Archive for December, 2009

18
Dec
09

A modern family

Longing has never looked this intense. A picture,. thousand words..

First look at photo… This is how I sit here every night, in my Darjeeling hostel-room. Staring out into the black of night like a seaman’s wife; a widow of the sea. Hoping to catch a glimpse of my coveted cdma telephone internet network. A blinking green light means a signal. A continuous green light means a connection. But my signal is always red..

Oh, how I remember the days that the halls of my home were filled with the mirth of young and ecstatically screaming tcp/ip packets. Running back and fro and bumping into each other.. How I laid them to bed at night, all orderly in a row. And how they would tell me all the crazy stuff they had filled their heads with that day. On their tired faces a peaceful smile as I guided them into eternal sleep, just before I would slit open their fat bellies.

These days.. I dunno.. They leave the house, but never come back.. The youth of today!.. So ungrateful.. I’m a widow of the net.

18
Dec
09

The Rock

I’m pretending right now that I’m in my cold, cold bed three days ago. Bear or bed with me. I wrote this post in my head at the time so it’s not really cheating, and (what’s with me and this Oxford comma these days) the story is more fun to read this way:

——————————————————————————–

I am the bum programmer. Fear me and give me a nickel.

Yea, so I’m lying in my bed, right. And I’m kinda contemplating. Got nothing to do really. It’s a loadshedding free-zone over here. And it’s loadshedding freezing. Once again I forgot to ask extra blankets. I’m afraid that when I breath upwards my breath will freeze and will attack me from above as ice shards; which is ridiculous of course. The cold has surpassed my gloomiest predictions. All my blankets and all my clothes can’t make me warm again.

Darjeeling, the city itself, or the mountain perhaps, seems to have designs on me. I used to walk freely along its streets. Me animated, talking with my arms, yapping my jaws to my peers. But as the days passed this place has stilted me. Pinned me to one place.

First a strike scared my friends away, and closed all bars. The stiff cold trapped me in my hotel. Soon I had to abandon the promise of companionship in the abandoned bar for whatever extra warmth my blankets could give me. Under those rags I was forced to lay still as a corpse so the cold wouldn’t notice me. Afraid to breathe. Darjeeling, without touching, tried to squeeze me into nothingness. And so here I lie. Imagining myself crawling out of the other side. Whatever is on the other side of nothingness? Something I guess. Darjeeling won’t efface me that easily.

As far as I can see, it’s a trend. Darjeeling tries to squeeze everyone like a pimple. First the British who made it into a summer retreat of sorts, but fled in the winter, then they fled for good. After them the Indians made this hill their governmental summer retreat. But they also retreated from their retreat.

There are much older, more tenacious occupiers though: the Ghorkas, now India’s mercenary killing machines, who invaded Darjeeling a couple of centuries ago under their own banner, from what now is Nepal. And they kinda got stuck here. So they’re scary killers. You try to attack killers. On them the hill closes in more slyly. They’re a hard target. The average Ghorkian has a back made of butter. The cold doesn’t affect them. Getting angry at them, shouting at them.. they just look at you and blink their eyes. They’re stuck in a cue.. they switch off or start to chit-chat. What’s a mountain to do against such indifferent opposition?

Police in training suits. It's novel and modern. Even their lathi's look like they're designer weapons!

Cunningly the mountain let them be ensnared in the web that is the state of India. Let them be harassed by the economy and other ethnicities of a crushing nation. Now that the Ghorkas don’t like. Even the Ghorkas have limits. So now the Ghorkas are fighting back. They want their own Ghorkaland. They already lost a few rounds against the Indian machine, and they just lost the last one. No own state for Ghorkaland, as Hydrabad DID get.

So the Ghorkas declared a four-day strike and a demonstration. It was nice and peaceful on the central square. Funny how different everything feels when stuff like this is organised by the government. It’s also a bit of a useless gesture to strike just now. There are tri-party talks next week between the Ghorkas the state and the government, so any action before that is just plain silly.

I met a Nepali at the demonstration. An old guy from the homeland of sorts. At home they said to him: “There’s no work for you here. Try Darjeeling. Become a guide.” But it’s swarming here with guides. And now he’s scolded by the locals and he’s being told to get off the rock. Kinda ironic on a day like this. Just because he came a bit later.. But it follows.. He’s just by himself and he’s poor. He doesn’t stand a chance against the machinations of the rock.

Stay tuned next week for our next installment of ‘The Ghorkas vs. the Rock’, if I myself will have managed to hang on to it that is.

——————————————————————————–

So this was three days ago. In the meantime I purchased sweaters for two Euro a piece, warm warm socks, and a heater for seven Euro fifty. Also the temperature has climbed a bit. I am living in dignity again! Ghorkas and Nepali dude still live pretty much in the same way though I think. More on them later if I’m not lazy.

11
Dec
09

Darjeeling jani ho!

Am in Darjeeling right now. Just got myself settled after two days. The preamble to the trip there from Kathmandu was memorable. Just wrote a humongous rambling Facebook post about it to a friend of mine. If you like ramblings, read on:

free Ghorka-land

free Ghorka-land

I was getting more and more frustrated as that fateful last day in kmd went by. Already I missed the morning bus ’cause travel guy Nilam failed to notice the day before that the transport bandh was cancelled. I couldn’t get hold of him this day ’cause Nilam was at his own wedding. As this wedding had thwarted my attempts at fixing anything concrete all week long. Eventually I got hold of his employee Raj, who went to the bus-stop to check it out. He said that there was a bus leaving at three in the night and at four in the night. ‘Both at night?’ I asked. Yes at night. ‘Both?’. Yes. ‘Are you sure? Raati?’ Yes, yes. ‘So that’s one hour in between?’ Yes.

I swear to you, this is how the conversation went. So I opted for the night bus. At three. Talked to Jimi and he was gonna pick up the ticket ’cause he had to go to Nilams wedding which was a stone’s throw from the bus stop. Called Raj to tell him this, but Raj really wanted me there, also so I could talk to Nilam about the trip and about his uncle, who was gonna pick me up at the Nepalese border. On his wedding day; perfect time to talk shop. But hurry up! Only 20 minutes to go. For some reason this was important. So I called Jimi at the last minute, and he could pick me up. I went to the football field, got there and got a call from Jimi that he had to take someone else. And he was already late. I kinda lost it there. Got to my house and started pounding pillows and stuff made of concrete and did some throwing around the house of things that weren’t too breakable; even more annoyed at my foot for not letting me run this off. Had been actively at this trip for three days, and as of yet absolutely NOTHING was taken care of.

It was then I got the tingle from Jimi telling me my bus would leave in about 40 minutes and that I had 20 minutes to pack my bags. And I got this calm zen state over me that I always get when I’m under extreme pressure. I love that. That lasted for about 2 minutes. As my mind made a priority list of needed items, my passport quickly surfaced to the nr1 spot. I knew exactly where it was: under the cracked glass table, in the left-upper corner from where I usually sit. It was nowhere to be found. After a systematic search of the premises, I started an unsystematic search, and after that I randomly started to upheaval boxes, bedsheets, chairs, etc. After which I started throwing stuff around the apartment for no reason at all, accompanied by cries of desperation and anguish. After that I resumed the pillow, floor and wall pounding like before the call. 5, 10, 15 minutes had passed. 5 minutes to go. Still I hadn’t packed a thing, and still my passport was nowhere to be found. The stuff of nightmares and bad pulp-tv scripts. All rationality had left me. But then by accident, it flew loose from a bunch of documents and binders in my, by now totally disorganised, administration. Four minutes to go and nothing packed. Except my passport that is. 20 seconds later Jimi walked in. So we packed my stuff, quick-snap, and all went pretty smooth from there.

In the bus, underway it was a bit Jesus fucking cold since in the haste I didn’t pack anything warm in my hand-luggage. Held my pee for as long as I could, so my seat wouldn’t get stolen, which it did eventually. In a mere 19 hours I was at the border. No uncle was waiting for me. I wonder if there actually exists such an uncle. Then I discarded everything Nilam told me and went by my own compass. We both know that is not a smart thing for me to do, but miraculously I ended up in a very cosy and cheap Darjeeling hotel about eight hours later. 27 hours on the road, and a bit on the Jesus fucking tired side. I fell in with some fun backpackers straight away, and have been hanging around with them at night.

The day after I tried to get my stuff in order, and I noticed it is pretty hilly. Smart as I am I got a hotel on the top of a hill, so I’ve got a great view of the mist and I’m guaranteed to always march up and down it. Going down to get a sim-card. Going up to get my passport. Going down to get a sim-card. Going up to get a letter from my hostel that I’m living there… waiting for the owner to wake up. Planning to go down to get my sim-card. Going down to eat. And those hills are steep. Nice place for a Jogi-hash. Today I bought all I need for a month-long stay: wireless internet access, power-strip, soap, cutlery, etc.. Time to get some work done!

It’s a funny place here. It is basically little Nepal, but with the city on top of the hills for a change, in stead of in between. Strange with hardly any cars, just four-wheel drives. No bikes. No booze as well. No live music, no events. No fun. Or it would be the Christian festival on the big square close to my home. The rest is banned by the (somewhat forced in places) Ghorka independance movement; little Nepal. Last night we got rebellious and went hunting for booze. Turns out everyone sells booze under the counter. No fun at all.

In, what, two days there’s a four day strike against Ghorka-land not becoming a separate province, if I got it right. My buddies will try to flee before the lock-down, and I will be alone; little Nepal. Sniff!