Category Archives: India

India 2010 -> 2011

Happy Sankranti

Last weekend I was a witness to the rather colourful Sankranti festivities of Andhra Pradesh. They were spread over four days & quite cool to wander about in. The first day was called Bhogi, which began at the unearthly hour of 4 AM. It is then that fires are lit across the state to banish evil spitrits in the same way we burn sage when exorcising a house. I duly set off out in the darkness at four, & went on a tour of the neighbourhoods fires. The first one was just a guy on his own burning two four-by-gours in a shack, his mate snoring besdei him. The second was a largish affair of long poles – but the clientelle wer clearly ruffians, one of whom was being beaten with a brush by an ancient woman half his size defending a bit of rope netting.

The third fire was a wee one, with a lone man boiling a large pot

of water. Nearby was a chi stall doing its first business of the day, & by him a guy standing in front of piles of blue crates full of plastic sacks of pasturised milk. The fourth fire looked like an oil drum, burning by a temple, but on nearing it I realisedf that it was a load of rubber tyres stacked in a tower, with wood insideit, belching off thick black smoke. The fifth fire was a family affair, at the crossroads of two narrow, meditteranean style streets, dominated by the fat controller guy who kept brionging wood out from nowehere to add to his massive pile. The festivities wer disturbed regularly by rickshaws & scooters tryuing to squeeze through the gaps in the road. Walking down the street I passed some startlingly psychadelic patterns chalked outside the houses. Then furtehr on the sixth fire burnt above me – on a bit of concreet sticking out from a half built house. There was no-one sat by it, but it added to the scene.

The seventh fire was on a mainish road, by a temple to Durga – the goddess perched on a tiger – & was woman heavy (& some of them were heavy). I thought this would be a good place to stop, with seven being such an auspicious number at all. The Hindus have seven holy cities, rivers etc. This fire wa spretty big & was buitl within a chalk circle, this one coloured in with flowers at the points of the traingles that formed the circle like nepalese peace flags. I shared the moment with a wetsern girl from luxemberg (her german boyfriedn was asleep) & we silently watched the great pieces of wood turn reptillain in the flames.

The next day was Sankranti itself, when the sky resembled a multi coured spectrum of wafting confetti, as the paper birds filled the azure spaces over the city like the luftwaffe over london during the blitz. In the middle of all the smiling kids, howbver, I got all poignant. There was also this sad wreck of a man sleeping – shaking – on the pavement. Perhaps he was dreaming of a time when he ran though the streest withhis own kite as an innocent fun loving boy, before life struck him low.

The last part of the Sankranti festivities occurred with a mad street party thrown to the local tutelary diety, Lord Balaje, a curious little black fellow who one sees everywhere. It was a bit like Notting Hill Carnival, & indeed there wer loads of speakers belting out tunes top volume to the heaving mass of Indians wandering through the streets. A street was lit up Blackpool illuminations style, with dolphins & green bars puking illuminous light onto the street. All the kids had these wee vuvela things which gave out a dreadful shrieking sound – a bit like mi ex-bird having a strop I mentally noted. There were loads of stalls; porcelain dolls of the gods, sugar cane. A heavily decorated ox ( called a gangireddulu) getting all four legs onto a little wooden stool while his keepers layed drums & trumpet, there were cardboard boxes of chiocken chiks spray painted in pastel coulurs, teher was a guy with a set of weighing scales charging a ruppee a pop, theer were corn on the cob sellers fanning the cobs over hot coals – very tasty actually –

I am now at the half-way point in my Indian tour – two & a half months in, two & a half months to go. This morning I found myself 15 k north of Vizag at a place called Thotlakonda, a hill which houses the ruins of a 2000 year old Buddhist complex. They were’nt particulary impressive, but the views were, of the gold-lined ocean below & the rolling upland greenery of the eastern Ghats behind. The road to sea level was lined with blossoming trees, a very lovely walk which recharged the poet in me. At the foot of the hill I caught a bus which swept me along the ocean drive back to Vizag – a place I hadnt left since I arrived 12 here days ago.

The reason I’ve lingered for so long began last Thursday where, on joining in acricket game with some young Indians, I was befriended by seventeen year old Sameer. He was a likable chap & very keen to hear of life I the west. He’s a muslim to boot & invited me to his house in the old port quarter of Vizag to meet his parents, who were lovely, & fed me like a trooper. Its mad, they literally live off sixty quid a month – & Sameer just receievd a student grant for the same amount to last the whole year. Him & his sister are quite academic – hoping for better lives I guess – & we even discussed Shakespeare. It amazes me really how the young indian ploughs through the complex densities of shakespeare like dull oxes through the tough soil of elizabethan english. However, seeing as they speak four languages fluently – urdu at home, telegu in the streest, english at school & hindi to other indians – I guessed they could handle it.

Sameer also pointed me toward the only library in town. For a few days Id asked all & sundry about the district library & finally came to the conclusion there wasn’t one. However, there is the Ramakrishna Movements Ashram’s library, which flew like an angel into my literary lap. It forms a key component of my daily routine which has been conducted thus:

5.30 AM Wake up

6 AM Walk to train station to get english newspaper, calling for poori breakfast on the way back

7 AM watch a movie playing guess the swear words – they silence the voice & put stars where the word should be on the subtitles – despite being english language films, I think they put english subtitles in to help the Indians learn English

10 AM internet café for an hour of work

Midday – lunch

1 PM – walk to an internet place near the sea for a couple more hours of work

4 PM – the library opens where I hit the books – but only one at a time. They are all held behind locked up glass cabinets, & you have to sign each book in & out every time you use it. The librarys on the beach road & my session is divided by trips to the kisosks on the beach for these beautiful samosas & ice crea, cornest

8 PM Walk back to my hotel, chomping on various street foods as I go

9 PM TV & cups of tea

So that’s it, pretty simple stuff but Ive got some proper work done, preparing loads of notes for my poetic cruise round Orissa which starts in earnest at 6.50 in the morning. Ive gotta conduct a six hour train journey through apparently beautiful scenery, including passing through the highest train station in Asia. Ive got my rough route worked out & one of the places I’ll be calling in on is a Maoist hot-bed. They are a seccessionist group who have been fighting for their rights & lands against, less the Indian government but more the corporate conglomerates.

“The bodies keep coming out of the forest. Slain policemen wrapped in the national flag; slain maoists, displayed like hunters trophies, their wrists & ankles lashed to bamboo poles”

Arundhati Roy

Should be fun…

Visakhapatnam

19/01/11

Blaggin’ Vizag

Welcome to Andhra Pradesh – India’s number one state for competitive rollerskating. Its second city, the port of Vizag, is a great place to wander about in. A far cry from the the intensity of the BIG FOUR – calcutta, delhi, chennai & mumbai, with wide streets & smatterings of traffic. However, theres 1.5 miillion people who live here, which would make it Britain’s second city in size – more than Glasgow or Birmingham. Its also off the baten track. Since i got here Ive seen five westerners; two irate germans who got into my train carriage as I arrived & pointed me in the direction of the hotels, plus two plum american women & a six year old boy coming out of a hotel. Other than that its just been me on my own – rather like one of those British officials of the Raj who would find himself ruling two hundred thousand indians. However, those days are gone & now there’s just the odd english poet wandering through the dust of empires lost.

Talking of plump women, I saw a funny incident in the street. Two women in their fifties were suddenly halted & slapped about by this woman in her twenties. A fight ensued over a golden sari, in which one of the plump women had a top ripped open to reveal a rather large granny breast. A large crowd began to gather around the melee, to the side of which a security guard was blowing his whislte to no effect at all. Then the old women were dragged through the street to a shopping mall, where I presumed the sari had been stolen from. They were led underneath it, some large gates being bolted as they passed under, Excited, I tried to climb a wall to see if they were getting a battering, a process which was halted by this security gaurd witha stick who threatened to batter me. Instead I slipped down a side street & up a tenement & jumping spiderman like across a couple of rooves managed to get a view of the women pathetically lying down in a carpark, awaiting their fate. Content that they were not being clubbed to death I went on my way.

One morning I went for a walk along the seafront. Its a charming yet ageing affair, like Brighton in the 90’s before it got trendy. Some of the beach is golden, while some of it is a bit skanky, & the whole lot cool’d by a stiff breeze, pleasantly relieving me of the 30 degree heat. The promenade is full of statues & murals, from Indian freedom fighters to dinosaurs & mermaids. There is even a massive old submarine right on teh sea front that you can wander about in for 25 rupees. Not far from there is a wonderful war memorial, far more inspiring than the dull affairs back home. It is testament to the 1971 war with pakistan, who’d sent a submarine to Vizag to sink Indias only aircraft carrier. However, it was sunk by a depth charge, a model of which creates the centrepiece of a fountain beside the chimney-like marble memorial. In the little garden you can also find a green & red Indian tank & a jet fighter, painted sky blue with a white underbelly, perfectly camaflauge for the air. There are also four quotes on the memorial which I wrote down. I found them quite inspiring, a far cry from the solemn dreary roll calls of the dead on our memorials, which seem somehow resigned to being places of sadness, unlike this memorial which makes one want to change nationality & join the Indian army.

The first duty of a soldier is to attend to the safety & interests of his country

A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honours

All a soldier desires to drive him forward is recognition for his work

The nation that forgets its defenders will have no need of ancestors

Back at the craft world there were also loads of pretty sets of earrings for 10 rupees a pair. I did actually spend some money – there was the ‘Rajasthani Churan stall’ which had about thirty different sweets in all shapes, colours & sizes. Some were conventional enough, but some were basically curry sweets. I sampled a few & bought a 100g of two of my favorites. I then found myself at the rajastahani pickle stall – similar to the charan place, but with about twenty massive [plastic see thro buckets of assorted pickles. Id just sampled my third lot when I was told I had to buy something now. The problem was, after the first lot of pickle hits your tongue you cannot really use your taste buds any more, & so cannot make a decisive judgment. I also had no intention of buying any anyway, so swiftly exited left.

On the way out of the craft store I was suddenly struck by the beauty of these pictures. They had been engraved onto palm leaves & the detail was incredible. I got chatting to the guy & it turns out they stuff is from a village in Orissa. I’ll be heading there next (eventually) to write some sonnets, & its wicked to pick up a few pointers of where to go en route. I’ll definitey be checking out this village now, along with another place. I got chatting to a young Indian woman on the way in to Vizag on teh train, who told me the native version of the story of emperors conversion to Buddhism – something the books would never tell me. This is why I love literary archeology – you really do have to travel the world to fill in the inherent gaps contained in libraries & the internet. I got her number by the way, & she’s up for being my guide when I hit Orissa.

Its getting interesting being in such an indigenous city, & im guessing with my new tan I look a bit Indian, & Im getting spoken to in Telegu quiet a lot. The place has a lazy air at the momemt. I have also arrived in the middle of a festival called Sankaranti. A movement celebrated of the sun beginning its journey into the northern hemisphere (the uttarayan) & is celebrated across India under different guises – to the Tamils its is Pongal, to the people of Assam it is Bihu. Here in Andhra Pradesh there is a lot of kite-flying going on, plus illegal cock-fighting, where billions of rupees are blown on beer & gambling. The sport in question is cockfighting, with the feathery tysons having 4 inch blades tied to their legs. It is illegal, but it seems the states top politicians have ringside seats. As for the beer, Im guessing theres a problem in AP. Despite the spirits being four times more expensive than in Goa, every morning on my street this guy tunrs up with cardboard boxes full of bottles & sells the hard stuff at 50 rupees a glass – & he’s inundated.

13/01/11

Visakhapatnam

Happy Journey

So, I’m finally on mi todd, swallowed up by the subcontinent by the Bay of Bengal. Back in Hampi Charlie’s felt too settled to move on. He’s found a hut for 50 rupees ran by this cheey chillum-toking baba – in fact the place is called baba cafe – who sits on a matress in the caff all day smoking said chillums. Charlie’s also furiously writing two books – his life story & an account of his trip to India. I dont blame him, the place he’s staying it is gorgeous, right by a river & one of the bouldery hills. Thus happy enough that he’s in safe hands, I’m now embracing the rest of this country & find myself properly alone for the first time in a good, good while. Its like someone lifted me up out of Edinburgh & a coupel of cyclones later plonked me in Vizag – Visakapatnam’s nick-name.

Just over twenty four hours ago I was in Hampi, contendly waiting at Smiley’s place, before being inundated by 15 young uns from Halifax & Leeds. The Roses banter was friendly enough, but a yorkshire lad did start to raise the banter levels the longer he had to wait for his eggs – are you waiting for the chicken to lay them, followed by a rude comment as to my county persuasion. In fact, it was a decidedly busy session, for the poilce were yet again in town – this time witha couple of JCBS knocking down any restaurants & houses that had been built withouout permission. During this I was told that the boat to the other side of the river (& freedom) had been cancelled for the day – stranding me on Hampi island. However, it came & with a few warm hugs & ‘happy journeys’ from the locals I was on my way. I collected my ticket from this travel agents – which had happy jounrey written on it – & was wished a happy journey by the seller. The ticket was 300 rupeees, But I’d had to pay bakshish to get the last seat on teh train a week ago. I didnt mind, because it took me where I wanted to go – the other option being a two week wait & a crappier route.

I then caught a bus to Hospet – which halted once when this oldish woman was trying to blag a free ride, & a loud argument ensued. Keen to continue, I bought her ticket (13 rupees) & we were happily trundnling along when there was another screech to a halt. This time the bus had knocked a guy off his scooter. He was proper dazed & confused, with snot coming out of his nose, but a few bottles of water over his head & he was compus enough to begin an argument with the bus driver. Then we were all shunted off the bus onto another one & finanly we made Hospet, where a big board above the station wished me a ‘HAPPY JOURNEY’

It was while waiting for my train to Gunttukal (where Id change for Vizag) that a very funny four hours began. There was this cute Israeli girl – a 24 year old called Gal – who I approached, as one normally does when surrounded by Indians in a case of “i’ll watch your bag if you watch mine.’ I said Id also ‘protect’ her from any cheezy sleezy men. Anyhow, & quite hypocritically, something happened on that train, a wee spot of cupid I think, & found her gazing at me with this big brown dreamy eyes. The indians around us thought us man & wife & after a while it actually felt like we were. Once at Guntakkal, we were stood on the bridge over the platforms, the sun just setting, & making out like crazy. Sensual spontaniety at its most romantic, yet i felt a wee bit hyporitical as her protecetor had ended up hitting on her. We had two more hours together. My train was heading east & hers was heading west to Mumbai & her flight tpo Tel Aviv. Unfortunatly the railway retiring rooms were closed (we were both up for it) so we found a bench on a quiet platform & hung out. She was a great kisser by the way.

After one last kiss to the sound of engines & cacophonic tooting I left Gal & I got on a sleeper train to Vizag. For 17 hours. The experience is worth doing & is an absolute neccessity in India. Theres plenty of food being touted up & down the aisles, from Ice cream & samosas to full lmeals & packets of sweet cherries, with the beggars not far behind – the blind, the limless & the decrepit. There were also two ladyboys who did their weekly ‘shopping.’ They turn up with an agressive clap of the hands & basically demand money off the men – which they invariably get. Apparently they are only allowed to do it on fridays & saturdays – something for the weekend I dare say.

So Im now in Vizag the so called ‘city of destiny. ‘So far its nothing special – but ive only seen the train station & a couple of streets. However, I’ve got the feeling its gonna be a great place to hole up & explore for a few days! Heres the wikipedia link…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visakhapatnam

Visakapatnam
9/1/11

Working Man

You wait two years for a job to pop along – then three arrive more or less at once. First was becoming charlies guide, the second was a top goa dj & now ive just done a spot of waiting. Its been an interesting journey to the world of food delivery. After my fall, instead of moving to the village i mentioned, i just stayed put, letting my wounds – & chiefly my foot – heal. The concussion was weird for a few days, but has finally gone, despite being occasionally topped up by banging my head on the door frame of my cottage. Im too tall for India. So, ive just been hanging around my restaurant, lounging in hammocks or on the comfy matresses by the low tables, watching the ferry to & fro over the tunghabadra. The view is gorgeous, actually, with the ghats of hampi sprawling for a quarter mile across the silky waves. Thesres this posses of folk staying here who all seem to have had a knock to the head, as they are just as lazy as me – reading smoking & making jewellry. There’s 4 Austrian birds, a gaggle of young Israelis toing & froing on their bikes. This this young brahman caste lad (the elite) with karated-up forearms from bangalore. This wild 19 year old french bird who has boys following her like lost puppies, & so on.

To eat Ive sometimes ventured out of my idyll to a small, popular street restaurant round the corner. Its run by two brothers – faruk & Ismael hussein – the latter being called Smiley. IN fact, hes like the indian version of me, grinning constantly. He says were same-same but different. Anyhows, every time ive tried to pay they keep saying pay next life. After a few days i came to the conclusion they meant it. So tonight, when smiley was away at his local village getting ‘jiggy jiggy’ from his wife, with faruk suddenly inundated with israelis, I stepped into the brink & waited my ass off. Great fun. I noted down the orders I took – the total value was 735 rupees – this is what you get for just over a tenner

a special thali (loads of bits n pieces)
veg rice
3 daal frys
3 chappati
2 aloo gobi
6 rice
2 malai koftas
1 chi
3 mineral water bottles
3 cokes
2 plain nan
3 maslala dosa
2 sprite
2 chicken fried rice

I leave Hampi on saturday & enjoyed doing it so much Im gonna help the boys over the coming days. Theres a chace charlies gonna come with me. We made up at new year – even bumping into fim who we lived with at patnem. There was a new year party on at the tipi place & I had a great time jamming round a fire until a minute after midnight, when the local police turned up & bamboo massaged the owner. The next day we just got pissed up at my restaurant dancing to the happy mondays & stuff, to the disillusionment of the locals. So me & charlie back on the road – should be fun. The plan is to go to a city called visakapatnam – ithe so called goa of the east coast. Ive a few sonnets to write in the area, then 14 sonnets in Orissa (the orissiad) which im gonna hit indiana jones style – theres supposed to be mad tribes & that there. After a few weeks of touring this indian backwater, i’ll calcutta, where a few sonnets later i’ll have finished the indiad. I spent today typing up a load of the new stuff, which are below. Plus some photos of Hampi I blagged off an israeli. You know, these arthur daleys have definitely mellowed since my first visit 9 years ago.

THE BIRTH OF A CALF

Parking my scooter in Canacona
A great prostrate cow seem’d to be dying
Guts on the pavement where she was lying
But no… close by lay her hour-old daughter

I watch’d the wee one make her falt’ring first
Steps in the world, like some ambitious teen,
Thro her mother’s dung, slippery & green
Then in the hot noon felt an earthly thirst

Went looking for something, nuzzling half-blind
She suckles on her mother’s rough larynx
Who stands up, stands motionless as a sphynx
Then with a lick acknowledges her kind,

Who now creeps forward to the golden teet
& clamps down hard as angels swoop the street

This next ones a beautiful folk tale –
laksmi is the goddess of walth & jyestha teh goddess of poverty

Two goddesses bickered about beauty
prepared to start a secoind trojan war
srinavas wisdom thunders crore on crore
My Jyesthadevi, my Laksmidevi
there is a young carpenter of Bundi
who is so very honest to his core
how soon they bnoth were standing at his door
who is the most beautiful, she or me

our humble craftsman thought a mortal while
& says laksmi most lovely on arriving
Yet Jyestha more gorgeoues when she departs
thkis answer made each goddess equal asmile
& he, celestial wrath surviving
learns flattery woos e’en immortal hearts

Kumbh Mela

Two saddhus set off from rishmuka hioll
upon their twelve year march to haridwar
where fifty laks of fellow babas mill
about the nectar dropped by garuda
Sharing the joy of kinship by the ghats
intoxicated a the mobiule phones
of young basbas bubble with girlfriend chats
how ganesha giggles at our ring tones
& as all festivals have headline acts
teh babs do yagas by teh ganga
where sanctity of solemn poojah pacts
are sealing divinity with ganja
then leaving all their friends with words & waves
the herd home to the mountains & the caves

Akbars harem

Theres a full moon oer Fatapur Sikiri
With which five thousand women are in synch
But one man has their measure – tender, cheeky
He plys them all with opium & drink
& kama sutras with such appetite
women have begged to enter hbis harem
tho jealousy & intrigue seeds for fight
& furious frustration makes tehm scream
These dancing girls in their sexy dresses
these cute abyssinain concubines
these asian slave girls in musky tresses
these arab eunochs hennaful designs
drawn from all parts of a growing empire
to satisfy its emporers desire

L’ecole de l’echeque

I am currently convalescing from a fall. Yesterday I set off to ‘boulder’ the environs of a lake. En route I passed through this wee villgae & began to take notes on a forthcoming poem; Of teh chi shops at teh crossroad with old men chatting & smoking beedies – of the water buffaloes plodding through town, of the school kids with their oversized backpacks & their baskets witha bottle of water & lunch wrapped up in newspaper, of teh two identical ‘uiversal shops’ in the village, with the same frontal displays full of soft drainks & Lays crisps – magic masala & tangy tomatoes – of the stray dogs wandering around, the barbers & the mad politcal flags from some forrthcoming panchiyat elections. Ther last thing I noticved was a wee clinic as I left thevillage for the gorgeous resevoir dammed above it. I began to bounce along the boulders round its rim, when after only a couple of hundred metres I came acros what seemd to be a ‘stream of rust. Unfortunately, under the rust was water, &with a yelp I slipped & was carried down its liek a water style. 10 meters down I was coming to the ledge, tried desperately to graba branch, then went over. Luckily the fall was wee enough, but the momentum id gained span me sideways & my fall was broken by a boulder, on which I then cracked my head with a spot of whiplash. Ouch! I immediatley got double vision, which still hasnt compeletly subsided – & about twenty cuts, mostlky along my left leg. Ive also got back pain & cant lift my left arm up above my head- but still, im not dead, so happy days. From teh scene of the fall, after ripping up my shirt to stem the blood flow, the chief of which was on the bottom of my right foot, quiet a gash, I hobbled back to the village. Luckily, the first house I came to was teh clinic, &I got my wounds dressed & bansaged by some very friendly Indians, before hitching a lift back home.

I am staying in the village of Virpapurgaddi, across the tunghabadra river from the more bustling, indian-heavy Hampi. You get there by piling into this wee boat with up to 20 others, , along with mopeds & massive bags of food for the restaurants – its a miracle the thing doesnt sink. The village spreads out alongside the river, & is mainly made up of restaurants. Behind it begins the wonderful bouldery landscape that is a sheer joy to wander in – very alien. A few years ago it was empty, but now a steady troop of middle class climbers are arriving with their massive backpacks full of gear. I did a spot of climbing the other day. There is this white temple perched high atop a boulder-hill about as high as Arthur’s seat. Instead of climbing the tortuous steps, I traced a route up the boulders & went scampering up them liek an agile monkey. The boulders themselves are a tottering bunch, forming mad wee caves beneath your feet on which a slip could prove messy. However, I handled them well with monkey-like agility & found myself at the temple. This turned out t be Hanuman’s birth-place, Anjamadri. At the top I saw a few of Hanumans descendants, the males of which, both old & young, were stood uprights on the backs of the females knees & nailing them in front of all & sundry – a very curious sexual position indeed.

Indeed this area is the home of the monkey gods. Not far away there is a temple, Rishamukh hill. This is the home of Sagriva – teh chief of the monkeys. I was faced there by a new episode of father ted. There is a baba just like father ted, whose been there 50 years & moans at everyone who turrs up – even worse than Charlie. Another baba – my mate – is a thirty year old gorgeously bearded dark-skinned fellow, with only one leg. We’ve got on famously & Ive been going to see him each day for lessons in the Ramayana. I studied it the last time I was here, but he’s helping me to fill in the gaps. I sat down with him on a rock in teh shade as he gets out this weighty bi-lingual tome (hindi & english) & reads through passages for me. Its cool as he skips the more difficult words with a wee mumble, & then elaborates on the ‘main points’ of the lesson. It tunrs out the temple is built on the very spot where Rama met Sagriva, & there friendship was sealed with a handshake. Sagriva then agreed to send millions of monkeys out in search of the lost Seeta.

Over xmas I was hanging about -seperately -with a couple of cute french girls in their late twenties. One is a jewelry maker / seller who lives in Ardesh – a hippy envirnoment near Nice. The other is a Parisian, & is on a festive break before going back to work in Calcutta as a french teacher. Her name is Sagoo & I think we’ll meet again – she says she’ll help to find me digs in Calcutta when I get there in a few weeks. Indeed, it was a very joyeux noel. It was from Amelie that after teaching her – no worries – iin english, she taught me the phrase ‘l’ecole de l’echeque – which means learning from your mistakes. IE, if youre bouldering & theres something that obviously looks slippy – dont f**ckin step on it!

The hippy rainbow tipii spots bin a cool hang out & ive been jamming away with the guys, slowly getting midle eights for a few songs ive been writing in my head over here. Its nice to get a guitar in my hands & ive been penning the songs for the big saraswathi comeback in the spring. I think its a cool concept, leaving the last incarnation of the band to go off to india & be dictated to by the goddess herself. They’re sounding pretty good so far & three more months should get them kicking. I also stumbled on a wedding. I was attracted to it by this amazing sound of drums & horns. It tunred out to be two drummers, a trumpet & a clarinet indulging in call & answer eastern psychadelia. Around them a great trope of Indians were indulging & chit-chat, with the wee ones making mischief at their feet. I was invited to join them in some food & observed a lovely ceremony. The bride & groom were knelt down on something of an ironing board, covered in turmeric & water giving them a yellow hue. Then out came the shampoo sachets & tey were both drenched in water until they were clean – some cleansing poojah before the victuals I think.

As for Charlie, 9 weeks of his incessant moaning finally did my head in & I scampered across the river to the other side for some peace & quiet. I mean, a guy can only take so much, right. He’s like one of teh old gits from that BB comedy show, moaning loudly about all sorts of stuff & not embracing teh fact we’re in this fabulous country, prefering to insult them.Aftera few days away from him & then seeing him again I finally realised this myself. Anyhow, he’s now also come across the river, & gone on to a quiet spot a few kilometres away. In a coupel f days – once im better- Im gonna join his vicinity. Theres a nice room above this village shop, with the roof forming a cool terrace. I reckons a spot of shanti shanti village life is just what the doctor ordred for a week or so, & my next despatch from teh front line will be all about how the panichat works in real life

HAMPI NEW YEAR!!

30 / 12 /10

Hampi Scamper

So I finally managed to peel myself from the Goan beaches & all those peripheral, hedonistic representatives of the west. There’s only so many lazy hours with a book & a beer, hot semi-naked babes frolicking in the surf & sunset games of beach volleyball a man can take before he’s straining for some proper culture. So last Tuesday me, Charlie & Michelle hit the road. She’s the 19 year old LA art student who seems to have adopted us, & vice versa – we’re on odd bunch but got on very well actually. She generally has her head stuck in her journal, etching & doodling her diary from post-to-post, while giggling at mine & Charlie’s bivkering.After a couple of buses through the flattish jungle-covered world of north Goa we hit Panjim, the state capital. It’s been fifty years since the Goans kicked the Portuguese out, but the place still retains a lazy, continental air. We stayed in a lovely old Portuguese house in an equally Portuguese area – it felt so much like Italy I began to tingle with poesis.

10 k up the banks of the wide, glimmering Mondovi River we came on Old Goa – the former capital. Today it is just a few, admittedly stunning, churches. The old houses have all been swept away & grassed over like the terraced streets of Burnley. One of them contains the bones of Francis Xavier, which you can see through his glass coffin. Another, the cathedral to Francis of Assisi, is lovely in a crumbling kinda way – like the modern churchj itself in the face of wide growing agnosticism. By the church was an incredible museum to Goa – the best ten rupees I’ve ever spent. I even paid Charlie in who was grumbling about its price. Seeing as the lad cant sell ketamine or even get a job building, his current preoccupation is saving as much money as he possibly can. Anyway, we all had a lovely swally roond & two things stood out for me. One was this ceremony of tall portraits of every governor or viceroy the Portuguese ever sent to Goa. The second were these basalt stone workings, verticle basalt triptychs that reminded me immensely of the stone workings of the Picts. There are two types – hero stones which tell of how a hero died in battle & ascent to the gods. The others are sati stones, which show a widow jumping into the fire after her husband had died, then joining him in heaven.

Yesterday we set off east on a goernment bus. Starting off from the chaotic shouts of the conductors & the stop-start shuffling of the busses as they made their way out of the teeming Panjim station, we were soon trundling through the plush jungles of Goa. Then we rose up to the eastern Ghats, affording us an incredible palm-laden vista taht spread west through the hills of Goa as far as the eye can see. then we descended into Karnataka, which at first seemed like the undulating agricultural realms of England, before spanning out into a vast plain, something like the Steppes of Russia. At one town we strecthced our legs & we begged by this curious kid. His upper body seemed to be shifted to the left & his rib cage jutting out of his back forming a hunch. Holding out his gnarly left hand toucjed the heart strings & even Charlie found a few spare ruppeesThen the sun began to set, a red hot cannobal that seemd to shoot into the eyes & nestle in teh brain after only half a glance. We then reached teh outskirts of Hospet, the full moon rose a bloody red we hit a crazy convoy of trucks that seemed to go on forever. To amuse myself I watched Bruce Lee clips on this Indians mobile phone, then a bit of the new incredible hulk. Thrn we reached dusty Hospet, & things suddenly got tense. As we pulled into the bus station we were set on by this pack of braying jackals – young rickshaw drivers all braying for our blood. Wherever we went they followed & soon I turned into the incredible hulk himself – what part of shut the f**k up & leave us the f**k alone dont you understand! kinda thing. Then I resorted to are you stupid / deaf – but still they insisted on following us everyweher. In the end we just flagged down a passing rickshaw, who knocked one of our jackals flying, & got out of dodge with the drivers chasing us benny hill style waving imaginary machetes.

Arriving at night at Hampi bazaar isnt the most inspiring of things – a tourist friendly wild west hick town of a place. But come morning & you suddenly find yourself at the heart of the great hindoo Vijiyanagar empire. It had lasted from about 1450 – 1600, controlled most of south India. The place had inspired one of my all time favorite lines of composition nine years ago –

Pastel lustred sunsets muster’d oer Vijiyanagar

The ruins are reminscent of Rome, but instead of mad Italian traffic inbetween, there are banana plantations. The ruins blend into the bouldery hills that surround the place, & there is a wonderful river flowing through the area. I had a wander first thing thi smorning & came across the saraswathi temple. I think I mgonna make a wee piligrimage their each morning as I get busy writing. On the other side I found a weird connection with Paradise Beach in Gokarna. First off, theres a few of the residents here at a hippiefied ‘rainbow camp’ – full of chess, guitars & even nedved who I mentioned a few emails back. I was also sat down in this restaurant – the same place I used to stay at on my last visit here 9 years ago – & I thought I recognised the voice of anila – my nepalese mate from Paradise Beach. You dont know a guy called Anila – I asked this slightly older ooking guy. He’s my brother – he replied & the mystic karmic swirl settled on the scene.

Hampi

23/12/11

Stevenaged

I have just invented a new adverb – stevenaged. This entails meeting a mad group of birds from Stevenage who get you high, laugh a lot reyt loudly, drink you under the table, & then… you know the rest. The first one I met – Helen – is lovely – & also married. There’s a theme developing to this trip I think. However, divine providence has got in the way of any shennanigans – twice. The first time was the other night when she passed me a charas joint at hers & I had my first sick-surf whitey in a long time, swiftly rushing from her pad to fall asleep in the road – the irony is I was only ten seconds from my own pad. The second intervention was when I was ‘intercepted by her lady friend on her last night before going home to the blizzards. Suffice it to say I needed two days to recover, the sole poetic product of which was my new word, Stevenaged – its not an experience for the faint hearted believe you me.

Anyhow, Helen, my neighbour, is a great lassie & Im currently at hers typing up some sonnets (see below) to the Stone Roses. Also here is my mate Kern. Ive only met him twice before. The first time was Haloween 2009, when my band drove up to Aberdeen to play his house party. We made a film about the trip & our literal first meeting – with him dressed up as vampire – is on you tube. Our second meeting was when he came down to Kijiji & played his trumpet / dance set – which was also filmed & should be ready when Steve has finished editing our Saraswathi Summer film. So there I was, wandering down Arombol beach when there he was – so let the games begin. We’ve already had our first jam session – it was this open mic night at a lovely restaurant, hosted by what can only be described as a NYC cab driver. There were some great acts on – it was like this quality international jamboree – Russians, africans, americans & me doing rabbie burns tunes. After our gig we’ve decided to make a wee movie at some point soon – like a guide to Goa – he’s got this amazing camera that also films in HD.

Arombol’s great by the way – like a mixture of Goa & Gokarna. The night life’s buzzing & there’s some beautiful coastal walks to tranquil beaches. Ive been taking this very handsome black dog that my landlords own on my wee passagio’s. I cant bear to see it on a chain all day, so ive been struttin the beach with him like a reyt nobhead, disturbing all the strays who hang about for free food. I’ve also been taking it along the main shopping street, wherefor once I dont get disturbed at all by the cowering shopkeepers – trust me, the dogs that big. The English girls I met down Palolem are also here, raving every night on a wide variety of drugs. We’ve even got this nineteen year old Los Angeles art student squatting at our pad. We’d befriended her & her mate – whose flown off to Spain for a couple of weeks to see her dad – & for some reason she’s loving mine & Charlie’s patter. I’d love to go on, but this black acrobat guy from Kenyas just dropped off some crack with Helen, Ive just fixed a bloody mary up, I am the ressurections just come on the tunes, & so for the second time this year Im thinking it’ll be rude not to.

Arombol
19/12/10

So heres some sonnets – they’re a wee mix of memories, study & present times. Ive just started on a sequence about the Indian Independence movement (1857-1947) – those ninety years where the British Press took an imperial civilizing stance, but the books I discoverd in Arombol’s quaint wee library paint a thoroughly different picture – it turns out that most Indians weren’t happy with cricket & railways & actually wanted us to go back to where we came from asap – & were prepared to die for it.

ADRIFT ON THE SS NANCOWRY

On this hard holiday of a lifetime
I spent a night I would never forget
Sat buttock’d on a hole of solid slime
With fluids gushing thro my body’s net
For this was my first tropical disease
A brutal bout of dysentry at that
& I seem’d stranded on the silver seas
Too weak to shoo the scuttle of a rat

Ere morning rose I haul’d up from the gunk
& found the good ship’s doctor did exist
Whom with a pill this raft of ills hath sunk
With all that fleet of thoughts too dark to list

& now, tho slow, a bloated mosquito,
I’d live to see mine archipelago

DIWALI

Ever since an eager mentioning
I have dream’d of Diwali
Not knowing what its festival entail’d
Until today
When a rocket rushing past my cheek
Reminds me of Indian unpredictability

Awoken by the vietcong firecrackers
Echoing the brutal death of Ravana
The city night balaze in light & magic
From hotel rooves
Oer the wide smiles of fathers on their motorbikes
Carrying Cath’rine wheels to their bambini

& for once, the armswidth, one room’d shanty shacks
Are more affable than the harbours of Saint Tropez

AUM SRI SAIRAM

As Indian & International
Descends on Puttapathhi
& the cult of Satay Sai Baba
They are faced with the heaving
Beaurocracy of Hindoostan

MATERIALS NOT ALLOWED DURING DARSHAN

Camera / Video Camera / Calculator
Big Bag / Battery / Binocular
Tobacco / Time piece / Toffeebags / Umbrella
Mobile / plate / Time Piece / Needles
Blades / Water Bottle /Eatables
Scissors / Cassettes / CDs / Calculator
Knife / Book / Lighter / Ciggarettes/ Pen
Flowers /Footwear / Flashlight / Walkman

THE TYGER

“The forest which has tigers should never be cut,
nor should tigers be chased away from the forest”
The Mahabharatra

Ten thousand years ago
The soul of India
Daub’d upon cavern walls
Aeons of abundance
& regal reverence
Where sages ashram sat
Midst placid Tiger packs

Fast forward to the Raj
& man-eating panics
From the Chowgarh Tigress
To Bengal’s precious cubs
& on, thro Dodo time,
Man’s fur-greed has left them
Annhialation verged

MANIFESTO

I am the Silver Rose & in these words confide
Tis better to have lived than to have died
& in this life of highlights that we lead
Preserve them in the poets where poets store their mead

& when their talent turns to focus on the times
& pattern snow with measure, mood & rhymes
Stone-jowell’d Gods must guarantee just dues
O compact curious that is the bardic muse

A bard must praise his land for in him this land lives
Praise all the best poesis that she gives
Ere epochfall, as Cornwall lost its tongue

For then, & only then, shall we these words exhume
Like finding lost papyrus in a tomb
Where Orpheus had left a mourning song

LIFE

Mind in a constant state of creation
Soul with the striving to do something new
Heart of a soldier defending his station
With a still standing body long marches renew

Time – reflections on hill-walk’d projections
Days spent in attitudes purposeful thought
Months up in motion’s strict vivisection
Cutting thro time as a lifetime too short

Song, those meetings of spirits poised gladly
Dance to the music internal & out
Laugh even if your project rolls badly
Tis better to smile than succumb to one’s doubt

Tis not for nothing lives are pass’d this way
There MUST be colours pollock’d cross the grey.

GANJA

Between Om Beach & Half Moon I was startl’d on the path
By a native in his ‘office’ selling charas to the tourists
I thought awhile then bought some to aid my morning musings

There is a Westerner wasting in desperate jail
They’d found a tolahs worth in his hotel hidey-hole
& four years down the line he’s still a waiting for his trial

But then there are the Saddus, allow’d to stack their chillums to the hilt
The smoke exhaled a primevil gesture to the divine
That is their Lord God Siva, pre-eminent among deism

He had discovered its narcotic properties one night
Injesting natural posions & injecting sweet quicksilver
Dying his skin a psychadelic hue of electric blue

He was the first true scientist, whose candid alchemy
Found powder’d gold’s all-powerful antigravity effects

AMRITSAR

By Golden Temple
Ghandi’s Jallianwallah
Cramm’d with protest

20,000 hearts
One hundred & fifty guns
Omdurmania

Grisly turkey shoot
Saxons show Teutonic roots
Indiscriminate

Lass shot in the back
Where panic thought was cover
Bodies fill the well

Six month Whitehall cover up
The Raj straining at its chains

MEERUT
1857

As Nature panders to her mightiest
How great a gulf is fix’d twyx Siva’s sons
& La Race Blanche, whose ruff’d up Chelsea chest
Thro taxes, churches, races, dance-a-thons
Rules haughty & imperious, whose guns
Would often hammer insolence at whims
Of English boys, fresh from shelter’d Etons –
Resentment simmers, loyal lustre dims,
They felt it in their hearts, they meant it in their limbs.

As all wars keep a catalyst
The cartridge gear’d with fat
That loadings kiss’d, twined faiths insist
Our Gods forbid us that
Soon hundreds here court-martiall’d & sentenced to ten years flat

SILENT NOISE

I rock’d into Patnem with a swagger
& tinky disco on an MP3
& being born a beautiful blagger
I find myself dispensing energy
All thro teh Alpha Bar, where after ten
Sweet crickets complement the sing-a-longs
& stamping feet, as in a Goan zen
I play’d my personal penchant for songs
Where blinging with the kudos of the decks
I found myself in a flash romancing
For music elevates the fairer sex
Invigorating vixens in their dancing
& so, skinny dipping to day’s dawning
She led me to the milk of the morning

PARADISE BEACH

Lapsing on a ledge over Paradise
Among my beads now glows a silver rose
The first one I had found, Italia
Makes sound as India, & as those pees –
Pisa, Portovenere, mark’d that find
Me playing music nel strada a Pisa
& sleeping open air… now, up Patnem
I busk’d up money as a sleek DJ,
&, as Portovenere swept my peace
This Paradise has too relaxed my muse
Enough to think of sticking too one’s path
When all its little wonders still surround
Composing poesy thro bitter British snows
But far away, where sun & sky fair meet

this ones from a life of dante im doing in my mellower moments

BEATRIX

The natal gasp, a wail & Dante born
At first him just another Florentine
But Heaven had for him a fresh design
& sent him inspiration, as the dawn
Illuminates the gardens nature sworn
She burst his heart when he was only nine,
Her grace & beauty swooping aquiline
His vital spirit trembling, violent, torn

From then her image always in his mind
His only happiness melts in her eyes
Too young to handle all these deep’ning sighs
The only solace he could ever find
Far from frivolity & boyish sloth
Was in the arms of poesy’s behemoth

North Goa

Theres no money in poetry, but theres no poetry in money either
Robert Graves

It seems the siberian snap that has recently hit Europe (very chriistmassy) has penetrated the subcontinent – heres a report from the Times of India

Panaji – the mercury dropped to its lowest this season as meteorologists recorded a miniumim temperature of 19.6 celsius on Sunday mornig.

I must admit, I had to turn my fan down a couple of notches in the night to keep out this unwanted coolness.

So me & charlie are back on the road, bursting the patnem pleasure bubble in the process. I’d had a lovely last night as the ‘scarlet woman’ with my adulterous lady friend. I thought better of going to se eher but she tracked me down & a lovely moonlight drive & walk along Turtle Beach ensued. She’s back in Holland now, read my blog http://blog.damowords.co.uk/ & sent me this email

for a man of words that wasn’t the most poetic rendition…

She was right -alright, getting laid & paid for DJing was alright, but at the end of the day it was still ‘work’ & I would have been tied down to it – & Im here to write a whole heap of sonnets. It was getting far too hard to concentrate down there, & even on the bus ride up to north goa I felt my mind tuning back into the poesis of this mighty land, honing my penmamnship, planning projects & organising notes. Its definitely time to stop pursuing pleasure & get on with the task in hand – iveworked out if I write some sonnets in Orissa – a good great britain away – & fiill in a few gaps elsewhere in India with wikipedia / lonely planet, I can finish mi Indiad in a month or so – just in time to try & get it published up in Calcutta – India’s most artistic city. Its taken me 4 trips to do write this poem, after which I wanna see the rest of the world, so fannying about doing a job in Goa is definitely not on.

Back on teh road our first port of call was Chapora – a narrow kind of texas style town with folk riding on in on their mopeds. Its mellowish by the day, but at night it comes into its own, with the bars knotty with half cut travellers drinking beer & smoking chillumgees. The clientelle all seem to be something out of Camden – lots of neo-punks & tattooes. There are some major long-termers here, whom on asking where theyre from, despite their thick austrian accent, reply ‘I am from nowehere’ – bloody hippies. The nicest part was the harbour, mellow with chilling fishremen & a few stray dogs, pungent with the smell of fish. where I meandered to last night. I found myself confronted by about twenty multicolourd fishing boats all flying the flag of India. There, I shook the hand of Raj, & found it as roughj as treebark. I sooon found the reason why – I helped him haul in a boat using thinish rope, which ripped my hands to shreds!

Its funny travelling with a fellow lancashire lad – on several occasions indians have interrupted our conversations with ‘what language are you speaking.’ I generally communicate with indians & internationalists with asort of high=pitched pidgeon English, which Ive perfecetd over the years, & find Charlie getting irritated with it & telling me to speak ‘proper english, like.’ He’s now in a great state of mind. Yesterday he wnet donw to Anjuna beach, got offered drugs left right & centre, & even tried some free ketamine, but his opinion is he’s not gonna pay those prices & ketamines dodgy anyway – mission accopmplished! Now its time to start adventuring & ive got my eye on a random trek along the krishna river, like some madcap Victorian exploreres in search of the Nile.

So we’ve just reached Arombol. I wa shere nine years ago & it was a wee hippy shanty town. Howveer, in the past nine yuears its exploded in shops & restaurants. The quality of goods is great howver, & theres a few places whehich specialise in sending your buys home via air & sea. The theme is generally arty ‘throws & bedsheets. At first I was a bit miffed about it, but Ive just spent sunset dancing to a load of bongo players on the beach, with about a hundred folk, & even jammed along on this guys guitar – very good for the soul. Weve got a well plush pad, pereched between a tai-chi school & a yoga centre, for 6 quid a night between us & can cook there as well – it helps when its only the brtish taxpayer who’s paying for the trip – i mean c’mon guys, what happend to supporting ya local artists?

Arombol
14t / 12 / 10

PS – check this out – hes my alter ego in canada

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20101104/man-admits-to-hotel-bomb-threat-101104/

Tinky Disco

There’s something about being a DJ which is an aprodisiac for the ladies, I think. Last night was the official debut of Alpha Bar’s Silent Noise night – the flyer says Palolems premier outdoor nightclub. It was wicked actually, a really lovely space illuminated by purple laser beams. Earlier in the day I’d been handing out said flyers along the beach – a great way to get chatting to folk actually. Come 8.30 I was the opening act, & for two hours played mi tunes loud thro the speakers before the 10.30 watershed when Goa tunrs its music off. Then the headphones come into play & as the venue fileld up peopel began dancing. I couldnt tell if they were dancing to mine or the guy next to me. We was a nob actually, proper DJ ego, which I laid into big time. I think it was something to do with the 5 rupee sachets of 80 cl whiskey ive discovered – that 8p for a treble.

My compadre is this New Zealand lad – a good kid called James – who followed my disco with some New Zealand frum & bass – its not like jungle or owt, & doesnt sound like someonme kicking a drum kit down the stairs,. & we complemented each other finely. It was great to see folk dancing & having a good time, & singing alonmg to the classics I squuezed in among the disco. Because its all silent, its a bit like weatehrspoons with everone having epileptic fits – the only music one can hear is the Cricket opera from the surrounding jungles.

After my set I I was ‘pulled’ by this hot Dutch lady, & after a skinny dip at dawn I woke up by her on silky white sheets at her mate’s gorgeous villa – a very Italian pad & silken white sheets. ‘So do you have a boyfriend at home?” I asked – turns out shes married. Apparently she’s never done it before or ever will again – it was a lot of pressure to be a charming young plaything actually. Still, proper funny. I read her a little Keats & sang a song or two like a proper cavalier servente. She’s also a top film-maker with the cutest english accent i’ve ever heard. If this is what happens when ya a DJ I’m gonna think about packing in the poems!

Back at teh ranch its just me & Charlie now. Fim went to Gokarana on wednesday & the house feels a little empty. Despite starting his book about life as a London ketemine dealer, & teh football games we’re playing with the kids at the school next door to us – with Charl;ie wearing his 1966 england world cup shirt – Charlie’s getting itchy feet. With my Dj mission in patnem ending on a high, we’re gonna move on to North Goa – so i’ll probably just commute down next thursday for the next party….

patnem
10.12.10

S.O.S

There was an episode of Eastenders a few years back – I remember it distinctly – when Alfie Moon turned up at the square at the beginning, & by the end of it was behind the bar of the Queen Vic. A similar thing has just happened to me. By a blend of timing, tenacity & sheer front, I am now a Goa DJ. There are two venues in south Goa that host the silent discos that allow the Goan rave tradition to continue. At one venue there are three channels going on at once, & at the other – the alpha bar – there are two. Next Thursday I will be sharing a channel with this sound New Zealand fella ive met – & getting paid fifty quid for the privelige of playing my own disco tunes to 300 punters, half of which will be birds in varying degrees of hotness. This is where the SOS comes in – ive got a 4 hour set & ive only brought a couple of hundred tunes with me, so if anyone can send me an up-tempo tune or three they would be happily received.

I’ve settled reyt well into Patnem, buzzing about on my scooter in the mornings, finding idyllic spots to compose my Indiad sonnets, then spending the day relaxing, swimming & messing about in the giant adult playground that is Goa. It reminds me of the Shelleys/Byron mentality as they lived in Italy, something which has always inspired my life. Being here reminds me of when the Shelleys hit Bagnia di Lucca & declared it to be full of English. Palolem & Patnem form a little colony of constantly changing ex-pats. Its kinda fun, tho, especially as we outnumber the Australians. It’s the ashes y’see, & ive been loving waking up at about 7am, switching on the TV & settling down to chai & breakfast wishing the boys well down under.

Next to where we live is a restaurant called Capital, an organic affair, where the top djs & party organizers meet every day. This is how I got my leads to the Alpha Bar – some of them were keen to hear my disco, but I hit a brick wall of apathy with their own disco dj, especially when I declared that most disco was dodgy. However, he had the decency to point me in the right direction & I found the Alpha Bar – an open air affair with great aesthetics & a stage. After a few business –like chats with the boos, sat on chairs drinking chai & arguing over prices like any other Indian transaction, I pulled the thing off. God bless Saraswathi

The family we are staying with are lovely. There is a wee woman called Antonetta – they are Christian – whose husband passed away only in September. She is regurlaly bring us food & is as sweet as a button. She has two sons in their twenties – Joel & James – who seem happy to have me,. Charlie & our dreadlocked female friend staying with them. We have the majority of this rather large villa, while she stays in a shack outside it & the boys sleep in the last room. The house is set in quite spacious grounds, where a pig, two dogs & a family of crows all vie for our scraps. Joel’s cool, & took me & Charlie on a fishing expedition two nights back – we caught some eel, which the new Gordon ramsey – Charlie – cooked up & instantly declared it was too bony & never again. Even so, both mine & Charl;ie’s cooking is increasing in quality every day. We basically drive up into chadi – the nearest town – shop for fish, veg, chicken , fruit & spices & ask antonetta what to do with tem.

I’ve also met an old mate. I was sitting in a chai shop when I heard ‘I think I know you’ – I turned round & there was Danish Rita – she used to see my mate Baldy – clutching her new born baby. It tunrs out shes married now & has two kids, & has the ability to heal people through her hands with ‘the light.’ Her husbands cool, despite not having a drink in ten years, & its been lovely getting to know them. It tunrs out they love Thiruvannamali – the place I began translating the Kural two years ago – & are hoping to move there.

Time in this little bubble of pleasure here is flying – as was I the other day when I learnt the lesson that drink driving fine if ya going slow, but drinking & smoking charas is a definite no-no. I almost ran into this group of Indians – not touching one mind – when all of a sudden each began clutching mythical broken shoulders & screaming in agony. Last night I saw one of ‘em, who declares hes been to hospital, it cost him 6000 rupeees & he’s complaied to the police – apparently he took my photo & registration number – if I give him the 6000 rupees he’ll take back the complaint. ‘Mate, I’m from Burnley,” I replied – he didn’t understand what I meant, but he got the intent – you cant blag a blagger, end of. I mean, Im a top goa Dj now & ive only got Kylie minogue’s ‘I should be so lucky’ on my ipod.

Patnem

2/12/10

Ps – so if you’ve any tunes – send em on