Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Two Moments and a Question

1. In my backyard there's a Hindu Temple. It's not really in my backyard but a fifteen minute drive from my parents' house through the canyons of Calabasas there's a Hindu temple. My dad and I drove up to it on Saturday and when we got out of the car it felt like we had made it to India. People bring jugs and jugs of milk, bananas, apples, to offer to Lord Shiva every Saturday. Milk is poured onto the statue of Shiva, thirty minutes worth of milk. Everyone's chanting, the only words I know are "om, shanti, shanti" so I say them loudly to make up for all the other words I don't know. I lift my hand in the air when the others do and grab the incense smoke and bring it towards my third eye. I put my dollar in the donation plate and drink the sacrificial milk they spoon into the palm of my hand. On the ride home my dad says, "That was a waste of milk, there are so many poor people in India who would love to drink that milk." Later that day my stomach hurts and I think it may have been the milk. 

2. That night sitting on the patio of a restaurant bar in Venice with friends I haven't seen in a while. A few drunk men ask if they can put their beers down on our table. "It'll cost you $5," I say as a joke. They're young in an obnoxious way and one of them who looks like he has two black eyes or maybe just hasn't slept in a while, takes out a 5 dollar bill and throws it on the table. I explain it was a joke but my friend takes the money and they decide it's OK to join us and offer us some beers so we won't say anything. My friend makes a joke about him having to pay to talk with her. He takes a dollar out and throws it on the candle burning in the middle of our table. I try and rescue the dollar from the flame and blow it out but half of it's already gone. I ask him why, and he can't seem to think of a good reason or any reason at all.

Question: Was putting my dollar in that donation tray the same as my black-eyed friend burning his?

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