There are misconceptions that: only ‘Big Business’ can generate the lifestyle that we seek collectively; in order to make the poor richer, we must make the rich richer, if we regulate the corporate tax avoiders no-one will have a job and that support for a welfare state undermines the efforts of hard-working tax payers. Failed communism is often referenced as the only alternative and the suggestion is that without the golden chalice of capitalism we will suddenly live in a commune, with no lighting, cuddling a goat. The Russian’s had a space program too. They just didn’t fake a moon landing. China did. Don’t get me started.
My phone is gone. It has bounced out of my scooter basket when I hit a speed bump in Rishikesh. It was then picked up by a monkey, who ran into the woods. Funny symbolism that. It’s like a comedy remake of the opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Iphones are big here. Iphones are a symbol of capitalist success. The youth here sit glued to them watching videos of billionaire pop stars and fast cars. However, I can’t help feeling that proper sanitation, decent schooling or an affordable hospital would not be a greater symbol of progress here. Continue reading →
Dessert has arrived. It’s confusing. An industrial block of ice cream. Some broken biscuits and a few bananas nudged in. Snapped Oreos are jammed in the side of the block and it’s finished with five butterflied satsuma segments, four raisins and a squabble of chocolate sauce. I’ve seen, ‘Hello To The Queen’ on every travellers’ menu since Fort Kochin. It seems to have some heritage here, but a quick Google suggests that no-one knows what it is, where it came from or how to make it. There was no, ‘Up Yours Elizabeth’. I’d have preferred that. I’m reminded of Blighty and I consider the forthcoming election. Continue reading →
From the counter at the front of his hardware shop, Sudhir’s eyes vacantly stare through the passing traffic. A look we have seen so often here. A man in the abyss. Our arrival nudges him to consciousness. He rubs his eyes and recognises us from two days ago.
“It’s crazy out there.” I blurt as we stumble in. Our nervous systems are in tatters after the chaotic journey. We sit opposite Sudhir at the counter. He seems resigned and he shakes his head. There is a sadness with him. A sense of futility. My comment seems to have prompted something.
“It is crazy.” He replies in time. He inhales slowly, still climbing from his brain-death. But he fixes to talk. Collette and I both sense we are about to get more than we came in for. We lean in to listen as he talks: Continue reading →
Double Bed Cabin Near The Back
Overnight Bus Ride
Mumbai to Jodphur
Somewhere in Space
9th April 2017
Dearest and Favourite Aunty Margaret,
When we were called at 9:50am this morning to be advised that this bus was now leaving at 10:25am as opposed to its scheduled departure time of 11:30, we had to get our Mumbai skates on. Typically Indian that. We feel very lucky to have made it on board.
Bandra was our date night location for our final night in Mumbai. The preferred, ‘happening hotspot’ for the stars of Bollywood, we were hungry for some Bollywood bling. It turns out it’s mostly a place where Indians with privilege take the opportunity to treat Indians in service like dog shit; valet parking, ‘Bring my chicken over here,” “Clean my table.” “Dust my ego.” This kind of social-hierarchy bollocks. And it plays out constantly here. In traffic jams, in bars, buying vegetables, arranging transport. When I get them to clean my bum hole etc. Continue reading →
As a kid my mum would give me one of those impossibly big old fifty pence pieces to put in the donations basket and pack me off to church with my siblings. Winny, my dear gran, is Roman Catholic. Paying respects to her religious tradition, us five siblings were biblically named in age order; Simon Andrew, Paul Richard, Rachel Mary, Christopher James and Peter Philip. Oh how names can deceive.
Our mother didn’t come to church with us. A housewife with five children, she would wisely take the opportunity to have some time for herself. She would catch up with the two-metre high piles of dirty washing, over-boil some potatoes in the pressure cooker and listen to Fleetwood Mac. And rightly so. She has more important things to do with her Sundays. Continue reading →
We made some lovely new friends in Jaisalmer. As a thirty five year old boy, I’d instinctively refer to this quartet of handsome and bright seventeen and eighteen year olds as boys. However I have no intention to condescend, in fact, the opposite. At their age I was vomiting Blue WKD behind Squares. Here, these men were embarking on a final cultural venture prior to their looming two year stint of compulsory national service for their native Singapore. Hussain, Sanni, Ratch and Nas looked like an entry to South East Asia’s Got Talent in their matching desert outfits and through the laughter we talked; politics, travel, photography, Youtube, history, art and dreams.
Do you remember those CD multi-stackers that were hidden in the boot of posh cars in the late eighties and early nineties? Imagine loading a five-stacker with; N-Sync, Now That’s What I Call Country, Nickelback, Michael Buble and Cher. Now press random play. Collette and I went to a one-percenters bar last night. Proper dregs.
Shoeless, I was in a predicament. The car park was stony, dark and dirty. Our last minute stop at the funniest restaurant in Mapusa meant that I had a large Kingfisher to drain from my bladder. Our over night bus to Mumbai was taking a scheduled break at some bleak café and someone had half-inched my Birkenstocks. Continue reading →
“See, you don’t get the same experience of India from a car”. Pete was right. Behind the darkened windows of the a/c taxi, you couldn’t feel the warm wild of the wind. You couldn’t hear the ripping of the road in your ears or smell the cavalcade of cashew, masala, garlic, sulphur, diesel and shit.