I thought back to the first time I met Kazi Dama, on Dave's and my second night hike with Pischering. When we got to our usual meeting spot, there he sat, chatting with Pischering. He appeared to be in his fifties, dressed in loose-fitting faded black cotton clothes, with close-cropped greying hair and an Asiatic or Native American look to him. When we approached he stood up and gave a short little bow. “Hi. I am Kazi Dama,” he said.
Pischering introduced us, and we started walking. Pischering and Kazi Dama raced ahead; clearly Pischering had been making an effort to accommodate our slower pace in previous weeks. As we scrambled to keep up with them, Dave slipped and twisted his ankle. When we finally caught up with them, we were out of breath, and Dave was limping painfully.
“Am so sorry,” Kazi Dama said. “Pischering and me no see each other long long time. We been so busy catching up we didn’t see you hurt. Let me look your ankle.” He removed Dave’s shoe and sock, and whistled when he saw the red and swollen ankle. Before we knew what was happening, Kazi Dama took what looked like a curly piece of bone out of a small bag he carried, and with one quick stroke slashed Dave’s ankle with it.
“Holy shit! What are you doing?” Dave yelled, looking at the squirt of dark blood pooling in the grass next to his foot.
“So sorry. Must move out bad blood,” said Kazi Dama, wiping the incision with a folded handkerchief. He then proceeded to apply what looked like a smooth grey stone to various parts of Dave’s leg and foot. Miraculously, the swelling seemed to subside. “Better?” he asked.
Dave stood up, incredulous. He walked in a small circle, then jumped up and down. “That is so weird! The pain is gone – it feels like I never twisted it at all! What kind of magic was that?”
Kazi Dama shrugged. “That is what to do, if you sprain ankle,” he said. “No is magic.”
“Kazi Dama, I’d like you to teach these boys about Iron Pork ,” said Pischering. “They move like old men, and if they want to hike with me, which they assure me they do, they need to get healthy.”
“Iron Pork?” we asked in unison. It sounded like a bad kung fu movie.
“Well,” said Kazi Dama. “Where to start?” He folded his legs under him and lit a cigarette. He inhaled, and then blew the smoke out slowly. “In my country,” he said, “people and pigs are good friends. You see, we live in the high mountains, and long long time ago, my ancestors had to survive for a long, long time what we call ‘the Great Cold’. During the Great Cold, winter never end. Always cold! Always ice and snow! No plants to eat. So, during Great Cold we eat pigs. Pigs were so strong, they survive good. They dig into ice and ground, find roots and other things to eat. My ancestors hunt pigs, and eat pig meat, use pig fur and pig skin for making many things. And you know what? Wild pig meat very good for them! Make strong! Best hunters make friends with pigs. They wait, in the cold, very still, until pig come. They talk with pig! They talk long time, all night long. Only if the pig say, ‘Take me,’ then hunter kill pig.”
“No living thing wants to die, unless maybe it’s sick,” Dave said skeptically.
“Ahh…,” said Kazi Dama, puffing on his cigarette. “You see, pigs do get sick, or hurt. Before Great Cold, pigs take care themself pretty good. They find wild herbs to heal themself. But during Great Cold, no more herbs! So we help them. They come to our caves and cry, and my ancestors take them in and help them. Pigs and people make deal: pigs give us food, and we help them when they sick or hurt. We also make promise to pigs, promise to never keep them in fences, promise they are always free. So Iron Pork come from killing and healing, together. Iron Pork maker, Khazan Doshi, was mighty hunter in Great Cold. He play with the pigs, ride on them in mountains, play with them in snow. Pigs teach him about healing roots. The hunting and healing art that he make, he call Iron Pork. Eating pigs make my people strong like iron, and pigs’ family love also strong like iron. Also, in our medicine we use iron for healing.”
“Iron for healing?” I said. “You mean, like iron pills?”
Kazi Dama laughed. “No,” he said. “Long ago, even before Great Cold, there was one terrible, beautiful night when fire snakes and dragons fill the sky. Then, people find smooth black and grey stones on ground. My ancestors think stones magic! They rub on pain places, on baby in belly, all over body, and they find out stones good for healing. Actually, stones are…” Kazi Dama quickly conferred with Pischering about the correct word choice. “…meteorites. Mostly iron! During Great Cold, we use stones to heal, because no herbs. On Dave’s leg, after bleed with sharp pig tooth, I use small meteorite.”
“So you fixed my ankle with a meteorite?” said Dave. “How does that work?”
“Don’t know,” Kazi Dama said. “I just know it work! When you hold in your hand you feel something,” he added mysteriously. He handed it to Dave.
Dave held onto the stone for a few minutes, and announced, “I don’t feel a thing!” I tried as well, and was similarly oblivious.
“Well,” said Kazi Dama. “Maybe nothing wrong now so feel nothing. Or, maybe you no pay enough attention! Mostly, stone seem to be…” He checked with Pischering again, then said with great difficulty, “…in-for-ma-tion amp-li-fi-er.”
“Information about what?” asked Dave.
At this point Pischering interjected, feeling perhaps a need to augment his friend’s limited skills in the English language. “We are getting ahead of ourselves here,” he said. “Kazi Dama is trying to educate you to get you ready to learn the basics of Iron Pork, and here you are asking him about the Pischering Field.”
“The Pischering Field?” Our curiosity was piqued. “What does Pischering have to do with Iron Pork?” we asked Kazi Dama.
“Pischering is a great Iron Pork master!” Kazi Dama said, with great delight.
“When I say ‘Pischering Field,’ I use the word ‘Pischering’ in its literal meaning of ‘human being’,” explained Pischering. “The human body emanates a kind of force field, which carries information about what’s going on inside the body. It is this information that the stone can help you sense,” he explained. “It is a basic human thing, not unique to Iron Pork. In my childhood we were taught to speak of this emanation as the Pischering Field.” He paused for a few seconds, as if wondering whether what he was going to say next would just confuse us even more. “You see, all people, all living things, hell – all things, period! – exist in one great field that connects all of us.”
Using Pischering as a translator, Kazi Dama added, “In my country we have our own word for the field. We call it ha. Ha is what animates all living things, ha is in the movements of the wind, the changes in the weather. Ha is the essence of life. It is what connects us to everyone and everything else. We celebrate it every time we laugh: Ha ha ha!” This statement seemed to trigger some genuine feelings of wellbeing in Kazi Dama, for he was seized by a fit of mirth that continued for some time: “Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
Seeing that Dave and I were thoroughly baffled, Pischering added, “The important thing that Khazan Doshi learned from the pigs is how to be, how to simply be. You see, people are too smart for their own good. Khazan Doshi learned from the real world of animals how to simply be, how to live, to inhabit the body and enjoy existence. He learned how to cut through the crap and experience our drives, our needs, our lives in a healthy way. The tradition that he founded is called Iron Pork.”
Kazi Dama calmed down and cleared his throat, a comical, self-importance cough. He ceremoniously applied some lip balm and turned very serious. “Now I give you first lesson in Iron Pork,” he said. “Master these things and you will find contentment.”
I thought Kazi Dama would launch into a speech, but instead he pulled out two large business cards and handed one to me and one to Dave. I looked at mine, and was struck at what an odd thing it was. It was clearly handmade, cut out of a thick rice paper, with squiggly black ink markings that, I finally realized, were not Champogrlan but English. This is what the business card said:
IRON PORK LESSON ONE: THE FIVE APPETITES
TO UNDERSTAND YOURSELF, TO LIVE A HAPPY LIFE, KNOW THE FIVE APPETITES:
1. THE APPETITE FOR LIFE
2. THE APPETITE FOR LOVE
3. THE APPETITE FOR FOOD
4. THE APPETITE FOR POWER
5. THE APPETITE FOR SEX
THE KEYS TO THE HEALTHY FULFILLMENT OF THE FIVE APPETITES ARE ENJOYMENT AND APPRECIATION.