Round 2, Delhi–Fight! India part 9 fin.:

June 4, 2006 at 10:38 | Posted in from within the "India"!? | 1 Comment

Know that this post was deleted, before it could be typed, and thus has been retyped.

I arrived in Delhi from McLeod Ganj early (6:30) Saturday morning. The bus left the same time the previous night. I was seen off by Kimiko, Chie, and Javid (manager of my guest house). Javid warned me, "When you get to Delhi your rickshaw should only be about twenty rupees to your hotel. (I had a booked a hotel in advance). If you can take a cycle-rickshaw for only ten rupees, because auto-rickshaw will drive you all over in circles before they take you to your hotel, and then you will have to pay more." It was a bit sad to leave Kimi, and Chie. They got me a Tibetan travelling shawl, which is a simple white silk shawl that ensures safety when travelling.

On the bus I was patently cramped. And wasn't able to sleep much, as my legs simply do not fit in the space provided. Herve, a wonderful Swiss gentleman whom I ran into in every city I stayed, was also on my bus, although far in the back and I was up front. He would be continuing on to Benares by train from Delhi.

Our bus had two stops in Delhi: one near a Tibetan colony, and one in Connaught place. Both Herve and I would be getting off at Connaught place. At the first stop most of the passengers got off, and waiting for them like midnight bugs to a light were the auto-rickshaw drivers. As soon as the passengers were off I never saw them again, they were eaten alive by overpriced fares to places not far away, and Pan(a type of Indian chewing tobaco that stains the teeth and aliva red)-stained teeth. And then like pups in search of another tit to draw milk from, the rickshaw drivers started shouting onto the bus, this is your last stop.

Of course we all knew that it wasnt, but one girl (and her boyfriend whome she ordered aroudn) of lesser will than I and those who remained, crumbled and suffered the same fate as those who had gone before her. The rickshaw drivers started to grow hungrier, and one came onto the bus, "This is last stop. Next stop is closed." "The stop cant be closed, its a street in Delhi," came the zinging response of a female passenger. I applauded here in my mind. But they didn't stop, they kept coming. I started to get aggravated, and told them, "You are not my bus-driver, and you are a liar. You are trying to cheat us, and I do not believe you." It was like my wrathless Holy Spirit, whenever they began to talk I unleashed its fury upon them; you shall have no meal upon my back heathen!

Surely enough our bus soon departed for the next stop, but it would not be Connaught Place as intended, instead we were dropped at Bhagat Singh Market. As I stepped off of the bus and into the evil that is rickshaw I was recounting what Javid had told me, but I was not in Connaught Place, and I did not know how far Bhagat Singh Market was from my hotel. I told Herve he could come to my room to hang out, and shower, since his train to Benares would not be until the early evening, so him and I arraned a rickshaw. The driver said eighty, and we got him down to seventy (no great feat).

When we got into the rickshaw the driver's friend joined him up front. At this point the story takes a strange twist, as the fool turned the meter on. This was the first time that I had seen a meter being used in India, and needless to say, I was surprised. A mintue into our ride the driver stopped at a rickshaw pool and shouted in Hindi to his vermin brethren. I cannot be sure of what he said, but based on his 'up up' hand-motion, I assume that he was alerting him to the tourists around the corner who could be (up up) overcharged for a rickshaw ride. The ride continued for only a few more minutes, and when we arrived at the hotel the meter read: 2km, 12.5 rupees. I whispered to Herve and we agreed to go by the meter–Duh.

This is the secene as it unfolded in front of the hotel when we got out. I did most of the talking, being as I was quite angry, and willing to let my temper fly on this scumbag a bit, with Herve occasionally interjecting that the meter said 13 rupees:

Zachary: (hands rickshaw driver twenty rupees, speaking with reserved aggravation) Do you think I'm stupid?

Rickshaw Driver: (smiling) Cost is seventy rupees.

Z: The meter said thirteen rupees, be happy that I'm giving you twenty rupees. 

Rickshaw Driver's Friend: (resets, and turns off meter) Meter is Crap!

RD: You pay me Seventy Rupees!

Herve: Ze meter said sirteen rupees.

Z: No, I pay you twenty rupees. You drove us five minutes, it was two kilometers, and the meter said twelve and a half rupees…

RDF: Meter is Crap! 

Z:…Keep this up and I'll take my money back and give you nothing.

RD: You pay me seventy rupees now!

Z: (points index and middle finger into RD's averted eyes, and then his own, becoming enraged) You look at me! I'm not some stupid fucking gringo. The meter said twelve and a half rupees…

RDF: Meter is crap!

Z:… I'm not paying you seventy rupees. You are a liar, and you are trying to cheat me. Either get lost or I'll go call the police.

RD: You want police? (motions to rickshaw) Come on I take you police.

Z: (eyes widening with anger, assesing whether RD, and RDF pose a physical threat) Fuck you. You're lucky I'm paying you at all. We're leaving now.

(Herve and Zachary walk into hotel. RD and RDF remain, angered and somewhat dumbfounded.)

In India if you are resolute, you get what you want, when you what want, for the price that you wish to pay. At any point on my trip I could have stolen, refused to pay, or bargained prices down further, but you have to measure money (which is quite cheap) against morals, and patience (which do not exist in a universe of price.)

Inside the hotel Herve and I partook in the buffet breakfast which was outstanding. I helped myself to countless bowls of fruit, and glasses of watermelon juice. I arranged an earl check-in, and we went up to the room. I showered, shaved (with a razor) and then napped, while Herve showered and then read.

When I woke up we walked over to Rikhi Ram music shop. Rikhi Ram sold instruments to the creme-de-la-creme of Indian classical music. He also sold George Harrison a sitar. There are countless pictures on the wall. Rikhi Ram is dead, but his son runs the shop now, and he is no less mixed up in the Indian Classical music scene, and whatever foreigners it attracts. I purchased a Benares Dayan (the wooden drum), and what looks to be a Delhi Bayan (the metal drum).

When we returned to the hotel we watched t.v. for a bit and I napped again. When I awoke herve said that he would leave for the train station, so I walked him downstairs. I spent the rest of the night relaxing, and had a wonderful buffet dinner that was capped off with Italian chocolate cake, mango brulee, mango tart, gulab jamun (an indian dessert), and a cup of green tea.

My time in India has been something quite remarkable. I never could have imagined a place quite like this, and I am lucky to have been here.

I miss Kimiko and Chie. I dreamt that they came to visit me at the hotel. My flight leaves tomorrow morning at 2:10 AM. I leave from the hotel tonight around 10:00 PM. I miss you America. See you soon.

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Tibetan Reggae covers, global village, and beggars India part seven:

June 2, 2006 at 05:07 | Posted in from within the "India"!? | 1 Comment

Last night I heard the sounds of live music blasting out of the opposite side of the valley that I am in. I looked out mf window and determined that it was coming from "Chew and View", a restaurant situated on said cliff. The music was quite loud, and it was the first time that I had heard a trap kit since my arrival in India. the music continued for arond two hours, and at one point shifted from Tibetan intoned rock music, to Bob Marley covers. It was surreal, and humorous to hear the Tibetanly pronounced lyrics of this Jamaican masthead. Bob Marley is quite popular here, perhaps because of his peacable message?

Today is my last day in McLeod Ganj, I will leave for Delhi by overnight tourist bus at 6:30 Pm. THe bus arrives at 6:30 AM, which I am not terribly excited about, and I can check into my hotel room at 12:00 PM. I am hoping that they have running hot water showers–rinsing my soap off without a cteady stream of water, and having to use one hand to pour the water, and one to rinse, is a bit difficult. I made the mistake of bringing a soap that does not rinse easily, and the hard water here does not treat my showers kindly.

Of course, I will have lunch at Lung Ta again.

The other day I bought milk for a shoe-shine boy.  He had a sob-story, that may or may not have been true, about how his father takes all the money that he makes shining shoes and spends it on alcohol. The sob-story didn't even register, as it is impossible to tell if the begging children are valiant liars, or in fact afflicted misfortunates. The boy tried to convince me to buy the largest powdered milk that the store had, which costs eighty-five rupees–eighty five rupees is a few cents short of two dollars. I refused, as this was a rather brazen proposal on his part. For me to buy him the milk that he asked for–aside from being against my personal dietary philosophy–would be the equivalent of a homeless person asking me to take them to the cheesecake factory, and me agreeing. I wound up buying him one quart of milk, despite his pleas that it would only last one day. Over the course of my milk-purchasing a crowd of beggars gathered around me, and as I turned to leave the shop they all assailed me for money, one young girl grabbed my arm. There are three different kinds of beggars: the ones who cannot work, the ones who do work, and the ones who can work but do not. The girl that grabbed my arm was capable of working, and my reaction to her was rather harsh–I yanked my arm away and shouted.

It is a bit of a struggle trying to sort out how to deal with beggars here. You cannot give to everyone, so you have to meter who you give to. I, almost exclusively, give to the lepors, it is clear that they cannot work–most have no fingers, or toes, and if they do they are certainly not functioning digits. The same people are out on the streets everyday touting light skinned people with, "Hello. Namaste. Hello Sir. Hello. Hello…" and when you don't give they usually say something in Hindi afterwards.

I gave to a man on crutches in Manali, and he started complaining to me, in Hindi, and gesturing to give him more money. I told him, "Fuck you, you punks-ass bitch." He definitely didn't understand what I said, and he went on to harass another person in the same manner as hed had me. The abiity to use language like that is a strange thing. 

 On the topic of language: English in India is a strange thing. The notion of grammar and spelling that exists here is some notion of hearsay and conjecture.

 I spent a good deal of time yesterday in a Thanka shop. For thos of you who do not know, Thankas are Tibetan Buddhist paintings that depict either deities, or meditation/prayer mandalas. The symbols used are born of a rich vocabulary that resembles high-art cartoon illustration. I learned yesterday that Buddhism was brought to tibet by a monk, who's name I cannot remember, who overpowered the traditional practice of witchcraft and superstitious vampirism, et cetera. This explains the existence of the dark/ferocious/evil deities depicted in Thankas. The shop owner and I talked about the state of India, and he lamented how most of its rich culture is devalued to such a degree by its inhabitants, that the "cream of the cream" has to leave to other countries in order to survive off of their skills/trade. He feels that the West is getting a lot of the good things that India has to offer: music, yoga, painting, philosophy, et cetera, but India is only getting the bad things: sex, nudity, bad music. I think if you asked a younger generation they would disagree with him. For his generation the West has little to offer that is of any value, because he is justly, and appropriately affirmed in his notion of life within India. However, for the youth life begins with the notion of the West through its presence, and they seek for more of it because it is new and different. On some level I can agree, as I noted in an earlier post, India's classical culture is beautifu, but its modern culutre is likened to a pubescent boy in high school as it tries to fit into a global culture.

No one’s dogs, India part eight:

June 1, 2006 at 04:58 | Posted in from within the "India"!? | 1 Comment

The last couple of days have been quite nice. Although my stomach virus has not subsided I continue to champion local eating efforts.

I have been frequenting a local vegetarian Japanese restaurant that serves tasty, authentic Japanese food. The atmosphere is great, as people lounge about long after they have finished eating. The restaurant–Lung Ta–has a sizeable library of books available for reading (although they are in Japanese). They also have Bancha–roasted green tea–which is a much welcomed addition to my day, it is difficult to find decent tea in India.

I went to another concert last night, but didn't really enjoy it. I was feeling quite antsy, and couldn't get comfortable, but I managed to sleep through a good deal of the concert–one of my favorite pastimes.

About the local dog packs:

Dogs are everywhere roaming about, eating things, pooping, and peeing. In keeping with the rest of India the dogs are a bit weary of people, as many people hit dogs. However, the dogs here in McLeod Ganj seem to be treated quite well in comparison. During the day they are out and about, but not too active. As soon as it gets dark out they start to go nuts; darkness coordinates with the withdrawal of the majority of human presence, as there are no street lights. So, once the people leave the dogs start being dogs: rummaging through trash or piles of discarded produce *interesting/disgusting side note: There are five or six produce vendors on the main street in town. They all sell the same stuff. At the end of the day they take the plastic crates that their produce is stored in, stack them up, put tarps over them, secure the tarps, and go home. Cows and dogs inevitably try to get into the crates with no success. The gross thing is that I saw one of the produce vendors using his produce-cutting knife to pick dirt out of his toenails.*, running a muck, and lots of barking. Bed time is always ushered by an unfaltering drone of distant barking. I can only imaginge the fun that the dogs have when the people are sleeping. I have spotted two boss dogs that seem to do whatever they want. One Golden retrieverish dog (they are all mutts of some degree) wandered into a concert and approached several people insisting on being scratched and petted, putting its paw out in a request for affection. Another dog, white with black and brown spots on the face and posterior, wandered into a restaurant and sat down at my feet insisting on being scratched. I scratched the dog and then it just sat quitely at my feet while Kimi, Chie and I ate dinner. At some point it was captivated by something, let out a loud bark, and ran out the door. It shortly returned and plopped right back down under our table. I have seen both of these dogs chase after cars, and motorcycles barking in a "Get the fuck out ma hood!" manner. No one feeds the dogs, or pays them much attention aside from the occasional "get lost" smack.

I still miss lettuce, and I also now miss beer, and wine. We really have it good in America. 

Not much is new. I leave tomorrow night on an overnight bus for Delhi, where I will spend one night in a hotel. After that I wake up on Sunday, try to get  a late checkout and leave my bags at the hotel, fart around for a few hours, take a taxi to the airport on Sunday night, and fly home at 2:15 A.M. on Monday.

Enjoy your day. 

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