Have set out to read back journals; am mining for this essay-thing I have been writing; fear I will have far too few journals show for the year.

To write a diary every day is like returning to one’s own vomit. –Enoch Powell

The journals begin, actually, in Simla, in an A5 size, 144 page book with a picture of the blue-skinned Lord Rama “ready to release the arrow to make passage through the Ocean to Lanka” on the cover that cost 39 rupees. As I recall, when Ross and I left the store where I bought it, we watched a stray dog pick a fight with a monkey that had been hanging out, quite literally, on an old church. I think the exchange rate was between 40 and 45 rupees to the dollar.

25 April, 2006

It’s easy enough to make friends. I remember, I think, glancing over at this individual standing near the retaining wall. Not long after, he is saying casually, “A nice walk over here, not like Dehli.” He had just been “hanging out” with Josh and Paul from San Fran and they are speaking always their slang — “What’s up? What’s going on?” — so difficult to follow. But what he likes about Americans is that they speak from here –he grabs his Adam’s apple. I was never aware of speaking from there.

“Are you Jewish?”

Israelis also speak from there. His name is Manch, with a nasal on the n. His very good friend from Washington was in India six months, learned Hindi, taught him American slang — What’s up, what’s going on? He wants to know what I will do when I got home. I say “Get ready to go to South Korea to teach English.”

“Just don’t teach them slang.”

It’s strange to think about all of the things that can conceivably happen to a person in his lifetime and how few of those things we will ever know about the people we meet.

On the train to Kolkata, Jaye wanted me to think about: Do I have a soul? Just think about it, and in 5 years she’d love to know what I think. Not so much time, but a lot can happen to a person five years after she turns 22.


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