Saturday, June 09, 2007

mango madness

i've been eating mangos almost every day. they're in season, and my girlfriend's mother constantly buys them for me.

this morning's mango was a fine specimen, clean, unbruised and nicely ripened. i cut into it as usual, slicing off tasty strips of mango flesh.

halfway into eating it, a creature crawled out of the mango's center. a brown beetlish thing.

still makes me shudder. i can't figure out how it got in there. the mango's exterior was completely intact.

i have come to accept the legion of cockroaches i share my apartment with, but this is too much.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

woman on the floor

i got up this morning and found a woman on my floor. in my sitting room. (yes, i have a sitting room.) she was on the floor in spite of a perfectly good couch right next to her.

I found my gf brushing her teeth in the bathroom. "Why are you brushing your teeth when there's a woman waiting in the other room?"

I learned that she was in no hurry to deal with the woman on the floor. rather she was going to get cleaned up and have coffee and so on and make the woman wait. this woman was a maid we were interviewing, and maids are apparently perfectly comfortable waiting. they also sit on floors rather than on furniture. this indicates that they "know their place". apparently "if you treat them like equals, they will take advantage."

the same words the english once used to justify the oppression of all indians.

I'll try my hand at an offensive remark: indians don't get irony so much.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

southern cuisine

went to an engagement party in hassan on saturday with a bunch of the office crew on saturday. threw in a few ancient temples while we were at it: Belur & Halebid

and i'm going to a wedding reception tonight for another co-worker.

as i said before--i am reliving my late 20s, only this time as an indian. people in their late 20s go to a lot of weddings.

lest you think i'm not a proper indian, i taught a woman at the engagement lunch how to properly eat a southern indian banana leaf meal. and this woman was an INDIAN no less--a fancy northerner, used to their fancy indian breads and utensils, who had just arrived in the south to start work at my company. and this was good down-home southern indian dining: eating off of a dirty banana leaf with the bare hand. she was horrified.

i taught her:
how to wash the leaf using her drinking water without soaking the table (a deceptively complex procedure)
to eat with her right hand only
how to stop the trio of topless waiters from ladling unwanted food onto her leaf as they passed (it is offensive not to eat everything on your leaf)
the 3 finger scoop-and-shovel leaf-to-mouth food delivery method
the post-meal hand-wash-over-leaf technique

she failed in almost all of the above. i made up other south indian traditions such as "wipe your dirty hand on shirt sleeve of the person to your left" (she sat to my left), to increase the overall horror. it was great fun. relatives of the groom were deeply confused and amused watching the foreigner teach the indian.

she's not in the office today. i hope she didn't quit from the shame of it all.

i will post some pictures semi-promptly

Thursday, April 26, 2007


my bangalore experience is entirely different this time.

last time it was all about reverting back to the late teens/early 20s i never really experienced in my late teens/early 20s. i dare not describe it more than i already have in posts past. best to say it would have probably made a decent mtv reality show. by decent i mean liked by the kind of people who like those things. i personally would have changed the channel.

most of the out-of-control barely post-teens are gone now. i find myself hanging out with my girlfriend and other couples. but they are young, unmarried couples. people who want more than large quantities of cheap beer and someone new and exciting to mount. they want cocktails and nice dinners out and career paths. suddenly i'm in my late 20's.

i've done this one before. and i'm not especially interested in doing it again.

clearly i have transcended this plane of existence and currently have nowhere decent to go. i am repeating life in an endless loop without bothering with the hindu formalities of death and rebirth. i am in some sort of limbo.

perhaps i will break free and become a spiritual guru in the bhagwan sri rashneesh vein. my messiah-like long blond hair, my years of wandering the earth, my mellow demeanor--never mind my transcendence--give me greater bona fides than most of the guru wannabes out there.

follow me!

sorry. it has been a long day at the office.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

green acres

my girlfriend is utterly incompetent. she cannot cook instant noodles. she doesn't know how to wash clothes in a bucket. not that i'm saying any of this is "woman's work". but suppose i fall on hard times and end up raising yaks up in the cold himalayan wild. i'd just like to know that my woman is hearty enough to milk our yaks and help with the chores while i hunt the nourishing mountain beasts our children must eat to survive. that's all. plus it's character building. people shouldn't have servants all their lives.

i suppose it must be like that "simple life" show i never saw.

fortunately she is an enthusiastic pupil.

Monday, April 16, 2007

my roommates

after 32 hours of travel, my flight arrived on time (10pm) in bangalore amidst flashes of lighting. i fought my way off the plane. you would think it was on fire the way people pushed and shoved for position. yes, i was surely back in india.

the immigration lines were huge. half an hour of sleep walking finally put me in front of a sour faced official. "what happened to your passport?" he asked as he thumbed through it disapprovingly. admittedly my passport is a little worn, but other countries don't seem to care. "it got wet. a long time ago," i replied, which is true. he called over the boss. he asked me the same thing. i repeated myself. the new guy grunted and took his turn poking and prodding the passport for a while. i watched him examine my previous 2 indian visas before he asked "have you been to india before?" cleverly, i said yes. "touche," he must have thought, for i was granted entry.

i fought the crowd for my bags. one of my bags had large X's drawn on it in chalk. uh oh. the chalk got all over my clothes as i wrestled it off the conveyor. i thought i looked like i had been doing blow on the plane, clumsily. or perhaps crazily, scarface style.

customs saw what was left of the chalk marks and gave my bag the high security treatment. more pain, but no bribes or confiscations necessary.

legally in india at last, i found my tiny indian girlfriend hidden amongst the hordes. not the best place for a reunion, but it was great to see her. thankfully, she didn't comment on my chalkiness (literal or figurative) or my greasiness (my last shower was a few days before), or even the fact that i've probably got 30 more pounds on me than the last time i was in town (in my defense i was exceptionally skinny then).

we exited the airport at last. it was hot and rainy outside. the parking lot was pure chaos--honking horns, double and triple parking, and human and vehicular (thankfully no cows) traffic jams. just getting to the car felt like a victory. but that was only one battle in the greater war. it took another 40 minutes to get out of the parking lot once in the car. finally on the "open" road, my girlfriend reminded me what a terrible driver she is. it actually took me months to realize this the last time around. to a newbie, it seems at first it seems that everyone drives maniacally in bangalore, which is sort of true. but there is a skillful maniacal that navigates the chaos well and actually makes sense when you study it, and then there is the unskilled maniacal driving that simply increases the total chaos. it would take me too long to describe my gf's driving, but rest assured, it is completely without sense, and is often terrifying.

somehow we made it safely to the apartment my gf had found. i was so looking forward to collapsing in a comfortable bed. i turned on the lights. it was horrible. all over the kitchen and dining room were cockroaches. massive ones, the big crunchy kind that don't die on the first stomp. 2 inch long antennae, never mind the bodies. my gf screamed and screamed. you don't hear screams like that very often, the kind with pure horror behind them. she was useless to me in her state of shock. something primitive took over and began to kill. i hunted and i killed and then i killed some more. twitching corpses soon littered the two rooms. the bedrooms and bathrooms were next, where their numbers were thankfully fewer.

i gave the all clear signal. i welcomed myself home.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

the blog, revived!

i'm returning to bangalore... NOW. i'm in the plush, clean, comfortable changi airport in singapore, waiting 8 hours for the flight that will take me back to noisy, dirty, chaotic banglore. Never much cared for sterile singapore, although the free internet, movies, and massage chairs make this the best airport in the world.

my indian girlfriend has found me (us?) a posh (or so i am told) apartment on MG Road.

and so it continues...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

kerala & burma

Originally uploaded by steyock.
this month's photo uploads include burma and the indian state of kerala.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


camel safari in the thar desert
Originally uploaded by steyock.
i've added (and will continue to add) a bunch of photos to flickr. please have a look.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

ah, the memories

Originally uploaded by wondersalve.
sitting in the office on a sunday, browing through my trip photos, i question the wisdom of having returned.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

goat love and terror

[from early may, starting in dharamsala...]

i enjoyed my guide-less travel around gangotri, so why not try it again? one reason might be the repeated warnings from would be guides that doing so would be "impossible". ignoring them, i set off from dharamsala guideless, porterless and yakless.

i was at the mercy of strangers to point me in the right direction. there were no maps and no signs. sorting through the confusion, i made it to the friendly village of noddi where amused and confused locals forced me to take their pictures.

villagers from noddi 
villagers from noddi 

the day's goal, kareri village, was still another 14km away.

things got a bit more complicated once i left any semblance of civilization. taking someone's advice to "follow the only trail", i apparently still managed to pick the wrong "only trail". seeing no one for 2 hours, i finally bushwhacked my way to a secluded mountainside hut, even though the deliverence theme song kept playing in my head. fortunately india is a bit safer than backwoods america as the friendly family offered me lunch rather than love. but they apparently had no idea where kareri was, as far as i could tell (they spoke no english). not a good sign.

i decided i'd better turn back. after an unproductive 5 hours, i ended up spending the night in back in noddi. i dismissed the would-be guide who came to my room offering his overpriced services, instead getting crappy directions from the owner of the guest house. of course he did not tell me they were crappy.

trails in the mountains are a mess. wide trails often go nowhere, while narrow trails might well be the correct ones. this, i suspect, is due to herds of sheep and goats heading to the same dining spots time and again. backtracking made progress slow.


i finally found a tiny town and a tea stall, where a kid (17-ish) from kareri offered his guide services for 100 rupees a day--a steal. i swallowed my pride and took him up on it. after an extremely steep climb we reached kareri, a fairly large village (maybe 100 families?) considering there are no roads to it. we rested on the front porch of his house, while his family abused their mules and "processed" stalks of wheat that they must've grown somewhere nearby. no one in the family was especially friendly, though other villagers were.


i wanted a bath, so we headed to a deep spot in a river bisecting an idyllic meadow, where i was promptly ambushed by 9 naked little indians. they lept in the water, unconcerned about the rocks along the shallow bottom. they formed a wagon train of sorts around me, splashing and occasionally invading my deep position in the river. none of them could swim, but they could dog paddle out to the deep part where i was and splash or poke me while giggling wildly. i tried to set aside the disconcerting aspect of being poked by naked indian boys. the frivolity lasted for about 20 minutes.

we returned home just in time for an epic thunderstorm. the grape sized hail pounded the house's tin roof while near constant lighting strikes lit up the sky. this was all too much for a terrified goat, who found shelter in my room. the woman of the house promptly gave it a beating, shooing it back out into the storm. the terrified beast would have none of it though, instead ducking into the now undefended kitchen. so much for any hope (however misplaced) of a semi-sanitary dinner. more beatings and cartoonish chases from room to room ensued.

the fierce weather subsided and the boy cooked me an uninteresting but mercifully edible dinner. afterwards i would sleep in his unimaginably grungy and now goaty bed. (i can honestly say i have never seen a more loathesome pillowcase.) thankfully, the boy would not be joining me, but would be sleeping upstairs with the family.

the next day we set off for kareri lake, about 13km away. the boy carried nothing but a transistor radio coughing out distorted top-40 hindi pop. hindi-pop is better than most asian pop, but it's still mostly crap, and distorted by a shitty transistor radio and questionable reception, it was utter agony. i thought about asking him to shut it off, but trying to explain that a person might prefer the peaceful sounds of nature to distorted hindi-pop would surely only cause confusion. instead i decided i would follow far enough back that i wouldn't hear too much of it, which seemed to suit him fine, and this avoided the whole pointless broken chatter that i have had to suffer through with previous guides. i was forced to accept the fact that we wouldn't be surprising any himalayan tigers or bears with this racket announcing our presense.

we walked along a picturesque riverbed, occasionaly running into shepherds and their flocks.


we would come across occasional "lakes" of sheep and goat poo. it seems the woolly beasts like to dump in a single area and then lie in it, as it is soft and warm. so they tell me. unfortunately we would sometimes have to cross these "lakes".

we finally reached kareri lake. while much better than a shit lake, as water lakes go it was fairly unimpressive, though the mountaintop setting was nice. maybe i've been spoiled by previous treks.

the lakeside trekkers huts had been decapitated by the previous night's storm. all that remained were rock walls--the tin roofs and wooden beams had been thrown a good distance. i realized that had i not ended up lost the day before, there was a good possibility that i would have been in those huts at the moment of their scalping.

i left behind my now napping guide to investigate a flock of sheep/goats consuming a nearby field, while a mangy mountain dog eyed me suspiciously.

i sat down at a viewpoint and was approached by a flirtatious goat. most of the goats and sheep are shy, but not this one. goats of course look like weird little demons, plus they'll eat anything, so it's disconcerting when one approaches and touches her nose to yours.

the shepherd approached and sat nearby (but not too close), looking at me with an expression i couldn't quite decipher. perhaps it was curiousity, or concern, or even mistrust? i wasn't sure what the hell he was doing, or what i was supposed to do next. to break the ice, i asked if i could take his photo. this helped.

meanwhile the dog approached the goat. she transformed from tease to tryant, lowering her head for maximum horn damage before delievering a monster head butt to the canine, who fell to the ground and stayed there, undamaged but submissive. the flirty goat returned to the shepherds side, where she would remain as we all walked back to the lake. clearly this beast had a special status apart from all the other goats/sheep that remained in the herd/flock. then it hit me! this goat was the shepherd's "special friend"! when she flirted with me, the jealous shepherd came over to make sure nothing untoward happened between us. that such a relationship would blossom between goat and lonely mountain man suddenly seemed no surprise. it was no doubt the natural order of things up here, where men live without the comfort of women. how close had i come to having my throat cut in a moment of jealous rage?!

i ran out of water. my guide (who had been occasionally drinking MY water) had earlier told me there would be a shepherds camp where i could refill with boiled water, but this never materialized. already feeling thirsty and hot, the boy took me on a "shortcut" up a precaiously steep mountianside, adding to my crankiness. but it was worth it. inexplicably, this tree covered mountian was at its top a beautiful green grass meadow punctuated by large boulders, and with views on all sides.

a harrowing descent brought us back to the house and its millions of welcoming flies.

a bit later the boy asked me if i'd like some of his uncle's home brewed country liquor. "why not?" i thought, refusing to answer my own question, as thoughts of blindness and brain damage seemed unfun. we set off wandering around the village until we ended up at his grandparents house. thinking him a cushion, i sat on a boy rolled up in blankets sleeping on the couch, but no one seemed to care, including the boy. the old folks seemed a bit weary of life, occasionally mustering up the energy to ask questions of their grandson. they weren't interested in his responses. finally my guide told gramps that he wanted some hooch, and gramps complied. they found an icky plactic bottle in the corner of the room and filled it up, but they couldn't find a bottle cap. so the boy shoved the uncapped bottle into his ludicrously deep back pants pocket, and simply plugged the bottle with his grimey finger. joy. i would soon be drinking finger flavored homebrew. i prayed for high alcohol content.

my prayers were not answered. the booze was suprisingly weak. surely too weak to kill off finger scum, and certainly too weak to keep me from caring about what i was ingesting. still, i drank with the boy and a few of his friends who wandered by. thinking i was happy and drunk instead of bored and sober, and himself emboldened by booze, the boy asked me for thousands of rupees instead of the few hundred we had agreed upon. i told him i had alreadly planned on giving him a LOT more than we had agreed upon (which was true), but nowhere near the ridiculous sum he had just come up with. he protested, but with a parental firmness i told him "there will be no further discussion". this worked, but whatever bond we might have had was now irrecovably damaged. our remaining minutes together felt like hours. at last, after a final trip to the gruesome outhouse for some detoxing, i was left alone to settle into my hard, dirty bed.

the next day i would rejoin society.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

the blog is not dead

...contrary to popular belief. there remain "important" untold stories.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


i'm home. though it doesn't feel particularly homey, in part because i actually have no home as yet. and the hunt can be daunting.

Friday, June 02, 2006

some pictures

i'm expirimenting with photo websites. i've added photos to my crushed mules and pilgrims posting.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

bringing home a bit of india

warning: unpleasant topic.

in the last month, i've had a record number of days of gastrointestinal distress, while my first six months in india were a cakewalk. this runs counter to the conventional wisdom that i should be getting more immune to all of the critters lurking in the fecal matter that ends up in my food.

my theory is that india doesn't want me to leave. like an insanely jealous lover, she'd rather see me dead than with some other country. in fact some of her may well be coming home with me in the form of a parasite.

here's the best article i've read on this problem. you may find this handy the next time you're stuck in a third world city/village/jungle. the example demonstrating why these things happen so often is spot on.

i went to the doctor today because i really do think i have a parasite, but as i suspected, the doc wants to believe it is simply another bacterial problem. she had the same problem american doctors have--she didn't listen, opting to go with the 90% diagnosis to get me out fast and move on to the next patient. of course the whole visit only cost me 50 rupees (just over $1), and they seemed to give me whitey priority (i only had to wait 27 seconds in the crowded waiting room), so the probable mis-diagnosis is at least tolerable.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

my evil return

i return to the states on 6/6/6, the number of the beast. this will extend the length of this most unholy of days to a staggering 36.5 hours for me. if a mighty rapture-esque conflagration engulfs the earth on that day (which i foresaw in a charas induced vision 3 weeks ago), i should be safe in the sky. upon landing i'll take up the duty of repopulating the earth. hopefully i'll find one or more amongst the passengers and crew worthy of my seed, though it is unlikely.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


a 12 hour bus ride and i find myself in dharamsala, home to the dalai lama and the tibetian government in exile. i haven't yet been granted an audience with his holiness. i'm obviously no richard gere. no one needs to confirm this in the comments section.

this is a pleasant place. the weather is perfect. mellow tibetans outnumber the often pushy punjabis. i can finally eat meat and have a beer again, this not being a hindu holy city.

somehow even in this quiet place i ended up in a rowdy bar last night, where a drunken young indian woman (itself a rarity) shouted to her drunken friends "i want STD" and started making out with one them (more of a rarity). STD, by the way, is a telephone communication standard used throughout the country. a drunken old german woman at a nearby table responded by shouting in incomprehensible yet frightening german at her invisible demons for the 4th time since i'd arrived. while not engaged in battle, she fixed her eerie slack-jawed gaze upon me. thankfully she never approached.

i think it's time to head back into nature.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

crushed mules and pilgrims

i stopped in uttarkashi after a 6 hour bus ride from rishiskesh, where i found a guide and a few porters to take me on a five day trek to dodi tal (tal==lake) and the snowy high point (13000 ft) above it. the trek was nice but easy (way too slow) and my guide was annoying. i was determined to stop shelling out big rupees for these treks that i could easily (and more pleasantly) do on my own and in less time. the only thing i lacked really was a sleeping bag. a tent isn't really necessary, as usually you can find something to huddle under in a pinch.

so i caught a shared jeep north to gangotri, the most remote of the 4 mountain temples visited by the devoted. an hour into the journey we were halted by a landslide that crushed a mule.

the landslide was caused by road work, and the owner of the dead mule was demanding compensation from the goverment. for some reason, we had to wait for the "big official" to arrive and assess the situation before they would clear the slide. so for 2 hours i sat and watched a herd of sheep and goats voraciously devour a swathe of the mountainside. it was more interesting than you might imagine. i started a doctor doolittle-ish dialogue with a baby goat who was interested enough in whatever it was i was saying to come over and let me pet him. deprived of meat for the last 2 weeks, i guiltily thought about how tasty this kid would be.

the goat was saved by the arrival of the big man, who struted around in sunglasses and a silly hat and waved around a stick, his large entourage testifying to his importance. he declared that the government would pay the man for his dead mule and finally road clearing work began. i didn't watch them scoop up the mule guts. finally they let vehicles pass one at a time so that if another slide occured, only one group would be crushed to death. we survived.

finally we arrived in gangotri, a nice location along the ganga (ganges), with some views of snowcapped mountains in the distance. the pilgramage season would start on the very next day, and the entire town was being given a last minute coat of paint in lieu of a proper cleaning (so much so that i still have paint on my arm and backpack.) i checked into a hotel, and discovered that my filthy bathroom had no running water at all. instead they brought me a bucket full of holy but cloudy ganga water with which to bathe and flush. a news crew from some hindi channel interviewed me for a story on westerners who visted these holy mountain sites. i could tell they were disappointed that i didn't babble new age god-meets-river-meets-mountain nonsense. essentially i told them that i sort of randomly wandered up here with no intention of meeting god. i will probably not be on the air. back home i enjoyed the 2 hours of generator provided electricity and went to bed early.

the next morning i headed out alone toward gomuhk and the massive glacier that feeds the mother ganga. this time no porters and no guides--for the first time i would actually be carrying all of my own gear. it was easier than i thought. the trail followed the ganga, climbing gradually for 13km until hitting upon bhojbasa and its ashram in the desolate river valley where i could spend the night. fortunately they were still serving lunch and i stuffed myself silly with rice and dahl. the weather was starting to turn ugly. i checked into my cold, tiny room. fortunately they had thick (albeit filthy) blankets. i napped until someone came by and installed a large israeli man next to me, a cosier arrangement than i would have liked. this inspired me to get out a bit and socialize in the bitter cold with my fellow ashramees, an odd mix of saddhus and pilgrims and israelis and even a few other americans.

i should explain the ashram concept for those who don't know. actually, i'm not sure i really understand it (as with most indian institutions), but i'll give it a shot: ashrams are ostensibly semi-religious, communal, tax exempt places to eat and sleep and meditate and "get away from it all". they are often run by a guru of some ilk who might teach yoga or lecture about god, etc. you supposedly donate what you'd like for your room and board. the reality is that many ashrams are little more than tax-evading hotels with a fixed "donation" that you have no choice but to pay. this particular ashram was turning a tidy profit, packing us in tightly for a mandatory "donation" of 150 a head. at least that's what whitey was paying.

it was too cold and rainy to do much but huddle in the room. dinner was a large communal and cold affair, with lots of pre-eating chanting and such. i don't know what it was i was chanting, but i chanted nonetheless, afraid they wouldn't feed me if i didn't.

i slept early because i had nothing else to do. my roommate "redeye" went down the hall to flirt with a roomfull of israeli chicks, which i think is against the rules.

i woke at 5:30 am and in started the 5km toward gomukh in the freeing wind, but it warmed quickly as the sun rose in the cloudless sky. i decided i would not try to go to tapovan, 6km beyond gomukh, because everyone told me a guide was essential, as crossing the glacier was dangerous and the trail was to hard to follow.

the trail was deserted as i approched gomukh and the gangorti glacier.

apparently on average one pilgrim a week is crushed to death when the monster glacier calves, so i thought better of standing directly in front of the beast. instead i continued climbing the rocky trail alongside the glacier, looking for better views. after another half an hour i realized that i was well on my way to tapovan. i decided i might as well keep going, vowing to turn back as soon as things got tricky. i broke my vow almost immediately. the rock-hopping trail along the glacier surface was difficult to follow, even without the patches of snow obscuring portions of it. i used my binoculars and my guidebook description and some landmarks to map out where the trail generally was, so that when i lost it i could find it again. progress was slow; i lost the trail several times, but always found it again.

finally i made it to the steep mountain wall i would now have to climb. a stream flowed down the mountain, and many of the rocks were icy and loose. i heard thunderous crashing nearby--a landslide. these became disturbingly regular as i ascended the mountain, but were always on the unstable ground to the right and left of the path. i supposed this spate of landslides must have had something to do with the early morning sun thawing the evening's freeze. i was emboldened by the appearance of a few porters below me, just starting up the mountain i was now most of the way up, though i was also afraid i might send some of the loose rocks tumbling down upon them. i ignored sign painted on a rock that pointed me across the river to tapovan, because the river crossing was far too treacherous. instead i continued up. at last i was there. though hardly the lush green valley filled with wild blue sheep my guidebook described (too early in the season), the snow covered plain bisected by an icy river and hemmed in by dramatic himalayan peaks was nonetheless beautiful and worth the trip.

i found my way down and back to the ashram by lunchtime. i had a double helping of rice and dahl. i was fairly tired, having done 22km of difficult trekking, but at the same time didn't relish spending the afternoon at the cold and boring ashram. did i dare walk all the way to gangotri? could i possibly be that stupid? yes and yes.

i started back. the weather turned ugly quickly. the wind picked up, and it began to snow. after 5km i found a shelter shared by 8 others and waited for the weather to calm. a gangotri bound family contemplated heading back to bojhbasa. after half an hour i decided i would wait no longer and pressed on through the snow. the weather soon cleared. i encountered an impressive herd of wild blue sheep (huge beasts with massive curly horns) along the way.

it was slow going, but by 5pm i completed my 35km of trekking, my legs feeling like jello. i found the closest hotel with running water (though no hot water) and a generator which the owner promised would be on in a few hours. the generator came on but i had no power. a man came to my room to investigate. he took off his shoes, assulting me with the worst foot stink i have ever encountered. i shooed him out, but the stink would not leave. the man declared there was a short and brought me 4 candles. i declared i must leave my dark and stinky room, and in my exhausted state was forced to venture out in search of another hotel. i checked into an uglier one for the same price, but at least i had electricity. that is until half and hour later when the generator broke down. i gave up, and decided to go to bed early. just as sleep was setting in, an enraged man started pounding on my door, trying to force it open. he yelled things in hindi through the locked door and i yelled back at him in english. he eventually decided i wasn't the guy sleeping with his wife (or something equivalent) and left. i decided i despised gangotri, and finally went to sleep, as yet unaware of the tick that had burrowed its way into my chest.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

rishikesh rut

i'm in rishikesh, home of yoga, the ganges river (the clean part), massive ashrams, tons of israeli tourists (i don't know why, but they dominate here like nowhere i have ever seen), cows and monkeys galore, and hindu pilgrims passing through on the way to the 4 sacred himalayan temples in the far north of the state. there are probably a few beatles prilgrims around as well, i suppose, as the beatles made this place famous to us westerners.

it's all very annoying, really. and made more so by my (perhaps bird?*) flu and my days of delerious fever. tomorrow i hope to go white water rafting on the ganges. this will be the first time i have rafted on God, as a few saddus have explained to me that that the ganges is god and mother. Saddus, for those who don't know, are holy men who smoke loads of ganja (legally--saddus only though) and often prance around naked abusing their genitals. a saddu might, for example, wrap his penis around a stick and then tug on mercilessly the stick. this is sometimes even done in public. i'm pretty sure they also abuse themselves the way a 14 year old boy abuses himself vigorously and frequently. these two activities bring them enlightment and/or closeness to god, and i suspect, much nap time. oh, they also ask for money and food (for the munchies). i bought a saddu some chapatis the other night, because he was so mellow (pot) and had such a friendly smile (pot) and followed quietly beside me (pot), such a welcome contrast to the other 9 people chasing me down the street for their handout. i wish the entire country were stoned.

*[i was speculating that i had bird flu becuase i actually ate a dish (many times) in sikkim that contained not only chicken, but CHICKEN FEATHERS. people kept proudly buying me the chewy green dish at a cultural festival (and i kept eating it), until a local dignitary explained to me that the dish was made from feathers. when he saw my face he told me that the feathers were very clean.]

Thursday, April 13, 2006

trekking posts

i was going to dump them all at once, but i got too wordy. stay tuned for the exciting conclusion, days 6-10!