Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Escape from the Subcontinent But Not the Subconscious.
As I was sitting by a cable-bridge across the Ganges River in Shangri-la I watched a full-grown Langur monkey begging for food from the passing pilgrims/tourists, most of whom were scared of him and ran if he approached them; a few tentatively held out peanuts and squealed when he plucked the nuts from their trembling hands.
I was relishing the warm sunlight upon my face, somewhat at peace, thinking of nothing, desiring little, feeling free. At most I was intoning the universal mantra Aum with my incoming and outgoing breath, as I try to do much of my life no matter what action I’m involved in, often failing but always coming back to it, it centers and soothes me. Suddenly the Langur bounded up beside me and lent upon my shoulder, like an old friend, while he perused the crowd for more tit-bits. I didn’t panic, jump or tremble, I was too cool, it felt good, natural, liked we were two of a kind.
He moved off after about 21 seconds and I went to fetch some bananas for him, I held them above my head and again he leaned on me while he tried to snatch at the goodies, stronger than a World Wide Wrestler, I knew he could tear me to pieces but I wasn’t afraid, his intentions were as benign as mine. I’m happiest when in nature, observing the beauty of animals, forgetting the stupidity of my fellow humans. It always surprises me that dogs ever single me out, to follow me, sit at my feet, touch me. For all that I’m a fuck-up, get in foul moods and fight with everyone, I try to project love from my heart chakra, when my whirling thoughts can be stilled, and maybe dogs can recognize this.
Maybe people recognize it too, especially Indians, for wherever I travel in India I’m greeted by sincere smiles and requests for engagement. En masse, like mobs of Israelis, Russians, Brits or Aussies, Indians can be impossible to deal with: importunate, cruel, rude, venal, ignorant, and I lose my patience, scream, curse and push them out of the way. But when I meet them individually, face to face, most can be so sweet, considerate, friendly, open, I see them for what they are, mere humans, working hard and honestly, hoping the best for their families, willing to do their best by you, and I forgive them their foibles, forget that they’re always asking for money, they simply have to make a living.
To reiterate, I love it best when in nature, the wild jungles, the high Himalayan Mountains, the seaside coconut groves, the hinterland hilltop reserves and desert oasis. What a pity one has to go thru the cities and towns to get there, almost impossible to survive the crowds, traffic, pollution, noise, garbage, rip-off merchants and insistent beggars, pushy hawkers and deformed freaks, with nowhere to sit and relax, always an eager beaver pops up to interrogate you, a thief to put his/her hand in your pocket or a sweeper to throw dirt in your face. How can people live this way? Even the elite must find it difficult to make it thru the sooty logjam of traffic to get to their cut-off gated compounds and high aeries. Perhaps it suits their accumulation of wealth to have a huge population but for the majority of Indians, the poor, it’s downright horrendous.
And I get targeted and hassled, for my supposed riches, my freakiness and my suspect sexuality. I’m questioned, insulted, ravished and a few-times semi-raped, and as an educated guy I’ve got to laugh it all off, or be diplomatic, throw money at my interlocutors and quickly make my escape. I run away from Auz to get over my failures, my frustrations, my boredom, my illnesses and the injustices done me, but of course I carry my fuck-ups with me, they just get writ more large in a maelstrom like India. My depression creeps back in, I throw just as many temper tantrums, confusion arises and I lose my way.
In the end I was so happy to escape the methodical madness that is India. I had many great adventures it’s true, which I’ve written about in the previous Blogs, motor-biking to the Temple to Nature at the top of the Himalayas, going on wildlife safaris into the jungle, dancing ecstatically in the nightclubs of Mumbai and Goa, meeting beautiful friends new and old and watching endless movies with them, and reading informative science books, Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins, who give me more profound philosophy than the thousands of spiritual treatises I’ve read before.
But I had more disappointments this time round, not just the violence against my friend Prem in Goa and the humiliation at the hands of my non-friend Balu in Shangri-la, but another of my supposed good friends of 13 years, who I’d helped so much, snuck into my room in Goa and stole from me, out of sheer greed, not necessity. Then there was the death of my good friend Amiria, the news of which didn’t fully allow me to enjoy much.
And my best friend of all, Mohammed, my companion/minder/go-for, who for 7 years had been a sheer pleasure to travel with, had devolved into a drunk, much of the time leaving me to fend for myself while he went and got pissed then returning sullen and ugly, telling me the same boring shit over and over a thousand times till I screamed for him to shut-up. I don’t drink, to me it tastes like petrol mixed with piss, I grew up with alcoholic parents and drunks irk me more than any other substance abuser.
Thus I was brought-down, bottomed out, reduced to a quivering curmudgeon, on my last day in India taking refuge at Delhi Zoo and letting the animals becalm me, the rhinoceroses, the leopards, the majestic white tiger and the contemplative hornbill reminding me that in reality we’re all animals, it’s just our human consciousness that separates us.
So I returned to Sydney, relieved to be back home at the oasis called Auz, for all the heat, floods and bushfires, superficial connections and rat-race careerism, I felt safe, relieved to have survived the continuous upside-down roller-coaster-ride with no safety rails that is India. At the Piccolo café on the Cross Vitto was all agog and atwitter because Geoffrey Rush, the grand maestro of theatre and film, had visited him three times and he’d been able to ear-bash him about the Golden years of Hollywood and how they don’t make stars like that anymore.
Nogod, I don’t know how to pacify my restlessness and tortured human condition, except to relax in my comfy apartment at Northcott Housing Ghetto, to study, write and paint, and somehow find compassion for the tumultuous, burning world outside. Next door, Cursula’s drug addict boyfriend has smashed all her windows in a fit of jealous fury but hopefully I’ll ignore all their racket for it sure feels good to be home.
If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.