Sunday, November 19, 2006

On the Magic Carpet.

So, just like in my most favourite movie, "The Thief of Baghdad", I got on a magic carpet and was flown to the land of wonders, perhaps to appropriate the omniscient eye of an arcane godhead atop the Himalayas, and recharge my pineal gland with white light. I landed in K.L. for a stop-over at 4 am and got lost in their labyrnthine shopping complex, sent willy-nilly in all directions looking for the smoking lounge till finally I shrieked under a huge banner that proclaimed "K.L. Best Airport in the World." "That banner is wrong, this is the worst airport in the world." I finally found a dark corner upstairs to sleep a few hours and then I was on my way again.

Disaster struck soon on landing, I waited by the luggage carousel for hours and no bag appeared, what frustration! It was misplaced in lovely K.L. airport! Off I went to my hotel in Pahagrunge and lived in my dirty clothes till the case arrived 2 days later. I was lucky to see three elephants on my arrival, it seems Hatthi is to be my guardian spirit on this journey, in Main Bazar I got to pat the third elephant and he wrapped his trunk around my arm, the boy mahout on top indicating with huge round eyes that I should climb up but I didn't want to make a spectacle of myself so refused. Later I saw the elephant easting plastic bags, my Indian mate told me the poor creature seemed weak but still I didnt get the meaning of the mahout's large desperate eyes. His elephant was starving and all the stupid tourists taking photos took no notice of his wide-eyed pleas for help, including me, and I lay awake all night thinking of the animal. Now I search the alleyways looking for him but tonight he is not to be found and I must learn from this lesson to take more care.

I'm very lucky as on my first day, in a city of 20 million, I ran into my best friend who came to Delhi looking for me. He will now acoompany me and keep me safe, I will no longer be a victim for handsome, smiling men who only want to bleed me of my money. My mate is Moslem, weird as I have the usual western predjudices against that religion and he is teaching me that the essence of the faith is kindness and love, he is a very sweet soul, like the majority of his faith, only wanting to live in peace, so he's very good for my education. He's never seen Delhi and I have been showing him the marvellous Mughal monuments that litter this fabled city. Today we went to the Lodhi Gardens, tranquil heart of Delhi to get rest in nature and ogle the 500 year old mosques, palaces and mausaleums.

Last night we went to the movies, across the city to the Chanakya Cinema, a vast, klunky Bau-haus concrete barn with a giant 70 mm screen that "they" want to pull down and erect a post-modern shopping complex but the leasee is resisting, it's one of the oldest cinemas here and I have long loved it. We saw "Casino Royale", really good, the new Bond, Craig whatshis name, an athletic, grim, armoured warrior and I think he fits way cool. I'm a guy who at 12 years old saw "Doctor No" on first release and was blown away as a fan, in fact masturbating over Sean Connery all thru my teens, and it's so cool to see the Bond franchise as cutting and wow-factored as ever, especially that beginning chase scene, on foot instead of the usual cars and aeroplanes, the movie gets 8 "Dings" on my schlockometre. Indian audiences are very restless, getting up continuously to roam about, talking on their mobiles thu.out, splitting the movie in two for an interval so we can all rush out for a smoke, it's wild. I was totally stunned at the short doco that screened before the feature, an exposition on the need to keep the waterways clean so diseases like hepatitus dont spread. Suddenly we were shown the bare butts of 3 Indian men taking a dump by a river, the whole audience cracked up in hilarity, only in India would they be so blase, and that's why I love the place.

Tonight we went to Jama Majhid in Old Delhi to eyeball the crowds and eat yummy food in the bazar and here I had a great tourist experience. I've lived in India much of my life and always there is something new to experience and today was another first. I noticed mobs of paupers squatting outside each restaurant near the Majhid and asked my mate what they were doing. He said they were waiting to be fed by rich people, so I handed the restauranter a 100 Rupees, the equivalent of $3, and then he made me personally hand out the food, I fed 10 desperate men and it made me very high. Of course I could've fed more but the whole market-place would have rioted yet it is definately something I will do again. (I'm not pretending to be a saint, when I lived in India as a boy in the '70s I was left destitute several times with only a rag wrapped around my waist and the Indian people always fed me, so now it is payback time.)

For all those kind souls out there in the world who want to help the starving masses my suggestion would be to come to India and not only spend money touring as that employs lots of people but to go personally to places like Jama Majhid and hand the food out directly, and of course, hand out 10 rupe notes to the aged and crippled that wander the streets, in a month's sojourn it would all only amount to $100 and that's so little to see so many smiling faces. Soon I will be off to the high Himalayas, flying on a genie's back, and I will return with treasures for life on the move is awesome and my heart will be turned to gold.