3 August 2008

Letter 2.56

No, my handwriting is not a strain on my eyes. I didn't even think it particularly small. I‘ve a little book of texts, etc. that I've collected over the years. Intended for use while travelling, I wrote as small as possible to get in as much as I could, and that's really small. I used a Parker 21 fountain pen and it took a lot of care to write, especially since much of it was in Pali. Anyway, that's how I learned to write small and legible. Perhaps, I'll nest take up thumb-nail sketches.

Perhaps it is the rarer atmosphere that makes kite-flying difficult. I'd ascribed it to my lack of skill. Two nights ago the mountains were visible at sunset for the first time since the rains began; then at dusk huge fires were lit everywhere in the valley, and on the Ridge, and on the distant hills, celebrating -- I think -- the Hindu New Year (at Autumn Equinox?), and yesterday, for the first time since Nepal in '66, it was possible for me to see the mountains all day long, and this morning -- about 10 AM -- there's still not a cloud in the sky. Not a breeze, which makes me suspect that I can now retire my kite (a large diamond shape, which I made myself).

No, I have no interest in writing books. At present I'm concerned with another art-form, one admittedly less salable, but much more satisfying, which is called meditation, and might be looked at as turning oneself into 'a work of art' -- i.e. making oneself more pleasing to be in the presence of -- and this takes up most of my time. I sometimes pick up a paint-brush, however, and see if I can coax the color and line into something resembling a thanka, a Tibetan religious painting. This requires delicate work and fine concentration.

As for the Cranks of the Ridge, there seems to be little space left on this aerogramme, but, perhaps, special mention should be made of Buddhananda, who I stayed with briefly when I first arrived. He's a fat old Englishman ordained earlier this year after his retirement from the Intelligence and Security branch of the British High Commission, whose mind is still warped by his past: he's always pulling off little 'coup d'etats' to 'keep in practice', such as picking the lock of a door when he has the key in his pocket, and he knows the intimate life of 250,000,000 of India's 500,000,000 population. He tells, in the strictest confidence, the same stories to everyone he meets, even casual strangers. He has a black heart of gold. He's lived on Crank's Ridge longer than most of the Cranks.

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