Thursday, December 23, 2010

On the train to Kanyakumari

On the train

Sarah: "Listen to this: more water is used to make a hamburger than to shower for seven minutes a day for six months."
Will: "Wow. Hamburgers must have a lot of water in them."
Sarah: [Sighs]

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Only in India etc etc

"Today, when the prescriptive frame of caste is loosening, and many Brahmins are doing very well in business and management, it is tempting to speculate that their success is only a continuation of the commercial acumen of their more traditional predecessors. In the holy city of Pushkar, the hereditary priests of the Savitri Devi temple have gone to court to compel the guardians of the nearby Brahma temple to share the offerings received from devotees. Their argument is that Brahma, the creator of the world, had 'divorced' his wife Savitri because she did not arrive in time to participate in his yagna (ritual sacrifice) to create the world. As such - so lawyers were arguing in the local court in the year 2001 - the Creator should be made to pay alimony to the Goddess! This attempt to marry mythology to alimony in the quest to raise income must certainly have very few parallels in the world!"
Pavan K Varma, Being Indian (London: Penguin, 2005), p69.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

India part 7: Trivandrum

How could I have forgotten the Indian Coffee House in Trivandrum? Also known as "that weird red spiral staircase restaurant near the station", their menu offers "liquid coffee", "oval tea" and the not-so-nice-sounding "milk water". It's a filthy place, but when you can flag down a waiter, you can get your mitts on delicious paratha and friend chicken ("chicken fry") with red onion and a hot sauce. "A Trivandrum institution" sayeth the Rough Guide.

We only spent a day in the Keralan capital, but we did manage to pay a visit to the Napier Museum and zoo, where we saw some disturbing and utterly unmoving birds, and crocodiles, who seemed even more motionless.

Bird

Stork

Pink pelican

IMG_1178

As a treat, we also went to see the new Harry Potter film at a packed-out cinema, with a quintessentially Indian audience. There was much cheering when the boy wizard appeared onscreen and excited applause followed each hi-octane set piece. Plus the obligatory man in the cheap seats who spends much of the movie barking like a rabid dog. The film itself was a bit disappointing, very uneven, and Radcliffe, Watson and Grint - all decent enough actors on their own - are awfully stilted whenever they're together, visibly waiting for cues and (Hermione particularly) frequently pulling tortured, worried faces.

Afterwards, we went back to our hotel and watched I Love You, Man on the telly, which is far better, and bizarrely, featured a running joke about the high quality of HBO's Sunday night programming (it was on HBO, and it was a Sunday night).

Then we went to an ashram, where there was very little HBO, Harry Potter or fried chicken.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Keralan haiku

Varkala sunset,
Wedded with the hawker's cry:
"Please sir, see my shop."

IMG_1129

Friday, December 17, 2010

India part 5: Kochi

I think I ran out of steam camera-wise in Kochi... Don't worry, there will be words of unsurpassed lyricism soon, the pictures are nearly up to date. In the meantime, here's an elephant we overtook as we left, a rickshaw rank, a boat under a tree, and a crow. There are loads of crows in India. I was here in 2003, and I don't remember there being crows.

Elephant alert

Rickshawtastic

Crabby

Crow

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Signs I have seen #73

You were mesmerised by CSI: Miami. You were enthralled by CSI: New York. Now, prepare to be thrilled by...

IMG_1543

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

India part 4: Bangalore, Karnataka

Then, onto Shoba and Tom's three-day Hindu wedding in Bangalore. Good times, great food and, finally, an answer to the question, "How many Indian men does it take to DJ a wedding reception?" (Answer, about six, even with a ready-made playlist.)

Shoba weds Thomas

Group pic

Wedding lunch

Flowers

Henna

The groom

Just married

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

India part 2: Candolim, Goa

Sign
Possibly the name of a character from a Gabria Garcia Marquez novel.

Frog
Hello, frog. This fellow was certainly the least lively of the creatures which we found in our room, and sadly, was even less so the next morning; we found his lifeless body splayed in the corner.

Sinquerim beach
Sinquerim beach: you'll find no tourists here, but it is a pleasing yellow colour.

Reeds
Nice view out to sea on a walk we took. Forgot to bring any water, and nearly died on the way.

Rock
More documentation of what could have been my final hours had we not...

Lighthouse
...climbed up the cliff and made it to Fort Aguada. Phew.

Cake
NOM NOM NOM

Ravanna model
It was Diwali, so all and sundry were making Ravana figures to burn. This fellow looks particularly evil. Probably a paedo.

Lamp
A delightful lamp in the delightful garden at the delightful Marbella Guest House where we stayed.. The monsoon rains were not so delightful.

Supermarket
"Excuse me, do you have any crisps?"

Man on the train
Virgin Trains should let you do this.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Go, Baby, go, Baby, go

Forget Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, there's a new amusingly-named politician in town...

MA Baby

Friday, November 26, 2010

Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy - part four!

Bit of an Electric Goose exclusive here. During my travels in India I stumbled across a manuscript - not literally, of course, I'm perfectly capable of remaining upright in the face of paper obstacles - which I believe to be a fragment of the fourth book in Stieg Larsson's bestselling Millennium trilogy, a follow-up to third and supposedly final book The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. People, on the day the movie version of the aforementioned novel is released, I give you an extract from the new Lisbeth Salander/Mikael Blomkvist crime epic: The Girl Who Went to the Shops...


THE GIRL WHO WENT TO THE SHOPS

Lisbeth Salander put on a T-shirt which read You don't have to be mad to work here, but it helps and went into her kitchen. At 8.58am, she placed a white ceramic bowl on her Svasbo breakfast table. She poured some cereal into the bowl, followed by some milk. She ate the cereal. At 9.10am, she washed the bowl and spoon, then dried them. She picked up her Apple G4 PowerBook with 60GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM and 15" screen with two USB sockets, and put it in her bag, along with a small canister of Mace. Then she went out.

***

Jerker Strömström was a noisome, vital man. He was one metre sixty-three, with vigorous long blonde hair, an untidy beard and a noisome expression. He had noisome grey trousers, a blue shirt and black shoes. He watched as a childlike young lady with a number of tattoos and piercings walked into his shop. Fucking lesbian whore. The girl picked up a basket.

Shops are business establishments that allow individuals to purchase items for personal use in exchange for money. Items can be bought using cash, debit card or cheque, although in 1993, the Swedish government in their wisdom had introduced draconian legislation forcing anyone using a credit card to pay a 12 percent surcharge on all transactions under 100 Kroner. In 1995, a group of rebel MPs had tried to overturn the ruling, but had failed. In 1998, they had tried again, but had also failed. In 2001 they had tried and failed again. In 2003 they had tried and failed again. In 2006 they had tried and failed again.

Strömström looked at the girl suspiciously.

***

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist sighed with satisfaction. He had just finishing writing and editing the latest issue of Millennium magazine and an accompanying book, having worked for 19 hours straight with no breaks. He flicked on the radio in his office. The song that came on was 'Reach' by S Club 7. He stood up and reached for a copy of The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie. Being one metre and eighty-three tall, he managed to grasp the book from its place on the top of his bookshelf with ease. He sat down and started to read.

***

Salander looked around the shop, deciding what she was going to need. She picked up a basket and began to shop, taking a tube of Colgate toothpaste, two pencils, an apple, a 1.5-litre bottle of Coca-Cola, four packets of ready salted crisps and a pair of shoelaces. She walked further down the aisle and took a 200g tin of baked beans. I really like baked beans. She went to the cashier, who told her the items came to 98 Kroner. She took out her card to pay.

***

As the girl took out her card, Strömström narrowed his eyes, and smugly began to tell the girl about the 12 percent surcharge. Before he had even finished his sentence, he felt a sharp stinging in his eyes as Salander sprayed Mace directly into his face. What the hell? Out of nowhere, he felt his jaw break as she kicked him in the face and he fell to the floor in agony. She took out a hammer and he moaned in pain as she smashed him in the ribs. Another woman-hater had learned not to provoke Lisbeth Salander.

***

Blomkvist looked across from his office window, frozen with shock at the supermarket scuffle he'd just witnessed. What the hell? Then he recognised Lisbeth Salander. Of course. Despite being only one metre fifty tall and weighing less than 90 pounds, she truly was the smartest and most introverted person he'd ever met. She was just so... odd.

***

As Salander left the shop, she happened to glance into a nearby window. A man was watching with a look of surprise on his face. She couldn't believe it. Kalle fucking bastard bloody idiot Blomkvist.

THE END

(Posted with apologies to the late Stieg Larsson and his translator, since I did actually really enjoy the books. After finishing this, I noticed Nora Epron had written her own parody for The New Yorker - it's rather good, and you can read it here.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

India, part 1: Benaulim and Varca, Goa

Okay, let's crack on, shall we? I'm not going to write much about the first few weeks, because that was the honeymoon period (literally), and my brain was switched off for much of it. But my camera was on, and it recorded the following things with the help of my right index finger:

Men disguised as beach shack roof
Men disguised as a beach shack roof!

Pebbles
Pebbles looking pretty!

Boat name FAIL
Inappropriately-named boat!

Beach parasailing
People actually doing some anal parasailing!

Pay phone
Entropy!

Cross
Me trying to recreate the Easy Rider bad acid trip/graveyard scene using my new camera!

Scary red door
Scary Kubrickian red hotel door!

Benaulim beach at dusk
A man bringing some petrol to a beach party!

Sarah
Sultry new wife!

Click here for a few more pics from Benaulim. Next up, another part of Goa ending in 'im'. You can hardly wait.