Archive for the 'Marilyn Stablein' Category

A Sound and Light Show

A Sound and Light ShowOn the day a birth-control clinic opened in Dhobi’s village, men and women from all over the area traveled many miles to attend.  Everyone was amazed as they stepped on the automatic door mats to see the doors swing open. Inside a Sound and Light Show illuminated the various methods of contraception in six dialects using life-sized models of people.  A full selection of new products bearing the names of prominent movie stars was available: Agni Diaphrams, Prakash Condoms.  The best-seller was a Hanuman Prophylactic that came with a full-color portrait of the Monkey God in one of his heroic poses.

A display table illustrated the prizes and incentive awards that everyone was eligible for.
Dhobi asked himself over and over again the big question, “Is a vasectomy worth a transistor radio set?”

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Special Treatment

Special TreatmentDhobi tried every medication sold in the local dispensary to get rid of itchy scalp:  Ayurvedic preparations, homeopathic concoctions, castor oil, linseed oil, mustard powder.  He tried yogic exercises such as standing on his head for ten minutes three times a day.  When his hair started to fall out he had a good excuse to visit the local herb doctor.  But even the doctor couldn’t stop that exasperating itch.
“Dandruff! It must be dandruff,” the doctor concluded, handing Dhobi yet another gooey cream rinse.
Dhobi dutifully took the bottle down to the river and bathed in the usual way, following up with applying the rinse to his hair.  It was so slimy, however, he had trouble rinsing the lotion out of his hair.  River silt clung to the strands.  He had to buy a large-toothed comb to ply his way through the mess.
Then Dhobi made a startling discovery.  Ambling down between the teeth of the comb was a large chunk of dandruff.  Dhobi looked closer.
“Ah-ha!” he exclaimed.  “Head lice!  I should have known.”
A special lice treatment was available in the bazaar.  For twenty-five paisa Dhobi could rent a monkey on a leash. The monkey meticulously picked through Dhobi’s scalp singling out the vermin and expertly popped them into his mouth.  With smacking lips, the monkey scrunched the lice between his teeth like pomegranate seeds, juice squirting all over.

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Flying Carpet

(Introductory Note: This tale is part of an ongoing series of prose poems based on actual dreams first recorded in 1968 when I lived and studied in the Himalayas for six years. The series titled Night Travels to Tibet conjures the surreal and crazy juxtaposition of eastern & western cultures, people and events.

Flying dragon

Flying Carpet
Marilyn Stablein

                 At the village chai shop, the chai-wallah, tea-maker, churns a pot of salty yak butter tea.  He serves me where I sit on carpet on the floor.  Then he adjusts a knob of some kind.

                 Suddenly we’re airborne.  The carpet cruises out the door and hovers three feet above an ancient caravan trail. The driver struggles to gain altitude then halts at a stop sign.

                “Don’t stop. Take it higher,” I urge. “Cut loose! Fly like Aladdin on his magic carpet! He never stopped for signals or hovered in traffic.”

                When I look down at the carpet I see the problem. It’s ugly!   Instead of a beautiful Oriental Persian carpet I’m sitting on a cheap shag rug.  It’s not even square or rectangular, just a frayed coffee-stained remnant of the cheapest polyester wall-to-wall gray shag torn in an odd shape.

               Just my luck, I think, stuck on a low-flying funky shag remnant cruising slower than an ox cart.  We’re barely skimming the ground.  I can walk faster in my sleep.

A special collector’s signed and numbered edition of seven dream-inspired tales, More Night Travels to Tibet, printed in Nepal on handmade lokta paper, with Tibetan woodblock prints from the author’s collection, is available online at   http://www.marilynstablein.com/#!artist-books/ch1q
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What is Compassion to a Fish?

What is Compassion to a Fish?Every day Dhobi, a washerman in India, hand washes clothes at the sandy banks of the river Ganges.  Fish, Dhobi thought one day, are like cows.  In India both lead privileged lives.  It is even considered lucky to be reborn a fish in a sacred lake or pond where one is treated royally, fed with offerings for the gods, able to swim unmolested, to live to a ripe old age.
In Bodh Gaya, a dusty village in Bihar state, there are fishmongers who cater to the Buddhist pilgrim trade.  For a modest sum a fish can be purchased from the sellers and set free.  The merit of such a compassionate act increases the pilgrim’s chances for a better rebirth.
On a pilgrimage one summer, Dhobi watched Buddhist pilgrims from many regions converge upon the village in great numbers doling out compassion, as alms for the poor.  In the search for meritorious good deeds that bring good karma, or in shopping for merit, some unusual questions arise.  Do fish have souls?  Do larger fish have greater souls?  What is compassion to a fish?  Dhobi admired the good intentions of the pilgrims.
But what about the fish, he wondered?  Each two-rupee liberation found them cast loose in the same pond from which they were caught, as no rivers flowed out of the village of Bodh Gaya.  So the fish made the rounds from the pond to the buckets and back to the pond again.  There’s no telling just how many times a fish had been liberated.

TICKETLESS TRAVELER: The Dhobi Stories, is a collection of twenty pithy fables. “For that first edition in 1980 I did all the layout… cut & paste the old fashioned way… and typed on an IBM selectric with proportional type to look more like it was printed. before desktop publishing…”.

Marilyn StableinMarilyn Stablein is the award winning author of eleven books including the memoir Sleeping in Caves: A Sixties Himalayan Memoir and a collection of prose poems More Night Travels to Tibet.  Her book Splitting Hard Ground: Poems won the New Mexico Book Award and the National Federation of Press Women’s Book Award.  She is also a visual artist. Her collages, assemblages and photographs have appeared on the covers of Rattle Magazine, Malpais Review, Gargoyle Magazine and in numerous publications and exhibitions.  Her award-winning artist books have been widely exhibited and published in LARK’s 1,000 Artist Books, The Bone Folder and Bound and Lettered magazine.    For a schedule of workshops, readings, talks and art exhibitions visit her website marilynstablein.com. Her books can be ordered through the bookstore she and her husband own Acequia Booksellers, a used, rare and independent bookstore in New Mexico and online at acequiabooksellers.com.

© 2013 marilyn stablein

Now you’ve read this, enjoy having a Listen to Marilyn – interviewed by Doug Grunther on station WDST 100.1 fm – Woodstock NY 2003. This interview/reading publicized ‘High in the Himalayas’, a chapbook published by Peter Lamborn Wilson.

“In the heyday of the sixties, during a seven-year stay in the Himalayas, Marilyn Stablein teaches herself how to not only cook a curry on a cow dung patty fire, but to master sadhu rituals like preparing chillums. Whether describing Mishra’s bhang lassi shop, the government hash store, her meeting with cannabis guru Ganesh Baba, or a trek to a cave in Kashmir to view Lord Shiva’s miraculous ice lingham, Stablein is an intrepid adventurer and humorous chronicler.”

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Losar at Bodhnath 2008

(by Marilyn Stablein, who lived in India & Nepal between 1966 & 1972).

Marilyn Stablein - Losar 2008.

In 1966 travellers from Istanbul to Oxford dreamed of journeying to Kathmandu for Christmas.

Today Western Buddhists, Tibetans living abroad, and indigenous Himalayan Buddhists from Ladhak to Assam make the annual pilgrimage to Bodhnath on the outskirts of Kathmandu to celebrate Tibetan Losar, New Year festivities.

In February 2008, in the dead of winter my daughter Sunita and I set out on our own pilgrimage to Nepal.  Thirty-six years had passed since I lived in Nepal.

Continue reading ‘Losar at Bodhnath 2008′

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