Small Room

I remembered there was a small guesthouse on the corner of the Chaudi-Arpora road, a place called Gods Grace. It exists on a blind elbow smothered in undergrowth at which there is a low concrete single track railway bridge, trains pass by at 60 minute intervals at night and 30 minute intervals during the day, an even split of passenger and transport trains, mostly ore and trucks in which the drivers sit in their cabs baking in the heat and smoking cigarettes with their feet out of the windows.

I am in Chapora, which is the most southern ‘county’ of Goa before Karnataka state. This road cambers gently and is well cared for with good reflective paint on the edge, at night there is zero illumination, which, if you happen you stray, you’ll end up in mangrove swamps on both sides. It ends at a dimly lit avenue going right into the Talpona River, at which there is a bus stop eluding to a once existing bridge which is now no longer there. For the unwitting, one could accidentally end up in that river with zealous use of the accelerator.

There is a distinct Hitchcockian feel to Gods Grace. It is nestled in amongst a cup of foliage the building itself a pale blue and white stark building with little or no style in of itself a concrete courtyard slopes steeply down to the bend in the road, its dry and dusty despite being in a mangrove swamp. On the back side there is a cliff and on the other side it trails off back into the mangroves.
The electro diesel locomotives, you can hear from 20 km out, it huffs, snarls, creaks and pants its way along the track in sonically crystal clear southern sky. Punching the heavy humid air with clean crisp riots of horn, against a pitch black indigo night the air heavy like premium felt. The shape of sound as its shot directly forward from the front of the hulking Cyclops steel behemoth a single eye pitched in golden warning, lights up my room as it winds it way along a shallow trajectory to the straight path of the bridge and into the cushioning undergrowth, the rip-roaring earthquake grows louder and louder heavier and heavier like a concussion, a deep low hum oscillates two per second embellished with silver brightness of bogies on track the train says this’n’that and this’n’that…this’n’that and this’n’that. Pockets of clarity open as the undergrowth subsides shifting and baffling metallic industrial with heavy chugs in a low rumble. Then suddenly the world is ripped and a the fabric of existence is torn open and with a burst of trapped air everything is consumed in a massive all encompassing sound that covers you like paint and takes precedence over everything else, no birds sing no voices heard only complex rhythm and malevolent mechanics in time, space and relativity, screaming forward fulfilling its existence. And with a fold of the envelope, the sound is all at once gone back to idyllic sweetness of quiet nature in a remote spot of land on the coast of the Arabian sea.

Friends and Places Goa 2

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Alice mid opinion, and Farhad mid hangover.

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Broken Jesus.

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Business in Bhopal.

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Anywhere.

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Siolim Goa India Heaven

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Greek and Sri Lankan living in Brussels.
9 years married and the squabbles make way for the romance, and the romance seals the love. Thanks for the inspiration.

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876 HOURS REMAINING

There so much shit going on in my head now, things I dont want to be thinking about. i dont want to go back to the US, I dont want to go back anywhere. The US specifically, Ive had so many experience in the last 5 months that going back to the US seems like a backwards step.

After all this time, and nine years living there, I have achieved very little. Ive learned how to forget myself and how to get swamped into a system of thought and a culture of denial. America is now not good for me. I realize that. I just dont want to be there anymore. At the same time, what else is there? Im not sure. Im wired to think in western ways, so living in a routine is now a learned behavior but the concept of it is repugnant.

The last two months here have been emotionally tumultuous, on a personal level, learning who I am and rediscovering the things that Id forgotten about what makes me me. I used to hate myself. Now Im ok with myself, as Im accepting the ways in which I function as an acceptable set of parameters that exist for a reason, and those reasons are functional, though Im not entirely clear on what they are maybe i will never be, but I can live with that also. The reasons are less important to me now then the realm.

I spent two weeks in Pushkar and the blossoming self reflection and subsequent opening of the realization doors were hard, and within that other personal issues were starting to develop also, things I dont want to delve into here. Suffice to say that when i left Pushkar and then travelled back to Bhopal and then on down into Chhattisgarh and into the surreality of the place and the job I was on, i was numb and tried only to concentrate on the essentials. Then going back to Bhopal and the end of the job and the dissemination of the crew put me back up against myself. I left bhopal and took the long train ride south into the heat of the tropics. I spent two weeks in Vagator and in that time chewed into a bigger personal mess and came out the other side feeling positive and refreshed. The middle & last period in Vagator was good, I had met some new people and was energized by them and had long in depth conversations which I sorely miss in the US. Deep meaningful communication with people who can disagree with you and argue until their logic becomes your logic and your logic becomes theirs.

Ive been carrying around a small bag of things, stuff from my past which controls my present and ultimately my future too, things that Id wanted unload but now come to the conclusion that they are in fact assets and tools for the future. Not all of them, the things will tell me in time what they are and where they fit in to my life or whether they fit in at all. If they dont then I will have to accept that.

Ive made some stupid mistakes, and the results of those mistakes are challenging me in ways that I dont like because I valiantly tried to push forward and in a way that I thought was positive, benevolent and beneficial but the results keep coming back negative. Perhaps its the way I’m seeing it, but Ive been here before on other levels and my instinct keeps telling me to let it go. Its like hitting a pingpong ball at a target and the ball bounces back and lands in that pile of cow shit in the corner, and no matter how I try to hit the ball in different ways it always ends up in the cow shit. There only so many times I can hit that ball before I put the bat down and leave the court.

Now, with little over a month left, American reality is awaiting. I have more friends, real friends, now then I have ever had in my life, and how they exist in the kettle of America is beyond me, they are different people, they have to be, because they wouldn’t be my friends if they weren’t. I am against the grain of convention, and yet I lived in routine for seven years, day in day out. I dont want to walk away from those friends, and leave, but i feel the centrifuge is off balance and its only a matter of time until it breaks its bearings and starts to migrate towards critical.

 

They say India changes you, and I was curious to know why, and what I know now is that I have changed, while being here and Im sure when I go back I will change also, it’ll be a slow burn low trajectory for the rest of my life. I am fourty years old and I feel like the last decade has vanished back into life reserves for use later on.

 

India is such that when one comes here one floats like oil on water. The white man is exotic, and the sensation is disconcerting, but it serves as a living lesson in ones own identity and what that is in relation to the carnival as it exists around you. Indians exist all around you, and carry on their lives in exclusivity to you, and by that the very nature of walking from a bus into a busy sidewalk of a billion people you simply have no choice but to flow and whatever you can do to make your own space within that will be accepted, ignored and ultimately a minor moment of curiosity for those around you at any one moment.

 

I have a month left and what will happen in that month will probably seem a little faster then before, but the flow of traffic is the same yet the destination is unknown, and the rules of relativity go out the window.

BRING IT

Bring it-bring it on, 

all of it,

I want to feel the hot hot heat.

I want to feel it crisp,

and clear,

sear my skin,

make me feel alive.

Bring me closer to the fire.

 

_hard times with emotion.

 

PAYING FULL PRICE FOR A HALF TANK OF GAS 2013-04-20

Today I had another mathematical quandary with an Indian. I rolled in with exactly half a tank of gas and asked the guy to fill’er up. So he put the nozzle into the tank pressed the go button and pulled the nozzle out, after a about 3 seconds, and then went to the machine and pressed a button and said 380rs. I thought he said 80 and I handed him a 100. Pregnant pause. So i asked him how much again and he said 380.. hrm I said that the tank was 50% before he filled it, and he said yes but you asked me to fill it, and a full tank is 380.. between a bit of neigh translated dialogue, a friend pulled in and I asked him to translate, which he did, and the pump guy wouldn’t budge, because i said I wanted a full tank, and a full tank is 380.

So we tried to figure it out with him and finally my friend said what did the pump say and the guy looked at the pump and it was zero and he said ‘It says zero’, so I said oh ok then its free and I got on my bike and the pump guy looked really confused and I could have driven away but I just wanted to make a point. So I had a bottle of water on me that was about half way to the top and I said to him like a high infants teacher, “bottle half full, fill the bottle how much water do you need to fill it up?” he stared at me and I went to the counter and got another bottle of water and went back to pump guy and said “ ok bottle half full, how much do I need to fill the bottle and he said “full” and I opened the new bottle and told him to pour all of it into the half filled bottle and he looked at me like a goldfish (he was still holding the nozzle and in his other hand a wad of bills both at about shoulder height), and I hand him the bottles he is totally confused about what to do with the nozzle and the cash let alone the rocket science I was about to get him to perform, so I take the nozzle and hang it up for him and tell him t put the cash in his breast pocket, which he does then I hand him the bottles and repeat the instruction, fill up this bottle with that bottle and see how much water is left in that bottle.. and he is about to start putting the two bottles together and then realizes.. ah yes ok ok,

GREAT! A breakthrough has occurred! and then he goes into a fairly decent breakdown of how that would work and that hed get water all over his hand and that my bottle idea was really great, so then I brought him back to the gas tank and said that this bottle was the same amount as the tank and that blah well I explained it to him, and then said ok how much money for the petrol, and he said ‘full tank 380rs’.

.. oh fuck.. so my friend said to him to recall the last pump meter reading and pump guy says “no not allowed” so my friend said to him to do it or else and the guy reluctantly pressed the button and up popped a figure of 180 then very quickly went on to the next one which said 270 and said that was the price, but I pressed the last recall button and said asked him who else had filled the tank since i got here with this pump and the goldfish face came back, so I repeated it and said after you took the nozzel out of my tank which other tank did you put it in and he looked around ( there was two other bikes there at that point), and he pointed at the guy behind me.. So I asked him if hed had his tank filled yet, and of course he said no, so I said to pump guy, ok lets say this is his price then how did you get that price if you havent put the gas in yet? at that point I pushed the last recall button and I handed him the additional 170rs to which he said “no no no you pay 380 for a full tank!” I said ok lets talk to your manager, at that point he started yelling at me and I drove away. My friend later told me ‘learning curve – always watch the pump guy, the managers tell them what to do and then they do it and they dont understand what they are doing, though some of them do and then figure that lying to you will get them out of it, because I guess that when you dont have any sense of mathematics at all, then the basic rules apply, and indians trick each other all the time but dont see it as tricking you, they just see it that you paid more because you must have got more. And that right there is an amazing concept to me.

FROM PUSHKAR TO BHOPAL

The heat becomes you. Heat dictates everything. Your life revolves around it. In extreme temperatures, anything above 38c, the body reacts differently, even for those who are used to heat. It takes over your actions, what you do, how you do it, when you do things where you do things, what you eat, what you drink, and how much of both. Heat mandates that you segregate everything and do those tasks in small amounts. Currently its averaging between 38c and 44c surprisingly enough I have been fine in the extremes. I have to wear socks in my shoes because my shoes become too hot for my skin, and in places where you are not allowed to wear shoes it is essential that you have socks on because the temperature of the ground is enough to dry spit in 20 seconds. It will make an ice cold 1L bottle of water hot –30c– in 20 minutes. Inside a car that is reduced to about 10 minutes. Its easy to print figures and say oh look its 44c outside, but its a different thing entirely to know how those figures actually behave in terms of what those figures mean

 

The decision to leave Pushkar was made for me by the enticing idea of working again on a project Im not allowed to discuss. Needless to say its a sensitive topic in India and lives are at stake, as well as our own freedom if it were discovered what we were trying to achieve in terms of truth telling through documentary.

This is probably the biggest current affair topic Ive worked on in the last decade, and it feels good to be back in the loop -hows that for ego?

 

Pushkar was ultimately a fulcrum point for me in terms of learning how to deal with a few things by my self. I spent 11 days there two of them were completely buried in unemployment bullshit from the US, Im still fighting that decision now after a year because it wont leave me alone. Im so over it that Im over being over it. Do much so that when it came to paying the bill in the SunSet hotel I thought Id only been there five days instead of seven.
I also went through a period of self reflection and spent a few days meditating on matters. Something brought me clarity. After that I started meeting interesting people. There is nothing like silence for three days to really make you think. My sweet friend Isil from Istanbul who I met in Varanasi went on a retreat for that very same purpose but did it for ten days, and what she said she got from it was life changing. Im changing my opinions on meditation. Meditation is different from alone time. Alone time to me is something that I have to have, its time to do my shit anything I want for a period of time every day. I need it or I go nutso, but i know that a small doses are better then big doses, makes you appreciate that time more.

Pushkar was also a challenge for me in that I had to stand up for the things I believe in and accept that those beliefs clashed with the beliefs of others, and with that discourse has to be opened to find common ground. I spent a day with a fantastically independent free thinking woman named Daisy who rambled with me for many hours on many topics and in that period opened my eyes to things I hadn’t even begun to think about. Her ideas rattled me and made me think hard about derivatives of those sentiments.

Pushkar is tiny, and you could see everything in a day and a half, but its so relaxing that I had to stay, sit and soak in the heat the light and the silence of the mid afternoon sun. I never did trek up any of those hills like I wanted to, but Im not really that bothered. The place gave me something else instead and I’m more then happy with that.

 

It was surprizingly easy to get a ticket out in the end. I had been trying to get a ticket for a few days and I kept going to these rat-hole travel “agents” that tell you that they cant get you anything for whatever reason. Finally I went to the highstreet guy and he instantly got me an express train directly from Ajmere to Bhopal, 5pm departure 6am arrival. Bingo. I got on the train, bedded in, played videogames for a few minutes fell asleep and woke up in Bhopal. How perfect is that?

 

Arriving back in Bhopal again, was a little strange but it gave me confidence, because the city the first time was a bit intimidating for me arriving in India, and this time around it was familiar and the people here are definitely more relaxed, have a great sense of humour and dont try and rip the tourists off because nobody comes to bhopal for tourism, so Im Mr Exotic Noveltypants again. Its dominated by Indian Muslims, and after being in Hindu dominated places for two months, I can honestly say that Islamics are definitely more grounded and have less conflict within the religion then Hindu seems to. Also the food is better.

 

ME MATE STeve said i would just for the crack.

an indian menue in restaraunts are notorious for the most imagintive phonetic spelling of english words. Ive seen Shup on the menu, and when I asked the witer, he said ‘Soup” through a bushy mustache and mouth full of mangled red teeth, and with an indian broken english. Magic.
The best one Ive never sen was told to me by a neighbour in pushkar, guy names Lance who was a 63yo guy who looked 52, his buddy steve and their wives. they were totally great, I loved the reconnect to old times through these guys.
Lance told me that in one restairant he was here the spelling for ice Cream was all perfect except the last one which was two seperate words “Black Krunt”.

I think that takes the cherry.