I was compelled to return to the Garwhal Himalayas for one last cruise amidst the snowcaps, the mountains in my mind's eye mystical and eternal, like giant frozen guardian angels watching out for my kismet, always there to give consolation, no matter what tribulations rankle my soul. So huge, so hard-rock real and yet I cruise thru them swiftly, unable to possess them, hang on to them, meld with them, I have to keep going as I'd freeze my arse off outside the car in a few hours if I tried to stay within their magnificence for long, every landscape dissolving like a snow-blizzard mirage of sanctuary, a fleeting dream. Only my heart remembers and holds the delight close, I try to carry the Himalayas with me, and all the great moments of life, in one hot white ball of light.
Aaahhh, the hotsprings at Gangonani, laid-back in the huge tank late at night under a luminous Milky Way, the mountains thrusting me closer so that the stars reinforce the light in my eyes. The "bad baba" had disappeared, another gentler soul had taken his place, my sojourn was blessed in any case for I had the greatest time this my 10thyear in India. I can also say that I finally met a sweet, high Baba, the real thing, it was on the trail into Neel Kanth Temple, he was a huge muscular fellow, dressed sadhu-simple, he'd given up his lucrative business of oil tankers, leaving it to his family to run, disinterested in money and all it could buy, he has dedicated the rest of his life to meditating and serving the community of the sacred temple, doing the hard labour of shifting rocks and building walls, recieving only dahl and chapatis as his reward, he was very 'cool', didn't jump at the sight of me, the white firang with money, he was only interested in his sadhana, the old style type of sadhu, it's refreshing to know they're still about.
Hurtling about the windy roads we picked up two Argentinian girls to give them a lift back down to Shangri-la, and they filled me in on life in South America. They didn't like our techno music so I put on Jimmie Hendrix and what an epiphany it was to hear "The Wind Cries Mary" in his soul-wrenching voice echoing about the diamond white snow-caps of the Himalayan mountains, us cruising as if we were riding on that very wind. Mmmmm, bliss!
Only 7 days and I fly back to Sydney, that Euclidian futuristic ratrace in place of medieval cyberpunk, and my whole Indian sojourn will seem a dream, tho lucid and with flight control, as I mostly did what I set out to do and on top of it got the dream-weird, spontaneous adventure/mystery to funk it out with an extra-exciting edge. And using my will, brains and guts I can fly back here, or any other hotspot site on this planet, if I really want to. I needn't get ruffled by the transience, it's all a dream hoping not to be a nightmare, Sydney included. It's back to horror-movie scenario number 777, night-shift nurse in a spooked out hospital, for as long as I can bear it in 2007.
Oh yeah, and the struggling lunatic-fringe artist, what a delusion! I got an e-mail whilst flying thru the fantastical mindscape of India circa 21st century telling me a few of the milquetoast bureaucrats running Sydney City Council had decided my painting "New Years Eve 1980 Kings Cross", which won the 'People's Choice Award' at the "Images of the Cross Art Competition", was too risque and controversial to be hung on a public wall in the lobby of the Kings Cross Library. I was my usual shocked and infuriated demonic self, luckily too far away here in India to throw useless temper-tantrums in front of dumb office-workers, for I can be such a noisome brat. It stuns me in this day and age, after several millenium of Art History and battles for the democratic freedom of expression, and countless brouhahas over nudes and sex concepts, in free-wheeling Sydney I get a painting banned, from a space called the "One-stop Shop" where over the years the most hopeless arsewipes have proudly hung. Nogod, I can't be that bad!
Maybe you're thinking this guy has got a victim's complex, he's always getting kicked in the teeth, at every instance, bitching about everyone and never happy with anything, always looking for the Gothic undertow. What can I say, it's easy to ruffle the feathers of the chooks a few rungs up on the roosting ladder? Or, obviously, it's a very hard slog to make something of oneself in a cut-throat capitalist world? (I know, I know, the Communists were 7 times worse.) There's no sex in my artwork, just a satire on contemporary sexual practices. My painting is expressionist/surreal, a larger than life nude stripper on a table in front of the Pink Pussycat Strip Club, a crowd of men clammering at her feet and in the background 3 hookers leaning against the wall of a Sex Shop, with the extra absurdism of advertising thrown in, the "Heaven on a Stick" ice-cream campaign of the '80s. Yeah, yeah, and me stoned in the foreground, sprawled against a garbage-bin, all a vision of pagan ecstasy too delightful for the robopathic bureaucrat's taste.
I really dont think there is anything overtly offensive about the painting, it's felt from my side to be from the heart, a trully personal work, a kind of self-portrait dreamscape of an exciting time in Sydney's history that I was a part of. I've seen virtual pornography hung in the Art Gallery of NSW and, while controversial, the artist was "famous" and not to be crossed in the eyes of the world and thus got curator/state sanctioned. For the wannabe artist it's almost impossible to be independant in this world, one paints for money, career, fame, politics, to paint from the heart is as illusory as attainingNirvana, and I'm a day-dreaming wanker.
Now I've got to go back and fight it out in the Sydney penal town/gladiator pit, and probably carry the painting home in humiliation, I'm tired of the battle against no-talent, know-nothing, no courage drones, I'll go to my ignominious garret without a peep, many a careerist would've made a cause celebre out of the banning of an artwork, I just don't care about climbing the shit-heap that much, depends if I feel like having some psycho-drama fun, situationist pranks for soul-numbed drones can get me howling with laughter.
I guess I should be happy that my hard-won work is so efffective it gets the robopaths waving their prohibitive wands; in this suck-arse system it's great to be an iconoclast, a subversive, an outsider, it beats all those arsewipe splotches they pass off as "abstract expressionism", but probably I'm just kidding myself, I really do have delusions of grandeur by thinking I'm an edgy artist, but hey, what's life without dreaming big?
I come to India for adventure and escape, relaxation and knowledge, love of the people and pagan culture, healthy lifestyle and ecstatic experience, maybe reincarnation is true and I was an Indian in my last life for I seem to fit in, recognise and be recognised, at the very least I'm a part of the background scene here, the firang freak who has spent big hunks of his life wandering the Indian backroads, I sure love India and Indians, and it's such a welcome break from struggling with the Aussie heirachy, nursing the dying in the nursing homes and facing the bitchy trendoids who oversee Aussie lifestyle.
And what images stand out from my latest sojourn? In a traffic jam in hellish Dehradune, a face screamed from the crowd, a squat-ugly peasant dressed up as Hanuman the Monkey-god, but with no style, just lots of bright-orange make-up and frayed rags for a costume, and he had such a look of lost desperation in his eyes, he was an absolute nobody begging his living dressed as a monkey, maybe it was his caste, maybe he'd had an epiphany and thought he was the monkey-god, to me he looked dead beat and this was his only option, his struggle for survival daunting and haunting me who am a spoiled westerner with plenty of potential still at the late age of 57, having already had a fabulous life: I'm taught by those estranged eyes, those millions of hopeless, hopeful eyes, to rejoice in my lot as I fly by like Lord Rama in his celestial silver chariot.
And in a typical goblin-grunge mountain town I saw the most gorgeous puppy dog almost fall under a truck's wheels, and I snuck up on her and snatched her up, she totally relaxed as she hung in my arms and didn't struggle a bit, as if thinking at last she'd found a loving home. Tho quite dirty she was fat and fluffy, of reddish/golden hue with yellow eyes that clearly expressed her feelings, very pretty and, my driver, when he returned, also fell in love with her and we instantly dog-napped her into the car. She'd been scavenging trash-slops all day and got car-sick on the way down the mountains and vomited filth all over, twice, but we patiently washed her and the horrid messy car as she looked up at me as if to say, "I'm sorry!" After a visit to the vet she is happily ensconced in Balu's family home, the most beautiful dog in the village and everybody fussing over her.
Many other wonderful things happened, more than what goes down in Sydney, tho I love that city also, but I won't bore you with further personal reminiscences. One last dream, the magical night I showed movies in a Nepali tent restaurant in Shangri-la, with a boyish, blond Doris Day turning feminine in the whip crack-away of "Calamity Jane" which blew the minds of the Indian audience, they never quite realised we westerners love musicals also. Remember, my life is a madcap musical with "secret loves" taking me away "to the black hills of the beautiful Indian country I adore."