She had these wild eyes. At least, from a distance, I thought it was a she. It might have been a he for all I knew. I had to get a closer look. The multi-colored tatoo that graced the right leg, and, the closely shaven hair, down to a virtual stubble, had thrown me a bit.
The day was a week or two ago. I was in Shaolin temple with Shi De Cheng, some of his students, and the Nat Geo photographer. We were there to set up some shots for the magazine. I brought the group into the museum area that held the clay figures that depicted all the various historical events related to Shaolin. One of China's movie stars, a previous student of Decheng's, was working out with Shi Ming Wu. I made my quick hello to Mingwu, and got back to our business at hand. I found Decheng staring, in a quite puzzling fashion, at this woman, or man, who was obviously accosting him.
'Where is Shi Yan Lu?" It was a woman, in her early twenties. Yes, I could tell, once I got closer. She had breasts, if you want to call those droopy things that. Coming from Vegas, I got used to the fact that all breasts had to not only reside on the upper half of a woman's torso, but, had to be rather large, and point to the sky.
"Where is Shi Yan Lu?", she started to shout, and almost scream, at Decheng. Yes, she had a wild look in her eye, one I immediately recognized. Yes, seen it before. Once you've spent some time with inhabitants of local psychiatric institutions, you recognize that glare. She had it. Most definitely. I kind of stood back and just watched the spectacle.
"Shi Yan Lu promised me that he was going to meet me here. WHERE IS HE?". She was not only loud, but she was arrogant. And, from what I could tell, French. Not sure if the arrogance was from the schizophrenic side of her, or the French side.
Decheng just stood there, not really knowing what to do. He just kept telling her that Yan Lu would show up. Now, I kind of got the feeling that Yan Lu probably wanted nothing to do with this woman, which is why he wasnt there with us. But, this girl just wasn't going to have anything to do with that. She saw Decheng in his monk robes, so Decheng just had to know what was going on with Yan Lu. The assault continued. She wasn't going to back down.
I decided to enter the fray. I couldn't watch Decheng try to fend for himself with this nutty bitch. So I went up to her and basically told her that Decheng was from a different part of the monastery, that he didn't know Yan Lu nor of his whereabouts, and that she was just going to have to ask someone else where he was.
Wow. Big mistake. She started attacking me verbally. As if I were responsible for Yan Lu's actions. And failure to show up for whatever appointment she had supposedly made with him.
You reach an age in your life, where this whole Buddhist concept of tolerance just kind of wears away. You get tired of ignorance, most probably because it seems that you're constantly surrounded by it. I just looked at Decheng, and got the feeling that he was thinking the same thing.
We both walked away.
She remained, motionless, with fire in her glaring eyes.
He was a young very thin German boy, with some sort of strange pony tail kind of shaved hair do on his bony head. Now I'm not one to talk when it comes to hair do's, but, this one was different, in a nice sort of way. He was sitting in the back of Decheng's van, with some slight but obvious gastic discomfort. Decheng told us that they had just brought him to the hospital for stomach pains.
I stuck my head in the van and asked him how he was feeling. I immediately started my evaluation, before he spoke a reply. I could tell that his abdominal problem was nothing serious, from the way that he comfortably moved in the seat. No doubt, he had gotten the Dengfeng drip, a term that I had affectionately used for the dysenteric illness that we all seem to get, in one severity or another. In the past, I had had it from "mild" to "god damn awful". It appeared to me that this kid had it too.
He told me that he had been there a month already, and that he couldn't have any sort of diarrheal illness. I reassured him that the antibiotics that the Chinese doctors most likely had given him would take care of this abdominal discomfort, and that he would most likely feel better the next day. I did my best to reassure him, as I could tell by his eyes that he was not comfortable with this whole sick thing. Getting ill in the middle of China can be an anxiety inducing experience. Especially, if you've seen the local hospitals like I've seen the local hospitals. But, that's a different story. I did my best to assure this young fellow that he would most probably be better in the morning. I told him that I had been dealing with the same illness.
The next day, he was training in front of Decheng's school. Just going through some basic kick routine, one kick after another. Simple basic kicking stuff. As I walked by, mentally preparing where we were going to go to shoot photos that day, I had asked him how he was feeling.
He didn't answer. Just kind of looked right by me. I got the impression that he hadn't heard me, so, I asked him again, with a slightly louder but polite voice, in a concerned manner.
"How are you feeling today?"
Without stopping from his leg raising routine, he looked at me with an angry stare, and said with a harsh German accent, "I am practicing". It wasn't the first time I've basically been told to **** off. Again, recognizing ignorance, I ignored this beloved basic Buddhist tenet of tolerance, and walked off, not caring if the **** started to drip out his pants in a stream that flowed down the street.
Two Shaolin afficionadoes. Two individuals who have traveled far to learn the Shaolin way.
Two individuals who have very, very much to learn....