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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

  

Return of the Sea Dog

A few weeks ago, I wrote these words.

‘At no point did a big wave pick me up, hurl me seventy yards down the beach, pull my shorts to my knees and dump me underwater. That didn’t happen, because nobody saw it. Probably’

Today I woke up early, went to the gym, then had a light breakfast of eggs and pineapple juice and lazed by the pool for a while, where I met this cute little chap, who graciously posed for me for a while. 

 

After the photo shoot, I walked to the beach for my normal walk to see how much it’s changed again . 

And spotted two of my colleagues in the sea. 

Deciding that a diversion would be nice, I walked in for a chat and WOW!. 

The sea today is FANTASTIC, huge waves that appear out of nowhere, strange clashes of water that spay high into the air. 

And a surf that picks you up, dumps you thirty yards down the beach and leaves you underwater with your shorts pulled down. 

This time with witnesses. They had the same problem though and I was too busy laughing to care. 

It was wonderful, just the sun and the surf, with occasional outbursts of laughter. 

Oh  – and the odd, wonderful glimpse of fish leaping three feet out of the water. 

After a while, I continued my walk and watched some fairly large crabs scuttle along the sand and then plunge into the surf, it’s graceful and strangely beautiful, they retract their legs and glide in, disappearing into the froth and bubbles. 

I’m now sitting on my terrace again, having seen  little groups of the little chipmunks chase each other around, making huge leaps through trees and bushes, nimble and graceful, I could watch them for hours. 

 

One of my guardian crows is sitting in a branch above me, having scared off a beautiful blue bird that may be an Indian Kingfisher. 

All in all a perfect day so far. 

We’re off to Temple Bay for dinner after work  – yesterday I wrote a piece about meeting Shiva and him saying that we’d get together and ‘fuck shit up’ tonight. 

I’m curious to find out what happens. 

Have a great day and try to find something that makes you smile.