Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Hi all.

I'm ok, just in case you were wondering. I was quite a way from the coast when the earthquake hit. Still piecing together the news reports. Pretty fucking awful by all accounts. Would like to go and help but think i'd probably get in the way more than be of use... still will check out the possibility... Heading back to goa for new years, have to get sleeper bus tonight. Hopefully will be better than the last one! Mind you, I have a dodgy stomach coming on so maybe it'll be even worse!! should make good reading...

Is everyone out there ok? Was anyone in thailand when it hit? Was Singapore affected at all?

Right, need to go lie down and hope my stomach settles... I'll try to write all the amusing stories about hampi at a later, less sombre moment...

take care all...

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Hell Ride to Hampi in the Cage of Death

"Maybe if I grab hold of that rail I'll be able to hold myself away from the tarmac" I thought as the bus careered on two wheels towards the black emptiness beyond the roadside. It's funny: you always wonder what will go through your mind the moment before you are killed horribly in a sudden accident; whether you will panic, start screaming and cling on to the old lady in the seat next to you, or whether you will remain calm and try to enjoy your last few exciting moments of life. Well, in those few moments while the bus was trying to decide whether to continue on it's wheels or on it's side, I managed to picture the entire pending disaster in my minds eye, and to be honest, it wasn't looking too promising. First I would be thrown against the window, which would promptly implode as the tarmac got to work on it. Then there would be nothing between me and the unpleasant prospect of being "grazed" to death. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself, let's backtrack a little.

So my mum arrived in Goa, and for a few days we enjoyed lazing around and enjoying the beach, but pretty soon we were all getting itchy feet. Then, one evening, we suddenly decided to leave the very next day and catch the sleeper bus to Hampi, which we had heard was a stunningly beautiful place to chill out. I had also heard that it was a complete nightmare to reach, with luxury buses turning out to be tin cans on wheels that drop you in the middle of nowhere etc etc. However, our minds were made up, and we bought tickets the next morning, and by 6pm we were sat outside the Paulo travels office in Mapusa being eaten by clouds of mosquitos and waiting for our first glimpse of our "luxury sleeper bus". Finally, an hour late, a small mini bus pulled up and someone started shouting "hampi! hampi!". After a moment of panic, we discovered that this was apparantly just the shuttle bus which would take us to the main bus in Panjim.

In Panjim we climbed aboard the bus that would be our home for the next 14 hours, and set about finding our seats. Mum and Joel had hit the jackpot, getting an upper berth bed right at the front of the bus. Me and Joanna were not so lucky. Our lower berth seat/bed didn't work, and despite numerous attempts to call over the steward bloke, we had still got no closer to a solution. In the end we managed to make him agree to let us take the opposite bed, and we tried our best to get comfy. After a few minutes a man came up the bus with a clipboard asking everyone to write down their name and adress and a list of what items they were carrying. He seemed very cheerful and we had a bit of a joke with him. In fact, to be honest he seemed pretty pissed, but I didn't think anything of it, I mean you don't have to be that sober to get a bunch of tourists to fill in a form.
After an hour or so, we stopped to have a piss break. As I was returning to the bus, the drunk guy, who was by now clearly hammered, started shouting at people. "Hey! Slow down! No hurry! This not train or plane! haha! Shanti!!". What a nice fellow, I thought. Little did I know that some hours later I would come close to punching his lights out.

Back on the bus I set about the arduous task of trying to sleep. Our bed was near the back of the bus, which in India is a baaaad idea. For some reason indian buses are designed with the wheels about halfway down the length of the bus, meaning that any movement in the front of the bus is amplified by a thousandfold by the time it reaches the back. This makes it less like a bus ride, and more like a fairground ride. I wouldn't be surprised if the indian military require all their fighter pilots to ride at the back of a sleeper bus at least once to test their resitance to multi-directional g-force. Anyway, by wedging myself in the bed, which is exactly the length of my body, I was able to fall into a kind of half sleep... until the crash.

I was awoken by a sound so horrible that I found myself instantly sat bolty upright. The first thought in my mind was that we had just hit one of the indian stall holders who have their portable stalls dangerously close to the edge of the highway. The sound had been of crunching metal, breaking glass, and screaming. Then suddenly my concern for the welfare of this imagined individual dissapeared as I realised that the bus was completely out of control and swerving violently towards the edge of the highway on two wheels. With the help of about a thousand different gods, we somehow ended up back on the highway, driving in a straght line, still at high speed. But the driver didn't stop. If anything he speeded up! About this time I realised that there was some commotion going on in the bed behind me. Joanna pulled back the curtain to find that the window over the couple behind us has smashed inwards and showered them in glass whilst they were in their sleeping bags.

Finally someone managed to shout at the driver to stop, and we started to try and sort out the mess and figure out what had happened. I climbed off the bus and headed around the back to inspect the damage. The entire back side of the bus was scraped and dented, and you could see where the window had been forced out of it's frame. I could see straight away what had happened. In india it is standard practice for buses to spend the entire journey dangerously overtaking trucks that they only have a 5 mph speed advantage over. This leads to continuous close shaves with the trucks coming the other way, who never slow down in the slightest, putting all their faith in the power of their horn and their karma. I have been in numerous close calls where the bus has swerved back onto it's side of the road and just avoided being clipped by a truck. Obviously this time it had been a little too close...

As I was thinking all this, the drunk guy from earlier came up beside me and started explaining what had happened. "You see! Truck coming here! But blinker still flashing! So I saying going left!". "I'm sorry, what do you mean YOU were saying going left?". "I driver!" he said, grinning at me. "But... but... your drunk!!" I spluttered, too shocked to be angry.. yet. "huh?", he stared at me prentding not to understand. "You're DRUNK!!!" i shouted, miming drinking from a bottle. "Ahhh, yes!" he said, still smiling. By now, a group of Indian men from the bus had begun to gather and were starting to understand the situation. They began shouting at the driver and occasionally pushing him and slapping him as he tried to profess his innocence.

After another ten minutes this was still going on but slightly calmer than before, and I started speaking with onme of the indian passengers. He explained to me that none of the indians on the bus had actual tickets, but had just paid the driver some baksheesh for the spare beds on the bus. Because of this, they actually had no authority to tell the driver what to do, and only one of the foreigners could really stop him from driving on. Minutes later I saw what they meant. Despite all of the abuse he had taken, the driver was back in the driving seat shouting at everybody to get on! Some of the tourists were climbing back on, and I suddenly realised that I had no choice but to get involved. I climbed up to the drivers seat. "Turn off the engine and get out of the drivers seat", I said in my most authoratative voice. "You go sit down now, no problem" he said, waving me away with his hand. "TURN OFF THE FUCKING ENGINE AND GET OUT OF THE BUS NOW!!!!", I shouted in his face. That got his attention, but still he was putting the bus into gear and getting ready to pull away, despite the fact that most people were still half on, half off the bus. "YOU WANT TO LOSE YOU JOB?!! YOU WANT TO LOSE YOUR JOB HUH??!! YOU WANT TROUBLE?!!", I shouted in his face, already wondering exactly what kind of trouble I was capable of giving him. Luckily this turned out to be enough and he grudgingly began climbing down out of the bus.

After further enquiries we discovered that there was another driver, who was only a BIT drunk. after all taking it in turns to smell his breath and ask him questions, we decided that we had no choice, and so with a group of indian men sat up front watching his every move, we set off once more.

As I'm sure you can imagine, sleep was not exactly easy for the rest of the journey, as every time the bus stopped I thought the drunken driver had bullied his way back into the driving seat and had to get up to check, but he soon went to sleep and I finally relaxed. Many very bumpy hours later we arrived in Hampi, and have been relaxing here since. Nothing exciting has really happened yet.. oh, except for accidently going swimming in a crocodile infested river... but that's another story... :)

Friday, December 17, 2004

...so luke skywalker's sitting with his dad on xmas eve. the fire's going and the xmas tree is twinkling away. then luke's dad says:

(darth vadar breathing and voice) "Luke. I know what your getting for xmas"...

"But Father! How can you know?!"

"I've been feeling your presents for some time now..."

Bu Boom.

as you've probably guessed, I have nothing interesting to say. I hope you like my joke tho. It needs to be told out loud with Vadar voice and sound effects to really work. I told it to this Irish guy the other day, and all through the joke he was grinning inanely and looking like he was getting it. Then I told the punchline and he just stared blankly at me. "You know, it's a line from the movie.." I said. "Which movie?" he said. "....Star wars!", I said. "Star wars.... Umm, no, don't think I've seen that one...." Trust me to find the one person in the world who never watched star wars!!!!

I also told that joke to a girl from manchester way whilst quite loved up at a trance party the othe day. "That's the shittest joke I've ever heard" she exclaimed. "It's just not funny!". "Have you seen the movie?" I asked. "Yes, but it's just not funny, it's shit, I mean how is that supposed to be funny?". "Well, it's a line from the movie, 'i've been feeling your presence for some time now'..". "Well, that's just shit isn't it, your just repeating a line from a movie". "Well, no, not really, it's a play on words, presents and presence...". "Yeah, but it's shit isn't it?". "Ummm, ok.". I think she fancied me.....

Monday, December 13, 2004


sorry, I know I know, it's been long time... but I've always said that If I'm having a good time then there's no point me writing my blog... I mean you guys don't wanna hear me going on about how relaxing and chilled my life is right? you wanna hear how i nearly got hit by a truck trying to save my pack from being crushed whilst simultaneously puking and crapping myself due to severe food poisoning, right? well, I'm sorry, but that didn't happen. Actually I have been thoroughly enjoying myself, becoming a minor celebrity in the arumbol music scene... :)

I don't know if I mentioned before, but I managed to hook up with Joanna, who some of you may remember as the american girl I spent last xmas with on a beach in brazil.... so now I'm gonna spend another xmas with her on another beach!!! wierd huh?! yesterday joanna, my brother Joel and I managed to make it to one of the parties in anjuna. It was pretty cool, but the music is non stop banging trance, which can get a bit much... There's some great characters there tho, from young techno hippies to ageing 60's casualties... fun for all the family!!

I sold a cd the other day!! so now i am officially working when i play guitar in bars and restaurants... admittedly it doesn't pay that well (although I do tend to get free beers and food) but hey, it's still an income! 300 rupees I got for the cd... that's GBP 3.60!! enough for 2 large meals and 4 beers!

right, i really can't think of anything to say as nothing bad has happened... I will endevour to have a shit time over the next few days and with a bit o bad luck the next post will be more interesting....


Sunday, December 05, 2004

Greetings from Goa.

can't stop to chat, very busy day. work work work... it's relentless I tell you! Today I'm going to be working on my tan for most of the day, with a few breaks to work on my appetite. If I get bored of just sitting around and swimming however, there are countless courses designed for spiritual enhancement dotted along the beach. You can do Tai Chi Yoga mixed with spiritual healing with a guy called Panda, Satsang with an insane smiling lady called neeru, or sunrise Yoga with many self proclaimed western yoga gurus who are dedicated to helping your find yourself (if you were unlucky enough to misplace yourself in the first place).

There is also a fair bit of live music about. I've already had my first gig here, playing at a place called the "Surf Club" owned by a couple of aging english rock and roll hippies. They were kind enough to let me get up and bang out a few songs with the full band behind me, which was pretty damn cool, and I can go back and play every tues and fri!

I have a lovely room on the cliffside overlooking the sea. It has a blacony and everything, and is perfect, except for the fact that it has a family of rats living in between the wall and the roof, and they have a habit of squatting over the edge of the wall and shitting on my bed. very rude if you ask me. My balcony is also strategically placed so that i can sit and sing songs and everyone within 100 metres radius is forced to listen, which is cool... :)

I am aware that sitting on a beach doing nothing but getting brown is not going to make very interesting blog material, so I have made the decision to go along to "Satsang with Neeru" (the one with the crazy smile) so that I can write about it. judging by the posters that I've seen scattered around, it should be pretty interesting. The posters all say things like "You have been searching for it all your life.... it's all about you..... life is a moovie (sic), just sit back and watch." and then have a picture of either Neeru smiling and holding her hands together in prayer, or her husband, Vimal, looking serious behind his huge santa claus beard. anyway, watch this space.... :D

right, gotta go eat before I start fully working on the tan...