23 July 2006

first off, through no fault of the US govt, the aforementioned friend's family are safely back on us soil, or at least on their way (i'm not sure when she sent the email).

perhaps you've seen movies, or even that windows wallpaper that alludes to a place...a tropical paradise where it's just you and the sand and the lapping sea. a corona ad, perhaps. the end of 'trading places'. that stupid 'kokomo' song. there is always the promise of a place where mangrove trees grow over the ocean with enough low hanging branches to sling a hammock over, where the palm trees gracefully arch out over the sand, straining to get a look at the sea, where the water is blue, or green, or some new color that defies description. and there's no one else around. no one. unless you count the few people staying at the same bamboo hut village you're staying. where the food is unbelievably good and the beer is cold and they don't sell it during the day, but they are willing to give it to you for free. and the weather is perfect. and the rain is a performance not to be missed. and on the other side of this perfect island is another beach. different from the miles of uninhabited, almost flat, shallow waters of the first side. this side has thunderous surf, chrystalline blue waves, and is backed immediately beyond the sand by a jungle. perhaps a nice richshaw driver will take you and those with whom you came on a short walk, where you will see a lagoon that brings tears to your eyes because the color of the water can be captured only by an immensly expensive and rare gemstone, if that. and you will see a bird that glows.

you might, if you're very very lucky, spend three days floating on your back in this paradise of paradises, and continually say or agree with the maj as she says, 'holy fucking shit, this place IS perfect.'

so there was that whole thing. we're in chennai (madras) now. you may not know that indians didn't stop at renaming their cities. a great number of streets were renamed too. this makes it damn near impossible to get anywhere in the cities. it's not like anyone knows where the hell he's going anyway. every taxi, rickshaw or auto rickshaw we've been in has stopped to ask directions, or taken the lonely planet map away from me and made it perfectly clear that he is not at all familiar with his city of residence. i used to think new york cabbies weren't so great compared to london taxi trivers (which is true), but this shit is ridiculous.

good god i've gotten about ten mosquito bites since starting to write this. my feet are on fire.

ok, this ghetto version of IE won't even let me change the font or colour, so we're goin' analog. enjoy.

16 July 2006

baited breath

today's update is only this:

i just found out that one of my closest friends in the world's family are stranded in beruit. it would seem that they should be fine but it will probably be hard for them to get home what with the aiport bombed and all. some day i will tell you the stories of the post office, and the train to calcutta and maybe even some other stuff, but for now, let's just wish them well.


12 July 2006

a quick tally

Number of times my imminent death has become a very real possibility:

5 july: 2
9 july: 2
10 july: 4
11 july: 8

jeeps with a minimum of 10 people + fog + himalayas + monsoon season + washed out roads + 7+ hour journeys = lots of really fucking close calls.

ps--we had our very own bomb scare here in gangtok...a box was left in the middle of MG Marg and the police shut everythihg around it down and cleared the area. turned out to be some dude's pyjamas.

09 July 2006

it sure does rain a lot here

greetings from gangtok! the commercial and something or other capital of sikkim. the views from here are pretty great, even if the clouds are still blocking the major himalayan peaks.

we arrived yesterday, promptly found some other travellers, and got drunk. today was a bit of shut up monastery and walking up steep hills and krrish, a movie you should see if you're anywhere near a theatre that's playing it. (ny kids, i'm looking at you here.)

the rain will not hold us back, we will trudge on through the mud. and the leeches. tomorrow we go up to some valley with some dudes and trek around. it sounds like a lot more driving and staying in hotels than trekkking, but if you could see the kind of rain that's coming down right now, you'd be OK with that, too. pray for clear skies.

i've finally realized that there is a minimum of three cups of chai a day, and this is if you refuse upwards of five offers of it. what's more, it's usually poffered by some adorable child who looks at you with gigantic brown eyes and a dazzling smile and has this cute metal basket that holds glasses that he or she is delightedly swinging back and forth in anticipation of bringing you a hot glass, and sweetly says "chai?" you've said "two please," before you even know what happened.

hey, HBO has commercials on it here. isn't that weird? i suppose that might be the least weird thing i've seen here, but i still get a kick out of it. i'm surprised at how many hotels have had tellys. even the bare bones place we stayed in siliguri had one. we do not have one here and it's a nice change of pace.

this town apparently has a city-wide wake up policy that requires some dude to roam the streets at some ungodly hour banging on a gong and yelling something in one of about four options of languages, a la "bring out your dead". who knows, maybe that's what he's saying.

gangtok is the source for "alpine gouda cheese". what else do you want from me?

chow mein is very popular here. i've enjoyed it myself. it is more like what is called lo mein in the states, but with thinner noodles. also popular here is chewing on red stuff and spewing a geyser of red saliva all over the place. these dudes are way into that.

a spring roll has nothing to do with anything you've ever seen before. it's basically a chow mein omlette. yep, that's what i said, and that's what i meant.

per usual, it is loud, chaotic, confusing and beautiful. and the water is rather unreliable.

07 July 2006

who knows what my rrs reader looks like

so we're in darjeeling at the mo. it's a bit wet here. but that's what happens when you travel to india during the monsoons. despite all the rain/mist/clouds, etc., it's still been sweet. all wide eyed and what not. i've been taking pictures like a japanese tourist, and will upload them at some point and you will all gasp with disbelief when i show you just how fucking insanely enchanting this coutnry is.

a few highlights:

our shared jeep (read: 15 people in the equivalent of a shitty land rover) broke its axle on the way from siliguri to darjeeling and we were serendipitously picked up by the bus. this is clearly not scratching the surface of this story, but it's enough to give you an idea of how things work around here.

delhi is kind of a hell hole. the maj and i were thrilled to leave. we flew to bagdogra or something like that. it's beautiful in this part of the coutnry (west bengal).

people LOVE taking pictures of us. we were at the zoo earlier and we felt like one of the attractions. the maj and i patiently smiled whilst about 20 bangledeshis (who we'd met thenight before at a park) all posed one by one to have their pictures snapped (with oldschool film cameras) with two white chicks.

the food is unbelievably good and almost as unbelievably cheap. we ate lunch for less than a dollar each.

that's it for now as i'm typing this on a shitty keyboard with a pretty heavy buzz on and we'rea headed off for more beers.



01 July 2006

the longest day of my life

currently i am relaxing at my friend wanda's house in woking, surrey. she very kindly came and fetched me at heathrow, drove me to hers and had her lovely fiancee (congratulations!!) make bacon sandwiches, which we enjoyed in the garden. i've had a shower and a tea and it's fantastic. in a couple hours, i'll go back to LHR and await my final leg to delhi. i do not like planes. i will also be enjoying the second of two flights in middle seats, hurrah. i am tired. it's 1230 here, about 730 eastern time.

weather in london is spectacular. even a bit hot.

watched 'junebug' on the plane. it's rather enjoyable.