Observations from a Small City on the Edge of a Crumbling Tectonic Economy..

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I’ve lived in Seattle since November 25th 2004, and in that time I have seen some slow changes, lost touch with a lot of people who moved on, disappeared left town etc. It’s really not until 2013 that the physical changes happened in the city that I could start to think I was living in a dynamic place.

I’ve lived in Seattle since November 25th 2004, and in that time I have seen some slow changes, lost touch with a lot of people who moved on, disappeared left town etc. It’s really not until 2013 that the physical changes happened in the city that I could start to think I was living in a dynamic place.

I came to the US with an expectations of grandeur.

I was really surprised when I got to New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and DC and was hit in the face with the fact that these were aging cities, and the sense that the people living there, really didn’t have much actual control or say over anything that went on, because democracy got in the way. Id assumed the US was bright shiny and new.
As a European, I had always grown up with places that were maintained and there was a real sense of local pride and everyone was involved in it.

Over the years and traveling around, I’ve seen enough of it to tell me that this country is definitely a continent in decline. A place strangled by conservative values, and disregard for everything except money.

The US is definitely not a place I want to grow old in, and yet, I don’t know where else there is now that hasn’t adopted the same capitalistic values, and with that the utterly destructive nature of that which is held in high regard: individualism.

 

 

From the Archives..

I once had the bright idea of taking pictures of newspapers, periodically while on my travels.
In the US its easy to do this because of these street-side vending machines where the top half of the front page is displayed, and that basically all I need.

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To this day, I find it hard to swallow that the administration of the time were actually lying.

Shit film

A shit film is a shit film because it has shit sound.

An interesting film is a shit film with great sound.

A really good film is an ok film with great sound

A brilliant film is a brilliant film because its made with intent and cut with intent and sounds amazing.

The rest is hollywood.

Brain Blame.

Im watching the compiled videos of Elliot Rodger.
My thoughts on the guy are that he’s terribly dislocated from reality. He has no perspective. It seems from his language that he has been fed something, I’m not sure where it comes from but he is definitely selectively filtering to something which has probably been coming to him for a long time. A child soaks everything up, and I think somewhere along the way he started filtering out all of the other ‘normal’ stuff because the one true consistent thread to him was comforting and steadfast.

I honestly feel sorry for him; take away the trappings of wealth and the padding privilege denies your senses of, and you are left with a child who has no concept of how to compete in the world. Prop that child up with misguided rhetoric and single sided psychology and unfathomable society hype and you get; an abused child. The child does not become an adult on a birthdate. I understand and am intrinsically aware that we all make choices, and we all theoretically know right from wrong. But where does the choice of choice begin and end? What if the choice is already made for you by the lack of options available to you? Whether they are truly not available to you, by standards of society, is of no consequence if your perceived choice is what it is because you are blinkered to a wider array of information.
Luckily most of us have come to some point where we can see other facets of life, to see behind the opinions we’ve formed so that we can form new ones, with multiple perspectives and multiple motivations, but some of us don’t get to that point for reasons of distraction, being distracted by mere survival, whether that be surviving in poverty or surviving yourself, what I call survival mode. Psychological damage, early on and repeated cycles and patterns, become the cause of ignoring important and learning curves because there are other things going on that pose a bigger greater threat over the course of time, which in turn lays a foundation of reactive or evasive behavior unbeknownst to the self, its like being handed a flare that will call the helicopter, when lost in heavy waters, and there’s a log in front of you. Which are you going to go for? If you already know what the thing is, and what it will do for you, then you will probably make the right choice. But, if the thing that offers you immediate relief, is not much effort away and doesn’t have to be decrypted in a language you haven’t been prepared to understand, then you are likely to make the wrong choice. Effectively; you will make the only choice open to you, because of your lack of options.

It’s easy to call him a misogynist, and yes, and if you look at all the evidence that’s what he became. But he wasn’t a misogynist by choice. He didn’t have enough life in him to get him to a point where he could back it up with real solid undeniable and arguable hatred for girls. Maybe there were other pressures, ones that he as yet could not recognize. Perhaps there were fissures that somewhere down the line of life, if he had lived it a bit longer, he might just have come to a realization that the girls he hates are in fact more a statement about the need to be loved cherished and nurtured, not just handed a padded life, talked at, put on a pedestal and objectified, but truly loved and valued.

It is my belief that he was an incidental misogynist because his hatred was probably actually fear. On the surface he was a cocky self-centered shit, and its so easy to throw down the artifacts of disdain (thus separating us from him), and I do it here because I’m appealing to the lowest common denominator who is expecting a biscuit, or a token of my understanding and empathy among the debris of my psycho-babble. But we all become something from something else, so where did he get it from? Blame the parents? Or this horrible monstrous society we have let run completely out of control which needs some parenting in of itself.

It is so easy to blame society, that Im aware of, yes, but society really is to blame, because the soup that is society is the passive current of our group subconsciousness which we have set up to fail ourselves by allowing ourselves to follow the tacit flow of ease to which advertising has become the tactile garments of our group recumbence. Am I suggesting that society be curtailed? No, I am not, but I am asking, if, perhaps we start to consider the possibility of a greater discussion about how dirty the room we lounge in has become, and what it will take to recognize the concerns from the ground up.
I know this argument well. As an immigrant, I still see Americas problems are rooted in its desire to be as democratic to all which in theory is wonderful, but it’s really not happening, we are not democratic to all, we are selective and biased and self-centered. The conservatives want to be heard, and so they shall. The liberals want to be heard and so they shall, and apart from which color you choose those opposing forces really cross over each others lines about two seconds after crossing the starting line. So knowing that, perhaps we should just cut to the chase and get on with the job of making the choices that are best for everyone’s needs regardless of their wants.

#Elliot #Rodger #ElliotRodger

2013.05.30 BOMBAY

Bombay, not Mumbai. I prefer it, and the Bombers themselves call it Bombay anyway.

Its as hot as Goa was, but the humidity levels are off the charts. What I thought was humid in Goa was just for starters. Here its totally and completely insane. It takes 20 minutes to sweat out a liter of water. I go nowhere without a 2L bottle of Bisleri. Bisleri is the nice brand of water in India. Its an Indian company started by a French couple who came here some time ago and scoffed at the lack of good clean drinking water in bottles. Since then of course, there are others. Bailey, which is harder to find, but equally as good and the same price. 1L bottles are about 15 rupees, 2L bottles are 25 rupees, depending of course if you ask the price, because most street vendors will try and hoodwink you and make you pay more even thought he price is moderately unclearly marked on the bottles themselves. The Batch Number, date and Price “(inclusive of all taxes)”. But I still like to ask because I like to see the honesty levels of the vendors. Most outside of Goa and so far Bombay, are not honest and some, even when you show them the price will argue the price with you. Old school values; haggle. Theres no haggling in America. We are soft now, lazy, the price is the price. I still like to ask for a deal when I have to go to the Apple store just to fuck with the doe-eyed whizz-kid clerks. Who cares if Steve Jobs had $750,000,000,000 in the bank before he stepped out, he shouldn’t have had that much money anyway, he should have by virtue of the fact that he travelled India himself, known that that money would have been better off in the hands of those who know what to do with it to make their days a little brighter. Like those tribal families out there on the street in front of the hostel Im currently in. They are rolling with the rats, and their children are playing cricket and badminton amongst the traffic “OUT”! I saw that, that was out! Ballard market, haha what a fucking Joke, ‘fixed prices’ total and complete bullshit.
Oh look at that Im sweating as I’m shitting here in relative comfort of porcelain three floors above you, and the little brown children with blue string around their waists are dropping their payloads into cracks in the pavement. Their shit is cleaner then yours though -and you fucking better believe it.

 

Just a reminder..

To anyone who has in their possession any of my images, video or sound recordings, that I have not given anyone any permission or license to use any of my images, and no such permission or license shall be implied by their possession of digital or otherwise electronic analog or physical copies of any of my images, video, sound recordings, and that I trust none of my images will be incorporated into any work, and that my policy is to aggressively defend my copyrights to the full extent of the law.

If you do have copies of my images, video or sound recordings and want to use them for any reason, you must contact me before hand without exception.

Goa to Mumbai

Bombay! Yes they are Dildos!
Bombay! Yes they are Dildos!
Bombay! Street children, have the world as their playground.
Bombay! Street children, have the world as their playground.
Bomba, there is always someone at work, and neary by street children play in the dust between the missing paving stones.
Bomba, there is always someone at work, and neary by street children play in the dust between the missing paving stones.
A workman walks past bails of fabric on a hand-cart in his ubiquitous Ghandi style garb and Nehru cap.
A workman walks past bails of fabric on a hand-cart in his ubiquitous Ghandi style garb and Nehru cap.
The single best thirst quencher is Cane Juice, there are literally thousands of stalls all over the metropolis selling Cane Juice which is prepared and crushed and mixed with lime or mint and sold for 10rs a glass. Its a sweet, cool light-green drink with a hint of cinnamon and a frothy head.
The single best thirst quencher is Cane Juice, there are literally thousands of stalls all over the metropolis selling Cane Juice which is prepared and crushed and mixed with lime or mint and sold for 10rs a glass. Its a sweet, cool light-green drink with a hint of cinnamon and a frothy head.
A flour Mill in Fort, Bombay India. Someones respected father represented ont he wall, and the eye-of-shiva marked on the portrait gives the scene an uncanny and humorous appeal. It reminds me of Carlos the Jackal.
A flour Mill in Fort, Bombay India. Someones respected father represented ont he wall, and the eye-of-shiva marked on the portrait gives the scene an uncanny and humorous appeal. It reminds me of Carlos the Jackal.
Bombay! The old part of the city, at its southern tip is an area called Fort, this is a mix of british and dutch colonial achitecture, as it was a dutch trading port before the British arrived. Parts of the city are wide tree-lined streets with beautiful Indian buildings, others wonderful British buildings which are still used today for state buildings and civil activities like the India Post building and CST which was formerly known as Victoria station, that building is a vast cavernous hulk with flying buttresses and warren-like interior housing hundreds of offices. In between the cracks lie the back-streets which are mind-blowing networks in impossibly small areas that accommodate millions of working indians who eek out their existences in stunning displays of resilience.
Bombay! The old part of the city, at its southern tip is an area called Fort, this is a mix of british and dutch colonial achitecture, as it was a dutch trading port before the British arrived.
Parts of the city are wide tree-lined streets with beautiful Indian buildings, others wonderful British buildings which are still used today for state buildings and civil activities like the India Post building and CST which was formerly known as Victoria station, that building is a vast cavernous hulk with flying buttresses and warren-like interior housing hundreds of offices.
In between the cracks lie the back-streets which are mind-blowing networks in impossibly small areas that accommodate millions of working indians who eek out their existences in stunning displays of resilience.
Bombay! These are typical workers on their way to or from work, their style is accommodating to extreme temperatures of 50+ centigrade, the garments are cheap but well tailored white cotton in the style of Jawahlal Nehru who was the first prime minister of India, a solid intelligent man who founded many of the principles of what are now considered the pillars of Indian modernity.
Bombay! These are typical workers on their way to or from work, their style is accommodating to extreme temperatures of 50+ centigrade, the garments are cheap but well tailored white cotton in the style of Jawahlal Nehru who was the first prime minister of India, a solid intelligent man who founded many of the principles of what are now considered the pillars of Indian modernity.
The slums of Mumbai, a truly heart warming experience which in many ways reminds me of the way life used to be when I was a child growing up in Ireland. Its an amazing experience to see how these people live, where everything is recycled, water is abundant and used for everything, children play, are happy, adults come and go out of the city to work and some work in the slums, but everyone is truly happy. There are no traffic jams, there is no ill-will, and there is mutually expressed respect amongst all.
The slums of Mumbai, a truly heart warming experience which in many ways reminds me of the way life used to be when I was a child growing up in Ireland. Its an amazing experience to see how these people live, where everything is recycled, water is abundant and used for everything, children play, are happy, adults come and go out of the city to work and some work in the slums, but everyone is truly happy. There are no traffic jams, there is no ill-will, and there is mutually expressed respect amongst all.
Amol, from Video Volunteers and India Unheard, shows us around the slums where he lives. Its an amazing experience to see how these people live, where everything is recycled, water is abundant and used for everything, children play, are happy, adults come and go out of the city to work and some work in the slums, but everyone is truly happy. There are no traffic jams, there is no ill-will, and there is mutually expressed respect amongst all.
Amol, from Video Volunteers and India Unheard, shows us around the slums where he lives. Its an amazing experience to see how these people live, where everything is recycled, water is abundant and used for everything, children play, are happy, adults come and go out of the city to work and some work in the slums, but everyone is truly happy. There are no traffic jams, there is no ill-will, and there is mutually expressed respect amongst all.
Bombay, aka Mumbai, its so hot, that there are no door on the trains, people hang out and off the trains as they bolt around the local intercity area. Rarely do accidents happen.
Bombay, aka Mumbai, its so hot, that there are no door on the trains, people hang out and off the trains as they bolt around the local intercity area. Rarely do accidents happen.

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The monsoon is late and everything is dry, hard and thirsty. The locals are preparing hard for the oncoming torrential onslaught which is to last about twelve weeks.
The monsoon is late and everything is dry, hard and thirsty. The locals are preparing hard for the oncoming torrential onslaught which is to last about twelve weeks.
We came to get our milk back please, monsoon is late and the kids are getting hungry.
We came to get our milk back please, monsoon is late and the kids are getting hungry.

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.

Varanasi an extended courtship..

We left Maha Kumbh Mela in a sea of slop and destruction. A sad ending to the biggest gathering of humanity in recent history. They are rebuilding the event now, but it wont be the same, as there was only to be another ten days or so for the final bathe. We left in a taxi the size of a butter box, taxies here mean a private car and usually in questionable condition. Ours was big enough to hold one suitcase only, the rest we had to live with on our laps. I was rotten with a cold, filthy and everything I owned was damp. The ride was relatively painless and the views were interesting. My mind was telling me we were going in the direct opposite direction then we were actually going. And the direction of the Ganga flow still confounds me today.
Getting in to Varanasi, or getting in to any city is always different to being there and the experiences of existing within that city. We drove off the highway and through a military base and then through a university into mass congestion where the taxi driver told us to get out and get a tuktuk literally-a motor rickshaw to carry thee men and 5 pieces of luggage. But it worked, and the rickshaw farted it was along crazed streets for a moment and then stopped and told us to get out and walk, and thats when the insanity really begins. The old part of Varanasi is ancient, a three dimensional latticework of passageways that weave around buildings constructed right beside each other with zero room between, and yet the cities ancient thoroughfares are its life. In amongst the buildings are tightly nestled Temples and in amongst those are the loving roots of the Banaras trees which provide an ever decreasing amount of greenery within the city limits, but are the homes to the millions of Monkeys which leap around from one impossible location to another. These passageways are wide enough for people to walk through and even enough for the occasional asshole on a motorbike to blast through. 4ft from the Shiva Guesthouse is the Varanasi Cautilya Community Intercultural society, which is a restored building and within its walls is one of the most attractive restored old buildings I have ever seen. Its modest dark green and maroon walls with a central opening on each floor all the way to the top floor of four, and on the top is a stunningly beautiful gothic library like something you would expect to see in turn of the century Europe, and the window butts right up against the balcony of the guesthouse, so you can see directly in the window and gaze upon the old books and Ivory lamps.

 

It wasn’t until nightfall that I realized the full extent of this geography, the guesthouse like all buildings here has a rooftop view and from there the sky is indigo and the city is charcoal grey with orange accents, and when you look down it looks like you are standing on a cool island of black rock in a random pattern of molten lava, as the orange street lamps cast a passing shadow on people as they catch a borrowed shadow and pass it on to the next.
I made some dimensional sound recordings from the roof and thats when the full extent of what you are seeing really actually comes to life. The layers of sound from close by, to far away are immense. Street sounds, including carts, shouts, conversation, children, dogs, squirrels and monkeys and the occasional low deep bellow of a cow, mixed with the myriad of different bird sounds, telephones, sewing machines, touts, a far away rave dominates the east and the white noise din of a busy city in the distance. Then there is the ritual sounds, bells for the hindu’s and the Call to Prayer for the Islamics. Quite an unbelievably rich an wondrous compliment to the visuals. And then of course there are the non-recordable’s like smells and flavours, which are reserved for the traveler and not the reader.

The best way I could begin to visually describe Varanasi would be to call it an ancient BladeRunner.

There is fire and there is water Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, Saraswati, Krishna, Parvati, Hanuman, Kali they all demand their fair share of attention in fire and water. Where ever you walk and wherever you look there is a shrine, there are shrines everywhere, some are so old that they do not bear any resemblance to the original god they were made to represent. There are more Ganesh (Elephant) then there are Hanuman (Monkey) shrines and they are typically 12” high relief granite or the like, tiles painted a garish orange and eyes painted on and thats usually it, but occasionally there will be some rotting marigolds and a handful of burned incense sticks.

 

Its quite something to be in a city with such massive levels of reverence and devotion to god(s). Even In Ireland I never came anywhere near this level of religious culture. Life and civility exists around the religion, everything takes a second place to devotion.

 

Its a city that in one week I have had many emotions about. Sometimes I love it sometimes I loath it. I love the architecture; the gothic Dickensian winding three dimensional latticework of thoroughfares, and I love the mix of black and colored accents like Bladerunner, I love the proximity of everything, nothing is more then a few minutes walk or further then arms reach. Cavernous, living~breathing, meditative, medieval city. I love the remnants of a certain style and the ultra slow pace of pop culture from one generation to the next. I love the sounds, and the layered levels of audio in any direction, conversation, street sellers, hawkers, bread men have horns, milkmen have bells, ice cream is a different bell, different sounds for different things. amazing!
Theres more I love but I forget about now, because they are weighted down with the loathings, I have a sadness in me about the filth. Its a completely filthy place. Black from the knees down exposed plumbing, shit; cow shit all over the streets everywhere, Dog shit in piles everywhere, human shit. Human piss and the frequency at which its delivered in public, I really love the idea of not having to wait around like in the US while waiting for the charity of some commercial establishment for you to have a pee, but theres a fine line between discreetly pissing behind a bush and stopping mid stride in an alley way full of 40 other people to block traffic while you squat and unload right where Im about to walk, and the fucking stench of waste, garbage, rotting flesh. I believe that it comes down to social responsibility and how Indians are in so many ways stuck in the stone age.

Ive had conversations with Store owners who understand you to a point but get completely lost when you attempt to get them to think in a different way. Like for instance the Curd seller, He sells his curd in these beautiful little clay pots, which he buys every day from the pot maker for a hefty price, and he put the curd in the pots and sell it for 15r a go. 10r of that is the pot. The pot is used once and thrown away. I talked to him about it and he said “once only, one time only then smash” So I said to him that it would save him a lot of money if he washed the pot and used it again, he was very excited about the idea of saving money, but couldn’t get his head around the fact that he would have to change his thinking to make that happen. Ive seen it countless times, that there is an apparent inability for indians to accept anything beyond their own sphere of influence, I can see it in about half the population. Perhaps it was like that in Ireland too, I dont remember, but I also dont remember ever having seen a people so obtuse with the potential of possibility.
The coughing, hacking and hocking and then the Spit the Indians do, its unreal, India is dripping with spit., their respiratory systems are fried from so much smoke. Fire is revered in india, as is smoke, as is Chilum (ganja), as is independence and commerciality so the city is fed with millions of two stroke engines, motorbikes, modern and old scooters, that just shit out the pollution far and wide..

Ok well its definitely time i posted this as ive been here now more then ten days maybe even two weeks I cant remember. Ive been sick I got a lung infection and went to a doctor for antibiotics now im recovering and its time to post this.

Maha Kumbh Mela

After coming to Varanasi and being here for a few days, looking back at Kumbh is like rubbing your tongue in the hole left by a pulled tooth. Kumbh is a distant memory, every white person in Varanasi has because we all bailed at the same time. The build up to, then the event and the aftermath we all seem to have similar sentiment towards it, ‘meh’ and apt American word for ‘yeah been there done that…Next!’. Im glad I went, Im glad I saw it, but Im left with a distinct sense of dissatisfaction.

The Kumbh authorities and organizers out-did themselves in terms of putting this unprecedented event together. 120,000,000 people in a 56 square mile area of Indian military engineering mastery; supplying fresh filtered water to everyone, workable roads paved in steel plate, and pontoon bridges, and the policing of such, and the refreshing level of sanitation, litter control and basic but fully functional hygiene and the army of workers who provided it was completely impressive.

The first time I stepped out of the Kumbh grounds I was approached by two students from Allahabad University who were conducting a detailed survey for non Indian travelers and what we thought of the event. The questions themselves were somewhat revealing in that they were asking a lot about what we thought about the administration of the event and whether or not it had much of an impact on us (yes it did), and whether or not we felt more devout about the high levels of celebrity Baba’s and whether or not they needed the level of coverage and pomp they received (no they didnt).

I went to see what millions and millions of people would look like and to feel the presence of such levels of humanity in my face, and the the most part the benevolence of the Indians meant that it was a peaceful affair. Everyone was on vacation, or were there in devotion and to seek enlightenment from their Baba and to bathe in the sacred Ganga, and to take little bottles of it home for their shrines.

The people that impressed me the most were the blue-collar workers, not necessarily only the lower caste, but the people who had put their lives on hold to go.

The Baba’s were a mix of the high profile dicks with their giant self promoting posters plastered everywhere expressing hollow and borrowed promises to their followers, then there were the smaller Baba’s who had less money prowess and smaller numbers of devotees and offered rudimentary accommodations in the shape of thatched huts with straw beds or tents with straw floor coverings, and then the lowest levels of Baba’s who had nothing but their meagre paraphernalia, a tarp and some pillows to offer their flock to come pray in front of a cleansing fire. And maybe share some of their hashish.

Then there are the various levels of holy men, most of which blend into one another without much of a difference in their ways, some stand out;
The humbleness of the Brahmen monks and their generosity is breathtaking. They are the ones who shave their heads and mark their forheads with stripes and lines, wear orange and carry with them a sick which has a small roof attached so they always have a place to stay. They fed me good food and asked only to be photographed. I would later meet the same Brahman in the chaotic twisted streets of Varanasi where he recognized me and gave me blessing.
Ahgori’s who relish death and devote themselves to it, who eat the flesh of the dead to consume death, they (of course) wear black, and have some party piece like bones or a skull to embellish themselves with a talisman. Later I would find out that they usually have to get mangled on whiskey before they can perform their flesh eating rituals..
Then there were the Naga’s. They are the renounciates, the ones who are naked, and cover themselves in ash and wear marigolds around their necks, and paint their faces and look like something from a White Zombie album cover.. They are also the ones everyone wants to photograph because they are the most outgoing and flamboyant, they are also the most conceited and have been known to smash a camera if you make a picture and dont pay for it. Asshole celebrity photographers have ruined for everyone including non photographers who want to follow their beliefs because the Naga’s know that they are currency in of themselves. I still managed to get the best shots of them on their way to the bathing just because I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

The Maha Kumbh Mela is more about show and pomp now then it could have been back in 2001. I saw awesome arrays of film making equipment with cranes and dollies and entire film crews squabbling with each other over locations.

Then the rain came, a giant storm, so much rain, and wind that smashed and destroyed anything up to 60% of the grounds. Some say it was an act of god, and how it would wash away the pomp and leave the devout. Im not going to argue with that.