I enjoy the comforts available here - most of all I enjoy meeting old friends and colleagues again. That´s what the solitary traveller truly misses - a good friend of mine called the state of constant online communication while being far away "alone but connected" - a phenomenon not restricted to travellers.
Getting back to Europe is getting back to a society I used to criticize a lot - a society I can now see through completely new eyes. Defining my role in this one, after having spent such a long time on my own (in environments beyond my control) is not easy, but manageable - the whole flurry of opportunities paralyzed me at the start, but as the circumstances become clearer, the feverishly hazy view of my dengue-addled physique subsides - and life is back to it´s splendour.
I need to find a spot where I can continue my training and hone the skills Alexis so patiently taught me - A few options already have materialized, but a definite yes is still a bit away.
I´ll continue to post prose here, the travel-relation might subside - so turn in or tune out, at your leisure.
The late after effects of a dengue infection got hold of me in Manila, and I saw the need to return home the quickest way possible. So I did exactly that, with a lot of help from the Austrian Embassy and my parents.
Short story, all true, and more will follow, more on the lines between prose and poetry, between fiction and fact. Stay tuned, dave´s away in Austria at the moment, and will stay there for some time.
I´ve come here to understand life - I´ve followed the example of
I also happen to enjoy good stories, and Bambi´s telling of the Dream of Euleuteria Kirschbaum is one of the best I´ve read in a while. Told from the naive perspective of a Philippina of humble origins, it describes her plight as she journeys to Germany in hope of a better future. Her fears and hopes crumble when she comes to realize her suitors true nature: An alcoholic jobless overweight that lives with his mother.
What makes this story so touching is its reflection of the truth. It´s a story that happens all the time, again and again, not only here in the Philippines.
The friendly holy guys at the shrine of the holy mary of virginity and whatnot actually spent most of their time buggering each other, in a wide variety of ways. They even held a drag beauty queen contest in the church! Or so the local papers report - in an image that plays on our perception of the virtual, recalling a similar plot imagined by an italian writer, a lone monk was cast out of the order (reportedly for leaving without notice) and then decided to blow a whistle instead of dicks.
The quotes given in the newspaper have such wonderful ingredients as "Other monks pray all night, we used to count our money". The shrine makes a ludicrous amount of cash every day from the devout pilgrims that believe in the wish-fulfilling properties of the holy.
And, as is customary in the holy mother church, the superiors reprimanded the banished ex-monk for not using the appropriate channels of hierarchy - And of course for tainting the good reputation of the shrine. I´m sorry if I´m too obvious here, but this needs to be said: How hypocrite can you get?
Perhaps you´re aware of the fact that in the middle ages, many convents were considered "bastions of sin", where those who swore to be celibate fucked everything moving. Keep your sons and daughters away from the convents, people! They knew it a thousand years ago, but somewhere in the middle a great number of people apparently forgot it. (See K. Deschner for further reading on that).
I would love to interpret the monks happy life on the money of others as some kind of emancipatory act - but its too hard to bullshit stuff like that. Their religion preaches commandments that cannot be completely fulfilled by anyone, anywhere, and therefore creates a constant torrent of self-loathing (because of the weakness in the sight of the divine), and the sadomasochist stockholm syndrome teaching of the all-forgiving and all-loving cajoles the faithful into also presenting the other ass cheek.
so far, so nice, so there
Yes, even in Cebuano, the language of the island I´m on, as the educational authorities not only do not teach that language, they also ban its use, fining kids one peso for each word uttered in their mother tongue. Most people are not sure about their own grammar and vocabulary, and lots of words that were once spanish are now borrowed from the American. Actually, the argot commonly spoken is nearly intelligible to a decent speaker of English and guesser of meanings as myself.
It´s truly a quite striking fact that so many expats here are alcoholics. I´m guessing it´s not just the cheap beer - they genuinely seem to drown their every action in alcohol, in order to forget about the reality they should be confronting themselves with. No, even more, the reality they see and the actions they perceive would be necessary to change this produce a profound escapism, a flight into cheap liquid oblivion, anything but risk their (oblivious, comforting) lives (as everyone who tries to truly change the world does) doing what they see must be done. So much for the reason, a cure is to be found in self-awareness and the realisation of the necessity for doing something, anything, to give life on this planet a reason (a true one, not the lies of those preaching the doctrines of deities that are long dead, have never been alive anywhere except in the heads of their followers).
Thanks to the unending glory of the FSM at this point for showing me the one, true piraty way and giving me the option to lampoon religions without having to throw blood on curtains like our old actionist Nietsch (not to be confused with the german philosopher of a similar name).
Indeed, I strongly assume that that guy´s actually just attempting parody - whether he knows it or not doesn´t matter that much.
now, mens insana in corpore somewhat sano, I´m off to training (late as always)
His vinyl collection includes Wolfgang Ambros ("irgendwaunn bleib i daun durt") and Ludwig Hirsch, Die Schmetterlinge and other stuff from that period. Strangely enough also two plates with "Fideler Volksmusik" (Austrian/Bavarian marching bands playing marches). There´s something about that combination that makes sense, but too much of it doesn´t.
Hundreds of books line the walls where the guy known as Raimund spent the latter part of his life, Time Life collections, Brehms Tierleben (ironically, eaten by ants), a DDR tourist guide from 1990 (they included the information that, as the wall had just fallen, all the information regarding entrance to the DDR was no longer valid, open borders and all).
All this in the context of a yacht shipyard, which produced three yachts, of which two and a half were sold, and two still sit in that shed by the mangroves. Ants, bees, hornets, crabs, termites, all incessantly (and successfully) try to invade the human dwellings, and again I asked myself: Why try to preserve nature when nature will try to eat you with guarantee?
The final thought on that place on the island that was one mans dream, a dream I once shared as a boy: No more. Isolation in that sense is not at all what I want to do with my life, not even eventually when retiring. And Europe is the country where I belong, where I can do stuff that is actually useful to some extent.
To videos and their content:
What we don´t need are more images that tell you how lucky you are to be at the top of the food chain. We don´t need more videos of the fishermen, their ramshackle houses, and the mansions of the landowners right next to them, we all know these images, we know them by heart. We don´t need more pictures of children in torn and dirty clothes begging for money on the street: We know all that, we know.
The elites here in the RP, that see these images every day, don´t care a bit more for their country because of them (A politician here in Cebu had a great idea for alieviating poverty: He actually put up christmas lights in the slums, so the people don´t feel so poor). And the people in Europe are powerless to change anything, clueless about the sort of change they could effect, and are simply paralised in their ikea chairs, without any possibility for action.
But there are possibilities, my friends, there will always be. Escape to paradise is simply not one of them, confrontation with reality is the only prerequisite for all the others.
These damn little buggers bite anyone, everything, all the time, and transmit dengue. Fortunately, I got a really nice and well-mannered strain, that apparently doesn´t do all that much harm besides greatly raising the seriousness of the second infection.
The days spent in my small room at Kukuk´s nest where - interesting, a natural psychedelic experience, so to say, with feverish vision finding fantastic shapes and forms in the water-stains on the ceiling, contemplating the utter majesty of common cockroaches (superiour beings, the next big shot for civilisation after we´re gone, oldie, moldy and goldie-ish). And I also had the complete works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder to assist my recuperation - that wasn´t perhaps the best idea.
But yes, a state of altered mind is conductive for the understanding of RWF (or at least adds to the experience), he might have been thinking of Dengue in some of his films, especially the utterly absurd "Satansbraten".
Now, I´m not sure if I can, or should, write more about RWF here - I´m basically just at the beginning of that sojourn into old german cinema - But I think that lunatic would enjoy people without a clue writing about his movies, far more than any learned discussion about the metaphorical content of the same. That stuff he created is not entertainment, it was rather something rarely seen in our times, cinema that tries to scramble your brain and produce thoughts, rather than just soothing wake-sleep-dreams and pacifiers.
After a night of non-stop RWF, walking down the street seems like an experience no one has ever tried before, and the normality of life is an image of the underlying madness, with sugar on top.
Coffee helps to overcome the post-dengue lethargy, so choose a chain at random (the coffee bean, in my variation) and spend time here, guzzling the beverage that´s so rarely found outside of the shopping centers. Damn you, Nescafé!
adios, read you soon,
Songs in all midi-synth-shades of bad, or worse, and videos atrociously made in the 80ies in the Netherlands (which have nothing to do with the song in question of course) - this, accompanied by good Green Tea with Gin, some mushrooms (no, not what you think) and happy people makes for suprisingly good entertainment and a fun time.
As an absolute newbie in all things sing-along, I was a bit challenged by the whole affair: Especially since I knew only a tiny fraction of the diverse and interesting ballads from the 70ies, 80ies and 90ies. I saved myself with a bit of Frank Sinatra, and failed miserably at Elvis and Jackson (mainly because the midi was so mangled I had troubles recognizing the songs. But hey, my excuse.. I can´t sing anyway. )
But yeah: Pinoy karaoke is not the public humiliation we all know from Europe or Japan, but rather a variant of Singstar without the playstations - you get a room, and a machine, and you sing all you want for a few hours.. All-you-can-sing, practically.
I personally think the pinoy fascination with this electronic campfire is a hint at an earlier tradition of singing and poetry that must have been impressive indeed... But yeah, I think I did enough heavy history rants in the older posts.
Currently, I´m battered, bruised, destroyed and yet happy: Adrenaline does that to you. I had the time of my life in a padded-stick fighting session behind Matias Eatery (sic!) with Juno (a wonderful stickfighter and griller of diverse edibles, also on sticks). I really enjoyed it, and have taken the beating well enough (as I got a T-Shirt and a stick). But this session has really shown me my limitations: Even though I might have some idea of how to use the stick, and how to step, I´m still a tortoise to Juno´s hare, and when I get around to blocking something, I have allready taken in about 5 strikes to the hand and belly. Yay!
But yeah, speed can and will be trained: There´s nothing more motivating than landing a few yourself.
cheers, the d.
(Yay! I can still type.. a bit.. )
The peoples subjugated in Mexico and the Andes were somewhat more used to having a centralised ruler, and once the Spanish had taken out the respective monarchies, resistance from the common people (who just had a different royality imposed on them, often using the same administration) was scarce.
The Phillipines, however, were populated by a wide variety of very warlike societies, not at all used to give tribute to anyone, and they fought the Spaniards at every step. The history of the Phillipines is a history of unspeakable atrocities comitted by the frailocracia, the name given to the de facto rule of many religious orders. To give you some idea of the nature of the tributes collected here: besides paying annually a sum of ten reales per household, the natives were also press-ganged to forced labour for forts, construction of churches, shipyards, woodcutting, in adittion to numerous personal services that more often than not where not even paid. Aggravating their situation, the majority of the communal lands, the basis of their former subsistance economy, had been taken over by haciendas or the orders. The tribute to be paid remained the same.
As if that wouldn´t be enough, the crown exacted a forced sale, at ridiculously low prices, of grain, chicken and pigs, even where the populace was already suffering from all the above.
The people died like flies. Smallpox and tuberculosis ravaged the malnourished and overworked, once proud, people of the Phillipines. Many towns burned all their livestock and houses, and fled to the mountains, where resistance against the opressors continued throughout the Spanish occupation. Rebellions arose again and again, in spite of retaliatory policies that consisted of burning a whole village for each Spaniard killed.
After the initial military resistance had been quashed, many adopted a suicidal tactic I have never heard of anywhere else in the world: The inhabitants refused to sow, killed their livestock, and thus, by starving themselves, sought to starve the Spaniards (who they observed to do no work except killing).
Unconquered until today, Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago regularly sent retaliatory strikes against the spanish shipyards, where the expansionism of that utterly mad and criminal regime was quenched again and again.
It is such a history that has produced the Phillipines we see today.
It is in the spanish legacy that the modern exploiters of women put themselves.
Such disgraces against humanity as were witnessed by this paradise - A better proof for the absence of any kind of god can´t be provided. Yet, the Pinoys retain the brainwashing that centuries of monks installed in their battered bodies: Miracles happen, the "true" paradise awaits you in the afterlife.
The liars continue to profit.
So, there are no giant big new fascinating news at the moment, but I decided to write up the status quo as I see it anyway.
It´s apparently traditional that the opposition burns an effigy of the current president at each SONA (State Of the Nation Adress), and Mrs. Arroyo has clearly one of the worst tastes for dresses ever conceived by the human mind. Can you take any dic.. ah, politician seriously who runs around in a pink monstrosity?
In other news: Journalists tend to get killed here. In a variation of a classic drive-by shooting, a political commentator of a national radio station was dispatched expertly by several gunmen, uniformly armed.
But yeah, what the hell. Taking things easy is a very pinoy thing to do, and that´s what everyone is doing around here. My trainer (Alexis Villarente) is a wonderful person, who even arranges food and water in the morning (which has not destroyed my digestion yet, yay!), and I´m looking forward to the next session tomorrow (although my natural tendency is to sleep veeeery long).
Down at the Kukuks Bar, they´ve been playing the same Bob Marley CD (burned, of course) for at least the last year or so (as my swiss colleague affirms). "Stop that train, I wanna get on"..
People here earn the equivalent of three dollars a day, and consider themselves lucky to be earning that much. So when the Princes from the Lands across the Sea arrive, more often than not quite old, a bit on the fat side, and sporting a moustache a walrus would envy, many Pinayas consider themselves lucky.
Or, better put, they continue the battle started by Magellan and Lapu-Lapu so long ago with their own set of beautiful weaponry. The three expats I´ve met so far have quite similar stories, two of them kids, and none of them seems too happy about the extended family. Obe of them got attacked with a broken bottle the other day, by the mother of his two children. Another Englishman seemed rather happy, in a I-no-longer-care sort of way.
These scenes begin right at the start, in the plane to the Phillipines, where beautiful young women travel to their motherland with husband attached. Now, perhaps it´s just me, but I have a hard time imagining tales of true love on sandy beaches between men the age of my granddad (mostly quite ugly) and women the age of myself (stunningly beautiful).
Seeing the eyes of these young women, who undoubtedly have to endure the clumsy advances of their legal spouses from time to time, I saw pain, resignation, and a certain stubborn pride.
They´re not the only ones fighting for survival in this paradise lost: The Moros in the southernmost islands have resisted conquerors since the spaniards arrived. The USA, the Japanese, even the independent Manila government never managed to really take control of that territory.
Fighting has a proud tradition here, and Lapu-Lapu, the chief who killed Magellan, was just the beginning: Guerillas fought bravely against the Spanish and the Japanese, and continue to do so even today, although with different enemies, ideologies and goals.
And that´s what I´m here for: to learn the ancient art of Eskrima, the fusion of indigenous swordsmanship with spanish techniques, which, until recently, used to be essential for survival on the streets. The old-style lethal duels known as "Juego Todo" still exist underground, if the rumours are correct, and every Eskrima school has it´s own stories and legacies of their Grandmasters and their mostly violent deaths.
But that´s of course not what I´m looking for.
But, I digress: Actually I wanted to write about the sweaty ordeal that I knew nothing about 8 hours ago.
When you get to the Mumbai airport, the full extent of the paranoia prevailing in a city that just suffered some terror hits you like a truncheon. Pillboxes line the taxi drop-off cue, nice big german shepherds fan air to their keen noses in the brooding head, and policemen with moustaches who have absolutely no technical capability to control the validity (or even plausibility) of your ticket will still refuse entrance to the airport (to the check-in counters) to anyone not bearing a printout with lots of numbers on it.
Yes, that was new for me. Normally, these e-ticket things tend to be a bit too easy: you walk there, show your passport, and that's all anyone will ever ask of you, anywhere in the world. Except India.
Okay, so I'm standing in the humid heat of a typical Mumbai night, and trying to keep my inner barbarian from ripping out. The paradox is that, of course, there is no airline office outside of the hall these moustached machos so jealously (and absolutely senselessly) guard. As Terry Prattchet writes "Guarding is in the process of happening." A guard may not question the utility of his or her placement, because that's simply not something guards are supposed to do. But in case someone comes around without said printed piece of paper, the entry to the hall were such printouts could actually be procured is denied.
It took some screaming and agressive walking, followed by some more rational conversations with different people, and finally a clerk at an exchange office pointed me to an elevator that led to the secret hideout of the airline offices. By this time I had realised that such a situation just screams for utterly civilised behaviour and at least some sign that you have money and are therefore important. My Boss jacket, brought along for exactly this purpose, did it's job quite nicely. Guard convinced, printout procured, and a lengthy and sweaty running around was about to end.
The policeman at another entrance checked my Pieces Of Paper Granting Admission (with lots of numbers on them) for exactly 0.4 seconds before waving me through.
Finally IN the sacred halls, a young guy from Singapore noticed my jacket (the rundown flipflops and the old backpack seemingly ignored) and reduced my further waiting time decisively, waving me through a few other security checks and at the end cheerfully asking me if I could mention his good behaviour to his superiours. Ahhh, the appearance of wealth at the right time can be quite helpful.
So far from the wonderful airconditioned terminal one of Singapore Changi Airport, where they sell wonderful coffee and have free WiFi. Bliss!
And the main terrorist had breasts the size of Pamela Anderson's, muscles too big for walking. My two co-hostages were quivering, crying, while I sat on the couch with defiant anger, mixed with a healthy dose of fear.
The terrorist, his greasy long hair combed back, munched on three cashews, dialed a 10-digit number, and then proceeded to announce to an unknown interlocutor:
"Heeeey India TV! Muahahahahahhaaaaaaaa! "
Yes, I am now oficially part of the actors guild. Bollywood called, and I roared an answer: "Total Ten", a movie which takes quite a lot of liberties with the terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal Hotel, will forever be recorded in the history books as the first appearance of ME, the D., on the big screen.
Tomorrow will be another day, another performance, and perhaps a bit more dancing. I hope for a more challenging role than lying on the ground with blood on my head and a sobbing New Zealandette next to me.
The profit ratios my agent gets are not bad: Apparently, the studios pay around 2,000 rupees per white guy or gal, and the agents dish out a meagre 500 rps to the tourists in question.
But hey, you get food, chai, conversation, and an insight in the world's biggest and fastest film industry. Yes, the fastest: The movie I mentioned before is being produced in three months, A-Z. In Austria, you wouldn't even produce a short in that time, let alone a feature.
This is Bollywood, so the terrorists can hide behind glass windows, and be born evil, and look ugly, while the heroic commandos are the image of bravery and goodness. Every story here has basically an intrinsic moral and mythical context, where the cheesieness is NOT optional. Having an overweight baddy with eyebrows the size of shrubbery is just what you need to captivate an Indian audience, apparently.
But hey, who knows, a new breed of actors, directors and producers might be just around the corner. In order to get around that, however, they need to break with these age-old traditions, and perhaps even change the society as a whole.
Mumbai greets the weary eyes of the train-borne traveller with the images we all know now. The slums.
Imagine a city in which every space that is not explicitly walled in, fenced off or protected by automatic weapons is used as living quarters. Or farmland.
The camps of blue plastic (even cheaper than the tin, apparently) crop up wherever space exists and the people haven't been beaten away yet. Just 5 minutes from the Taj Mahal Hotel, the monument to luxury erected by the Parsi industrialist Jamseti Tata, you can find seafront housing of the basic kind.
The "beaches" consist entirely of plastic, and the blue roofs behind it fit in perfectly. I guess at a high development value of this peculiar abandoned wharf.
Back to the trains: Travel in second class sleeper cars is absolutely up to european standards, if not a bit further up the scale. The friendly (tip-coveting) wallas pamper one with free food that's ages away from the fare airlines serve, and the air-con is a good reason to bring a fleece jacket to India. All in all: Quite an enjoyable experience.
Even more enjoyable when, looking out the window, the normal kind of train passes your island of comfort, commuters literally clinging to whatever surface they can find. (The roof is no longer used, probably because of the high casualty rate)
After a long time of scarce (if not totally absent) posts, now commences a time of many words, of interesting observations.
And no, my camera was not yet stolen, but I simply decided I could write a bit more often. Not a bad notion, I hope.
SO, here I am, in Dehli. New Dehli, to be exact. The temperature outside is about 10 degrees above the workable limit, so the only option I have to bridge the gap between my successful ticket purchase for the train to Mumbai (I still admire myself a bit for that achievement, explanations will materialise soon.. )is to write.
The Yellow House in Kathmandu was Paradise, with a capital P put there for a reason. Wonderful food, cheap, clean rooms and really nice staff top off the groovy, sometimes a bit freaky, crowd hanging loose there and savouring the vibes of Nepal.
Indeed, I have to say it might have been a bit too good, and contributed thus to my long absence from the keyboard. Blogposts entitled *it's wonderful here and I'm loving it* are not the kind of message I would want to read. Thus, writing them is even less of an option.
But yes, as I am now in New Dehli, that moloch breeding with heat and hustlers, there are far more interesting phrases to be formed.
This society demands a basic distrust of everyone, especially of those who happen to earn less than you do. Trickery is abundant, a spanish girl I met while trying to purchase my ticket managed to be conned 5 times in the short time she had been here (since today in the morning, three o'clock).
So, the following week will be interesting: In which traps will I fall? Will I manage to get to Singapore with my pants still on? And, perhaps, upload a video while doing it?
It's understandable why Hinduism is polytheist: A single god could never cope with such a seething mass of humanity.
the d, alive as can be.
A series of interviews taken in the camps in southeastern Nepal, where about 108.000 people still live without any citizenship.
This is explicitly not "dave's away" but something else entirely, as yet nameless. Any suggestions?
Here's the first vid of a whole new series, something completely different and yet same same. Hopefully, you will enjoy these more mundane productions in the same way you did the first chaotic pieces..
Coffee, power, all of life's necessities, wrapped up in a concise little place called Thamel. Touristy as it might be, it's simply what the people in (post?)industrialised countries take for granted and consume every day.
Bhutanese Refugee camps are a whole different story.
And it's not a pretty one.
Driven from their homeland in southern Bhutan 18 years ago, 108.000 people currently sit without any citizenship in the south-eastern provinces of Nepal.
There are a lot of interviews, and I want to provide you with an accurate translation before going into detail.
Summarising the translations I got from T.P. Mishra (founder of the Bhutan News Service and perhaps the only internationally active refugee journalist without a citizenship):
It wasn't ethnic cleansing in the classical sense, but it got quite close to it.
The religious aspect was present, but not central. The holy threads were reportedly cut from the Brahmans, Hindus were forced to kill cows. Quite serious, actually.
The people there basically haven't been able to work legally since the early 1990s.
Resettlement to third countries is hope and possibility for many, but it remains a half-baked solution.
Culturally, the southern Bhutanese have lots of rituals, "puja", offerings, equipment, stuff they can't reasonably leave behind because of their spiritual beliefs.
Actually, these things are a bit to heavy for the planes, though. And the money to afford an additional luggage charge is neither available of affordable.
I'll be working on the video for the next week or so, so expect few updates, and another dave's away with true content and message.
Yeah, still Nepal. I like it here, so I decided to stay a bit longer (End of June, actually). Manu, you knew it, didn't you?
I'll be back with lots of tasty footage and a new vid in a week or so. Wish me luck and absence of strikes (at least not too many).
dave out. (and away)
here it is, the official version of dave's away V. I haven't published it on my blog yet (because I was waiting for anyone to get seriously pissed off), but that hasn't happened as of yet.
So, here it is. My own good self is mainly keeping my mouth shut in this one, and I let people speak who have a closer relation to the whole situation. (Namely, Ben Peterson and an anonymous student).
As to the current situation: It's all progressing peacefully. The opposition has produced a leaked video which seriously questions the Maobadhi's democratic commitment. It has clearly been around for some time (It's from 2006) and the fact that it got aired one day after Prachanda stepped down indicates the opposition had this ace up their sleeve and just waited for the right moment to play it.
Well, enough background, here's the vid. To the honourable CIA members and employees reading this: Have fun. (The US still labels the democratically elected UCPN(M) a "Terrorist Organisation" so I have no idea how much trouble I can get in just for posting some pics. )
The FSM, in its unending glory, has delivered my bowels from their wavering consistence.
As I'll continue my travels soon (towards the east, Jhapa) I'll have to finish my work before that. So I shall work like the madman that I am for the next three days, and deliver 2 (two) new episodes of that all-time classic, dave's away. Orrr I'll be beaten by reactionary power shortages, but hey, that's what generators are for.
So, I'll write no more and get to work!
This is yours truly, on the top of a mountain (quite foggy, one hell of an ascent) next to a Stupa donated by a Peter Steiner (A sibling of the anthroposoph fascist?) of Germany. Most of the people in this region are Hindu, by the way. On the way up, as I was struggling with the steep steps, heat, moisture and my own aching knees, a whole school class of local kids strolled casually up the mountain, hollering and cheering all the way. And this on a trail any school in Austria would never consider for a hike (because of the probable high body count). Somewhat demoralizing, that.
Ah, isn´t this refreshing? Apparently, Shiva and Parvati decided to incarnate as doves, and happily proceed to procreate in the Ghorka temple/fortress.
This is the dark side of Phokara: Bitumen, anyone? There´s practically no public recycling system, other than the occasional roadside burning of plastics.
is simply to slow for that here). No, it's a ritual rarely seen in our western hemisphere:
The mac users out there might not remember it, and the vista users probably as well, but there's a feature in Win XP that allows you to integrate websites into your desktop. So there's a small item in the menu that says "refresh".
You have to see it to believe it. Nepali "hardware computer teachers", as close to trained professionals as you can get here, are right-clicking and left-clicking at speeds too fast for the untrained eye. And now for the wtf!?! of this>
They actually believe this will make their computer go faster. It says "refresh", right? So the computer will be fresher, and will go more quickly.
rotfl, dave out - happy tibetan new year 2066 everyone!
by the way: wosIsig's "Atheist" is now available with english subtitles!
Ah, yes, Ghorka. The ancient seat, palace, temple etc... of the dynasty that ruled Nepal until just a year ago. Just got here, and was again convinced of the fact that Hindu temples are really boring. All the statues are hardly recognizable because the devout smear them full with red paste. Apparently, the gods like that.
Other than that: Found some rests of an ancient martial art in local dance traditions. Will check that out in Phokara, tomorrow. The Brits (especially their Ghorka regiment) are about as helpful as a brick wall. Quite polite. but not budging one inch.
From the lush green palace gardens, you have a wonderful view over the local dusty favela architecture. Especially from the helipads. You have to give that to the Maoists: at least they got rid of that King.
Very well, dear fans, friends and family,
After a week in the mountains, nothing seems more luxurious than some meat, power and running water.
This is the f!§"ing middle ages here, people. Yes, some houses have electricity, but 93% here still survive on what they can farm.
No, you eco-freaks, this is not a good thing.
The life of a farmer here is as hard as they get. Which means: Work all day, go to bed early, get up as soon as the sun rises. No, wait, half an hour before.
One good meal a day (dhal-bhat, rice and lentils, some meat maybe once a month), the rest is just toiling away, beating and shouting at buffalos, oxen, wives, kids or other relatives to work faster...
And yeah, there´s nearly no rain (once the monsun has gone, that is). Once a day, mostly in the evening time, a few drops come down.
Something like the mac book I´m writing on now (and have lugged across the frickin himalayas, here) could as well be from an extra-terrestrial civilisation.
They know that something like that exists, but it´s as far out of their reach as the stars themselves.
Coming back to a favorite topic of mine: Food.
The Dhal Bhat in the lower, non-touristy areas is quite spicy, often with a hint of ginger. As you get further up in the mountains, everything starts to get blander, as well as more expensive.
My personal recommendation (and diet plan) for all of Asia: Get the pre-packaged noodle soup (RAmen!, oh ye faithful, RAmen!). For less than 20 cents, this is not a bad deal. Especially if you add some vegetables and more chilly. Yum! This is the safest possible way to eat, and one of the most nutritious as well. Other than that: deep-fried Samosas for less than 5 cents rule.
As to a fitting drink: Why pay about 2€ for a liter of warm beer, when you can get a glass of the local "wine" Raksi (home-distilled corn/wheat/whatever) for much less? Less than 35 cents, that is.
And if you buy outside of Khatmandu, you just might get a quality that doesn´t cause a headache the next day.
Water can be a problem, if only a small one. Basically, if you have it boiled, it´s okay. So the local chai is a good drink on the road (tastes universes better than warm coke and costs less than 10 cents).
This rough price guide only applies to the non-touristy areas (meaning everything except anapurna circuit and everest base camp). If you on one of the big two, expect to pay a lot more for less quality.
Some highlights of my sojourn so far: Scrambling almost straight up for 6 hours (without my 10k backpack) and then stumbling down again. 800 meters of height difference isn´t half bad. Another bright idea: Walking/climbing/freestyling down an unknown canyon with my trusty camera (didn´t get good shots though) and then wading barefoot through the rice paddies.
Ah yes, being a caucasian with a beard, I´m the main attraction at any event I attend. Funny, but can be somewhat bugging if you can´t get those frickin kids to go away and leave you in peace. At the Tirpura Sundari festival, I was the center of a very big group of kids wherever I went.
To my original plan: Finding anything here somehow related to the ancient warrior culture that surely at some time must have existed here is, well, impossible. The farmers simply farm, about the same way they did about 2000 years ago. And the noblemen that possibly once practiced some form of martial art have gone extinct, which is not wholly a bad thing. I did find a wonderful Kukhuri today, though. Forged by an ancient smith in his .. ah, shed (compared to which the old hammers of the Ybbstal where I´m from also look like the frickin Starship Enterprise) and bought for less cash than you normally spend thoughtlessly on fast food.
I´ve not given up on my plan, however, and still want to visit a British training camp and perhaps interview one of the officials there, perhaps even get a demonstration.
Oh, we´ll see, shan´t we?
Now, back to food. Apparently, it´s a question of honour for the farmer here that a guest staying at his home shouldn´t leave the table if he´s still remotely able to ingest anything. The servings are huge, and it´s considered polite to ask for seconds. I mostly ask for halves, and still can´t move a muscle after a decent Dhal Bhat. Strangely enough, my stomach hasn´t started the usual travelers rampage, hopefully it will stay that way.
As this post is far too long anyway, that´s all for now, folks!
I`ll try to have the first episode of my audiovisual work ready in the next week or so. (If I can find a suitable place to edit. Probably Pokhara.)
Nepal isn´t Cuba, that´s for sure. Getting anything done here is even more of a hassle. About 10 hours in the last two days were spent with trying to correct an error the Indian Embassy in Austria made. Un-frickin-believable, the ammount of time they take to do anything.I know my passport number by heart now. And all other details.
Other than that: Hippies still exist in Nepal. And they´re somewhat fun and somewhat freaky.. (yeah, what else) But, nonetheless, their mongolian overtone singing sessions are really fun. Good vibes.
By the way, what cheered me up after exiting the Indian embassy today: "Rape me" by Richard Cheese.
One completely loses touch of time here. What day is it? No idea. People go to bed at nine, mostly. And the power goes on and off, and on again, whenever the gods dictate. Otherwise, Kathmandu´s good to me. I got a place for 250 rupees, about 2 euros, per night..
Well, I´m heading up into the mountains tomorrow, although I did try to avoid it for some time, this is apparently what I have to do... A non-touristy route from Khatmandu to Pokhara.. So, probably no new posts for twenty days.
I´ll try to finish my first vblog entry later today, and perhaps even upload it, too.
Friends, family, peeps, colleagues..
Cya, read ya, hear ya. (gotta get me one of those skype thingies that I'll actually use.. )
Up, up aaaaand away! At 6:50 I'll be departing from Bratislava!
7 days to go, 7 days to stay. 7 days left in Austria.
Then, a day in London, and a long trip. 365 days, to be exact. (Which, at this point, I can't be, of course.)
Nepal, India, Singapore, Thailand, Phillipines, Bali, New Zealand, Rarotonga, L.A. and then into Mesoamerica/Cuba. Back again in march/february 2010.
Videos, pictures, text: What more could a blog want?
Yes: a concept.
My concept, my basic idea of what I'm going to do in this year:
- Learn any language I come across.
- Practice the martial arts I know and learn new stuff from everywhere.
- Produce 3-minute entertaining international subcultural travel videos.
- Keep in touch with people I love, like, or find somewhat entertaining.
We live in a century, a decade, of change. The economic system is not working like we used to profit from, and most conventional TV stations are really having problems finding an audience.
New niches emerge. New possibilities for small-scale, high quality content providers. A brave new world, perhaps not all that dystopian.
Well then, so far, so few things done, so many to do.
I'll be back.