I had an Amazing trip to Kerala. It was quite marvel-licious! We began our adventures with a 26-hour train ride. It was, of course, overnight, and we did what needed to be done to occupy ourselves and maintain sanity during a course of ridiculous ridiculousness. My ass hurt after a while and never ceased aching after I'd say 4 hours into the trip. I tried to read this tedious political philosophy for class, we were of course bombarded by like 5 indian males our age who were awkward, needed emotional babysitting, and basically a nuisance. (Let me explain: India guys will come up to you and say "you are from?"..you will say "the united states"..if you're me they will say "but you are looking indian"...you will reply "yes, i am 1/2 indian..my father was born in bihar and grew up in calcutta...my mother is american"..they will say "Oh! I thought so! I was thinking she is looking so Indian, with her hair and her eyes, and her nosering like that!" They will proceed to basically stand there and look at you and try to look like they are not looking at you, while you go about your business. They will ask you menial questions like "what are you studying" and you will explain that you are a liberal arts student so you study this and that, that your education system is different from theirs, that you're religious studies and spanish major (which becomes a long convo in itself), then they will say things like "do you like india?" you will say "yes". they will sit there some more, then ask to look at the book you're reading and then stare at it for a good minute, while you stare at the wall, and then they'll say "why do you read? it is so boring. is this for fun? you are crazy. i don't get it". you will say "yes, i read for fun. me and my friends, we all read for fun. we enjoy it. people enjoy different things. ? i mean....?" then he will sit there and watch you read. you read because you don't want to have the EXACT same unsatisfying conversation with him (verbatum!) that you've had with nearly every other male you've met on this trip. I'm thinking that this awkardness and formality with women comes with the infrequent interaction between men and women of my age.) Anyhow, I'm a bit frustrated and exhausted from having to entertain Indian men who sit there like puppy dogs expecting you to do tricks or something. I'm also just tired of me and my group of friends just CONSTANTLY being stared at. I don't yet know how to deal with it. Is it best to communicate that it is not okay? That it makes you feel uncomfortable and objectified? Or is it best to ignore it and not let it get to you? I am usually never a proponent of simply ignoring the problem...it only let's it perpetuate. But it seems like that is what my peers want to do. I'm not into that. I think it'd be effective to let people know that it makes us uncomfortable, to find out why people stare, maybe I can answer the inarticulate questions that their eyes are asking. It separates us further if we just ignore the reality of this cultural curiousity. I think we should each let each other know what's going on. It just seems like it'd be a nuisance for the people I'm traveling with if I constantly bring attention to the fact that we're being stared at. They seem to want to either curl into their little shell or get aggrevated. They don't seem to want to take the time to understand. I think I'd be approaching this on my own and differently if I was traveling alone..(which I will be doing in Europe, but I'll get to that later)
Also, on the train I performed the essential hang-out-of-the-crack-between-the-cars-and-watch-the-beautiful-South-Indian-blood-red-sunset.
A day later we arrived in Ernaukalam/Fort Kochin area, got through the stressful stuff of being in a new place, found a homestay, plannedplannedplanned, other people got ayurvedic massages. Jordan and I watech a pro badminton match under a huge tarp and bought mangos and pineapples and ate them in a park. Then we chatted with locals and had a contest to see who could swing higher. I won because I'm lighter. Fort Kochin is cute and comforting and homey, welcoming and friendly.
The next day we explored the beautiful backwaters that make Kerala a tourist spot. I was drugged up because of Dramamine so I was unbearablt groggy all day. I still enjoyed what I could, though. That night we saw a local musicaldancetheater performance. The next day we split up to do our own things because we felt comfortable in this quaint town..felt like we could venture out on our own and we also needed to get away from the group. Sophie and I found ourselves in the studio of an artist we'd met a few nights prior. Desmond invited us to paint with him, so we did. The two of us poked Desmond for answers to our many questions about Life and the Future and Destinies. And here is what Desmond said (which I have so taken to heart these days following): "You've just gotta choose something great...something that really gets you, that makes you crazyhappy, and you've just got to go for it. You gotta go for it 110% and put your all into it. You can't ever give up." "What if I don't know what the right decision is? What if I chose the wrong thing and I end up not liking it?" "
...Sophie and I are having a conversation about living in Europe right now, so hang on...
Now I'm back and I've, since I last wrote, gotten really ill. tummy trubs. Now back to Desmond, because I can pretty much do nothing in this state but sit still and read or write! (Desmond responds.)
"Then you chose something new. You evaluate and access your life now and decide what you think will make you happy, what you're interested in, and you go for THAT 110%"
Thanks Desmond. No, Really. I'll remember your words for awhile.
Trying to live this new philosophy has been an interesting roller coaster. I returned from Kerala in one peice, in a REALLY great mood because our 10 days away from life away from life, but then the second-almost-that I got on the computer to check my email and my facebook stuff, I got sickly depressed. Waz that all about? It made me think that I really need to make some changes (I think) with/in my life. I think the thing that made me upset was was the past and the future. All the things in my email inbox were about this or that thing I have to do with my future--either far off like post graduation, or even in the coming month or week. It's like I was coasting euphorically for a good 10 days and then I came back to reality. But why does there have to be this "tough reality"? Why do we have to come back to the things that make us unhappy? What's the point to life, then? To battle? To always feel like your losing and to fake yourself into thinking you just might win? And then the ugly tidbits of rotten things of my past were there to greet me eagerly when I returned...wierd things with wierd people that are not okay. I mean, how is my situation that different from every other college student who ventures far away from home?: I make these really intense, really strong relationships with people in random places all over the world, and then we scatter even more all over the globe, and then I have to leave, something goes wrong, someone thinks something wrong but there's no time to do anything but run, and you run across oceans and moutains and they run across pilgramage sights and through waterfalls, or they stay put and act oblivious, and you realize only way later what's happened. I have millions of really close people scattered all over this world now, and I'm only adding to it by traveling more and more and doing what I do, by getting really close to people and pulling them in and letting them pull me in and pulling the world in and into ourselves. It's great, it's amazing, it's just intense. I guess, though, that I'm an intense person who steps back every once in awhile and realizes it's so. In those moments I am surprised.
Back to Kerala:
So Sophie and I oil pasteled with Dessy while he smoked a j and reggae boiled in the room. We had a really phenomenal time and at the end gave Desmond our painting to remember us by. We took a picture, however. Sophie should probably have it up on her Picasa album somewhat soon. We hit up a coffee shop and wrote a joint poem, and then ventured out towards the shore, where we watched Chinese fishing nets doing their massive wild mechanical yet barbarric feeling things, and strolled alongside the rocks and the water. We had a long and intense conversation, yet again, and realized that it was high time we reported back to our group. We were to meet them around 6 or so in front of the giraffe slide in the park. [This reminds me that Sophie and I got kicked out of the park earlier that day because it was "only for children". I was so hurt and so sad and angry. That kind of stuff bothers me the most. What's the point, then, in LIFE?! Fucka's].
We met up with the lovely crew and I beleive we also picked up a friend Jordan had met (another Canadian!) during the day. The other kids spent their day--we were told--exploring Jewtown, various old palaces & outrageous art galleries. Jordan hung out with a rickshaw driver all day who gave him a day-long free lift. The reunited and expanded group skipped (it was a beautiful time of day and we were goddamn happy) to a local eatery where we stocked up on goods..but not TOO much, because we'd wanted to grab some dessert (chocolate cake, we proposed?..) @ the Teapot down the way. At this cute little coffee shop (super-touristy and European...catering to all the euro-tourists of the area) we got cakes and coffees and they were delish and warm. Afterwards, we'd been planning on attending a sitar performance at this other coffee shop/art gallery; however, we were sadly informed that boohoo we had to pay a fatty price to get in. The signs never told us anything of this, so we just assumed it was free! We were sad, but where was nothing to do, so we headed home after wandering the streets I think (we did a lot of late night wandering and misbehaving in that lil town), Sophie and I were deep in conversation while the others explored little Tibetan and fabric stores. We then departed with the new friend and headed back home where Sophie, Jordo & I, after washing clothes in buckets and our bodies in odd showers, ventured up to the roof for debauchiness, drawing time, and moremasmas JOINT poetry. Then bed happened. [I must impress upon you that we attempted to sqeeze FIVE of us into a tiny bedroom in a homestay. There was ONE double bed, and that's all. We bythegraceofgod acquired 2 small mattresses to put on the floor (these barely fit). So what ended up happening is that, the 1st night, Olga slept on one of the mattresses because she was feeling oily and icky from the massage, jordo slept on the other mattress, and davi, soph and i tried to squeeze onto the bed. in the mid of the night soph got up cuz she couldn't sleep..it was too squished..and slept on a couch out in the lobby area. Next night Jordo did the couch, and the 3rd night I did. Traveling.]
Aight.....The next morning what happened?.....................We left? Yeah, I think we left Fort Kochin for Munnar. We'd rented a coche and a driver because of convenience issues and such. We were driven, stopping along the way at worthwhile sights, to this lovely mountain happiness place that was essentially the sound of music IN INDIA, plus tea. Munnar is kinda where all the tea in the whole wide world is grown. We saw water falls, toured a spice garden, chased sunsets over mountains, played with light, explored the tea museum, and landed ourselves in a sweet, but pricey, but CAPTUVATING little mountain bungalow house. We got supremely hooked up and paid a really low rate for a room and even, later on in the day, were given a second room basically for free! My god, George was so great (the owner). To get to our bungalow you had to hop in George's crazymad fourwheeler and off road it down this steep steep hill (haha--steep...tea!). We were in the side of a mountain, over-looking endless rolling hills of tea. We had a balcony and an accessible rooftop. [God, that makes me miss Jake. I guess the romanticness of it all. And yes, of course, that beautiful place REALLY made me want him there]. At the day's end we bought fruit and tea in the town market, grabbed dinner, and made it back to our place. We all hung out on the roof; I saw two shooting stars, Davita and I both spotting the same one at the same time :) We traded flavors of home-made chocolate that we'd purchased in the town, and sipped on a couple Kingfisher Strongs under blankets, socks, and fleece...all the measly little warm-keeping devices we'd luckily lugged with us across the sea. We said goodnight to the stars and to the mountains and the tea workers that were surely out there somewhere, and went to sleep.
The following morning we had breakfast with George and his group, then we climbed a mountain. Joseph, our guide for the day, was already waiting for us when we came up for breakfast, and George was all like..."what do you want to do today?"..and we were all uhhh trekking or something through the tea...and he was all "oh good yes you still want to trek! yes here is your tour guide; joseph will take you up the mountain it will only take you 4 hours...then you can walk the 7 or 8 kilometers to the lake in the evening and return back here to watch the sunset". Right. Nobody told us that we'd be climbing the FACE OF A MOUNTAIN in Tevas/Chacos with NO WATER, NO FOREWARNING, and NO MENTAL PREPARATION! We started up some stone stairs, made our way onto a dirt path, passed tree houses, and then were bushwacking through tall lemon grass, perfectly vertically, in crumbling dry dirt, utterly pathless. It was fun, though and we survived! It was just NUTS! It got my first sunburn and peeling back of my life from that Hike. Also, at one point we had been out of water for a while and we said just fuck it and filled out water bottles up in a nearby stream! And now here I am feeling ill wishing that I hadn't but knowing that if I'd done it again I would've repeated the same. I mean I was ON MY PERIOD, face climbing a mountain, closer to the equator than I've ever been..I HAD to drink. I think I would've passed out if I hadn't. Climbing down the mountain was more like sliding/dying down the mountain. Jordan and I lagged behind and enjoyed flowers and photo opportunities after the first wave of fatigue had passed and we'd transitioned into energy-surge! We ended up not venturing to the lake because we were crazyexhausted after the hike/climb. I think we spent the evening eating dinner nearby, and once again enjoyed the sunset from the rooftop. Sleep came sooner than it had on other days, but it was necessary. Next morning we'd rented a rickshaw for the day and journeyed to a "nearby" wildlife reserve. Here, we saw an Indian Bison, wild elephants, and a DEER! There were also many mischevious monkeys all around the starting point and they were tricky, trying to steal things. Our rickshaw ride back into town was utterly freezing and of course we were not prepared clothing-wise, but we braced it. That evening we went back into town to buy more tea...we all realized that you couldn't have enough. We ate dinner at a Lonely Planet reccomended spot and then went back to our new hotel place, which was down the road from George's but infinately cheaper. The room was, however, super creepy and haunted. I slept by the ghost and there was a present left for us in the toilet when we arrived.
Next manana we headed out on the crazycrazy bus weaving through the mountains and recordbreaking speeds back towards the Fort Kochin area, but more specifically Ernaukulam (sp?). I took motion sickness pills and tried to sleep on the train so that I didn't die. Davita shared some Ipod time with me which was nice, because I always like listening to mystery music. There was this one Broken Social Scene song that I've found caught in my head occassionally since then. In Ernauk we settled in a hostel and then headed for the beach. Not exactly the coolest thing for a girl on her period to do, but I went. We found a good part of the beach and begin beach things. The group read their ever-popular chakra book out loud, which has become a tradition. They alligned their chakras on the beach while I spun around in circles where the surf meets the sand, while the sun set. It was delicious and trippy. Davita's eye was having some trouble at that point...it was sort of mysterious but it began watering and hurt her a lot and we couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. We eventually left the beach, rickshawed back to the hostel, found some dinner (discovered that Veg Jaipur is AMAZING!), dropped Davita off, grabbed dessert at a nearby cafe, and hit the hay.
We braced the city again the next morning, filled our bellies with bfast and a complicated coffee mess, then headed for the train back to Hyderabad. The train ride was not as enjoyable as the way there because we didn't have seats together. There was a pair and another pair and then a single. Therefore, we all couldn't hang and have fun, but we made the time pass. I got a lot of school reading done, which I HAD to, Sophie and chattedchattedchatted, bought grapes, wrote MORE joint poetry (some w/ Jordo....who drank his beer out of the sleeve of a shirt in the wee hours of the night b/c we weren't sure if alcohol was okay on the train. it's india). Sleep barely happened and I had some stupid nightmares that seemed real.
In the morning we were still on the train. Eventually, Hyderabad came around and we all had mixed feelings about being back, happy to have life slow down and become more manageable for a while, but not to keen on being stuck in this unfriendly, difficult, and uninviting city once again. hyderabad just has no heart. it's not inviting. it says do you really dare to try to make this place home? okay, go on.
It's Friday night, now, and, like I said, I'm dicking around in my room because I'm having tummy troubles so I let everyone go out and have fun while I bummed here. It's aight, though. I think I'll read the rest of this essay thing and then maybe watch a movie or something. Or maybe I'll read the book that I'm into right now: Dave Eggers' What is the What. I really like it. This week as been somewhat stressful, as I've tried to "get my life back/more under control". I applied to internships, did iship/job/sf research, planned some of europe, bought some plane tickets, went to classes and yogas every day, and couldn't sleep. Why? Honestly because ever since I got back from Kerala all I can do in my bed is miss Jake. I know its very funny and pathetic..call it what you like, but it's true. I've been quite smitten after having not spoken to him in 10 days. I forgot to tell you...I fucked up and forgot to bring the phone charger for THE WHOLE GROUP, so we had to keep our phones off for the trip and only turn them on when we needed to use them. This prevented me from being able to talk to J or my mom for the duration of the trip. This did, however, make coming "home" and returning to Jakeland really really spectacular. I realized that I'd missed him in a really healthy way. I wasn't sitting around at night crying or feeling lonely on a mountain top and letting it interfere with my traveling. Rather, from time to time, while I was experiencing something really amazing I would say, God I wish Jake could be here to share this with me. And that was that. Then I got home and it burned when I talked to him because I was reminded of how amazing he is and how much fun it is to have him in my life. I also took Desmond's advice to heart in the Jacob realm and I laid down the law for myself. I want to be in San Francisco this summer. No more teeter-tottering. I'm going to go forth with it, do what I've gotta do to make it happen. Jake, in the meantime, need to talk to his work and think about meeting me in Europe. I'm crossing my fingers and told him that Paris is the most romantic city in the world little man. I hopeihope. Also, Sophie had to drop out of the Europe mix but she just might be back in. Updates to come.
Well I was quite bored because I've been able to do nothing but be in my room all day, so this blod has bee wierdly epic, but I'll let you go as of now, leave you like this: the first joint poem that miss Soph and I wrote in the coffee shop in Fort Kochin (the poem was written alternating lines. after you write a line you fold the paper down so that the next writer can't see what you wrote. you tell them the last word of your line so that they have a starting point. sometimes, if you feel the need to, you can write more than one line. if you're crazy)
There was nothing left
light shadows filtering between dark faces and limbs
her fingers curled up into my skin
a patchwork of fabric making up a being
"Can't we stay one second longer?"
Vertical thoughts pull suns from gallexies.
I remember his funky shoes with the silver laces.
Back down to, full circle, inside of me.
I forget that I'm not supposed to forget,
patterning a purple memory of sunset.
The bell sounded and the birds dispersed.
If the birds dispersed would the bell sound?
Yes! Those cobwebs filter through my nose.
The view from the window is beautiful,
and so we sit, breathing; and we are.
Another, frantically written on the train:
Rise and shine to the sounds of life stirring, whizzed by.
In the other window, someone was having thoughts about dying.
Count the freckles on my body to find a meaning in the stars
so that the spaces in between begin to pop out
and a cough, blown into the face of a stranger
is the silence spoken in its frequency of atomic yawns.
But, wrinkling her toes, she
took to the window like a light to the sky, because of
the times the wind dirtied her hair.
If she could change her name, she would leave tomorrow.
Toenails grow at rapid speeds when
the beginning begins at the very end.
Stretching, she says "I can't remember what skies were like before
there was plaster on these walls".
Enclosed by time-trackers and reflective lightsm we
screamed at the man overhead, and he snarled back like
yellow lines, blinked betwen two iron bars
swinging back and forth, they waited for the time to catch up.
The fisherman hauls in 25 tons of plastic only to
the end of this town, where I know you'll come back.
Some things I missed while writing this blog: Trader Joe's and the Metrolink and Coffee Cartel and Jake's kisses and air conditioning and rain and driving in my car with the window's down and independence and coffee shops and responsibilities and committments (?) and blankets and my lil kitties and sunny days in parks and