Sunday, March 16, 2003

well well well,

before I begin, I'd like you to go and see this little movie clip I've finally uploaded. It's of this couple of boys, one with a monkey mask on (falling off!) his face, and they're trying to get money out of me by performing some bizzare little song. It's something to do with that Shiva festival I went to and was filmed at Kudle beach next to Gokarna. Download it here

We went to the osho party last night. It was ok, but nothing special... It was actually quite cold in the early hours of the morning! I was huddled round a fire trying to get warm! Who would have thought it!? :) Anyway, the music was the typical trance that seems to be the only music they play at parties here, but I had a good dance anyway (for abt 15 mins!). Paul has gone off to the airport now to catch his flight to Sydney, and I'm off in the morning... Travelling alone again!!! It'll be the first time I've been travelling alone since the 3 hours I spent alone between saying goodbye to Marc and Telly and meeting Danell! Lets see how long this one lasts.... People always say to me "it must be lonely travelling alone no?", but the reality is that you very rarely stay alone for more than a couple of days maximum before you meet some people, so you're never lonely!

I went for a walk around Paul's house yesterday evening, and I met the guy from the other day who works in the ice factory! I passed him in the busy street and thought "huh? he looked familiar!", and when I turned back he was also turning, and he smiled and said "Billy!". He remembered my name! I can't rememeber his tho... oops! Then he came over and I gave him my hand to shake, which he did, but then didn't give me it back! He held on to my hand for the whole 5 mins we were chatting, and at first I was a bit uneasy, cos I felt like he was trying to stop me from leaving, but afterwards I realised that this is totally normal in India. In fact, I've seen guys sitting together chatting who are almost "fondling" each other's hands for want of a better word, like a couple being lovey dovey! Playing with one another's fingers etc. It's totally normal here for men to hold hands with one another while walking, or play with one another's hands while talking! When I told this to Danel a few weeks ago he refused to believe me at first, instead choosing to believe that there are just a lot of gay men in India!

So anyway, he told me that he was working at the moment just down the road outside the market selling blocks of ice of the back of a cart, so i went along with him to have a look. After saying goodbye I went for a wander through the market and took in the sights sounds and smells (oh the smells!) of asia. After wandering the hectic street for a while and narrowly avoiding being run over on more than one occasion, I suddenly stumbled across a big glass door to somewhere called the "pyramid shopping centre", so i wandered in... Reverse culture shock again! It was like being in singapore again! 4 floors of designer labels, digital cameras, deli counters, delicatessants etc! And lots of rich indians wandering around looking at items of clothing that cost more than the average indian earns in a month... So I went and bought a box of chocolates for Paul's parents as a thankyou gift, and then ran for the door! Back in the comforting grime of the street I wandered home.

Paul was telling me the other day that all Pakistanis are evil and that we should blow up the entire country. I asked him if he'd met them all personally, and he said he'd met enough. I said I thought that it was a pretty racist staement and he was very shocked. "It's not racist, it's a fact!!" he told me, "You wouldn't understand unless you're indian..". While i still maintain that most Pakistanis are just normal friendly people trying to live their lives, I started to get some idea of why he feels this way after a phone conversation with my girlfriend. She asked me if i'd heard the news about the bomb blast in Bombay. "What bomb blast?" I said, surprised that i hadn't heard about it. It turns out that 11 ppl were killed and about 70 injured on thurs when a bomb exploded in a crowded train carriage in Bombay station. When I told Paul about it, he was like "oh". Completely indifferent! "This is India Billy!" he said, "This happens all the time!". When I read the newspaper to find out more, it turns out it was the work of, ummmm, no one's quite sure, but definitely one of the many militant islamic groups fighting for Kashmir..... So I can sort of see how this kind of blind hatred for another nation and it's population comes about. After a while it's no longer a case of logical reasoning, it's just a case of raw emotion. The same is true of the Israeli's. Although the Israeli's i know were able to admit that not all palestinians are itching to strap on some C4 and blow themsleves up for the "cause", with every bomb that does go off, that ability becomes less and less, until all that's left is just the raw emotions of loss and hatred.

It's crazy hearing the stories told by Israelis. Every time a banger goes off you can literally see all the Israeli's jump and then cringe. In Jerusalem and Telaviv, where most of them live, everyone has somehow been affected by a bombing, and most have had a near miss. All have heard bombs go off more than once, and the sound of a bang in the distance automatically triggers a nervous response. I'm not going to comment on the political rights and wrongs of this conflict, beacause i don't know enough about it, and it just goes back so far, but i will say that for ordinary Israeli's and Palestinians, with every bomb that goes off and every building that is bulldozed, a little more of that ability to think rationally slips out of the window, and the irrational power of hate gets an even stronger foothold. I find it hard to see how a downward spiral like that can ever be reversed, but I sure as hell hope it can.....

well, on that happy note i think I'll take my leave... :) Happy Holi everyone!

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