Planes, Airports, and Toilets – Oh My!

Taiwan toilet SOS

On my way to Southeast Asia, for the first time I noticed the impact cell phones has had on airports. Now a proud owner of a smartphone, I was among the many looking to charge my phone for one more time before boarding a plane. To my delight I found that most airports now have free charging stations!

I had just suspended my cell phone service (to avoid unintentional exorbinant roaming charges) and was going with the idea of using Wi-fi to connect to the Internet, with hopes of finding lots of free Wi-fi in airports at the least. As a smartphone addict, I was visualizing this method would work as well as promised by a friend. (So far it has worked great! Thank you Los Angeles and Taiwan airports for the free Wi-fi, and to my friend for the Wi-fi and smartphone idea!)

At the Los Angeles airport, Samsung-sponsored plug stations were scattered around various boarding gates. (My friend almost left her phone plugged into the charging column, as we got in the boarding line shortly after midnight. Convenient charging, but not if you leave your phone and fly away!)

We were on EVA Air, my first flight with this airline. What an impressive menu (chosen when you book) and individual seat-back selections of a variety of movies, television shows, and more. (If can’t sleep on a plane, you will find lots to keep you occupied for a while!)

Two of my meals came with the coolest lime plastic utensils. We liked them so much we kept a pair as a souvenir. These have since come in handy during our travels. (We did not, however, keep the flossing tool that came with each meal.) Read the rest of this entry »


Adventures in Southeast Asia – Hodge Podge Photo Montage

Kayaking at Bor Thor - caves and mangroves!

Kayaking at Bor Thor - caves and mangroves!

Sawadee! It’s June and we’re in Southeast Asia in southern Thailand at a cool place called Krabi. So far my friend Sabrina and I have been in Thailand for almost a week, beginning with a ride to Los Angeles, a long 13-plus hour flight to Taipei, and shorter flight to Bangkok, followed by wandering around in the confusing multi-floor airport (maybe the jet lag didn’t help), a ride on the railway, and a ride in a tuk tuk  (a tricycle rickshaw of sorts) to our home for the night (in the Khao San area, where you can get your 1 kilogram of laundry done for about a dollar!). Almost 24 hours later we were finally able to crash at our air-conditioned room at Queen Suriya’s Castle in the Khao San area.

The next day after one taxi, railway, plane, and bus (last one of the day!) later, we arrived after dark at our resort in Krabi, the Aonang Cliff View Resort, happy to be done traveling around for a while!

It’s the beginning of monsoon season here so we’ve had rain every day, with awesome downpours coming with hardly any notice. Despite the rain, we’re having no problem having fun. So far we’ve gone kayaking at Bor Thor (full-day tour under $30!), gotten two Thai massages ($7 for an hour!), eaten yummy meals (under $5), gone to the Night Market (meals for $1!), and taken a long tail boat ride in turbulent waters (and collided with an anchored boat)! That boat was suppose to take us snorkeling at four islands but was canceled due to weather after a few hours of being sprayed with salt water and bouncing up and down on the ocean! (Was a fun ride, though wish we could have gone snorkeling!) Read the rest of this entry »


Japanese Fisherman Shows Us the Power of Facing Things Head-on

Sugawara and his boat SunflowerOn March 11, when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake rocked the northeastern coast of Japan, most people on the island of Oshima scrambled for higher ground while fisherman 68-year-old Susumu Sugawara jumped into Sunflower, his trusty fishing boat of 42 years, and headed out deep to sea to meet the giant waves head-on.

Says Sugawara to CNN, “I knew if I didn’t save my boat, my island would be isolated and in trouble.”

As he passed the fishermaen’s abalone boats, Sugawara waved good-bye, apologizing that he couldn’t save them all, though he had no way of knowing if he’d even be able to save himself from nature’s devastating fury.

When the first wave rolled towards him, Sugawara was stunned by the magnitude of this wave. Many times he’d encountered 16 foot waves but this one was at least four times that size.

“My feeling at this moment is indescribable,” he told CNN. “I talked to my boat and said you’ve been with me 42 years. If we live or die, then we’ll be together. Then I pushed on full throttle.”

Sugawara described what happened next: “The wave was like a mountain. I started climbing and when I got to the top, the wave started breaking. Time and time again I knew I had to break free. Finally I closed my eyes and felt dizzy. When I opened them, I could see the horizon again, so I knew I’d made it.”

Others from Oshima attempted the same incredible feat in their boats, but none are known to have survived. Eventually Sugawara found himself carefully navigating back to his devastated island in total darkness with the fires raging in the town of Kesunnuma three miles away as his only guide.

From that day on and for twenty days, Sugawara and Sunflower made hourly trips to the mainland. According to CNN, the pair were the only salvation to the mainland for the first two weeks following the catastrophe. Without them, Oshima would have been completely cut off. Sugawara doesn’t ask his passengers for money if they have none. For those who can afford to chip in, he only asked for $3.50 for fuel.

Tadaomi Sasahara, owner of Oshima’s supermarket, told CNN that he gave away all the food in his store. Islanders, he said, shared what food they had in their homes with each other. Sasahara now makes runs to the mainland with Sugawara and Sunflower.

“Everyone used to look out for themselves on this island,” he told CNN. “But after this, the whole community is now helping each other.”

From great tragedy often comes great heroism, and Sugawara and Sunflower will certainly be remembered among the heroes of what was one of Japan’s darkest hours.

How do you face unexpected tragedy when it strikes? Will you face it head on and help others, or will you complain or run away? Let’s all be inspired by this brave and selfless fisherman to think of the common good instead of ourselves!

This video is from CNN, broadcast Sunday, April 3, 2011.

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Dr. Emoto’s Request for Assisting Japan

dropwaterBelow is a special message from renowned Japanese scientist, Dr. Masaru Emoto, who brought attention to the power of thought/prayer on water crystals. He has a special request for assistance tomorrow noon (March 31, 2011).

If this message resonates with you, please lend your intentions also. Remember to center and ground and set the intention for the highest good.

To All People Around the World,

Please send your prayers of love and gratitude to water at the nuclear plants in Fukushima, Japan!

By the massive earthquakes of magnitude 9 and surreal massive tsunamis, more than 10,000 people are still missing…even now… It has been 16 days already since the disaster happened. What makes it worse is that water at the reactors of Fukushima nuclear plants started to leak, and it’s contaminating the ocean, air and water molecules of the surrounding areas.

Human wisdom has not been able to do much to solve the problem, but we are only trying to cool down the anger of radioactive materials in the reactors by discharging water to them.

Is there really nothing else to do?

I think there is. During over twenty year research of hado measuring and water crystal photographic technology, I have been witnessing that water can turn positive when it receives pure vibration of human prayer no matter how far away it is.

Energy formula of Albert Einstein, E=MC2 really means that Energy = number of people and the square of people’s consciousness.

Now is the time to understand the true meaning. Let us all join the prayer ceremony as fellow citizens of the planet earth.

I would like to ask all people, not just in Japan, but all around the world to please help us to find a way out the crisis of this planet.

The prayer procedure is as follows…

Name of ceremony: “Let’s send our thoughts of love and gratitude to all water in the nuclear plants in Fukushima.”

Day and Time:
March 31st, 2011 (Thursday)
12:00 noon in each time zone

Please say the following phrase:
“The water of Fukushima Nuclear Plant, we are sorry to make you suffer.  Please forgive us.  We thank you, and we love you.”

Please say it aloud or in your mind.

Repeat it three times as you put your hands together in a prayer position.

Please offer your sincere prayer.

Thank you!

Dr. Emoto (author of The Masaru Emoto: The Hidden Messages in Water)

PS: Here is Dr. Emoto’s message in Japanese: YouTube video

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Global Healing Meditation for Japan with Deepak Chopra

The images and stories from Japan have moved the Chopra Center to set up a powerful meditation to help the courageous people in Japan.

On Monday, March 21 – join Deepak as he guides us in a powerful meditation, sending our collective love and healing energy to those affected by the recent and ongoing tragic events in Japan. The meditation will begin at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern), 7:30 p.m. (Central), and 5:30 p.m. (Pacific).

To join in this global healing meditation broadcasted live, click here.

Our individual intentions truly do make a difference. Collectively, we can make a world of difference. Join us in uniting our intentions for our friends in Japan . . .


Acupressure, Energy Psychology, and Relaxation

In this article, we will discuss acupressure points for relaxation and stress management, and the related set of techniques commonly called ‘Meridian Therapies’ and Energy Psychology techniques.
Use Energy Psychology to Lose Weight M Gach (1990) (see Bibliography) defines acupressure points as “places on the skin that are especially sensitive to bioelectrical impulses in the body and conduct those impulses readily” (p.5). Several thousand years old, Chinese Medicine (sometimes called ‘Oriental Medicine’) conceived of these points as junctures of special pathways (or meridians) that carry the vital life force or qi. When these points are stimulated, either manually (acupressure) or with needles (acupuncture), this assists the body in self-healing.

A report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 stated that, according to their clinical evidence, acupuncture was considered to have potential clinical value for “nausea/vomiting and dental pain, and limited evidence suggested its potential in the treatment of other pain disorders, paralysis and numbness, movement disorders, depression, insomnia, breathlessness, and asthma.” Prec-linical studies have documented acupuncture’s measurable effects, but they “have not been able to fully explain how acupuncture works within the framework of the Western system (italics mine) of medicine”.

The NIH proposed that acupuncture produces its effects by the conduction of electromagnetic signals at a greater-than-normal rate, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing bio-chemicals, such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. These particular studies only examined acupuncture, i.e., stimulation of the points with needles, and further studies are planned on acupressure, i.e., stimulation of the points manually.
There are several acupressure points on the body that are useful for calming stress and promoting relaxation, but I will discuss two common ones that can quickly be used, per Gach’s (1990) book, Acupressure’s Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments:
1. The Third Eye acupressure point is located between the eyebrows, “in the indentation where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead” (p.140). It is best to use the middle finger at the point and hold with gentle pressure for approximately one minute. It is recommended for “spiritual and emotional imbalances, headaches, and eyestrain”, among other things.
2. The Sea of Tranquility acupressure point is located on the center of the breastbone, “three thumbs widths up from the base of the bone” (p. 140). It is recommended to relieve “nervousness, anxiety, frustration, irritability, insomnia, and depression”.
A new set of psychological and peak performance techniques have evolved out of this Eastern theory of health and medicine. Collectively, they are commonly referred to as Energy Psychology techniques and ‘meridian therapies’ since they work with the qi that flows through the body’s meridians.
One type of meridian therapy known as Thought Field Therapy (TFT) was originally formulated by psychologist Roger J. Callahan, Ph.D., and further evolved by others, including Fred Gallo, Ph.D., Gregory Nicosia, Ph.D., George Pratt, Ph.D., and Peter Lambrou, Ph.D.
According to Dr. Callahan, TFT was discovered in 1981, when he had tried everything in his repertoire to help a woman with a lifelong, severe and apparently intractable water phobia.
He decided to try a variation on a holistic, mind-body healing method he had been studying, based on the theory in Oriental Medicine that life energy or qi flows along meridian lines in the body. These meridian points appear to act as a governing force in healing and growth. He discovered that by directly treating the blockage in the energy flow created by a disturbing thought pattern, the disturbance or upset dissipates.
Callahan continued to expand on his discovery and has come up with a number of brief treatments or ‘algorithms’. Algorithms are step-by-step procedures or sequences of body taps on acupressure points geared to particular conditions which clients can perform on themselves. It basically works as follows. The therapist asks a person to think about a troubling situation or event and rate how uncomfortable they feel at the moment on a scale from zero to ten, where ten is the worst you can feel and zero is no trace of the problem. Then the client taps with two fingers on various acupressure points on the body, according to the prescribed recipe pattern (algorithm). The algorithm is based on the particular emotions elicited by the troubling event. After a series of tapping per the algorithm, the treatment is complete. Clients are taught to self-administer the treatment so they may create relief whenever needed.

For a detailed history and literature review of the various types of meridian therapies, see Gallo’s (Energy Psychology (Innovations in Psychology). An excellent self-help reference is Lambrou’s (2000) Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions.

For information on Barbara Cox, author of this article, go here.

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Buddha’s Birthday on a Full Moon

The flags hung in honor of Buddha's Birthday in Patan, Kathmandu

The Buddhist flags hung in honor of Buddha's birthday in Patan, Kathmandu

Buddhism is everywhere here in Nepal and it’s intermingled with Hinduism. It seems though that most people I come across are Buddhist. I have always had an interest in Buddhism; they say it’s a philosophy and not a religion. That may be true but here in Nepal it comes across as very religious to me.  The temples alone yell religion and then all the people performing different rituals also smacks of it. Religion isn’t so bad; it brings comforts to millions. Ritual is amazing; it creates energy like nothing else I’ve ever seen. And yet, I find myself resistant to it.  Here in Nepal though I feel slightly less resistant. When I am asked if I am a Buddhist the next question is usually if I am a Christian. When I tell them I’m nothing they don’t try and convert me, they just listen.

So Lord Buddha’s (as they call him) birthday is May 27th and I happened to be in Nepal for it. It’s actually a national holiday here as you can expect. Being next to the gumpa that contains all the mini monks Buddha’s  birthday was an interesting experience for me. All the trumpet playing and horn blowing they have been practicing seemed to be for this day. It was a full moon and I went onto the roof to watch the boys playing their trumpets out towards the city.

I couldn’t get any good pictures from our roof so I decided to go up on theirs. I had my camera with me and as I went to go up on the roof many of the monks were outside the gumpa. They beckoned me and asked that I please, please come in.IMG_0868

Up to this point I had been afraid to go in. I can’t really tell you why. I guess I didn’t want to be disrespectful, this lame tourist poking around inside a religious structure. I think I was also waiting for an invitation. So I finally had it and I removed my shoes and followed the monks in.

It’s so beautiful inside with large statues of Buddha and some other folks. I learned that you always walk clockwise around any religious site here and so I followed the path around inside. The energy inside the gumpa was astounding; I could feel it circulating clockwise through the building. I could feel the energy of everyone that had come that day to pray. It was positively vibrating. As I walked around I saw mini monks stashed away in corners repeating mantras out loud, sometimes in pairs, sometimes alone.

The gumpa next door

The gumpa next door

Doorway to the gumpa

Doorway to the gumpa

As I came to the end again there was a local prostrating himself. It’s quite something to see someone doing this. It’s so humble, almost apologetic. He was doing this movement over and over across the floor as if to say “forgive me, I am so worthless, make me better.” It wasn’t in the direction of Buddha’s statue and I wasn’t about to interrupt him to ask him to who or what he was doing this to. Perhaps it was just himself.

The mini monks asked if I wanted to learn how it was done and I hesitantly said yes. I have this fear of looking like an idiot because I don’t get something right the first time, but I know that it’s better to say yes and have a new experience.

One young monk showed me first. You stand up straight and put your hands in prayer position, then you bring them to your head, your heart, and then you get down on the ground and bow your head all the way down. Then you push yourself up without using your hands more than once for the push.IMG_0865

The first time I tried this I had to use my hands twice, I didn’t really trust my own strength on the hard marble floor and I was being watched. I could see on their faces that I had done it wrong even though they were obviously trying to hide it. I tried again and this time got smiles from the two monks. This is the kind of magical thing I hoped for, the sort of romantic idea that got into my head when I first heard the name Nepal. After this I felt uneasy, wondering what I should do now that I had made my rounds so I made my way out into the entranceway and watched all the young monks gathering at the lit candles. They were picking them up and bringing them inside for some purpose that I couldn’t gather, mostly because I didn’t ask. I kept having this sense like I was interrupting something, that I was an outsider. I felt myself shrinking back. I wanted to take a picture badly but was afraid to ask. I didn’t want to make a wrong impression or say something wrong but the photo opportunity was too good to let go.

I haven’t prostrated myself since then but I have this feeling like it would do me some good. I think it would do a lot of people some good. Do I have to prostrate myself to some religious god? Shouldn’t I prostrate myself in front of my own self judgment instead. I could learn to be easier and more care free…

Woman celebrating in the Laghenkel area of Kathmandu

Woman performing a ritual in honor of Buddha's birthday


Adjusting and Life in Nepal

Warning: I use swear words in my blogs, just keeping it real, folks


Night time setup

So what’s it like living in Nepal for 2 months? First off, there is electricity for only 4 to 12 hours a day. I always wondered how people got by on just candles back in the day. It’s not so bad honestly, and you bring a headlamp to get by when you’re not working with candles. I keep finding myself wandering out of an area without candles and realizing that it’s pitch black. The power is often on at 3 am or some other really convenient time that I can’t quite understand. I find myself working on my blog by candlelight, which I find pretty ironic… As ironic as people carrying huge buckets of water on their shoulders and then stopping to answer their cell phone.

Western standards of cleanliness don’t apply here; I’m far from a germaphobe but I find myself amazed at the amount of dirt and grime on everything. The people that live here don’t notice it because it’s how they live. I find myself trying to just be cool and ignore the grime, but I have to admit there have been a few days where I struggle. Walking into the clinic kitchen and seeing Urmila preparing lunch on the floor is something you just can’t prepare your mind for. I think to myself, okay, that’s how they do it here and look they’re all fine. Every time there’s something just a little bit crunchy in my lunch I have to cringe and tell myself it’s just an un-ground piece of pepper. Right. If you’re the kind of person that walks around with hand sanitizer in their purse never, ever, come here. You will have a complete meltdown, or maybe you should come and get over it.

20Local water fountain

Water is scarce so we put a bucket under the tap while we wait for the water to be heated by the solar panels; this water is then used to water plants and to do your laundry. Being here has made me realize that while I’ve fancied myself a conservationist I have a lot to learn. The clinic reuses water bottles until they start to stink. The sponges used in the kitchen for cleaning don’t get thrown out at the first sign of wear. There is no washing machine or dryer so it’s all done by hand. All food scraps are saved in the kitchen in a bucket for compost. I keep putting a lid on the bucket because it attracts flies and Uma (the cleaning lady) keeps removing it. I mention this to Nicky and she says that the concept of keeping the flies out of something has probably never occurred to Uma before. This concept has never occurred to me before.

Of course there’s no refrigerator. There’s running water in the clinic but it has to be pumped out of the ground into two large containers on the roof almost daily. If you forget to pump then it’s possible that you go to the sink to wash a dish and no water comes out. This happened for the first time on one of the two days I had where I was ridiculously homesick and fairly irritable. Okay, I think, so the waters not coming out, great. There’s no electricity so we can’t pump water until it comes back.

“Fuck, really? Of course there’s no water, and there’s no electricity,”  I sarcastically say under my breath but it’s noticed by Sonya. Sonya, one of the interpreters and students, forgot to turn on the pump so tells me that she’s only human and I realize I am over reacting.  Just add it to the list of things I have to get used to here.


Me in my cute mask

Many local buildings don’t have any kind of running water; so the locals go to a community fountain and fill up there. Prajwal, one of the interpreters and my student, tells me that people spend hours waiting to get water sometimes. As I start to realize what this means I begin to feel less inclined to judge the dirt on everything. If you don’t have running water, it’s so much harder to do laundry and take a shower.

Most of the streets aren’t paved in the village so every truck that goes by kicks up a dirt storm. I bought a cuter face mask (if there is a thing) than the Home Depot style ventilator masks I brought my first day here.  Even though many people walk around with them on, I still feel like some kind of prissy Westerner every time I have to put it over my face to protect from all the dirt and smog from the ancient vehicles.

The clinic I live in is actually quite new and therefore much nicer than most of the buildings in the area. You can buy milk every morning from the local restaurant owned by Lilla Didi. She’s a smiley, happy loving person that welcomed me immediately. She knows a few English words and says things like “Amy, beauty,” “welcome,” and “no.” She’s a shining example of the friendly people of Nepal. Lilla Didi (Didi means sister) says that she loves all the volunteers so much and she is so sad when they leave.


Lilla Didi sitting on a table in her restaurant the Forest View

I’ve taken to walking around Chapagaon and into the neighboring Newari village at dusk after I am done working. It’s practically right out of a postcard with the beautiful old buildings, people in colorful clothes, chickens, goats, and straw everywhere.

Everywhere I go people stare at me. Apparently it’s not rude to stare in Nepal, especially at random white chicks with red hair walking around your neighborhood. I will be happy to be back home walking down the street in complete anonymity. The people here cannot afford cameras and they are completely amused by pictures of themselves. I walk around and when I want to take a picture I hold up the camera and say “okay?” They usually don’t answer but I take the picture anyway and then I hold the camera up, “you want to see?” They always smile or laugh at the picture. The little kids sometimes fight to be in them.  A lot of the kids here learn English and sometimes they follow me and try out the words they know. Because I work at the clinic they call me doctor. I can’t lie; I really like how it sounds.

Newari girl with my audience in the background

Newari girl with my audience in the background

Newari village at dusk

Newari village at dusk

Newari villager chilling out in a squat that is impossible for my body to achieve for longer than 2 minutes

Newari villager chilling out in a squat that is impossible for my body to achieve for longer than 2 minutes


The Estrogen/Thyroid Connection

Having a Functional Endocrinology based practice I often focus on disorders pertaining to sexual function so I want to describe to you a rather obscure tidbit pertaining to estrogen and its relationship to thyroid function. Low thyroid function is something that I talk a lot about because it affects a great many people whether they know it or not. Indeed the thyroid gland is very misunderstood and is certainly mistreated through the mainstream approach. But the thyroid gland itself aside, this article is focused on how thyroid hormone activity (not thyroid hormone production) can be hindered due to imbalances in the sex hormone estrogen.

When looking at thyroid hormones, or any hormones really, it is important to differentiate between the protein bound and free forms of the hormone. When a hormone is created by a gland it is immediately bound up with a carrier protein who’s job it is to get that hormone to where it needs to go without being destroyed or lost along the way. Once the hormone is where it needs to be that carrier protein is removed and the hormone is “free” to do its job. That is why these hormones are called “free fraction” or “free hormones.”

In the case of thyroid hormones there is a specific carrier protein called Thyroid Binding Globulin. It just so happens that when there are elevated levels of estrogen the amount of Thyroid Binding Globulin in the blood also goes up. This increased number of binding proteins hold onto more of the thyroid hormone which works to hinder them from doing their job. Remember, protein bound hormones can’t bind to their receptor. They just float around in the blood. So if you were to do a basic thyroid screen you would usually be looking for the protein bound form (generally due to the lower cost of the test) and everything might look fine. The thyroid is producing plenty of hormone and the paperwork all looks great. But why then is this woman still having trouble losing weight, losing her hair, struggling with low energy, and not pooping very often? These are all low thyroid symptoms which exist even though the actual hormone levels are normal. “Go home, there is nothing wrong with you.” Right? Hmmm….

The reason that these symptoms persist is because the elevated estrogen induces a low thyroid state by stopping the free form of the hormone from binding to the receptor. For all intensive purposes this person is low thyroid. The unfortunate part is that the average blood work up won’t account for the interplay between estrogen and thyroid Binding Globulin.

A careful history looking for high estrogen conditions like breast cancer, breast cysts, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or hormone replacement therapy for example should all come into play when considering complaints of low thyroid function. This is thinking outside the box of mainstream medicine. These cases are missed all the time which is unfortunate. It is also of course a great idea to have a look at estrogen levels and there is even a test for Thyroid Binding Globulin. These are tests that I can order if your primary physician is unable or unwilling to order them for you. Be prepared for such a response.

This is just another example of how hormone imbalance can have a negative affect on sexual function and health in general. Let’s face it… Someone who is experiencing low thyroid symptoms for any reason is generally low energy. And I think that we all know how great sex can be when one or more of the people involved is, “too tired!” Let’s be proactive here. Healthy sexual function can translate into great overall health and lend itself to a positive outlook on life. It is as natural as breathing, sleeping, and pooping! And when it comes to thyroid health all of the above can be involved. The solution may be as simple as just looking for the right thing.


Mini Monks in Nepal

Mini MonksWhen I signed up to work with Mindful Medicine Worldwide I was able to request my location so I chose to work in Chapagaon, a rural location just outside of Kathmandu. The clinic is on the grounds of a Buddhist teaching monastery. A teaching monastery is where boys age 5 to 18 come to live to learn to be Buddhist monks. That’s right, there are lots of mini monks here, running around in burgundy and yellow robes.

One of the perks of being in this clinic is getting to treat the mini monks, whether it be rubbing Neem oil on their heads or dressing their many cuts and scrapes. (What the hell is Neem oil ? Why, it’s a wonderful Ayurvedic antimicrobial, antifungal, skin healing plant oil that has a gnarly funk to it.)

In my head, before I came here, I had thought how peaceful it would be to be next to a Buddhist monastery. I had pictured rolling green hills and monks chanting in unison at dusk. Monks in training are actually quite noisy; they’re learning to play horns, they chant out of tune and tempo. Every morning at 9:30 and evening at 7:30 they come into the clinic using the little English they know, “hellloo, hello, helloo?” I massage the Neem onto their shaved, fungus-infected heads, not bothering to wash my hands in between. A few of them roll back their ears to show crusty spots where I apply a Chinese herbal balm to it. Another shows me the chunk of skin missing on the bottom of his foot and points to the Calendula. Read the rest of this entry »