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Date: Sun Apr 29, 2001
Subject: My time in India is nearly over!

Hi folks,

Well, here I am in smelly Delhi once more, waiting a few more days to catch a flight home to Brisbane.

Since I last wrote I've spent a week in Rishikesh, where I intended to rest after the heat of Varanasi before these last few days in Delhi. Unfortunately, I found Rishikesh to only slightly cooler than Varanasi and I spent the week with diarrhoea and a nasty cough. So it wasn't the wonderful mountain holiday I envisaged to wrap up my time in India. Oh well, I did rest a lot (in bed!) and I also got to play a couple of times with the local sitarwala, Hari Krishan Shah, which was nice.

In these last few days in Delhi I'm planning to meet a few tabla-playing friends: Gulfam Sabri, who has come to Brisbane a few times courtesy of local singer Rahim Zullah; Gladwin Charles, who came on tour to Brisbane a few years ago; and Govinda Chakraborty, a student of my guru-ji who I have yet to meet, but I'm keen to do so. It's
funny - three tabla players, Gulfam, Gladwin & Govinda; their names all begin with G, they all live in Delhi, and there's a Muslim, a Christian and a Hindu.

I've had such an incredible time these last ten months in India, gone through a lot of changes and made some very special connections with friends from all around the world. Ten months is a long time, especially in India. Here's a brief summary of my time:

July - Monsoon in Varanasi, Guru-Purnima, first lessons neatening up my fingering and learning some nice new bols.
August - Kalachakra Initiation from Dalai Lama in Spiti - certainly a life-changing experience - the lessons I learnt there have really brought me a lot of satisfaction in my relationships with people around me. I must be a Buddhist!
September/October - back to Varanasi, lessons lessons lessons, sounds getting clearer stronger sweeter, new Japanese friends, Diwali and the Hindu festive season.
November/December - oh no it's jaundice! Bed, rest, recovery, boring food, is my time here for nothing? But I must say since having had jaundice my diet and lifestyle has been much healthier than ever before.
January - Kathmandu, consumer capital, new visa, back to Varanasi for Saraswati Puja - the start of much Devi Shakti and tabla power for me!
February - Brisbane friends, concerts, much practice, Sivaratri, many students learning from Guru-ji, including our Liz - Goodonya Liz!
March/April - more practice, sitar-friends, Holi, more Japanese friends (love ya' Noriko!), NAVRATRI what a life changing experience, so much pleasure and satisfaction from tabla now, but then - busybusybusy too many last minute errands no time for practise any more rushrushrush hothothot getting ready to go... God I have a lot of luggage!!! Rishikesh, Delhi...

I wonder how you Brisbane folks will find me when I return. On the physical level everyone says I'm much thinner and I really hate these Indian haircuts, but all that doesn't really count for much. I must say that on the mental, emotional, spiritual and musical levels I feel like I've matured A LOT in this last ten months. Of course I'm
in India and in a different place it's natural to feel different. When I return home to my old haunts how many old habits will return?
As brother Nic says, "The future's a mystery, the past's history, the present is a gift - that's why it's called the present."

Love to all,
Aum Mani Padme Hum

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