A Perfect Day

When I checked my Facebook feed this morning, I saw some new photos from Olivier Adam, the official event photographer. I clicked through the link, and found we have two friends in common. I had a lovely chat with Olivier on the bus to the conference, during which he told me where I could get a cappuccino. A cappuccino!! Which I drank to the accompaniment of beautiful Indonesian music. As I walked to the deva loka, (the abode of the gods, aka the main tent), the music coming over the loudspeakers was Tibetan Incantations, the mantra of Avalokiteshvara, set to music. It’s a stunning, evocative composition, one I first heard in California when I was attending teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Eight Verses of Training the Mind. I rocked my Sakyadhita presentation and the question and answer period that followed. Then the Indonesian committee presented the speakers with this incredible statue of Prajnaparamita.

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And the day is only half over!

So grateful to everyone who made this conference possible.

© 2015 Teresa Sivilli. All rights reserved.

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Dateline Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, Indonesia
22 June 2015

The iPhone has failed me: it doesn’t update the date and time on wireless networks, only on cellular. And so my phone was still on Tokyo time when I went to bed in Yogyakarta last night. Which means two things: it wasn’t 1 am when I went to sleep last night, merely 11 pm, and it is now 5:30 am, not 7:30, and I am 90 minutes too early for breakfast. I thought it should have been lighter outside, if it were 7:30; no wonder the clerk at the front desk was surprised to see me wandering in. But I am happy to see the soft shadow play of the dawn.

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I have come to Yogyakarta for the 14th Sakyadhita Conference on Buddhist Women. It has taken two days of mostly hassle-free travel from the US to get here, and I am tired. But I have email to answer, and there is a beautiful terrace just outside my room where I can settle in and still catch the internet connection. I desperately want a cup of coffee, and I’m looking forward to sampling Indonesian coffee in its own home. I’ll be disappointed if I find out the good stuff is all for export, an unfortunate reality I first encountered years ago in India when I tried to purchase some nice teas to bring home as gifts.

And that turns out to be true here, as well. The coffee at breakfast is possibly Nescafe. It certainly isn’t good, and we all concur that there is a strange aftertaste. I usually drink a couple of cups of coffee a day; caffeine withdrawal starts now.

The walk from the front desk to my room seemed interminable last night, and I was irritated that I had been assigned a room so far from the central area of the hotel. As a rooster crows, I realize the walk is perhaps three to four minutes, through lovely gardens, and last night’s irritation was born of exhaustion.

imageIt is Ramadan. I have experienced Ramadan abroad once before, in Dubai, where the hotel had asked the non-Muslim guests to respect the holy days by dressing modestly in the public areas of the hotel: swimsuits only at the pool, not in the lobby area or restaurants; men were asked to wear pants; women to cover their shoulders and knees. I wore a long maxi dress to dinner and covered my shoulders with a shawl. Many of the other guests — unfortunately, all of them from countries that speak a variation of my own native language — blatantly flaunted the request: woman paraded through the lobby in bikinis; at breakfast, men wore shorts and the women, low-cut sundresses. Really? REALLY? I refused to sit with anyone I could speak to, smiling and nodding and pretending I didn’t understand Arabic (which I don’t) or English (which I mostly do, though I could introduce you to a couple of men who would disagree).

I suspect this group will be more respectful, and I am right. The conference schedule is packed, running 12 hours a day, and today may be my only opportunity to explore and shop until I get to Bali to meet up with a friend for a few days of downtime after the conference. But after breakfast I decide to take a nap, and it’s 7:30 pm when I wake up and go out to get dinner.

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A Buddhist Dilemma
There are ants in my bathroom, both in the shower and, more extensively, behind the door. The one in the shower scattered and hid in the wall when I turned on the water. The ones behind the door are having a party. If I were home, I would call them sugar ants, but sugar ants invade the cupboards and get into the food. They don’t eat the bathroom door, which is what these little ones seem to be doing. I don’t want to start this week by causing death, so I’m hoping we can co-exist: you stay away from my bed, and I’ll stay away from yours.

Within a day I awaken to find a couple of companions in bed with me. The situation is resolved for me by housekeeping, or so I thought when I returned to my room and found the ants banished. But they were back in the morning, and it truly appears that they are eating the bathroom door, from the bottom up, one little ant bite at a time.

More later.

© 2015 Teresa I. Sivilli. All rights reserved.