Saturday, 7 November 2009


so...below is a piece i thirty months ago wrote after returning from six months in India... i wonder how different this time will seem


Even the grooviest grooves can get so smooth they turn into a rut… yes, even the grooviest grooves can get so smooth they turn into a rut… so… India… NEW WORLD, SAME ME… in the seeming chaos of the Delhi bazar the best way to walk is in the path of the oncoming traffic, cos it’s the only place where you can possibly see most of what’s coming… for I got taken away, by the way taken … and on day one, outside the British Council, the eight year old knows no English but he knows enough to try and sell me his body… he twirls like a girl and singsongs by rote “with me you can do anything you like”… across the road, his tennish sister grins a wide mouthful of teeth at me… rendered unknowledged, disclued, everything to learn… so, when I return in five months, will it be, SAME WORLD, NEW ME?… the police motto is, with you, for you, always… the relentless mind, putting the world together, pulls itself apart… the tube is nicer than London …and ooo, only a twentieth of the price…in fact it’s nicer than Toronto and Montreal…they even say please when they say “Mind the gap”… but they do also say, “do not befriend anyone” …??? ...and yet, passing directly under Chandni Chowk, and Old Delhi station, you look at all the shiny metal around you, the cleanliness, the expense, and you think, this is a country run by Brahmins for Brahmins, above is mass poverty, are people living in lean-tos, is life brimming from squalid corners, is bright colour arrayed over blacks and browns and long sullied whites and crumbling concrete, are ragged children on rubble, and you think, this is a country run by Brahmins for Brahmins … hour by hour, day by day, let me draw you, let me piece fragments of knowledge, let me put one word after another to get closer and closer to the truth and the voiceover at the show says, “building a new vocabulary within the kathak dance, a movement woven with the aesthetic”… and I am stupid question man, am a rising glut of idiot queries, I have to stem and plug… what is, how do, when did, what if, can they????… and this part of the blog is like a cow in the street, it doesn’t do anything, good or bad, its just there, momentarily getting in the way … on the toy train the six year old boy holds his mother’s phone while she holds his head on her lap and picks out the lice… GOOD ADVERT/ up the road from the dalai lama’s pad in dharamsala, on the large banner-sign over the entrance to the mountaineering centre, a family of monkeys swing and fall and swiftly clamber, and you think, are they the instructors? they're bloody good, i'm going in … the golden temple of Amritsar …about as unbogstandard as unbogstandard can get…a pure pleasure, in fact the purest pleasure, to stroll slowly around it three times a day … the most aweing religious building I have ever seen … and the cleanest toilets in India… PYRRHIC VICTORY On the painting in the temple, a man holding a bloodstained sword, triumphantly brandishes by the hair, his own severed head, …hmmm, maybe i'm not privy to the mythology, or the symbology, but surely, something of a pyrrhic victory no? … and I held the sacred spear while the friendly temple guard fixed my headscarf…and it’s a funny bit of guardwork when he gives you his weapon so he can smilingly adjust your headgear ?... to journey up the dark river into the jungle of oneself and find the brawling mess of uglinesses that is me, The Horror! The Horror … DOES IT MATTER if it was a great place to be for an hour, and you only got there by wandering at random, and there were no street-signs, and you weren't paying attention anyway, and you got away by auto-rickshaw, which went past no landmarks, so you don't know what it was called, and could never find it again, but will never be back in Amritsar anyway, does it matter you have no idea where you were? or what it was called?… people are the same the world over, kids are really the same the world over, and teenage motorcyclists and SUV drivers, they are definitely the most the same the world over of all same-the-world-overs … in Chandigarh the first thing I write is… the shitiest shitehole that ever got shitier …yes, the shitiest shitehole that ever got shitier …council estates in Glasgow have nightmares that one day they'll wake up and they'll become this place… half of which resemble a series of unpaved car parks where most people can't afford a car … where wide-boulevard saminess and no road signs means it was designed to confuse invading armies…apparently the Pakistani army lost an entire tank corps here in the 1971 invasion… they'd heard it was built by le Corbusier and cruised in, like many a misguided tourist, to find they'd made a horrible mistake… apparently they were in such a hurry to leave they all bust the accelerator pedals in their T54s and got wiped out like sitting ducks…it seems they were offered apartments but they understandably preferred death by immolation … cos yes its, chandigarh, the shitiest shitehole that ever got shitier … and this part of the poem is like a cow in the street, it doesn’t do anything, good or bad, its just there, momentarily getting in the way … [two days later I rather liked Chandigarh and I’m sorry to leave] … to journey up the dark river and come out, much to your surprise, into the full blaring festival of oneself, The Hurrah! The Hurrah… its very difficult to learn more about your own country, you’ve known them so long you think you know everything already, and its very difficult to learn about a new people, there’s so much you don’t know, how do you start? … in Lucknow, on sunset’s river, the branches drift into the sun, the wreaths of the day… a haiku? ... it doesn’t cost peanuts, it costs peanut… MY INTESTINES/ my intestines are like the bassiest bass string on a doubly done-in double bass being played by a large cheerful stupid and wholly arhythmic bear… down below in the wasteland between varanasi hotels... two women each carry a precariously high-stacked basket of precarious cowpats ... and, fifteen minutes ago, the dogs killed a dog in a frenzy of agonised yelping, the top dog has torn and ripped and chewed and sated himself, and now the number two is having his turn while nearby a pair of smaller wogs watchfully await theirs… and Salman Rushdie writes, we inhale the world and breathe out meaning, while we can, while we can… and Henry Miller says, drink cold, piss warm … and this part of the piece is like cows in the street, it doesn’t do anything, good or bad, its just there, momentarily getting in the way … and it is the holy places that I like best, Dharamsala, Amritsar, Varanasi, where the tourism is not the main thing… in Varanasi the Ganges is first, the holy of Hindu holies, and secondly, its functioning everyday lived-in workspace, and only third, is it tourist zone… and on sunset’s river, by the ghat where they burn the bodies, we are in the flight path of oooo, half a million swallows swooping swarming soaring and flitting, a reality I can only describe by cheap resource to the unreal, 3D movie-like, CGI-like, in their at-you at-you at-you-ness … and the rime on my neck is from burnt human flesh trying to become my second skin … STARBUCKS ON THE MOON/ in the hotel pond in Khajuraho, the largest goldfish sucks at air at the pool's edge, and tries to lift itself with its fins, as if trying to climb out, as if trying to evolve, but if it succeeds i hope its not too disappointed, it might be like climbing Everest, to discover there's a McDonalds on top!... One by one the stars are coming out… my baseless opinions are like walls without foundation, one good push and they fall right down… MOHAMHED GAUS, GWALIOR/ well it looks pretty marvelous, but its not in the, lonely planet, so it must be crap …but, are you sure?... cos it looks great…but its not in , and what do I know, so it must be crap… why do waiters the world over take the menus away when you’ve ordered… hold it, it is in the lonely planet, it’s the mohammed gaus, and the tamsen temple, the map's scale is way iffy, told you it was great … isn’t it lovely?... to journey up the dark river into oneself, and come out into a strange mystical land The Aura! The Aura! the most ordered spaces are the petrol stations… and this part of the piece is like a cow in the street, it doesn’t do anything, good or bad, its just there, momentarily getting in the way … WHAT IS CURRY the kind of misunderstanding its too easy for me to create, which leads to the superfriendly and worryingly serious waiter, with no English, trying to explain to me, with no Hindi, exactly what a curry is, ... because he thinks i, with our broken communication, have asked...and blimey was it hard for him… by the time i realized what he was doing, we'd been round every house in the village, twice… in Gwalior the largest human statue I have ever seen, its dick long since axed off by the Muslim horde, has half a beard on its chin … which is the largest beehive I have ever seen, a speckled black surface rippling with menace and well, its just like touring FringeCanada, no-one understands anything I say but I do seem to provide lots of entertainment … whole families come out of their houses simply to laugh at me… just like Winnipeg … and my hair has plainly got of such a condition that everyone is trying to sell me dope... in fact i am such an inviting mark that no-one can resist me, doctors dash out their surgeries, mullahs motor down from their minarets, and priests pop out of the pulpit, all on the excellent on-chance just cos my hair is passing... which means i am spending even more time than before saying no... to journey up the dark river into oneself , and come out paddleless into a swirling murky brown eddy you can't get out of, The Error! The Error… as i blunder proliferously, ever English, in temple hotel bus-station cafe train place street restaurant autorickshaw-queue mosque I KNOW WHAT THE INDIANS ARE THINKNG they’re thinking, "how did these people conquer a third of the world, and why did we let them stay for so long?"

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