Adventures in India

This is an open journal of some of the things I see and think about while trying to find a place to live in India. It may or may not be interesting. I make no promises.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


For the past month or so I have been in a bit of a stupor. A lethargy has slowly crept into my bones and caused them to melt inside my flesh.

Its the heat.

I have been trying to find a job here in India, or at least this has been the cover story. I think the truth is I have been inducted into a cosmic re-education camp. I am getting new wiring. I have been traveling with a young friend from Mamallapuram, Kannan, who seems to be in charge of erasing the old programming. He is from Madurai originally, where he grew up on the streets, and became a bicycle rickshaw wallah. Now he tends a shop near the beach, smokes grass, and initiates eager tourist girls into the Kama Sutra. He enjoys beating me bloody at chess, and regaling me with fantastic tales of adventures in the flesh. And yes, he has an enormous lingam.

I have made few entries here during this month. Here are a few thought fragments.

* There was a full moon here on the 23rd. They shut down the 12 kilometer road that goes around the sacred mountain of Arunachala Shiva, and thousands of folks from the villages came to make the circuit around the mountain. The two lanes were packed with thousands of people all night, special buses ferries people to and from the surrounding villages. Kannan asked me to come along, and I made it a few kilometers before the heat drenched me with sweat. He finally suggested I return and I dragged myself back against the current of pilgrims. Hundreds of beggars and holy men lined the road, too many to take in. And old leper woman clutched my foot and called me "baba".

* There is a perpetual war going on at the ashram where I am staying. The monkeys invade the balconies late in the afternoon, and the young girls on the staff go after them half-heartedly with bamboo sticks and pails of water. A few days ago, I set out my trash can with food in it and they spread it everywhere, creating a smelly mess. Now the cleaning women refuse to give me another trash can.

* Why are young Indian men so beautiful? Long eyelashes, strong features, slender bodies, but strong and flexible. There is a gentleness about them that is so comforting. Of course, I also sat on a bus and watched a gang of beautiful youths mercilessly kick the shit out of a fellow in a village once. The bus pulled away before I could do anything. I probably wouldn't have anyway.

* I saw a Tamil movie with an American actor in it. He was the same guy who played the young kid-turned-vampire in Fright Night. In this film he spoke and sang in very good Tamil, according to Kannan. At one point in the film, he is hunted down by a bunch of local cops for a crime he did not commit. As they close in on him he stands up and shouts out in English, "I am a citizen of the United states of America!". They laugh at him, and take him in. We Americans do put a lot of faith in that mantra when we travel. Every one of us carries, consciously or unconsciously, the assumption that the mojo of empire has rubbed off on us. We are entitled to special treatment; we are deserving of more solicitude and respect than others because we come from the most powerful country on earth. I think I am going to start using it. Any time I am in trouble with the law, or someone cheats me, or I am stuck in traffic in a rickshaw, I'll stand up and shout, "I am a citizen of the United States of America!" Maybe I should make a little gold crown to wear around all day.

* Had a conversation with a young Muslim college student in Chennai. We talked about George W. Bush and US policy towards Muslim nations. He was strong in his conviction that Islam did not sanction any terrorist acts, but also said that Muslim people were hungry for justice. For too long, he said, they had been ill-treated by the West. I asked him if it was possible to create a politics based on love. He didn't think so, even though he also conceded that there was no higher truth. When asked why it was so difficult to bring love into politics, he said, "People are stupid."


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