October 14, 2008
Montezuma's Revenge, India style
Really, you probably don't want to read this. The food does look good though, doesn't it?
I wait an hour to meet up with a French girl named Celine. I'm in Fort Kochi and don't know anyone but her and I haven't seen her since she left the houseboat. Celine could only afford to spend the first night on the houseboat trip. Both nights were beyond her budget. I most always say, "Forget it, I'll cover it" (a trait that I picked up from my friend Bill but he's way more generous than I am).
Rakel the Norwegian shall we say, strongly mentioned, that I spent too much time talking to Celine. I need a break from traveling alone, so I didn't make the offer, and Celine left. Celine didn't hint at a hand-out, so don't think that. Rakel also says that we've been picking on her. Which we have, in a good way.
Rakel was in India for two days before the houseboat trip. She flew into Cochin without seeing anything else of India except airports, and thinks Cochin is a dirty polluted place with badly paved streets full of poor people. Most people don't mention the pavement, but I always ask their opinion since I'm like that. Celine and I have both been here a few months and we talk about what a great area this is. Sadly, once Rakel visits more of India, she'll realize how nice the state of Kerala is. After the houseboat trip, Rakel goes south; I go north back to Ft. Kochi to see if India Railway has found my bike. Celine was there, and on the houseboat we had talked about seeing some Bollywood. After an hour of hanging out at the meeting corner, I figure Celine stood me up. I go to a nearby restaurant and order some food.
I'm a sucker for ordering Mexican food when I see it overseas, and this place has it. I order the mushroom spinach tacos and some "special tea". Special tea is beer served in a tea pot in the state of Kerala. It's a bit like prohibition which is another reason I love India. In India, when there's a written menu, like this time, I point out what I want, when I order it. I don't do that in the US, but when language and accents are a problem, it helps. Still, I get served food that wasn't what I ordered about 10% of the time here. That hasn't happened to me yet at Waffle House in southern USA. Even with my mangled California accent, I still get my hash browns "all the way". Lucky for me, I'm not picky and I eat most everything that gets put in front of me. And time spent working in restaurants and knowing lots of wait staff means there's no way in hell am I ever going to send anything back in my entire life. Even you people who eat at really fancy 5 star places, you're playing with fire. Go ahead and deny it if it'll help you sleep at night. We laugh at your type the most.
My mushroom spinach tacos had no mushroom or spinach, that I noticed, but had some kind of chickpeas and some kind of fish. It tasted pretty good.
Around 1am, my stomach is killing me. It's bloated and painful. I think the fish got me pregnant and I'm about to give birth. I sit on the toilet for a long time and nothing happens. I realize I'm not lactating, but I feel so full I'm about to burst and I wonder why I think of goofy things like "fish pregnancy", "lactation", and "need to blood type that fish to see who the father is oh my god, I'm like that pregnant guy who had the sex change" when I'm in pain. I sit for a long while. Liquid that smells like old fish squirts out. Many times. Many, many times. Every 3 to 20 minutes for hours. I had no idea my intestines held so much liquid, and no idea that that much liquid, over that much time, would still smell like rotting fish. An Israeli in Varanasi told me about this, and he was calling it, "pee-poo". To cut a story short, although obviously not short enough but it's too late for you now, this triggers my puke gland, so I throw up while having the runs. Lucky for me, it's hot here and I'm naked. I still haven't figured out how to use the cup of water to wipe my butt while keeping my pants dry, so I remove them when I use the bathroom. But I was sleeping in boxers anyway, so wet pants has nothing to do with this but to serve as a distraction while I pick-pocket you. Go ahead and check. I'll wait. I'll use the $24 you had to buy a full tank of fuel.
First time in my life puke and poo has happened at the same time. I've always wondered what sort of hell that would be. It always disgusts and amazes me when it happens to other people. I want to ask for details but I figure imagination is better than experience in this case. I've hoped it'd never happen to me from the second I first heard about it.
One of my favorite phrases is, "better you than me". I've had three big fears in my life. This was the third one. The second is, breaking both my wrists or arms and having to find someone to wipe my ass. If that happens, I plan on buying a bidet but there'll be some time involved getting it installed (can't do it myself, my arms are broken). It wasn't as bad as I thought, not the bidet and broken wrists thing, but the puking with diarrhea. The bidet thing hasn't happened to me yet. Better you than me, they always say. Oh, my other dumb fear is being chewed on by an unknown water dwelling creature so I don't like going into rivers, lakes, ponds, pools, and the ocean where I can't see the bottom. Probably from watching "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" since I didn't see Jaws growing up. The beast has no shape in my imagination so it's not sharks, giant squid or crocodiles.
The only thing to fear about puking and pooing, is puking and pooing on yourself. But when you're in that condition, a little bit of puke and poo ain't no big thang at all.
Chalk up another plus for Indian bathrooms. Most places have a "gutter thingy part that water goes out of" called a thing a, uh.., drain, it's called. I think I'll leave that in this time. It's like talking to me. I stumble over nouns sometimes, or I say the wrong noun sometimes noticing it after I say it, sometimes not. I always edit out my thinking process when I write because I type descriptions until the word comes back around. Or I put in some XXXXX's and sleep on it. Google is a life-saver when there's internet but that "drain" word came without google or sleep. A drain.
In my actual life, most of my friends (some I believe might be they're thinking they're doing me a favor with a white lie) say they don't notice anything wrong with my speech patterns. A few old friends say, "Yup, there's a problem" which I'd rather hear. I know there's a problem. I haven't gotten any good explanations of how I've changed, but I know that's there too. It's a hard thing to describe since I'm not sitting in a corner saying, "Hello walls". Spending hours as a kid reading the dictionary worked well for me so I can usually think of another noun. Verbs are processed by another, a non-dead, part of the brain. If you've read what I've written before Ye Olde Heade Trauma happened, it should be pretty danged obvious. I need to think of a better way to refer to this. I'm scared I come across like the writer Pete Dexter.
Most of you probably haven't heard of Mr. Dexter. He wrote "Paris Trout" and used to be a great columnist for the local paper, the Sacramento Bee. He wrote some bland stuff, but some was great. About every third column though, he'd mention the time he got his ass kicked by a bunch of guys, "It looks like a sunny day here in Sacto, which reminds me of the time I got beat up by 23 guys with baseball bats". That gets old real fast since it's not done in a Jay Ward's "Rocky and Bullwinkle" Commander McBragg sort of a way because it wasn't ended with a horrible pun. My brain is filled with so much useless trivia that it done exploded but that's a reminder for me to add "Rocky and Bullwinkle" to my netflix queue to watch with my attorney. After Mr. Dexter sold "Paris Trout", his columns went way down hill, then with the movie rights (go and netflix it, it's got some interesting stuff), he thankfully stopped writing for the Bee and moved to an island where he now writes Ziggy. He tried out for Garfield, but oddly enough, Jon Davis has a brain and said no. Spend some time basking in the miracle of Garfield. Really, try Lasagna Cat and Garfield minus Garfield. Jon Davis thinks they're funny and didn't sue (a completely non-American thing). I made up the part about ol' Pete. No idea what he does on his island. Maybe walks around with a baseball bat saying, "Are you looking at me?" Although what I write as a travel diary are mostly notes, not anything that I spend a lot of time writing. Except for when I can't sleep and I keep adding more and more stuff and something that was short and sweet and make it long and boring. The opposite of writing. As I keep saying, "writings for later" and we all saw how fast I started work on fixing up Round 1 of my asinine adventure. When I pay more attention, I don't start many sentences with "so", "and", "but" and "anyways" even though I know it's "anyway without the 's'" but I like how "anyways" sounds. Same with saying "that there" and other redundancies that I like hearing and I try to hack out the unnecessary junk. I'm pretty sure I explained this years ago when I wrote I wished I'd brought along a copy of "Strunk and White".
Okay, back to being naked on my knees. My face is in a toilet, with puke dripping out of my nose onto my sarcastic moustache and down my chin, with hot runny diarrhea on the heels of my feet dripping into my toes - the part that wasn't puddled up on the bathroom floor. A good time had by all. Things like this make me laugh, even when it's happening, because really, there's not much more that could go wrong and freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose. Except that after I puked, I went to brush my teeth and remembered that I ran out of toothpaste. The moustache faithfully held onto a couple bits of chickpea for me. The Boxing Day Tsunami (Christmas Day in the US), killed a lot of people here in south India, but there not as many tourists as in Thailand. If there was another tidal wave that killed hundreds of thousands, I don't think the headlines will read, "300,000 killed, plus one American who was covered in his own vomit and feces". Unless you're my friend D. She can top every horror story in the world with her childhood stories, and I'm sure her horrible upbringing has absolutely nothing to do with her doing porn. And what I just described happening to me, she's probably filmed. D doesn't have a moustache, sarcastic or otherwise, I'm sure she'd like me to mention.
I can say, from having diarrhea in the US, where we use toilet paper, and in India, where it's a cup of water, that a cup of water is way easier on the butt. It still gets sore after 36 hours but not as sore. I thought I washed my hands a lot when I had a job hosing diseased monkey poo, but that's not even close. Pee-poo. Wash butt. Wash hands for at least 30 seconds (especially the left one!). Wait 3 to 20 minutes. Repeat. For hours. The sun was up before I stopped and people ask me why I let so much stuff slide in life. Things can always get worse.
I spent the next day in close proximity to my toilet. Lying on my bed reading Cometbus laughing about the time Aaron Cometbus printed as a joke that Sammy Fang got run over by an ice cream truck and had his legs broken, while wishing I had remembered to get more toothpaste before my puking. Which fills up first? A hand full of shit or a hand full of wishes? I got a message from Celine the French girl. It turns out I was on the other side of the park where we were supposed to meet. She offered to go to the store for me since I was sick, but I felt fine and was taking a break from eating. That break lasted 36 hours. When I get diarrhea, I try to let it go for the first day or so. The body is flushing out what it doesn't want, and I don't want to take unnecessary drugs since I don't want to build up immunity to medication. If I can't afford to sit around for days, then medication.
My first food was some bread and a good tasting spicy tomato dish even though I know I should be following the traveler's diarrhea BRAT diet: Bananas, plain Rice, some "A" word that I don't remember but I think that's from not paying Attention and not brain damage, and plain Toast. The tomatoes played nice for many hours but woke me up repeatedly in the night to go out to play. Why wouldn't they all leave at once? In and out! You'll break the screen door! Dang kids, get off my lawn! Tomato runs smell a lot better than dead fish runs.
Now I've gone 72 hours and everything is holding together nicely. Still, every time I have to fart, I go to the bathroom, take my shoes, socks and pants completely off, sit on the toilet in dreadful anticipation, but it's been good. This reminds me of a conversation I had my with lawyer about my grandfather farting. I'd tell you about how that came up, but that would violate the lawyer-client ethics code, even though she's the lawyer, I'm not willing to violate her civil rights. I am allowed by law to say, my Pop would fart next to someone, look surprised and would ask straight faced, "What did you say? I couldn't hear you".
My Pop was also born with a full set of teeth. As he grew up, he grew another set. Double teeth! But it gets better. He was a big strong guy, and a fitter for the railroad. My family is from the Appalachians in Eastern Kentucky, and my Pop would get woken up by the sheriff during Prohibition to tell the moonshiners when the Feds were on their way. The story goes, very few stills were ever found in Flat Holler, Kentucky. Back to the good part -- teeth! Pop had a good sized wooden barrel in his backyard that he'd work from since he was always working with his hands. He could pick up the barrel with only his mouth (no hands at all!) and flip it back over his head so that it'd land right side up. I don't know when he developed that trick -- he acted like he could do it since he was born -- but he kept it up until his 80s. I've got some friends that saw him do the barrel and mouth trick. He had the double set of teeth until he died of lung cancer (you know, railroad work and all) when he was 90. I've got a picture of him digging a grave for him and my grandmother at the family graveyard back in Kentucky. I'm not a good photographer but it's one of my favorite pictures. I take after the Portuguese side of the family, no double set of teeth and I'm short. No one in the family yet has got the double set of teeth. Who'd think something like a double set of teeth would be a regressive gene? I got the fart-jokes-are-funny gene though. The Dutch oven makes me laugh just thinking about it.
I swear most of India is great. I'll try to do a mostly picture post next where I talk about neat stuff. I remember getting flack from Round 1 that all I do is bitch and moan about my crappy old bike. It constantly breaks down because I'm riding it instead of admiring it (except for a small ride on warm, but not too warm, sunny Sundays that normal riders do), and all the horrible things that happen in between the bike breaking down. If I cared about old bikes breaking down, I wouldn't be riding them. That's part of the fun. I have another thumper, a Yamaha SR500, that I think would be perfect for this kind of trip (my only hesitation with My Yammie (there'll always be a moon over), is that it's OIF, oil in frame, and if I break the frame, it could mean a very long walk). If I wanted everything to be peachy keen, I'd take cruise ships (and then complain that Julie the Loveboat Prostitute pawned all my stuff for cocaine and my ice was warm).
But still, India is wearing me down. I have to return to Delhi to get a visa to Australia and I don't have that in me right now. I'm trying to see if there's a way around that but the brief internet research hasn't been much luck. I need to get the Duc back to California and I've heard that right now the US dollar is doing good again in Australia. I'm not sure why and don't know how long that will last. Probably until after the election when the oil prices go back up. If you're thinking of fleeing the US to Oz, now's a good chance to transfer money.
I've also heard that the US has bankrupted Iceland. I can't imagine Björk being poor again, but if she's needing money, maybe she'll make another movie. "Dancer in the Dark" is a great movie.
I should fly to Oz for a week and buy a ticket to California while the Aussie dollar is weak, but I won't get there until after election. That also leads me back to spending an unknown amount of time in Delhi which doesn't sound good at all. Yes, puking and pooing on myself is fine. Round 3 of undetermined days in Delhi, not good. Round 1: waiting for Ducati. Round 2: waiting for package. Neither showed. Is the third time the charm?
Not getting my Ducati into India changed my plan of trying to figure out how to ride to Turkey. From there, Europe isn't a problem. I heard a crafty plan about riding to Turkey that might work but I won't be able to try it. My parents will be relieved since that means I won't be crossing Pakistan and Afghanistan. You only hear the bad stuff on news, most of that area is stable. I'd recheck before trying it. In conditions like this, you ask people who traveled the direction you're heading. Anyway, you can't ride an old Ducati round the world without an old Ducati so there's going to be a Round 3. Maybe across the US to Europe or down to Argentina then to South Africa and up. I've heard this story before. Without having an old Duc, I changed my plan from "let's see if I can make it to Italy" to "back by March" to "back by Christmas" and now I'm thinking Thanksgiving would be nice in California. My dad BBQs a great turkey and his new set of teeth should be settled in enough for him to eat solid food by then.
Sounding like a broken record, India is too tough for me alone. I've been here three months, hope to do four, slim chance at five. If you ever camp out in the desert by yourself, then this next part will make sense. It's easier to be alone when you're alone, than to be alone surrounded by people. 1.2 billion super friendly Indians makes it hard to be alone.
PS. In the last report, I left out heart breakings. Other girls who broke my heart, girls whose hearts I broke, and other times we broke each others heart. I really didn't want to spend time rehashing my love life when I wrote that. I was writing about Brahmins with Guns (sounds like a band name) and riots. Hell, I'm crowding 40 and haven't been married (except for my wife who's a friend who married me so I'd have health care and she has a great fiancé anyway - Hi Josh!), so of course heartbreaking abounds. Besides, the movie had only three girls. Two of my three girls had been in contact with me in the last few months after years of no contact, and being on vacation means time to think. The other one used to send me a hate email once a month for a long time which I always enjoyed getting. Stuff like, "I hate you, you're the worst person ever. I hope you are doing well". I was a dillhole when I responded to the last one so she stopped. That's what I get for punching a dead gift horse in the mouth. As another coincidence, I can hear my neighbor puking from outside my window. I can tell s/he enjoyed those tacos, too. Man, the sound of puke echoing through a hot and humid room can sound terrible sometimes. Sometimes? I'm sure there's plenty of times that it sounds great.
Oh, and letting some stranger ride my bike was fine. It's a beat-up Enfield with crash bars. Is it possible to do more damage to it than I do? I ride it like it was designed for. The engine was probably designed in the 1930s, maybe 1940s. Pushrods. Pre-unit construction (the tranny and the engine aren't combined). Roads largely weren't paved back in England back when they designed this bike. They're barely paved here now and there's lots of mud, dust, and dirt. Check out these great photos of war Harleys being ridden. I've kept my Enfield on the ground at least (so far). No worries. I think I'll be shipping my Enfield to the US, so show up and ride it. You shift on the right side because it's A Proper Bike, by the way. One up, three down, the way The Lord Shiva and his 330 million Other Incarnations meant for it to be. I'd like to put a sidecar on it, but not here. I thin a faster bike would be a better idea anyway. I doubt this bike solo will do freeway speeds. Does anyone know if an Enfield 350 will do freeway speeds? Sustained freeway speeds? Doug? Not that I'm planning on riding it on freeways. My plan is to get the Vincent motorcycle logo painted on the tank, only instead of reading "The Vincent", mine will read, "Fere Vincent" which is Latin for "Fake Vincent". No, I don't know Latin, but the Brit Iron mailing list is great for a number of things. Oh, and get the separate front and pillion seats that the bike originally had. That looks nifty keen.Posted by gornzilla at October 14, 2008 12:42 AM