Sunday, February 27, 2005


I'm lame huh? I totally haven't been writing my blog this trip... it's not that nothing exciting has happened, it's just that... well.... I just can't be arsed to be honest! I know, I'm sorry! Anyway, I'm staying in Kodai Canal at the moment, which is a town in the mountains (they call them hills here) with stunning views blah blah blah... sorry, but i just wrote all this in a mail to my mum. See, I am getting seriously lazy! How am I ever going to adjust to life in the real world?! Actually, I've decided to be a famous musician, so with a bit of luck I'll be able to skirt around the edge of the real world without getting close enough to be burned by it. According to Hinduism the world's not real anyway, it's all just "Maya", meaning illusion. So if it's not real, I don't see why i should take part in it! Damn my feet are cold. Well, they feel cold anyway, but perhaps it's just maya also. Damn my grammar's getting fucked up! Speaking pijin english all the time plays havok with your grammar let me tell you.

I'm staying in a proper house at the moment with open fires in every room, a kitchen, a garden, a veranda etc. And it overlooks a lake, so there. I think part of the reason that i am unable to come up with anything interesting to tell you is that I have become so used to india that all the craziness seems quite normal really. Maybe next time... actually, i promise that next time I will have at least one interesting thing to say. In the meantime, please go to and sign a petition for me. Come on, it's the least you can do! After all the favours I've done for you! Ungrateful bastards. Right, I'd better go before I lose my entire readership. (don't go! I love you both!)... tara.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Watch out for the Dark....

I've been in Varkala for the last 2 days, and so far have managed to have a few classic misadventures... I managed to meet my cousin jed on the day I arrived and we headed off to find a restaurant to have dinner. The restaurants in Varkala are all perched in a long line on the edge of a very high cliff that looks down over the beach. It is very beautiful but insanely dangerous. The path that runs along the front of the restaurants is only about 3 feet from the edge of the cliff, which is completely sheer at best, and a large overhang at worst.

So anyway, Jed and I have dinner, follwed by a few beers and a couple of spliffs, and finally at about 1am we decide to head home. This is when I realise that I have managed to lose my torch. No problem I think, as there are still enough restaurants open that they shed some light on the path and we can see. Fifteen minutes later we are back at the alley leading to my house, and I say goodbye to jed who heads off for his own house. Walking down the alley, I realise that it is very dark at my house, as the family have gone to bed, so I stop under the last streetlamp to find my key in my bag. Only it's not there. Bugger. I suddenly remember that some things fell out of my bag in the restaurant and I thought I'd picked them all up. Obviously not. So, walking rather too quickly, I set off back along the now very dark path towards the restaurant. I make it there safely and amazingly manage to find my key in the sand under my table. Things are looking up!

Walking back to my house the second time turns out to be more hairy... Most of the restaurants are closed and the street lamps are only every 100 metres or so... I end up having to just aim for the next light and hope I'm not walking over the edge of the cliff! Eventually I reach the end of the cliff and breather a sigh of relief. I start walking down the alleyway to my house, but when I look for the streetlight to stop and get my key out, I realise that it's gone out. In fact all the lights have gone out... in the whole town. Yep, a power cut. Suddenly it is pitch black. I hold up my hand in front of my face: nothing. Shit. I remember that I have to climb over a wall and then go through some palm trees and around the side of the house, so I start trying to imagine the path and follow it. After a few attempts that find me walking into trees, falling down holes, and generally getting more disorientated, I finally make it back to the alleyway where I started.

Realising that without a torch this is going to be impossible, I start racking my brains for a way to make light. I curse myself for deliberately removing my ciggarette lighter from my bag in the name of making it lighter!! Stupid ass! Then I have a revelation! My digital watch! It has a small light for illuminating the screen! armed with this faint blue glow and bent double, I begin scouring the ground looking for clear patches where I can place my feet. 10 minutes later I have made it to the house! but hang on a minute... that washing wasn't there before... that courtyard didn't exist... Shit! This isn't my house!!! I've just spent half an hour scrambling through some stranger's garden and now I'm trespassing in their courtyard with no way of getting out again. I can't face heading back through the light absorbing darkness of the garden so I start manouvering around the wall as it reflects my small light better. Then I see something familiar... "rooms for rent" is scrawled in red paint on one of the walls... this IS my house, I was just on the wrong side of it!! 30 seconds later and i have found my door and made it inside!!! Safe at last!!! :)

Friday, February 04, 2005

Murder on the Shadapti Express...

Hello again! fancy seeing you here! Ok, ok, I've been a bit slack i know, but I've been hanging out in pretty remote places so haven't had access to these new fangled computing machines. Anyway, here's some highlights of the last few weeks:

Left Mangalore on the 10:30 bus, which left promptly at 11:30. Spent most of the journey so desperate for a piss that I had difficulty breathing. The four hour journey only lasted six hours, so arrived in time to bump into Yannick, a French dude, at the check-in desk of the Viyanaka hotel in Madikeri. We decided to share a room as there was only one single room and it was pretty depressing. Our room had a lovely view of a rubbish-slide (like a land-slide but made of rubbish) and if the wind was right you could smell it as clear as if your had buried your face in it. That evening we ate Masala Dosa's by candlelight in the Capitol Hotel, one of the many "Hotels" in India that doesn't actually offer accomodation, only cheap veg food. The candlelight wasn't for romantic reasons, but rather because elctricity in Madikeri seemed to be distributed on a TimeShare system, i.e. if the shop over the road had it, we didn't. After the meal, the power came on and I got up to wash my hands. The scarily enthusistic old man who had served us followed me to the sink and grabbed the jug to pour water for me to wash (there was no working tap). Just then the lights went out again, and in the resulting confusion I found that I seemed to be washing with three hands. It seems my new friend didn't trust me to wash my own hands and had started helping me a little, which was very strange as it made me feel like a 5 year old again, this being the last time someone else washed my hands for me! What with it being pitch dark there was very little i could do except continue trying to aim for my own hands and attempt to ignore the other eager five fingers that had infiltrated their soapy way into my grip.

After one day in madikeri spent walking to a rather pleasant waterfall, I decided it was time to find a quiet place to write some songs. After a few phone calls i managed to book a room at the "Palace estate", and the next morning me and Yannick, (who is often mistakenly refered to as Yanicka due to his introducing himself in a classic french accent: "My name ahhhh is ahhh yannick ahhhh"), jumped on a local bus and set of for Kakkabe, the nearest village to Palace Estate. Another jeep ride later and we were there. Palace Estate turned out to be amazing. It is located in the middle of forest and coffee plantations, halfway up the side of a mountain, and from the vernada of my room I could look down into the valley, which in the morning was a sea of mist with green islands popping up through the cloud. The family who run the place are amazingly friendly, and all meals are eaten together. They all spoke that wonderful victorian English only heard in india. "Will we be enjoying your company for dinner this evening Billy?...". The evening dinner was something straight out of an Agatha Christie novel, partly thanks to two older brit-canadian couples who had just the right hairstyles to complement the picture. I guess it was also because we all sat on the veranda of a very colonial looking house, sipping tea, and slowly getting to know one another by telling anecdotes.... when I woke up each morning to find no one had been murdered I was most dissapointed I can tell you!

One morning whilst getting my breakfast in the kitchen of the Palace Estate, I was lucky enough to catch an episode of the legendary Indian tv show, "Shakti Man". Shakti is power that exists in the cosmos and can be channelled by Sadhus and holy men. Shakti Man, however, is a slightly plump middle aged indian man in a lycra costume who is India's answer to Superman. He is truly hilarious. He looks like he should be selling vacuum cleaners. And the special effects are mind blowing. I saw him use his "heat vision". Two red beams extended slowly out from his eyeballs, and then, when the job was done, they were slowly retracted. Certainly very useful as long as your not in a hurry... :) I've been searching today for a Shakti Man T-shirt, but so far no joy.

Anyway, we finally left the Palace Estate, and headed for a place called Muzhapillangad beach, which we had read a recommendation for in the visitors book. It isn't in the Lonely planet, so i wrote down the name of the beach and we set off to catch a local bus to Cannore, the nearest town. Three buses and countless pot-holes later we arrived in Cannore. It was dark already so we decided to catch a rikshaw to the beach. We tried asking rickshaw drivers for muzhapillangad beach, but no one seemed to have heard of it. Eventually, by pronouncing it muapilangad, we found someone who had heard of it, but they insisted there were no hotels there, as did the group of curious young indians who had gathered around us. Against their advice we decided to go there anyway, and squeezed into the rickshaw. 5 minutes into the journey we realised that the driver didn't speak any english and had just been using the usual indian "say yes to everything technique" to overcome the language barrier. Despite this, he did manage to get us as far as muzhapillangad beach, but that's where he gave up, suggesting we get another rickshaw, and trying to charge us an extra 30 rupees for not actually getting us to our destination. Our second rickshaw was more successfull, being driven by two drunk young indians who drove us 3 k's down the beach (on the sand) staring at each light under the palm tress that we passed. Amazingly they did actually identify the right lights, and we finally reached our destination.

Since then I have moved to a smaller place on the same beach, which is basically a house with a kitchen and everything! Last night I cooked for the first time since arriving in india. It was a nightmare. Withing 5 mins I had got raw chilli juice all over my hands and face, I was sweating like a sumo in a sauna, and then the power cut out. I had to continue by candlelight, sweat pouring from my face in rivers as the kitchen heated up. When the food was finally ready, i discovered that I had misjudged the amount of chillies, and was forced to eat my own mistake whilst my face leaked profusely onto my plate. Tonight Yannick can do the cooking....