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.

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.

Pushkar to Bhopal

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Pushkar is the Brahman Hindu ‘Capital’ photography there now is limited due to arbitrary rules.

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beautiful hard contrasty light.

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Tribal people are without a doubt the most attractive people I have ever seen.

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Mining, by hammering holes into solid rock and jamming dodgy dynamite into the hole. three sets of three guys were ferrying trailer loads of this Marble to Ajmere to sell, this amateur effort will in time be picked up by the chinese who are ruthless business people and next thing you know this mountain wont exist anymore. 500rs ($10) for a 1×1 meter slab of marble.

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around every corner.

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Pigeons home to roost on the temple rooftops in Pushkar.

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Chicken Express

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A boy re-threads string from a bobbin onto his spool for kite flying. He used a bicycle wheel to make it happen. Innovate.

Bhopal to Goa – Southern India Railways

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Station Porters. For a fee they will transport your stuff from the car to the area of the platform your carriage will arrive. They can gauge with exactitude where the carriage you are supposed to be at will arrive. I watched in complete and utter astonishment as this young short guy sprang towards us wearing a red shirt with a brass plate on his sleeve and a red scarf. he negotiated a price and then rolled up his scarf and put it like a donut on his head, then grabbed my trunk and scooped it up with a deft one body move and placed it on his head, and his colleague picked up my backpack and placed that on top of the trunk -a whopping 235kg load- and the he swept through the masses and onto the platform like a waft, fast and definitive. I had difficulty following him. Just completely amazing to witness that..

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Muslims pray on the station platform.

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Muslims pray on the station platform, everyone in the station stared at them. India is funny in that way. Its a multicolored society and yet they will stare at muslims praying in public.

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Bidis, or Beedees, an indin cigarillo made from a Banana tree leaf made into a pulp and dried for smoking and then the paper is actually another leaf, whipped with cotton string. 15 Rupee for 25.. Indians get a real kick out of a white man smoking Bido’s. I use them to break the ice for conversations with strangers, and to get photographs with also.

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Kumbh Mela Pilgrims in a station I dont remember the name of in a place somwhere between Goa and Bhopal

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Water. When the train stops the people on the Class III carriages all spill out and clamber for the water.

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Everything is Organic. Snacks for Class III but I thought their food was nicer then the onboard Class IIAC food

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Its like a Constable painting.

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Catching up..

I havent done enough to render writing a blog entry but I do have a few days worth of images to put up.. These are the last of the Bhopal Images and then some more. Bhopal -if I havent already said it is a predominantly Muslim city, I am utterly fascinated by the women and their multi-level attire. The Hajib is typically black and covers everything but the feet hands and eyes; but the eyes have it.. you can tell so much about a person by their eyes, especially when the rest of their bodies are covered.

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Opticians in central Old Bhopal. Cant resist the mirror shots..

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Standard fair telephone system in Indian cities. They syphon off anything they can from the main wires. There is some kind of order here I just know it..

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Paan. Paan is a interesting “snack” made of about 9 ingredients which very depending on the locale. Read this for more.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paan I cant chew it because the bits get stuck in my teeth, and the concept is that you jam this package in the space between your cheek and your teeth and you chew and suck and then spit.. On long road journeys or train journeys you will typically see dried Paan spit slattered down teh sides of vehicles. Its a burgundy maroon colored substance when dry.

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Feed me.

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If I didnt already have a hotty Id consider putting one of these in the stranger and the NYT..

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The little ones love the camera.

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The eyes have it, and the eyes always will…

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Theres a sweet innocence in countries that dont have modernity. Children play with eachother and are typically motivated and happy. Theres a profusion of Kites and kite flying in Western Asia, and the children play with these very simple little squares of paper or cloth on a cross of thin wood, advertisers caught on and now many of them have beer commercials on them. I caught this one mid shoot on the Bhopal film, caught between two wires. I love the Asymmetry.

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Many younger women of non islamic traditions have adopted the Hajib so that they can go hang out with their boyfriends or scoot around late at night downtown where they drink pop and hang out it parks malls and romantic lookouts. Police used to tell them to go home and be respectful but because of the Hajib the police can nolonger identify non muslims -its a major offense to ask a woman to reveal her face when she is covered by a Hajib.

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Double Damage!

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Hey boy thats a mighty big tyre you are playing with there..

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Bhopal Disaster memorial. Hindu rememberance.

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Two famous people who were at ground zero when the Union Carbide disaster occurred December 1984 in Bhopal. One is a Muslim and the other a hindu, both equally effected and both hand in hand in memorium to the many that were killed in the biggest chemical disaster in history.

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Marigold & Incense Hindu tradition for purification.

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Marigold & Incense Hindu tradition for purification. Muslim and Hindu together.

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There is an infamous image of a partially buried infant which has ultimately become the poster image for the Union Carbide Disaster which can be seen here http://old.studentsforbhopal.org/Assets/Images/baby-raghurai10.jpg The sad fact of the matter is that The land that the original grave site and crematorium is now located on has been partially sold off. The Indian govt. seems not to care about the importance of the site itself. There is a small garden and memorial plinth in its recognition, but the garden doesnt extend into the area where the bodies were put on pyres and cremated and where the infant and other children were buried. Unfortunately now, this area is fallow, it looks like an orchard but its actually a dump, and there is the ubiquitous trash, dried feces, garbage and plastic bags strewen haphazardly around the area. On the day we made a small area for recognition of those buried and cremated there. Very sad.

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There is an infamous image of a partially buried infant which has ultimately become the poster image for the Union Carbide Disaster which can be seen here http://old.studentsforbhopal.org/Assets/Images/baby-raghurai10.jpg The sad fact of the matter is that The land that the original grave site and crematorium is now located on has been partially sold off. The Indian govt. seems not to care about the importance of the site itself. There is a small garden and memorial plinth in its recognition, but the garden doesnt extend into the area where the bodies were put on pyres and cremated and where the infant and other children were buried. Unfortunately now, this area is fallow, it looks like an orchard but its actually a dump, and there is the ubiquitous trash, dried feces, garbage and plastic bags strewen haphazardly around the area. On the day we made a small area for recognition of those buried and cremated there. Very sad.

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The UC Disaster memorial plinth in Hindi with Marigold garland.

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Hindu & Muslim together at the UC memorial Bhopal MP India.

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Those hands helped bury and cremate bodies.

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Respect the hand that worked to tirelessly bury and cremate the bodies from the UC Disaster.

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Ahhhh! Traffic!

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Legacy hotel Bhopal.

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Wedding!

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IRREVERSABLE. That intense french film, reminds me of this place a horrible turkish bath in Bhopal, nasty hot humid and greasy I was convinced that I was going to slip and skull myself.. fucking disgusting place.

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IRREVERSABLE. That intense french film, reminds me of this place a horrible turkish bath in Bhopal, nasty hot humid and greasy I was convinced that I was going to slip and skull myself.. fucking disgusting place.

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IRREVERSABLE. That intense french film, reminds me of this place a horrible turkish bath in Bhopal, nasty hot humid and greasy I was convinced that I was going to slip and skull myself.. fucking disgusting place. Fat greasy men playing funny games in the dark.

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INTERDEPENDENCE.

In my 20s I decided that I was going to try my level best not to own a car before I was 40. and so I never owned a car before I was 40. And so the theory is that I will learn to ride a scooter here in Goa and then use it for the liberation of the natives to my righteous new message which my people are working on as we speak. Perhaps Ill have to get into the rat-race of car ownership if I ever get back to city life. I hate the reality of it but love the concept and the independence.

 

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Out the window of the train.

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Tribal women in Bhopal, with their very interesting facial tattoos. Tattoos of any kind are not very common as far as I can tell in India.

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…trippy dude… Tribal art, some of this is 2 weeks old some of it is 200 years old..

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eh.. yeah.. This is not a theme park this is a a tribal area, and these things look like disney. I can only imagine what these are like from the air..

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The manager of the whatever bank in Bhopal is Gay and he had these flags put up around the parking lot. Can you imagine Todd Maclin of Chase or Brian Moynihan of BoA doing that?

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Seen on a cool kids’ shoulder in new Bhopal. Im sure theres more I could caption it with but I cant be bothered.