Puja's Adventures

Monday, May 14, 2007

After a very strange experience in varanassi i went to Calcutta where I was sick with a fever and felt pretty terrible. Luckily for me the people staying in my guest house were all volunteers at Mother theresa's house of the dying and were laden with medical supplies and love and an Italian guy who spoke no English nursed me back to reality. I was basically not able to look after myself anymore so i gave away half my clothes to make my bag lighter and took it easy then flew back to Sydney. I have spent the last 2 or 3 weeks now hiding from the world and feeling both physically sick and mentally unstable at the thought/process of reintergrating into Australia/modernity/western lifestyle. I was in a suburban shopping centre to fill out some medical forms and just cried and freaked out at the way people live their lives here, distracting themselves from reality through consumerism.

SO whether I like it or not this doesn't feel like reality it is so odd and weird being here but considering I am Australian and was born here this I5 my reality so i need to make the most of it and start appreciating what Australia has to offer and reject what I don't want to embrace.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

dying in varanasi

The moment i stept into my guest house I became inseperable with 2 fantastic guys, just happy, relaxed, funny perfect company. we had heaps of adventures together and laughed alot and it was such a great time. We even found the most beautiful lake that is connected to the ganges but is a fresh waterfall so safe to swim in. They invited me to go to Nepal with them to go trekking, bunjee jumping, generally continuing the fun simply across the border, and they really really wanted me to go with them and I loved their company but suddenly I wanted to die. I don't want to alarm anyone but I was overcome with the worst anxiety of my life and being surrounded by death wasn't helping. I stopped eating for days. And I really thought that i would shrivel away in my guest house like the Indians that come to the dying rooms in Varanassi and get my body burnt and thrown into the river. Why not?
These guys were exactly what I needed for my soul. They say India is a spiritual place where people go to find themselves and I think company is a big role in the search. I have changed so much since leaving Australia and i didn't even realise it but hanging out with them made me feel like the old laura, the person who I used to be and I was petrefied to maintain lving in these old old shoes and be in Nepal. How could I go with them to Kathmandu and be a tourist and return to India!!!? I simply have way too many attachments to stroll in and out again of that city, sit in a bar and go into the mountians. I even thought about going and not telling anyone so i could be a selfish tourist but I couldn't bring myself to it and i dont ever want to see Nepal in this light. Nepal is the little sister I never had.
Basically now I feel like it has to be over. There is no more India left I feel like going to, it's too hot all the tourists are heading to Kathmandu and I think it's time for me to finish my journey. Paris and Tokyo can wait, they're not dissapearing as far as i know anytime soon.
I love Nepal with my heart and soul, there is no other place in the world like it. I feel so complicated about this country, i can not describe how many emotions it evokes in me. I know I will be returning time and time again but right now the time is not right. I need to touch down in Australia first and return with a clearer and focused plan of attack.
I LOVE YOU NEPAL I LOVE YOU NEPAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! mwa

Sunday, April 08, 2007

i'm still in india

Left Pushkar after hanging out with some lovely gypsy kids who i went to their 'home'-tent, whose mothers painted the most ugly henna i have ever seen in my life but also gave me the tastiest chai ive ever had in my life. They were in the desert sands with camels and the whole experience was very india. Went to Jaipur which is quite modern in parts and many old historic monuments. I declined an offer of a rickshaw guide for the day as everyone seemed to be doing and instead met a lovely dog. I know it sounds weird but he was clean and happy and such a good companion we just kind of met and followed each other around all day and it was so fun and I got a different perspective of street life. We were a good team, me waiting for him while he sniffed other animals or splashed in mud and him waiting for me while i checked my map or drank some water. I don't know why they don't reccomend it in the Lonely Planet it is much more rewarding then a human tour guide.
Took an overnight train to varanassi, where the ganges flows free(believed by many to be the holiest river in the world and many to be the most polluted river in the world). There was a surprise storm yesterday afternoon, wild winds and dry dust and silver lightning peircing the orange sky while farmers frantically tried to cover their precious wheat crops with flimsy tarps held down by local rocks. It was spectacular entertainment through the window, complete with stray seeds flying in and cool dry gusts of air blowing my hair.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

sweet music

Staying in Pushkar now with a family of 6 generations of musicians. Thought I'd give it a go and have been learning a little singing flute and tabla...with aspirations of the sitar. This was a simple town until someone decided to make it tourist friendly and now there are more signs in Hebrew then Hindi. Planned to stay 10 days so I could be a musical prodigy but I'm geting itchy feet so we'll see how long I last. PS this is Saraswati is the Goddess of music and wisdom.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Jain ashram

Stayed with a very lovely Jain family in Johdpur who invited me to visit their local female guru who is a very 'special mAagic lady' you just ask a wish and in 1 or 2 months it comes true. I actually really like Jain people, religion and spiritual ideologies but being in her ashram with her giant stuffed jewel encrusted tigers (and being forced to eat platefuls of sickily sweet 'prasant' (God food) and being sprinkled with fairy dust glitter in my head only brought a big smirk across my face.

slowly slowly

Sat down at 2pm for an art class that was going to go for an hour but I literally didnt stand up again until 8pm in the evening, working on a piece the size of my palm. The minature style of rajastani painting is very beautiful and I am so happy I got the chance to have a go with a really good teacher. Shanti shanti.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Outta mumbai into rajastan

PHOTOS: are from inside the stunning Old palace in Udaipur.

I was feeling very claustrophobic and intense by the end of mumbai. I really like this city it is captivating but at the same time the most disgusting display of human greed and selfishness, how can the disparity between rich and poor be so extreme???? I met a small crying orphan kitten and I know the entire continent is full of these animals and there is nothing you can do about it but this one was tiny and yapping I couldnt keep away from it for 2 hours i was so in love with it. I tried feeding it milk from a passing chai wallah but of course kittens drink cat milk not cow milk. It was cold so I ripped the bottom of my skirt to give it a little 'house' and i sat with it trying to think of immigration and quarentine laws about brining animals back. It was a pointless and emotional endevour I really felt like crap leaving that tiny vulnerable animal and i cried all the way back to my hotel. I must have looked a sight as i had been sitting on the pavement so dirt was on my legs, a ripped skirt and tears rolling down my eyes, I had a police man follow me home and insist to take me to the door of the hotel as he was certain I was lying when I said I was in no danger just sitting with a kitten for a couple of hours... he really didn't take my story.
So I flew to Udaipur in Rajastan and being able to instantaneously get out of Mumbai in an hour and a half was worth every ruppee. This is a different type of India, more fat red turbaned and mirrored glittery saris. Went for a stroll in the evening and saw the most scrumtous wedding with fountains and laid out fake grass and portable chandeleirs and live music even fireworks!
The Old Palace is stunning, with tiny narrow lanes going both up and down stairs, left and right so intruders get purposefully dissorientated and can not make their way out. Also so the Indian guards can sword fight them from both angles and they couldn't escape. think Prince of Persia (member that computer game) and you get the point.
Met a local and went to the government run animal hospital...which was a farce. Lots of people working there filling in files but not so many animals. There were stables and cages for at least 100 animals but only one cow and one bull with broken legs. Aparently it is free for the helpless animals of India and the streets are full of pussy eyed infected dying dogs and cats but cows are the lucky sacred beasts of society. I think the animal man (who is apparently an animal rights activist) sensed my 'dissapointment' at his meagre display of sick animals and asked me if I wanted to see an elephant. I said sure why not, so he said he can organise me an elephant ride!!! I was like NO! I think this is cruel and he said no no I didn't mean that, I meant there is an elephant with a sore ear and pussy eye. Excuse me lord of divine animal rights can you make sure this man doesn't puss up this circus beast for the tourist 2morow.... can you imagine?
He then asked me if I want to go to an orphange which to him is just another variation of tourist interest. Checklist:
+ Old Palace
+ Lake
+ Animal hospital
- Orphanage
I know once you visit these places you can dissapoint children so easily without returning and I don't think a one off visit is very productive but he was eager for me to go. Turns out the kids were really excited and even a short visit made their day. This place holds 1500 (not a mistake one thousand five hundred) young girls who apparently were left in the temple steps and have no mother or father. Not sure how true it is. Seems Ok, there is a school on site but a little dodgy when talking to them. He pointed out a large prayer hall and I asked which religions they catered for, if they encouraged Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists. He said we are all skin and god is in many forms so you can pray to anything you like all gods and religions..... but these children have no mother or father we do not know what religion they are so mostly Indians are Hindus. Right.
When the children are old enough to leave at 18 they are introduced to boys from another 'orphanage' to get married. I said what if they meet and are unhappy and they said normally all are happy and there is no pressure. Yeah right!
I asked what happedns when they are 18 they said they can go out to work or go to College or university and they will provide for them to stay here for sleeping and eating until they are 40 years old if they like. They are all welcome and support is here. The orphange is 80 years old so must have gone through many people and I asked how old is the oldest orphan currently here...17 years..!
Then I asked about adoption if it ever happens. They said they do not charge and if a foreigner comes and is serious and fills out paper and is trustworthy they give the child for free and all is good. So I asked how often this happens and they said none so far.
After stories from Nepal there is no way I would give money to an orphanage I was just 'shown' without prior connections and even food I imagine they will just sell back to the shop once I left. He suggested I could buy a large bag of rice or grains but I just don't trust them. I want to do something but there are too many kids to buy pencils and books for so I said I will get some sport equiptment, I asked if they like cricket. India is cricket M.A.D.! The girls all said yes. So through an interpreter I said I will return with some cricket bats and balls and he is like, 'Only boys play this sport and it is not useful for girls better you buy a carrom board or volleyball because they like to watch cricket but they can not play'. Exactly! They can't play because they've never had the chance and with people like you they never will have the chance. GRR! I'd like to use that cricket bat to do something else with namely smack it over your head!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

ode to other travellers

Some of the more interesting people I have met:

*A Scottish man living in Denmark and Thailand making a documentary from thailand through china, india, Nepal, Laos, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Eastern Europe recording indigenous sound and music, for a Belgium TV series/CD driving in a Combi van and getting it shipped over borders where necessary.

*A French girl studying Human Geography and making a thesis on why Indian people go to malls, how they see the shopping institute as an escape from the destitution of daily lives, just to walk in a clean air conditioned building and fantasise about purchasing products.

*An American who flipped a coin and arrived in Mumbai 2 days ago straight from Nairobi where he met a single mother who lives in a slum where a garbage river flows underneath her actual bed and she supports 6 other children who she rescued that were drowning in the river underneath her house.

*An English girl whose was here visiting a best friend (from Melbourne) is imprisoned for 8 years in a Bombay jail for trafficking 5kg of hashish.

*A Belgium fairy whose eyes really do look like a pixie who has been travelling the world for the last 5 years by making jewellery from shells and beads she finds and selling them at $10 a pop to otha travellers.

*A south african lawyer who works pro bono to release political prisoners and has writen several books on the role of the female in Indian society, the girl child, marriage and dowry.

*An Australian LOUD missionary man who loves cartoons and is cleaning all the street kids on wednesdays with his church.

*An English girl who travelled half way across India just for the Shakira concert tonight. She gets paid by her job in the travel industry to go around the world checking out and reviewing hotels and has been everywhere.

*An English man travelling back and forth in India 7 times driving an Enfield350 motorbike around the country.

*An old American couple left over from the 60s sitting together giggling over their 'bang chai' and dreaming about the goodold days of Indian travel living with babas and saduhs.

Last but not least an Aussie girl called Laura that I know well i used to work with in Cafe Porcinnis in Newtown!!!! In my same hotel!!! Its a small world after all.