|From Julien - Nov
Sikhs on the beach
some rather decadent goings on in Goa, Ed and I caught the train
to Hampi in the state of Karnataka. Goa happened all too quickly
and despite our best efforts we found ourselves entangled in the
salubrious delights of the tourist scene. Riding bikes through truly
awe-inspiring scenery proved a most agreeable distraction, but I'd
be a liar and a scoundrel if I didn't admit to indulging in the
hedonistic delights over-indulgence, gratuitous eating and talking
to strangers. Between intolerable cliché and disreputable behaviour,
however, we did manage to do some thorough exploring and meet some
remarkable people before catching the train to Hampi in the state
of Karnataka. That I'm afraid is all you're getting on Goa.
And what a place is Hampi. Set amid the backdrop of the most
striking rock formations I've ever seen lies the ruined 13th century
capital city of Vijayalikar. Founded by two Hindu brothers this
city held out against Muslim invaders from the north for over 200
years. And it doesn't take a Michael Moore to see why: piles of
enormous boulders hang loosely together as if dropped from the sky,
punctuated by rivers and numerous stretches of scattered streams,
which overlook countless temples, statues and monuments in varying
states of disrepair. With the obvious exception of Milton Keynes
I have seen no finer tribute to the grandeur of human endeavour
than this most resplendent city. For miles this biblical landscape
stretches across the arid, rocky terrain. I had no idea that such
a place existed, and even trying to convey the haunting majesty
of the place seems a little trite. I'm an arrogant man - and Ed,
well he's just ignorant - but after scrambling over the granite
hills for the best part of a day each of us were too humbled to
come up with any facetious remarks. The hundreds of pictures I've
taken just don't do justice to this place and so you'll all have
to make do with my incessant rantings on this place upon my return.
So it seems our arrival in Hampi coincides
with the jubilee celebrations of the unification of Karnataka as
a state, which in turn coincides with a major Hindu festival celebrating
something I have yet to get to the bottom of. With all the pomp
and pageantry such an occasion merits, the town is limbering up
to play host to over 5000 pilgrims, sight-seers and ne'er do wells.
A huge stage is under construction for several elaborate performances
set to take place this evening. On the eve of this 3-day extravaganza
The Big Easy and myself find ourselves at luncheon reviewing a procession
of around 300 policemen in lines three deep that extends across
the horizon of our generously sized veranda - a sight arguably more
sobering than the majestic views we had enjoyed earlier.
And then the rain came.
Scrambling like school kids at
the sound of the lunchtime bell the police fled to the confines
of the nearest shelter which, needless to say, included the very
restaurant in which, moments earlier, Ed and I had been ruminating
on the ontological ramifications of Shelley's 'Ozymandias' as a
work of unreconstructed dialectical discursivity. As the brouhaha
abated we found ourselves surrounded by around 20 moustachioed officers
sporting cudgels, light riot equipment and the occasional Stetson.
With the rain showing no sign of relenting their attention turned
to the two quaking, pasty-faced gentlemen in panamas and cravats
huddled tremulously in the corner. Raining questions down on us
as if interrogating us for indecent exposure (Ok, Ed's case is still
pending, but mine collapsed back in '98 due to lack of corroborating
evidence) we fielded them as competently as we were able. "What
is the purpose of your visit?", "Where do you intend on
going afterwards?", "Have you a wife or dependants?".
And then, amid peels of laughter, the bombshell: "In the UK
do you manage to get much fucking done?" After a dexterously
crafted response (a reddening of the cheeks and a stuttered "no")
I received a tremendous slap on the back and the burly arm of a
tasselled Lothario around my shoulder. (I think it worth mentioning
that said arm remained in place until the rain subsided and the
paraders reconvened.) I've said it before, but that's the last time
I wear my hair down in public.
So that's really about the
crux of it. In between these happenings and other happenings there
is little else that my tired fingers can offer. I feel it worth
mentioning to those unacquainted with this already tired story,
that I met a Tamil Tiger called Jo with whom I played both volleyball
and chess. A trifle lacklustre at the game of kings, he had me in
check embarrassingly quickly. I still retain, however, that the
three bullet holes in his chest and scar running all the way across
his throat dictated the run of play. Errr... And other things that
I find myself already forgetting.
We plan to stay here for
another weeks - there's so much to see here that anything less would
be a slight of this fair city - before catching the train to Bangalore
and the pursuit of further misadventure.
To those I have
yet to respond to, my graces will be bestowed upon you shortly.
Until such times I bid you farewell and Godspeed.
live in interesting times.
"Sikhs on the beach"
Niall is most put out he hasn't had a Bubbub/Niall-centric
Please keep an eye out for Elvis, I came across an "Indian
Elvis Impersonator Competition" a while ago, though I can't
really remember if I saw it on a sign outside a pub, on the web
or maybe even if you told me about it. Nonetheless, I suggest you
and Ed initiate what could come to be a popular niche in sub-continental
culture. I suspect the Vegas years would be the best era to address,
white sparkly capes will appeal I suspect.
Easy" could become Satchmo and flood once a year in an ironic
manner as his namesake - a welcome warm-up act to the main event.
Surprisingly little news about the protestors outside the Indian
embassy, suspect the authorities are trying to suppress what will
become an overwhelmingly popular uprising.
Go for it my son. "Boldness
is all" - the family motto.
|From Julien - Nov
4th 2006 (to Niall)
It has been some
time since we were last in communion. Pretty sure you're on my group
email list, but that doesn't quite compensate for the lack of brotherly
support and guidance that you must be craving.
remarkable of days, found me watching an Indian wrestling tournament.
It's a truly crazy affair, with all the wrestlers scrapping each
other at the same time. I kept getting shoved around in the middle
of the crowd, so I decided the time was ripe to exercise the family
blagging skills that I know we both share. Forcing my way to the
front I told the policemen at the front that I was a journalist
for The Insight travel guide. How the hell they believed me with
my crappy camera around my neck, flies wide open and curry on my
tee-shirt I'll never know, but somehow it worked. They led me to
the front of the ring where I had privileged access to the whole,
bloody affair. I took so many photos it's almost ridiculous. Already
I've used up my 400 photo limit, so I'm afraid I'm going to bore
the hell out of you when I get back.
Ed, I regret to inform
you has got "The Shits". He's been lying in bed all day
groaning and whimpering. We both ate some weird shit from a street
vendor, so it could be that. Despite having started the day with
two fairly substantial stools in reasonably quick succession, my
own bowels seem to be made of hardier stuff. Ed didn't appreciate
me pointing that out to him, but I think it's only fair that the
fact is acknowledged. Looks like I'll be dining alone this evening.
Anyway, how's things in Blighty? I imagine that you're working
diligently at school, being kind and courteous to the frail and
elderly and spending your free time in solitary contemplation. I
know I've said it before, but too much hard work really isn't good
for a young man your age and while I find your commitment to schoolwork
inspirational you're going to need time to enjoy your youth. Any
more letters home about being a "special little man?".
What's going on bruv?
So. I'm going to try to attach some
of my photos so that you can be bored by them and I can stop worrying
that I'm going to lose them. There's absolutely tons, and I can't
be arsed to go through all of them, so I've just sent a couple that
you might like. The hell begins when I return. I'd be much obliged
to you if you could acknowledge receipt at your earliest convenience.
I have emailed this to Pater also (who I'm aware is still overdue
an update on my movements - in the meantime just tell him about
the two craps) because I don't know how often you check your emails.
Look forward to hearing from you soon,
Only one picture made it - this is it.