The last six days have blended into each other smoothly like the caramel of time
. I only managed a few hours of climbing the first day, and maybe 90 minutes on the second; that's about all my finger tips could handle. After a "rest day" (where I bicycled over 20km in the sun) I climbed again bright and early, 6:35am. OK, actually, I skipped meditation that morning so that I could get a few hours in before the sun became overbearing (11am ish). I didn't have a partner this time, so I headed to the climber's favorite guesthouse, Goan Corner. I thought I'd get breakfast here as well, but no one was really awake at 7am, so I decided to walk around the rocks for a bit. I met a friendly Canadian fellow, Nick, who invited me to me up with him and a few others after my breakfast. About an hour later I caught up with him, his girlfriend Nicola, and a Swiss climber named Lily. Within 30 seconds of my arrival, Nicola came off a boulder (her feet maybe 4ft of the ground) but landed in between two crash pads. She was wailing and howling in agony as tears and snot poured from her face. Nick was pretty sure it wasn't broken, and began to carry her for the 20 minute walk back to the Goan Corner. Lily and I grabbed all the gear and followed. Back at the guesthouse, people came out of the wood work offering all sorts of drugs and medicine not to mention an outpouring of concern. Already there were two other climbers with broken feet at the Goan Corner. Luckily for Nicola, the x-ray determined she merely sprained her ankle. After this incident I felt a bit apprehensive about climbing alone; Lily offered to climb in the afternoon, so I decided to wait until then. Meanwhile, I met another Canadian named Kevin, and we spent the good part of the day playing chess and hanging out. He's just entered the wonderful world of climbing so he too came along later on when we hit the boulders. That afternoon, I finally felt the strength returning to my fingers (and tips) and proceeded to climb somewhere closer to my usual level. At any rate, it just felt pretty damn good to be back on some rock
Aside from the bouldering, the other favorite pastime for foreign visitors to Hampi is smoking Hash. I've had many different views on smoking throughout my life, and at this point in the game I've found myself in the role of either being oblivious or being a casual observer. Most of the time I hardly notice the people around me crumbling their little nuggets of hash, mixing it with tobacco and rolling spliffs; It almost seems as normal to me as a chef preparing a salad for lunch. Other times when I think about it, it's difficult for me to comprehend the appeal of smoking from breakfast to bed, yet I very much can SEE how appealing it is to many people around me. These activities have little affect on my life, and if someone is stoned and that's how they go about there day, I don't feel like my interaction with them is any less genuine or "real". If I go around all day depressed or tired, how is that any different than an altered state? Whatever state you're in is what/who you are for that moment, and that's about all we are really held accountable for. The only time I can say I've got a problem is when someone blown out on Hash kicks my ass at a game of Chess; what's MY excuse in that scenario?
I haven't really had much heart to see any temples or other tourist attractions in quite a while now. I feel a little tinge of guilt about this fact, but I'm not going to force myself to see anything just because it's there. Needless to say, there are an abundance of crumbling, majestic temples in Hampi, that were carved out of the towering granite blocks. For me, the boulders themselves are my temple; with my hands, my feet, some chalk and tape, I pray.
It's been a week now since I left the meditation center in Galta. The beautiful thing about having a 10-day retreat is that you are far removed from the trials and tribulations of daily life and can therefore focus all your attention on the meditation process itself. Needless to say, having the same level of focus and concentration has proven to be impossible back in the "real world". I've been very disciplined though. Aside from the 49+ hours it took me to reach Hampi, I've been meditating twice daily for an hour each time. The sharpness of my focus has diminished, and that fact alone makes my sitting practice even more challenging. I'm still determined to keep it up, so I'm trying to simply accept the nature of my restless mind and do my best; it does get a bit frustrating though.