Sunday, November 21, 2010

The End of the Road.

I've run away again, to the wild wild East of India as always, where half my soul resides. I couldn't cut the ice of Sydney, it got me down, bored and restless. I'm old, tired and jaded, maybe it's all over for me and I've flown to the dark continent perhaps to end it all.

There's nothing like charging thru the Indian night on the back of a mate's motorbike, blinded by the oncoming headlights, speeding into the Void come what may, I'm either obliterated or I crash the probability wave in the direction I want to go, and I break out of the hot white light, real and complete under a pearlescent full moon above the Ganges River, the jungle calling.

Indhira Ghandi Airport, no longer third-world grungy and easy, has been renovated into the ubiquitous global labyrinth of corridors and duty-free shops and now hard to escape without draining one's pockets, the perennial traffic jam in front of the airport the last obstacle. And what did I notice at my return to the fabulous ancient city of Delhi? For all the upgrades of the Commonwealth Games the city center is still a shambles, half-finished, dust, garbage and potholes making it treacherous to tread the gorgeous new marble pavements. Only the old-time funkiness is missing because of all the cleanliness drives, no more juice shops, barbers, telephone booths, chai-wallahs along the road to New Delhi Railway Station.

A 23 year old Swedish guy landed the same night as me but was found dead in his hotel room in Pahaganj the next day from a possible drug overdose, he must have walked the Main Bazaar late that night and got sucked into the sleazy whisper of the black-faced goondas that sit waiting in the shadows and sell poison to naive idiots. The poor fool didn't survive one day in India, he probably thought he was flying into the wonderland of lotus-eaters, ignorant that danger lurks and lures from every foot-tread, all of which chaos I surf somehow for months and years on end. Although I must admit my cycle-rickshaw nearly got hit by a speeding motor-bike when we swerved out into the traffic, and today I nearly got crushed by a bus while waiting for it to pass me by, it preferred to lumber over me, individuals don't exist here.

On the weekend a building collapsed in East Delhi and killed 70 poor people, many women and children, the owner was arrested for shoddy construction, a crowd gathered and looted the possessions of the victims, even taking the jewelry from their bodies. Delhi is like all global cities, like Sydney, callous and faceless when it hopes no one is looking. I escaped up into the Himalayan foothills, to the jungles of Rudyard Kipling, where in the last week a tiger has killed and eaten 2 women, and on the edge of town a herd of elephants is causing havoc in the people's gardens. In the summer this area had endless torrential rains that flooded the Ganges River plain and desolated thousands of houses. The Tehri Dam, 2nd largest in the world after the Three Gorges Dam in China, filled to dangerous capacity and they had to let extra water out of the sluice-gates which exacerbated the floods below. If the dam broke all cities, villages, structures and life would be wiped out all the way to Delhi. Eco-warriors have warned about the danger for years and the people of the plains lived in fear for weeks, but thank nogod, the dam held. (The area is long-overdue for a major earthquake!)

Talking of dams, China is just completing the damming of the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra River in Tibet, causing the Indians in the populous states below endless worry that their water supply might one day be cut off. This makes all those cyberpunk sci-fi paranoias about future water-wars ring true, an extra bone of contention in the relations between the two neighbors, no wonder China grabbed Tibet so determinedly and no wonder India feels herself hemmed in and put upon from all sides.

Forty years ago I came as a boy to a Himalayan Shangri-la and lived with the Babas in the jungle, meditating in their presence for hours for they had big 'Shakti', power, I got a lot of Tejas, inner light and external glow from them, they were intensely charismatic, mysterious/mystical, awesome, inexplicable, it's like they charged my batteries to overflowing. The power of homo sapien sapiens is great, a simple example would be our ability to domesticate animals, we really can project intelligence and influence the world.

Bollywood Babas.
Today by the Ganges river a Bollywood film crew showed up with a huge mob of actors pretending to be sadhu Babas, wearing giant loin-cloths that looked like nappies and waving cardboard trishals. To the beat of play-back Hindi pop they had to run into the sunset shouting to their god and flinging their dreadlocks about, a hundred of them supposed to run and jump as one but of course they all got muddled up, out of synch and the director kept shouting "Cut!" and making them do it over and over again while the camera swerved drunkenly on a huge crane. A crowd formed on the footpath above them and watched with bemusement, the wizened old swamis in dusty saffron rags sneered in contempt, "Is this where the ancient yogic practices of Rishis and seers has wound up, a Bollywood song and dance number?" This simulacra of enlightened adepts is the new-face of booming India, exotic illusion and fleeting information, yet "same same but different" sums it up for me, all is quantum flux and play-acting, pagan Indian gods have many faces, primordial and innovative.

When in Delhi I got taken to a swish pub for Foster's beer and on the wall was a plasma TV playing Hindi pop videos. As we drank and got merry a music clip came on, Indians in traditional dress, men and women, dancing in a temple courtyard in front of a huge statue of Shiva, with many other gods lining either side. They danced as one to the rhythm, wildly coordinated, ecstatic, frenzied, primordial, orgasmic, in tune with their gods and the animals upon which they rode. Those jungle drums unashamedly got my heart pounding. Even in a mundane middle-class pub can be found the sacred, luminous awestruck miracle of life that electrifies the Indians. Yes! I swooned, this is why I love India, it's atavism revives me and surely beats the morbid dankness of Christian Churches and piss-pot, pick-up western pubs any day, (except of course for those Pubs that play live pop/rock music, my bad addiction.)

Up in the foothills of the Himalayas I spend much of my time sitting by the river, gazing into the mountain mists, dreaming of the Secret Community that might take me in, give me solace, peace and ultimate knowledge, like making it in Hollywood, another of my fondest fantasies. Yes, I'd like to disappear into those mists, but I'm too fucked up, irredeemable, and there's a lot of highway ahead of me to keep on trucking along, maybe I'm not at the end of the road just yet.

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.