08 March 2008

In Defense of Hippies

Friends, I have to apologize for my drunken rant last night against the good folks in funny colors. I believe that the combined effects of heat, alcohol, travel-weariness, and having to listen to hippies speak for so long have partially damaged my brain. I don't know if you will accept these mitigating circumstances, especially if you are yourself a hippie, but, at least in that case, I find comfort in knowing you will soon enough forget my transgression. Peace.

Did you know that in Hell, people say, "Man, it's hot as India down here!"

Where was I? I think I said that Veer Bhadra Mishra invited me to volunteer in Varanasi, but, to be honest, as much as I might like to jump at this opportunity, Varanasi is stinky, and I don't think I want to spend a month there. I may change my mind, however, as planning a trip around India is exhausting me. I have considered a number of alternatives, but everything takes so much time. If I want to see one tenth of this country, I'll have to give up going to Yemen. And what about that yoga I planned to do in Rishikesh? Is a week even worth it? What length of time *is* worth it? I don't know! Help me, people! Maybe I'll just have to create another poll. But seriously, I am at a loss. And it is so hot. So hot. So so so hot.

After the train ride, I drank beer.. yeah I did mention that. Ok, next day (today) I went over to the Jagannath Temple, which I was not allowed to enter, being non-Hindu. In compensation, the library across the street was kind enough to extort 100 Rs. out of me for a shitty view of nothing from its roof. Why did I want to go to this temple, out of the 1.5 billion temples in India? And don't you hate rhetorical questions? Basically, Jagannath is the origin of the English word "juggernaut." That's it. I can't even convince myself there's another reason. Once a year, they do in fact wheel a juggernaut through the streets of Puri, but not any time soon. I think I read about the juggernaut in Joseph Campbell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces." If anyone can think of a better reason to visit a place, I challenge you to come up with one. Afterward, I took a bus into the countryside to visit World Heritage Konark, site of the truly impressive Sun Temple. Really, it is very impressive. The temple itself is massive and every inch is carved, mostly with erotic images, and I felt weird leering at them with all the middle-aged Indian men. More impressively, there are 24 giant stone wheels attached to the temple, because the temple is actually a chariot--the chariot of the sun god--pulled by seven stone horses. In one word: awesome.

Returning to Puri, I ran into a Japanese couple I'd met the previous night while writing my diatribe against those-who-do-not-shower in the Internet cafe. We got to chatting, and I mentioned that I was not so seriously thinking about going to a nearby lake--Chilika Lake--tomorrow. Chilika Lake is Asia's largest brackish lagoon. Want to go? The Japanese did! So I thought, WTF. It's only 110 Rs. though I expect better value than I got at the library. Tomorrow evening, I am off to Madras, another 20+ hour train journey. I reckon I'll have to modify my future plans a great deal, and I've been frantically flipping through my LP all day trying to make the tough choices. So far: impasse. Think of me, my friends, no matter how bad my attitude, how intransigent my unwillingness to accept the hippies and their message of love and drugs. Think of me, and pray for me. Pray that I survive this journey, but, most of all, pray that I survive myself.


kajori said...

You know you don't HAVE TO do this, right?

The Steve said...

Backpacker guilt is a terrible burden.