Tuesday, December 25, 2007

This blogging thing has dropped off a bit hasn't it.

I am back in Mysore for a few days now simply because up in northern Andhra things were so booked and busy I spent one afternoon 'touring' over a dozen hotels just to find a roof for the night - which I managed - and then spent 3 hours the next day to secure a berth on an overnight train. No need to force it so I hopped back here for a bit of peace and quiet. And it is quiet which is a blessing.

Such things reveal to me that though I may have more patience than ever previously (believe it or not), the stock is still very much exhaustible and even pulled into deficit sometimes which is, to be honest, a very unattractive place for patience to dwell.

Cue extremely moody dealings with all encoutered in the public space - rickshaw drivers trying to squeeze a few rupees more out of me because they think the backpack looks heavy, hotel owners who try charging a tenner for a room worth about GBP1.50 and won't deign to make eye contact, fruit juice sellers who just want to sell you (tap) water with fruit fragrance included. Yes, even cinema staff who want to remove your carefully chosen snack and drink and force you to buy their revolting over-sweet drinks and whatnot. It was I, the very annoyed individual, who made a fool of myself in front of probably a hundred people plus in a cinema lobby in Hyderabad just the other day when confronted, tired, emotional and hungry, with just such a scenario I did not hold back, even though I should. Not very dignified. Indeed, not very dignified for two reasons - because unfortunately shouting actually gets you somewhere here a lot of the time which is not a good thing to have worked out and also because Indians by and large are acutely embarrassed by being harangued whether or not they have well and truly earned it. The fact that one can thus coerce and embarrass people with relative impunity is of course due to many different factors in Indian culture. After the fact it is easy to feel uncomfortable about these outbursts. However I console myself with a couple of rebuttals in mind. First, that for the most part I am more than respectful to people here even when they are taking the piss and second that when one does come across an instance of courtesy, kindness, respect or 'good service' (in inverted commas simply to distinguish it as being part of the management-speak which should be clearly recognised as a special compartment of English for describing things within the artifically constructed world of business English as opposed to actual English - where meaning can be traced back centuries and actually stands for something while pretending otherwise as opposed to seeming ethically neutral whilst being totally amoral) it is such a pleasant experience, makes everyone's day better and proves that some people are just bloody-minded, ignorant or simply desperate and you can't always work out which one in time to prevent yourself being a total dick.

So, in amongst it all I did manage a few days up near the Araku valley, at around 3000ft a little cooler and a lot greener than the plains of AP. Did some strolling around quiet valley roads, riding on local buses with weathered, dark, partially clothed tribal women with 3 or 4 large gold rings in each nostril, often with a child in a sling on their front and a couple of live chickens in hand and seemingly oblivious to the sideways glances of disgust/shame given them by good self-respectin' 16 year old Salwaar clad hindu girls going home from school, their perfectly black, oiled and plaited hair decked with the customary little strand of flowers on the hair clip at the back and contrasting with the greying frizz and disarray of the hill-women's fashion statements. Oh, and visited somehuge caves tucked away in the hills and 'discovered' by some Britisher in 1807, although of course humans had been living there for about 50,000 years before he came along.

So, Mysore for a few days. Spent another couple of hours in the rail booking office yesterday to secure a ticket to Tirupathi early January. There I will visit a friend from Hyderabad who is recovering from major surgery to fractures of the skull and jaws and also do a little pilgrimmage to Tirumala and see the temple of Lord Venkatesh - the richest in India. You can make a donation/do puja online. It is apparently the largest place of pilgrimmage in the world with over 100,000 people per day visiting and some 20,000 staff to 'coordinate' it all. After that it'll be time for a quick couple of weeks looking round Tamil Nadu before meeting Helen in Sri Lanka at the end of January. I've gotta get there first and sort the deluxe pad as a base for our surf mission. Seems that overall Mum and Helen are enjoying their Aussie hols again - getting to meet the locals www.couchsurfing.com style I thnk this time, although they do of course have their own house!

Had a lovely yoga practice this morn - has been months since I did ashtanga in a room with a few others and it was very pleasant. At the same time it made me appreciate the value of a period of practice on my own. Even though it gets a bit lonely sometimes!

No plans for the day - want to have a swim, maybe later. Have just been invited to lunch by random Aussies here so will take them up on that one.

Happy Christmas.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Rarely spotted - me!

Rarely spotted - me!
Originally uploaded by jakebarne
Am in the office today (gasp - dont think I've ever said that on a Sunday). This is a shot of me yesterday - went with a colleague to Golkonda Fort on the outskirts of Hyderabad. See Flickr (on my links) for few other images from last few weeks.

Still slaving here at www.apmas.org - trying to get the work finished but people keep asking me to do more and revise this and help with that. Staff here are so busy. Overstretched really.

Hyderabad is good, not sure where next.