Ma Anand Tarika Uehleke
|I herewith foreward this touching and factual letter, which was originally written by Mutribo about the departure of Ma Anand Tarika. I do not have to add anything to his letter, as it feels very complete.
I am sending this arround, because many of my friends knew her.
Through my research in trying to find Tarika's legal guardians, i had alerted some friends, while the events were still unfolding. These communications quickly and unintended by me, made their ways through the internet and i became a focus for people to get information about Tarika. To address this, i send this mail to my mailing list. If get Mutribo's mail a second time, as we clearly have common friends, i am sorry to bother you. If you do not know Tarika, ignore this mail or enjoy it anyway as a meditation on the unpredictability of death. Any inconvenience is regreted.
Naturally i am deeply touched by the departure of this important and strong member of our little loose community up here in the Kullu/Manali valley. As at this moment of writing, her body is being burned, i use this work as a besture of farwell to Tarika. May this sending help to let her friends know and be in touch with her spirit too.
With Love to all of you.
As many of you who receive this may already know, Tarika left her body this morning, September 19th. I thought it would be good to communicate to you what I know of the circumstances behind her death. I obviously do not personally know all of her friends nor have all their contact details, so if any of you want to forward or distribute this mail to anyone she was connected with, please feel free to do so.
This is how I understand the days that led up to her death ...
To help to put those details into context, a little history of her living situation up here in Manali might be helpful. Until around April 2008, Tarika had spent most of her time in India during the last fifteen years in the small village of Khakhnal that lies just 9 kilometres outside of the town of Manali in Kulu valley. Her connection with Samdarshi led her to this village and she had lived in several different houses during that time. About eight years back, she had made a deal with a local landowner here in the village to construct a small apartment on top of one of his existing houses and had created a nice space for herself there.
The contract she had with that landowner was finishing in 2008 and she wanted to build a proper house for herself to move into. She chose to move from Khakhnal and re-locate to the hillside slopes above old Manali that lies above Manali town itself. It is a quiet hillside with magnificent and beautiful views of the Himalayas and she knew some of the more long-term foreign residents who already stayed in that area.
As many of you know, Tarika had a lot of energy and she managed to not only find the right land, create the deal with the local landowner and build her beautiful house, all in less than a year. I have had some experience of doing things like that here in India and I was very impressed with not only her speed but the beauty she managed to create in record time. It is not easy dealing with Indian construction workers, particularly if you are a woman. To me it felt like she had created her "dream home" and many people either visited or stayed with her up there in the past months and loved what she had built for herself.
On Monday September 7th, she apparently started to not feel well. I was not in contact with her in these early days but she told me later that she started to get high fevers. Sometime during the next three days, she checked herself into a local clinic that is operated by a doctor she liked. There is the Mission hospital in Manali that is better equipped but she told me that she had had a bad experience with them and felt more comfortable in the clinic. Tarika came from a medial family and always had a strong connection with her body and generally followed her own feelings as to how to heal it. As I understand it, she spent a day and a night in the clinic during that first visit while they conducted tests on her body to try and isolate her illness.
Both Tarika and her doctor felt that the most likely cause of the illness was typhoid but her first test for that disease showed up negative. Apparently this sometimes happens in the case of typhoid. However she started to take the appropriate antibiotics in pill-form to combat typhoid, as this was still the most likely cause of her fever and it seemed a good idea as a precaution.
On Friday of that week, German Ageha called to tell me Tarika was sick. I then called Tarika and she was not feeling well again. She complained of a headache and decided on Saturday to go back down to the clinic for drugs to alleviate that. She called me from the clinic that evening and asked me to visit her.
On Sunday, she called again just before I came and asked me to bring her some fruit salad which I did. She also had lost her appetite and was having difficulty wanting to eat. On that same day, a further test revealed that she did have typhoid and was also suffering from giardia, a stomach bacteria not uncommon in India. They had also done an X ray of her lungs and found that 30% of them showed a shadow in the X ray. She connected this with a milder case of pneumonia that she had suffered from earlier in the year.
During my first visit to her in the clinic, the doctor came in and confirmed from a second series of tests that she had typhoid. They already had her on a glucose drip to help combat the effects of her loss of appetite and the doctor told her in my presence that they would start injecting her with antibiotics to speed up her recovery time. I asked the doctor how long he thought she would be suffering from the fever and he told me and her that, as she had already started the appropriate antibiotics in pill form, he thought that she would be feeling better in three or four days.
I saw her the following day in the clinic and a friend accompanied me. Both he and I had had typhoid before and we both expressed surprise at how good she was looking. She was smiling and feeling good each time that I saw her and she herself had set Tuesday evening as the time when she felt she wanted and would be able to go home and deal with the rest of the illness in more comfortable and cosy surroundings.
On that Tuesday, I did not see her but Ageha did. Tarika still had the desire to return home but Ageha walked with her a little in the corridors of the clinic and she was pretty weak from the illness and her loss of appetite. Ageha recommended that she stay put but she had set her mind on getting back home and did so. One of the qualities of typhoid is that your body temperature goes up to a very high fever for six or seven hours and then returns to normal for around two hours before repeating the pattern. I am not totally sure but I think she would start to feel almost normal and it was this feeling that made her feel she had recovered enough energy to go home.
She apparently had a pretty rough night on Tuesday and her Indian landlord came during the night to help her. The following day an Italian friend, Roberta, went up to her house and stayed with her. In the night, Tarika fainted in her bathroom and Roberta managed to drag her back to her bed and give her an antibiotic injection. The following morning Roberta told Tarika that she was potentially risking her life if she did not check into Mission hospital which is what she finally did on Thursday morning.
Ageha knows the head doctor in the hospital well and called him to alert him of Tarika's arrival. As a precaution, the doctor put her into the ICU of the hospital. Between 3 and 4 that afternoon, Ageha spoke with the doctor who told her that Tarika was in the ICU and needed rest to get her strength back but that she should be better in a few days. Around 4:30 that afternoon, Roberta was sitting with her and suddenly saw her face starting to look strange and immediately called the nurses and doctors.
Some years back, Tarika had had some problem with her heart and apparently, in her weak state, it was not able to deal with an attack of arhythmia or irregular heartbeat that suddenly occurred in her body and resulted in a heart attack. Roberta cannot remember exactly how long she stopped breathing but felt it was about five minutes before they managed to stabilise her condition. This in itself is very dangerous.
Mission hospital only has one mechanical ventilator and there was an older Indian lady in the bed next to Tarika in the ICU who was already on that machine and would not have survived if it was removed. Tarika was put on a hand ventilator. The hospital doctor immediately called the nearest, fully-equipped hospital in Chandigarh, some 300 kilometres south of Manali, and they put a mobile ICU ambulance on the road north to transport Tarika to better facilities. They knew that she needed to have a pacemaker installed as quickly as possible.
I had recently been through a somewhat similar emergency with a friend who I had had to transport to this Fortis hospital in a taxi to deal with a very dangerous, high blood pressure that had suddenly happened in him. From these recent events, Tarika had taken it upon herself to assemble family contact numbers for the few of us who live in Kulu valley to deal with any future medical emergencies. Unfortunately she had not had enough time to complete the job and distribute the information and none of us here had any idea of her family's contact numbers.
Ageha and I joined Roberta in the hospital while Jayadip did a fantastic three hour research job on the internet and by phone to track down her family in Berlin. During the night, Ageha spoke to her two brothers and mother and clearly and calmly communicated to them what we were being told about her condition. Apart from the fact that she had stopped breathing for around five minutes, there was a secondary, more serious problem. Her body was receiving only 37% of the normal oxygen it required due to the weakness of her heart following the attack. Mission hospital does not have the facilities to assess internal, organ damage.
I managed to get in touch with (Dr) Ram who had lived many years here in Khakhnal and knew Tarika very well and told him what had happened and her current condition. He told me that people had survived in good health while losing their breath for longer periods but the more dangerous element in terms of long-term damage to her body was the lack of oxygen reaching her blood.
Tarika's condition did not alter in the night and her family had the chance to speak to each other and get further medical opinion about the information Ageha was passing on to them. Her father and brother were also involved in the medical profession. Ageha stayed in constant touch with them and told them what was going on as it happened in Manali.
Unfortunately we have had some unseasonal and heavy post-monsoon rains over the last two weeks in Himachal Pradesh. As many of you may know, this can play havoc with the state of the mountain roads and it took the ICU ambulance a long twelve hours to reach Manali where it arrived at 6 on Friday morning.
Given the time that Tarika had been on a ventilator and the weakness of her heart and its oxygen distribution, her family's wish was that Tarika should be put on the mechanical ventilator from the ambulance for an hour to see if her condition improved and then they would make a decision. But Mission Hospital was not willing to do this. It can create difficulties for them in India if foreigners die on their hands.
So the ambulance doctor, orderly, assistant and driver loaded her into the ambulance and Roberta accompanied them on the way back down to Fortis hospital in Chandigarh. They arrived yesterday afternoon and Roberta said that a team of doctors were examining her. I woke up this morning to hear the news that she was dead.
Her family did not want her body to be shipped back to Germany and it will be cremated in Chandigarh today - Saturday September 19th, 4pm IST - and Roberta will bring her ashes back up here to the mountains where we will have some sort of farewell in these coming days. Her brother will be coming to India at some point to deal with her personal property and effects. She has left a will which always helps in the aftermath of such an event.
I have tried to minimise the personal input and emotive adjectives and adverbs in the above, so you could all have the clearest possible picture that I have concerning the events that led up to her death this morning. I would now like to try to balance that dryness of description with my own personal feelings.
I have known Tarika for the past thirteen years. Our connection started around Samdarshi and has continued as we both decided to make Kulu valley our home. Whenever our time in the mountains coincided - which it did frequently - we would often share meals together. Although we were not intimate friends as such, we have both shared many experiences together and have come to know each other quite well.
Tarika was a strong person with a definite independence from her teenage years. That independence was the motivator behind her years of spiritual seeking and led her to these mountains. Sometimes she was not the easiest person to deal with. It is a description I would also apply to myself. What I always loved and appreciated in her was her honesty. It formed the bedrock of the relationship we had and took us through times where we did not see things the same way.
But in the last two years, I have seen a beautiful development happen to her within her own interiority. Both of us enjoyed to talk of "deeper" things and, in those talks, I have clearly felt how much more profound her own understanding had become. I know that she had reached a level of acceptance with herself where she did not feel the need for any more seeking, for any more answers. She had come to a place inside where she was able to feel and enjoy the flow of her daily life without the emotional difficulty that had been there before. The times that I visited her in her beautiful house on the hill, she was very happy to have created it and it coincided for me with a new and tangible relaxation inside herself. It made me very happy to feel and see this understanding inside her and I shall always remember her that way.
Death is always a surprise and hers is one of the most unexpected that I have ever been closely connected to. Its fingers stretch around the globe and connect people who may not be in daily contact. It is nearly always sad and beautiful, together. On one of my visits to her in the clinic, I asked her if she had had any hallucinations as I knew that these sometimes occurred with typhoid fever and could be unpleasant. In her very Tarika-way, she said; "Yes. But good ones!!" She went on to describe seeing a woman standing in the light with one single tear rolling down her cheek. She knew the woman was crying because she could not take Tarika with her. She also spoke two times to a friend in this last week that she "wanted to die at home".
I do not share these last things to try and put some esoteric slant on her death or to minimise the shock of her sudden disappearance. I myself do not know what space she was in with her own death except from previous conversations where she always expressed her comfort with that inescapable event. I share them because they were some of the last things she expressed to me and others and I personally like to think that she was very ready within herself.
I will miss her. I will miss her humour and her feistiness and her impossible stubborness and her energy and her love and her presence in these mountains. Although we did not meet so frequently since she moved to old Manali, we would still often meet for a meal and catch up with whatever the latest was in her lives. We would gossip and challenge, laugh and share. I will miss those meetings.
I hope the above has communicated as clearly as possible how she died. As I said at the beginning of this mail, please feel free to pass it on to any who were close to her. There may be details missing but I have done my best to share all that I know of these recent circumstances. However if any of you have any other questions, please also feel free to write and I will do my best to answer them.
Tarika was full of life and it is the way I will remember her. If she was still around, I know she would have wanted to share that life with you too.
Lots of love for you all..... Mutribo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
|Remember, only that which you can take with you when you leave the body is important. That means, except meditation, nothing is important.
Except awareness, nothing is important, because only awareness cannot be taken away by death. Everything else will be snatched away, because everything else comes from without.
Only awareness wells up within. That cannot be taken away. And the shadows of awareness - compassion, love - they cannot be taken away. They are intrinsic parts of awareness. You will be taking with you only whatsoever awareness you have attained. That is your only real wealth.
We had a celebration with lunch above Manali at "Al Forno" Pizzeria, she liked so much. We sang a song of farewell and all payed their last respects. Then carried her urn through an old forest to the confluence of Manali and Beas rivers, where last words were said and some poems were read before her bodily remains went down the rivers for ever.
Love to all
I have received an overwhelming amount of response from the email I sent out about Tarika's last days, each one unique and personal. People have written about their love and their past connections with her, shared their feelings around her death and what it has meant for them and shared their own lives too. Some have been from people I have not seen in years, some from close friends and some from people I have never even met. They have revealed a group of global individuals linked by many common threads, the strongest of which has been a very deep, loving and intelligent understanding and embrace of death.
I have appreciated reading each and every one of them and I wish I could respond personally to each of you. But I am afraid I will not be able to manage that. I will have to settle for this personal impersonality.
A postscript.... Tarika reached Fortis hospital in Chandigarh around 5pm on Friday afternoon, September 18th. A team of doctors immediately settled her into the ICU and examined her. Around midnight, they asked Roberta's permission to put her on dialysis as her kidneys were failing. After phone calls with her family, this was done.
Between 7 and 7:30 the following morning, Saturday September 19th, Tarika's body died from a second heart attack. In the end her family did not have to make the difficult decision to take her off life support. According to instructions she had left in her computer, her body was burnt as quickly as possible and this was arranged by the hospital and Roberta who then brought her ashes up to Manali the following day.
Yesterday - Monday September 21st - at lunchtime, around fifteen people who knew Tarika assembled at Roberta's restaurant and then walked through the Manali forest to the sangam or junction of the Manali and Beas rivers. The Manali river is the one that flows directly below Tarika's house. We had a simple and very sweet ceremony on the banks of the rivers and then threw her ashes into them.
If you would like, you can see pictures from yesterday's gathering that Jayadip and Shikha have assembled by clicking your mouse on
I am absolutely certain that Tarika would have been totally overwhelmed and touched by what you all have shared in your emails. I certainly was. Thank you so much for all of them.
Lots of love for you all..... Mutribo
- Tarika: view or send comments & more ....
- Farewell Tarika from Byron Bay Australia courtesy Chaitanyo Suha