It lifts my heart. The sound of mandolin, fiddle, some banjo and guitar. Throw in some harmony and leads on each instrument–its an organic sound that packs a punch to the soul. When times are tough, I’m down and out and far from home, a bit of good old fashion American pickin’ does the trick for me. Got dayum.
I was down. I was out. Big time. 102 degree fever, the “Delhi Belly” got me. You don’t want to know the rest but I’m telling you any ways because I can’t keep the misery to myself. India’s Delhi Belly blows Mexico’s version, “Montezuma’s Revenge,” clear out of the water. Literally, yuck. I shat my fucking brains out. Really. So much toilet time, I couldn’t even think.
For me, our visit to Calcutta was spent mostly inside of the bathroom. I did later get well enough to go out and get moved by Mother Theresa’s convent and tomb and see Indian Nobel laureate and writer-painter-poet Rabindranath Tagore’s house, but it was cut short by severe illness. David had it too, and we were convinced it was from some tainted malai kofta, a kind of sweet cottage cheese dish, that we had in Varanasi. I’ll never forget it either, because while kofta is (or should I say was) a pretty delicious dish, it can’t be described properly without the latin prefix of Mal for bad.
I’m on the mend now though–knock on wood. Regardless, I owe as much to the music I’m listening to on the plane ride over to New Delhi as I do to the cocktail of pepto bismal, immodium and Cipro that I was and am now taking.
Forgetting my current situation, I turn my attention from looking at the Himalayas, seen in the distance from the right side of the plane, and close my eyes as Railroad Earth picks out a good one. Fall leaves drop from trees in Colorado in an explosion of orange, yellow and red. Then, the peaceful silent snows of winter, the first sprouts of spring bulbs and finally, summer’s sweet sunshine and wildflowers fill my head. I’m not homesick or longing, just put at ease by the familiarity of the music, like greeting and old friend. In one song, I smile and experience a whole year in Colorado without looking forwards or backwards
“Things aren’t that bad any ways,” I told myself, and thought about the book Learning to Breathe by travel writer and photographer Alison Wright that my great friend Michela gave me to read before I left for India and Nepal and she left for adventures and travels in South America. In it, Wright is riding in a bus in in Thailand when it collides head on with a car, killing several passengers and nearly killing Wright with multiple fractures and damaged organs that have to be treated in a rural Thai clinic. It’s not all pain, its a really inspiring story and she ends up circumabulating Mount Kailash in Tibet. A great read, but I digress.
“Home is where the heart is,” as they say, and since I don’t exactly have a home and won’t for some time, I can’t help but smile when the music picks mine up on the mishap filled road of travel.