The travel has been serious. Monday from Paris to DC. A few hours in Spa World. A few hours outside of it. Tuesday morning flight (from the old terminal of) National airport, through Denver to Phoenix. And a carpool down to Tucson (pronounced with an ‘x’ of course) on Thursday. I’ve been really excited about this trip, centered on a 10-day Water Harvesting Certification course offered by Watershed Management Group. Already there’s been so much I wanted to share — and not only about how water harvesting can aid in disaster risk management — but also about its correspondence with gift economy and gift ecology principles, and about the general climate in Arizona.


There’s the arid, yes. But there’s also the woman from the National Committee for La Raza, some sort of Hispanic lobbying group, who sat next to me on the plane and felt compelled to _whisper_ about the antics of a policeman named “Joe” and racist laws that reminded her of being persecuted in the 60s when she first started dating (hold on to armchairs and trackballs) a black man, after high school. She was seriously afraid other people on the plane would here us talking about the rights of immigrants. And then there’s my time with Jocelyn in Phoenix, me trying to understanding the intricacies and difficulties of applying principles of conservation and rationality to the political and legal realities of the state.


There’s a lot more on all of that, and the course as well — which I can best describe as “The Future” — but I’m going to hold off until a little bit later, to be able to focus on the importance of awareness in our everyday life, and the dialectic between the protective halo of the material world (and its financial derivations) and the gift of presence.


If that doesn’t make sense, I mean to say: you don’t need shoes that protect your ankles if you take each step with care. And you don’t need a rice cooker if you can plug yourself into the rice, detect the subtle changes in smell and sound when the water has gone. And you don’t need the new mephone to tell you the weather in paris if you live there and can look out, or go through, the window.


But, on the other hand, even if you have been cultivating awareness for months and years, you still might be biking down the road in Phoenix, having visited a beautiful mountaintop (still looking for patience), and submit to a daydream. And, even for a moment, if you placed your consciousness in the far and there as opposed to the here and now, you might not notice the weird pointy spiky teeth in the ground that regulate car entry on your side of the road.


And when you did see them, a dozen feet ahead of you, you might not know which way they were pointed, and whether your bike could handle it, and it might not be your bike to risk anyways. Because you’re in Phoenix for the first time, exploring the arid American southwest. Looking for mangos. Dolphins. etc. So — as a result of this momentary lapse in awareness — you might hit the brakes a little too hard, observe yourself flying through the air, the bicycle behind the teeth and you (thankfully) in front of them, landing with face shoulder and hands on backpack and asphalt.


Casualties of Phoenix Mountain Park Autonomous Bike Wreck:

– one shattered bansuri (key of C)

– one battered but still possibly functional voice recorder

– wounded pride

– inability to dig

– separated shoulder ligament, possible fracture

– big “ow” left wrist

– small “ow” right wrist

– vivid but not quite fractal bleeding/scarring on left shoulder

– huge bump above left eye

– nasty but “manly” cut slightly to left of left eye

– confidence


Which is to say, humdulillah. We’re all alive over here, and grateful. Been taken care of is amazing. Not being able to put on a shirt is humbling. The hospital experience — which I was convinced to submit to by my hosts, Jocelyn and Sam, both EMTs, was hilarious enough to warrant its own writing. Maybe tomorrow. The course started yesterday, the digging doesnt start until Tuesday. I have a surgical immobilizer and a climber’s worth of of motrin. We’ll see what happens.


Pray for my health. Thanks.


– ankurbhai