Sunday, August 1, 2010



note: the following blog post will be split into 6 installments, of which this is the second, and each will be posted in roughly 2 day intervals beginning August 1st 2010. your comments are welcome below. As always, click the pictures to expand them if you like.

see the first installment here

How do you solve a problem like Saraswati? (apologies to Oscar and Hammerstein)

Yeah, it's more like, how do you afford a trip to Maui?

Saraswati had put several of her friends in touch to see if we could work out an arrangement for keeping lodging costs down. As it turned out, Alecia and I were going to be arriving at the airport in Maui within minutes of each other.

Alecia and I had a conversation on the phone the night before I left, and I already knew I was going to like her. She has a kind pleasant way and a thoughtful skillful communication. I like the way her voice goes up at the end of sentences, and the smooth lyrical quality of it. I'm very sound oriented, so voices are important to me, I can't deal with an uncomfortable voice. Thank goodness, you can never tell through email.

Landing in Maui:

Arrival: Saturday July 24th
We make a plan to meet at the rental car place in the Maui airport. When I arrive at 7 PM I set up the car, and she arrives shortly after. It was instantly clear (at least to me) that we'd be spending a lot of time together, and so we agreed we'd leave the driving to me (I LOVE to drive), and save the additional driver charge.

Setting off to the inn, we found a sort of a bar/pub to have some food, and got a great coconut beer along with it. Both being friends of Saraswati, the conversation proceeds with easy camaraderie. We were quickly seeing how quirky the island's inhabitants are. Being from New York, I'm not used to seeing people lock eye contact with you when you briefly glance at them, but here that's what was happening. In Virginia, I would have considered this a redneck bar, but I don't know what you call it in Maui.


My new BFF:

We're in tight quarters as expected, in what Alecia dubbed "our own little cannery row", but it's nice. The plan is that it's eventually going to be 3 of us in a single 150 square foot room. I had long ago decided that any friend of Saraswati's is a friend of mine, but this is already surpassing all positive expectations. I had limited idea of the scope of the wedding before coming - and no knowledge that the 'Be Here Now' reunion was a part of this - but as we talk about the upcoming proceedings (Alecia knows far more than I), we both agree that we're the outsiders, and we are starting to see that we're going to be closing ranks together.

The digs:

The first public event is a Kirtan Sunday night with Krishna Das at Studio Maui. I'm excited about that!

Sunday daytime is spent on the Hana highway. We slowly putt down this narrow windy road, stopping to take in some painted trees,

and a black sand beach,

and at other places being thwarted by onerous keep out signs.

Alas, we wouldn't make it all the way down the highway, but it was a lot of fun, and we turn around in order to get back to take a shower and then to the Kirtan.

If you don't know, Kirtan is a form of responsoral singing/chanting, and Krishna Das is arguably it's most famous practitioner, certainly so in this country. He was also one of the folks who was with the Maharaj-ji in India and is here for the reunion. I'm excited to see Krishna Das - to me, he's a bit of a rock star. His voice is a sort of Bass/Baritone, and it's one of those voices that instantly transports you. The music is very simple, humble really. He plays a harmonium as his accompanying instrument, and he also has a drummer, a tabla I think. I have some of his CDs, and have seen him a couple of times before in NY. There he's usually with a bigger group.

Alecia and I grab some dinner at a little place in the shopping center next to the venue, and when we call Saraswati just to let her know we're on our way, she shows up immediately. Saraswati couldn't be more bubbly, in fact, she's always been vivacious, but now she's more so than ever. This is the first time we've seen her since we arrived. The banter comes back as quickly as if no time had passed, and soon we're all giggles as we head into the venue.

Inside, it's a kind of Woodstock vibe, and I like it! For some reason, these folks know how to wear their tattoos, and sarongs, and all sorts of neat jewelry and hair styles. Self expressed individuals, I guess. Maui works well for this.

KD doesn't disappoint and his set takes us through many moods with effortless grace. I am sitting right behind Ram Dass, but there is no discussion amongst us. I can't see the stage, but it's OK. The audience is really entertaining, they are completely into it, singing alone and moving - sort of seated dancing really. The seating is cushions on the floor. Saraswati offers me her seat, presumably to take my seat next to Alecia for some catching up. I try to sing along, but I become mildly disgusted with myself because I keep getting the phrases wrong. In my defense. I think other people are too. They're kind of long phrases, maybe you have to be familiar with them.....I'm a perfectionist when it comes to me and music. Not a good combo for this scene! So I shut up and take it in. Plus, I'm just SO TIRED, after all, it's 4 AM in NYC, and my travel time was about 18 hours, with 2 changes of plane.

At the end I swing in really quickly to say thanks, as I'm really tired with the time change, and so I just speak to him for a second.

Nervously, I interrupt a conversation in progress: "Do you remember me?" I stammer.

KD: "Uh, I think so...where do I know you from?"

"New York."

KD: (pauses, looking surprised) "Really?" (he's from NY as well, which I already knew.)

He's very kind to me, as we exchange some more small talk, which is great because I'm so intimidated in this moment I need all the help I can get. I gotta get out of here before I pass out!

I tell him, "I'll see you tomorrow at the swim…."

Next: Swimming with Gurus

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