• Simply… woman

    Sara Luna e Claudine
  • I support ANIMAL RIGHTS

  • me and my girl :-)
  • Mi sento unicamente una "Cittadina del Mondo"
    figlia, madre, amica, compagna, donna...
    Ho viaggiato lungo rotte conosciute ed altre ignote, per lavoro ma anche per curiosità o solo per il desiderio di scoprire nuovi luoghi!
    L'esperienza a contatto con altri popoli, religioni e culture, mi ha insegnato a venerare Madre Natura ed ogni forma di vita che ci conduce a valutare precetti inconfutabili, ma che purtroppo troppi ignorano nel più assoluto egoismo.
    Vi apro le porte del mio mondo virtuale... seguitemi lungo l'itinerante scorrer d'acqua lasciando traccia di vissuto.

  • What to say about Claudine? She is passionate about living a present, balanced and authentic life, with a healthy dose of humor! She loves to travel the world, explore new places, people and food, but equally loves to retreat into silent solitude. She is a writer who follows a hidden path, into an unfamiliar world. If you just surrender and go with her on her eerie journey, you will find that you have surrendered to enchantment, as if in a voluptuous and fantastic dream. She makes you believe everything she sees in her fantasy and dreams. But as well you take a journey to the frozen mountain peaks of the north of Europe, to the crowded sweating streets of Mexico or Africa. Her characters are wonderfully real and wholly believable perfectly situated in her richly textured prose. She’s a lovely person and she writes with exquisite powers of description! She’s simply great! R. McKelley

    ***

    Chi è Claudine? Lei è appassionata nel vivere al presente una vita equilibrata e autentica, con una sana dose di humour! Ama viaggiare per il mondo, esplorare nuovi luoghi, persone e cibo, ma ugualmente ama ritirarsi in solitudine, nel silenzio. E' una scrittrice che segue un sentiero nascosto, verso un mondo sconosciuto. Se solo vi arrendete e andate con lei in questa spettacolare avventura, realizzerete che vi siete confidati all’incantevole, come in un sogno fantastico ed avvolgente. Vi farà credere ad ogni cosa che lei vede nei suoi stessi sogni e fantasie. Ma inizierete anche un viaggio verso le cime ghiacciate del nord Europa, verso le strade affollate del Messico o Africa. I protagonisti sono magnificamente reali e totalmente credibili stupendamente inseriti nella ricca trama di prosa. E’ una “grande” persona e scrive con uno squisito potere descrittivo. E’ semplicemente magnifica.

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FINDERORIÉN

Italian Text * Testo in italiano

In a place difficult to reach by land, an ascetic lived and probably still lives. He was no longer young, but the years had not yet marked his flesh with aches and pains that are typical of aging. Time seemed to stand still for him!

Many came from afar to ask for his advice or even to hear him tell his Thousand Stories. Sarabi Al-Surfa, this was the name of the Sage, he had searched the streets of the world for the secret of happiness. Evidently, somewhere he had also found it, since no one had ever seen him sad or angry, indeed the elderly ascetic was always smiling and for each visitor he had a special story in store that seemed tailor-made.

Some spoke of magic, others claimed that Sarabi Al-Surfa could read the minds; still others were saying that the good man was just a lunatic. Over the months, every time I listened to the stories of the people I accompanied during the flights to India, I was more and more curious and after returning home I spent hours and hours talking to my cats telling them how famous the old Sage who told the Thousand Stories had become.

Having travelled the world of Earth – Water and Air, I had heard of several oddities, but never as particular as the story of Sarabi Al-Surfa. This singular man had begun to interest me in a disturbing way: I wanted to meet him personally; I wanted to listen to some of his stories designed specifically for me. I was sure he could have given me a lot of important information to share with all our cats, since I was sure of one thing: they were the keepers of a huge secret!

A dozen domestic cats lived in our house and another dozen wild cats visited us regularly to receive food. The more I devoted myself to them, the more the belief that our cats were not there with us only by chance, they had chosen us as owners for a mysterious reason that I wanted to discover at any cost.

Several years have already passed since I finally decided to go and look for Sarabi Al-Surfa in his hermitage. I was still young, just married and I was flying around the world following the routes outlined by my job. I had asked for a couple of weeks of vacation, sure that it would be enough to set off on the arduous path that leads from Delhi to the immense Himalaya Mountains.

When I arrived at the airport in New Delhi, I looked for my Indian friend Govinda. I had immediately spotted her in the crowd, she wore a fiery red sari with edges embroidered with golden thread. She was shaking her hands in the air trying to attract my attention; pinned to the dress, clearly visible, was the identification badge of the ground staff. Delhi airport was quite large, so it was easy to get lost when the gaze was drawn to the many varieties of shouting people.

I met Govinda in 1988 during one of my first flights to India, immediately becoming friends and accomplices of many adventures. She worked for Air India, there in Delhi, as a ground-hostess. When I had explained to her my crazy idea of reaching Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, Govinda had darkened her face.

“But are you out of your mind? Don’t you know it is dangerous to venture up there? The border with Pakistan is close and that is a disputed territory between the two nations. They are always at war and every now and then, there are terrorist attacks”.

Govinda was a brave woman; I could almost say that she was a daredevil, so the reaction of hers had put me a little alarmed. I had explained to her that I would not stop in Srinagar but that I absolutely wanted to reach Leh. Her face had relaxed a little, and then she laughed:

“Ah, what are you going to look for in Leh? The Yeti? On the other hand, have you met the son of the Jammu Shri Karan Singh Maharajah on some flights?”

Evidently, Govinda believed that I was joking or that it was one of my usual quirks. However, I was very convinced and damned serious! I knew there was also a small airport, Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpocee Airport. From Srinagar, when weather conditions allowed, there was a flight every 3-4 days and therefore in just over half an hour you reached your destination. When I asked Govinda to give me some more detailed information about Sarabi Al-Surfa, my friend became serious:

“And for what reason do you want to venture to know the old Sage of the sacred Mountain? It could cost you your life… many have never returned and several who have returned have become… crazy.”

“But many visited him and he gave them a story. I only want one that allows me to understand the language of my cats; I wish to be able to share with them much more than what I can now! In addition, I want to know why they chose us as masters!”

I had replied in a voice full of conviction and determination. Govinda had stared into my eyes for a long time, a gaze as dark as moonless nights, when the clouds also cover the soft glow of the stars of the firmament.

“Maybe… maybe Sarabi Al-Surfa won’t want to give you the pleasure of seeing him. He is a very old man; perhaps he has already been dead for some time. Are your friend’s cats so important? You talk about they were humans, not animals.”

How could Govinda even doubt the deep affection that bound me to my felines? I replied in a resolute voice:

“My cats are a sort of Key… I have to find out which magical door they can open to me… for this the Old Wise Man will have to tell me MY Story!”

Shaking her head and gesturing in the air with her hands, Govinda had accompanied me to the boarding counters in the Domestic Flights terminal.

“Look, I’m going with you. In short, I accompany you! You don’t know how to speak Hindi, and even if you try to disguise yourself, you see a kilometer away that you are a westerner and I feel responsible for you.”

My Indian friend had said with a smile. Speaking with a colleague of hers, who occasionally peered at me with a very amused air, Govinda had managed to reserve two seats on the plane to Srinagar which would leave the following day. The connection from Srinagar to Leh would however have been after 3 days, so in Srinagar we should have spent two nights. Govinda had specified:

“My friend, the one who issued us the ticket, will be able to do my work shift. I have already done her many favors in the past and I gladly reciprocate them; but when we are in Leh, to the old sage, you will go alone. Too many stories have become legends, you see, I’m afraid that knowing my story then too, many things could change.”

“So be it, Govinda. Thank you for accompanying me… do not fear for me, there is something that I have not yet revealed to you, but as we walk along, I will tell you.”

Hard to think that she would believe my words… perhaps revealing my secret to her, she would change her mind and I should have gone to Srinagar alone! However, there was time, a long time…

In the afternoon, Govinda had accompanied me to the antiques district, the Thief’s Market, where I hoped to find a specific Object… to bring as a gift to the old Sage. I remembered seeing several of them, displayed on the rickety vendor’s stalls, during a previous trip to Delhi. Years ago, I had bought three similar in size, but completely different in colour and execution. I had kept the less flashy one for my husband and myself, and after inserting it on granite support, it was on display above the half-tailed piano.

Several times that Object had attracted the appalled gaze of friends who had visited us, while cats had quickly learned how to use it and it seemed that they were enjoying themselves. This strange and dark detail had convinced me that it was a magical artefact!

I had given away the other two: one to my parents and the other one to an elderly woman from my hometown who lived isolated, in a patrician house without running water and electricity. The woman had already seen some similar objects, almost everywhere in the world that she too had turned when her health still allowed. My dad had been fascinated by the accurate and precise workmanship on sandalwood with inlays of mother of pearl, lapis lazuli and ebony.

“It’s wonderful, my daughter” the whispered words still came back to me while with his big hands he stroked the object as if it was something of inestimable value, “all people should have on, to help remember… and not to forget.”

I had never been able to discover the real name of the Object because in each country and culture it was called differently, and as well as used for different purposes. My husband and I had decided to call him FINDERORIÉN. I felt, deep inside, that my father was right! Sarabi Al-Surfa would need to own one, if no one had already thought of giving him such a present. It was as if a little voice inside my ear was advising me to bring him a FINDERORIÉN in exchange for my story.

 “You are weird, you know? If I have not known you for so many years, I think I would not have listened to you. Moreover, are you sure that you will be able to find that thing… what did you say it is called? FINDERORIÉN? Never heard of it.”

Govinda was tugging at my arm, she was serious in the face and certainly also a little worried. She was always apprehensive when I shared with her my thoughts, she believed it was a sort of curse that is borne on us Westerners, that of having the mind always occupied by the tomorrow without ever being able to appreciate the instant, the here and now.

“Listen Govinda, my friend, you must not feel compelled to come with me to Leh. I appreciate your offer and generosity but at the end it is my Mission; you see, there are things in life that are predestined from conception and there is no use trying to ignore the existence of fate… or kismet… or predestination or all three things combined.”

Shaking her head slightly, my friend added:

“Maybe I don’t have so much faith in instinct, my dear; otherwise I fear that I would not be in Delhi for a long time! Maybe I should have left this city and gone to the Maldives as my brothers did. I simply would not want something bad to happen to you, the story of the hermit has put me on agitation. There has been a lot of talk about him, he is always talked about, and there are those who after knowing him are no longer the same person as before. The power of his stories is very great, they say, so great that he has the power to change the listener permanently! Are you sure, you want to change?”

That was a question, which had caught me off guard, I certainly did not expect Govinda to worry so much about me, nor did I imagine that she was aware of so many details about Sarabi Al-Surfa. However, more convinced than ever I had replied in a firm voice:

“Yes, the story that the Sage will tell me, as long as I accept it, will help me to communicate with my feline friends. No, please do not look at me with those eyes… I am serious, I do not have a fever and I am fine. I have already told you that my husband and I share the same passion for cats: 10 live with us and another ten visit us regularly to receive food. Just once Nebuchadnezzar and Amneris were touching our FINDERORIÉN with their paws, I had a strange vision: the object had become bigger transforming itself under my incredulous gaze. Later I had heard a powerful voice speak to the two cats…” I had a short pause to catch my breath, “but I did not understand the meaning of those words.”
Govinda was amazed, a couple of times had swallowed with difficulty and then stammered:
“Ah… so you had a vision? And did you hear the strange object… speak to your cats; evidently, the cats will have replied something you didn’t understand?”

I had been watching her in silence, and then I had looked around us to see if other people had followed our dialogue.

“Govinda, it is too long a strange story to tell you about it like this. I already showed you the photos of our cats the last time we were together in Jaipur. I am also convinced that the names of our cats are not random.”

Govinda smiled smugly:

“Yes, they are really special names, but even more I find the vision of FINDERORIÉN surprising. Maybe the mystery is contained in these strange objects!”

We had finally reached the end of a narrow, dusty and crowded lane. The heat had become unbearable, the sweat was sliding down my forehead while the orange linen kaftan was literally gluing on me. Suddenly, from a corner of the alley, a child rose from the ground and came to meet me: he held in his hands the most beautiful FINDERORIÉN I had ever seen!

“I kept it for you, ma’am!”

He said giving me a white smile of innocence and authenticity. The object shone between his tiny fingers, dirty with earth. In that moment, I understood: that this was the right contribution for the story that Sarabi Al-Sufa would tell me.

With trembling hands, I took over the object and then I looked for Govinda to show it to her, but when I wanted to pay the child, he was gone! I looked for him in the crowd, hoping to see the whiteness of his smile… I took a few steps around. Maybe he was intimidated and went to curl up in a corner. When Govinda finally joined me, she immediately noticed the object I was holding in my hands and, of course, she had read the dismay in my eyes.

“Holy God, where did you find it?”

I had no words to answer her, still I was trying to understand what was happening to me. With my eyes, I had looked again for the boy who seemed to have dematerialized; on the street, there was only the usual large multicolored crowd that shouted and gestured to passersby trying to attract their attention. However, there was not even the shadow of the boy. Yet somewhere he had certainly gone… I had felt a sort of panic, while I was holding the Object firmly in my sweaty and dusty hands.
Govinda looked at me with inquisitive eyes:

“What are you doing? You are not going to stay here for the rest of the day. I have been calling you for a while. Look, they all turned to look at us!”

In the meantime, I was smiling a little forcefully while I realised that two women were staring at me by pointing finger in my direction. A kind of respect shone from their eyes, mixed with disbelief. I had just smiled back but now those women dressed in blue and cardinal red saris came towards me with their hands outstretched.

“Blimey! Govinda, what do these good women want? Why do they keep pointing at me? Moreover, why are everyone else looking at us with startled faces?”

The girl had needed a few more seconds to realize, and then she had approached me with an abrupt and very rapid movement:

“Listen, better get away from here, they say they saw the Little One who gave you an object… they say it’s an auspicious Sign… they say you’re a lucky woman and they want to know who you are… Here in India, these things happen and it is not good to stop, come, let’s go quickly before it’s too late!”

Without even realizing it, we both were running, measuring the whole path strewn with stalls and various knick-knacks that led to the main road. I felt my heart in my throat and the initial panic sensation had turned into anguish!

Who was that boy? What had the women seen that escaped my attention? The questions continued to haunt me when, more or less comfortably sitting on a seat of the economy class of Air India, I was struggling to put together the details of the story of the day before.
Govinda, sitting next to me, slept soundly. She had spent the night awake looking out the window at first at the full moon and then at the rising sun. She had told me that she suffered from insomnia… I knew it was a lie, I had heard her whispering Mantras all night. I was wondering if what I was doing was right, involving a friend in an adventure perhaps full of dangers and risks. Then I thought about the times I had discussed philosophy with my father, when he had suggested that I follow my instinct.

“Inside each of us” he confided to me “there is an immortal soul. It is a kind of bridge with all previous lives, with every teaching that has been given to us over the course of countless lives. You must trust your instincts even if many times you are afraid of making mistakes. Always put love in your every thought, in your every action. If Love will guide your every breath, then your instinct will be fully awakened, and will as well allow you to see into the future and to do wonders. But don’t forget that every action must be virtuous and linked to love for every living being: nature, animals, and men.”
I had always listened to Dad’s teachings; I felt that they would take me far, very far!
When the pilot announced the landing 15 minutes later, Govinda had recently dozed off. It was going to be a long day!

Initially she had avoided asking any more questions or looking at me with those inquiring eyes. However, the girl had teased my memories:

“Here, look over there, those are the lakes… very similar to the ones you have in your small town, aren’t they?”

Indeed, that area in northern India was very similar to our small Switzerland. Thinking about the house, the cats, my husband, had increased the urgency and revived the real motivation for my presence in that remote place on the slopes of the Himalayas.

In my bag, I felt more and more the presence of the FINDERORIÉN, as if advancing north and to the eternal snow made the object vibrate in a pronounced way. Govinda had a nice surprise in store for me: instead of entering the city of Srinagar, the rickety little taxi with no suspension, took the road that skirted a lake. After about half an hour’s journey, from a height I saw the large lake below which mirrored the blue sky covered with huge white and plump clouds.

“Here we are. I thought you would spend two slightly different nights on a floating barge.”
Govinda watched me with half-closed eyes as if she wanted to go through me to read the unspoken thoughts.
“You will see how special it is, we could sail along the waterways and then in three days, we will return in time to take the flight to Leh. Therefore, you can say that you have experienced the emotions of Jammu and Kashmir!”

I was truly speechless, a little disconcerted that my friend initially so terrified of the idea of ​​going to that disputed region between India and Pakistan, could even think of a pleasure trip rather than barricade herself inside a hotel for scary tourists.

From our floating house, the great Dal Lake shone in the rays of the sun now at its zenith. The nature appeared lush and green, the air was fresh and crisp and in the distance, the crown of mountains overlooked the city of Srinagar as if in an embrace. There are no adequate words to describe those places, where Mother Nature concentrated suggestive wonders; then humans continued the work by inserting many temples that rose in height as if they wanted to reach out to Heaven in imitating the height of the mountains of Ladakh: the Himalaya chain.

The skipper, if I can afford to call him so, was not very inclined to the conversation. Apparently, he did not understand English, even if it seemed very strange to me because in general those who worked in contact with tourists knew a few words of courtesy. He said his name was Sabibar and he wore the usual turban typical of the followers of the Sikh religion, present in that area of northern India.

Sabibar prepared our meals with great care and attention to detail, on the tray resting on the stern of the boat, there were always flowers, pink bougainvillea and a beautiful yellow flower with an unpronounceable name. Having got used to spicy food again, I had started to appreciate the typical fragrances of Jammu by explicitly asking Sabibar for my vegetarian preferences, and the different ones he had cooked with paneer, were sublime! The man was very intrigued by our conversations because, more than once, I had caught him earesdropping from behind the panel that separated us from his skipper position.
The sensation had become very pronounced even during the second day on the boat, as we quietly slipped on the dark cobalt surface of the lake.

“Govinda, I have the impression that the skipper is a little too interested in our conversations. Did you choose him for this stay in Srinagar?”

The young woman had looked at me with her usual puzzled look.

“No. I turned to the Delhi travel agency, the one where we have also been on our trips to Jodhpur and Agra the past few years. However, why are you so full of doubts? Since we left, you have seen oddities everywhere… come on, try to relax a little. You have an imagination to envy! There is still a long way to go to get to Leh, we do not even know if your Sage will be there waiting for you when the plane arrives!”
Then Govinda laughed heartily, as if for her this whole story had taken on an adventure yellow character. For me it was very different. The impression that something was getting out of hand was becoming more and more pronounced, but I did not know whether to try to get a few words from Sabibar’s mouth who apparently knew how to use well only his ears to listen to our discussion, and his hands to cook.

On the third day, during breakfast with fruits, yoghurt and nan, Sabibar finally decided to let us hear the tone of his voice:

“Madam, I humble apologize, I wish to present my availability with pleasure. I understand that you are going to Leh, I understand that the foreign lady is looking for Sarabi Al-Surfa. I met old Sage many years ago when I lost my family. I can take her to him.”

Govinda had let drop the buttered piece of nan which had slipped from her hand ending up on her sari, leaving an evident grease stain. Then she looked at me without saying a word, evidently leaving me the responsibility to answer. I had observed the face of the man who was now smiling affably; all my doubts about him had vanished and now I found myself alone in front of a person who offered his help, I thought for some reason related to the disappearance of his family. However, I had waited a couple of minutes before replying to Sabibar, my gaze had first moved over the surface of the water, then along the shore that was slowly approaching, marking the imminent departure towards the airport for Leh. Wouldn’t there have been only this man in trouble? Govinda did not want to follow me in search of Sarabi Al Surfa… should I perhaps have trusted a perfect stranger?

“Why are you now offering us your help?”

The question had surely struck him in his pride since Sabibar had become a little annoyed; it is possible that he did not want to tell me too much about himself, but he had cut short stating:
“I owe a lot to old Sage, ma’am. This must be enough as an explanation… I do not want to receive compensation; my help is a gift since you too will bring a gift to Sarabi Al-Surfa. He awaits you, ma’am, to give you your story.”

I was more and more confused: yet on the boat with Govinda I had never mentioned the FINDERORIÉN. Furthermore, I had never separated from the object that had been carefully stored in the bag from which I did not detach even when I was sleeping. How could Sabibar know of its existence?

“I… should bring a gift to the old sage. Oh, yes? Moreover, as you know, I am curious to hear this part of story too!”

Evidently I had slightly altered, my voice was shrill, Govinda had politely put her hand in front of her mouth: she was laughing. Her eyes betrayed her hilarity as she replied in place of the Skipper:

“Ohh, but this is the land of mysteries, my friend! Do not forget that India is Magic and you do not know which are the powers that are amplified here, in harmony with the beauty of nature!”

Sabibar looked at me seriously, staring into my eyes and, without looking down, added:

“Lady, let your heart guide the Mind, as your father taught you.”

At that precise moment, everything stopped, I no longer felt the perception of the boat swinging on the water. I no longer felt the sparkling air that entered my body charging oxygen into the blood. I no longer saw the blue of the sky, with the circle of mountains that joined the cobalt of the water… every sense of my perception had eclipsed in the most complete lack of size. Dismayed, I observed Sabibar’s face, which gradually seemed to modify its molecular structure, taking on that of the face of the child I had seen in the streets of the Tief-market. A fraction of a second more, and I would have passed out if it hadn’t been Govinda’s readiness to call me back to reality:

“Come on, let’s prepare our things, we have to get off the ground in a while and you can decide if you want to take him with us.”

In the end, I had decided to take Sabibar with us. Listening to the language of my heart, something suggested to me that I would need his help very soon.

At Srinagar airport, thanks to Govinda, we also bought an Air India ticket for Sabibar. It was a flight of about half an hour, but which would have saved us more than 400 kilometers on roads not always feasible without engulfing. Moreover, I had collected several wild memories consumed in the Gilgit region of northern Pakistan! Those roads on the Roof of the World were not a Sunday walk, without forgetting that unfortunately I did not have a month vacation.

Sabibar had looked out the window throughout the flight; I had wondered several times if that was the first time the man had sat in an airplane! Nevertheless, he had appeared calm and confident; on the plane, there were chickens in iron wire cages and even a goat that kept wiggling. I had to hold back my usual hilarity in the face of such scenes: but this was another reality. A sort of parallel world where everything took on other meanings. To our left, the Zanskara mountain range stretched up to encircle these of Ladakh, enchanting our gaze with a sort of unreal apparition. Even though I am used seeing these helpless titans at the mercy of their destiny, from more than ten thousand meters above sea level, I was amazed every time by the beauty of our planet Earth. Here the forces of the wind and the sun appear extraordinary: as if, evolution had not yet completed in this corner of the earth.

Among the soft clouds like the foam on a shore, the Indus river and the valley where, further down, the members of the Brokpa tribe still live appeared. Light-skinned men with blue or green eyes; individuals whose roots descend from Alexander the Great’s Macedonian army, for centuries forgetting the glory of the past.

I knew that in those places below many Buddhist temples were inserted, like jewels set in green oases. I had seen representations of the temples of Likiri, Lamayuru, Ridzong, Archi, Thiksey and Himris. Vestiges that tell of flying monks with mysterious and extraordinary powers, of lakes and seas now dried up, of sea lions and myths of the Bonpo religion. They were the tantric and shamanic rites of Buddhists, which link the esoteric to the reality of our presence in this body.
Time had literally flown, while I was busy on one side spying on Sabibar who was sitting in the opposite row from mine and on the other admiring the view. Govinda had embroidered a sort of belt, which, she had revealed to me, she wanted to give as a vestment to her sister who would be married in 4 months.

The offer of our former skipper to act as a tourist guide to the mountains did not give me particular concerns, except for the phrase concerning my father who still distressed me. I was now sure that the presence of this man was not accidental; eventually he would reveal the mystery to me, the reason why he had so taken my pilgrimage to the mysterious valleys of the Himalayas in search of the old Sage.

Landed at Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpocee, everything had taken on another priority. Sabibar was watching me with a cloudy look, while from under the front seat I extracted my bag containing the FINDERORIÉN. At Srinagar airport, I noticed the deference shown by the airport employees towards Sabibar. On his ruby-colored turban, a large diadem depicting the Khanda, symbol of the Sikh religion, appeared out of the blue: two scimitars and a central dagger. Who was this man? As an experienced helmsman across the lakes and coves around Srinagar, had he turned into something fearsome and dangerous? What was his real purpose in wanting to accompany us?

Sometimes, I perceived with a certain annoyance his scrutinizing gaze; after all, I still couldn’t trust him completely, and why would I have to? In life, I always had had to fight for my ideals, argue my every thought and I had never received support from anyone in a disinterested way. I then concentrated on a story, of which I had heard a lot, about the monastery of Matho, the only convent belonging to the dark Sect of the Sakyas, monks-shamans who practiced occult rites and of which it was said that they could even fly. Maybe they, these Sakyas, could have given me some information about Sarabi Al-Surfa? It was said that these monks also knew how to predict the future! But Sabibar apparently also read in my thoughts, or had some other supernatural gift that at the moment I was unable to catalog.

“No, Madam. This is not how you will find the old Sage. You must follow your heart, the path is not easy, but the teaching you will receive is the goal that everyone is looking for during a lifetime! The Sakyas cannot help you.”

The man had apparently touched a weak point of mine since I immediately felt judged. I hated, above all else, to be examined by strangers. Govinda had read a certain annoyance in my eyes:

“Come on, let’s hear what Sabibar proposes us to do,” she had whispered in my ear. Then turning to the man she asked:

“But do you know this place? I mean, have you been to Leh and the surrounding areas before?”

The man most likely had little desire to speak and limited himself by adding:

“I know him. We will discuss when it will be time to do so.”

We had walked to the small Homestay, a sort of guesthouse, whose owners made some rooms available to tourists. They were traditional places where you could share the life of the inhabitants. I was cold and unfortunately, not even the thick sweatshirt protected me sufficiently. I regretted not having considered that in those valleys, during the night even if it was summer, the temperature could drop below zero. The evening had passed quickly, it had darkened soon but Sabibar had not thought it was the right moment to speak and therefore he had remained silent as a fish.

“I preferred him when he told his nonsense”, I confessed to Govinda after dinner.

“What on earth is he waiting before telling us where to go looking for the old Sage? Moreover, why all these mysteries?”

Evidently the man knew of the discomfort he had created, his eyes had become dark and sometimes it seemed to me that a light of evil shone there. After the tea I had revealed to my friend the intention to speak with the owner of the house, but in response she had only advised me not to look for trouble.

“Let the night bring you advice, my friend. I do not think you can do much; much less find Sarabi Al-Surfa like this on the spot. Patience is a virtue of the wise!”

I had a strange dream that night: an immense snow leopard had chased me along a frozen river. I had been able to take refuge in a Chorten covered with a thick gold foil inside which herbal incense burned. The smoke was thick and the aroma penetrating, then the great Leopard had managed to enter but it had not hurt me. The animal had only spoken to me and I had understood its language!
I had woken up with my heart pounding. Next to me, lying on a mattress slept Govinda. I knew it was an omen: the Leopard is a feline. All this was certainly connected to the reason why I was in Leh. I thought about my cats, only God knows how badly I missed them, as much as they missed me too!
I was no longer able to go back to sleep, so I decided to get up as soon as the light would allow me to walk without the risk of stumbling; there was no electric light in that house.
At half past four in the morning, I was on the wooden terrace watching the awakening nature. With a start, I realized that I was not alone. Sabibar smiled at me as he waved in the direction of a ripple in the mountain.

“It’s up there that we have to go. However, perhaps with a little luck the Sage will still come to you. He does not always take the form of a snow leopard!”

Dazed, I was left with my mouth open without being able to say a word. I thought it was because of the height, we were at 3,500 meters above sea level.

“No, it is not the lack of oxygen, Madam. I can really read your thoughts, as well as I have other faculties that may seem rather strange to you. You do not have to fear me, I reminded you to leave the task of guiding to your heart. Love never fails, even if many times it makes us suffer. You must also learn to use the FINDERORIÉN and for this, Sarabi Al-Surfa is waiting for you. He looked for you in the dream, but you was afraid despite the leopard being a feline… a little bigger than your cats, it’s true.”

He continued to observe me while with his hands he traced strange signs in the air. Later, still sitting on the terrace with a blanket on my knees, I had patiently waited for Govinda to wake up. Sabbiar had certainly strolled on his own, without adding any more details to our brief morning interview.
That strange individual intrigued me more and more: even our innkeeper was very respectful to him and to me and all those salaams and bows, had started to annoy. And what, if he was some important person undercover? Maybe he was of royal lineage. On the other hand, maybe he was an incognito Maharajah.
Nevertheless, deep in my heart I knew that I should not fear anything from him. Life had taught me that many times, we meet a person who is very close to us for a few days, another accompanies us for months, and some others share our worries and joys for years. However, when the reason for their presence ends and the teaching we were supposed to receive was given, that person can leave us.
A bit like the awareness that every living being dies one day, and then be reborn in another body and therefore continue the Path that should lead him to true Happiness and Freedom.
Sabibar was a sort of tool that allowed me to know and learn something new and important for me.
I had admired the sunrise, while the sky was tinged with peach and cherry blossoms colours; very few clouds stained the horizon to the west, perhaps heralding the arrival of a storm brought by winds from the south of the highest mountains. Many birds chirped from the early dawn, festive trills and warbling that revealed the arrival of the sun to the world.

My gaze had escaped several times in the direction indicated by Sabibar: Sarabi Al-Surfa lived up there.
The mountain appeared barren and with little vegetation of low bushes but I could not see anything alike the landscape of the dream of the previous night. In the dream, it was winter and the mountains were covered with snow that shone in the light of the full moon while the river was frozen and it was terribly cold.

Cradled by the whining of birds and the lullaby of people who were praying somewhere in the building, I must have dozed off for a while. I awoke with a start feeling the hand of the innkeeper who was shaking my shoulder slightly; there was a big smile on his face as he persistently repeated in English to follow him. Several people had already gathered at the back of the building, including a monk dressed in his wine red and yellow vestments. They spoke softly, indicating a passage by the stream that meandered like a crystal blade through the emerald of some fields. After a couple of minutes, Govinda also arrived with long black hair loose on her shoulders, who looked a little worried on her face.

“The owner told me there are traces of a large leopard! He is joyful because this has not happened for several decades; he says he called that monk you see below: he is a kind of expert. In the monastery on the easternmost mountains where he comes from, four days’ walk from here, the monks receive a visit of these beautiful endangered animals every day. In fact, it is very strange that there is one here in Leh; he managed to find the trace of the path that the animal has made. Somehow, it crossed the small river and immediately came in the direction of the building. The tracks end right under the window of the room where we slept!”

Govinda’s gaze had become inquisitive:

“You obviously don’t know anything about it? Moreover, tell me a little bit, how long have you been out here getting the morning fresh air? I also searched for Sabibar but there is no trace of him. His bed is intact; he certainly has not spent the night here.”

Now I had felt seized by the usual discomfort in the mouth of my stomach. What was I supposed to answer my friend? I decided to tell the truth, but without going into details, I took it aside by gently pulling her by the arm.

“Listen Govinda, do not fret, I think Sabibar was out at night… in fact, I saw him this morning on the terrace where you first found me. I woke up shortly after four o’clock, you slept soundly, but later I was unable to go back to sleep. I had a strange dream: I had a vision in which I met a snow leopard… it was a specimen of exceptional size and was there for me! I thought he wanted to attack me and so, in the dream, I ran away going to take refuge in a stupa like there are many here. However, the Leopard joined me and then spoke to me in an authoritative voice.”

I looked sideways at my friend, initially convinced that she might have an irritated or annoyed reaction, and then I continued whispering:

“Unfortunately, I don’t remember what the animal had said to me but I understood its language. I woke up, a little disoriented, and when it was clear enough to see where I was putting my feet, I went to the terrace. There I saw Sabibar, he seemed amused and he knew about my dream… as if, well, as if he too had been in the dream! One thing is now certain: I have to follow the footprints of the big cat, Govinda. Could you please ask the monk to show me where the tracks lead? Something tells me that, beyond the small river and then down on the valley floor among the pines, they will go up to that point of the mountain,” I indicated the valley marked a few hours earlier by Sabibar.
“There I will find Sarabi-Al-Surfa, the old sage.”

The host had shown himself a little worried at my request to follow in the footsteps of the Leopard, but he seemed amused, I do not know if it was fear mixed with hilarity.

“Ma’am! What do you want to ask the big cat? Do you know its language?”

I answered his question with a shrug, a little irreverent, but very clear:

“Already already… and here everyone who cares about me. I know cats very well; I have a habit of sleeping together and listening to all their gossip… believe me, there is not much difference between a cat of 5 or 6 kilograms and that big big cat that wanders around here!”

Evidently, I was bluffing, and I only became aware of my wit when Govinda translated my sentence to the innkeeper and the monk into Hindi. They both touched their heads, where there is the fountain and the monk smiled talking to Govinda who then translated:

“He says that perhaps in a previous life your Mind was in a feline body. On the other hand, that perhaps you lived here, in their monastery, where the monks speak to the leopards. He still says that this is perhaps only the beginning of a new story.”

Govinda had then tried to add more details, but the monk appeared cheerful and had already ventured along the path followed by the Leopard.

“He says that now he will check where he went, and then when he has traced the path, he will return to instruct you on what to do… even if, well, I do not think it is a good idea to go to the mountain alone. You have a fixation on this cat story; do not forget that that animal weighs more than you do! I would like to know where Sabibar ended up, not even our host saw he… it is macabre, but have you thought about the possibility that the Leopard ate him?”

I had felt a shiver down my spine, for a moment my heart had missed a thud, I felt a sensation of ice around the head and then down to the tip of my feet.

“No, I do not think so. The Leopard had no fierce appearances. The animal had caught up with me in the dream and Sabibar had known this too. Something else is escaping me, Govinda. I have the distinct feeling that if I follow the tracks of the leopard up there in that valley, I will discover much more than I intend to discover! Even if I just wanted to get to know Sarabi-Al-Surfa to ask him for a story in exchange for the FINDERORIÉN.”

After a couple of hours the monk had retraced his steps, had joined us on the terrace of the wooden and stone building. The sun shone high at the zenith, while a fresh breeze moved the purple flowers of the Leycesteria with extreme sweetness, which decorated the wall less exposed to the cold north winds. His face was always friendly and smiling, he showed me an object he had found on the ground, he said, halfway down the slope that led to the valley. I took it with the hand that trembled a little:

“It is the Khanda of Sabibar! The tiara that stared at his turban… Was there only this? I mean… well… wasn’t there anything else around?”

The monk waited for Govinda to add some other details in Hindi by spelling the words to make himself better understood. Then Govinda translated the monk’s answer:

“No, nothing else. He reports that you should know, monks live here who also know how to fly! They are members of a sect, but this is not their symbol. However, it is a diadem of great value!”
He turned it over in his hands showing me the back of the effigy depicting the two scimitars and the dagger; the back was a large faceted and very bright red stone.

“Damn!” said Govinda “looks like an egg-sized ruby!”

I looked more carefully at the tiara turning it between my fingers. There was something else: an engraving was visible representing none other than the FINDERORIÉN. The object I had received, as a gift, from the boy in the Thief’s Market in Delhi.

“It’s amazing, look,” I said, taking the object out of the bag “portrays precisely this FINDERORIÉN. What will it mean? Why behind Sabibar’s diadem?”

The monk had remained as petrified, observed the FINDERORIÉN and the Khanda that I held in my hands, then he had touched the top of his head again and had begun to recite a strange mantra. I did not recognize the words although the melody had a familiar twist. I looked sideways at the man, trying to sense what was happening. I did not want to interrupt his prayer because I was convinced it bode well for tomorrow’s adventure.

The following morning, after a hearty breakfast, Govinda reluctantly saw me leave. I had taken a minimal supply of food for the emergency and if I had to spend one night in the open air, the innkeeper had given me a sleeping bag. To protect me from the cold when the temperature would drop further, he had given me as well a heavy jacket of goose feathers. At that time of the year, it could happen that during the night the cold wind also brought some snowflakes.

The monk had walked quickly, making the tightrope walker along an invisible thread that allowed him to find flat pebbles above the surface of the water. Beyond the stream, which I too had crossed easily and fortunately without ever putting my foot in the wrong, I found myself walking on very green moss and covered with tiny white flowers. Large bushes of pink hydrangeas and thick tufts of blue poppy decorated the landscape here and there. Small cedars and pines imposed their presence reminding me of the Alps of my little Switzerland.

“Wait a minute, please!” I had shouted in a hoarse voice, “at this rate, I won’t reach the goal, if I don’t take a little breath.”

The good man, he had appeared to me as a reddish and yellow stain as he disappeared behind the bark of the pine grove. However, he had stopped a little further, sitting quietly waiting for me on a large boulder. At that height, I had difficulty breathing: the air contained little oxygen and you had to get used to taking things with greater peace of mind. Every movement seemed impossible to do, even just lifting one foot off the ground seemed like a difficult undertaking.

‘How much I would like to be more agile and fit! I hope to be able to continue alone, I bet that the monk will not be very inclined to the idea of ​​being a mountain guide among those cliffs and stony ground.’
Thoughts buzzed in my head without giving me respite; the visions of the snow leopard, ever clearer and more involving, returned to torture me. I was convinced that the animal was the key to the mystery; deep inside I imagined how soft his hair would be and I dreamed of stroking it. The thought of my cats, staying home with my husband, had stabbed my heart.

‘Damn how much I miss them! Who knows if everyone will sleep on our bed.’

I arrived a couple of meters from the monk when he got back on his feet:

“Well, let’s separate, Madam.”

“You thought!” the idea made me angry and I answered a little annoyed: “Ahh, and I thought that your generosity would urge you to accompany me to see the Wise!”

The monk smiled as his eyes got even smaller, he replied in very elementary English:

“I cannot. Already had my Story as a gift from Sarabi Al-Surfa, Madam. This is why I am now a monk. Before I had a family, I was a wool merchant and I had a good life. His story has shown the way to true happiness.”

I was left with my mouth ajar, confused and embarrassed. Suddenly I did not even want to know other details; curiosity had died out in my heart as a bucket of frozen water can put out a camping fire. I felt my head aching, even if I was convinced it was the lack of oxygen, I knew that my boldness was turning into worry… in reverence… maybe even in fear. What would the History of the Old Wise teach me? What, if I also wanted to change my life? At that point, of the journey, of that path in search of Truth, I could not go back. I was sure that at the end of the search I would be satisfied and happy!

“Okay, well, thank you then. It was kind of leading me this far, now I allow my heart to show me the way. I have done it many times in my life; it is not that difficult, I know. I just have to trust myself and use love!”

I turned around a couple of times, to check if the monk had stayed there perhaps thinking that at the first obstacle I could have ruined to the ground and maybe fractured my leg, but he had immediately retraced his steps and without even turning around. He was certain in his heart, having already reached his destination, his goal.

I had tried to intensify every bodily perception; now I felt more clearly the underlying ground on which I rested my feet, I carefully checked each small stone for its stability. About halfway from the valley, it was there waiting for me, a whitish and speckled spot stretched out on a spike of rock. Its long tail, as big as my arm, appeared darker towards the tip where the spots were concentric and black. A majestic specimen of Snow Leopard with a proud look, its ears pricked over his head showed interest in the human who was about to enter its kingdom.
I had perceived every muscle in the body tensing; the sense of smell had become more subtle while, almost without realizing it, my legs had assumed such agility as to allow me to jump easily from one rock to another. The presence of the big cat about ten meters away did not intimidate me. I tried to speak but the words remained unspoken thoughts, so I just thought.

‘Here I am. You called me and I ran, as agreed by fate… by destiny! What have you, O majestic Creature, to bring me as a message? You appeared to me in the dream and I followed you.’

I did not have to wait long to receive a nod from the big cat: he had risen on all fours, and with an agile leap, he had approached. I had stopped, respectfully. My gaze had landed in reverence; the animal had approached and with its muzzle in the air, smelled to understand who was in front of it. A faint and hoarse mew had confirmed his approval: he had come closer to being less than a meter away from my body. I then crouched down, holding my hands forward with my palms facing upwards in a sort of gesture of submission. The great snow leopard had come up to touch my hands then it had also crouched on his hind legs and was watching me. His yellow eyes with a slightly dilated pupil due to the intensity of the light, shone with a sweet and at the same time proud awareness.

‘Welcome foreigner, my name is Siramian. I have been waiting for you for a long time, your path has been perilous and difficult over the years, but it will be even more so in the future. I know that you are looking for your story, which can make you decide to change your life forever or… it can confirm what you will do in the awareness of the reason why you live. Follow me, please.’

Its words, nothing else, were thoughts expressed by my conscience; they had opened me to the Truth: I could already communicate in that mysterious language. It was the same language used by my cats, after all, I had always known it, and I had always used it! Only now, I was aware of it.
I had stretched my right hand up to touch the head of the big cat; he had turned his head slightly towards me, narrowing his eyes. Therefore, I gently stroked it down the neck and down the back, just as if I did with my cats. Then Siramian had continued to communicate in thought.

‘You must always trust what you do. Within every human being, there is a great potential, few realize it, very few find their FINDERORIÉN but only a negligible percentage listens to the words of the heart that should lead them to discover the reason for their life. The knowledge of countless existences is stored inside every human being, you have all discovered the Magic several times and you should be able to use it… This is what Sarabi Al-Surfa wants you to know, since your story is already written and he knows that you can follow your path in peace. Your cat friends, who are so similar and dear to me, are already helping you understand!”

I had carefully received Siramian’s revelations, staring him straight in the eye, trying to understand if its message concealed a new mystery.

‘I think I can trust what I do…’ I said mentally. ‘Will you take me to Sarabi Al-Surfa? I have a gift for him!’

Without adding anything else, the big cat had risen and retraced its steps; a couple of times he stopped to check if I could follow him without problems. The Snow Leopard chose a path that was easily accessible to me. Every now and then, he stopped to wait for me or to give me the opportunity to drink some tea from my bottle.

The sun had for some time gone beyond the zenith when we finally reached a clearing among the rocks with a few brushwood and some bergenia with pale flowers that gave the only touch of color. In the background against the blue sky, the Chorten that I had seen in my dream stood out. I had stopped, assailed by a strong doubt: did I really want to know my story? On the other hand, was it simply the curiosity to see the old Sage personally? Perhaps fear had taken hold of my thought, while these words still rang in my head like a threatening omen.

‘Well? Have we lost our determination? You do not have to fear, let Love guide your steps.’

The Leopard had walked towards the Chorten, covered with a thick solid gold foil, which shone in the sunset light. I realized that the night would soon come and that there was no time to return to the hostel. I had no choice. I had to follow Siramian.

Inside the Chorten, I found myself surrounded by a soft light emanating from several candles while an intense scent of incense had rekindled in me ancient memories. When the gaze had grown accustomed to the twilight, my eyes scanned the interior of that place of prayer. I was not immediately able to see the dark shape crouched in a corner: however, I sensed the eyes of the old Sage who were peering at me.

“Welcome, finally! I have been waiting for you for many moons.”

The voice was melodious and a little trembling; the great snow leopard had approached me and now I felt its breath on my right hand. Instinctively I stroked it on the head and it immediately began to purr.

“I am delighted to see that you made friends with Siramian, the big cat… but in the end it is only a little bigger than the many cats with which you share everyday life! The cat has been worshiped for over 5,000 years; the Egyptians believed it to be sacred and the goddess Bastet, protector of humanity, was depicted with a cat’s head. However, you already know this, don’t you? You came here for another reason… you want to hear your story!”

At the same time I had perceived a gust of cold wind coming from the opening behind me and the snow leopard had slightly gritted its teeth turning towards the entrance. Something or someone had penetrated inside: the presence had become noticeable, I sensed that it was coming in my direction.
“Do not worry, it is Time! I need Him to be able to tell you your story… but tell me, will you be willing to fulfil our desire?”

The old sage’s voice was serious and determined. The presence had become certain, I could hear the rustle of Time echoing in the semi darkness while the Snow Leopard had crouched at my side again and the old man had approached us. Sitting on a sort of stool, which I had not initially noticed; Sarabi Al-Surfa had stretched out his gaunt hands towards me.

“Well, now let us see what you brought me! I learned from Siramian that it is very beautiful, one of a kind! I am curious to see it and I thank you for this delicate thought!”

With a slightly trembling voice, I replied to the Sage, offering the gift:

“I think it has a great virtue, my husband and I called it FINDERORIÉN but I know for sure that it has many names. My dad, many years ago, told me that all people should have one: to remember… and not to forget. I know there is a symbolic meaning in this, since magic is linked to the object and to our cats. Is this perhaps the meaning of MY Story? Is there something I must always remember and do, and our cats will help me do it?”

Sarabi Al-Surfa had narrowed his eyes, stroked the object and started humming a lullaby. The air had become fresh and I sensed the presence of Time around me. Finally, the old Sage had begun to tell a long story, a very long story. My Story!

In a place difficult to reach by land, I had known an old sage and a large snow leopard, which changed my life.

Sarabi Al-Surfa had asked me to tell the world the story you are reading now, since he wished that more and more children could find their FINDERORIÉN and therefore finally bring peace to this beautiful Planet Earth. Using the eyes of the heart and letting yourself be guided by Love, you too can find your FINDERORIÉN and erase all traces of evil and pain from the world!

Later, when you are ready, you can go to the old Sage of the Mountain yourself: he is waiting for you!

  • Claudine’s novels * i miei romanzi

  • Piccoli passi nella Taiga (to be published soon)

  • Il Segreto degli Annwyn – Edizioni Ulivo ISBN 978 88 98 018 079

  • The Annwyn’s Secret Austin Macauley London ISBN 9781785544637 & ISBN 9781785544644

  • The Annwyn’s Secret

  • Silloge Poetica “Tracce” – Edizioni Ulivo Balerna

  • Il Kumihimo del Sole – Seneca Edizioni Torino

    ISBN: 978-88-6122-060-7
  • Il Cristallo della Pace – Seneca Edizioni Torino

    ISBN 978-88-6122-189-5
  • Nebbie nella Brughiera – Seneca Edizioni Torino

    ISBN 978-88-6122-055-3
  • I 4 Elementi – Macromedia Edizioni Torino

  • Cats are my inspiration!

  • Remember, transitioning to a plant-based diet that embraces compassion for the animals, your health and our planet isn’t really difficult. You just have to want to do it! For the sake of us all... :-)claudine
  • Amici del Lupo – Svizzera italiana

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