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Ginger terrorist.

(Older Post ie stalling)

Kerala. I have a bit of a beard now, this falls into my subset of goals: To let my beard grow for the entire time I am in India. But this has maybe had an adverse effect on our reception at some of the hotels in Kerala. (Or it could be Douglas’ mustache, which is quite becoming by the way) We stopped at one small town. With only three hotels, the first one said something interesting, we were told that they cant give us a room because they have no running water in the hotel. They were quite friendly and polite so I asked if I could use the toilet, they said yes and I proceeded to wash my hands in their wonderful flowing water. I also asked one of the wait staff if there were any guests and he said there was a few.
The next one said they were full, in the height of the tourist off-season. Finally we had to go to the most expensive hotel,1700 rupees (Thats very expensive kids), which was more than willing to take our potentially ill financed cash. This turned out ot be a very surreal and kind of cool experience as we were basically the only guests in a massive hotel out in the middle of the country.

We got more clues as to our treatment when we made it to our next stop. It was no place special just a way point but it must been a hive of terrorist activity. A nice Indian guy by the name of Kuriakose, who was also a christian and tried to convert Doug, which seemed to be becoming a theme of our trip, the attempted conversion of Doug to Christianity. He helped us find a hotel and during the process I became aware that without him we would not have been able to get the hotel as we needed a local sponsor as well as giving them our passports as security. These apparently were all anti-terrorist measures to combat the present threat, but that wasnt all. When we were chillaxing on the rooftop, the attendent came up and said we were only allowed ten minutes up there and we werent allowed to take any pictures.

I didnt know there were any ginger terrorists at least not in India anyway.


A new beginning.


I have an awesome beard.

Yes. Yes I do.


Pre-trip preparation – My Gear.

Before I set off into the unknown, I thought it might be wise to make sure I was prepared as possible, especially considering I was going solo. I hate the cold and I didn’t want to get caught out.  All up the extra gear I bought ended up costing me  only about a 100 Euro, of course it was all fake brands but as long as it did the job and got through the trip I would be happy.

It was kind of funny, I went to the outdoor store to look for snow jackets and waterproof pants and I was trying on the number of lovely different combinations of colours they had available ranging from 80′s purple to a kind of vomit green. I wanted to go with a bright colour in case I came off a drift somewhere on the side of a mountain and that way I could be spotted, by the efficient and dedicated Indian army sent to rescue me.  I finally settled on a red jacket and green pants, I was looking in the mirror trying to think if it was a bad combination, it wasnt until I got home and tried the gear on again that, with my beard, I looked like Ben, the Christmas Viking. So I returned and finally settled on a grey jacket and cream and black pants. Stylish!

Introducing, My Gear – Some of this was purchased at the beginning of the trip but I thought you might be interested.

Clockwise from left 1) My helmet – It has an Indian safety standard sticker on it that comes off. Confidence!   2) Gloves – I have riding gloves and I bought the winter gloves a bit bigger so I could slide my riding ones inside.   3)  Motorbike Jacket – This was  bought from a company called Cramster in Bangalore, really good stuff, especially for the price. Its got all the protective pads and its designed as a summer jacket so its relatively light. Its my first bike jacket, so I feel the part when I’m wearing it.   4) Knee protection – name kind of says it all, also from Cramster. Only figured out how to wear them properly at this point of the trip, they used to end up being ankle guards.   5) Map   6) My ‘ North Face’ jacket – I bought everything so it could be layered, the inner and outer layer of this jacket both fit over my bike jacket. (This really came in handy later on)   7) Backpack – This contained my first aid kit, important documents and spare tyre tubes, so I wouldnt have to go digging if I got in trouble.   8) Waterproof Pants   9) Standard Issue Indian Army Boots – Picked these up new for about 12 dollars, was told later I had been ripped off.   10) My riding shoes – I bought these in Bangalore, they are full leather and the great thing about India is I can always get them repaired for about 20 cents. They have done me well. 11)  Motorbike Saddle bags – These are also from Cramster and have been great. I can fit everything I need in them and just strap onto the bike. It contained my sleeping bag , toiletries and you can see the foot pump tied on top, up to this point thankfully I hadn’t needed to use it.


Time is on my side.

Just letting you know, that I’m going to spend as little time as possible on the net over the next two weeks. Im in the North in the Himalaya’s and just want to make the most of the time I have available. Don’t worry, there will be many crazy adventure stories (with pictures) coming your way soon.  Till then, here is some crap stuff I wrote earlier. Enjoy!


Fear and Loathing.

Fear. I’m finding that, and I’m not the first to do so, that this is the one thing that impacts my life on a regular basis. On any given situation fear has the opportunity to rear its ugly head. Sometimes this is a good thing, like don’t put that battery in you mouth, I’m not sure eating that kebab is a good idea etc but a lot of the time its killing you. Its killing who you really are and who you possibly could be.

Recently I have found myself looking at some of the ways of doing things, and as we get older these ways become more established and they make us feel comfortable, hence not afraid in any given situation but what I want to do and what I’m asking you to consider, is to examine your daily behaviors decide what is the motivation here. If it is a known fear that holds you back from changing your life for the better, then change it but especially if it is a fear of mediocrity, examine that fear, understand why you are afraid and be free of what is holding you back.

I find that in a situation (enter relevant setting here), we have a few ways of responding, one we do the behavior that makes us feel comfortable allows to walk away at the end and say I’m ok, Ive got it sorted (this ties in with that creating our reality that I mentioned earlier) , or two we act upon our fear and become agitated and nervous we recognise there is an issue but we let the fear dictate and we lose ourselves or three we recognise that we are afraid and we objectively act upon our behavior and change it. In all honesty the first few times we try to change it will be hard, we may embarrass ourselves and more than likely we will slip back into the first option of being comfortable. But fight, keep going, because change never occurs without action. Thought and action are on a positive feedback loop and one cant change without the other.

So stop being afraid and just …. do.

Most people are prepared to except you as you believe yourself to be.

Cheers
Ben.


Would you like finger chips with that?

Sometimes in India when ordering food from a menu, you get the impression that some of your choices are incorrectly matched. For instance one day we ordered a mix of North and South Indian food. Once our choices arrived, over the next fifteen minutes the waiter, without being asked, brought different extras to our table and until we were supplied with a full South Indian meal. I think this was the staffs way of politely expressing that we had made the wrong choice.

Other times though, this is not what is happening and just another example of the strange communication that can occur in India. Here is one instance:

We were staying at one place and everyday I went in there and ordered rice with my meal, usually Dhal. This time I went in with Doug.

(Doug has already ordered a dish with Parota)
Waiter: You want Parota?
Me: No, rice please.
Waiter: Parota?
Me:No, rice.
Waiter: Parota
Me: Rice.
Waiter: Parota.
Me: Rice, rice please.
Waiter: Not Parota?
Me :No rice, rice.
(Waiter departs with puzzled look.)
Keep in mind that this is the same waiter I ordered from the last two days.
(Waiter then returns with puzzled look, Doug’s meal, my meal and Parota….for me. I then say rice one more time after ten minutes he returns with some rice for me. By this time Doug has finished his Parota and would like another.
Doug: Another parota please.
Waiter: Rice?
Doug: No Parota.
Waiter: Ok.
(Waiter scurrys off)
The waiter then returns with a plate of rice for Doug


I have something to confess.

Im not proud of it but last I slept with some mice. It was dirty. No kidding, I woke up this morning and cleared my sheets to find mouse droppings down near my feet, a lot of them. Just before I went to sleep I had been watching the mice run from one side to the other, I thought my room was some kind of pathway, looks like they were just waiting for the lights to go out then  they were getting cosy while I was sleeping. Don’t blame them though its been bloody cold, do feel kind of used though. They just left me with their crap to clean up.


Malaise in Manali

In Manali, to be honest just bored, waiting for the road to open. I was worried that I had spent too much time in Mcleod but looks like it was just the right time, things  work out. Doesn’t interest me at all here though. Want to get away from the tourists, and just explore the roads. Not unhappy but just impatient. Indians in tourist areas get on my nerves as well, can’t help thinking they are shady. I always feel like they want something and when you have met Indians off the tourist trek. Its a world of difference.


Finally! A new camera.

(more…)


Forever Young

Here is a cover of Bob Dylan sent to me by my friend Jon, I think its pretty impressive.  Now I’m not going to say the L word here, I don’t want to embarrass anyone but I’m pretty lucky to have him in my life and I miss him. Cheers mate.

Photo by Maria Sirotkina, Moscow 2009.


Dharamshala (Mcleod Ganj)

If tourists say they are going to Dharamshala to see the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government what they really mean is that they are going to Mcleod Ganj, a hill settlement that sits above Dharamshala.  Unless of course they have an aching desire to see another standard Indian town.

My journey to Mcleod began in Rewalsar, I mentioned this place earlier, the very quite and tranquil holy place for Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus where I had chilled for a few days.   I wont write much about it but I left there with a feeling of peace and  do recommend checking out if your passing through.

The ride to Mcleod was pretty uneventful, there was the usual random Indian in the middle of nowhere staring out into space. If you haven’t been in India you would never have witnessed this phenomenon. It doesnt matter where you are you could be miles from anywhere, in some remote area and you will come across an Indian just sitting or squatting, you will have no idea how he got there, and you do ask yourself this question, or what he’s doing but he will watch you go by and then possibly return to whatever it was he was thinking about. Its one of the deep mysteries of the sub-continent.

Mcleod, when I arrived, it was a nice change from the other places I had been so far, I think the Tibetan contingent give the town are more relaxed feel. I only spent four days there but in the interests of journalism  I did go and see a the Tibetan Doctor Yeshi Dhonden. For those of you who dont know anything about Tibetan medicine, neither do I, so I thought it would be interesting to check it out and see what he said. People apparently swear by it.  I had to take a sample of my urine, the fresh dew of the morning, most people had little cups for these but considering I’m an Australian male and that I didn’t have anything else on hand, I used a  one liter plastic water bottle. Woke up, opened my eyes and proceeded to fill up the bottle, I think it was at least half full. So arrived at the ‘ practice’, one litre bottle in hand and waited for my name to be called.  Now to give you a bit more background, Doctor Yeshi used to be the personal physician of the Dalai Lama and is still highly respected in his field. Plus you have to give him credit as he is 81 years old and still works six days a week.

When my name was called Dr Yeshi came ambling out, asked me to pour my urine into a big cup over a sink while he swirled it about with a stick, got a good head on it too, there was a lot of it but he seemed pretty happy for me to keep pouring while he did his thing. I was then called into his room, where he was sitting, and he then proceeded to feel my pulse.

My chocolate woody balls - I have to take about eight a day.

Now this is the big examination with Tibetan medicine. All your internal problems can be discovered and diagnosed through your pulse, and examining your urine. Initially I was a bit skeptical but I have heard things recently from different people that has caused me to be more open about the issue. Jon, if you have any thoughts, you know the would be appreciated.  The doctor then asked a few questions if I had any specific complaints, i said no but I would like to stop getting colds, he then looked at my mouth laughed a bit (why?) and prescribed a two month course of Tibetan pills. That was it.  In case your wondering the pills taste like wood and some mild herbs, I will try anything (just about) at least once, so I have already started and will see it through. Its only two months, problem is, I’m not allowed to drink alcohol.

So after that I headed to Bhagsu, a hippy enclave that is attached to Mcleod, a stress free place where I could try and sort out getting my camera. It was a nice place to wait. I met some good friends listened to the djembe beat played by hundreds of different hippies. They must have the same teacher. Look I like the ‘lets except everyone mantra’, but it was interesting to see dreads and hippie pants as like a quasi uniform, I was getting strange looks when I was wearing shorts and running shoes. My beard demands anyone’s respect though.

I did make the acquaintance of one Israeli guy by the name of Omer. We had a good laugh, he told me some Jewish jokes, which i won’t be repeating here and he informed me that he was an acupuncturist and Shiatsu practitioner. So i went ‘Why not, I will give that a try as well’. I have had both done before and was happy with the result but never together. So he stuck with some needles, and gave me a massage, honestly I felt great after wards and would do it again. He told me after one session he had pushed a needle almost the complete way through my wrist. I though it had felt strange when I had moved my fingers.

And yes, I did see the Dalai Lama, for about ten seconds as he got out of the car and went inside the Tibetan Children’s School. It was very sweet, there weren’t many people and there were little Tibetan girls in traditional dress singing for him as he came in.  We weren’t allowed inside  but that was enough for me. Someone told me that he said he wont leave this earth until there is a free Tibet, it might be wrong but it sounds good.

This is the sports field, at the school. One of the most popular areas for the kids but Suchin highlighted that this is not really their land and never will be. If locals wish to walk their cows through the the area they will do even during games, as it is considered public open space.

Suchin, he is a Tibetan orphan grew up in the School and I think he has seen his mother once. His story is not unusual but really positive guy.


Your giving me the shits.

Got sick… again, yesterday, this has been happening on and off over my travels, so I decided to check my symptoms in my little travel health book. I pretty sure I have or did have Giardia,as it is recurring if left untreated and matches my symptoms pretty well. So have taken a hit of antibiotics and hopefully that will clear it up. Seems to be working. If you dont have a book, no tv and its raining outside, being sick just bites schlong. All you can do is complain to yourself about how sick you are.

An alternative title for this post was ‘The Giarden of Secret Delights’


Whats in a picture.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I am aware of the lack of photos in the more recent submissions.  I am really feeling the absence of a camera at the moment , even with just some simple things.

When I was staying in Shimla I asked for hot water and they said they would bring me a water rod. What the? Ok, so i waited and the next thing he walks in holding two exposed wires joined to some coils sandwiched between two boards.  He then puts the boards into the bucket of water and then inserts the two exposed wires into the electrical socket (I’m being observant at this time, as you normally are when live electricity is involved, and I see a spark arc in the water and then bubbles start to come out from between the boards. I’m standing outside the bathroom giving myself a good distance while at the same time looking for any loose bits of solid wood just in case the situation changes quickly.) He then tells me, as he stands there in his bare feet, that it will take about fifteen minutes to get hot and to make sure its unplugged before I put my hand in. This stuff is magic! This is when i regret not having a camera, I would love to have got a photo of it.

So please be patient, I’m doing my best to get a camera so I can bring more of these kind of special moments and hopefully some shots of the Himalayas. My next port of call.


For your ears only.


Apartmentality.

It was about this time that the cracks really started to show between Doug and I. In all honesty there had been problems for a while but things were reaching a head at this point. We had decided that we would ride together to Shimla where Doug would meet his friends then we would go our separate ways. There were many contributing factors and I know it had become stressful for us both. I am telling you this just because I believe in being honest and its a part of my journey but I would prefer to not talk about this too much. It is between Doug and I and really not for general discussion. I’m sure you all understand.

Doug decided to leave early in the morning each day as his bike was slower and I would meet him at our final stop each evening. This was the pattern that we continued in until we reached Shimla.

There was one interesting point, I had picked up some samosas and gulab jammun before I left town that morning and was looking for an idyllic spot to enjoy a bit of lunch. I reached the top of one of the hills and  found a temple sitting on top, commanding a beautiful view of the valley below. I stopped, removed my shoes and asked for permission from the sadhus , holy men, looking after the temple to sit on the grounds., which was duly granted. It was all very peaceful and relaxing and when I had finished I was invited by the holy men to come and smoke Charras with them. To the unitiated this is weed.  Now normally this is not really my thing,  if you enjoy this thing responsibly then more power to you,  my views have changed considerably over the past few years regarding this and there are much worse things in life to be dealing with but its just not my bag. This time though the setting just seemed to fit, a perfect Indian experience, but it wasnt meant to be, I had to be somewhere and there was no I was going to smoke and then try to ride my bike . So I regretfully bid farewell, maybe next time.

When we reached Shimla, we stayed one night then went our separate ways. Doug would continue on to meet his friends and head north whereas I would stay in Shimla a few days to get my head together and decide what I would do next. So I had to find a hotel, I was starting to hunt around when became aware of some internal discomfort, I had woken up not feeling so good but had thought nothing of it but something was starting to intrude on my conciousness. We had eaten at a crappy Indian place the night before which was a forced choice because at the time nothing else was open. I had ordered fried rice which tasted exactly like dirt, yes dirt. It was inedible, how do you mess up rice in India? Im sure it was a couple days old and the agent of my intestinal distress. I registered my disatisfaction with the waiter who at first pretended he didnt speak English but when I asked some other Indians to translate they told me he had been speaking perfect English with them. Very soon after I was told I would not be charged for the rice.
Back to the next day, I had started detoriating rapidly and just didnt have the energy to find a hotel. It had been fortunate that the day before Doug had picked up a hitchiker by the name of Vik, a local Indian guy who had seemed very friendly, I took a stab and gave him a call. I asked if him or his friends had a room I could rent just for a few days. Now in the past I might have been hesitant to ask someone for help like this but really who cares, they can always say no. Thankfully he said no problem and that I could stay at a friends of his, Keddy. At this point I was still thinking I could at least be sociable, so I rode my bike over to meet them. By the time I got there i was just about to throw up and my guts were being torn apart, I just asked if i could go back and crash. I always feel bad when your completely reliant on your host, I feel like I’m not doing my part but they were more than helpful. So for the next two days I just recovered and thought about things. I got to learn a lot about Indian culture from Vik, Keddy and their friends. I was, I think, inducted into their club called the Royal Peak Masters (RPM). I now have stickers on my bike to prove it, courtesy of Vik, including flames on my fuel tank. That was basically Shimla, just getting ready for the next part of my journey.

One of the other things I wanted to talk about but it doesn’t really fit anywhere into the post was something thats been happening along especially in the north. I have been meeting a lot of Russians,  i never thought I would say this but they have managed to worm their way into my heart and I find myself having a certain affection for them. There is, i think, an appreciation for any culture that comes from having lived amongst it for any extended period of time the offshoot of that is that I find myself wishing I spoke Russian much better as I have a genuine desire to want to communicate with the Russians i meet.  Somehow Russia has become a part of my life.

Next stop Mcleod Gunj, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in Exile. Time to get some inner peace.


Reader Submissions.

This was sent in by one of our readers, James D of New York City. Its a photo of his favourite Enfield. If you have any photos or funny anecdotes about your favourite Enfield that would like to see submitted on the site please email me at whitesupremacists@wevechanged.org .

” Including a photo of my favorite “Enfield”. Manufactured in Sheffield England in 1916, I named her Betsy on the evening I first brought her home, and lovingly caressed her.”


Sacrament.

I was staying at a place called Rewalsar, its a holy place for Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus. So its a pretty holy place. There is a huge Buddha on the side of the mountain and in the centre there is a sacred lake filled with large fish that get fed by the pilgrims. I started thinking if they would be tasty which then reminded me of this.


Carte Blanche

I have an Indian made map book. The distances are wrong a good percentage of the time and some of the roads in there dont exist. Others that should be in there aren’t. Adventure!.


Rishikesh to Shimla.

Doug and I had decided earlier to try and make it to Rishikesh, the yoga capital of India, in one day, covering a distance of over 200km. This might not sound like a lot but for anyone that has traveled in India this is a full day. Our average speed was probably about 50km an hour. Doug’s bike had to be kept at a top speed of 60km as he had just had the bore replaced and it needed to be treated carefully for the next 500km.

It was a fairly straightforward affair and we finally rolled into Rishi at about 7pm that night. For anyone who doesn’t know Rishikesh, it is where the Beatles stayed with the Maharashi Mahesh Yogi during their spritual enlightenment tour. They famously left after a short while after claims of sexual abuse against the guru and bad food. When asked by the guru why they were leaving apparently John Lennon said ‘Your the cosmic one, you should know’. He had a a sharp wit that guy, I really do wonder what he would be doing if he was alive today, him and Hendrix.

We pulled into a place that Doug had stayed at during his last visit here and had fond memories of. Unfortunately it had changed a bit since last time, including getting new owners. I think Doug might have been a little disappointed, as he had talked about this place a fair bit and I think he had been looking forward to seeing again some of the people he knew.
The new owners were interesting, in that they represented one common way not to run a business. Let me digress (For a change) If you are running a business, let me also iterate, the customer is king, especially in hospitality. So many places in tourist heavy areas think that just having banana pancakes on the menu is the key to success. They might get business, due to the large traffic in these areas but that’s not business, that’s just surviving. It is really not hard to do a few little things to make a place feel special and your customers feel welcome. I think that was one of the reasons that Doug wanted to return, the place looked newer now but had lost that sense of uniqueness that was present before.

So we chilled in Rishikesh for a while, i got my suspension fixed, again, after having only just done it in Delhi. Checked out some waterfalls, watched a monkey attack some kids, the usual. I later returned for a night swim in one of the waterfalls, it was beautiful. The water was flowing, fireflies were circling around and no one else was there to intrude on the scene, or see me naked.

We couldn’t stay too long as we had organised to meet some of Doug’s friends in Shimla, and although it was very nice there. I wasn’t feeling the vibe too much and was happy to move on. Our plan was to head up to the a place called Karanath, a temple up in the mountains, then backtrack to head to Shimla.

This was a beautiful ride, the road was curving and wide, with overhangs and beautiful mountain vistas. I was and am growing more confident on my bike everyday and riding becomes like your own personal roller coaster.
It was curious to see the people on the side, young and old, women and men, breaking rocks by hand to be used for making new roads. In India a lot of the time this is all done by hand. I have seen an excavation of a hillside being carried out just by manual labour. Whats cheaper, to pay for expensive machinery which you have to insure and that you have to repair if it breaks down or to employ a limitless supply of cheap labour, which can be replaced if there is ever an issue.

It was a two day ride and along the way we stopped at one village, I cant remember the name, booked a room and then went for a swim in the river. I love water, and any will take any opportunity to have swim, as long as its clean of course. (Though I have swum naked in the Vlatava river in Prague with a Ukranian – Dima it was special and I will always remember it)
The guy who owned the Hotel, was a tour guide and we asked specifically if the Temple will be open and accessible, of course he said ‘Yes, no problem’ I probably don’t need to detail what happens next but anyway we geared up and headed for Karanath and again it was beautiful ride with only one little hiccup. I  had stopped briefly to look for an internet cafe  in one of the small villages we were passing through, I couldn’t find one and had returned to my bike. I was getting ready to leave when I felt something pricking my leg, I scratched it then felt a really sharp pain, I looked down to see a scorpion fall off my leg and scurry away. It didn’t hurt too much and I wasn’t too worried because it was a long way from my heart but i thought i better do something about it. I asked for directions to the nearest doctor and fortunately there was a small hospital there.  I went inside and due to the language barrier I had to draw a picture of a scorpion, now even by my standards i thought it was a pretty accurate picture but the staff couldn’t figure it out, so they sent me to the doctor down the hall, who thankfully got it straight away and told me they would give me an injection further down the hall. I wish I had a camera with me then as there were all these Indian mothers with their children watching as I was told to make a fist then injected in the top of my hand.

That settled we set off again and made good time, arriving at Karanath ready to ascend on our pilgrimage only to be told that it wont be open for another 15 days. Well, what can I say, its India.

When reading about Karanath, i found out that there were hot springs that the pilgrims bathe and cleanse themselves in before ascending to the mountain. So I thought I’m not coming all this way for nothing and proceeded to ask for the whereabouts of said springs. This being India it took about an hour of walking up and down the hill, talking in varying degrees of English and Inglish before we found the springs. They were in a temple at the bottom of the hill. We were greeted by the temple, maintenance guy and duly showed the sacred waters. They looked a bit green and there was a nice oily film on the surface of the waters. There looked to be fresh hot water being pumped into the pool which we were informed came directly from the hot springs but again this being India i could just envisage it being connected to a hot water tap somewhere coming off the mains. I eased myself in careful to not let the water anywhere near my face, Doug came in a little bit later but said it was too hot and sat in the cooler end. I’m not going to say anything about him being a pansy. So after a suitably pleasant time had elapsed we got out, made a donation and got back on the road.

Again we had to stay in a halfway house, just a nice little village on the side of the mountain. It was here i had the best samosas I have had so far. Anyone who knows me, knows I love to eat. Its a passion for me and full time job supporting this mighty frame. So I try to enjoy the task as much as i can. Even though I had been riding at the time through the village and had only glimpsed the food stand briefly, It was enough to see that these golden packages were something different and the locals crowding around the vendor had been enough to confirm that i should return. So once the room was organised I headed back out and straight for the vendor. There was a queue, and everything that was cooked was consumed immediately, fresh. Even before I tasted them, I could see that the pastry was light and a delicate golden brown, then one bite and it was heaven. Honestly one of the best things i have tasted so far. I had three in a row. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.

At night there is not a lot to do in a village like that and you have a lot of time to think about the country your traveling through. During the day you can see the terraces that are created by the villages for farming and grazing, they look like massive topographic lines that you would find on a map. Then at night, it changes the picture quite differently. There is not as much lighting as you would find in the city and there might be something in the architecture and the way it reflects the light but every mountain village made me think of both a scene out of a science fiction movie and of little oriental castles.


Delhightful Part 2

As I mentioned, we had been invited by Sarah’s friends, Marc, Maxi and their two children Sebastian to come and stay. These guys were just great. It was so nice to be able to kick back and not think about things for a while. Marc has a keen interest in restoring old vehicles and was in possession of a restored Enfield. It is a beautiful bike and it confirmed my resolve to try and bring one of these bikes back to Australia. I’m in the process of researching how that can be done. If anyone has any advice it would be appreciated.

There was one funny story, not funny at the time but in retrospect I had to laugh. I was using Sebastian’s laptop to do some work on the blog, everyone else was upstairs watching some Dutch comedy (does that even exist?), right next to me was a cold beer waiting for the conclusion of my tasks. I finished the final sentence, reached over to grab the golden beverage and proceeded to spill the beer over me, and unfortunately the laptop. I quickly turned the laptop off and over. After a while a turned the machine back on. I thought everything was ok, then when I started to try and type, I found that a couple of important keys weren’t working, among them the ‘space’ bar. Now you could probably get by on a computer without some of the keys working even if its a letter like Z (unless your American) but the space key is pretty important. So shit! Way to take the funshine out of my day.
It was interesting to note that my first instinct was rather childlike, the first thought that crossed my mind was ‘ Just pretend it didn’t happen’ but unfortunately being a 28 year old man this option wasn’t open to me. I was feeling really bad at this stage, just because of the kindness that had been shown to me by Marc and his family, I have been thinking that a guest should be a gift to his hosts, so that they will want to repeat the kindness to someone else, It also made me remember our previous ill luck. So i dutifully spoke to Maxi and informed her of what happened. They were really cool about it and thankfully we were able to find a solution. I think they still like me…maybe.

So we spent a few days chilling, Sarah got her hair cut, Doug said he didn’t like it. Marc and I talked about Enfields, politics and good books to read. Then it was time to move on, next stop Rishikesh.

He recommended two in particular, which I also would say a worth a glance. One was ‘The Argumentative Indian’ a history of heterodoxy (objective discussion against the excepted line) in India and what it means for present day India and the other was ‘City of Djinns’ which is one mans account of a year spent in Delhi. It was quite fascinating to find that Delhi used to be one of the greatest cities in the world, and it was only recently due to the decline of the Mughal empire, the British occupancy and partition that created the city that exists today, which from reading is almost unrecognizable from what it used to be. Have a look.

Enjoying Lunch - Photo Courtesy of Sarah Van den Daele


Theory of Relativity.

In the past people have talked to me about the theory that people create their own realities. When I used to hear this I used think they were full of s$#t. But now I’m not so against the idea but I guess with a difference.

I do believe that people can and do create their own reality but it is a reality created from the existing Reality ( I use the capital to denote the objective reality). I hope that makes sense.

Let me explain. There is Reality that exists for all of us, it is the same for everyone and we share it. Then individuals take that reality and perceive it differently dependent on their frame of mind or mental state. So for any given event, people will perceive it differently but that difference, can in general be plotted on a spectrum with the actual event in an objective sense being the anchor and peoples perception or reality of the event being placed to either side of the event on that spectrum to a matter of degrees. There will be outliers of course but we are talking in general and I believe this can be allowed and the argument will still carry weight.

Now lets use for this case the words positive and negative with the connotations good and bad. So when something happens we perceive the event, which does actually occur, as being either positive (good) or negative (bad), based on our prior experiences, our mood, how hungry we are right then etc. This then becomes our reality. A Real event has occurred but we have changed it to fit our perception of what we expect at the time.

This also applies to people, we perceive people the same way, we put them through our filter and they may become something that in reality they are not, this can be good or bad. Every action they perform, gets put through this filter, and you build a picture of them. But you must not forget, that this picture gets sourced from the big Reality. Let me give you an example, you could be a very positive person, who always sees the good in others, a glass half full type. You then meet someone who in Reality is a lets say for want of a better word, a shit. He performs an action in Reality, which you perceive, because of your positive outlook , as being further up the positive spectrum, than the actual action is. I believe that if these two people were to continue to interact eventually the negative action would become apparent, there would be a slide down the spectrum, past the Reality of where the person sits on that spectrum then into a negative perception. Where it will become harder and harder for you to change your perception of that person.

But I think knowing all this is great because it gives you an option, I believe that it is possible to train yourself to be objective to perceive the true nature of events for what they are and have empathy for other people. To stand outside of your own previous conditioning and develop a greater understanding of how events are linked. Then this might sound strange but to then condition yourself, as this takes time and will, to look for the positive and ignore the negative, to see the best in people. This I believe because we reflect back to people images of themselves and everyone in this life is striving to be understood on some level whether it is the freedom to be left alone or the chance be perceived as something better than they believe themselves to be. In a word to be free, free from the restrictions that they, those around them and society has placed on them. This is an idealistic thing to write about, and much harder to do in practice because it requires anyone who takes this path to drag themselves out on their own, to not play the victim and take responsibility for their perception of the world.

To agree with this, you have believe that there is positive and negative direction in life, in our actions. We can communicate these things and we share this reality. I’m going to remove the good and bad tags here and just say that positive means beneficial and negative means not beneficial.

Ben.


Since I had my mp3 player stolen,

This is what I have been singing in my head lately.

If anyone knows how to add a simple music player to WordPress, that can source music from the web and just play it as audio on the blog, could you let me know? I have seen it done elsewhere. FIXED!


What I got for my Birthday.

Diarrhoea.