Just a short post where I try out some Hindi swearing. Kids and mothers aren't allowed to read this post.
I never got to the punchline on the last post which was what the title was about. I'm all over the place. Maybe with a bit of luck, I'll write a book about this trip and clean up all this crud.
Most Indians are good natured. Even when they're ripping you off. At first I was calling it "the Western tax" (a phrase that I stole from someone). I was talking with a Jordanian and some Nepalis who said they get overcharged too. Then some Indians said same thing happens to them. To paraphrase the great American writer Jim Thompson, fools are made to be whipped. Sure, you've probably never heard of him, but look him up. He's written some great books if you like con artists, which I do, which is why I love Varanasi.
Anyway, Indians seem up for pulling a fast one, and sure, there's been some bombings, but Indians aren't as violent as Americans. Even though last night I was protected by a new friend who drunkenly waved a borrowed gun around (while protecting me from the bad guys). Maybe because there's 1.1 billion of them, they can't afford violence, so they've routed themselves around it. Many men are chock full o' macho, there's even an Enfield motorcycle called "Machismo".
Getting at my point, that they laugh at themselves and others. I've been told many words, that I can't pronounce correctly so I'm sure the words that I'll write mean nonsense, which is the punchline. I get told, "sooku", "boodhu", "carpetoo" and pointed off at other Indians to call. Then everyone laughs. Me included. Sala. Chutiya.
Hindi has some great swear words. There's a phrase that a friend (and old boss) Raj taught me, "Teri ma ki chutme katiyadalke teri bahenko fatak fatak chodenge" that means something like, "I'll take a cot, shove it up your mother's vagina, and fuck your virgin sister". The "fatak fatak" part means "bang the hell out of her". It's not a super common phrase, but everyone knows what it means. Maybe I should quit saying that when I meet people instead of saying the traditional, "Namaste!". No, no, I kid, I kid.
It's the same thing I do to foreigners in the US. Teach them how to swear. It always goes over well hearing a Japanese friend say, "Fuck you, motherfucker". Although Hindi's say "sisterfucker" instead (or probably also). There's also some other phrase that wasn't translated well that I've heard a few times (and I don't quite understand) which means, "you come from your mother's vagina". I'm sure there's a swearing part that I don't know about with that one.
Sorry the spam got out of control. It's nice that I've been noticed by the spambots. I'll start cutting the comment time to 3 days. Bleh.
I'll catch us up on the Raju Adventures in a minute.
It took me two days to withdraw money in Kathmandu. I don't have an ATM card and I'm using Mastercard, not Visa. Mastercard is almost completely useless in Asia. No one takes them. I had the same problem in Japan and other tourists have said it's like that everywhere outside of North America and Europe. That caused a discussion on how hard they are to use in EU. I couldn't figure out which side presented a better argument but it's always fun listening to ex-pats and long-term travelers talking when most just have a basic understanding of English and bits of other languages keep coming in.
Anyway, Visa, no problem, but Mastercard is like a Discover card - just a punchline to a joke you don't know (an everyday occurrence on this trip). I had to pay a 6% commission to get cash after hitting every bank, and nearly every credit card taking money exchanger and the Western Union shop, looking for cash. So, a word of warning if you travel, bring Visa.
And the other bit I wanted to say, was the previous post where I said "beard is gay slang". That doesn't mean that I'm gay but that I have gay friends. Sheesh.
Raju got his rickshaw drivers license back. He said the night security guard got it back for him. That was good. I didn't want to pay 2,000 rupees for a replacement.
Raju and I left early on Saturday morning. I didn't think it'd take that long to get money and my Nepali visa expired on Saturday. I thought I'd have 2 days to get to the border, not one. Nepal is still working on their new government and I heard a new change was made so that if you overstayed your visa, it was no longer just a daily fine. Word was, they charge for another month, plus a fine for each day you're late.
If I had to pay for another month, then I was going to stay in Nepal, but I couldn't afford to keep Raju around for another month so I was hell bent on getting out of Nepal.
I let Raju wear the helmet and I wore the old man's Nepali hat that I bought. Dang, I thought I had a picture of me in it, but I'll have to post one later.
I got lost trying to get out of Kathmandu and it took almost 2 hours to find the road out of town. There were storm clouds overhead so I stopped at a bazaar and told Raju to find a couple cheap rain jackets. He came back and said they were too expensive and to buy them at the border. Screw that, it's my money, just buy them or at least one. He left, came back after 20 minutes and said they were too much money. I found another bazaar and we went through the same discussion again, only this time I also wanted sunglasses. No luck with Raju. A bit frustrated I said, "Fine, I know what it's like to ride in the rain, I'm fat so I have an insulating layer of blubber, and you have no idea since you're from a city that is very hot". Sometimes I like over-explaining things because it makes me laugh. More of that later. I think he understood "rain".
So off we go through the Himalayans. It was the most beautiful ride I'd ever done. We went through light rain and rose above the clouds which warmed us up. Then descended back through clouds and more rain. It started raining very heavily and I stopped at a small village tea shop. Raju was shaking and he huddled around the stove trying to warm up.
The rain mostly stops and I was kicking over the Enfield. It wasn't getting any compression. Raju asks, "Run? No run?" and me being a bit frustrated since he was shivering cold because I couldn't get him to buy a rain jacket with my money, I started explaining, "Well you know, it's a big single cylinder motorcycle. A thumper. Push, pull, bang, blow, that's how a thumper goes. We're not getting compression. Maybe the decompressor is acting up, I'm not sure. The altitude is high, but not that high. I'm sure you're very familiar with the internal combustion engine and the need for compression" and on and on I went, stopping only to laugh at myself.
Then I started telling him about the Theory of Evolution and saying that I would explain the Theory of Relativity to him if I understood it better myself. I explained the difference between "hypothesis" and "theory" and how one of my biggest pet peeves was that most Americans don't understand the scientific definition of "theory" and they confuse it with "hypothesis" so even intelligent Americans sometimes make asinine comments when they confuse the two (hypothesis is basically an idea, theory is a well-supported idea. eg, Intelligent design is a hypothesis that explains that the answer to questions humans aren't able to answer yet, is god; Theory of Evolution, is well-supported idea that things change and improve over time, from animals, animals in cold areas evolve to grow more fur, to how engines change, such as flat head to overhead cam and then I said, "But I'm sure you know all there is to know about ohc engines Raju", then we both laughed because we've both done the same thing of talking just to talk knowing the other one has no idea what was being said). All the while laughing at myself, and working with the bike until I figured out that the key has a setting where it doesn't allow compression and that something was screwy with it so even when the key was in the run mode, it sometimes had the lock turned to the open compression mode. I turned the key off then on, and it fired right up.
I had Raju wrap a plastic tarp around us both so the windchill wouldn't make the ride dangerous. I figured he was probably mostly ok, because I was in front of him acting as a windblock, but the "probably ok" part made me a bit worried. When I was in Northern Australia it was around 128F/53C according to a temperature gauge. When I made it south it got to the upper 70s and I felt like I was freezing to death. I stopped, put on all my clothes: 2 pairs of jeans, riding pants, 3 shirts, riding jacket and still shivered. My guess was that Raju was doing the same thing. It was still warm, but it was much colder than what he was used to.
Raju kept saying he was warm and wanted to take the tarp off. I said the tarp was what was keeping him warm and the wet clothes would make it very cold for him in a few minutes. None of which translated well.
Raju, "Inside tarp outside warm inside". He's very fond of using "inside" for some reason.
Me, "Raju Dave wet. Wet wind cold".
Sometimes we can figure each other out, sometimes no chance. We really should both tour the world only I can't afford to take him. It's pretty funny when we both talk at the same time in front of people.
The roads were beautiful. Hairpins, cliffs, waterfalls, white faced monkeys, good pavement. The Maoist graffiti looked old which was a relief since there were reports of some Maoist uprisings. When we took the bus to Kathmandu from the border, none of the bus drivers would drive direct to Kathmandu since a bus driver was badly beaten and a family of four was shot to death. That's what everyone on the ground said, but the paper reported it as an accident that killed a family and injured the driver. We had to take a longer route. It wasn't just a bus driver trying to make extra money, all the bus and truck drivers were doing the same thing.
Finally, I got a puncture. Raju and I started pushing the bike and I immediately thought, "Yeah, this should last about 30 seconds". A cowherder Nepali boy walked up and pointed to his steer and asked, "What's this?" I said, "Cow" and he laughed and said, "It doesn't have udders, it's a steer". I wasn't expecting good English. Then he said, "Oh, I see you have a puncture. It's about 10 kilometers to the next town with a repair shop". Great English that caught me off guard. It wasn't the broken English that I was used to.
I have the tools to fix the puncture, but they're in Delhi. I quickly gave up pushing and idled the 10k in 1st gear. After about 8k, it got sloppy so I had Raju walk to the shop while I idled. I found the puncture guy and I had a spare tube. I helped pull the rear wheel off but he had the tire irons so I let him change the tube. 25 Nepali rupees, so uh... 40 US cents? The spare had a hole in it, so it came back off and was repaired. That cost me 40 Nepali rupees, so both changes cost me 65 rupees or US$1.00.
We ended up riding for 13 hours because I had to make the border in time. We showed up at night and crossed the border and found a guest house. There's a 200 Nepali fee each day for having a vehicle in Nepal and somehow I just forgot to stop to pay the fee. I parked in India, and walked back to get stamped out of Nepal, but the Indian side said they had closed for the night. They wouldn't stamp me into India since I wasn't stamped out of Nepal. I left the office, crossed the street, and went back to India.
I thought Nepal might run on Indian time, so I waited until 9am to go to the Nepal border. He looked at my passport and said I was a day late and if I was concerned I would've shown up that morning around 7am. I told him I tried to go there the night before around 9pm and the Indian side said he was closed. He said was there until 11pm and that if I had showed up after he left, the soldiers would've called him. There was of course a fine to be paid.
I didn't want to pay the extra month. I also wanted to give Raju a ride home since I couldn't afford him anymore, and me going back to Kathmandu and paying for a bus ride for Raju just seems like it would cut the story short. The official said, "Well, we can work something out". Ah, my first official baksheesh.
I asked how much he wanted and he said it was up to my heart. It's good to have a travel wallet because if I had opened a wallet filled with 500 rupee bills I would've been screwed. I gave him a mix of about 250 Indian and Nepali rupees. I said I needed the other 300 Indian rupees to take a bus to Varanasi. He said I could find a bank and took another 100 rupees. More than the daily fine, but no monthly fee.
I ask Raju to ask what road to take, he asks, and points out the way. After that, on the ride south, he wouldn't take off his helmet, and wouldn't ask people. My Hindi pronunciation is horrible and working with my map book trying to figure out how to get to Varanasi was frustrating. If I was by myself, I wouldn't have gotten frustrated because I like random wandering, but since I had Raju, a local, on the back it got to me. He wouldn't take off his helmet and ask people.
I start trying to find sun screen or a long sleeve shirt, since I was badly sun burned. That also had no luck in getting Raju to help. I remembered the stories that I heard at the Yellow House from other Westerners. Raju is Indian, so therefore, he's better than Nepalis so he wouldn't talk to them. Even though he was often of a different caste (sometimes higher, sometimes lower), he was traveling with a Westerner who was picking up his tab. The only time he'd talk to the Nepali staff was when he was drunk. Then he wouldn't shut up. A couple Westerners said Raju had made the Nepalis angry by looking down on them. That was why he wouldn't take off his helmet.
He was traveling with a Westerner and experiencing a bit of living in a different caste. Among the very conservative Hindus, all Westerners are considered "Untouchables" because we're caste-less (stay the hell out of my kitchen since you'll pollute it!) but for most Indians because we're caste-less we can get away with stuff (yes, please look at my kitchen!). They ask questions about what sort of work we do, so they can figure out what caste we would be in. Raju was on a break from this. By taking off the helmet and asking questions, other Indians would be able to caste him and look down on him for being of whatever general caste covers bicycle rickshaw drivers. I'm sure there's a specific bicycle rickshaw caste.
Okay then. I've gone this far with him so I'll let him get by with another day of it. After I realized I had to cut him more slack, he'd make me laugh when we'd stop in a hot town and he'd keep the helmet on while I drank water. After a few hours, he finally started asking questions. My tora tora Hindi is mostly useless, so I tuned out on the conversations. As I write these things, it's so very obvious how this is going to turn out.
This ended up costing about 5 hours of unnecessary riding time. Raju only knows two ways into Nepal so he'd been asking directions on how to get to Gorakhpur. That was up north and we were far south of that nearing the Ganga River where I'd turn right to follow it. By the time I figured out what had happened, we were back north and close to Gorkhpur. Just when I figured out that Raju couldn't frustrate me anymore, he did.
Once we made Gorakhpur, I could follow the map, but at that point, just asking, "Beneras?" would get pointed in the right direction. Beneras = Varanasi = Koshi. Same names for the same city, which happens a lot here (Ganga = Ganges). The sunburn was driving me crazy but in Gorakhpur, Raju, like I said, suddenly got helpful. We found a long sleeve shirt and rode into Benaras.
It's always good to reach a city when there's lots of Indian traffic, it's getting dark, and your ass is sore from 2 long days riding an Enfield. At least Beneras traffic just has sacred cows and water buffalo - no camels or elephants blocking the street. Lights aren't really used here since you flash lights to get people out of your way, so we rode in, in heavy Indian traffic, with no lights.
The Enfield clutch doesn't fully disengage so the bike often stalls instead of idles. There's a way of holding in the clutch, while goosing the throttle, while trying to kick through the gearbox occasionally stabbing at the lever that puts the bike in neutral, that I could pull off about 90% of the time, but that still means stalling the bike in traffic once in a while. A fun time had by all. India isn't as violent or hostile as the US. Stalling my bike in traffic here could've been done on purpose if say, I wanted to ask for directions. No big deal.
We made it back to my guest house and parked the bike. Met up with Jennifer, had a couple of very much needed beers and went to sleep.
The next day, Raju starts bugging me for 2,000 rupees for his rickshaw drivers license. I kept saying he had his license, but somehow it was Nepali tainted and he couldn't use it and couldn't work without one. I said I didn't understand and needed a Hindi-English translator but "translator" wasn't translating and I finally said that I spent about 8,000 rupees on him in 2 weeks and he wasn't getting anymore rupees out of me. He kept trying.
Of course, since I took a bicycle rickshaw driver up to Kathmandu for dance bars, beers and a hooker, every rickshaw driver (bike and auto), crooked tour guide (aka tout), and shop owner knows it. I'm walking around with a big target on my back.
The day after we got back, I was taking a long walk back to the guest house and a rickshaw driver kept asking me if I wanted a ride. I was happy walking, so I said I had no rupees. He'd let me walk another 30 meters, then pull up next to me to ask again.
He said, "I'm good Indian. No rupees okay. Good karma". Anyone who says, "I'm good Indian" (or American or English or any other nationality) immediately makes me suspicious. I finally said I'd give him a ride instead, and got him into the seat and I rode his bicycle rickshaw back towards Assi Ghat (the district I live in). My first time riding a rickshaw and I crashed it. The brakes were crap and the first time I really needed them, they didn't brake enough and I ran into a parked rickshaw at a low speed. After that, he rode and I was in back.
It turns out his name is also Raju. Or "Raju 2: Electric Boogaloo" as I call him (if you catch that reference, very good for you). He asks what I'm up to, I say nothing, so he takes me to his house, and then him, his street fighting rickshaw driving friend, his little kid with a lazy eye (that I wished was a girl so I could call him Gina after my lazy eyed sister that will punch me next time she's sees me for writing that), and I go on a tour of BHU (Beneras Hindu University). It's a lovely campus. It had rained so it was filled with a foggy haze and peacocks and police patrolled everything. Sadly, not as a peacock police force, but they worked their own separate beats. Raju won't let me pay. He buys me food and eventually takes me home.
I see R2 the next day and he takes me on a tour of DLW (Diesel Locomotive Works) but the shops were closed so it was basically a tour of a company town. He kept buying me food without letting me pay. This time, I was pretty sure he was on speed because he talked non-stop for about 3 hours and none of it made sense. It started making me a bit paranoid, so I said I had to meet Jennifer and went to her house.
Normally, I would've been paranoid sooner, but everyone knows I'm with him so I figured at most it was just a long term scam.
Now whenever I'm outside, there's two Rajus that I keep seeing. I've been telling people that I'm staying another week, but I plan on leaving Tuesday morning. By making people think I'll be here another week, I should be able to escape whatever scam is going on. Every day, rickshaw drivers and touts (the shifty tour guides) see me coming and it's like I've got money growing out of my skin the way I sometimes get mobbed. I need to leave this city but it's my fault.
My friend Jennifer keeps saying, "You don't have to be polite" and as weird as it sounds for people that knew me in my 20s, I'm mostly nice and polite.
I went on a sunrise boat ride and was dropped off at the Burning Ghat. I'd been there once before where a tour guide gives a tour, takes you up to an old lady who needs money to provide wood for cremation, then the tour guide needs money for the tour. I'm not sure how much, if any, of a commission he gets from the old lady. I was told that the family that owns that ghat, the one who the donated money goes to, is the richest family in Beneras.
It catches you off guard. I'm a Westerner so death is private. Here it's very open which I think is how it should be. When I'm 5 feet away from a pyre with smoke and ash in my face and clothes and nose and mouth, when hearing burning bones pop and watching the flames and heat shrink muscle making arms and legs and the head move, while the family member with a stick who is about to crack open the skull to release the soul to Shiva, stops and says, "Namaste! Hello, sir!" in a very friendly way and compliments the moustache, it's hard to say "piss off" when getting hit up for cash. But this, my 2nd visit, pushed me over the edge.
I gave the tour guide, that I kept saying I didn't want, 50 rupees. He gave the boat guy a commission. It's a lot of work rowing a boat upstream so when we got back and he wanted baksheesh, I said, it went to the tour guide that I didn't want. I was mad at myself for giving the tour guide 50 rupees and the old lady 100 rupees, when I knew it was a scam and that I should've said no.
And that, finally after 2 months, put me closer to the ex-pats and the Indians who live here. Nearly two months of it until I understood why they come across so harsh to the beggars who hit them up. After a while, what can you do? Sure, sometimes you still give some backsheesh to the really screwed-up cripples but for the most part, it's just ignore or maybe "leave me alone". If you say, "Sorry, no", that encourages many of them so it makes it worse in the long run. Just a wave of the hand without really looking and most of the time, they leave you alone. Mostly. But since I'm still a Westerner and still not good at coming across as being angry yelling "cholo" (go away) and since I laugh at most stuff I get myself into, I still get hit up, but it's not as bad.
Ok then. It's hot and I'd love to go for a swim in the Ganges, but it's very heavily polluted. The Ganges River, the Holiest of rivers in a country where everything is holy, is a 90 second walk from my place in Varanasi (Assi Ghat).
It's where I see lots of dead people, dead burning people, people pissing/shitting/spitting/tossing trash into the Holy River, and lots of people swimming, bathing, brushing their teeth and washing clothes in the muddy river.
In Varanasi (the Holiest of Cities in Hindu religion), they toss in about 40,000 cremated people (not counting the whole ones if they're the non-burning kind: kids, virgins, holy men, lepers and untouchables - so screw you Sean Connery).
It's a very polluted river with upstream factories and they still use DDT here. 80% of health problems and 1/3 of Indian deaths are attributed to water-born disease such as cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and amoebic dysentery.
But there's faith, so the river must be self-cleansing.
Faith can be a terrible thing. And if the girl I know named Faith is reading this, that wasn't a dig at you. Visit the burning ghat, and get a bottle of water to was the ash out of your mouth. Barbecued Soylent Green doesn't taste like chicken.
Don't take this as me making fun of Hindu religion. All religions do some kooky stuff, so I'm not singling out Hinduism. Hinduism is probably the most open religion in the world. They put up with everything. Eventually the Moslems give them enough grief and they fight each other, but it's a very tolerant religion.
Here's a picture that I took that didn't turn out. What I meant to get was a dead person on the beach that they'll set fire to in a few minutes. They get them wet in the holy river, then let them dry out a little, then the fire starts. There's people swimming in the water where the dead guy is. This picture just has the stuff they wrap the dead person in. It's common to see a dead person in the river right next to where someone is drinking river water. I'm not punk rock enough to take pictures of burning dead bodies, but I have thought about taking a short movie of people drinking water next to a floater.
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.