Banyan Tree Diary

a little place on earth

a little bird-singing hole that Time passes over, around,


inside it becomes just a word,

bouncing around, along and off of leaves and tumbling down the branches

an idea we talk to figure out how to live in.

We squeeze our goals and dreams into it, into the year, month, second increments that we measure ourselves with

The banyan tree, the rocks, tumbled into and smoothed by the sea

big lines, lines reaching beyond civilization and across the lives of species

we sit on this big line and forget the world of the small one staring into the fire that is humanity’s metaphor

a little place, big feeling, big oxygen, natural

we sit more easily here, in silence, because this was once home, where we were born

the forest writes itself across senses it helped refine, calling calling something we cannot hear in the city

people come, people go, big line little line to this bird-singing hole filled with strangers that also feels like home


…a reflection of everything that’s happened.

4 am

Its too hot for a mosquito net, too hot to sleep, to recover from walking too far along the surface of a majestic city that goes so deep, into wells of human potential, like doors I walked over, old doors with cracked paint that open out, that we are lifted by, fall into, as the money speaks from the new buildings and lurks like ghosts in the old ones.

The Third day gathers in the cooler darkness outside, constituting itself in the still orange haze in which a city has its nightmares.

Yesterday we walked long enough to realize that we hadn’t gone anywhere, that I had found how to get by cheaply, but I had not found, in walking and seeing and wondering across the endless rich and varied surfaces, how to be here.

And for some reason, that feeling, that I had walked so far I was no longer enjoying myself, seemed important, like a fork, one path leading away from this city and that feeling, the other leading through it.

Beneath my bed, the top bunk, at the one small window I have to look down to see through, someone addicted to cigarettes puffs and blows futilely through the bars.  The hot sticky muggy 20 person hostel room air takes on a new layer.

I feel it all like a taste in my mouth, like what the trees and the oceans and the last one thousand tigers taste.  Metaphor that slowly becomes palpable, a fact you can see on the skin of society like a fine dust that starts to choke you if you look too long, and will kill you if you don’t look at all.

In times of unsleeping my tired body drinks the ash-tasting air like truth, like where you have to stand, sleep, dream upon, to free yourself from.

The reflex to reach for pleasure and flee discomfort in every moment is a prison.

Its a prison because it traps us in the world we are creating.

I feel this draining but unsleepable air like the hand of the Earth as we both walk into the fire, not sad, but fitting, because, like the Earth, I’m just a mirror…

City of Dreams II

Altaff never showed.

I walked out onto the streets feeling lighter, fresh, if still wondering where it all would have gone.  But the freshness, I took it as the reward for trusting that things would work out.

After a few minutes walking into the tree shaded day I thought about what I had written that morning in my hostel bed, contemplating my Big day:

Mumbai is a shit-hole!

The old and elegant buildings, the towers, even the streets looked down on me as I walked, “You’re a shit-hole!” they shouted back with an aristocratic drawl.  I had to laugh and agree with them.  I thought back to what I was really saying.  Mumbai is money, yes you could see it.. all the things that money made and moved and erased.. it was a powerful reply, one that doesn’t require long sentences to subdue dissidents, the unworthy.  Thinking of how I was thinking of what I had been thinking, the sublimated gripe against money had to do with how it tips the scales, ethical decisions, talks over considerations, dreams, when its supposed to be their carriage.

Writing from Leopolds, waiting for a meal I had to use my credit card to buy, I’m(was) sitting in a dream.  The mystique of this place is buffeted around the room like a wind, swept up in the haste, buoyed on the chests, of the army of red-shirted waiters.  Beautiful and rich and otherwise look around the room, feeling it.  Its not what I imagined but in fact richer(more textured), as real things often are, than their idea.

The food is freakin good!

It was fun to find this place by accident(haven’t opened my lonely planet except to look at a map in Bangalore).  It seems to exist in a gulf of food joints, a mysterious dearth where many of the hip and most of the tourists are.  Mafia? Yes! Cool? Kind of.  Evil?

All I can tell is there are a bunch of people all living their lives behind their faces, some evilly, some compassionately, all sitting in the same place feeding off of each others’ vibes, as well as the good food.

My stomach rumbles(rumbled) in a different way than what I would expect given that I was taking my first meal at Three pm.

My foods sit in front of me in some kind of nice coppery seeming dishes, unfinished, bad sign.  I thought about Altaff taking me into places the previous night at closing time, the angry owner/manager/cook?  A triangle begins to form in my mind, a triangle pointing to the toilet.

I look over at an epic looking man that makes me think of Australia and wonder how long I’d have to walk around Colaba to be picked up for a movie part.  2 days, 2 decades?  The man from Liberia I had met on the train to Mumbai, Joseph, had married an Indian woman.  I was shocked!  What was her parents reaction?, I asked.

He said something along the lines of they were ok with it, her parents are very liberal.  Was this India’s 1970s, its “hippies” disguised in faded jeans and gucci sunglasses?  I quickly decided it was and flashed a peace sign at the next snazzy dude that accidentally looked at me.

The results were hard to interpret.

I love the love and the disgust here because its even harder to tell where its going to come from and so there’s really even less point in trying to look and judge.  All you can do is open your arms, welcome Fate, because it carries both, the fuzzy feeling that cushions us on our journeys and also what reminds us of what causes sorrow, how not to act if you want your spiritual harvest to become saturated with the former.

I just realized, unlike where I was in Goa, its not conspicuous to be alone here.  I mean, I’m sure I’m somewhat conspicuous but not as much in a losery sort of way.

I met a Swedish guy in the bathroom this morning, lol, as we waited for the hostel dorm shower.  Thank christ.  Lol!  Now I don’t have to worry about relying on the, only, 3 phrases I know in Russian, which, in retrospect, might not have done me much good, if my goal, at least secondarily, was not to piss off the mafia there, resulting in getting chopped up into little pieces as per custom.

Those phrases, bestowed upon me benevolently by my Russian friends, former and future lovers LOL!:

Go to the cock!

Its a total cunt up!

How do I get to the cat assassination?

Anyways, now that the Swedish people are here I can have better conversations than I did in America. LOL!

but seriously, send at least one of your rave-children to primary school there and witness the difference.

The rest of the day I just walked, eventually finding a park with a fish filled pond to sit by through the sunset.  As it grew dark I walked to the endless crescent moon boardwalk and sat in a line of sitters thousands long to watch people walk past and the glittering waterfront.  I felt tired, like I wanted to lean on someone but that it was all for the best, and after a long time sitting and listening to the conversation of three young Indian lawyers I moved on.

I ran into Anders, the guy from Norway who had an adjacent bed in the hostel.  I had told him about my date with the “small” mafia that morning, as a sort of explanation if I didn’t come back.  All’s well, turns out.  We went to a nice place, unintentionally, and had some great food, and talked through the fatigue mounting from a sleepless night.  Went back to the hostel, talked more, first about music, then all about race with a guy from North England.  It ended on a dreary note but I slept better that second night.

The third would be another story.

City of Dreams

I. (on the train)

How big is this f*cken island?  The doctor who had helped me avoid paying out the ass for my train told me my station was the last one, about 20-25 minutes out.  By the third day(ok maybe not).. I was starting to feel a little bit weird about the the whole thing.  This city, that is, this endless smelly city.

I have to stay though, at least for a little while.  One of the biggest cities on earth.  Everything feels different, the gravity is heavier here, the feeling of distrust toward the two guys with the conspiratorial body language that keep staring at my bag has more texture.

Another big city, reached late at night.  Another turn that keeps on going.  Can this even be called one place, does anyone know whats on the other side?

I’m drawn to the window bars, one of those patterns that if you were stoned would make you even higher…

II.(from my new bed)

The effortless cloud of fortune carried me again, this time to Mumbai.

The morning I left I said bye, see you next year, to Manu, the guesthouse operator from whom I had rented a bike.  I said hi to a beautiful older woman on a motorcycle.  She commented on how I had just walked out of the guesthouse and got a taxi instantly.  I said: thats how life has been going.  I just sit down (I sit into the trunk space of the taxi, my huge backpack plopping down) and my luggage is in the car.  A male friend of hers comments on how its happened again, she is somewhere for 2 seconds and meets a guy.

So this happens all the time?

Yea, she shrugs.

Well it sounds like your life is better than mine, I said as I simultaneously thought: want to come to Mumbai?

She says, Well it sounds like you’re on the way, referring to my own serendipity.

Yep, I smiled and got in the van taxi.

How fortune unfolded after that I may not have time to tell (it would be called train From Goa) but lying on the hostel bed I had climbed into last night at 3 am, I wonder whether I had taken a wrong turn.

10 minutes out of my sheisty taxi I have to begin to consider whether I’m really hooked up, or am going to die.

The world tilts slightly, seeds spill onto new floors, new sweat-smelling beds.  An hour after meeting and going with someone who could be quoted as saying “Come come, and tomorrow I will tell you my plans for your life” I sat in the harsh fluorescent light of the lobby where the staff had flatly asserted and argued that there were no more beds, only to eventually show me to the last bed after being convinced by the young(er than me) man in question that, ohhh yes in fact, there were.

2 am in the lobby.  A couple feet away, 3 men from 3 different continents were pointed at a lovely, lively, girl from Israel.  I was completely tired from my train ride, 5 hours, after 2 seated, of dirty jostling, standing.  Instead of going to bed I thought of birds flying in different directions down a corridor lit by an unnatural bright white sun.

I thought of the standard backpacker scenario to my right, the secret grail within this culture, and I thought about the past hour and a half on my left, its residue in the shadowy hall where the elevator slept.

Did I envy them, the four in the silly game that sometimes means everything, or look down on them?  For some reason, at this time, these were the only options that seemed available to me.

As Altaff and I walked down increasingly deserted streets, alleys, into secret doors in places that didn’t sleep, he would greet people, we would all shake hands.

“Everybody knows me.”

He would point to someone sitting on the street, “15 years he’s been on this corner, the shit he’s seen!”

At around 2:00 am I felt like me and the other four birds were in different places, different cities on top of each other that playfully said Hi as they danced, but for different reasons.

“Today is going to be a big day,” Altaff said at 1:00 am. Last night I had flashes of Shantaram, of Lin meeting Prabaker and how it had all happened in just this way, except for one thing.

Last night I thought about Shantaram, but today, nudged by the incipient heat of the big day, I thought about The God of Small Things.  Things can change in a day. That is always true, but sometimes its not what you do but why you do it.  Sometimes its not what you say but what you’re looking at when you say it.

Life, becoming stories, becoming Life.  The triangle spinning invisibly next to us, propelling us forward.

I told him I already had plans for my life after he had started to talk about my role, but the big day was still to come.

He acknowledged my commitment to my own plans, disappointed, but otherwise ambiguous.  We left each other 30 minutes later, he with his designs for today, me with everything else he had said, and how he had said it, and my consent to meet him anyways.

For today, I’m no longer scared for the plans for my life.

The seeds are all there, here.  Its a hunt, you see, for the right soil, the context that you can’t gather from standing in one place.

I’ve walked to many different places within myself, and have come to a sense of where they are all leading.

When I stepped out of my hostel this morning to walk to the internet cafe,  I thought, perhaps on an echo of Altaff’s statement that Mumbai means money, of how he said that when you wake up in the morning there is so much money, more than you can imagine, flying here and there.  An echo within spoke of all that money can buy and erase, and I thought, Mumbai is a shithole, a city that changes souls for an unseeing stare, cocaine words and a smell, a smell that you slowly forget is there.

That said, I’m optimistic about the whole thing.  If I stop posting, don’t ask the cops, he knows them all.

train FROM Goa

I’m in the wrong seat I think, exploiting the beautiful chaos.  The light and shadow flicker on the brown page, strobed by the fast moving trees. The train screams and the sun rests on me, making me less popular.  I thought about it this morning, how every shade darker my skin appeared translated into another 10% of strangers who would grow just a little bit more distant.  I thought about how we all talk about the skin-whitening creams but that, at the same time, I tend to like girls with lighter skin, and strangers respond differently to me as the hot cloudless months roll on.  If every level of darkness is another number of admittedly superficial people you’ll never meet, at what point does the ability to change your appearance shift from vanity to being something practical?

I wont use the whitening cream, though I had considered it, the tangible difference in how people treat you.  I see the reason behind it all now, its(darkness) role in my past–if you believe in or are susceptible to that sort of thing, the idea that things happen to lead to other things, where you later realized you wanted to go but wouldn’t have known how to get to.  I wouldn’t change it.

The universe giving me a hand happened again.  This time in the Tivim Station, and brought me to confront my anxiety regarding the appearance of a racial enclave.

I met Joseph(40-late 50’s-ish) from Liberia, who works in a call center in Mumbai, had married an Indian woman and had a child here.  He had first suggested I move my backpack away from the trash can.  Me, thinking it was about space, got annoyed because there was clearly enough room to still throw trash in.  He was Actually concerned about my backpack getting dirty.  He asked me where I was from.  yada yada, he warned me not to leave my backpack if I was going to the toilet.

I tried to get a ticket to Mumbai.  They said no.  I persisted.  Head-wobble.  They said wait til 5, two hours before the train should arrive, then you can try and buy a ticket, in not so many words.  I noticed that Joseph had a ticket.  I asked him.  It was to Ratnagiri, apparently a place where a lot of the people who own land in Goa and Mumbai live.

I got on the train after a long hot wait, on what I thought was coach 6.  The ticket checker sent me for a long awkward walk, and as coincidence had it, my seat was taken, my seat that was right in front of Joseph and two open seats.

Long talk, his life and experience here, me bursting bubbles about the U.S., African-American experience and opportunities there, the education system and how it is expressed in oakland, the culture funneling young men away from a possibility of functioning in society, the Right’s polish( he had perceived that the republican party is the better party) but rich focus, our political system, two faces of the same foolish imperative, built on top of the flawed endless growth goal of all nations.

Later I got too many samosas and offered him one.  He said no thanks, brother.  My instinct to recoil at someone making a brother of me just because I had similar skin to them was set off for a moment but then I quickly let go.  In a moment I thought of people who believe they are of your race.. they are the only ones who will assume you are human, as opposed to assuming you are not, where, against their expectations, you have to be proven in their eyes to differ from their idea of “your race”, where the idea is even flexible.

Its something I experienced, though I had never thought of it in that way before.. when I would see a person of(more recent) African descent in a foreign place and it was that you knew you could acknowledge them without extreme awkwardness.

When I try to greet or acknowledge people who look otherwise, outside of burning man, I sometimes get a look like I’m going to commit a crime, or have already done so.

A weird thought, to see someone of your supposed group and they assume you are human.  Its refreshing after days of being taken as something else.  Imagine, in each “group” people know that they are all human.. why can we not simply know that about All People, why can’t we make a new group, one that selects for or against attitude, for starters, rather than color?

The second half of my time in Goa was like a strange dream I walked through, alone; the faces changed but kept their role, the cold back a place can sometimes turn to you.

In the avoiding of paying extra for my train I lost Joseph, and there had been no exchange of information.  Based on our interactions and the shapes my thoughts took coming out of them I see it as one of those beautiful misfortunes that suggests itself, the next time you come to a fork in the road, the next time you have a chance to say something you never do.

Take care brother, All of you.

Somewhere in Goa III


This place is so much more beautiful because its let go.  The straw on the roof.  The leaves on the rusty shed. The broken tiles on the ledge beneath the balcony rail.  The wilted flowers and dead gadgets.  Its a place with signs of things happening, passing, ending.  The dozen different trees I can see from the view all contrast the man-made features of the town, or rather compliment it, imbue it with a vibrancy a permanence.

Along the road the structures are laid almost in a line, but back from the road the trees become the rule, the buildings negotiated into the space rather than in rows, simply filling it.

Goa’s reputation of being a refuge for people who “haven’t let go” may be what allows it to retain its beauty.  Where is the demand for a blanket of luxury developments in a haven of junkies and hippies, where plots are being taken back by the jungle?

They still only play trance and psytrance here? I whined, exasperated, not thinking of how that feature makes, unintentionally perhaps, the place small, a place for people who already like it, and not for people who want every place they go to reflect the standards that have become their tastes.

Each place is, to you, how you experience it, the way what you are able to see of it makes you think of it.  To me, Vagator, Chapora, Anjuna seems quiet.  The clubs at night fill in but even during new years the streets during the day feel let go, the living and constructed realms blending into each other for an effect that too much management, too many straight lines and ambitions negate.

The effect is of a real place, rather than a model, where though there are no street signs you can still find your way with enough time.  And before that there is just the wonder of each street’s freshness, and how the long-timers you ride with know every nameless turn, every time -eaten hole in the road, where to eat if you want a unique meal that will not burn your budget.

As I mourned my having spent 40,000 rupees in my first month, I remembered the guy I had met who had spent 30,000 in one day, another guy who had come with millions several years back and now had almost nothing, living in the scene that, just going with my flow, I did not ever end up in.

Every place is many places at once, as many as its possible experiences.  What you intend, not to do, but to find, what blossoms within, when we listen to the subtle feedback the world gives to our choices and attitudes, plays a big part in what the possible becomes.

And then there is chance, fortune, uncanny coincidence, the X-factor that makes each place, each new moment, and the same old road, an adventure, a corner that keeps turning as we search for ourselves.

January 5, Somewhere in Goa II.

I’ve written so much in Goa I don’t even know how to put it all together, so I’m just going to leave the last several days out.  I’m in a terrible internet cafe, the combination of the light and screen is killing  me and so I can’t really think but except for another rave there is nothing to do but listen to people speak Russian, sooo today:

1.  Last night I sat in a social spot trying not to look awkward as everyone around me conversed, in big sexy groups, in Russian.  I waited for my pineapple juice; the one I probably wouldn’t have ordered if it were not for the social potential of this spot.  For awhile my only sort of companion was the puppy dog-eyed cow, a fatty, that, no matter how many slaps it got from various workers, clung to the roasted corn stand, using its puppy dog cow eyes on the laughing Russian and Ukrainians.  Mixed messages from our species.

A guy from Mumbai(Viju) was instructing a traveler on the party scene and I must have asked him a question.  He asked me where I was from, said my U.S. accent was heavy.  He told me about Oppa’s guest house, setting me up for the room I’m sitting in as I write, after I told him I was staying at an abandoned house in Vagator.

Dark blue turquoise double doors fold in to reveal two beds on either side of the room.  A dark maroon floor, huge tiles in nice patterns converging in a kind of star or flower symbol.  The walls are white and lived in, upon.  The dark wood ceiling gives the room a mossy neglected feel.  The desk and tiny sky light, an exiled writer feel.

On the wall opposite the dark turquoise blue double doors are stacked two large cabinets of the same color that have a sense of having materialized within the white wall rather than being built into it.  They are cabinets for secrets, of things housed and forgotten, cabinets for notes written on brown paper to other travelers.

Tiny seeds from the juggling balls that had come open and spilled all over the inside of my backpack, marking my every appearance, spread out on the bed.

Another cabinet, above the left bed is splintered, peeled back along one of its doors, looking like someone had tried to wrench it open by pulling against its edge.

Near the door is a very low sink with a 3×3 patch of tiles, where a mirror would be.  Above it a broad window ledge and chicken-wired  window with broken plastic shutters.

A spider webbed fan waits to stir the room.  None of the switches work.

Across from me on the bed of things, leather bound layers of recycled paper are tied into the intricate cover.  It looks at me expectant, haughty.  When will I start?

Last night I followed Viju to Anjuna on my moped, snaking and passing, trying to imagine coming back the  other way, writing the route down on the glass of my memory.  It was certainly an amazing every tuesday night party, Shiva Valley, where I learned the awesome potential of psytrance and swam and spun and bobbed and writhed myself sweaty; so soberly immersed, I for a minute forgot about all the devastatingly attractive girls I had no chance with (my mind at the time).  I realized it was a party I could only really let loose and enjoy with someone.  At one point the long denied surrender of my knees, the sensation that has moved from a premonition to simply another sense, like sight, and smell it was an experience of doom, options falling out of the future like the boughs of an old tree.

I found my way back, feeling that manifestation and intuition is getting stronger as my frame cracks.  Its an invisible limitation, revealed as such when girls afraid to tell me their age found out I was older than them.

I parked my bike in front of the house of people I had stayed with almost a week before and walked up to the forsaken dwelling just a little further up the street.  Through the clingy weed and spider web yard, to the roof where I had stashed my stuff.  It felt like a fort in the jungle, surrounded by its mossy stone wall and creaky gate.  I stretched my mosquito net onto the crenelation and over where I had put my sleeping bag, over my backpack, tucking it under the other side.  I slept on the hard fort roof in my sleeping bag and remembered why I was here, that this body has urges and how they ranked.  I stared up at the stars, tree-framed, bat flecked.  No one had seen me, no one would care, I told myself, shelving the input of the Indian guys who told me I could be in deep shit.

Breaking and entering is a crime in the U.S. but in India things are a bit more flexible.  I thought of the man in Bangalore who told me he could have me killed, have the witnesses killed, if he wanted, and not spend a day in jail.  Not a threat, just a.. letting you know.

I thought of the social ecology of this place, Vagator, and how it would be even easier here.  The network I had chanced upon, glimpsed into and how delicate my situation in a sense is.

I’m in Chapora(next door), an irresistible dilapidated junkie haven, in a room filled with memories, being stared at as I stare out of a doorway that no one else sees.  My knees creak, I swerve on my motorbike, I hear too much… seeds spill on the ground, broken mirrors reflecting pieces of something bigger, folded under dust to maybe be recovered later as something else.


A butterfly flits by me, reminding me that life persists.  I’m on a pile of dirt and rubble, surrounded by a shallow ring of garbage, surrounded by a deeper dense brush, trees, out of sight from the road, near a ragged abandoned structure that says Jai Hanuman.  In front of the structure, behind me, are two stone benches that have Tourism stenciled onto them.

Across a valley that dips out of sight the other ridge is all shades of green and flecks of shadow.  The haze almost drowns the lazy cumulus clouds.  The winter sun is punishing.

Why am I writing this time?  What is this place to me?  A holy spot I think.  A breath after hiking and motorbiking through this very bustling small city (Mapusa).  Back and forth.  Fire to flower, moving over the surface of these places looking to get snagged, looking to write a story that people will want to read though no one dies, nothing explodes, the story doesn’t end.  Just an ordinary life worth living, scouring the world for what of our insides has been left outside.

The flies race around me like nascar, but considerately, they do not land.  I’m very ticklish.

The butterfly shoots across the scene and out of it, reminding me that its not here for my benefit.

I just imagined all the creatures of this town following loyally behind me, waiting for me to need them.  I turn, a dog rushes up. “Yes Michael, do you need me?  Shall I place myself in the next pothole for your motorbiking convenience?”

Yes, dog, and while you’re at it, wag your tail and dog smile as I ride over you.  Charisma, dog, thats why we keep you around.

The life on earth caste system.

Anyhow, I feel dandy, though I probably look serious, towering over the local people with my excess time and blonde lovers.

Its not guilt I feel, but more of an onus to make good use of my advantages and disadvantages, create a window into the world that no one else could have made, a diary of an experience you can’t see from the surface, a reminder of the nooks and crannies we drive too fast to see.

The haze is making this hill of rubble cool enough to be almost livable, nap-able.  A place I would come to every day if I lived here.

Just realized something about my experience thus far.  . little places like this, little magical spots that no one uses.  Everywhere.  It seems like back home all space is accounted for.  The only place to sit is in a park or on your stoop.  Here there are renegade beds, and temples and desks, forts, love nests and spots where its not weird to sit hidden everywhere, under titles like: trash pile, outdoor bathroom, abandoned building, street curb, construction site.

Everyday I find a spot that I could set up a base in, a factory for unpopular statements.

Moving on, past more spots to buy some cheap food for the last time, to take an ecstatic ride back to Vagator, or who knows where, to shower and sleep the heat away, 2 hours after I rightly should have.

Did I mention the hilarious futility of plans here?

See you in the realm of ideas.

3. (later)

Why do people look so serious at sunsets like this, epic ones on a ruin of lava rock bricks, looking over hills covered in golden grass where they are not in jungle.  Next to a massive river like this, where thousands of white birds move as a single thought over its sandbars.  The coastline bites into and is bitten back by the sea, behind us the green of trees goes on as far as you can see.  Huge birds with sharp beaks, and probably claws, circle over one of the lower headlands, where the lighthouse would be.  They never land, never eat–as far as I’m able to tell.  They mix the sunlight with the air of motion and are sustained, straight lines with a little belly.

The ocean-shrinking boats, with their nets, return in a line, slowly, wary of the sandbars.

This expanse appears startlingly undeveloped, considering its majesty.  Hills undeforested, houses empty, poor people unreplaced.

The ruffled sea gives way to the placid lake like river, a mirror of the sky carved into jungle and hills that disappear into a ubiquitous haze that no breeze seems able to dispell.

The feelings here are: pleasant with the subtlest tinge of loss, mourning for something not yet gone.

The smells are: vaguely oceany, salty fish-containing water, with hints of burning trash.

The sound is of wind, the talking, Russian and Marathi, steps into it and disappears.

The sun will set high today, over the Arabian sea, two finger widths above the horizon, into the haze that makes it somehow more beautiful.

The last three ships stagger in, boats that chased the sun and now rush back, leaving the dark ocean between them, the ancient fear of night uncoiling like great jaws beneath them, out beyond where the lighthouse would be.

Day 27 train to Goa

I was just awoken by being slapped in the head lol.

A good time as any to record the last leg.  The smells of this leg are: urine.  The sights are pink and green and red-brown and sapphire blue and a hospital flourescent white.  The tastes are : crunchy with potatoes, a dry dirty mouth.

“10 bucks”(rupees) Ashford said, who had also been slapped awake.  I pull 10 rupees out of my pocket and give it to the Indian person dressed like a woman but looking very much like a man, who had just slapped me out of my rest attempt.

Last night I asked the guest hotel I was staying in if I could move to a cheaper room.  They told me it was booked.  I asked them if I could keep my room.  Booked, head-wobble.

Ok, I said.  I packed my huge heavy backpack, ate at the Thali place, then went to the train station and booked a ticket to a town I knew nothing about.  It was in this town’s train station that I felt maybe I didn’t want to be in this town.  Thats when Ashford appeared.

I realized what my skill is.  Its to float along on a cloud of good fortune, meet the right person at the right time and end up where I was supposed to be, despite what the Spanish guy Shilo, who had helped me from Hospet called the beautiful chaos that I think is some kind of law here.  The local trains don’t arrive at the time they are listed to, they don’t arrive on the platform they are supposed to, when someone tells you thats your train, maybe its not, when someone tells you anything, ask 6 other people.  The advantage however, besides the charm, is that I probably paid 200 rupees for all my trains to Goa rather than being told there are no trains or to drop 1500 rupees or 2000 for a spot on a sleeper bus.

Whether it was worth it to get on this train in Londa, the one that will take me to Goa, standing room only until Margao, smells: urine, for four hours after not having slept the previous night, well.. yea.

Ashford is an engineering student in Hubli, and we met just as I had determined that Londa wasn’t the place for me.  He is from Goa and heading back for a family new years.  His school is 2 lakh per year!!!  50,000$ for engineering school in India, per year!! holy shit.  I asked him if he was getting loans, he said his family was paying for it.  No wonder he is going to their new years party instead of the quintessential Goa raves.

The story about me abandoning my plan for a lonely new years in unknown cities where no one speaks english basically involves me changing my mind 50 times, and ended with my English friends just saying, so yea see you in Goa.

The good thing about pretending to be a writer is that the worse things are, the better.  The more times you have to step in poop water to take a piss or have someone clap angrily above your head after slapping you in it the more practice you get telling stories and thus justifying your gypsy lifestyle.

Oh shit the ocean.  Its a rose grey, just like the sky, and you cant tell where they begin exactly.  The haze or smog or dust or whater it is that makes the sun turn neon pink, a spicey candy threatening to burn the earth around 6 pm everyday.

Hubli was muslimier, Goa is Christianier.  Ashford said Goa is very non-veg, especially the christians.

European building-view.  Low flying jumbo jet-sound.  Man squatting in a field-view.  Children playing cricket only because no one told them about more exciting games like solitaire-thought.

somewhere in Goa

In times of unsleeping dreams rise to the surface like great lights lifting the skin of the sea. They color the world and thus change it, mutely in textures our conventional senses cannot render. What allows you to live in the world is real, and what allows you to live in the world without destroying the world is true. Dreams, dreams, cupping us in reminders of possibility..

Day 26 Why are you going to Hubli?

12/29/10 Hubli

Everyone else in the field is crouching.

A shit-eating puppy looks at me in the way kids do, a bit of wonder, a bit of fear.  My feet and legs hurt cause I’m squatting too, staking my spot.

I walked into the morning with a few objectives.  Pretending to take a shit so I could sit down in a green place and write wasn’t one of them but its still a sort of release.  I will be lighter on my quest for a new cell phone charger(practicality), scissors(vanity), learn Hindi book(immersion, practicality), pen(posterity, vanity), and internet(networking) if I can just make some noise.

I was, as I walked down streets with no signs, feeling my way towards more vegetated areas, plant vibes to scrub my mind, exfoliate my soul, thinking about bangalore.  The populace, as I understand, is fairly green oriented, very vocal about protecting their few remaining green spaces that is.  I thought then about all the garbage everywhere, the little over the shoulder that puts a piece of plastic behind you forever and thought that by and large the valuation of green things is more of an aesthetic thing rather than a functional one.  Beauty is a function of course, but it seems there is a general(not just where I’ve been in India) blindness to the deeper life-enabling functions of… ( a man(Gopaal) who had just walked by me to use this place as befitting custom just returned to stand over me, holding his water jug.  Me wearing my nice clothes, sitting in a nook of bushes surrounded by dried human poop.  He said something in an Indian language, I said English.  He asked me where from, he made a writing gesture and gave a thumbs up; asked “Studies?”  I said yes.  “Married?”  I said no. “Unmarried?” yea..  “Thank you” he says) anyway, life enabling functions.  Aesthetics can be captured in parks and pictures, functions not as much.

But then, walking past the cows and dogs chewing on plastic bags, it had occurred to me that if people didn’t just throw their wastes into the street, what would the ragged dogs and diabetic cows and shit-eating puppies do?  What about their functions?  Puppy(cuteness) dog packs(night watch, keeping ninjas off the streets etc.), cows(shoot milk).  It was a closed loop almost.

I walked into the brushy field, which looks like it must be the edge of the city, or a bay in it.  The ocean sort of, that you can’t see any end to.  Discarded clothes, other garbage, motherless tribes of puppies, but most importantly wild plants, left to their own proclivities, insulting god by not growing in rows along a neat brick lane.

My breakfast this morning had peanuts in it?  I feel like I’ve got a bucket of seawater laced with itching powder running through my system.

I’m in a nice neat park now.  Gopaal had come back with a friend, brushing his teeth.  They gestured to the effect of “why are you sitting.. here?”  More concerned for me than embarrassed that I may have been writing about their morning motions.  I gestured at the plants.  They told me there was a park up the road, the way I had come, and so I walked out of the field and to the little park I had seen but kind of ignored.  Its nice though.

I came to Hubli because it was on a map, and on the railroad betwen hampi and mangalore, and hampi and goa, the perfect indecision city.  I didn’t know anything about it.  When I announced my plan, Herman from Sweden said the chance I would be raped was 75%.  Not good odds but I was told there was nothing to see there, by a couple of India guys from Bangalore.  A big city, where people just live!  Anyways, after an uncomfortable train ride I got to Hubli, went out with the people from Spain that had helped me with India wisdom, and later found a room as I walked down the empty streets looking for an alley to have dreams in.

The town is sooo charming.  It has a lot of very interesting ornate and old and unknown dwellings, mosques, animals in the street.  No one stares, I just float through the city almost invisible.  If I had a room with a view and a desk and someone to speak in English to I could stay awhile.

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