Saturday, December 10, 2005

Humpy Hampi, Bed in Bangalore and (something beginning with K) Kerala

Well folks, I'm on my way down south to the end of the world, or so it seems.

Where to start? After Goa I trotted off to HAMPI which was full of tmples and boulders and the roads were very rough (hence 'humpy' - ok I know it's not overly inspired but i'm not after the Booker here). It was the kind of place one would want to spend ages in just hanging out. I took a day rickshaw ride with Mr Paul the rickshaw wallah, who, refreshingly, didn't mention ziggy ziggy or anything else, although he did tell his tragic tale of a romance with a french girl who promised to come back for him but never arrived when he went to meet her in the bangalore airport. this was last january and he's still waiting... it was very sad. So no humpy in hampi for him.

Then I moved off to Bangalore, and spent the day asleep in a hotel (2 night trains in a row are not good for sleep so the intervening day was the only chance). So I can't write much about bangalore. except they have good bookshops and it's very noisy.

Then off to KERALA for truncated touristy kathakali dance performances (6 hour epics reduced to an hour) which featured green and blue people leaping around on stage to tuneless drums and cymbals. Actually it was interesting enough, although I certainly suffer from the tourist disease commonly known as LAS (limited attention span) and don't know if I could have stuck it for 6 hours.

We also did the famed 'Backwater cruise' which was great, including traditional keralan food served up on a banana leaf, swimming in a lake, and visiting 'villages' (not at all put there just for tourists) to see rope making, cocunut alcohol drilling, fishing and other regional flavours. Again no ziggy ziggy.

Finally we went to Varkala, famous beach resort. The waves were very big and quite fun to ride, until hera, who can't swim, went out much further than us sensibles and had to be rescued, baywatch stylee, by the lifeguards (although I don't remember Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff and co. bargaining with victims over the cost of a rescue. Typical).

'4 beers or we no next time rescue '...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Go Go Goa

Now I son't want to give the impression that this blog is only concerned with sexploits instead of mere exploits, but thought the following must be shared, even at risk of me not being allowed home as my mother reads this. Don't worry mum, I didn't do anything...

After my previous experiences in bombay i've been on a roll. Not only did i manage to pick up in the (proper) gay club, and almost in the taj mahal intercontinenal hotel foyer, I also encountered the following in the anjuna flea market in goa...

"Hello my friend, you want to come see my shop?"
"No, thankyou."
"I give you good price, very cheap."
"I've heard this somewhere before. No, thankyou."
He comes up to me, flinging a friendly arm round my neck. "ah, i like you."
"erm, thanks".
He looks around to check if anyone's listening. At least 300 people could be, but he carries on regardless.
Conspiritorially: "You wan't some ziggy-ziggy?"
I look at him. What is ziggy? Stardust? Confused, I say again, "No, thankyou/"
"I give good ziggy ziggy."
I recall that Bob Marley's son was named Ziggy. I decide it must be drugs. "No, thankyou."
His hand suddenly brushes that bit that men have between the thighs and the stomach. "Ziggy ziggy" he says again, as if this will clarify matters.
A little taken aback at this unusual attack on my personal space, a light suddenly dawns. I remember someone saying at Vivek high school once: "in the hindi languaze, the j and z sounds are almost the same..."
Ziggy ziggy... jiggy jiggy. the dirty little b*****d wanted to have his wicked way with me in the palm forest behind the market ground.
(mum, the missing word is BUZZARD, a kind of bird).

smiling at him, I make my excuses. "no ziggy ziggy thankyou. I don't want ziggy ziggy on the beach. I'm worried about crabs..."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bombastic Bombay: Part 2: Fishy

Yes, well... after a few initial problems as I wrote earlier, I soon got the hang of Bombay and found it an amazing city. I even managed to score in a proper gay club, with real men rather than these 'young, with breast' female types to be found in the Voodoo lounge. I'm also convinced I was getting eyed up in the Taj Intercontinental Foyer, where I'd gone for a loo stop, but that will never be confirmed. Shame. But he was white so it doesn't count. And I met a very very very nice man by the name of Joel who showed me around and made sure I enjoyed bombay to the fullest. It could be love, except he's not available and I'm leaving the country. Oh well.

Anyway, hormones aside, there's lots to see in Bombay. The Gandhi museum. Juhu beach where all the bollywood stars hang out (Ok i didn't go there but still it's famous). The mumba devi temple from whence/which/where (i never know) mumbai got it's name. Marine Drive. The India Gate. The Taj INtercontinental Hotel (toilet); the jehengir art museum; the amazing Victoria Terminus train station that looks more like a gothic mansion than a train station... the list is endless.

BUt the best has to be the aquarium. 'India's largest' aquarium boasted... sharks? rays? whales, no less? no.

Goldfish. And a small crab.

Yes indeed, the pride of India's aquatic world was populated by 3 tanks of goldfish and a crab. THe turtles had unfortunately died. THe shark's tank was being cleaned. The rays had gone to a wedding in Calcutta.

So, go India, yet again.

No, to be fair, Bombay was the most sophisticated, western and COOL city i've visited in India, and I would seriously consider living there. I even looked at the university, but they DIDN'T HAVE A PROSPECTUS, and their website is as easy to navigate as spaghetti junction at night. Never mind...

Till next time

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bombastic Bombay: Part 1: Voodoo. Who do? You do.

Lifted from the Trainees in Chandigarh blog, that I posted the other day ...

Greetings from Bombay, powerhouse of india and just as dirty as the rest.

Was just wandering through the shops and stopped at a dvd store and found the following:
Star Wars III: Revenge of Smith
and
The Day After Tomorrow 3: Still Snowing.

Seriously.

Incidentally, Mumbai is the place in India for homosexualists. there's a proper gay club which i'm off to tonight. there's also a gay pub, called Voodoo. For 'gay', read 'full of old men and female prostitutes.' I asked the manager 'Isn't this a gay bar?' 'Yes, yes. gay bar. Best quality. Like a drink?'... ' no, but shouldn't a gay bar have... I don't know... gay men in it?' 'Yes, yes, men, lots of men, like you, we find you the best women, very cheap, good quality, very young, with breast.'

Taxi...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mandu and murderers

Just a quickie. We travelled from varanasi to bhopal to indore to dhar to Mandu just to spend less than 24 hours there and then move to mumbai. Mandu is very beautiful, though. Lots of temples built i think by the Afghans, and one with a lovely view over the smoggy plains of Madhya Pradesh ('Central State', ie the bit in the middle no one knows what to do with).

oh, and I did a 12km cycle ride in the middle of the day to get to it. I am worried for my sanity.

I hitched a lift with a school trip down to the bus stand (best friends by the end of it, and would i like to teach in their school, and please can i have your mobile number, and missing you already), and then caught a bus to here, and then another bus to there, and then a third bus so somewhere entirely different. On the third bus I was sitting next to a bunch of policeman and a soon-to-be-trialed murderer, who had killed his friend with a cricket bat during a match argument. In 1998. Now, just forgetting momentarily that it's taken 7 years to come to trial, and not asking why the police are using public transport for their felons, tell me: is this not proof that cricket is in fact a national danger? An obsession, like a drug fuelled frenzy. So watch out for those cricketers in the streets... it might not be only the ball they're hitting...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Question for you

Here's a question:

Q: What do you get if you cross 3 open sewers, 100 human bodies, a few thousand cows and half a million dogs with a billion tonnes of carbon monoxide, a trillion tonnes of SHIT and the habit of throwing dead babies into a river?

A: One of India's most popular tourist destinations.

No, really.

Welcome to Varanasi/Benares, home to all the above and much more. One of the world's oldest living cities, on the banks of the river Ganga/Ganges, India's dirtiest river. Did I say dirtiest? I meant holiest. Holiest.Where the faithful bathe to cleanse themselves of sin and achieve enlightenment, but where in actual fact they are exchanging sin for 10 tonnes of raw sewage and human body parts.

Furthermore, up river there are many chemical plants who dump toxic waste directly in the river, ignoring government directives to clean up; so further down the river malaria and dysentery and a whole host of other diseases are rampant. With this information in hand, it is almost impossible to convey the idea that this is something worth seeing, let alone liking, and indeed many tourists hate it and leave as soon as possible. But it has a pulse, a vibrancy and a feeling unlike anything I have ever felt before and I was captivated enough to stay on further.

Sitting in the internet cafe, I am watching a body go past every 5 minutes. Delightful, no? Regarding bodies, only adult men and women are buried. Babies, pregnant women and wandering sadhus (pilgrims) are just thrown in with weights to sink them. Even more lovely, I thought.

Actually I found Varanasi amazing, and too profound to make snide comments about. Except to say that watching two pregnant cows trying to pass in the street is a spectacle to rival any in India.

Till next time...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Errrrrrotica

Welll... having left CHANDIGARH (sad, sad) we went to khajuraho, place of the famous temples (Temples? in India? Surely not...) It's impossible to get to, and involves tedious overland bus journeys in addition to the usual trains etc. It's famous for it's erotic temple sculpture, which must be why there were so many brits there. But very few people know the real story of how the temples came into being...

Deep in the Central Deccan, a long long time ago, a random famous indian king-type guy decided to spend all his money on building temples. I guess they didn't have ebay in those days. Anyway, what he did with his money is his business... but he built 80 something big temples in the middle of Madhya Pradesh (although why he didn't put them nearer a railway station remains an absolute mystery to me). So, he got people to build these temples. And he looked at his work when it was completed, and was much pleased, and there was much rejoicing for miles around. And that was the end of the first day.
On the second day, he looked again at his creations, and said 'Lo, I'm not satisfied, this needs a bit of detail, or no one will come' so he commissioned some sculptors to come and sculpt, chisellers to come and chisel, and masons to come and mason, and together they began to decorate the temples with sculptures better than any seen in the land before. And he looked at his work when it was completed, and was much pleased again, and there was much more rejoicing for miles around, and quite a bit of alcohol consumption too. And that was the end of the second day.
ON the third day, he looked again at his creations, and said 'Lo, I'm still not satisfied. This needs a bit of spice, or they will never put it in the Lonely Planet' so he again called the sculptors to come and sculpt, chisellers to come and chisel, and masons to come and mason, and together they sat and thought what to add to the temples. They were all a bit hungover from the previous two nights' much rejoicing, and still had a lot of narcotics in their blood, and seemed to have flashing visions of 2 nights of an enormous amount of incredibly dirty sex. "Lo,' they said (because this was what they'd heard the King say, and they assumed it was the latest fly slang from the US of A, and thought it sounded cool), lets fill up these walls with scenes of our amazing sex lives, and this is what they did. Scenes were evoked of all sorts of rituals, positions, combinations and gravity defying sex acts. One even remembered he and his best mate scoring with a horse, so on that went too. And the king looked at his work when it was completed, and was much pleased again, and there was even more rejoicing for miles around, till the drug suppliers tipped off the policemen for baksheesh, and the whole town's male population got arrested and thrown into jail. And that was the end of the third day.
On the fourth day, the lady folk went to look at the temples. 'Bloody hell', they said (for they weren't much interested in sounding cool, finding such aspirations beneath them), and they all burst out laughing. 'If CHarlie thinks he can get into that position with that lardy belly of his, he's mad', shreiked one. ''Arry thinks he can get it going with three girls at once? As if!' bellowed another. 'And now they're all in prison! Serves them right', and they all rolled off laughing into the distance. Only the wife of the man with the horse stayed quiet. She didn't want her husband's more eclectic tastes to be known as fact. And so the king looked at the work and said 'bugger it, I'm off to war with the Muslims'. And so the temples were left to the jungles, and gradually disappeared from view, until one day the British arrived, burning down the forests in their wake, as was their wont, and discovered the temples, soon after launching them as a major tourist destination to rival Butlins, with special themed adult weekends to boot. And it became a great success, and has been ever since.

And that, my dears, is the real story of Khajuraho.