeker...
wondering, wandering, barefoot, nomadess

Friday, February 17, 2012

karma kool aid

feb 10
Calcutta, india
Yesterday i was given a tour of the area I would be teaching yoga to the sex workers at in the Sonagachi neighborhood. i walked behind my guide through the crazy, suffocating back alleys where the sex workers live and work. There were children playing soccor in the streets next to piles of rotting food.

Women sat lined up against the brightly painted walls, in equally bright saris, all staring at me with black eyes rimmed in kajol as they wait to be selected by customers to be paid for pleasure or some fascimile of pleasure. their eyes looked back at me like the eyes of time, dark, glassy, unpenetrable. I feel fear and tightness in my lungs walking through the decrepit alleys that twist and turn, the buildings leaning in towards each other so that it stays cool in the brothel neighborhood, but doesn’t let in much light. The air is thick, moist and sweaty, not able to pass to the sky, it is recirculated through the bodies, creating a feeling of gloominess. Like water that becomes brackish when it can’t flow back to rivers and the sea. Water like that you aren’t supposed to drink, they call it “black water”, it doesn’t flow.
Sonagachi is a fully formed little universe, with all the sex workers and all the businesses that serve the sex workers and business of prostitution. There are chai wallahs sitting on stoops pouring the sweet brown liquid into the red clay cups that are a signature of Calcutta. There are carts full of fresh frying samosas and puri. The sticky smells of spices and sweat cling to my skin. Calcutta, city of joy, the laughter of the sex workers children rings through the alleys. Some of the children have just gotten out of school and are wearing their neat uniforms, the girls with their glossy black hair tied in braids and ribbons, they buy snacks at the street stalls. Lakshman says many of the women got here because someone married a poor girl and then sold them to sonagachi, to the madams and pimps who are part of the eco system of prostitution. It would be easy to descend into madness here, except that this is a place just like all other places, and there is a logic to survival. Above all, we find a way to survive.
I feel a strange sense of dread knowing I am coming back to teach yoga in a few days. I cannot explain this feeling, it feels like the sense of dread a warrior would know when battle is approaching. What battle am I fighting? What secrets of my own subconscious are being churned from deep in the sea within me? When I came last march I was alone. This time I am not alone. Lakshman is walking through the alleys ahead of me, as if god perfectly scripted for me to have a bodyguard, a steadying male presence that calms me. He came to teach them kalari, for self defense. And gabe is with me this time, his support means more to me than anything, that he is here seeing the work I have been doing all these years when he was back at home feeling I didn’t love him enough when I would leave for India.
When we emerge from Sonagachi back to the main road, with all the blaring afternoon rush hour traffic, it is as if we have been spat out of the womb, the thick, brackish air of the brothel opening to the grey Calcutta sky. We buy some roasted corn from a street vendors cart and head back to our guest house where gabe is waiting.

what are we here for?
i mean BIG, what are we here for?

we are here
to create some joy in this world. because as i watched the children kick the soccor ball, i thought, how strong is the drive to be alive. how strong is the desire to find joy and happiness however fleeting in these streets, in our own hearts. and i say this whole crazy fucked up ball of wax is mothers song to us, a hymn of heartbreak and love and peace when it descends upon us like the grace of a dove.

so raise your voices, make some art of this existence, why not? let's make beauty out of the chaos.
Feb 11
Calcutta, india
The blade falls, and blood pours out over the cement, the priest pulls the goats body away and the legs are still twitching while the heads rolls a few feet away.

we are in the kali ghat temple in Calcutta. The crowd to see the mother and get her blessing is crushing each other. People push and shove, no one is acting “spiritual”. We know a priest who cuts us in line, saving us about an hour of waiting. The woman we get cut in front of starts screaming, “why? Why?”. It is not fair, but today we are the ones cutting in line, tomorrow we may be the ones getting cut in front of. We have to firmly grip each others arms so that we don’t get pushed out of line. It is especially heightened as you get closer to the Mother statue. A fat police man starts grabbing people and throwing them out of the sanctuary. People are yelling, there is so much fighting in the temple. I say my prayers when it is my turn to stand before the statue, a primordial chunk of rock with three bright orange-red eyes staring back at me. Blood red eyes. Kali, the mother of birth and death, liberator. Then I am quickly shoved aside, my turn is over.
On the way out we stop at the sacrifice pit, where they are beating drums, burning incense and sacrificing goats. I stand on the steps and watch.
The blade falls again and again.
two goats
three goats
four goats
five goats
the goats crying stings my ears. Each time they sacrifice a goat I make the sign of the cross over my heart. I was born a Christian not a hindu.
forgive us father, for we know not what we do

after the round of sacrifice ends, I walk to the U-shaped chopping block and put my own neck to the metal where the goats heads were placed. There is still blood on it from the sacrifices.
mother, my life belongs to you
I leave a small rupee coin offering in the dish and we leave the temple.

Feb 13
Calcutta, india
today in the calcutta class for the sex workers i asked, "what is important to you? what are your biggest obstacles? what brings you hope?" my 19-year old son was in the class with me watching. i pointed to him and told them how i had been a teenage mom and had a hard time in society because i was an unmarried single mother, sometimes i would look at my child and not know how i would feed him and that was heartbreaking. one of the women said, "we are the same as you. we are sex workers because we have to be to feed our children. only to feed our children. a woman cannot leave her child. the men have left and now we do what we have to to feed our children. i have no attachment, i do not take the karma, because i am only doing my duty as a mother." i said, "i think there is a great pain in the world that the men are feeling too. how can we change the world? maybe when we raise our children we can change the world with them."

the woman who spoke shook my hand before she left the room. she said, "don't worry, we are with you" i am here to "teach" them, but they see the hunger in me for transformation in a suffering world and they are reassuring me. they are with me, she put her strength in her hand in my hand, she gave me the gift of solidarity. "we fight because we must. life has taught us to fight. everything alive fights to live and we have learned from nature." warriors. mothers. lovers. somehow this has brought me deep peace, a year ago it brought me outrage at the conditions they live in.

feb 17

kerala, India

The air in south India is warm and there is the smell of smoke rising from the little fire of coals in the kitchen where our hosts are preparing chapatis. Birds are calling to each other and the sound of horns in the distance fills the tropical air. We are in kerala where we have come to conyinue studying kalari with lakshman. We arrived on an overnight bus where I had a fitful sleep in a crawl space above the drivers head, my body pressed a few inches from the roof.

gabe called his girlfriend back in the states today and got some very bad news. His best friend, jimmy, the one who stole my car in the fall, was put in jail for hustling drugs.

That could have been my son.

That is not my son.

My son is here with me in India, he has stopped drinking because he grew tired of feeling fucked up all the time. How does Jimmy’s mom feel? According to gabe she is an alcoholic burn out who has a hard time getting her sentences out because of permanent damage. His dad used to be an alcoholic but quit. And jimmy is a short, charming street hustler who plays the guitar well and has good stories to tell but can’t keep himself from stealing from everyone around him. I hope jail changes him. Gabe says jail doesn’t change anybody for the better. “he’ll just get raped in the ass”. I shudder to think.

What happens to men in jail? My old room mate went to jail, I thought he would get eaten alive, a pale grey haired computer programmer with all the hardened gansters and felons. He told me there was a guy who kept picking on him, pushing to get him mad. They were in their cell one night and the other inmate said, “look up at that star in the window, that’s all you’re gonna see when I’m fucking you”. The guards came by and my old room mate got out and told them what happened and they kept him separated after that. My son could have been in jail with his friend. Young men who go to jail tend to spend the rest of their lives going in and out, they get “institutionalized”, so that jail with it’s regular schedule, 3 meals and a hard bed starts to feel more comfortable and safe than trying to make it in the outside world.

I can’t help but remember when I was in India a little over a year ago in varanasi and I called gabe the day before thanksgiving and he said he was smoking tweak and hung up on me. He said, “why are you in India trying to help people when your own son is in so much pain at home?”. I could not explain to him why I had to go, why I could not stay and give up my dreams to be a good minivan driving mother. I had to go to India because it was the fire of passion burning inside me, it is my path to acceptence of my pain with my own parents so I can love my son freely without the same samskaras.

It could have been the same this year. I could have been here in India trying to help the sex workers and gotten the phone call that gabe was in jail with jimmy. I think I would have died. But this time is different, he is with me, all those years of praying and ritual changed things inside me to make a way for us to have a better relationship.

Gabe feels a little guilty that he has left jimmy behind. I tell him no, he did what he had to to escape that fate for himself. I remember that pivotal afternoon in December when we sat in the IHOP eating a burger and fries and I asked him to come to India with me. He told me jimmy had done heroin for the first time. He said he had to get out of his situation before it got much worse. he saw the train wreck coming and got off that train, thank god. We light a candle for jimmy, the jail bird gutter angel tonight. May he see more clearly, may he be free. You never know what it takes for a person to hit rock bottom and change for good.

email home:

how many times when gabe and i were apart have i prayed
at the sundance with the native americans in south dakota
in the dergha with the sufis in istanbul
at the tantrik temple in india

i prayed:
please god protect my son when i cannot

and i was buying time
that i would be stronger through these practices and that nothing terrible,
nothing of permanent damage would happen to him in the meantime
please god, goddess
i asked the universe to have patience with me, with my son, to give us time

and i feel it did happen that way
we are together here now and transformation is possible

some of that really bad shit though, it don't change easy...
the bloodlines of our families and ancestry is carved deep beneath our skin
the patterns and habits that are carried by one generation
and placed on the backs of the next
seem like endless spirals, circles within circles that keep birthing themselves
and yet, the desire in me to transform the pain i carry from my parents,

from the abuses they suffered and then inflicted on me

has been so strong

many times i thought i was losing the battle or fooling myself
i have felt i have been moving blindly,

chopping my way through a chaotic storm for along time,
but i felt some lighthouse in the distance that i could not stop the storm

and i could not turn back
i had to stay on course even when i was blind
but something inside me was not blind, some inner compass was true
is this what we call faith?

all parents and children ache for each other in this way
our blood is our strongest religion

it has been a long 6 weeks in india

i look forward to hugs and sisterhood back in america at the shore of another sea


Monday, February 13, 2012

Tantrik temple ritual

photo by julianne reynolds taken in Jan during the tantrik india pilgrimage

Devipuram Temple, India

KAMAKHYA...temple of the mothers genitals...

there is internal and external puja ritual worship to the Goddess
external temples can be built on the earth, but the internal temple is in the body

we can have bhoga and moksha, pleasure and freedom
the Mother is happy when we work and loves us when we play

a ritual bath is given to awaken kundalini at the root and send the shakti sleeping there to meet her lover shiva at the crown, their twinning opening the mystical central channel shushumna, called "the bridal chamber" by gnostics.

shushumna doesn't open except by love and longing, that's why it is called the bridal chamber, first they must be married two as One, red and white channels of the sun and moon become rose petal pink at the third eye, the pineal gland.

the energy of their maithuna union flows with amrit (nectar of immortality) and overflows, making the thousand petal lotus at the crown of the head blossom, connecting form to formless, two becomes the mystic One, and Sri, grace, rains down to feed the root and begin the never ending cycle again.

Through desire we manifest to experience ourselves as god in form. Through desire we experience ourselves through playfulness. The serpent devours her own tail to begin again.

tantra has a history of secrecy from the uninitiated.
why throw pearls before swine? you will only be ridiculed and punished the saying goes...
those who know do not speak...but if we do not speak how can we share the light we have seen through this path?

Friday, February 10, 2012

love from calcutta

dear crazy strong beautiful humans i love

i am in kolkata this morning

yesterday i walked the the crazy, suffocating back alleys where the sex workers live and work...children playing soccor in the streets next to piles of rotting food,

women sitting lined up against the bright painted walls, all staring at me with black eyes rimmed in kajol as they wait to be selected by customers to be paid for pleasure or some fascimile of pleasure...their eyes looked back at me like the eyes of time....dark, glassy, unpenetrable

what are we here for?
i mean BIG, what are we here for?

to create some joy in this world...because as i watched the children kick the soccor ball, i thought, how strong is the drive to be alive. how strong is the desire to find joy and happiness however fleeting in these streets, in our own hearts. and i say this whole crazy fucked up ball of wax is mothers song to us, a hymn of heartbreak and love and peace when it descends upon us like the grace of a dove.

so i love your art and the raising of your voices, why not? let's make beauty out of the chaos...

today i go on a tantric temple pilgrimage for the mothers blessings
getting ready to go to the kalighat temple
then to a baul (tantric sufis style music of bengal) group tonight
then to tapith, a tantric temple to tara where they worship openly in the cremation grounds
then teaching yoga to the sex workers
then circling back to kamakhya temple to seal the tantric yoni portal

it is most auspicious to go to these 3 temples on pilgrimage: kalighat, tapith and kamakhya, they make a triangle, yoni

full on tantra land here


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Freedom Fighters

Feb 1

Auroville, India

Does God hear our prayers?

The crumpled bone bag of a man holds out a tin cup for change, his knees jutting out at sharp angles as he sits cross legged on the filthy asphalt street. I walk past him. Suhkasana we call that pose in yoga class; easy seated posture. I heard his voice crying for money, but I looked straight ahead. The hunger is too great to be fed and giving money to street beggars is like feeding oil to a fire, it flares up and spreads dangerously, unexpectedly. I cringe at the thought of all the beggars rushing at me, pulling my clothes and hair. I cringe too, as I walk away, nothing today brother, I say to myself as I look blindly ahead.

We have gone to Puducherry to get books and incense and see the Sri Aurobindu and Mothers ashram.

Earlier this morning I took a kalari class with Lakshman and Vinod and after fell asleep for a long nap with the sounds of the wet jungle and the cries of gecko lizards calling to each other that sound as loud as birds. We are staying in a beautiful European style house owned by a german man named Igor. There are brown tile floors, refreshingly white washed ceilings and light lemon yellow walls in the living room with a small colonial fireplace. Dark wood doors with mosquito netting and window panes covered with lacy black-iron designs. There is something elegant and delightful about a house like this being dropped in the middle of the jungle. The smell of honey-musk from the jasmine trees lays like a heavy carpet and makes the air thick and sensuous to breath. A lot of the trees here are broken in half, the thick trunks snapped like toothpicks from the cyclone that hit this area a month ago. An Indian friend told us, “Now there will be a lot of suicides from the farmers. The cashew tree takes thirty years to make fruit”. A blight on this otherwise beautiful paradise. The dogs howled in the dark jungle last night, a mourning or a warning.

I can’t tell whether I am dreaming or awake in India a lot of the time, this state of confusion is one of the things I come for.

Am I awake or dreaming? Who is awake and who is dreaming? Is this all a dream? Who am I?

They had a puja last night after dinner. We went up to the top room in the house where they had laid out all the objects for worship. I was so sleepy, I didn’t know if I could stay awake for hours, but they said, “It is a tantra puja, you lay down if you like”. Meaning that tantriks aren’t big on formality and rules, thank God for that.

I sit up for the first part of the ritual. The rain has made the electricity go out and candles light the room as the pujari recites mantras and offers flowers to the sri chakra statue. He passes us small cups filled with amrit, one of the five forbidden things that tantriks use in worship. The pujari says we should have real skull cups, like the Buddhist paintings where the dakini holds the cap of a human skull to drink the ambrosia from. I feel sleepy so I lay down, I feel as if my whole body is being stung by mosquitos. I have felt this way before, I think it is surges of electricity in my body when kundalini is being activated, it puts me in an agitated trance. I fall asleep, or an almost sleeping state, Gabe lays down too and I hear the steady rhythms of his breath so I know he has fallen asleep. We are both curled up like zygotes in Mothers womb on the straw floor mats. I feel the energy move between us, mother and son as we dream a new dream for our lives, undoing the karmas of our ancestors in this altered state of consciousness.

At the end of the ritual I sit up, they give us plates of food to eat with fried fish, bits of chicken, breads and a boiled egg. I eat as much as I can so late at night and wash it down with one more cupful of liquor. I wake up gabe and we walk through the dense jungle to the house we are sleeping in. lakshman goes with us because he says there are a lot of snakes. “Snakes, peacocks and monkeys”. The peacocks can eat the snakes, can eat the poisonous cobra. Before the puja Laksman said, “the amrit (nectar of immortality) is inside the poison. The snake has poison, but the poison is also one of the best medicines in ayurveda”. To separate the nectar from the poison is the alchemy of tantra.

“I’ll fucking kill you!”

Gabe wakes me up by accidentally hitting me with a flailing arm in his sleep.

“Sorry, I was having a bad dream”.

In the morning he says the puja gave him the bad dream by bringing his fears to him. “I think you have to confront your worst fears to conquor them” he says. He is starting to understand tantra. His hands are still scarred from where the doctor in Chennai did surgery on them and I take them to inspect, the brown and dark dried blood red scabs are still deep pockmarks in his skin. But I can see they are healing and in a few weeks all the scabs will be gone. In a few months the scars left from the scabs will be gone too.

In Puducherry, I stop at an ATM on a crowded street, the sky keeps opening grey clouds in sputtering afternoon rain that leaves my skin moist and the exaughst fumes of the auto rickshaws, motorcycles and rare luxery german cars cling to my skin in the humidity. We turn a corner onto a wide, clean street with green trees lining the sidewalks and hardly any traffic. We are off the main Indian thoroughfare and near the French quarter of old Pondicherry where all the European tourists are.

This is the area surrounding Sri Aurobindu and the Mother’s ashram. The Mother herself was French. Sri Aurobindu was an Indian freedom fighter who resisted the British and was imprisoned for a year. He came out of his imprisonment a changed man, a new soul. He refused to rejoin the freedom fighting movement when his friends urged him back. He said it was not the way for him anymore, he had seen the Absolute Truth and had to live for that. The ashram was built around his awakening. The Mother was a French woman who came to visit Pondicherry with her husband, she had been a mystic since a child, and she left her husband to stay with Aurobindu as his spiritual partner. Their relationship is still shrouded in mystery, but it is clear that she represented for him the sacred feminine principal that manifests grace.

We go in the ashram, there is a deep peace and silence in the atmosphere there. We follow lakshman to the Samadhi, the grave where the saints body rests. It is a long rectangle of marble with colorful fresh flowers floating on the top, arranged like beautiful tile designs. I kneel down and put my forehead on the cool white and grey marble edge. I feel silence and prayer rise up inside me. Gabe kneels and places his forehead next to mine. I pray without words to the God I have always known, to the God I knew when I was a little girl before I stopped believing. It does not matter what I prayed, it only matters that I prayed, that I felt something unsayable.

My child, here beside me, God this is my child. A few months ago I was so afraid for him. Afraid he would do heroin with his friends. An old prayer echoes inside me, I remember kneeling in church and repeating after the priest, Lord hear my prayer. Yes Lord. Lord hear my prayer. I look at my child and he is the most fragile thing, whose flame could be damaged or extinguished by chance, by choice, by fate. I look at my child and he is the most enduring thing, who will live like a ribbon of legacy long beyond me. I pray to the Gods of every nation and name, “Hear my prayer, feel my love and protection for my son”.

“Prayer is the smaller Mother praying the the bigger Mother, it is one Mother talking to herself”. One of the books inside the ashram shop explains that prayer is just the One who has broken itself to become many praying back to Itself. Relating the this One as the Mother is a way to personalize and feel close. Does God hear my prayers? Do I hear the deepest desires of my own heart?

The night spreads her dark wings over the humid twilight as the three of us walk along the beach. There is a giant statue of Mahatma Gandhi with an orange marigold mala around his black polished stone neck. We stop for pizza and ice cream. Gabe goes up to a little stand with sodas, toilet paper, tooth brushes and biscuits. He asks the older Indian man with a tilak on his forehead to buy a loose cigarette. The old man says, “Six rupees”. I step up to the counter to pay in silver coins I dig out of the bottom of my purse. Gabe asks for matches and lights up. The old man makes a funny face and Lakshman laughs. He says, “Never in India will you see a mother buying her son a cigarette”.

“That’s because in Indian cuture the children behave one way around their families and another way in society. I prefer freedom and honesty”.

I point to the moon, “Ardha Chanra, half moon” I say to Lakshman.

“No, it is five-sixths moon I think”.

He would know, he counts the days by the phases of the moon.

On the rickshaw ride home in the inky night as thick as water our little tuk tuk passes through the las vegas lights of the city to bravely bumpety-bumps on the unpaved dirt road home.

Gabe says, “I’m lucky, I can get you to teach me meditation. You’re a great teacher”.


“You know it’s funny, ten years ago I wouldn’t have been able to say you were a great teacher, or even a good mother, sorry”.

“That’s okay, it’s true”

“but now you are a great teacher and ones of the best mothers in the world”

“I’ve worked hard on myself in ten years”

“what made you work so hard, you said before it was because you got suicidal?”

“yes. I had a lot of suffering. I couldn’t just fit in the world. I worked hard to find something that I wanted to live for besides being a mother. I knew your dad would come back when you were a teenager and I wanted to be able to let you go, to have your own life without clinging and making you feel guilty for me. You know, a lot of moms tell their kids they love them and they live for them and it should nice, but it also makes a cage out of the love. Makes the child feel guilty if they want to separate from their mother. I wanted to have something I loved so I wasn’t so desperate”.

Maybe I was selfish too.

“but you did make me feel bad at first when I went to live with my dad”

“yea, well, it was a hard time. A lot of hard karmas to live out. You were the child of two teenage runaway high school dropouts, a child of rebellion, revolution, suffering and hope. That’s what I would remind myself when you were in trouble. What else did I expect from the way we were living when you were conceived? It’s like watching history play out through your kid, but maybe things can get better”

“like you made your bed, so lay in it?”

“kinda. Or more like you made your bed so don’t be surprised who is sleeping next to you”

Monday, February 6, 2012

punk rock yoga

february 6

auroville, india

the graveyard

all he wanted was to get some pot, so he had to go to the graveyard, because that's where you get pot in india, and now he was watching a body burn before his eyes. the skinny, dark, dirty little man who was one of the keepers at the smashan, graveyard, had recognized him from when he came with my group of yoga students to meditate the week before. gabe said the keeper got the pot and put it in the clay chillum pipe and motioned for him to say a prayer and take a hit and then watch the body in flames as the plant hit his brain. he said he saw waves of energy coming off the burning corpse. the arms shot up and had to be pushed back into the fire. where does our spirit live?

"bom bom bole, ah key uh kolay" means "great lord shiva, open my eyes".

the shaivites, worshippers of shiva say this prayer before they take a hit of hash off their chillum pipe. they say life is maya, illusion of shakti, the primal feminine force of creation. the hash is a strong dose of shakti. they smoke the maya to see through the maya.

there is a statue of shiva in the smashan, bright blue with a leopard loincloth, his lips rosebud pink and his dreadlocks piled on top of his head with a crescent moon in his hair. he is painted as bright as a disneyland attraction and when i pointed him out to gabe, he thought it was a woman god at first. trani- shiva. god of the graveyards because he is a corpse himself, he represents awareness watching the dance of his female partner shakti as she dances the lila of maya, weaving the filmy sheets of illusion before our eyes like a great bellydancer, keeping us enticed but never revealing too much at once.

after that day, gabe said everything started moving. when he would sit and stare, energy would start moving off the trees. the southern jungle can swallow you up like a technicolor malaria dream, time slows down until it eats itself and you half expect a dinosaur to come walking through the dusty red earth and green palm trees. i guess if you are used to using drugs to escape the suffering of reality, it is a strange day when they start waking you up to a bigger reality. i was worried he wouldn't like india, but he loves it. he walks around the ashram skipping my yoga classes with the village girls following him around like a movie star. he slept through and missed dinner one night, so the girls brought him dinner to his room the next night. one of them peeled his hard boiled egg once when is was too hot for him to touch, now that's admiration. he hasn't had a haircut since we left america, so his brown hair is puffed up like a pompadour. mostly he has been hanging out, getting stoned and meditating sitting under the trees like a nineteen year old cross between james dean, sid vicious and the buddha.

that's my son, a son of shiva. the god of the low caste, outcast and the original punk rocker. shiva sits in the formless void watching the world dance, the world burn, the world of form shifting forms. through death we are born. the tantriks say "die before you die" to exceed the power of other mortals who fear death and so only half live.

i have missed my son for years. for the six years i have been coming to india, most of my prayers have been for god, for the creator, to watch over him when we have been apart. i came to india the first time right after he moved in with his dad at fourteen, we had always been together before that, like a mama kangaroo with her baby in her pouch. i had been such a young mother, pregnant at seventeen, that i had struggled to survive and to scratch and fight in this world for a place to keep us. i made a lot of mistakes. i had a lot of regrets. there is nothing more painful than being a parent looking at your childs pain that you know comes from your choices. after he moved in with his dad he stopped talking to me for a year. i circled holy temples and mountains repeating my prayers. on the outside i was halfway around the world. on the inside, i was circling the innermost sanctuary of my heart.

god help me to heal the pain i carry from my family. god help me to not cause my son the same pain. sandwiched between fate and free will, the things i can change and the things i cannot. i close the distance between the two with prayer and acceptance. just a little over a month ago i wasn't sure he would come. i picked him up drunk drinking bottles of cheap alcohol with his friends in a bad part of town when a few gang members pulled up. for a minute, it looked like things could have gone horribly wrong. god get us out of here alive, i prayed. and here we are, in india together.