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Writings From India
by Ben Shisler
The Joy of Wiping With Your Hand
Hello all! I am writing this from a cyber cafe in Varanasi.
I've met a very friendly group of fellow western travellers, tho I am the only one of the group of six who is from the US.
My room-mate is a french man named Roman, guitar player, draft-dodger from France's mandatory military/social service.
This is not really the kind of place to write a really long message so, I think I will just say that the positive aspects of india outweigh the negative, but I think I need to be more careful to guard against fraud, ripoffs, and misleading sales. I am quite humbled at the extend of the quantity of money I have frittered away. But I guess that's the price I pay for not being more careful.
The positive aspects of my trip include the joy of wiping with my hand... actually not so bad. I must admit I'm a rather old fashioned guy, and I carried a fat wad of toilet paper around with me everywhere. But upon being influenced by a more experience intriguing fellow traveller, I tried it out and found it to be better in someways. Certainly it adds another sensory awareness to the state of one's bowels and that can be important...
But on a more tasteful subject, I heard it from this intriguing traveller that the Dalai Lama with give a series of lectures in Bodh Gaya around the 20th of this month, so I'm going to see what I can do to make it...
Today I catch the train to Gaya, probably will spend the night there, then off to Bodh Gaya.
Yes, I did get a chance to see the burning ghats, smell the stench of burning human flesh, seen the drama of partially burned bodies schlepped into the Ganga, dogs diving after them to fight over scraps of flesh.
But for me the best part of Varanasi was the great bunch of people I lived with at Om Guest House. We all traded email addresses, so I guess we will at least keep touch cyberficially.
I'm a little bit nervous about finding budget accomodation in Bodh Gaya since it will be packed with people flocking to see the Dalai Lama, but I'm willing to rough it, also willing to live in a monastary, should any room still be available.
Happy birthday to my beloved Sister! (See! I didn't forget!)
I'm still in Sarnath, but my lifestyle has changed considerably from meditation retreatant. I'm volunteering at a local school called "Universal Education". I teach a logic class to advanced students (called Grade D), and this is quite a new experience for me. Thankfully, the students are very patient with this new teacher. Also, I'm helping create the school's website.
No longer in the Thai Monastery, I'm staying with a local family, and they are providing me room and board in exchange for my expertise in the realm of internet business. This family is quite wealthy, and own several factories, but the father wants me to help his nineteen year old son to get into the internet business.
So it is a strange situation. They have a number of servants, er, I mean household employees. They feed me quite gourmet vegetarian Indian delicacies. Last night for desert we had rose petals with sugar. They (or rather their servants) grow most of the food in the garden in the rear of the estate. The family is devoutly Hindu, and a shrine dominates the interior of their domicile. Every morning the daughter, lame because of polio, recites a lovely bhajan.
I still plan to wander my way to Rishikesh and Dharamsala. Actually, I heard a rumor there is a Rainbow gathering near Dharamsala beginning with the new Moon, mid marchish.
Hello family and mettababblers...
The temperature is rapidly escalating here in Sarnath and I'm feeling a fit of wanderlust coming on shortly. The mountains are calling!
... One rarely hears Indians complain. When I first arrived in India, I overlooked this rather startling and dramatic difference between India and the West. I figured that Indians have their culture, and we Westerners have ours, and that, say, the reason that Indians never complained about flies wallowing about in food, toilets whose stench could kill a cow, buses that are falling apart, or air pollution that literally burns the skin, was because, I thought, these unpleasant things were part of Indian culture.
But, as I am beginning to learn, this is only part of the story. My perspective has begun to shift now that I am in association with this wealthy business-oriented family. According to members of this family, Indians don’t complain much because so long as they can get a meal, that is good enough for about 95% of the population. And I will say it is rather remarkable to see so many Indians just standing around seemingly doing very little all day. To be fair, there is not so much work to be found. And the work that is available is often the sporadic, or low intensity, like manning a chai shop.
Speaking of chai, Indians are horrified at the amount of chai that westerners gulp down in one sitting. Most poor Indians just drink one mouthful of sickeningly sweet chai every morning, with just enough sugar and milk to help them keep going for most of the day on an empty stomach. A four-rupee glass of chai, like what Westerners are accustomed to drinking, is absurdly spendthrift in their eyes, as that is about the cost of two entire meals!
Indians are not lazy. Indians who come to work in the West are widely renowned for their work ethic. But Indians do seem to tolerate their less-than-optimal circumstances more than Westerners. Is this admirable stoicism or folly?
It does seem that millennia after millennia of “Eastern Religion” has seeped into the Indian psyche. I imagine that Indians have been raised since birth to endure the most hideous inconveniences without so much as a whimper or complaint. (Perhaps this contributes to why Indians can tolerate a computer job.) Western children seem perpetually whiny, like spoiled brats. Westerners demand more. Westerners get more.
Indians can be stoic to the point of rediculousness. Buses in India, for example, are a cheap form of transportation, but they are more often than not falling apart. I was riding on the roof of one such bus, and the rack on the top appeared to be breaking off. Had it broken off, I would have gone with it, and so would every one else holding on for dear life as the bus careened along at breakneck speeds.
I heard of a case where a person did fall off the roof of a bus, and the poor fellow was split in half. As he was obviously killed, what was the point of stopping? The bus, of course, did not even slow down. But who would complain? Riding the bus in India is one of the cheapest forms of transportation on this planet. Better to have a dangerous bus ride for only 5 rupees than a safe ride for 10. Life in overpopulated India is, literally, cheap.
Sometimes, flies and dirt are a food vendor’s best advertisement. Everyone knows lowest quality means lowest prices...
Plans are on for a forested get-together in Mid or Late may, perhaps at my family's home in VT. So keep your calendars flexible...
Kant observed that our senses can only apprehend a portion of what is actually out there. Just as a camera can only photograph the visible world, our senses can only apprehend the phenomenal world. That which exists but cannot be apprehended by the senses is the noumenal world, from the Greek root “nous” meaning mind. Schopenhaur, one of the first philosophers to take eastern religion seriously, identified the Kantian noumenal world with the Buddhist concept of Nirvana. Noumenal nirvana is that which the senses (and the mind, which, in Buddhism, is considered to be the sixth sense) cannot apprehend, not even in theory.
Nirvana literally means extinguishment, as in what a candle does when it goes out. But this is not quite as negative as it sounds: in the traditional Indic culture from which Buddhism sprang, it was generally thought that a candle flame doesn’t cease to be when it is extinguished, rather it is freed from the confines of wick and wax, freed from Kant’s phenomenal world. For that matter, the flame was not created when the candle was lit, but rather always existed. Flame-- indeed, every phenomenon-- is an incarnation, an avatar, a visitor from afar, who comes briefly to join us in this phenomenal world, this world of arising and passing. But the noumenal world encompasses everything eternally and omni-spacially, phenomenal or not.
Thus "liberation" is a reasonably good translation of the word Nirvana. In the candle analogy, "enlightenment" seems to be just the reverse, the lighting of the candle, the binding of flame to wick and wax. Enlightenment seems to imply "seeing the light," as if noumenal light could be seen by phenomenal eyes or comprehended by a phenomenal mind. But even worse, enlightenment is too often coupled with such phrases as "gaining" or "attaining": ridiculous! What does a candle flame gain or attain by being extinguished? For that matter, what does it lose when it is lit? After all, only in the phenomenal world can a Bodhisattva among flames provide light for the student lucubrating in the night.
There is a delicate dance between the phenomenal world and the noumenal, just as there is a delicate dance between dreaming and being awake. Were the only goal "wake up!" how would we get any sleep? Likewise, if we did nothing all day but dream, even dream beautiful lucid dreams, how would we sustain our bodies? There is a middle path: simply to sleep when sleepy, and be awake when awake. When the flame is needed, light it. When it is no longer needed, put it out. The noumenal world will swallow us in due course. No need to rush things. After all, perhaps, again, it will spit us back out.
Samsara is the Buddhist concept of the Kantian phenomenal world. It is the cyclic world of arising and passing. It is the endless loop from which some Buddhists attempt to Ctrl-Break. But as I’ve just argued, not much really needs to be done. Only in Samsara do we have the potential to be Bodhisattvas, only incarnated in the flesh can we help those in need. So, I don’t think phenomenal samsara is such a metaphysical undesirable. Rather, I think the concept of breaking out of loops-- as a metaphor-- is an extremely useful and valid one.
In a very down-to-earth example, if samsara is the rat race, nirvana is quitting your job, traveling abroad, hiking the A.T., or doing whatever else it is one would really rather be doing than sitting in an office trying to stare down an unblinking computer monitor. Nirvana IS liberation, and there is no need to get particularly metaphysical about it.
Douglas Hofstadter talks about this in _Godel, Escher, Bach_. He calls samsaric endless loop behavior “sphexish” after the Sphex wasp which acts in an endless loop in a certain situation. The wasp never stops to try something different, rather it just keeps trying to do the same thing over and over again, like a poorly written computer algorithm, failing every time. The Spex wasp is a poignant reminder of what it means to be human. What a blessing it is that we can feel frustration!
But what is liberation, exactly? Are we in fact as constrained to circumstance as the Spex wasp? Is the only difference between us and it the degree of complexity of our behavioral algorithm? Christians argue that we have a free will. Physicalists argue that ultimately all of our action is based on physical cause-and-effect. Is there a contradiction? My only criticism of the Christian concept of free will is that is rapidly leads to blame. Do we blame a sphex wasp for being sphexish? If not, why do we blame a drug addict or a criminal? Do we expect more from humans? It seems to me most humans are trapped in a down-to-earth cyclic samsara of one sort or another. (Christian fundamentalists all the more so.) It is easy to point at the sphexishness of a wasp, much harder to realize the sphexishness of ourselves-- but of course that is exactly the prerequisite to liberation (and free will).
So, is it possible to be a Bodhisattva in the rat race? To stare down the unblinking computer monitor for the sake of all sentient beings? Why not? The reason why a sphex wasp acts sphexish is because it is trying to provide conditions suitable for its offspring (in this case, a dead caterpillar on which the larva can feed). The Sphex wasp is the Mother Teresa of organisms. But let me ask you this: What are the limitations of the Mahayana ideal, the Bodhisattva?
In Bodhgaya, hawkers sell parrots in cages to Bodhisattva wannabes, usually dressed in Tibetan robes. The well-meaning monks, with what little money they have, buy the parrots and thereby set them free, thus partially fulfilling their vow to forego liberation for themselves all other sentient beings have been liberated. There is only one problem. The hawkers keep coming back with more parrots. And the parrots that are released don’t have much of a flight instinct and usually end up as dog food. The whole cycle seems extraordinarily sphexish.
But, isn’t our whole human civilization just an elaboration on the sphexish theme? Isn’t every occupation, in some way, exploiting an opportunity just as the parrot hawkers are exploiting an opportunity? Isn’t every purchase, for ourselves or our families, every bit as well meaning as the purchase of parrots? No matter how much we work, there are still more parrots to sell. No matter how much we spend, there are still more parrots to buy.
Liberation cannot be comprehended. Not even in theory. The Buddha sez: hit Ctrl-Break and head for the forest. Metta is the antidote to fear.
As I go about my daily business in Sarnath, as the temperatures soar and sane westerners depart, I find I begin to stand out more and more. Men stare at me. Women avert their gaze. Children see me and become frightened. Yesterday I even made a little girl cry. Cows become spooked. Dogs growl. Saddhus look bewildered. Who the heck do I think I am, walking around in the dust and the heat wearing expensive (i.e. colorful) clothes and matted hair? Walking on foot is distinctly lower caste, but being a westerner, and living at the house of the wealthiest businessman in Sarnath makes me of the uber-caste, right on up there with maharajas. So why don’t I accept my caste role, cut my hair, and hire a driver to take me wherever I go? Why do I still haggle with old ladies over oranges that are getting too ripe?
What offends the sensibilities of Indians the most is my matted hair. Jata is something only renunciates from the world of material desire are supposed to wear. Jata is the mark of saddhus, street urchins, burnt out Shaivite ganja smokers. It's almost as if I was hired as CEO and I came in dressed like a computer programmer. It is well known in town that I came to Sarnath to practice Buddhism. Well then! Jata is unheard of among monastic Buddhists who consider every hairstyle other than a shaved head vanity. At the very least I could have had my hair cropped respectfully short!
Basically, I represent a complete clash of castes. My presence is offensive to those who still cling to caste distinctions. Interesting that my role in the West was much the same: at uptight image-obsessive companies, I refused to become just another corporate casual cog in the machine. The day I was laid off from Artificial Life, Inc., was the day that I scrawled a sign above my desk that read “The first casualty of war is the truth.”
(Even after I had been warned not to put anything political on my cubicle wall, how could I remain silent during the NATO bombing of Belgrade? By the way, even though some good came of the NATO bombing, I still do not regret my role as anti-war protestor. Pressure from peace activists world wide put pressure on world leaders to find a resolution.)
At Artificial Life, my presence was offensive not to my managers who have given me glowing references, but to the top execs who either disagreed with my views, or merely were irked that I as a lowly programmer had the nerve to put anything on my cubicle wall other than Dilbert cartoons like everybody else.
In whatever land I go, I seek to smash conceptions of caste and wealth. I cannot and will not blend in. I refuse to submit to modern day Aryan overlordship. This is my austerity. This is why I am houseless (but not homeless), jobless (but not without things to do), carless (but not immobile), companionless (but not without friends), wandering the dusty streets of Sarnath, wearing colorful clothes and matted hair, spooking cows and making little girls cry. I am a citizen of the world; my culture is that of the global traveler.
Why go back? I keep asking myself that every time I open my money pouch and see my return flight ticket. I tell myself that I want to go back to see my friends and family. Yes of course that is true, but what’s the rush? I tell myself that I want to go back because I miss the trees and the woods. Well, now that is completely bogus, even overpopulated India still has some nature left, I just have been too lazy so far to explore it much. I tell myself I want to go back because I want to go back because I want to explore native American spirituality. Sounds nice, but would I? I tell myself that I want to go back to read the books in my library, and sometimes I get the wickedest urge to compose music on my MIDI keyboard. But geez, haven’t I just spent two months of my life learning to be content with whatever I have in the immediate moment? I tell myself that I want to go back because someday I might get homesick for my culture. My culture? At this idea I have to laugh.
I’ve been a freakin’ outcast all my life. My culture?!? I can’t think of one single way that I resemble the average American. Contrariwise, I have no problem remembering all the times I got beaten up at school because I refused to conform, all the jobs I left willingly and unwillingly because I clashed wholeheartedly with the corporate culture, and all the times I never once said the pledge of allegiance aloud even when pressured to stand and “put my hand on my heart”.
International friends have told me that I have a “thick American accent”. Because I couldn’t hear it myself, I asked them to imitate and exaggerate what an American accent sounded like. A cowboy! Can you believe that? The rest of the world thinks compared to the world standard English dialect of the Brits, we Americans talk like cowboys! And then I started listening to myself: sure enough, when I think about it, I *do* sound like a cowboy. How do I lose my American accent? It’s not bloody easy, mate, let me tell you.
I was listening to a BBC radio broadcast last night. It was peppered with phrases like “what may sound self evident to anyone on this side of the Atlantic, in America they still...” And this was not an editorial, but a news broadcast!
When the Soviet Union collapsed, I remember a Russian quipped that if Marx’s theories were right and every nation were headed toward true communism, Russia would be the last place in the world where Marx’s vision would be realized. Interesting that America, which gave birth to the hippie culture, now has perhaps the lowest per capita counterculture of any nation in the world. Meanwhile, the global youth culture is more tie dyed than ever, and we’re all scratching our heads why America is so damn square, and why most Americans are so self-absorbed and mass media satiated they think that hippie culture is retro.
I remember as I was packing my bags, about to head off to India, Steve Diamond on this list emailed and said not to stay abroad too long because, “America needs you, Bengo.” Steve’s words have been a meditation for me to say the least. After all, America *is* the most powerful nation in the world: perhaps I owe it to Mother Earth and all her inhabitants to locate my efforts directly and in person where they will be most effective in loosening America’s vast malignant grip over the rest of the world, in the belly of the beast.
So, at the Sarnath Insight Meditation retreat, during an enquiry session in front of the whole sangha, I asked Christopher Titmuss, the most senior western teacher in this tradition, whether or not “America needed me.”
His immediate response: “Perhaps America needs you to stay away.”
There is a game which involves connecting nine dots arranged in a three by three grid with just four straight lines without lifting the pen. And no invoking non-Euclidean geometries allowed! Actually the secret is so blindingly simple most people have trouble seeing what is staring them in the face. The answer is simply to look beyond the boundaries.
The “City of Vision” they call it. Near Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines. World class public transport. Lots of tech jobs. High pay. Low rent. Low taxes. Tax money not (directly) going to the Amerikkkan war machine. High Chinese population, therefore weichi. Everything else South Asia has to offer: Tropical beaches. Legendary cuisine. Beautiful women. :-) And best of all, I’d finally get a taste of economic independence from that embarrassment of a nation which spammed its name all over my passport! Working just one month in Singapore could very well more than pay off twice the cost of writing off my return flight back to the Great Cultural Void. And imagine the experience!
The day class kids at the Universal Education school in Sarnath are very lucky. They are quick, aware, well-disciplined and can speak reasonably good English. The misfortunate kids in the evening classes are the labourers and factory workers. They are slower in their studies, poorly focused, have much shorter attention spans and can speak but a few stock English phrases.
The day class kids know how lucky they are to get an education. Children of their age are like linguistic sponges, and these kids are no exception. They seem to strive to understand every word that the teacher says. They understand the value of learning so that they can escape the immobilizing poverty and labor exploitation inevitable for so many Indians. The night class kids are happy enough just to have a respite from the daily grind of life.
Every day I look forward to doing what I can to help these kids, and when my class is over, I want to keep going, I want to keep the momentum of heightened intellectual excitement that seems so rare, East or West.
The director of the school has given me a lot of leeway as to how I want to teach the class and what I want to teach. The material I cover is not so important compared to the value of just giving the kids exposure to a native English speaker. I’m free to talk about whatever I want, whether it’s logic, the history of languages, Buddhism, or ecology. The children are unusually open-minded and sincere. I think I learn more from my classes than the kids do.
I’m so happy to volunteer at the school because I whole-heartedly agree with the philosophy by which it is run. The director, an Italian man named Valentino, is completely dedicated to the concept of Universal Education, integrating traditional subjects (math, science, language) with spiritual subjects (yoga, music, dance, meditation, massage). This school is a counter to the prevailing trend in India which is simply to teach the traditional subjects and either never mention the spiritual ones (government schools), or condemn spiritual subjects as satanic (missionary run Christian schools).
I see this Universal Education School as kind of a “reverse-missionary” school. To atone for generations of cultural genocide, now it is the responsibility of Westerners to teach Indian children to embrace their own culture.
These kids are amazing yogis! Children are naturally more flexible than adults, but these kids who are learning yoga from a professional are in a class of their own. They are focused meditators, well trained in vipassana with exposure to zen, as well Tibetan practices. All of this does not come at the expense of math, science, etc, and in fact seems to rather make the students even more attentive and focused. The students, even though most are from desperately poor, and often illiterate, families, consistently score above average by every measurement.
Speaking of illiteracy, there is an even more vexing problem for some Indians: innumeracy. Apparently, knowing how to count is not automatic: it must be learned. Sadly, there are all too many backward Indians (typically rural and of the lowest castes) who don’t even know how to count. This means they have no idea how much money their employer is giving them, nor do they know how much things cost when they buy things at the market. They just hold out however much money they have and trust that the shopkeeper will not take more than the actual cost. Of course, these are the most heinously exploited people imaginable.
The kids of this school are being trained for a career in teaching or social work. The dream is to start a new generation of Universal Education Schools with the current crop of students as teachers. I helped with the first version of this school’s website, currently hosted at www.stormloader.com/alicee. Anybody know of a free web host with no banner ads? Stormloader claimed to be such a site, but went ahead and slapped a banner ad on it anyway.
All of this volunteer work makes
my actual work a little more palatable. I am now the technical director
of a forming Internet services company. More on this later...
bad karma is bad business
When I languished my summers at the United States Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab, hardly a day went by when I didn’t wish I was somewhere else. I think that’s what drew me instinctively to the internet. Almost the very first day I discovered how to “telnet” to a remote computer, a girl (presumably) from England teletyped that she was pulling down her knickers for me. Yes, it was very hard to concentrate on work in those days. I quickly became the computer expert of the lab so that they would lock me up in the fluorescent dungeon, and leave me alone to flirt and brood and compose dark poetry.
When I languished my semesters at university studying computer science, hardly a day went by when I didn’t wish I was studying something else. I think that’s what drew me instinctively to psychedelics. On my very first sugar-cube full of acid I felt almost a magnetic force drawing me toward meditation and mother nature. Yes, it was very hard to concentrate on school in those days. But the gambit did not lead to a great flunking out. Instead, as classes got harder, I strangely rose to meet the challenge of the fluorescent dungeon, started the progenitor of the mettababble list, and spent too much time venting existential angst and not enough time enjoying the woods.
When I languished for years at the high tech companies, hardly a day went by when I didn’t wish I was doing something-- anything-- else. I think that’s what drew me instinctively to India. Traveling to India would finally, finally, finally force me to quit. Or so I thought.
Then, curiously, immediately after nearly two months of meditation, at the farthest extent thus far of my having dropped out from worldly things, I found myself at the home of the richest family in Sarnath, living in the lap of luxury, with servants, drivers, the promise of cofounding an internet business, a business to taking obvious advantage of the fact that an Indian programmer might make only US$2/hr while the equivalent western programmer would cost US$100/hr. But guess what. Surprise, surprise. Hardly a day went by when I didn’t wish I was somewhere else.
In the Dhammapada, the Buddha says that the sage leaves every home, every home like a flock of geese alighting from a lake. Before the establishment of monasteries, the Buddha’s followers wandered constantly 9 months out of the year, staying put in one spot only for the rainy season-- when circumstances made traveling impossible.
So I bought a second class sleeper ticket to Dharamsala, departure on Monday.
Part of the problem, I realized, is that I put up with too much bullshit without complaining or simply telling it as it is. Yesterday, the father asked me if I had spoken with other people in town about where I was staying. Yes, I admitted to him, they all said it was a very rich family. But you see, he said, we are all working very hard! Do you not agree? 12 hours a day! Very hard!
I made a gesture of agreement, knowing, of course, that I was just kissing his ass.
I mean, this is how CEOs are supposed to be treated, right? Did it ever occur to him that what others say about him is that he doesn’t pay crap, and even employees who have worked for him for twenty years don’t have a pension? Has he ever seen the look of misery on the eyes of one of his servants who is sometimes so vacant and silent they have to yell at her to get words out? Every night this woman servant of theirs sleeps fully clothed on the rug on the floor of the living room, wrapped head to toe in a blanket, on call all night, ready in the morning with chai and thalis. And she probably has it good compared to his factory workers.
Perhaps the most personally annoying subject about which I have so far kept strategically mum is his rather bossy and arrogant nineteen year old son. This kid gets to run part of daddy’s business, but he sure has a lot to learn about life. I think his son is a classic example of why great wealth dissipates after only a few generations.
The fact that I’ve put up with such bad karma for so long, for just a little food and shelter, speaks volumes about how far I am from true freedom. Life is too short to kiss rich peoples’ asses. Right livelihood or no livelihood.
Lastly, I’d like all the right-wingers of America who are so anti-welfare to take a long hard look at India, where losing everything and going hungry is the punishment for talking back to your boss.
Book recommendation: _Karma Cola_ by Gita Mehta. It’s the kind of post modern traveler-chic writing that gets traded around on this side of the planet.
I love you all,
last email from Sarnath
Today Jhunjhunwala Sr. took me to his factory. Everything looked so old, like it came from the industrial age and had been rusting ever since. But everything was still productive he assured me. The high smokestack belching black smoke gave me the creeps, reminding me just a bit of the décor of deathcamps.
So proud to show me his empire, he me asked confidently and with great joy, “Have you made a decision?”
Seeing there was no way to avoid the question on my last day in Sarnath, I could only reply, “No. I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep.”
He looked hurt, shaken. I don’t think he could believe that could be rejecting his offer to go into business with me.
And I felt terrible too, in a sense, wondering about what it was exactly I was giving up... the chance to become Indian? Perhaps in my last email I had been too unkind. Perhaps the apparent shortcomings of him and his family could be explained in a cultural context. For one thing, being devoutly Hindu, his family is active in various charities, including the running of a hospital.
But I am a traveler, and travelers don’t make business commitments, right?
The comfort of stasis vs. the call of the road.
Tonight, no matter what, I leave for the rainbow gathering which is hopefully still going on near Dharamsala. Will I return to Sarnath in a month and start a business? I don’t know what to say.
When will I ever meet the woman of my dreams who will sweep me off my feet and remove all ambiguity?
Ben Shisler is an author, computer programmer, and world traveler. His interests include go, linguistics, philosophy, and contact improv dancing. He is always looking for interesting people to hang out with.
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