February 28, 2004

Night swimming

We slept on the beach last night. It was fantastic. I think it was the best night time swim I've ever had - the water was just so delightfully warm. Yay.

Getting all of us there, with a whole lot of wood for the fire, and a guitar, was the funniest expedition ever. We couldn't figure out how to strap the wood on the motorbikes, so we all just had to go veeerrry slow. There's a beautiful photo of Meagan on the back of a motorbike with a backpack, guitar, and a *massive* bundle of wood under her arm, extending about a metre out from the motorbike.

We made a very successful fire, cooked food, and attracted every crazy and amusing weirdo from miles around. Lots of impromtu fire-side singing and guitar-playing, including one very talented Russian guy.

This morning, on the other hand . . . . I woke up on the beach with smoke and sand in my eyes, seriously feeling the aftereffects of drinking dodgy Indian whiskey, to find a coconut-seller picking through our belongings. Micaela's camera was stolen in the night, and a torch went missing. I think we were probably lucky not to lose more stuff.

Talking of which, my rings and bracelet were stolen this week. I left them on the kitchen table overnight, so it was all my own fault. That doesn't make it any better. :( They had a lot of sentimental value. I was gutted, but I've decided it was their time to go. I think I was unhealthily attached to them. I've now 'lost' all my jewellery that isn't fantastic plastic. Wahey. Freedom means you've got nothing left to lose . . . or something.

I've changed my flight to April 4th. I think London in April should be a leetle warmer. Hopefully. I'm thinking I might do the Vippassana course at Bodh Gaya.

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February 20, 2004

Massage extravaganza

Lying on my back, having both hands massaged at the same time . . . definitely the highlight of the day. This course is backbreaking hard work, but at the same time we get a whole lot of very good massages. :) I am just about surviving the early starts, although it does mean I have to mainline coffee all day. At least there is brilliant coffee at the guesthouse. We don't have a fridge, so now I get all excited about real milk in coffee.

I just picked up my new sandals from the shoemaker (a little hut by the side of the road, with two men busily hammering and sewing and glueing). They are totally brilliant, made-to-measure and only NZ$5. It's the first time I've had a pair of slip-ons that fit, because my feet are so narrow. Yay.

Lovely Indra has just come to collect me, and brought me a chocolate croissant. That girl is a star.

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February 16, 2004

Thai India

I bought some Thai fisherman's trousers today, for the Thai Yoga Massage course. What country am I in again? Hmm. They're at the tailors, being adjusted for the grand sum of five rupees.

We registered for the course today. The guy that runs the course seems lovely, very calm. It's at a wonderful guesthouse, with a Japanese-style garden, a carp pond, and cool stone floors. It should be a very peaceful space to do the course.

We'll start at 5.45am tomorrow, with meditation and yoga. It'll be interesting to see how that goes. . . I've been waking up at 5am most mornings for the last week, but I think it's slowly killing me. How will I live without my afternoon nap?

Lots more people have arrived at the farm. I'm now sharing a capsule/hut again.
It feels like there are always mad amounts of people around at the moment, generally smoking on the verandah. At least I won't get bored and lonely. :) It's always very interesting having big d & ms. I don't know if it's all-India, but there reallly are a lot of people searching for something here.

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February 13, 2004

Bulls and oxen

I went on a leaf collecting trip in a bullock cart yesterday (we're making compost). When John asked who wanted to go and collect leaves, all us tourists went "yay".

We didn't really think about how bone-crunching riding in a bullock cart is, not to mention the amount of creepy crawlies in dead leaves - scorpions, snakes, and a whole lot of ants. Hmm. The bullocks had green and orange horns for Pongal (the harvest festival). They look lovely. :) Just in case you were wondering about the difference between bulls and oxen, oxen are post-castration. There you go, don't say this blog isn't educational.

We had a big birthday dinner yesterday, for one of the guys here. Lots of hand-rolled (!) fresh pasta, chocolate cake, and vanilla fruit salad. Yay. It was a bit of an early night because of the 6.30 start this morning, so tonight is beer-drinking night.

The closest beer is three villages away. It's a bit of a trek. But you know, it tastes best when you've earned it. ;)

I'm terribly happy today. Who knows why. Maybe it's just another sunny day. Maybe it's because I think I'm going to stay for another month . . .

I'm really enjoying my new hut, now that I've got over waking up every time the cat tries to break in (imagining large groups of armed burglars). I've got rid of the enormous cockroach, and the frog seems to have made his own departure. The sides of my hut can be let down on a pulley, so I can watch the sun go down through the trees from the comfort of my hammock chair. Such a good time.

I think it's another childhood dream come true. I always wanted a great big tree house to live in. This one isn't actually in a tree, but it's raised off the ground and surrounded by trees, so it's pretty much as good as it gets.

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February 11, 2004

Strangely sexy

Why is riding on the back of a motorbike so much fun? I wonder if that feminist training is all for nought, as I slip-slide into gender stereotypes. I'll probably start wearing skin-tight jeans and big hair any moment now.

I had two free rides yesterday. One was a totally luxury trip on the back of an Enfield, yeehah. And one hair-raising skid through the back streets of the villages (small children and chickens scrambling to get out of the way). I enjoyed both immeasurably.

Just in case you're about to give up on me, I do love to ride by myself as well. I suspect I just enjoy the diminished responsibility. And of course I don't have a great big motorbike that goes VRROOOM. But I want one. ;)

We went to see the movie Powaqqatsi yesterday. I didn't enjoy it. There were a lot of very beautiful images, but I like a narrative structutre in my movies.

Also, a lot of the images were of rural India. Being here makes me more aware of the fact that these are people's real lives. I guess it feels a bit inappropriate to me to look for beauty in other people's misery and toil, perpetuating that culture of the 'other'.

Other news... I had a Thai Yoga Massage, from a guy who just did the course I'm going to do next week. It was reeaally good. It made me feel quite enthused about doing the course, although I'm suspecting it might be quite like hard work. It is really physical. One part that we missed out involves swinging the other person around the room. Hmm. :)

Okay, so I'm going to make a brave attempt to go to a yoga class now. Ever since I lost my watch in Hyderabad, my timekeeping has gone to crap. I can never remember what day it is, let alone get to a class on time. ..

PS. Make comments! Go on, it'll be fun. Am I not controversial enough, or does no one care?

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February 09, 2004

Going much too fast

So I'm speeding down the dirt road on my not-too-trusty speed . . . when it sputters a little and dies completely. This has happened twice now, and each time the guy who rented me the motorbike turns up and fixes it? Coincidence?

Hmm. So my scooter is a bit of a heap, but we're having a lot of fun together. I went to my last Body Awareness class today. Leaving, I was *totally* relaxed, zipping along the track through the trees in the hot sun. Utterly, completely content. Yay.

I'm quite aware of the fact that a lot of people have accidents because they think India is a good place to learn to ride a motorbike. So I was refusing to take people on the back, thinking of their own personal safety. But the last couple of days, I've been thinking it's okay as long as we go really slow. ;) And safer for me at night. If the heap breaks down, at least I have company for the walk home.

The Body Awareness course has been fantastic. Lots of amazing stretching. The classes are in an open-sided hall/hut, with a keet roof and a granite floor. Lying on the floor is beautifully cool, with the warm wind breezing through. Listening to the birds, and the windmill creaking, and the wind in the trees. . . . It is perfectly relaxing. My only problem has been falling asleep in almost every class.

I'm considering doing Tai Chi later this week with the same guy.

Hmm, other news. There was an American dance performance on Saturday night. That was pretty good, although there was a lot of talking, including speeches afterwards. Oh dear.

I've started reading a book called Loving Kindness. A lot of it is about giving to others. Apparently Buddha taught: “If you knew what I knew about generosity, you wouldn’t let one meal go by without sharing it.”

I'm practising becoming a more giving person. Except for chocolate biscuits. ;) For a long time, I've been taking care of myself, being good to myself. That's important too, but it's not a way that I am going to grow spiritually. This is part of allowing myself to be more open to the world.

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February 03, 2004

Staying away from chickens

My sister tells me Asian Bird Flu is sweeping the world, and I should stay away from chickens. I pointed out that I wouldn't go near the chickens here if you paid me. Mostly I have seen them packed into crates five deep and obviously dying.

It's unfortunate that we get more news from friends and family than from the newspapers here. It means we only get to hear the scary stuff - like the terrorist attacks expected on Indian Republic Day.

Another average day on the farm. I got a new moped today, better than the last one. The guy was supposed to deliver it last night at 5.30pm. Of course he didn't turn up. This is India, after all. While I was showering this morning was *much* more convenient. ;)

An average day on the farm:
6.30am Wake up to hut shaking and yells of "This is your life". Not to mention a rendition of "I hate Winnipeg" that has stuck in my head all day.
6.35am Quick first breakfast of bread and jam, and then two hours of planting ladyfinger and cleaning sprinkler systems.
9am Big second breakfast for everyone, with ragi dosa (big savoury pancakes, made with a type of fermented millet) and peanut chutney. Yum.
10am First rest of the day, reading "The Golden Gates" by Vikram Seth. It's sooo good. I don't normally like extended verse, but I'm really enjoying this.
12noon Lunch, crackers and pesto and tea. The gas fridge is broken (it's all solar elctricity on the farm), so I can't have cheese. Normally the highlight of my eating day . . . I can't believe I now drink tea and coffee with whitener (?!) and two spoons of sugar. I really have to give that up when I go back to Scotland.

Later . . . After a lot of gossiping on the porch, I've motored into the village to buy a huuuge watermelon, a pineapple and tangerines. Fruit salad for dessert tonight. There is so much good fruit here, so cheap. We're all cooking together at the moment. Which is seriously improving my diet.

After this, I'll be going back for my second rest of the day, maybe a quick visit to the beach, and then it's time for dinner. Goodness, life is hard.

My favourite part of the day is watching the sun go down over the trees. Preferably from the hammock under my hut. The stars seem very close here, and you really notice the light difference at night from the waxing and waning of the full moon. There's no light pollution, because millions of people don't have electricity. . . It's good to feel so close to nature, for a change.

I'm going to do a Body Awareness course this weekend. That should be good, some full-on streetching.

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February 02, 2004

Murder, not on the dancefloor

There was a murder here on Saturday night, which is pretty scary. There's a lot of high feeling around the place. All the shops and cafes have closed down for three days as a mark of respect.

Somehow the key fell out of the ignition on my moped. It's now lying on a dusty road somewhere between here and home, an hours walk away. I just walked around a few places (in the hot sun!), and there really is nowhere to eat. I won't starve to death, but damn I could do with some chocolate.

If I had the moped, I'm sure I could track some down, but it's a looong walk from here to the nearest shop that's likely to be open . . .

This is officially *not* a good day.

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