Frankly My Dear, I Don't Give A Dharma is now available from Hackwriters.com
I like the idea of being a hack.
Things coming soon on True Facts:
One Night In Heaven - Poverty, Corruption, Pole Dancing
White Man in a Kurta - Shopping, More Corruption and Politics
I Can't Explain - A communication breakdown (it's always the same)
What won't be coming to True Facts:
Famous Last Words has lived up to its name and bitten the dust. I just can't write fiction at the moment. May be when I'm on a beach in Thailand...
What might be appearing elsewhere:
Articles on Gandhian theory and practice, and cultural integration for travellers. The Development Tourism Manifesto is being overhauled and there may be a theoretical piece on the cultures of different NGOs. I've got lots of ideas at the moment but precious little time to write them down. I do have a 30-hour train ride coming up before I leave India.
I'd love to hear what you readers think of this site. I what interaction, debate, abuse even. If I don't get it, I start upping the provocation levels and may end up like Gary Bushell. Please don't let that happen to me.
General rumination: Without dissing my past, I can honestly say that these few months in India have been some of the best and most intense so far. I want the rest of my life to match up to them. What do you want?
I am toying with doing a part time PhD in the future on cantankerous French philosopher Michel Serres. Anybody interested in him? IF so, let me know.
1. & 2. Pramod's school in Bodhgaya
3. Bright-eyed kid from Dwarkoji's Ashram, Bodhgaya.
More to come soon.
Some of my photos
This explains everything: The Virtual Modern Lodge
Back in the saddle
Looking for some action
But like Mick Jagger said
I can't get no satisfaction
Unlike Tone Loc my problems can't be solved with funky cold medina. I've been getting a little jaded of late so I've connected with the Mothership and started working mornings in a home for mentally handicapped children. It's... okay I suppose. Some people rave about the experience but I tend to switch into job-doing mode - feed, clothe, mop up, sing songs, play. That's why I didn't go into the caring professions (as to opposed to the uncaring professions - which describes where I spent the last two and a half years working).
The Indian Dining Experience
1. Ten of you arrive at a restaurant.
2. The waiter hands you one menu to share.
3. He reluctantly lets another one or two menus go your way on request.
4. You order a dish of cheese and spinach
5. The waiter informs you that they have no dishes containing cheese or spinach.
6. You try to order a dish of potatoes.
7. The waiter informs you they have no potatoes.
8. You ask the waiter what dishes they do have.
9. The waiter points to an obscure section of the menu mentioning tomatoes. The menu seems to be a sadistic case of wishful thinking.
10. You ask for a masala dosa.
11. The waiter demures.
12. You point to a man opposite eating a masala dosa.
13. The waiter looks surprised - and a little annoyed.
14. You wait for your food.
15. You wait for your food.
16. You wait for your food.
17. The waiter spends this period avoiding your gaze - even if this means facing the wall for long periods of time. You eventually catch his attention with a deft rugby tackle. He promises to look into the food situation.
18. Your food arrives. It is a dish of spinach and cheese. You briefly remember steps 4-17 and elect not to send it back.
Eric (jazz drummer, spanish translator, doctor - don't you just hate people like that?) thinks there is a CIA operative staying in the Modern Lodge. Man From CIA is a big, middle-aged American with some clunky jewellery.
I think he's a bloke who travels around hotels trying to make people think he's a CIA operative - so they'll think he's interesting rather than tedious.
Monday was Bengali new year and Tuesday was a strike day called by the Communist Party of India - who for many years ran West Bengal. So some of us packed our bags and spent a long weekend in Digha - a cosy little resort.And it was nice, in a not-much happening kinda way. Beach cricket, seafood, mild sunburn, sand in yer trunks - the usual seaside fun.
Stayed in the Larcia Holiday Inn - an establishment rich with Eastern Bloc-style hospitality. It's a rambling, white-washed place with enormous corridors and crumbling paintwork. I half-expected to be awoken at 3am and dragged off to an interregation room hidden behind the kitchens. But all the grief I received was from mosquitoes.
Last few days have been a bit cultural.
Thursday: The Story of Calcutta. A son-et-lumiere experience. Could do with a bit more work - example from soundtrack.
Narrator: And then the following year there was a riot.
(Fade up noise of a riot)
Posh English Voice 1: What's that dashed awful racket?
Posh English Voice 2: It's a bally riot.
You get the idea. A lot of fun mind - even if it's not all intentional.
Friday: Sh..sh..sh(e) at the Max Mueller Bhavan (out of date info). A film on male sex workers in Kolkata. And they were in the audience as well. No I didn't ask for a discount.
Saturday: A visit to the Calcutta Swimming Club. Basically a hangover from the Raj - it's another world where the Indian elite get to parade around with air-con and a f***ing enormous outdoor pool. I heartily disapproved even whilst I was jumping off the high-diving board and whooping with joy.
Sunday: Lagaan. Bit of a weird one this. It's a film where a mismatched bunch of Indian villagers beat a team of English bastards at cricket. And it's great fun. Lots of musical numbers, some romance, some action, zero depth. It was nominated for an Oscar and everybody here was going crazy about it. Couple of critical points:
1. It's an idealised picture of India. Despite caste and religious differences, the characters pull together to thwart a foreign invader. Now to a certain extent, that's what happened 50 years ago. But in the light of the events at Gujarat it all seems hopelessly optimistic. But hey, that's entertainment.
2. The Indians in the film are playing the British at their own game - competing on alien territory. And the film itself was doing the same in the international arena. The Indians in the film retain their pride and adapt the game to their own skills. The Indian filmakers themselves do something similar with the format of the masala movie. But I can't help thinking India should be setting its own standards and not giving a toss about the Oscars. In much the same way I groan whenever British people get excited about Americans noticing our own cultural products.
TNTSRN has asked me to stay for a while longer and build a web site for them. Quantas permitting, I've said yes.
Now Showing on True Facts:
Frankly My Dear, I Don't Give A Dharma - You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!
In fact the whole journey had a bit of an Apocalypse Now feel to it. Holi did nothing to dampen this down.
How to celebrate Holi:
1. Assemble large collection of intoxicants (booze, glue, whatever).
2. Assemble large collection of paints, dyes, coloured water, etc. Anything that stains.
3. Ingest intoxicants.
4. Splash colours over a wide area.
5. Repeat until collapse.
Holi is a little like New Years Eve. Only with a much bigger dry-cleaning bill. And I must say that on no NYE I can remember has anyone grabbed me by the testicles and attempted to dye my pubes orange - as one Indian gentleman tried on Friday.
Spent the weekend in Puri which was... weird. Puri is a beach resort about 300 miles south of Kolkata. Most of our party went by train, except three of us who went by bus. Fortunately there weren't many people on the bus. Unfortunately there were plenty of budgies, puppies, sacks of tea and other freight items animate or not. The soundtrack to our 14-hour drive was some Bollywood movie on audiotape. The plot consisted of one man with a gruff voice laughing a lot (this was to presumably emphasise how evil he was - which is odd cause the truly evil people aren't big on laughing) and a woman crying. It was like Eastenders with tablas. The journey itself wasn't too bad. Apart from the breakdowns. And the fierce electrical storms. And the random hallucinations triggered by christ knows what.