Daily Archives: November 5, 2010

Kali & Charlie

Karma’s a wonderful thing, I think. Two years ago I was having a few ‘problems’ with mi bird. I mean, we had the same argument for 6 weeks. Then it hit me – the Indian goddess of destruction, Kali, was using mi bird as an avatar & summoning me to India. So I went & ended up translating the Tamil Bible. Back in Britain I tweaked & polished it a bit, then put it to one side, my prospective market being 6,00o miles away. Then lo & behold, Im suddenly swept off to the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, by mi mate Charlie – Kali & Charlie, its got a certain ring to it!

My journey here began by walking op Leith walk in Edinburgh in mi flip-flops, to a couple of funny looks. . Nine & a half hours later Charlie had met me at Victoria & we set of on foot towards Heathrow. I like to go pedestrian to airports, following the planes as they make their descent, as something of a pre-quest ritual. I found myself following the same roads that I had walked back in August as I wrote mi Londiniad, reminding me that his was gonna be a literary mission & not just fannying about all over the place in search of ephemeral pleasures.

We got to Heathrow at midnight, where Charlie, going cold turkey off practically every kind of drug, started knocking back vallium like saspiralla tablets, washed down with neat vodka. Apart from being on the run from the poilce, his landlord, the CSA & a couple of crack heads, he’s also nursing a broken heart. She was called ketamine karen, & had bled him dry, emotionally & financially, & turned him onto smack etc. However, I know the guys got a diamond soul, its just been buried in a whole heap of shit, so whats a pal gotta do eh?

Charlie was well excited as we set off from the runway, he’s like a 53 year old toddler, & demanded the window seat. Unfortunately Europe was quiet overcast, but instead we enjoyed the flight. They’re great actually, its like being served a 4 course meal by hot birds while you watch movies or listen to tunes. Like going to a restaurant, but without the inane chit-chat. Talking of which, I finally had a respite from Charlie’s tales of Great Harwood Football Club. He also turned off the beer tap for us, for on staggering to the toilet the hostesses got scared of a typical ‘drunken-brit- incident. I tried to explain that it was just the vallium making him fall into the laps of the other passengers, not the booze, but they didn’t bite.

We did get a break in the clouds, however, as we flew over Turkey & the southern shores of the Black Sea. We saw a coastal strip of towns, but teh rest of the land was beautiful khaki coloured hills, some of which were skipped with snow. In the distance I could make out the Caucasus, where Hitler’s sixth army was supposed to meet Rommel’s eight in 1942. Looking at the terrain below me I opined that even if Cairo would have fallen, Rommel would never have been able to penetrate this land of jagged peaks. Then came the Tigris, & I mused on teh start of mankind, whose Mesoptamia irrigated the plains between teh Tigris & the Euphrates, from which culture rose the first city – urduk i think – 8000 years ago. Today it is a world of very scatterd villages – for teh air they looked like a few tiny sugar cubes clsuterd togeher, whose roads out of the settlement soon dissapeared into the dusty hills.

Then listening to Kasbian’s West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum we came into Abu Dhabi. This is a part of teh oil-rich United Arab Emirates, seven princely Trucial states who joined together about 40 years ago to exploit the petrol-guzzling nations of the world. Incidentally, the sheik of Ras al Khaimah, Saqt bin Mohammad al-Qasimi, had died the previous day, whose emirship had been one of the world’ longest ruling, since 1948. From the night sky, both desert & sea merge in an deep blackness, broken by golden beaming spiderweb lines of motorways, & illuminous grids of houses. The airport itself was a bit mad, full of guys in white shirts, sporting red& white chequered tea towels on their heads, fastened in place by two black rubber rings. There were models of formula one cars everywhere, & an amazing departure lounge that looked like the inside of a curling ball. The central pillar fanned out like a vase to merge curvingly with the roof, & all was patterned in hexagons. then we were off again, for the three & a half hour hop over the Sea of Araby & teh subcontinent, to the far eastern shores of India, to Chennai TN.

Once off the plane, instead of paying the exorbitant taxi fares into town like a an american mug full of dollars, we just caught a train instead, the station being a stones throw from teh airport. Our tickets were 6 rupees each, about 8p. We quickly got a room, which after a few hours Charlie said its the worst he’d ever been in. I replied, trust me there’s worse – at least we have a western toilet, shower & TV (for a fiver). Admittedly, the area we are in is right next to a very busy, smoggy main road, & Charlie says its like holidaying in Wolverhampton. From there we wandered about a bit, but the jetlag & heat had wiped us out really. However, I did manage to print out 9 copies of my Kural, which Im gonna distribute round Chennai publishers tomorrow. It coast me about 7 quid to do this, including getting the pages bound in a hard-back. I was going to do it today, but most places are closed for the festival of Diwali. This is the great celebration of teh god Rama’s victory over the Demon King Ravana. That ten armed baddie had stolen his wife, Seeta, & whisked her off to Sri Lanka. Rama followed, with an army of monkeys led by Hannuman, & won back his bird after a great battle. This is wahy all day & everywhere firecrackers & bangers are going off vietcong style, to be followed by tonight’s fireworks displays, simulating war. We’re at the vast, indian heavy beach at the moment, getting away from the ‘explosions’ but tonight we’re gonna hit our hotel rooftop & watch the city explode in light & magic, just before the same thing happens to Guy Fawkes over your way…

Chennai
5/11/10

False Starts

I’m still in Edinburgh, but just for an hour & a half now. Its a gorgeous day, so the length-long journey through Britain should be pleasing on the eye. My last weekend’s been cool enough, a nice jam with the band round a piano to the roar of a blazing country fire last Friday, then Charlie buggared off down Brixton on ‘business’ to raise more funds for the trip. That gave me a little psychological breather to gather in some notes for my writing abroad.I mean, Charlie deals ketamine to half of south london normally, & on running out the other day he took a train to Leeds to get 30 more grammes. Seeing as I knew a handfull of folk who’d have some, meant he had 25 g to himself. As we were living in each others pockest this meant I found myself in his bubble all teh time – theres only so many stories a guy can take about elvis presley & jerry lee lewis b4 I guy goes in sane.

I also had the delight of a little farewell fling with an art-history graduate. I told here she was something of a champagne bottle that smashes agasint a ship’s hull as it sets off on its maiden sailing – with better curves.  She’s gorgeous, actually, with really curly blond hair & delectable lips. Id met her at a hairdresser friend of mine’s house. She was trying to get a 60’s style bouffant, but I said it looked more like a volcano –  this brutal honesty endeared her to me & we took it from there.

With the launch champagne flowing a little too heavily, however, I slept through yesterdays alarm, waking up at 4.55 AM. My bus was leaving at 5.10. Quickly gathering my things I thought I could flag it down on London Road on its way to the A1. I guess it took a different route, cos it didn’t come. In a way this was lucky, because I’d left a load of stuff behind in my rush to leave the house.

I had to buy another ticket, so yesterday I sent m’lady a text saying I’d had such a good time I thought I’d stay on an extra night if she’d have me. ‘You missed your bus didnt you’ she replied, but admiring my attempts at romance she saw me anyway. After a night of wine & her fine efforts at cooking a steak, I woke up at hers this morning, after a on Ferry Road in Edinburgh, with a golden glow over the city panorama like something out of fortress Rajasthan. It became the catalyst for my first sonnet of the trip…

I saw the sun rise up on Arthur’s Seat
& sillouhette the city’s spinal street
This is, I think, a hint of things to come,
Like Sufis singing Sindhi to a drum

As Autumn’s vegetation makes decay
Down Goledenacre/Warriston’s pathway
I went, & swept a picnic round Tesco
To help me on my mission to Heathrow.

Now calling on a friend to say farewell
Emotions curious I tried to quell
With morning tea & biscuits flick’d the dial
For one last hit of Jeremy Saint Kyle

Then poet-prospects loading up with ore
I left my native lands for Siva’s shore

I get to Victoria at 8.30, & with our flight in the morning, & the expected heavy time-wasting security after last week’s terrorist threat, we’re gonna go straight to the airport. From there we wont be going to Mumbai, as I thought, but Chennai. I guess in the desperation to get the cheapest flight, not really minding where we ended up, I got myself muddled up. Luckily, though, Chennai’s the capital of Tamil Nadu, the state I spent a few months in last time round translating its Thirukkural. So thats gonna be friday’s mission, distributing manuscripts round the publishers of that mega-city. Catch ya’s later.

Edinburgh
2/11/10