4 am … wide awake … raining in Varanasi … starting the day with a smile …

… that’s what I wrote on FB this morning … (at 4 am!)

and it is cold here, in India in January! This weather is part of the retreating monsoon (more later on Indian weather patterns) …

I went into the kitchen, cut up some papaya, drizzled it with honey and prepared to brew some coffee, but thought again and did not start the burner. I walked out to the main gate. It is dark, dark and dark; oh, there’s a street lamp as well as a light illuminating the guardhouse. I thought I’d walk on the road a bit because it would be deserted this early in the morning, but the gate was chained and I decided not to wake the guard to unlock it who was sleeping in the guard room. I stood at the gate and looked out on the street that is filled with a constant flow of honking traffic during the day. I breathe and feel the rhythm of the area: no traffic, no horns, light drizzle, everything damp, cold and wet and thankfully no dust; on the other side of the street, a dog trots in between makeshift vendor stands. That’s enough contemplation. I walk back to the kitchen to start the coffee.

As I read and eat the papaya, the rain increases to a proper downfall: it is calming, rhythmic, soothing. I put my hat back on and tighten my scarf (“it is cold in here!”). I sauté the few, leftover spoonfuls of last night’s dinner – a spicy potato, carroty, root-y, oniony, tasty(!) thing – and crack in two eggs.

I sit at the table and read and drink coffee and finish my eggs. It is still pitch black outside and, as I continue to read, the rain continues to fall. “I’ll make a morning of this and finish my book,” I think.

Then, the lights go out: it is darker than dark. I smile and let out a chuckle. See, the electricity goes out frequently, sometimes the auxiliary generator kicks in, and sometimes it doesn’t. This time, it doesn’t. I’m not afraid of and I’m happy to function in the dark. I’ve done it many times before and under more duress as well as a few times while at Kriti. I decide not to bother to let my eyes adjust (“Who needs rods! My hands will do fine. Cones: get ready on stand-by”) and walk over to the corner and feel around for a matchbox (I’ve done this before). I wonder if there are more candles, because they were running low. “Ah Ha … Someone bought a fresh package!” I put down the matchbox and feel around and open it like one would a bag of potato chips. I light the candle and I try to be clever and drip some wax into the bottom of a candleholder so the candle will stay upright. The flame crackles and goes out. Hmm … now, it’s darker than the dark of before since I’d been staring at the flame. No worries: I feel for the matchbox, strike and … nothing. “it’s the humidity.” In fact, the cardboard matchbox feels damp. I try another. Strike. Light. Success. I am now sitting back at the table reading my book. My cones are working fine. I will not be deterred.

About a half hour later, it is still dark outside and I decide to go back to my studio to write about my arrival in Varanasi. It’s been about a month and I still haven’t been able to write about it. I‘ve done a lot since then, and I’ve made good progress on finding Indian Granite to work with and even feel that I have changed a bit in the process. I hope these posts about my arrival in Varanasi don’t turn out to be anticlimactic, but that’s the creative process: wondering, wandering, plotting, plodding, continuing.

Back to the issue at hand – I have a decision: do I just go back to my studio and start writing, or do I do my dishes by candlelight? I do the dishes and get them out of the way. I reread a sentence about the formation of deuterium (I will make it clear why I’m reading about deuterium later, but I will say it is important for how I thought about my arrival in India and is, in a broad and distant sort of way, related to granite and my art work). I think, “Man, do I understand this? Can I write about the formation of deuterium,  or am I going to sound like a DooFuss?” See: one of the reasons I think I’m putting off writing about my first day in Varanasi is because I have a lot of connections I want to make. I know that I won’t make them all in one essay and I have time and I don’t have to do everything. It’s just that I’m afraid to describe and link together hydrogen, helium, deuterium, heavy water, my arrival in India and the appearance of Granite on our planet all together, all at the same time. There. I said it. Now, I get over it and get on with it – this blog is about curiosity, that’s it.

So, I rise from my seat, determined to knock out these dishes, go back to my studio and start some writing.

I reach for the candle, and knock it over. It’s dark, again: the darkest it’s been all day. Ha! This is comedy. I reach for the extinguished candle and feel wax that has spilled all over the table.

Forget it: I’ll do the dishes when the sun comes up…

… which it now is and it’s still raining … but it feels fresh and new and maybe even a little heavy (*wink*).

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Filed under Art, Story

5 responses to “4 am … wide awake … raining in Varanasi … starting the day with a smile …

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