FREE e-book of Stories to Accompany my travel poetry book “Formation”!

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Hello!

I’m so excited about the release of my first poetry book, “Formation: Along the Ganges and Back Again”, published by Prolific Press!

“Formation” takes the reader on a geographical and spiritual journey from my childhood in Canada all the way to Southeast Asia, India and Japan, in the name of taming the mind and exploring the limits of the heart.

The poems in this collection are very much inspired by – and mostly written during – my extensive eastward travels, so I thought you might want to know a little bit more about how I came to these travels and what they were like!

As you know, I have a column on elephant journal, and have written a lot about my travels for them.

I thought I would take a few of the more relevant ones, and put them into a nice package for easy and fun reading. There are several photos in this PDF, so I hope the downloading goes okay – I sincerely hope you enjoy, and I would love any thoughts or comments you might have!

Happy reading,

Tammy x

Formation Companion Piece of Travel Stories by Tammy T. Stone

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Memories are Yesterday’s Delights (There’s No War in World)

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Memories are Yesterday’s Delights

(Thailand, India, Laos)

Memories, like the time we rented a motorbike and rode for an hour to Udon Thani so we could try to flatten the silver we bought in Bangkok under the passing trains at the tracks, and how it didn’t work at all, but we sat there for hours waiting for the train to pass, keeping an eye on the silver glinting under the sun, wrapped up to protect it from the crushing weight of the train.

I went to the nearby 7-11 to buy us sweet breads and chips and a Sprite to share while we waited, and thought about how I used to have no taste for sweet bread but how tastes can change and how everything changes …

… and how we discovered a Daiso – Japanese Dollar Store – on that trip, and how we didn’t really find any reason to like Udon Thani until almost a year later, when we spent the night at a charming guesthouse and discovered a night market and food court and a desolate, huge modern shopping centre which we explored after dark …

… or the time we met the eccentric older lady during our 39 hour bus ride from Manali to Leh, in India now, and she offered us apricot seeds while we were waylaid at an army barracks somewhere along the way after a landslide blocked the road, and how we took such great photos at the barracks under the perfect bright sun after drinking chai coming from the mess hall, and how, sometime later or earlier, I don’t remember, the lady came to sit next to us while we ate lunch in one of the several canopied tents offering rice or noodles, and we were already queasy from being at 4,000 feet and were made more so from the blue pallor cast on us from the impossibly bright sun poring through royal blue tarp …

and how the lady looked at my husband and asked if he was an artist because she saw so many bright colours coming off him, and she saw him as an artisan, working with his hands, which is true, and one of his great many talents …

or the time we met a Spanish girl who introduced us to the sauna in the centre of Vientiane’s tourist district, tucked away in an alley, and how we extended a trip there for days so we could visit the sauna, where we could sweat it all out and talk about everything and anything while sipping tea at tables full of Lao locals and monks alike, in a courtyard with no roof so that we could follow the tree planted ages ago right up to its highest branches and suddenly find ourselves in the sky, sometimes cloudy and sometimes a perfect sunny blue,

and how everything felt possible then; or the time, almost exactly a year later, when we watched schoolchildren in Chiang Rai perform a traditional dance they must have practiced for, for ages, while we rang in the new year, in the delightful swarm of intimate strangers.

Pink Keyboard (There’s No War in World).

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Pink Keyboard

(Thailand)

We were at Panthip Plaza, the electronics megaplaza in Bangkok, looking for an external hard drive. This is how we try to manage our space, by keeping an entire library of books and movies in two tiny boxes we will carry around in our daypacks for six months in India.

I get bleary eyes at Panthip, every time. There are so many people, fluorescent lights, goodies that I look at but do not see. I only see colours, shininess and for sale signs, and hear raucous music changing every few feet.

We wandered into many stores and in one, my dizzy eyes fell on a bright pink keyboard. I thought it would be Hello Kitty but it was just pink, and this was enough to induce me into more of a trance. I started to stand at the keyboard, which was at the perfect level for me to type with. I started typing in little ditties, like I Am Cute – I’m not sure if I was referring to myself or the keyboard, because the space between myself and things became increasingly blurred throughout the day, throughout this trip to Bangkok, even. I was having fun.

Soon I noticed that I was keying in more personal messages, and that I was talking to something or someone out there, beyond myself. I had no computer screen so I didn’t have my usual interface with which to communicate. I was reaching out to something vast and nameless, like when I used to put little pleadings and wishes onto scrap paper to stuff into the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Only now I was in an electronics shop, joyfully requesting things like:

Can Everyone Be Healthy?

Let’s care, please!

Happiness for all?

Later, we took the bus back to Khao San Road, the backpacker haven in Bangkok, and mused over a street stall dinner of jok (rice porridge with ginger, fried onion and egg): I can teach English in Thailand, and my husband can teach Japanese in India, where everyone already speaks English. They love the Japanese and many either speak or want to learn.

He can offer Japanese lessons in exchange for free accommodations. But one hour a day will turn into invitations to the family home for meals and endless chais, and more invitations to teach Japanese to relatives and friends, and soon ten years will have passed, and there will be mass gatherings outside Baba Ji’s room, throngs of people who will form Ohayo Ashram, waiting for their guru to utter one word, for times a day: Ohayo, Konnichiwa, Konbanwa, and Oyasumi.

Happiness for the whole world, please!

The Girl with the Ukelele

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

The Girl with the Ukelele

(India)

When you sit down to learn stone carving from some of the world’s most practiced craftsmen, in Mamallupuram, Tamil Nadu, India, people are going to be curious.

A few days ago, we decided it would be fun to try this art form. All across town you can see men chiseling away and gorgeous finished products out front: Ganesh and Buddha predominate.

I initially thought this trip was going to be about opening my heart by way of spending time in ashrams, doing seva (work with no expectation of compensation) and meeting with spiritual gurus. I felt I needed this, the Hugging Mother’s hugs, to awaken to my own heart through meditation and slow, deliberate contemplation. Maybe this is still the case. But so far we’ve become fascinated by how much of a living art India is in almost all its aspects. The aliveness of the place, the colours. I have a piece of cloth I’ve been embroidering for over a year that I couldn’t bring myself to work on during our trip to India last year, and I’ve been at it daily here. And now stone carving.

We sat outside the shop with the two foreigner wranglers and stone polishers, and a few masters of the trade. We chiseled, hammered, watched in awe as the masters designed our pieces and images – of a Buddha and a hand – started coming to life. Many people passed by since we were on the main road of the tourist area, which Lonely Planet refers to as Backpackistan. Most looked at what we were doing, some with keen interest. Maybe 10 per cent came by to watch, and about half of those people smiled, exclaimed, or sat down to talk and watch. Just sitting there, we were attracting kindness, the attention of new people, and conversation.

One of the people to stop and sit down was a Japanese girl who just arrived in India the day before, for a four month trip culminating in Sri Lanka. She was quiet, curious and had a very strong presence about her. She left about an hour later, and returned in the evening. She probably had it in her mind to have dinner with us, but this was our last day with the carving, and we both started new, smaller pieces to practice, and couldn’t stop. Hesitating, she sat, worked on a tiny elephant one of the guys surprised her with, and took out a ukelele. Exclaiming, I asked her to play, and started working again.

Soon I could hear the softest, most melodic voice singing Aloha, making the Hawaiian tune sound like a folk song. The waves lapped audibly nearby.