Friday, March 28, 2003

Well, it looks like I'm gonna be in Pushkar for longer than expected.... :)

I was having a chat with Dieter, the guy who's currently running the "Joshua project" school for street kids next to my guesthouse, and he said that seeing as a few people are leaving, I'm welcome to join in and help for the last 2 weeks before he heads back to Belgium and the project closes for 2 months. So, at first I wasn't sure, I mean 2 weeks is a long time when I have only 5 weeks left in India...But then I thought: how selfish am I that I can't spare 2 measly weeks that I probably would have just wasted getting wasted anyway? So I accepted his offer, and today was my first day working with these kids. They really are a great bunch! Very hyperactive, but soo friendly and fun... It's very tiring tho, as the school day is from about 1:30pm to 5pm, which is the hottest part of the day. I spent about 2 hours playing football on the dusty pitch today and the soles of my feet are burnt raw! :o It's really nice to be able to get to know these kids, as you normally only really experience them as a nuicance; they spend the rest of their time when not in school hassling tourists for money....

I've got a bloody horrible sore throat at the moment, which sucks. Cant complain tho I suppose... ;)

I had a rather bizzare experience yesterday trying to "score" some beer....: Pushkar is a holy town, so meat, eggs, and alcohol are all banned. However, a black market does exist for those with the right connections....! We heard from a guy who knew a guy that one particular restaurant might be able to sort us out with a couple of cold ones, disguising them as non-alcohlic Becks.... So we went to this restaurant, and whilst ordering some food, i whispered from the corner of my mouth, "mate, can you sort us out with some beer?". he looked around furtively to make sure no-one was watching, and then gave me a knowing nod, and walked away. He came back a minute later and said "one bottle 100 rupees". Now this is twice the normal price, but were talking a controlled substance here, so we agreed, and asked for 3. he went off to use the phone, and when he came back he told us apologetically that his contact had let him down, and the last bottle had just been sold. "You wan't cannabis lassi instead?" He asked us loudly and openly! On further inspection I found that cannabis lassi is actually on the menu!! So here we are in a restaurant that serves cannabis openly, trying to score a bottle of beer like a bunch of junkies! It was a surreal moment to say the least....

A freind of mine told me a similar story about a hotel owner he'd met coming back from the nearby town of Ajmer. he asked the hotel owner about buying beer, and the hotel owner pointed to his bag and winked. "You've just bought beer in Ajmer?" enquired my friend, excited to have been brought into this secret smuggling operation... "No, chicken!" replied the man.... Smuggling chicken!!!!! Whatever next.... :)

I went for a bike ride this morning. I didn't know where I was going, I just peddled off into nowhere to see what i could find. After about 5 miles, having only found a dead goat, I turned around and headed back.... On the way back, I had to pass a school, and when the students saw me approaching, they swarmed out into the road, creating a human roadblock and signally me to stop. Not having a great deal of choice in the matter, I stopped and said hello. The eldest kid became the spokesperson and asked me a few of the usual questions: "where u from, what your name" etc.... Meanwhile, the 70 strong crowd of kids around me became restless, as started trying to dismantle my already decrepid bike! They tryed lifting the back wheel off the ground with me still on it, and succeeded in bending the mudguard such that it stopped the back wheel from turning, ruining my attempt at escape! Eventually i manged to free the back wheel, and started peddeling, straining against the combined power of about 7 kids still holding onto my bike.... after I built up enough speed they had to let go and just ran along behing me until I outpaced them..... :) It was narrow escape, I can tell you.... ;)

I've just finished reading a book called "India: A Wounded Civilization" by V.S.Naipul. It's been a very enlightening, if somewhat depressing experience. He talks about how the hindu culture has stunted indias growth, and I have to say that now I understand the Hindu system and it's various interpretation throughout the years, I'm inclined to agree with him. For example: The Hindu system is based on caste, and your caste is dependent on how you behaved in your previous life. So, if you are a shit sweeper now, it is becasue you fucked up (pardon my frence) your duty in your previous life. The best thing to do then, is to dutifully perform your role as shit sweeper in the hope that in your next life you might get promoted to a higher caste, like maybe a road sweeper! Likewise, the people who are born into a higher caste, with all the advantages it has to offer, need not feel guilty that ppl around them suffer, because they deserve to be who they are, as they obviously perfomed very well in their previous life. I think you can see where this is going... Basically, this idea of karma and Caste not only excuses peoples complete indifference to the suffering of others, it also leads those who are suffering to believe that it's their own fault, and the only way out of it is to put up with it and wait to die! I think India has progressed slightly since then, but the country is still completely emotionally dependant on this way of thinking. It is their survival mechanism for dealing with the unbelievable poverty and injustice of India, but at the same time it is the destructive force that creates it in the first place. Pretty fucked up huh? Anyway, just thought I'd share that with you, if you wanna know more, go read the book! :)

Ok, I'm gonna go now, but before I do, can i just say what a pleasure it is to be writing this for such a distinguished and lovable audience.... LOL :) By the way, George Dubbya, if your reading this: Shoot yourself!!!!!!!! You know it's the only humane thing to do!

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