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Saturday, November 29, 2003

Bombay is dirty, loud, gross, and I'm loving it. I think 4 hours is the perfect amount of time to spend here. Flying is so much faster than trains, oh my dear lord. You can't smell the shit from 30,000" either. Just one astounding way to travel! To be honest, the suburban railway that I took from the airport to ex-Victoria Terminal (now some long name in Marathi) in ex-Bombay (now Mumbai) was alot more excitement, and for only 8 rupees too!
Having a wander in Old Goa earlier today, I finally figured out what the trick was that converted so many Goans to Catholics. No, it wasn't murder and terror on the part of the Portuguese, of course not. What it is I can assure is that it is so damned cool in all them old cathedrals. These guys had some tricks at architecture, because not only are the interiors of these things very impressive visually, the age-old natural A/C could attract anyone to Jesus. I'm sure converted. Well, I was for a bit, anyway... then off to the airport. This internet cafe is at least as A.C.ed as the churches, and it has a portal to cyberlife, which I think might be better than afterlife. It's certainly at least as shiny.
I will try and dream nice things about all you friends in all your places while I "speed" down the tracks on the "express" train to Aurangabad, in time to arrive at 4:40 am. Off to see some caves. Special Buddhist caves carved into the rock back in the 60's, I think. Damned hippies.

Friday, November 28, 2003

11-23-03
There is now a sticker on my ratty-tattered orange notebook. It says Hindustan on it. I took it off a toilet.
Done with Bangalore. Strange to think of how used to it all I got. It's really something else, the difference between how one experiences a foreign country when one is always traveling and moving around, and when one stays in the same place for a while. 8 weeks isn't long enough to call some place 'home,' but it's enough definitely to develop a routine. It's really that routine that makes the difference. When one can walk a certain route and do certain things and not have them feel foreign at all makes for a really different way to experience somewhere. It's so easy to forget Bangalore and get right into traveling mode. But, when I stop and think back to the very beginning, back to my first day when we went out to 100ft. Restaurant and on the way it started pouring like no one's business, and one of the autorickshaw's broke down on flooded Thispassandra. And going to the YMCA shelter, and the first day of the deaf school, and the bicycle catastrophe, and just all the wacky moments with the other wolunteers, and going running in the smog, and playing football with the local hooligans... Well, I think maybe, just maybe, Bangalore got to 'home' status. But, I'm ready to move on a get moving. And while so many memories have I left in B'lore, so far I haven't forgotten anything there. Unlike in Ooty, where I left my camera battery recharger. I'll just look at it positively as another stop towards becoming a monk: shedding my worldly possessions. At least while in Hampi I've become a vegetarian. It has been recommended to me to do so due to spotty electrical coverage leading to extended periods of unrefrigeration of the meat.
This Hampi place is unlike anything easily imagined. The once capital of an ancient empire, this whole area while having primarily reverted to farming over the centuries is littered with ruins and temples and crumbling palaces. And the landscape is really something you'll have to see to believe. Everywhere you look there are massive granite outcroppings the size of hills. Big red dry hills of cubic granite boulders, very reminiscent of a desert. But the plane between these boulder hills rivers and bright green rice patties and banana groves. It almost just doesn't make sense. My geology teacher would be so proud of how excited it makes me to see this.

11-24-03
Hampi muesli, while a far cry from the real thing, is so damned good to wake up to. Particularly with sliced banana and cold milk. The have this incomprehensible obsession with hot milk in this country, and when it's always fully whole milk and kinda to very gross anyway, getting a bowl of corn flakes with hot milk is just not pleasant. I have yet to tire of Indian food, and, as with other places I've traveled, I enjoy trying all the new and different cuisine. But I must admit that his doesn't really apply to breakfast. I really get to miss my obscenely large mug of filter-coffee and my bowl of cereal. So when I order a bowl of corn flakes after weeks of morning jonsing for cereal, I really start to look forward to it, making it really that much more painful to find it arrive with the flakes rapidly besogging from steeping in foully hot milk. That's the best part of Hampi muesli; when you ask for cold milk that’s exactly what you get. Bone-chillingly cold milk. Don't take it for granted, y'all, don't.
Hidden up in the cragglies about a 15-minute rented-bike ride away is a damned in reservoir. At one's own risk one can leap off the boulders into one of the most ideally decorated and ideally tempuratured bodies of water I have yet to come across. Once in the water, if one looks carefully, one can find cracks between the boulders. One can then follow them to little flooded caves - mostly dark, but for some nice skylights here and there. Reports of poisonous snakes, along with the 6" long 1" around millipede husk I saw made these caves excellently scary and exciting. Obviously I chickened out pretty quick. I mean, there is a painted sign claiming unconvincingly
"SWIMING PROHIBITED
-------- ARE EXISTIING"
Whatever "--------" are or were, they've been painted over in blue.
Hampi is surreal. It's just so different how there are all these 500-600+ year old ruins and one can just clamber all over them, and how they're surrounded by the rice patties and banana plantations, with all the peasants going about their business (much of which if not farming is hanging around trying to sell me mineral water). Nothing like in Europe with all the fences and railing and admission prices and security guards and systems. Here you don't get the feeling that someone found something old and built a museum around it. The ruins are still alive. It's such a fortune to be able to go somewhere like this. But, most likely there are two eventualities: either it all gets enshrined, roped off, and sterilized, or it all gets destroyed. Luckily, at least for the meantime, the remoteness of location and lack of infrastructure limits the touristing population almost entirely to backpacking types (at least half of which are stoned Israelis). This type of crowd keeps anyone from bothering to build any big hotels, not to mention pave all the but the main street. Or keep the power on. It's off right now, and I must say, really wonderful that way. All the little shops and restaurants are candle and lantern-lit and it's really quiet and calm. It would almost be better if there was never power here at all. Almost. At least I can have the comfort of thinking that if I hadn't shed my camera battery recharger I still wouldn't be able to recharge the battery. This is one tortuous place for limiting myself from taking too many pictures. I've just gotten way too used to feeling free to snap off thousands of pictures of anything I want. I really need to fashion some sort of external battery pack or makeshift recharger. Will try my bestest upon returning to parts more civilised.

11-25-03
My little cubby on the second tier on a "luxury sleeper bus" from Hospet (near Hampi) to Palolem (in Goa) is, being at the very back, roughly 6' behind the back wheels. The axle between the back wheels of this "luxury sleeper bus" is roughly 2 feet off the ground. The suspension must be at least two feet high as well. According to my calculations - and I promise I've checked them up and down and am not writing any 6s upside down or any 2s backwards - the trigonometric amplification of every bump in the road is just over seven times.
(62+(2+2)2)(1/2).
So 3" of roadkilled dog becomes almost 2' of mankilling me-tossing. As you might imagine, it is rather hard to write. I will now cease to do so.

11-28-03
Happy birthday me, and happy Thanksgiving y'all. I've already gotten two excellent birthday presents. The first one was waking up and not feeling like I did yesterday. While all of you were getting ready to gorge yourself on turkey I was busy vomiting all day. I t really is a credit to Palolem Beach that I can spend a day practically unable to stand up from stomach trouble, and still not mind too much. Luckily the Cozy Nook - which had been recommended to me by some 20 people - has some very nice hammocks under palm trees by the water. Sleeping all day is much more justifiable when it's in a hammock. Feeling better in the evening, I thought some soup might do me good. I got the "special chicken soup," and it really was good. But, I think I would not have made good publicity for Fernandez Bar and Restaurant should anyone have watched me make it about 20 yards down the beach and uncontrollably retch it all up. I kicked sand over it. Counts as cleaning it up I swear. As I said, I feel better today, my breakfast is still right where it should be and shows no sign of going the wrong direction.
My second birthday present was most excellent. I was given by a sock way deep in my clothes bag a new camera battery recharger. OK, well, it's not exactly new, but whatever. Thinking all this time that I had lost it sure is pretty stupid, but not as stupid as actually losing it. It's funny, but I swear I checked that bag at least 3 times... and it's funny how I came up with this whole scenario as to how I could have left it in Ooty. I remembered putting the charger on the bedside table. Then we room-serviced some chai, the tray for which was put on the bedside table. Voila, it was shoved behind the tea pitcher, and that's how I missed it when packing. I thought about editing my previous entries and taking out all mention of my charger issues, but that would hardly be honest, now would it?
Palolem is such a beautiful and idealic beach; I'm outa here. Want to see Old Goa. Besides, I'm flying to Mumbai tomorrow at 4:20pm, and it'd be much nicer to be a few hours closer to the planestation.

Friday, November 21, 2003

So many new and wonderful sensations! The idea to do it first popped on and into my head, I think, whilst on a train in Kerala. The instant I thought of it there was no doubt that I had to do it. I just knew that it was gonna be really nice. So, I decided that I would wait till I'm done with teaching, then I could mark my grand exit from B'lore and start of my mystical magical travels with such a momentous and wacky action. So, sure it looks a bit (maybe more then a bit) funny... but I regret nothing!
Well, I'm done with teaching, 'case you didn't figger that out. Left for Ooty with Shalini on an impulse, with 10 minutes planning and packing. Ooty is friggin' marvelous. It's simply deliciously cold up here at 7,350 feet about MSL. The train ride up into the mountains was more than enough alone to make the whole journey worthwhile.

[Editor's Note/Warning: The following information might be a bit too much for everyone except my dad.]
"Asia's steepest and longest metre gauge Mountain Railway is the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) situated in the Nilgiri range of mountains. This mountain railway covers a distance of 45.88 Km from Mettupalayam to Ooty with the help of a unique rack and pinion system built specially to negotiate the steep gradient of 1 in 12.28 (i.e. the train climbs up 1 foot for every 12.28 feet of forward motion).
"The route of this mountain railway starts from the plains at Mettupalayam and negotiates the steep gradient, passing through 16 tunnels many of which are unlined, 250 bridges and 216 curves to arrive at Udagamandalam (Ooty) situated at an altitude of 7350 feet (2205 meters) above mean sea level.
"In the year 1885 the Nilgiri Railway Company was formed with a capital of Rs.250,000 and in August 1891 the construction of the hill railway commenced. This metre gauge hill railway line from Mettupalayam in the foothills of the Nilgiri range to Coonoor situated at a height of 6000 feet (1800 metres) above mean sea level was completed and opened for public traffic on 15th June 1899. The line was later extended to Ooty from Coonoor in the year 1908 at the cost of Rs.244,000.
"The unique rack and pinion section (right) of this railway line extends from Kallar and ends just a little distance before the Coonoor railway level crossing. The average gradient on the rack and pinion section is 1 in 15. The rack rails consist of two toothed steel bars laid in a double row 44mm apart and 64mm above the running rails so that the tooth of one is directly opposite to the gap of the other to ensure that the engine pinions do not work off the rack while negotiating the curves. The entry to the rack is effected by a specially designed entry tongue laid in special channel sleepers fitted with bow springs and connecting links which is finally connected to the rigid bars.
"The engines are always attached in such a way that they push the coaches while going up and pull the coaches while coming down. Each coach is provided with a brakeman who independently operates the hand brakes and the rack brakes on whistle codes obtained from the engine driver.
"The 'X' class locomotive used on this railway line are tank engines of '0-8-2' type with 4 cylinders of compound type. The high-pressure cylinders work on the adhesion wheels while the low-pressure cylinders working on the exhaust steam of the first two cylinders work the rack system."

Much of the motivation for going to Ooty was in search of paragliding. We found the paragliding place, and the guy who ran the company seemed really really cool and it all seemed great, and much cheaper than anywhere else in the world they do it. But, they no longer are allowed to fly anymore. The local government has decided that it is too dangerous and would be too much of an international problem should some tourists land in the forest and The Bandit kidnap them. Yes, this is the same Bandit as mentioned before when I was at the way other end of the forests. This Bandit character sure gets around. The paragliding guy said that it's estimated that he's killed more than 100 people, and hundreds of elephents, and has been on the loose for 12 years. It's suspected that there might be someone in some high place protecting him, maybe for poaching money or something equally corrupt.
The bus ride back to Bangalore went well, and was an hour and half faster than it was supposed to be. Truly one hell of a miracle for an Indian bus. And, on top of that, I slept for most of 6 of the 7 hours. I hope that I'm getting back into the hang of sleepig on busses; I used to be able to do it really well by the time I left Brazil. Maybe I just slept so well because of the mad bike ride I went on. Climbed many hills and flew down many valleys and saw some really far-out scenery. Terreced farms, colorful little villages populated with colorful and very excitable villagers. I think they don't often see someone stupid enough to brave the unpaved and steep roads in such thin air on a bicycle. I saw a mountain I really though might have a great view from the top. On my way up I found some really crazy trails for mountain biking. It's a good thing the bike I rented wasn't so much built for that kind of torment; much more fun that way. I sort of lost the trail near the top. Leaned the bike against a tree and dived into the bushes. Something about the foliage up there, but every single plant dead or alive has thorns. As I've said before, it's not an adventure if someone isn't bleeding by the end of it. Almost to the top I was reminded of a conversation from the night before which I had been blocking from my mind the whole time. I had met a guy who told me he was a forest officer, so I asked him where one might find good trails for mountain biking. "No, no. We don't allow two-wheelers or bicycles in the forests. Only specially licsensed jeeps. Very very dangerous. Elephants and tigers are there." As much as I want to see a tiger, my discorvery of the skeleton of I'm guessing a deer who had met a sad end gave me some very vivid mental images of packs of tigers hiding in the bushes about to pounce. Then I thought of The Bandit. And I looked around and realized I really was kind of far out in the forest. Time to turn back. Obviously I kept the skull. Can't quite figure out what to do with it yet...

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Tue. 11/18/03
I wish air travel was as easy as busses and trains, and one could just hop on and off and change plans around at a whim. I wanted to try and stay an extra week, as that would make a world of difference in being able to see all the places in North India I want to see. As far as contacting United Airlines to see about changing my connection from Bangkok to SFO the internet failed my miserably. Oh internet! I had some much faith in thee. All I could find online was an office in Delhi, with no phone number listed. After some more searching I found a number. This turned out to be, of course, the phone number for Scandinavian Airlines. So useless. Amazingly, the Bangalore yellow pages listed a U.A. office in B'lore, and one of the three numbers actually worked! (on the second try) and gave me the oppurtunity to find out that it'll cost US$100 to change the date. Which is alot better than it could be. Often one can't change anything at all except for buying a new ticket. Still, I don't think it really worth it just for one extra week. Besides, there are things I've gotta get done and gotta go home to do them. It does look like I'll be able to change my flight on Air India leaving from Bombay to Bangkok into leaving from Delhi. Considerring that my flight from BKK to Bombay stopped in Delhi then took off again, and that this flight is likely to do the same, I thought it should be pretty straight forward, and even profitable, for them to change it. True to the style of the land it can't possibly be simple enought to just to go to the Air India office and get a new ticket. They have to leave a message with a different office and then I call a number in a few days, tell someone at the other end a magic number that was given to me, and they will tell me if I've been granted permission for the change. Only then can I go all the way back to the first Air India office and finally get it done. Could be worse, many of the other volunteers here end up trying to change their flights in some way or another, and lots of those end up getting put on endless waiting lists or completely unable to except for as much money as a new ticket would cost, etc.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Fri. 11/14/03
"Mmm... I simply must have the recipe!", if only I could actually say that at so many of these restaurants I could compile one helluva cookbook.
Now, for the sake of proper appreciation on your part of this blog entry, imagine that I am writing this in unitelligably catastrophic handwriting in a ratty-tattered orange notebook. Which, mind you, is precisely what I'm doing. You are reading it thanks to the kind efforts of my future-self (and editor) whom I have asked very kindly to type it all up next chance he gets. [Editor's note: Hi.]
There's a cat by my table meowing piteously, expecting, I presume, some of my food. Ha! Yeah right. I done ate it all already anyway. And it was really damned good. I've already forgotten the name of the dish; I used the point at random in menu method. Some people gamble in casinos, I gamble in restaurants. It turned out to be / was chicken in in gooey green sauce with whole cashews in it. Gooey green sauces are always good, that's, like, one of the Four Noble Truths er something.
(1. Life is suffering.
2. The root of all suffering is desire.
3. Gooey green sauces are always good.
4. Oh well, what ever, nevermind.)
I happen now to be in Mysore, the former residence of the former Maharaja of the former state of Mysore (with a serious palace to prove it), and 3 hours by slow scary bumpy dirty bus. Got here in the afternoon. Skipped the palace and went for a run. I read in the Lonely Planet about a temple at the top of a big hill overlooking the town. Apparently the pilgrims are supposed to climb the 1,000 steps to it (the L.P. suggests taking a bus). I figured I'd impress the gods and run up it. There happens to be something on the order of 3.6x108 gods in these parts, at least one of them will notice, don't you think? I struck off in the direction of the big prominent hill with the temple on the top, assuming that's the one. Certainly no direct way from my shit-hotel to the bottom of the steps. Let's just say that I took a very scenic route which left my with the priveledge of tresspassing, hopping various fences, and bleeding a bit from my arm and leg. Deffintely without doubt the best run I've had in India yet. I made it to and up the steps (there really mighta been more that 1,000) in time to watch another impressive sunset. Sweaty, stinky, and generally gross, I fit right in on the public bus back into town. The driver, it might be noted, drove the steep, windy road WAY faster than even I would have in a little light car. And this was in a huge, old, and very shaky bus full of people. Luckily I had a suitable oh-shit-handle to grab onto for dear life. Tomorrow in the early morn' I, along with 12 other wolunteers like me, am on my way to spend a day & night at some ginormous wildlife preserve. Should be awesome. Several sources have told me that there's a serial killer supposed to be hiding somewhere out in the national park in which this wildlife preserve is located. I love how everything in this c'razy subcontinent has to have some terrible and ominous danger lurking behind it.

Sat. 11/15/03
Sat right at the windscreen on the bus ride from Mysore to the wildlife park, which afforded me an excellent view of all the dogs, sheep, cows, goats, bicycles, and small children the bus came inches from crushing. Totally gorgeous up here in these hills. I can see why the British colonialists always loved to retreat into the hills when in India. The brochure claims where at 7,000 ft., (they still measure hieghts in feet here). I don't quite believe that, but we deffintely are pretty high up. Went on some adventurising; I found a baby turtle in a puddle, saw some monkeys, a deer, a bunch of frogs, an enormous spider whose web I just barely noticed in time to not walk through, and, the highlight for sure, a dung beetle. And all this before lunch! Later we split up, with some of us going on an elephant ride, and some of us going on "safari." I opted for "safari," which was fun. It involved careening around on dodgy roads in the back of a jeep. Saw bison, "jungle fowl," deer, sambar deer which are as big as horses, a wild boar, an eagle hawk, an owl, BUT no tigers. There are tigers and panthers here, so maybe tomorrow, maybe. We're scheduled to watch a "wildlife film" now, before dinner. I don't know how likely that is though. There's a big group of rowdy Indian men watching very avidly the New Zealand vs. India cricket match on the only TV. Don't know how they'd recieve the idea of being revoked of the TV. I really don't understand how anyone can get so worked up over such and incredibly boring game. I mean, c'mon, it's worse than baseball for god's sake!

Sun. 11/16/03
Back in Mysore, on my way back to Bangalore. Stopped over with Ian to see that Maharaja's palace close-up. They really know how to make shnazzy yet gaudy and weird palaces. It was built in the beginning of the 20th Century, and is the most impressive mix of colonial-English, over-the-top "traditional" Indian, and turn of the century modernism. The walls of my favorite room had heads of boars, leopards, bison, etc. (some of which had plaques claiming they were shot in the hills I just visited); interspersed with daguerreotypy pictures of the Maharaja, some with him dressed in hunting gear, some in tweeds, some in robe and big funny hat; interspersed with antique mandalas and paintings of the Hindu pantheon. All this with vintage ceiling fans overhead with cast-iron G.E. logos. You can say what you want about the Raj and all the horrible things attributable thereto, but they sure had style. We should trade. California can get a Maharaja on a war elephant, and India can get Arnie in his hummer. They have some 10's of 1,000's of lightbulbs installed on the exterior of the palace, and they turn 'em all on on Sundays from 7:00-8:00. That was well worth sticking around for.

[Editor's note: I learned my lesson after Kerala that I can't be arsed to write about trips after getting back from them. Hoping to keep working with this method of scribbling while it's happening, and then typing it up afterwards.]

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Here I sit with too much to tell, so will mostly not try to tell it. They really need some new shitty synthesized muzak in this internet cafe this one tape is really getting old. Sometimes they play such awesome rockin' stuff... but at least once or twice a night some one puts the damn-ed tape on. I theorize that one of the employees made it and gets a sick thrill out of having a captive audience. Yes, it really is that bad.
Got in today at 5:00 am after 23 hours on the train. Were it on the Shinkansen or the TGV the trip might 've taken 3, maybe 4 hours, but you couldn't pay me to have not taken this train ride. The scenery is indescribably wonderful (I have confidence any description I attempt cannot do the job). Kerala, I have decided, tops the list for beautiful tropical places I have so far visited in my short life. We met a man on the train yesterday whose son, incedentally, is applying as a transfer student to UC Berkeley after two years at City College of SF; proving Walt and his boat ride right one more time. Well, this guy asked each of us to say one sentence describing our experience in Kerala. While I don't remember exactly the words I used in reply, essentially I told him that I could encapsulate it best in the sunset that I watched while hanging out of the door of the carraige in the wind. Sunsets, apart from the simple majesty of their colors and size, are so wonderful in that no instant of the display is the same. With this sunset, not only was the sky morphing its light and dark and clouds and reds and yellows and light blues and whites, but the backdrop was constantly changing with it; I saw the sun set behind a mountain just to come out on the other side, and the water passing me in the lakes and the rivers and the rice patties reflected and broke up the colors of the sky with its own surrounding colors: red clay earth, white and tan sand bars, and brightest green of blades of rice soaking in neat rows, and just when I though the oranges had finnished their slow fade to blues and purples, out pops Venus, shining solar bright for no reason, I'm sure, but to suprise a smile onto my face.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

GUEST ENTRY by Shalini Vimal:

He [David] later took me out to the most incredible chocolate cake because he knew about my intense craving for real chocolate and lack of its presence in my bloodstream therefore only exacerbating my homesickness. The cake was called “chocolate excess”, what an oxymoron, yet nonetheless exactly what I needed—a rich moist cake with chocolate mousse and fudge strategically interspersed between the spongy layers creating the most decadent slice of heaven that was then melted enough so that the chocolate was oozing off exploding and encapsuling my tastebuds in the most satisfying way. As the perfect contrast lay two scoops of cold creamy vanilla ice cream on either end that intensified both the richness of chocolate and and the creamyness of the vanilla—back to my theory about extreme juxtapositions of objects resulting in intensification of both extremes….

Monday, November 03, 2003

Reading through the guide book and hearing stories of Goan adventures inspired the idea in my mind that renting a motorbike would be an incredibly dangerous idea, which of course means, sign me up right now. In pursuit of this I've been asking all over town in countless bike shops about renting motorbikes. After giving me blank stares, usually I had to ask for "hiring" bikes, with my r's rolled. That way they could understand me enough to say no, and that they didn't have any idea where I could either. Finally I found somewhere that said the expected no, but they did know somewhere that I could. "Unicorn motors," they told me, "on Airport Road. Somewhere." Seeing as how my school is half a block off of Airport Road, this sounded fantastic. I set off for school with intentions of giving a hunt down for this place afterschool. Lo! and behold, on my way to school in the morning, I notice a scooter zooming past, and on the sparetire-cover is an add for Unicorn Motors. There were what looked like two phone numbers, one of which I missed, and the other being 3333333, I actually caught it in the passing of the scooter. So, this number in my brain, after school I head straight to the STD/ISD - or, to ye unintiated, the payphone. (Buffalo thompson, anyone?) I dial up the phone number, ask if it's Unicorn Motors. This being India, of course it wasn't. But she could tell me the number if I wanted. Yes, I wanted. Called the number. Learned first in English, then in Kannada that the number had been changed. Called that number. "Is this Unicorn Motors?" Nope. Wrong number. Dissilusioned, I set off for a phonebook. Amazingly, found one. Looked up the number. Amazingly, found it. Called the number. "Yes, this is Unicorn Motors," I barely heard over the traffic noise. "Do you hire motorbikes?" "Sorry?" "Mo-to-r Bi-kes??" "Yes yes! Motorbikes!" I got an adress in somewhere I had never heard of (Aganynagar er something), told it was across from Reliance Mobile, on the main street. Hopped in an autorickshaw, rattled off all I knew, and off I went. Soon I was basically leaving Bangalore and way out in some feilds on some highway worrying with the thought that this driver might pull a Rio de Janeiro and working on memorizing his liscense number. Well, got to some almost entirely dirt-paved 'burb/village. Saw Reliance Mobile, looked across the street, and there it was. Got out, walked in. "So, you rent motorbikes?" "You want a motorbike?" "Yes, for rent." "Sorry, rent?" "Hire. For hire." "Oh, for hire. Sorry, we don't hire motorbikes." "Oh." "But, we are a branch office. Here is the phone number of the main office, they hire scooters." Finally, this number really worked. I got the low down and the adress. Not on Airport Road, but also not out in the middle of some village. 100 rupees($1.25)/24hrs for a Honda Kinetic, which seems a pretty nice kind of scooter. I love the way to find things here. Back home I just stumble to the old glowing button machine and type something into the information super highway. Now one of these weekends (my number of weekends here is dwindling at an alarming rate) I and some adventurous others can go ride off somewhere fun.
Oh, and mom. Don't read any of that part because renting a scooter is a horrible idea that I would never consider. Though if someone forced me to at gun point consider it, I yes will wear a helmet.
I'm taking a train to Kerala! I'm sooo excited to ride the train. There was a big derailment a week ago, lots dead. That makes it SO much more exciting! Besides, trains really are just pretty damned cool.
Here's some info on Kerala, for which I will be leaving Wednesday night, and from which I will be returning the following Wednesday mornin':
"Kerala lies in the southern part of India. In the east is the state of Tamil Nadu and some parts of the northeast is bordered by the state of Karnataka. The state is divided in to three geographical units; (a) highlands, (b) midlands and (c) lowlands. The slope down from the Western Ghats is the highlands and is at an average elevation of 900 meters and having some peaks of 800 meters in height. The midlands are between the mountains and the low land. This is an area of thick cultivation. The low lands are the low-lying areas in the costal region, river deltas and the backwaters.
"There is an interesting legend about the genesis of Kerala, which is held true by theists. Parasuram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu slaughtered about twenty-one generations of Kshatriyas (the warrior caste) in a fit of anger. But soon after the monstrous act, overcome by a deep sense of regret he retired to the Western Ghats and went into penance. The gods were moved by this and offered him a stretch of land that his axe could cover. The Western Ghats was then running along the coast of the Arabian sea. Parasurama flung his axe across the sea and it is believed the land that emerged from the depths along the trajectory came to be known as Kerala.
"Kerala has a warm tropical climate the most pleasant with no extremes of hot or cold. Throughout the year the mercury varies between 32º Celsius and 22º Celsius. Summer is from March to May while December, January and February are the months of pleasant winter. Kerala gets her annual rainfall from June to August followed by a week northeast monsoon. The southwest monsoon strikes Kerala first before advancing northwards to the rest of the country. The monsoon is in the Aushadi Masam (June & July), the month for rest and recuperation."

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Sleeping in is good no matter what country one's in.
I had been meaning to get up a blog entry for a few days now, but I've been pretty lazy. I was going to on Wednesday, while I loaded up pictures, but they moved the computers around in this place and so I ended up installing the software for the camera again on a different computer. But Windows sucks and it took way to long, and, well, you get the idea.
Wanted to write about a dream I had (on monday night, I think). Was in some city, not sure which, don't think it mattered. I had with me a briefcase/bag type thing, in it was a smallish atomic bomb. The people who had sent me there with it expected me to detonate it, and I knew that for some reason it had to, like, the whole world would die if I didn't do it or something. Before setting off the bomb though, I had just enough time to round up all the friends and family I had in this town and try and convince them that they had to get away. Some I told why, and some I couldn't. Portentious dream it may be, so watch out for guys with briefcase/bag things telling you to get outa town. Then again, Peter ate blue ramen and lived to tell the tale, so maybe my soothsaying can be safely disregarded.
I think my sickness is getting better. Nonetheless, one of these days I will heed Dr. Mom's advice and get tested for malaria. Just in case, y'know. Oh, and the deafness in the right ear is no longer as bad, and has been replaced with a ringing which is getting louder. A good sign, right?
I hear rumors of a sushi restaurant somewhere in Bangalore. Of course, I dunno about raw fish in the middle of inland south India. Maybe they have tandoori sushi or something weird and culturally-miscegenated. I wonder what this place would be like if the Japanese had won back in dem Zweiter Weltkrieg and added this to their empire.
Ok ok ok. Too much musing not enough telling anything worth reading.
Tschuss, mes amies.

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