07 March 2008

Puri Express

Kajori and Ananda warned me that trains in India are often delayed, and they were right. Varanasi to Puri, already a 21 hour journey, delayed 5 hours. I didn't care. Mughal Serai station had a nice snack bar, and I sat there chatting the whole time with a 24 year old Indian guy who'd done IT in Silicon Valley and who had far too much advice and quite strong opinions for a 24 year old, I told him. Nice guy. I liked him. By the way, right now, I'm drunk. I thought it would be interesting to drunk-post.

I met Veer Bhadra Mishra again in Varanasi. He is also known as Mahanji since he is, in addition to being a professor of hydraulic engineering, a spiritual leader. He filled me on the status of the Ganga. Status: bad. Not much has happened since that Alexander Stille piece. Government incompetence and so forth. Shame. Mananji is a fascinating guy, though. I felt drawn to him somewhat. And there was the possibility that I could stay on there, for months, as a volunteer. Should I do that? I don't know. I can't decide now what I should do in India, with the rest of my trip. Study yoga, volunteer for some hopeless cause, get the hell out.. I don't know. Help me.

One of the interesting/frustrating/difficult parts of travel is constantly landing in different countries with different languages and alphabets to learn. India's even worse because every state has a different language and a different alphabet. Now I'm in Orissa, and the writing is all different again, not like Hindi, which I can't read anyway, but whatever the rickshaw drivers are the same--which is to say, the culture of extortion is universal no matter the language. But Puri seems nice.

There are lots of hippies here. There were in Varanasi, too. Ok, I am quite drunk. I went to a restaurant, and the only other customer was a Japanese woman from Shizuoka, so I sat with her and got drunk. Then she left for Kolkata, so I finished her beer (Kingfisher Strong) and got more drunk. So now I can say, without mincing words, that I HATE HIPPIES. Sorry, I know some of you readers are hippies, and I am sure I don't hate you, because you are probably sincere hippies, like me, even though I don't wear the stupid clothing. But the ones who travel around seeking enlightenment and the stupidest clothing possible: I hate you. Why? I try not to hate anyone, of course, because Buddha wouldn't like it, but I think the hippies are just middle-class show-offs who dress like they do something meaningful with their lives (like the show-off sadhus who are almost as bad) but who really do nothing except dread-lock their hair and terrorize other people with their feckless opinions. The guys, especially, piss me off, because I think they're just acting like magical sex objects (Google: "wizard of New Zealand") while pretending to be acting the part of something more profound they don't understand--not something one ought casually to be doing; you certainly won't find any Indians acting this way (unless they're trying to make money off the idiot hippies who think they can fish spirituality out of the Ganges). And these guys are easy marks. They may wear clown pants, tattoos, and way too many piercings; they may walk around with their hands clasped in prayer; but they still shout at the beggars and the touts and the kids selling candles to leave them alone--to their bliss, presumably. Everyone else wears blue jeans. Yes, the Indians don't even notice these pretensions, which means they don't respect them, these pretensions to be on some kind of quest or whatever. No matter what we do, we are foreigners and from foreigners they can make money. That's it.

Now I feel better. My anger has been extirpated for the moment. I just spent 24 hours on a train, remember, and, by the way, the AC induced a massive allergy attack which lasted the whole time, made all the worse because everyone was staring at me the whole time. But it still wasn't a bad ride. I have a similar one coming up in a few days, when I go to Madras.

India, India, India. What a lie, this name India. India has everything, I think. It contains everything. Everything you can imagine! From one end of all spectrums to the other. And is there another country that still produces philosophies the way India does? Or politics? These are dead letters back home. Subjects of, at best, archaeology. Sigh. I can't continue this pointless screed, because the cafe manager told me they're closing, but I'd be a coward not to just go ahead and publish it anyway. In the coming days, I'll tell you more about temples. I promise.


Anonymous said...

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The Steve said...