September 03, 2008
It's so cold, I'm freezing my nepals off
It's not cold at all, but my lawyer, Hivey Birdman: Attorney at Law, sends me Magilla Gorilla puns. I'm saving my favorite for later.
Tangent is my middle name. I think I gave up trying to make a point.
Elke came to Kathmandu to do a 10-month shift volunteering for street kids. Her job started on Monday and it was Friday. We went to a Buddhist temple without Raju. A very steep climb up the stairs being patrolled by monkeys. Rhesus macaques if you know about monkeys. The same kind of monkeys I was a butler for at UCD, University California at Davis.
This is Elke. Before I went to India, I thought pictures of Westerners with the red dots were from people trying to find themselves. Then I showed up and since it's just a sign meaning "good luck" holy men walk up and give them out. Sometimes wanting rupees, sometimes they walk away.
Yes, I was a monkey butler. I fed them and washed the monkey poo out of the cages and at night (at least on weekends), I watched over them as they slept. The UCD monkey people had a log book of mileage for the night truck. I asked what for since driving circles around the lab would put about 6 miles tops on it at night. They said it was fine for me to ignore it. The other night monkey security would take the truck to San Francisco, get a hooker, drive the hooker back up to Davis, have sex, drive the hooker back to SF and would be drunk in the mornings when the morning crew started arriving. That's how the other security described it since he was drunk in the morning. And here I was feeling guilty about bringing my banjo to work and torturing the monkeys by practicing Ramones songs. Anyway, it's a state job so once you're in you have to kill someone to get fired.
Tangent is my middle name.
Walking down the stairs, I said, I should start looking for a bathroom. I didn't have to pee, but would in about 30 minutes. We passed a toilet and the Nepali working nearby said I had to pay an old lady some rupees. It was nice looking outhouse with a smell I mostly avoided by peeing next to it. Since we were halfway down the temple stairs it had a great view.
I walked back to the stairs figuring it would be 5 rupees. The guy wanted 20 rupees. I should've waited but it was a cheap reminder to ask the price first. I was at a sweet shop and spent 10 rupees on two sweets that were plenty for me. The shop owner offered me a sweet and I told him I was full but he kept holding it out. I ate it and he said, "That will be 10 rupees more". None of which are big deals. 10 rupees is about 7 cents but it's a a bit used car salesman. Small amounts that make me a bit paranoid when I want to buy something more expensive.
When I do need something expensive, I try to hunt down the price at 3 shops. I still have no idea what I want is worth to locals, but I have 3 suggestions on what the Nepalis think they can get from me. I can't hold it against Nepalis since they're one of the poorest nations in the world.
Elke and I walked back to the Yellow House. That's the guest house that was recommended by ex-pats in Beneras - Varanasi. We chose a Nepali restaurant at random and ate some water buffalo along with rice and other Nepali food. The buffalo tasted pretty good. We walked out and passed some drug dealers that recognized my moustache. It's my moustache that's on tour and I just keep it company. It's funny because they know I'm not buying anything from them but they love the moustache. We told them we were looking for some chang (spelling?) which is homebrew rice beer.
They took us to a tiny bar and I offered to buy them some chang. They said, "Fuck off, we have money". That's the "fuck off" of the non-American sense. It's an informal greeting in English countries. Even saying "tiny bar" makes it sound bigger than it was. Two tables, eight chairs, which filled it. The chang was good, but since we just ate we were pretty full. We said we'd be back the next day.
Elke went to sleep and I watched City of Joy, a Patrick Swayze movie where he's a doctor that hates sick people and goes to India after his surgery on his daughter failed and she croaked. Swayze changes his bitter ways and becomes a doctor for the poor and the lepers. When I saw him in the beginning, I laughed but the soundtrack was done be Ennio Maricone, the Italian who did the Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns soundtracks, so I had a bit of hope for the movie. It was mediocre but if you want to Netflix it, remember that when they show how bad India can be, they left out the shitting and pissing in the streets by people who outnumber the animals that do the same. Plus the soundtrack done by Maricone wasn't very much and wasn't among his finest work.
Saturday, Elke and I wandered around. Her stomach was bothering her but I was fine. She was in Varanasi when I was there but I didn't see her. She had bad water or something and spent her few days in Varanasi puking with the runs.
I lucked out in Varanasi by cutting open the top of my feet with sandals. I'm not used to wearing sandals but it's monsoon season so everything is wet and muddy. Plus, you take your shoes off whenever you go into a store or house. I bought sandals. I figured I would just ignore the pain since sometimes I can be good at ignoring pain (which often does me as much bad as good). Another tangent.
My feet were healing up nicely and I went to see Singh is King, a Bollywood movie at a local theatre with an Israeli named Ela (sp?), his Scottish girlfriend named Hillary, and a women from Chile named Pilar. There was also an Italian couple there that we had met, but they paid the extra few rupees to sit in the balcony. If you see a movie in India, go to where the locals go. They also have nicer theatres with air conditioning and quiet crowds, but it's way better in a theatre where the audience yells and whistles and boos the screen. Some Indians call movies "the talkies" and it's almost 1930s US. It seems that if someone shot his gun towards the camera, people would duck.
After the movie, it was raining hard. That usually ends after about 30 minutes so we waited. It kept going so I said I was going to walk the 2 minutes to my guest house (Tiwari Lodge which is nice, family run, doesn't barter on the price, across from Hayat Hotel so it's easy to find). There was a few inches of water on the road, so I walked back to warn the others that everything was flooded.
I didn't want to walk through the water because like I mentioned, Indians, even more than animals only because there's more humans than animals, piss and shit in the streets and I had a couple of fresh scabs on my feet. The water got up to about 14 inches on my way home and it ended up with heavy rain for about 12 to 13 hours. An Indian the next day said it was more than he'd seen in his life. The newspaper showed a section where I used to stay where water was 3 feet deep with people wading through it. The rains made walls and roofs collapse which killed 9 people in the area I was at. I saw a dead Indian being carried as baggage, on top of an auto rickshaw (tuk tuk), while it sat in heavy traffic.
One foot, of course, got infected. It swelled up to twice the normal size and Raju went and bought me a new pair of sandals. It was making me dizzy, nasaeus and headachy. I bought some ointment from a chemist (pharmacist). If you go to one in India or Tibet they give you perscription only stuff without a note from a doctor. It helped but it wasn't getting much better. When Raju and I went to Kathmandu, I washed my feet out with soap and warm water for 20 minutes, picked off the dirty Varanasi scabs, and let them rescab. That fixed it.
So Elke and I were both sick in Varanasi only I was mobile. Where was I? Yes, after the Swayze movie, the security guard kept trying to get me to get a couple prostitutes. I don't know what the deal is. The moustache maybe? I've never had so much pressure about hookers until I got here. When I was in Varanasi, word spreads very quickly. Everyone Raju and I talked to assumed that I was bringing Raju up so we could visit hookers.
Like I said in the previous post, I worked for a very short time at an escort service. It's mostly a mess for the women. Some do very well with it, such as my friend who owned the escort service, but most of the working girls are train wrecks. Getting a hooker isn't anything I'm interested in. Of course, I spent money arranging Raju a hooker. It makes no sense, but people contradict themselves all the time. It took me years to learn that lesson. I saw a movie where the main lesson was sometimes you fall in love with a person who drives you insane 70% of the time, but 30% of the time, it's great. The movies point of view, was stick with that person. I've been looking for a 90-10 split, which is probably why I'm pushing 40 and still single.
Elke wanted Western food on Saturday. Soon she'd be working at the orphanage mostly living off rice so she wanted some food she was used to. We went to a Belgium-owned restaurant and she had a BLT and I had a ham sandwich. Then off to the chang bar. We had two or three rice beers and split a roxie, which is almost like sake, a smokey rice whiskey that was good. Her insides started bothering her again so back to the Yellow House so she could spend quality time reading on a Western toilet. I laughed it off because at least it wasn't mixed with puking and besides, I felt fine.
I watched a music documentary on gypsy music. I think it was Gypsy Caravan moving from India, Pakistan, Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy and Spain. No words, just the folk music of common people as it made its way West. I had what was left from the bottle of scotch that I took away from Raju.
Indians finish a glass. Water, beer, whiskey. It doesn't matter. It goes to the lips and comes down when it's empty. I saved a bit of a bottle from Raju and split it with night security. We went out to find homebrew Chinese apple whiskey but the shop was closed. We kept looking and he very quickly started on how I should bring back a couple of Nepali hookers. I kept saying no which has absolutely no effect when you're stuck with a salesman, so I switched to "maybe tomorrow" to get him to talk about something else.
We talked and walked for about an hour. He was a rifleman. Nepal had a 10-year civil war that ended 2-years ago. They're still working on the government. After a few years, he couldn't do that anymore so he quit. It was a great talk about Nepal history, civil war, rebel forces, and how I should get a couple hookers.
Elke is my beard, and I was hers. In the US, a "beard" comes from gay slang. Politicians and celebrities and even common people that won't come out of the closet marry a beard. When a person marries a beard, they can pretend to be heterosexual. In India and Nepal, life is easier if people think you're a couple. It cuts way back on the day-to-day flak you get walking alone.
I used my beard Elke as a reason why I couldn't get a hooker. He insisted on bringing two over the next night. I figured I could just sleep on Elke's floor, so I said fine.
The next day, Elke moved out to live at her volunteer job. Ack, my beard is gone!
I went to a park with Anjula, a Chinese born, American citizen. At the park, the diarrhea that Elke had caught up with me. I almost shit my pants which made me laugh. What I thought was a fart, seemed to be a shart (shit + fart) but at the toilet, it was just a fart. Man, that was close. I went back to the Yellow House and spent my time reading on my Western toilet. I didn't realize how much I like sitting on the pot reading. When I got to India and had Eastern squat toilets, it hit me on how nice it is when you have the runs.
Me being sick got me out of the way of the hookers. Raju wanted money for his hooker, so I gave him 1,500 Indian rupees. He left for the night and the next morning, the Nepali workers would laugh when he was around and would look at me an wink. They were speaking Nepali and Hindi giving Raju a good natured hard time.
Finally, and weirdly, and expensively, I got Raju what he wanted. Anjula gave me a hard time about possibly exposing Raju to AIDs and asked if I gave him a condom. I hadn't even thought about buying him a condom and I don't know if that's something Indians use. I've seen a lot of condom ads in Nepal, but none in India. Anyway, it was something Raju wanted, especially on my tab. Was it a good thing? Yeah, probably. Anyway, he's living his own life and some of it was shared with me.
I bought an Enfield 350 for 35,000 rupees from an Australian traveling with his Turkish girlfriend. I haven't paid yet, but if it's Nepali rupees, then US$500, if Indian rupees, US$875. I think it's Indian, which is good for 350 with the bigger, better 500 front end with improved brake, and the work he just put into it since they were thinking of riding it back to Turkey. Tools, workbook, baggage, and camping gear. Instead of trying to smuggle it into Pakistan and Afghanistan, they'll just be flying to Istanbul.
In a couple days, I'll be scaring Raju as we ride back to Varanasi. My Nepal visa ends on September 6 so we'll be crossing the border on that date. Nepal traffic is hard but not insane. It's crazy in India.
Tonight, Wednesday, is lasagna night at the Yellow House. Lasagna is my favorite food. I'll buy a bottle of wine and have been looking forward to this for days. Wine is hard to come by in India, even though they make some there. Okay, I'm off to get my visa with the updated Indian stay and to go to a bank to get enough money to pay for the Yellow House and a bit of fuel money to get back to India.
Here's a pic of what looks almost like a Mexican Day of the Dead skeleton dancing on a Hindu temple. Off to the right is a couple having sex. Those are all over the place in Nepal only they're rarely painted. Once you start looking, there's sex acts with couples, threesomes and beastiality all over the place.
That reminds me that last night I watched a movie called Stay written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. It's a surprisingly good movie about a girl who falls in loves and gets engaged. Her fiance keeps asking her for her darkest secret which she won't share. She finally tells him she sucked off a dog. Her jealous drugged out brother is nearby who overhears. The fiance dumps her, the brother tells the family who want nothing to do with her, and her life is completely ruined. A dark comedy they call it. It works out in the end.Posted by gornzilla at September 3, 2008 02:58 AM