Pensive Pooch

This has been a very long trip. 

I flew from London on the 20th April and will finally fly back in the early hours of the 13th June. 

This has been a very strange trip. 

Earlier trips included delegations from the client and a large number of colleagues from the UK and Germany, I’ve been alone here for the past four weeks now and I think that I’ve become a bit institutionalised. 

Here’s my day

  • Wake up after a crappy night’s sleep
  • Go to the gym and work out for 30 minutes or so
  • Go to Breakfast, sit alone, read a book for a while
  • Go to the pool – read a book by an empty pool
  • Sort my laundry
  • Shower, get ready for work, take a car to the office
  • Work mostly alone, have occasional conference calls, take a car to the hotel late evening
  • Go to the gym if there’s time
  • Go to dinner, sit alone, play on twitter, have one or two drinks
  • Go to bed, watch catchup TV, sleep badly

Repeat

And Repeat

And Repeat

I’ve become very internalised and have actually caught myself thinking like I’m actually writing a blog; as it seems the easiest way to process what’s going on. 

In case this seems like a whinge, it really isn’t. 

I’ve been lucky enough to have two excellent weekends in Thailand that would never have happened if I’d been working in the UK. 

I’ve seen some wondrous sights and I’ve met some great people who I hope will remain as friends a long time after this role / project / job finishes. 

I’ve swum in the sea during a monsoon; dared the lightning to kill me and been to ancient temples and huge monuments. 

   
                             I’ve laughed so hard at times that I honestly thought I’d pass out and I’ve danced with ladyboys and huge Russians. 

Trouble is, they’re the exception days. 
Today so far has been. 

  • Wake up after a crappy night’s sleep
  • Go to the gym and work out for 30 minutes or so
  • Go to Breakfast, sit alone, read a book for a while
  • Go to the pool – read a book by an empty pool
  • Sort my laundry
  • Shower, get ready for work, take a car to the office
  • Work mostly alone, have occasional conference calls

I’ll eat the same food (ish) tonight as I did yesterday and will pop my head in the bar to see if there’s any reason to avoid going to bed ridiculously early. 

And then tomorrow will be the same. 

Friday will be a day of last minute arrangements, goodbyes (because I don’t intend to come back to this project), packing and hanging around until 2am so that I can be trolled by the ridiculous spectacle that they’ve turned Chennai airport into. 

And then a ten hour flight, hopefully with lashings of gin before landing at Heathrow. 

And then what?

I don’t know. 

I do know that I have tickets to Graspop in Belgium for Thursday to Sunday next week and that I have meetings in London to discuss next steps  / roles with the job. 

One option is to come back here for another 3-5 months – not very attractive right now. Particularly as I’m starting to loathe the FuckedUpProjectOfDoom with a vengeance now. 

Other work options are a little less clear today. 

It’ll all work out I suppose, but I’m a bit worried that I may have changed more than I think. I was never the most talkative person (unless you got me started and then I’d never shut the fuck up) and now I speak less than a few hundred words a day. 

And I’ve been living one day at a time, no thoughts of even the immediate future – I haven’t even started to plan to pack yet. 

Institutionalised. 

It’s going to be strange all round, for me and those who know me. 

 I hope that they bear with me for a while. 

The new quieter me is probably going to be a massive pain in the arse to be around back in England and I’ll need to shed some of the reserve I’ve built around myself. 

Hopefully Graspop, heavy metal music for three days, excellent company and a shitload of beer will help. 

On the plus side, I’m getting out of this fucking office, that fucking hotel and a massively boring routine  that still has these steps to take today. 

  • take a car to the hotel late evening
  • Go to the gym if there’s time
  • Go to dinner, sit alone, play on twitter, have one or two drinks
  • Go to bed, watch catchup TV, sleep badly

It’s been a very long and strange trip and it isn’t quite over. 

Phuket Pup

When I was younger, I thought I knew all the answers. Issues were in black and white and before the Internet, the only way to get information about people and places was to go to a library or have your opinion fed to you by a newspaper. 

It was genuinely a different world and my  trip to Ibiza with a mate was the first time apart from school trips to Calais that I’d ever seen anywhere outside England – yes England, I’d never been further north than Peterborough or further west than Heathrow. 

A typical working class boy from an overspill council estate in Romford in other words. All bluster, swagger and bullshit, what I didn’t know could have filled countless volumes, but I was too young and uninformed to know or care. 

I started working in IT when I was eighteen and after a year or two, was making enough money to have a couple of holidays a year in the glamour spots of Ibiza and Magaluf. 

But my fixed views of other countries really didn’t change in that time, Germans stole sunbeds, the Spanish were OK but you needed to watch your back. 

And so on. 

Over time, my views changed, sometimes overnight, sometimes imperceptibly. 

And travel helped. 

I’ve been lucky with work, it’s taken me to India (5 cities and twenty visits), France, Holland, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Malaysia and Australia. 

And exotic locations like Norwich, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and Bridgend. And hundreds of towns in the UK for trips of one day or less. 

I’d never been to Thailand before a few weeks ago, all of my holidays had either been in Europe, Canada, Australia or the Caribbean. 

And I wrote about how fantastic I found Bangkok as a city in a previous post. 

So; I’m still in Chennai and we had another bank-holiday weekend – only this time I would be alone. 

I did a bit of looking for places to go on the Internet and settled on Thailand again, this time I would stay in Phuket in a quietish resort called Karon Beach. 

It was a longer flight, with stopovers, but it all went fairly quickly and I arrived at my hotel around 10 hours after leaving the office in Chennai, hours before official check-in time and with a sense of resignation that I may have to wait a while. 

Except. 

I received a beaming smile from the clerk, a sheaf of money off leaflets and was immediately shown to a room that was considerably nicer than my £30 a night should have paid for. 

  
Once I’d unpacked (30 seconds), I had a quick wander down to the beach and the shops before going back to the pool for a crash and food session. At the bar. Obviously. 

  
In the background, you’ll see rooms that had entrance into the pool. An extra £20 a night was the extravagant cost, so I moved to the largest and most private of the bunch, the whole transaction was worked out in five minutes, again with big smiles. 

Another pleasant surprise came when two separate groups of tourists started chatting to me, making any lingering worries about finding company disappear. 

One older couple lived in Bangkok and had been there for 16 years, he used to work in an office opposite my Bangkok hotel….

Towards evening, I went for a wander into town for a beer or two and to get my bearings. 

It’s a beautiful place. 

   
  

     

And I had a couple of beers with a Filipino guitarist named Victor who was auditioning for a spot in a new bar that had just opened. 

And time passed very nicely. 

I didn’t bother with dinner that night, I went to a few more bars and then took a TukTuk to Patong to see what the nightlife looked like. 

And stayed for an hour. 

It was busy, but felt somehow like they’d tried to recreate Soi Cowboy, but just got it somehow wrong and off kilter. Maybe I was just tired from 40 hours of no sleep. 

But I had a couple more drinks in a place called Rock City, watched some live music and was back in Karon Beach less than two hours after leaving. 

   
        And had some more drinks. 

I went back to my room at some point or other; had a swim and slept the sleep of the innocent and very pissed. 

  
Saturday was a deliberately quiet day during the day, a long walk along the beach, a swim in ferocious riptides, lunch and a crash by the pool in the afternoon. Oh. I also adopted a dog for a few hours, he followed me everywhere and I had to take him back to the bar where I found him.. 

   
   Then it was a case of gearing up for the evening’s assault. 

Food was definitely needed and I found a great little restaurant that had a superb (if slightly ballad heavy) live band. Gin was on special offer and I sat and watched the world pass while eating excellent food, sipping gin and listening to music. 

I found that I’d been remembered in two bars in particular, one a quiet little place that only had space for 6 people to sit. The other was a huge place with a live band, bar girls, ladyboys, a flamboyantly gay barman and a mama-san who was larger than life in all ways possible.  

 

  
I finished the evening in the smaller bar, had a few beers with a German, took over their sound system via bluetooth and played music from my phone and left fairly late.. again. 

Then a surprising thing happened; it was one of the bar staff’s 40th birthday the next day and I was invited to share their meal. 

I blurrily accepted and went off to sleep as I’d decided to get up early and take a trip up into the hills. 

The next day, I negotiated an all-inclusive fare and set off for the Big Buddha. There were Elephant camps along the way, the photo below shows how far phones have come – filmed at burst at roughly 30 MPH. 

  
The Buddha itself didn’t disappoint, it was free to enter, is still a building site and was a genuinely peaceful place. 

   
      

I was moved by the practice of setting bells to wish people luck or to remember them, they looked stunning and sounded beautiful when the wind caught them.  

After that, it was a trip to the JungCeylon mall in Patong for a bit of lunch and wandering around. The clouds were gathering and cover seemed a good move. 

The monsoon hit around 4pm, the rain was cold and actually stung when it hit the skin. 

How do I know this?

It’s because I decided to walk to the beach. 

People looked at me strangely when I went out, but they all wanted to talk to me when I came back. 

On a length of beach that stretches for over two miles, there was just me and some mad Russian guy. 

We nodded at each other and walked into the roaring sea under cover of the torrential rain roughly two hundred metres apart. Lightning was flashing every ten seconds or so and I remember thinking that we were far apart enough not to be killed by the same bolt of lightning. 

The sea was like a warm bath after the rain and I let myself get battered around by the riptide until I was physically tired from the waves and my laughter. 

It was glorious; stupid, borderline suicidal and utterly fantastic.   

Then I went to the birthday meal. It was a very quiet affair with no booze and a lot of brilliantly prepared food. The red sauce by the fish is the spiciest thing that I’ve ever tasted that doesn’t have the word ‘psycho’ on the label. 

   
    

I stayed for a while until the bar picked up with some other customers and wandered up to the music bar where the mama-san gave me a bearhug and the first free drink of the night. 

I ended up in a mixed group comprising of some Russians, a couple of the girls from the bar, the outrageously camp barman and a ladyboy who stole my phone to take a series of selfies. 

Occasionally I was harassed by one of the tough, funny and streetwise kids who have to earn their living selling flowers. He was 12, had a patter like an old style barrow boy and was fond of showing how he could do magic tricks.   

   
    A six foot four Russian woman who looked like she wrestled bears for a living dragged me up to dance for a while. 

As did the ladyboy, who promptly jumped up and put their legs round my waist while dancing. I think I could be heard laughing six bars away. 

More of the same occurred, at one point the Russian lady’s boyfriend produced a small knife and ran it across his throat while I was dancing with her. I had no idea what the gesture meant and I laughed even louder. 

Eventually it was time to crash and I said my final goodbyes to the mama-san, who insisted on one last drink – and I received the biggest surprise of the night. 

A gift. 

Two of the girls had bought me two tiny souvenir picture frames as a souvenir. They probably cost next to nothing, but I was a bit choked up to receive them. I don’t really know why they did it, but I am very grateful. 

 

The next day I did a final beach walk, checked out, had lunch on the beach in a very strangely named place and took the taxi back to the airport. 

   
When I was younger, I had very fixed views on the world. 

It’s hard to remember what they were now to be honest, but I would probably have frowned on dancing with ladyboys. 

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to find out otherwise .

Phuket was astonishing,  the friendliness and openness of everybody I met turned me from a fairly insular ‘not sure what to expect tourist’ into a participant. 
They’ll never see this, but I thank them all. 

Tales of the Thunderdog  – The Shield Maiden

Come on – I know you’re in there. TIme to tune into ME again and forget about all those funny smelling demigods you’ve been cosying up to. 

Come ON. 

That’s it – there you are. 

Where have you BEEN? 

And what’s that smell? I’m not sure I can stay here for too  long, it’s too complicated out there and far too many cows and dead things and some really, really, smelly humans.

 But there are things you need to know; the world is changing, a tiny piece at a time, and things that should have gone for ever are starting to come back. 

I can hear WULF some nights even when the moon isn’t full and I don’t know  if he’s close or if it’s just a touch of the old night terrors. 

You know the sort of thing, you’re being chased through a forest, the moon is silver through the trees. There’s a ground mist that dampens your own footsteps and somehow magnifiies the sounds behind you. 

You try to pick up speed and you can hear the sound of  breathing just behind your ear. 

And teeth snapping together. 

Then you wake up, all four paws scrabbling. 

Yes OK. 

Two. 

You’re going to have a part in all this, I just don’t know if you’re a narrator, a hero or somebody that gets killed really quickly. Sorry.

Odin knows of course, but he’s got a habit of telling you everything, including things you don’t ever want to know.

Plus he thinks the whole thing end in death for us all anyway.

Here’s the thing, for you to play a part, you’re going to have to learn some things – and quickly.

I don’t know why the Norse lot are so tied up in this, but that’s the way it is, so we need to talk about Valhalla, dying in battle and the skjald-borg – the Shield Wall. 

The wall was everything to the old Vikings – it was how they dominated larger forces, that and being lunatic bastards that thought dying in battle as a brave warrior would get them to Valhalla. 

Where they’d fight again. 

Anyway, they were right about that, so who can blame them really. 

Still they were hard work to be around sometimes. 

There’s always been a Thunderdog, ever since the first dawnings of the Aesir, I took different forms, sometimes a huge fierce beast, sometimes like this. 

I like this version of me, if you look really closely at the shadows behind, you can see what I could be, but to be honest I get less bacon when I look like that and dancing dogs make everybody smile. 

And it’s best to be what you want to be. 

Take the tale of the first Shield Maiden. 

A girl was born to a gentle family, the father was a ship-builder and her mother was a local healer. 

She was not the first born and her elder brother was already training with the sword when she was born, for even gentle families must learn to defend the village. 

Unusually for the area, the girl had green eyes and so she was named Álfr or Elf and everybody was sure that she would grow to be a good wife, mother and provider. 

Maybe she was part-elf, from the time that she could focus her bright green eyes, she was drawn to the gleaming axe and sword that hung on the wall. 

When she was five, she had a dream that showed her village covered in a mist that came in from the sea and the mist was blood-red. 

In the dream, she wandered through the mist and saw people, dogs and horses all lying still, staring at the sky, with the mist dripping from their bodies in bright red streams. 

Her parents found her in the morning sitting by the door with her father’s sword clutched defiantly in her hands while her emerald eyes stared at the sea beyond. 

From that point, she refused to be unarmed at any time and would steal knives from her mother, even the fiercest beatings meant nothing to her. 

Her father, being a wise and good man knew that he wouldn’t be able to change the mind of his strange and determined daughter and had the blacksmith make her a quarter length sword, a thing of rare beauty as the smith was amused with the fierce little girl and admired her warrior spirit. 

Secretly, her father hoped that the sword would help her to grow out of the idea that she would be a warrior, but she practiced her cuts and slashes, parries and blocks on the beach every day. 

And every night, she watched the sea before she slept, sword cradled in her arms. 

Time passed and  Álfr’s brother was given his test of manhood and allowed to join the Shield-Wall, he elected to be apprenticed to the blacksmith though, he was big and strong but didn’t have the heart for raiding or battle. 

When she was twelve, her brother made her a three-quarter length sword, emblazoned with runes and a splash of green at the pommel to match her eyes. 

Which brightened to such a degree, matching her smile , that her brother, big and gruff as her was, let a solitary tear fall to see his sister so happy. 

For she seldom smiled, her dream still haunted her and she could see that people were starting to resemble those in the mist – and one was her brother. 

At the age of sixteen, she rejected the man that her parents wanted her to marry, even though he was tall and pretty and smiled at her when other boys and men seemed nervous.  The village of her dreams was now so similar to reality that she sometimes had walking dreams where the mist covered people. 

There. 

And There, 

And There. 

Sometimes she cried, for all her pleas to join the warriors in the shield-wall had been rejected with laughter and taunting from the King and his men . 

And she withdrew. 

She practiced with the sword and shield every day, dancing and piroutting with the blade, which flashed slver and gold in the sunlight.

She spoke less and less, caught up in the horrors in her mind and terrified for her friends and family. 

One day she found a small dog on the beach. 

Or it found her. 

At first she thought it was  a puppy, it was smaller than the local hunting dogs, but as it ambled towards her, she saw the age and wisdom in the dog’s eyes as it stared at her. 

Confused, she stopped her practicing, at which point the dog danced on its hind legs, moving around her excitedly, grinning as it danced. 

Backing off five paces, she danced with the dog, her blade quicksilver-bright in the sun, a smile at her lips and fire in her eyes. 

In the evening, the dog followed her back home and she slept for the first time in many years without a blade in her hand, the small dog’s breathing and heartbeat lulling her to sleep. 

The next day, she and the dog were back on the beach, dancing,  moving and making a game of the whole chore of practice 

Months passed and the girl and dog became something for the villagers to watch in amused amazement,from a  discreet distance  – as the dog seemed to know exactly where people were and wasn’t averse to sneaking up on them and pissing on them while they lay in hiding. 

And the girl slept peacefully, somehow knowing that it wasn’t time for the mist just yet; feeling the dog’s warmth through her thin blanket, giving her a strange sense of tranquility. 

Then one night, when the moon was just a fingernail sliver in the sky, a silver mist floated in from the sea and the girl was woken by a gentle nip from the dog who angled his head towards the sea and she could hear. 

Muffled oars and timbers creaking, moving towards the village inlet. 

Quietly, she picked up her sword and she and the dog slipped into the night to follow the sounds coming from the sea. 

And was close when the first sounds of the war-horn from the ship sounded and the berserker horde landed at the docks. 

Fire-arrows flew and flames grew from half a dozen houses by the dock. 

The first villagers to respond died, cut down in their sleepy confusion by men who had lain off the shore for days, just waiting for the chance to attack. 

Whistles and gongs sounded, calling the able men of the village to battle and Álfr was terrified to see her brother among those arming to go into the shield wall. 

The sound of the invaders’ swords and axes as they hacked at the terrified villagers was awful, hisses and thuds, cracks and screams and Álfr could see their leader, a huge man, invulnerable to the attacks he faced, hacking down men at will. 

And the shield walls met with a crash and the clang of steel against wood and bronze. 

The villagers were losing, being pushed back inch by inch, their faltering steps heralding their imminent death. 

Álfr looked at the sky and saw two ravens circling, she looked at the dog who now had a very quizzical look on his face and she SCREAMED. 

She screamed hatred and defiance, love and fear and a knowledge that the scream was important. 
And she screamed. 

Until she caught the eye of the enemy king, who grinned at the apparition before him, a small girl with a small dog and the eyes of an outlander. 

Adjusting his armour, he walked slowly over to the girl, the ravens circled overhead and the dog looked at him without fear. 

Undecided whether he should kill her or take her for his own, the king swung his great sword with the flat towards the girl’s head, if she lived, he’d take her. 

He grinned as his sword hissed through the air, bracing his arm for an impact that. 

Didn’t come. 

Álfr had danced underneath the blow, spinning inwards towards the king and her sword sliced through the tendons of his wrist. 

He wasn’t grinning as his sword fell to the floor from nerveless fingers  and the girl sliced at his unprotected thigh, opening it from knee to pelvis. 

She danced away as he swung his great axe with his other hand, bellowing a challenge, struggling to stay upright on his torn leg. 

The axe missed her by inches and she rolled forward, taking the hamstring on his other leg. 

The huge king toppled forward, still swinging his axe wildly as he hit the ground, blood spilling from his legs and wrist. 

Álfr SCREAMED again and the battle stilled, all eyes on the small girl and the fallen king. 

Who smiled and walked away from the still living but crippled warrior and walked towards the battle. 

Two ravens flew at her shoulder and the dog danced on its hind legs as they walked, grinning at the invaders. 

Who broke and ran. 

Álfr walked to her brother, kissed him gently on the cheek and continued walking, the ravens at her shoulder and the dog at her heels. 

And they vanished into the mist. 

What do you mean ‘then what’ ? 

Find out for yourself. 

That was the point. Your part in this is still unclear. 

And WULF is coming, believe me. 

That smell is getting to me now, I’m off for bacon and maybe a sausage if I can look sweet enough.. 

March of the Cyber-Lemmings

The weather has changed a lot this week, from incessantly blue skies and sunlight so hot that it actually feels like an oppressive physical weight; we’ve gone to black skies, torrential rain and Thunderstorms.

I like the storms, I’ll happily stand in the rain and dare the lightning to do its worst. Given that I did that on a hotel roof this morning – while standing in a swimming pool may say a little too much about either a sense of invulnerability or a death wish.

Your guess is as good as mine on that – I’m leaning towards the former though.

I had a dream last night, more of a nightmare really.

I dreamt that I was working thousands of miles from home on a job that I’m massively overqualified for and that is ultimately pointless.

I woke up disoriented and scared, had a little cry and then went back to sleep.

Yesterday was a strange day, a mix of tedium and annoyance in equal measures, with an amazingly bizarre incident happening in the hotel gym after 9pm.

I’m glad to say that I’ve been working out a lot lately and that I can fairly easily do pull-ups and a complicated form of press-up without looking too stupid.

Because as I was working out alone in an empty gym, a group of locals at a conference came in and started watching me.

Being the shy person I am, I just notched up the music and tried to make it all look just a little easier.

Then a couple of them tried lifting the same weights or using the same equipment as I moved through a circuit – annoying and still amusing as the pin was quietly moved to a lower weight when they thought I couldn’t see.

One of them actually took a selfie with a pathetically low weight while still wearing his work shirt, grinning at the camera as if he’d deadlifted a car..I was stifling giggles for ages.

A fairly boring dinner followed and I fell asleep to the sound of distant thunder.

And in my second dream.

I was back in the little parallel universe that I created a few months ago; but it was different.

It was weirder, slightly broken, the sky seemed fractured and the stars hurt to look at them.

The keyboard still stretches on for ever, but strange shapes flit at the corner of your vision, moving as if they’re trying to hide from view.

I heard a familiar booming laugh and a blinding light flashed in synch with the laughter.

No – not him.. not this time.

It was the dog, he’s been trying on his new godhood and I think he rather likes it.

Over a thousand people follow him now, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but how many people do you know that really  believe in Jesus.

I have to say, it suits him, he looks Magnificent  – he’s the same size as he always was, but he glows. His eyes are painful to look at and he has a weird sort of presence, it’s almost like he’s the centre of a dog-shaped black hole that is much bigger than the physical space it occupies.

We had a quick catch-up, he’s been busy it seems, mostly pissing on temples of other gods and leaving a bit of a metaphysical piddle problem for the priests to deal with.

He told me a story from his Valhalla days about a green-eyed shield maiden and the nature of leadership and I’ve promised to add it to his story at the weekend.

Then he showed me what he was laughing at.

I’d created a world, but I didn’t put any rules and restrictions around it, so although the gerbil couldn’t get out of performing and failing the task; he could do something about the spider monkey and the constant smacking around the head that he received.

Being a sneaky little fucker, he knew that he couldn’t appeal to Shiva or the dog, both of whom have a nasty sense of humour, but he could go to somebody who might just help him out for fun and to get back for a few missed nights because of booze and fucking shit up .

Parvati – or Meenakshi – Shiva’s wife.

She managed to get in through a crack in the fabric, creating a hole that moves and swirls, never in one place long enough to get a view of what’s on the other side.

And so the gerbil’s prayers were answered  – after a fashion

He wanted support and reinforcements in numbers, he didn’t want to be a gerbil anymore and he wanted to get that fucking spider monkey and give him a daily thrashing.

You need to be careful with the gods.

The dog danced and grinned as he told me the story, lightning flashing from his eyes, illuminating the keyboard and a very pissed off spider monkey who was strapped to the spacebar.

And being slapped around the head by an almost endless succession of lemmings.

The gerbil was still recognisable somehow, he just looked different to the other lemmings, a little more cynical and bowed under by the weight of the thing that he’d done.

lemming

Oh  – he was the only lemming who jumped the queue to give another slap to the monkey.

But the basic rules of the universe hadn’t changed, he still needs to complete the task in front of him to move on and to get back to his life.

And there’s a million gerbils all jumping over the keyboard at random intervals.

He’s fucked –  and my universe is now more chaotic and ridiculous than it ever was.

I confess that I laughed at this, a multitude of gerbils all doing the same thing because the one in front did- too close to the problem to see that they are the problem.

Doomed to trudge on the keyboard for ever.

Still, they could whack the spider monkey about; so that’s progress of a sort I suppose.

I watched for a while, lost in the spectacle of stupidity before me – and then…..

I heard the booming laugh again and saw the twin flashes of light.

The dog grinned at me one last time before buggering off to annoy some Buddhists.

I woke up with a start as lightning flashed outside the hotel.

I could swear that I saw huge glowing eyes and a big grin etched across the sky.

Who knows?

Quarantined Dog

It’s been a bit of a flat week back in Chennai, the FuckedUpProjectofDoom trundles on, but has now slowed to a pace that is actually painful. 

Never mind.. Move On. 

The weekend arrived with a bit of a whimper, I thought about going out on Friday but was so tired and bored that a desultory dinner and two beers was enough to send me to bed with my tail between my legs. 

Saturday started with a long gym session and a plan to get in a car around 3pm to go to some temples in a place called Kanchipuram -including one dedicated to my old mate Shiva. 

Before that was pool and relaxation time and a spot of lunch. 

It fell apart slightly with the introduction of a large wedding party and the attendant bullshit that follows a wedding in any country. 

The normally quiet pool area became a gathering for a group of early 20s males doing the age old territorial dance, I’d already bounced two of them into some lift doors as they tried to force in past me as I left; and to be honest I wasn’t the happiest Thunderdog. 

 Going on the basis that if they wanted to talk to me, they’d find me, I put my headphones on and crashed on a sunbed. 

Only to hear music from the outside through headphones that are pretty much noise cancelling. They’d set up a five piece speaker system. 

I looked up to see another of the Europeans telling them to turn it down and wandered over to make sure that the little crowd that was forming didn’t do anything silly. 

My sunny personality and air of inner calm won the day and the speakers were packed away and my new friends were all smiles as I wandered back to my sunbed. 

Lunch was a pizza and a bottle of water, which for reasons that still escape me took 80 minutes to serve up, by which time I was told that it was too late for the temples. 

Plan B was the Phoenix Mall  – a popular local tourist spot by all accounts and I set off with the hope of seeing something interesting.

I didn’t of course. 

It was a mall, what was I expecting?

To be fair, the power went off three times, giving it that Zombies  – Dawn of the Dead feel and the Vengaboys were playing at 7pm – which meant I HAD to be in the car before 6.30pm. 

Other interesting facts. 

Not one restaurant had an alcohol licence, including the Hard Rock Cafe. 

For Fucks Sake. 

You wouldn’t go there for food would you?

So it was back to the hotel, a bit of food, a couple of beers and fall asleep watching catch up TV. Last night’s fare was The Following – I only watch it now to see Kevin Bacon either get killed or go full serial killer. 

This morning I had a fairly good sports massage, an hour by the pool and then was ready to hit the road to Kanchipuram. 

The wedding party was still around and a number of  them still haven’t worked out how lifts work. 

My room, along with the pool and spa is on the top floor and the lift arrived with a large number of guests who hadn’t pressed the ‘0’ button. 

I’m obviously popular with them because a guy at the front of the lift moved to the middle and bellowed ‘FULL!’ as I walked forward. 

As gently as possible, I moved him back to the side and said ‘apparently not’  – it didn’t help his ego to hear the giggles from the women in the lift. 

And so to the car. 

It’s around a 90 minute drive and the driver was waxing lyrical about the wondrous saris and silks available. After a brief conversation that consisted of me saying:


No Silk’ 

‘No Saris’

‘No workshops’

“No shopping’

Our relationship was a lot clearer and we arrived at the town in good time. 

There are three big temples in Kanchipuram and they’re all very impressive. 

   
   

The quality of the stonework is incredible, amazingly detailed and it tells a story as you move around inside the temples. 

I was quite stoked as 3.30 came round, that would be when the first temple opened the door and let people in. My 5 Rupees for allowing me to use a camera had also given me a fairly annoying guide who kept trying to move me on  – while I was looking for Shiva. 

   
  Then he dropped a snippet of information – as a foreigner I wasn’t allowed inside the sanctum. 

I was quite shocked and asked him to show me where it said it, apparently it’s in Hindi.. 

He seemed to think I’d still follow him after that news and was quite shocked with the ‘fuck off’ that I gave him in lieu of a tip or payment. 

And we moved  on to temple number two, it didn’t open til 4pm and we were too early, but it was an amazing looking place  
    And it was genuinely peaceful, people were lying on the grass outside just enjoying the day and waiting to go and pray. No sign of Shiva though, just a few statues and carvings and we moved on. 

The third temple was the biggest of the three and I managed to avoid paying for a camera ticket by asking the ticket seller where it was written that I had to pay for entrance for me. He tried to do the guide thing, but I asked him to leave, which he very graciously did, 
My driver was starting to look nervous by now and I had to point out that I’m not really a tourist, just doing tourist stuff – hence no silks, shops or interminable time spent looking at craftsmen.

   
    The doors opened to the temple itself and I joined the queue, genuinely excited to get to see a temple to a god that I keep weaving into my writing and to see what happened next. 

Which was THIS

  My driver wanted me to walk towards the left side of the temple and to follow him, I decided that I didn’t fancy listening to anybody any more and walked slowly around the outside. 

In his (very) broken English, the driver explained that the temple was dedicated to Shiva  – I showed him a picture on my phone and he seemed a touch surprised that I even knew what he was talking about. 

We drifted through the temple at my pace and I took photos of things that seemed interesting while he followed with a confused look on his face. 

And eventually we came across a priest, he was opening up a small shrine with a huge bunch of keys – I’ve never seen so many locks. 

The priest waved me over and I waited patiently until the last lock was opened and the huge doors were pushed inwards. 

To a small shrine to Shiva with the god surrounded by mirrors on six walls. I slipped a note into the colection box out of sight of the driver, who was looking at me like he’d never seen me before. 

The priest asked my name and gave me a blessing and a garland of flowers, the driver also received a blessing with a slightly dumbfounded look on his face and told me that we were very lucky. 

I smiled. 

We walked back to the car, seeing these guys before we exited the temple. 

   
It’s been another strange day here. I started writing this in my head after being banned from the first temple. I was vaguely angry, feeling ripped off and disappointed. 

And yet. 

And yet… 

I knew something would happen – just not what. 

The driver sneaked glances at me on the way back, I think I confused him today but that’s a good thing. We should never assume anything. 

Nothing is fixed, anything can happen. 

And Shiva will continue to dance with me for a while yet I think . 

   

Pom Cheu Thunderdog

SO. 

Very soon after a day of discussion about ‘should we?’  ‘What else will we do?’ What about??” The decision was made to fly to Bangkok for the Bank Holiday Weekend. Flights were booked via Air Asia and the Dream Hotel in central Bangkok was to be the place that we’d try to sleep for a few hours a night. 

I only took a small hand-luggage size suitcase, but I overpacked even so, with a pair of trousers and a long shirt (and a pair of more formal shoes) not making it into the daylight. 

We finished work early for the day, dumped our gear at the hotel, picked up our weekend luggage and left for the airport, having cunningly checked in on line and printed our boarding passes off in advance. 

Chennai customs had a short conversation about whether a piece of paper with:

  • a seat number
  • a barcode
  • our respective names
  • Air Asia in at least five separate places
  • Oh.. and the words BOARDING PASS

Constituted  an actual boarding pass. 

Eventually, they agreed that we could indeed go through to security to receive a body search; as the electronic gates in a brand new airport are apparently only for show and then on to the ‘departure lounge’. 

At this point, we made an interesting discovery, you can buy Tiger Beer in individual cans at duty free. 

Apparently you’re not supposed to drink them in the airport, but it wasn’t like we could undrink them. 

And so the relaxation began. 

Approximately 30 minutes before the flight, an announcement was made asking the Thunderdog party to go to the gate. 

This is verbatim. 

‘Sir, we were worried that you would not be on the flight as you do not have boarding passes’

We duly waved our accredited pieces of paper and smiled happily, knowing that they had been stamped by Customs and Security. 

‘Yes sir, but we do not accept those passes at this airport’

More happy waving of our passes, swigging from beer cans as we continued to smile at the increasingly agitated staff. 

We were joined by somebody more senior, we knew that because he was male. 

‘Sir, as my colleague has intimated, we do not accept pre-printed boarding passes at this aiport, so would you kindly do the needful and go to the desk and get new passes?’

We stopped smiling.

‘This desk, is it back out past security?’

‘Yes sir’

‘No.’

‘Sorry sir?’

‘No, we’re not going anywhere, we have stamped boarding passes and the airline accepts them because it issued them. This isn’t our problem, we’ll be over there until we board.’

‘But sir’. 

‘You want them you go and get them.’

At which point, petty beuracracy turned to impotent anger  and our new friend left us. 

The flight was uneventful, on time and reasonably comfortable. 

I bought a local SIM card on arrival, taking a reasonable amount of Germanic sarcastic abuse for wanting to be independent of wifi networks, we took a very cheap taxi and drove to the hotel. 

Through wide streets with good infrastructure, dizzying towers and an incredible amount of scenery, the night air was vaguely tinged with flowers and the traffic moved in orderly patterns. 

It was the Anti-Chennai – just as hot, but clean, gleaming and efficient. 

And then it got interesting. 

As we neared downtown Bangkok, the streets grew busier, more bustling, all after 3am. 

Stalls lined the roads, street food and souvenirs, fried insects and T-Shirts. 

And bars. 

Roadside bars everywhere, people milling and smiling, a true melting pot of races and nationalities. 

By common agreement, we dumped our bags at the hotel and went out for ‘one beer’ before bed. I took this picture just before we bought the single, solitary beer that we were going to drink. 

  
Dear fucking god, it tasted good. 

And so, some more beer, then gin and more gin and more gin later, we arrived at our final bar for the night. and it was getting noticeably lighter. 

  
Our final bar was owned and operated by somebody straight out of central casting, she was tough and funny, drank more than her customers and insisted on plying us with shots. 

Which she matched drink for drink. 

  
There were other clients at the bar, an English bloke who may well have been on the run and a Yakuza type who broke into spontaneous dancing at around 6am. 

  The photo below was taken just before 7am, I honestly don’t know how much we drank, but only our Yakuza friend was left up. 
 

Sleep followed until 1030 and we grabbed a hurried breakfast and after a short stint at the pool, took a tuktuk to the river to pick up a ferry. 

Which of course; didn’t happen. 

After a significant amount of bartering, we eventually boarded a long tail boat and gave instructions to just take us around. 

 The driver was a surly fucker, but we had beer, camera phones and stupid grins as we toured a whole new world.   
  

This lady tried for ten minutes to sell us a whold load of crappy souvenirs before unveling her trump card. A freezer full of beer. 

It would have been impolite to refuse. 

  

But, oh god.. The scenery and the smell of barbequeing food from the small boats that sold a whole range of items to both shore and river traffic. 

  

  We left the river near the Royal Palace but were too late to get in, so wandered around for a while until it was time to think about the evening’s onslaught. 

After 15 minutes for a shower and a change, we got a taxi to a bar at the top of a tower. 

Cloud 47 is the name and it was.. wonderful. 

The jouney was a bit more eventful in that the driver didn’t know where it was – my local SIM and data now not so  amusing as Google maps did the heavy lifting for the driver, nor would it be the next day when checking German football scores became important. 

The views over the city were amazing and the staff showed the smiling helpful faces that I’d come to associate with Thai people by that point, nothing was too much trouble, everything was done with efficiency and a sense of care. 

And the view….  

  
 

After we left, we took a suicidal tuktuk back to the Soi Cowboy area and immersed ourself into the weirdness for a while. 

It’s a strange area, both seedy and amazingly alive at the same time. There are very few rules and certainly no inhibitions, some of the ladyboys are actually incredibly good looking and in the bars anyway, helpfully identified by the name of the bar or a sign stating exactly what it is. 

And sometimes they had a sense of humour too. 

  
We left there at.. I don’t know actually. 

I do know that I had another couple of gins at a roadside bar before staggering to bed after 3am. 

We’d been there for 24 hours. 

Sunday started pretty gently, I had breakfast and then went for a walk, refusing the generous offer from the hotel for a rocket fuelled breakfast and another offer from a  group of working girls? on the street. I only half heard the line that the nearest one used. It was either “I like big cock’ or ‘I have a big cock’. 

  
Bangkok reminds me a lot of the street scenes in Blade Runner, the same diversity and sound, plant growth and neon, huge screens overhead. It’s pretty cool. 

 An elevated railway runs above the streets, it’s cheap, fast and air-conditioned. 

    

  

And everywhere you walk, you catch hints of flowers and citrus. 

We did a bit of mall-time on Sunday and I was staggered by the fact that I could eat a huge lunch, with two fruit smoothies for £2. 

The food was excellent too. 

After lunch, my local SIM and Tripadvisor found us a spa and we whiled away a few hours being beaten and manipulated, stretched and pummeled by Thai masseuses. 

Don’t go there you filthy pigs, my masseuse was middle aged, heavy set and had a nasty cough, which thankfully, she kept behind a SARS mask. 

Excellent massage though, I floated out of there. 

Just in time for the next ten-minute clothes change and a taxi to Khao Sang Road and a whole new set of nightlife experiences. 

We had a quiet dinner one road back, idly watching the hippies and hordes of backpackers walk by. 

   
  It’s a pretty area and goes from being chilled to frantic in the space of a hundred metres or so. 

An upstairs bar with live music was our first and longest stop,  we had a good view of the street and the entertainment value of a group of Aussie backpackers, pissed out of their brains and lighting up (mostly female) pedestrians below with a laser pen. 

   
   It shouldn’t have been funny, but it was fucking hilarious, we obviously got involved and the biggest cheer of the night went to a Thai girl who slapped one of the Aussies and then threw her drink in his face. She REALLY wasn’t impressed with the laser. 

More bars followed. 

Quite a few. 

And we decided to get a tuktuk back to the hotel area for last drinks before crashing. 

Our driver offered us a ‘menu of services’ and THIS was the front of it.. 

  
  So that’s our code word for the weekend. 

MBBK

I may get T shirts printed. 

Monday was more sedate, we breakfasted, checked out and took a taxi to the Wat Pho temple. 

Our driver negotiated hard for his fare, and I only laughed a tiny bit when we got pulled by a traffic cop in full Judge Dredd mode who fined him for no seatbelt. 

It was double our fare. 

The temple was amazing, go see it. The pictures don’t do it justice. 

   
                   

After that, it was lunch at the biggest mall in Asia, the Siam Paragon and a train back to the hotel to get our taxi to the airport. 

We were running on fumes by now and had the misfortune (or vice versa) to meet some of our fellow passengers on the flight, a group of middle-aged Indian ‘gentlemen’ who tried en-masse to push in front of us in the queue. After some gentle remonstration, they decided to go to the back.. 

It was a reminder though of the culture of entitlement that some of the people here have and was a way of preparing us for the other side of the cultural mirror. 

The flight was on time, there were lots of empty seats and the hotel car was waiting. 

A couple of beers and some bar snacks later and the weekend was done. 

It’s hard to say just how good it was, from my point of view it was pretty special. I went with two colleagues for a weekend away and returned with two friends, a ton of stories, some fantastic memories and some new laughter lines. 

I honestly loved Bangkok, we only scratched the surface in three days despite doing our best to keep to 20 hour days or so. 

It IS the Anti-Chennai, it’s vibrant and buzzing, friendly and open, the people are all smiles, the streets are clean and smell of jasmine and honeysuckle at night. 

I’ll never forget it. 

Thanks to Jens and Lars. 

Founder members of the MBBK club with branches in Berlin, London and Chennai. 

Pondicherry Pooch

20150427_072202_Richtone(HDR)

What a weekend!

As is the usual case here, it doesn’t matter how carefully you plan, how much research you do, or how little you try to leave to chance. It never quite works out how you imagined.

I went to Pondicherry this weekend, it’s a fabulous little town and a real anomaly in that it was a previously French settlement and therefore very different from the surrounding state.

There’s a close tie to the place from an office point of view, one of our team’s grandfather was the first ever Indian pilot in the Royal Flying Corps and was (much later) the Ambassador to France and was involved in negotiating the transfer to Indian control.

It’s an amazing story and well worth a read.

http://www.sikhfoundation.org/people-events/first-indian-pilot-sardar-hardit-singh-malik/

Anyway…

My plan was to get a pre-arranged taxi to take me straight to the resort hotel that I’d meticulously researched and booked online, I gave the company travel desk:

  • The name
  • The address
  • My booking reference
  • A map

The car arrived on-time and we started the 150 Km drive to Pondicherry, I spent some of the time on conference calls and the rest of it listening to music, so the trip to the town went quickly.

And an old friend made his first appearance of the weekend.

The driver turned to me and asked for the name of my hotel…

Somewhat taken aback, I gave it to him and he proceeded to stop the car and ask random strangers for directions.

Again

And again

And again.

Being a modern and well-prepared Thunderdog, I have a local sim card in a smartphone and had been watching him get gradually more lost on Google Maps.

After he asked me once again for the hotel name, I sort of lost patience and very politely* told him to stop the car, showed him the map and told him where to go.

It was fully dark by the time that we reached there, I gave him less than half the money promised and told him that I’d pay him the balance if he managed to find his way back on Monday.

I then checked into my room and tried to log onto Wi-Fi so that I could catch up with what was happening at work, only to find that the code was ‘expired’  – no worries, I trotted back to reception to get another code, only to find the same issue.

Here’s a little known fact about Indian hotels –

Every. Fucking. Person. On. Reception.

Think that they’re an IT expert.

After demonstrating to the receptionist for a few minutes that every code had the same outcome, I was passed to another old friend.

IMG_2678

Yes, the small god of hoteliers had decided to possess the hotel manager at this point, who being more senior, along with being rude and incredibly punchable; decided that the problem was that I was using an Apple device.

After what seemed the whole weekend, I proved to him that his own phone couldn’t log on and he reluctantly reset the server.

I had an indifferent dinner, washed down with one of the two options open to me (beer or vodka) and then.

A thunderstorm happened..

Dramatic and vivid, the rain fell in huge warm sheets and the lightning arced across the sky in flashes of white and purple.

It was glorious and it went on for hours.

And I stood in it and laughed while I got drenched.

The next day, I spent a few hours in the sea was lucky enough to see a pair of eagles overfly the coast and a flock of small swift-like birds  and and then travelled to another resort for lunch, washed down with a few vodka martinis or vice versa and then went to Pondicherry in the evening.

I was lucky enough to have met a few people who would share a lot of the day and they took me to an ashram; which for some reason I found to be a sad place rather than peaceful.

The on to a huge bustling temple to Ganesh, the Elephant god; where this poor chap stood outside, prodded by a miniscule handler to take the money from the hands of supplicants and give them a gentle knock to the head.

20150425_182156

Inside the temple was noisy and chaotic, gaudy and crowded, I paid for a blessing and only had large denomination notes, so received a bouquet of flowers for some reason; and then sat on the floor and took the sights and sounds in for a while.

It was the most relaxing thing I’d done in ages.

20150425_193234

After that, it was time to wander the seafront and watch the locals get on with the serious business of having fun.

The local kids have turned a statue of Ghandi into a slide, in England there’d be health and safety concerns, threats and arrests.

Here there was laughter.

I know what I prefer

20150425_191537

After dinner, we trooped back to the hotel and I made the mistake of trying to order a vodka on room service.

Apparently; room service finishes at the same time as the restaurant.  – words still fail me..

I spent the bulk of Sunday alone in town and just wandering the streets, it was hot and I think that my clothes may disintegrate in the wash.

It was great though.

Sitting in a coffee shop having a quiet sandwich and milkshake for lunch, I commented that a piece of music was particularly relaxing and nice to listen to.

It was Shiva’s prayer…..

Yep  – him again. He seems determined to get my attention until I get to one of his temples at least.

20150426_182937

I saw markets and temples, statues and monuments, the sun, sea and sky. I was unbothered during this time and as the day wore into evening; I allowed my gaze and gait to become subtly more intimidating so that I could wander through groups of people and even a quartet of cocky-looking cops made way for me, causing a quiet internal snigger.

20150425_184219

At one point, I heard a choir singing and walked to a church at the back of the seafront and stood outside for 30 minutes or so listening to a beautiful service in French before wandering back to a rooftop bar for dinner.

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I finished the day with beer and lobster and a fantastic view before promising a tuktuk driver 5 times the going rate if he drove VERY fast to the hotel

I’m still grinning now.

20150426_184702_LLS

I finished the weekend with a walk along river that parallels the beach, watching the fish troll the fishermen by jumping out of the water just beyond the reach of their nets before heading back to Chennai and the office.

20150427_074557_Richtone(HDR)

All in all, it was an amazing experience, I managed to track down the CEO of the hotel group, emailed him with some observations and have a promise of a free weekend in any resort in India within their group.

First though, it’s the Bank Holiday Weekend.

And Bangkok – there are three of us booked on a flight that leaves on Friday night with no plan as yet, although we may do the floating market and tiger temple trips, which should fill enough time up with lying by the pool and getting drunk on local beer to make a whole weekend.

😀

* A lie, it started with STOP THE FUCKING CAR!!!!!!!!

The 13th Thunderdog

Fog swirls and eddies around, nothing can be seen past the shapes it makes and remakes, confusing the eyes and tricking the senses. Water laps somewhere at the edge of hearing and boards creak. 

A voice calls out. 

“ODIN…. OOOODDDINNNN”

A fiery arrow arcs into vision and hisses into water. 

It’s not a bad metaphor for life in some ways, we’re all on that ship and the future in front of us is uncertain and we can’t go back. 

To be fair though, it’s also part of one of my favourite films, you may never have heard of it, or you’ll have skipped over it as being possibly stupid or lightweight. 

LIke all the best stories, it’s a tale of selflessness and sacrifice, of redemption and courage, tolerance and honour; it also has this prayer, spoken by the main players at a point of almost certain death.

Lo, There do I see my Father, and 
Lo, there do I see my Mother, and 
Lo, There do I see my Brothers and my Sisters and
Lo, There do I see my people back to the begining, and
Lo they do call to me, and
bid me take my place among them in the halls of Valhalla, 
Where the brave will live forever.  

It’s a real prayer apparently and dated around 100 AD. 

Something in the acceptance of death and the knowledge that the way you go out depends on you resonates in me and I always watch that scene with an almost childlike awe. 

Anyway, enough of the film. 

I’m back in Chennai, when I last wrote, I was in London and not feeling at my best; my own personal demon had come to visit and I was worried that he may stay. 

He didn’t.. 

I know that I have to sort a number of things out, but I’m not in a bad place at all today. 

I’ve been back five days (almost) and have already moved hotel once. There was nothing really wrong with the first one, just no view of the sky from the pool (or sunbeds ;/ ) and really nowhere to walk to. 

I did go for a walk on Tuesday morning, but the landscape was.. Uninspiring. 

  

I’ve now moved to the Kohinoor Asiana (if anybody wants to buy me a drink) and it’s a vast improvement, even if I don’t have a beach. 

  

And once again, I can feel the fabric of reality lessening slightly, I’ve already bumped into Shiva once, via a 3rd party and it seems like we may just yet fuck a few things up at some point. 

Maybe this weekend. 

Which may be the last weekend I get for a month or so, my work trip  is definitely going to extend until I don’t know when. 

So I escaped the city last night. 

I’ve come to Pondicherry, a French resort full of bars and restaurants and plan to spend like a drunken sailor. 

I’ve already spent almost two hours in the sea  and stood in monsoon-level rain last night during an EPIC thunderstorm  – so I think I’ve probably reconnected with Shiva. 

I’m going to find his local temple in the next day or so and say hello. 

Unless he comes out today to help me fuck things up. 

Enjoy your weekend wherever you are. 

Keep searching through the fog…..


Departing Dog

It’s the last day of the current visit and life has been, erm. Interesting for the past few days

I did some touristing on Sunday and went to Mamallapuram – or Temple Bay if you like. 

It’s a pretty cool area, filled with ancient temples and some pretty impressive natural rock formations. 

It would be perfect if it wasn’t for people. 

  

Epic, unbelievable mongery at a UNESCO World Heritage site no less, people hanging off of carved elephants, jumping all over fragile stone carvings, grinning and gurning all the way. 

 

Also lying under a huge, amazingly well balanced rock, pretending to push it upwards. I honestly stood there willing it to fall.. Sadly, it remains unsmeared with stupid humans. I never actually got a second for a shot that wasn’t filled with Mong, so had to go behind the rock to get another shot. 

And got this awesome picture of the sun on the stone 

  

We then attempted to shop – I had changed an extra £100 up and was fairly flush with cash and ready to spend money. 

Dear. 

Fucking. 

God. 

I now have a permanent association with the moustache and hairstyle and I saw variants of THIS in shop after shop.  

 

“Ah, a white face, welcome sir, the price has just gone up by 500 percent”

I tried to buy jewellery – no luck, the prices were through the roof and there was no fun in negotiating at all, so i walked out of every jewellery shop. 

Given my close association with Shiva, I tried to buy a statue – even worse luck. I laughed outright in three shops and walked out with the owners following me. 

I looked at ornamental knives and budgeted around 3000 Rupees for what in reality is shoddy work with ornamental handles. 

“This is a lovely piece sir, look at the quality, this is Damascus Steel”. 

*feels blade wobble inside the grip, looks at steel*

“That’s not Damascus”

“Yes sir, it is”

“No it isn’t”

“Honestly sir, I swear to you, it is Damascus Steel”

“No. It. Really. Isn’t”

“Tell me sir what do you think it is?”

“It’s poor quality steel that’s been acid etched, badly by somebody that has only ever seen Damacus Steel on television”

“You could be right”. 

And so it went. 

I bought nothing, the naked greed was offputting and I gave up and went for dinner. 

Monday was pretty much a standard day, gym, beach, pool, work, dinner, bed. 

Tuesday was a crappier version, but had one interesting interlude. 

I walked to the beach  to find one of the local “craftsmen” lurking. 

 

I met him last week when he insisted on walking with me then trying to extort $50 US for showing me some fish. 

Yesterday he had a small statue of Shiva, so I asked the price. 

“1800 Rupees sir”

*loud laughter, walks away*

“Sir that is a very good price”

“Go away, it’s too expensive I can buy one that size at home for 500 Rupees”

“No sir, you cannot buy for that price here, I cannot buy for that price”

“Go away”

*walks down beach for thirty minutes*

“Sir, seven hundred Rupees”

“See? How can I trust you now? You dropped your price by eleven hundred, you were trying to cheat me”

“Five hundred”

“Done”

So I have a Shiva. 

  

It’s cheap work and I’m going to buy a better version that I can actually display with some pride and to remember our time together. 

Because I think the cunt is trolling me now. 

I wandered along the beach this morning in a reflective mood, I knew that I’d have to come back, but wasn’t sure how long for or what the scope of my job would be. 

I put a structure for the offshore service together last week and suggested some pretty big changes as I was sure that there was trouble ahead somewhere and that a whole slew of issues needed to be addressed. 

As I walked the beach, I put checklists together and compiled questions in my head for the team as it was the first stage go live for the service today. 

Once that was done, I had some breakfast and then got thrown around by the waves for thirty minutes. 

Fantastic!!

Then it was work time and the excitement of a new live service. 

Which isn’t going to happen anytime soon. 

It’s been pulled by the client for reasons that are still unclear. 

I already know I have to come back and most likely put the structure I designed together, I don’t know how long for but have already asked how much a house is to rent. 

And on that note, I’ll carry on with the day, go back and finish packing, then fly home. 

Maybe @AntiChrist_666 was right. 

We’ll see. 

Of Gods and Thunderdogs

The fabric of reality is thin here. 

Really thin. 

So, for the past two days; I’ve been dropping Shiva, the Hindu god of Death and Rebirth into my ramblings and said that we were going to ‘fuck shit up’  together. 

I didn’t spot him when we went out for dinner last night, although I did see a very unusual street dog that seemed as if it wanted a chat, if I’d been alone, I might actually have had an attempt at conversation. I also saw the sad demise of a large number of beer bottles. 

The second item may possibly have had some bearing on the first. 

Or not. 

Today is yet another working day, so I made a point to wake up early and get some beach walking time in. 

It really is my favourite part of the day, the beach is changing fast and the early morning light on the sea is heart-stoppingly beautiful. 

There were more crabs and small creatures around than usual this morning and as I walked to the inlet where a local river meets the sea, I saw a large number of people and what looked like sunscreens. 

Which is exactly what they were. 

I’d stumbled onto a film shoot – I wasn’t sure what for, but there were three girls in colourful traditional costumes performing a very graceful dance for the cameras. 

  

I didn’t bother to hang around and went back to the hotel as fast as I could to get my phone so that I could take some photos. 

When I arrived back at the pool, I found a colleague had arrived there and suggested that he join me as there was  ‘something cool’ to look at down the beach. 

And so we wandered back to the inlet to watch the shoot. 

What came next was unexpected. 

The film crew and associated people there welcomed us in and suggested that we stand with a good view of the shoot. The parents of the two youngest dancers, who had been selected from a local school; told us proudly about how they had come to be in a video with a well known director. 

More about him later. 

We were asked to pose with various crew members for souvenir photos and generally treated like visiting royalty rather than two blokes who’d drifted in from the beach. 

For one staged photo, I was asked to pose as if I were punching a crew member, It’s already on his facebook page. 

Fuck knows who they thought we were. 

Then the day went even more surreal, if that’s at all possible. 

I’ll divert here for a moment.

The Bhavagad Gita is a 700 verse Hindu Scripture which has was the inspiration for Gandhi, amongst others, Nehru made the following comment.

‘The Bhagavad-Gita deals essentially with the spiritual foundation of human existence. It is a call of action to meet the obligations and duties of life; yet keeping in view the spiritual nature and grander purpose of the universe.’

Interestingly, Rudyard Kipling’s “If”  has been described by Indian historian and writer Khushwant Singh as “the essence of the message of The Gita in English”, I’ve always liked “If”, particularly the first verse. 

If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

  And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise

It sums up the way I think we’d all like to feel about ourselves, it’s far too often misquoted or used by morons to make some spurious point, I suspect that Kipling would be amused. 

Anyway, back to today, the film shoot was for a promo of a new version of the Bhavagad Gita and the dance that the girls were doing is called Bharathanatyam. 

As they danced, the director took us to one side and.. 

We’re now in the film. 

We didn’t dance, nor did we disgrace ourselves. 

Possibly. 

What we did do was sit on the beach and hold a yoga pose for around 30 minutes while the director repeatedly called ‘roll film’ and ‘Action”. 

I checked  – they actually filmed us and weren’t just taking the piss. 

I also have the director’s mobile number and email address. He’s actually said thanks for taking part and that he’ll send me a finished copy. For anybody interested, look up https://www.behance.net/nobinkurian 

All in all, pretty fucking cool really. 

And surreal. 

I’m just going to copy the Wikipedia definition of Bharathanatyam here. 

‘Bharathanatyam (Tamilபரதநாட்டியம்) is a form of Indian classical dance that originated in the temples of Tamil Nadu.[1][2][3][4][5] It was described in the treatise Natya Shastra by Bharata around the beginning of the common era. Bharata Natyam is known for its grace, purity, tenderness, expression and sculpturesque poses. Lord Shiva is considered the God of this dance form. Today, it is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by male and female dancers all over the world.’

Lord 

Fucking

Shiva

I’m grinning my head off as I write this, I’m going to look for him properly tonight. 

And fuck some shit up.