Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cow dung

Well i had been waiting a long time to see a donkey/cow/buffalo do a poo live in front of me. And 4 weeks after i arrive at the village, with only 3 days to go before i leave, i was blessed.

I was sitting outside a relatives house... chatting to them... a cow approaches slowly... slow probably because it is full of about 30 kg's of shit... stops... about 15 feet in front of us... with arse pretty much towards us... tail lifts up... and a big pile of shit comes out of its arse. proper gross! So i took a photo of it, as a souvenir, and sat down, the end.

Or so i thought... because a minute later a woman comes out of the nearest house with a spade type thing and a tile or something. She scoops it up and legs it back inside her house. WTF. For fuel? I thought they don't do that no more. But that's what happened.

Hot, fresh from the oven, cow dung. Shame I just missed the Cow. You like the splatter marks? :)

A minute later this lady comes out, scoops it up and takes it home!

The other day we went out for a picnic to Hill Gardens. A teeny little park/theme park. It was pretty decent, for Gujarat. They had boat rides where u paddle with ur feet. The lake thing was damn small tho. You just kept going around in a small circle. They had bumper cars, but only 2 cars and a tiny area to drive in... again, just go around in a small circle. A puppet show which was pretty poor, it was just some puppets doing Indian dancing. Same thing over n over again. The big wheel was the best thing. Fairly big, and gave that butterflies in ur stomach feeling, to let u know u got ur moneys worth.

I had my astrology reading done by a priest last week, and he said a special religious ceremony has to be done on me at the temple to kind of reduce the bad stuff in my astrology results. Interesting. It was so long, 3 hours! My back was killing sitting there cross legged. I did get a long break in between tho. Earlier i was told by my aunt that if you need to go loo in the middle of it, your clothes cannot touch the loo, and u have to wash your feet afterwards before resuming the ceremony. So you have to either take a dump/wee stark naked, or do it clothed, but change ur clothes after. WHAT!

I did need the loo, so during my break i trekked home as its near (and i don't like using public loo's here as they may not have loo roll and it might have piss on the floor) and did opted for the naked poo rather than changing my clothes, and washed my feet.

At the end i was given this small stone/gem (i dunno what it is) that was a part of the ceremony, and i have to wear it either on a ring or necklace. I don't like rings so i'm gonna have it put on my necklace in a locket.

Whenever we drive to other villages, we go through a long stretch of nothingess, just forests, flat land, things like that. But i notice you sometimes see a cluster of like 3 or 4 little tents in the middle of nowhere. It got me thinking. These ppl could be living there with absolutely no need for fuel, electricity or even money. Completely isolated from the rest of the world. They grow their own food on the patch of land nearby. They may have a cow or 2 for milk. They probably walk to a nearby lake for water or to bathe. They burn wood or dried cowpat to use as fuel. What else do you you need to survive?

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Wow they annoy me. We were talking today about how my nephew wasn't named via the Raasi method (where they look at the date he was born n give u the first letter or something). They chose his name beforehand. And my aunt here (the one who said u should never eat 2 fruits that are stuck together) said that we shouldn't do that cos some kids have more chance of illnesses.

I then said, what about all the other races that don't use the Raasi method, are they getting more ill than us? Then she said something that i didn't quite understand cos of my poor Gujarati so i just nodded and carried on watching telly.


I was wondering for a second how these strange superstitions/beliefs start or spread. Then i realised its just word of mouth. When aunt mentioned the double banana thing (see below) my mum just accepted it and told me not to eat it either. And this thing she just accepted too. Ppl just come up with these things and then it spreads through ppl without them questioning or checking.

My mum will probably tell a few other ppl and they'll accept it and they'll tell others...

I've just realised i never did write about the double banana incident in any earlier entries. My mum bought a bunch of banana's and we realised later one of them was 2 banana's stuck together! it looked pretty cool. i was looking forward to eating it/opening it cos the village is so damn boring that things like double banana's are the most exciting things that can happen. Anyway, when my aunt heard about it, she said "you cant eat it!" and i'm like eh why not. and my mums the same, like why not?? then aunt said no-one eats double fruits stuck together. you cant eat it you have to hand it in to the temple. so i asked why again... "u cant. no-one eats double fruits". i was getting very annoyed inside cos she wasn't answering the question :@ so i just left it. and even mum was saying it after (that you cant eat it). JEEZ :|

They told me to bring it to them, so when i went to get it and picked it up by the top, it ripped open a bit HAHA so i got to see inside it at least! The inside was proper stuck together.

I asked aunts husband (lmao i've just realised she's not my aunt, she's my cousins wife, Bhabhi), anyway i asked him and he's like naa nothing happens, but you know what women are like, i just let them do what they want.

Kinda gross looking nah? :s

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fly poo dots

We have this jar that we use to catch flies in our room. We keep the door n windows shut so flies n machar's don't come in and hassle us at night. Sometimes a fly or two manages to infiltrate our bomb shelter when we enter it, the door being open for a few seconds. We then use a jar to catch it, and free it outside, sometimes later in the day.

After many weeks of this, the other day i decided to check the jar carefully for fly poo. and theres SOOOO many little dark brown specks all over on the inside! Boy do they poo! Gross. I remember a fly incident last time i came India, i remember seeing one land on my hand, and i just watched it, as a teeeeeny drop of water came out its backside and flew off. It wee-ed on hand!

Internet Care
Funny thing my mum earlier today, she was saying her cousins dad is ill in hospital, and that he's in "internet care" (she has poor English). I broke out in smile, not very appropriate considering the bad news. But i couldn't help it. I made her repeat what she said... "internet care, what's it called...". And i'm like "INTENSIVE CARE!!"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Village barbers


A month back i had both the haircut and a shave for 18 rupees, it was damn good! After shaving your face, he massages it! So relaxing. He pressed a bit hard on the eyes tho. And wiped my face with an old cloth that he prolly used on a hundred villagers before me without washing it. BUT ELEVEN PENCE.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Posting from the city of Headband

Well I’m sure my millions of fans have been eagerly awaiting my next blog instalment. Well here it is.

Since my last entry, I’ve done quite a few things. I’ve went for a special jamvaanu (meal) at a nearby mandir for about 200 hundred ppl which we were told to arrange on behalf of the anniversary of my grandfathers death a few years ago. The fly season started soon after. Flies everywhere! I’ve got a lot of insect bites now too. I also had to take part a mysterious religious ritual a few days ago involving just me and mum. And yesterday I went to this strange meeting with the “Rotary Club”. Cos of my limited Gujarati I couldn’t quite work out what it was. It seemed like a cross between Free Masonry and a local trust fund type thing that they use to build things needed for the village. Apparently it’s a worldwide thing.

The main unpleasant things of the week were a huge spotted spider jumping on me, and having to refuse holy milk cos a fly fell in it. Everyone else, probably shocked at my refusal, didn’t see a problem with the fly!

Lets start with the jamvaanu. I’m always reluctant to eat at ppl’s houses in a village cos I’m a bit of a hygiene freak. I did in the first week I arrived here, a bit naïve thinking the ppl aren’t that dirty. But my mum told me after eating at one of her friends houses that whilst she was cooking she was sweating like mad, and just wiping the dripping sweat off her face with her hands, and then throwing her hands back into the cooking, whilst making puri. That and a few other things at other houses made us decide not to eat out. Every time someone invites us, and we got a lot of invitations, my mum would tell them “Naresh doesn’t like eating at other ppl’s houses” !!!! She hates it just as much as I do but she only mentions me!

Anyway, the thought of eating at the mandir was even more off-putting. God knows who cooks it and how clean they are. Ive learnt that villagers definition of “clean” is completely different to ours. Their “clean” is our dirty. And our “clean” to them is waaayy over the top.

At first I suggested I eat before I go and not eat there, but was told I gotta eat something there even if its just a pinch-ful. So I agreed. There, we sat, the plates, bowl, cup and cutlery all laid out on the floor of the hall. I inspected the plate, and it was a bit dirty. I inspected one of the bowls, it was filthy, the other bowl wasn’t too bad tho. I didn’t bother checking the cup as I didn’t plan on drinking anything. So I planned in my head where to place the food, on this side of the plate to avoid the dirty bit, and in that bowl, the cleaner one.

Food starts arriving, some men who walk through the aisles offering the food to our plates, and I declined most of it (some out of choice, some cos they’re bad for my condition), accepting some rotli (chapatti) and kadhi (kari? That yellow, watery curry) and a piece of ladoo. The rotli looked so kaatchi (uncooked). I got stuck in and it wasn’t very nice. Had about 4 bite-fuls, and it began to taste worse n worse with each bite, I thought id finish it, but on one of the bites I almost heaved! Haha! It tasted like “lot”/dough. The kadhi was awful too. I stopped there, I didn’t wanna heave in front of everyone who are eating the same food as me. And moved onto the ladoo, looking forward to the sweet taste of it to get rid of the doughy taste in my mouth. Had a few bites and a big bit of fluff was inside, about an inch long. Lovely.

After I finished, I followed my cousin to where we put our dishes. Soon realized we have to go outside to a long line of outside sinks, bare foot, and wash our own dishes! No wonder the dishes were dirty! Random ppl were washing them, little kids even. And washing involved rinsing them in water and rubbing your hands across any stubborn bits of food. No washing up liquid. Ppl hardly use that here in the village. I tiptoed around, trying to avoid stepping on bits of food on the floor, glad it was finished.

The fly season started quite suddenly soon after. Within a few days, the number of flies must have tripled or quadrupled! Id walk out of the house to find my chappal covered in about 10 or 15 flies, god knows what they’re eating. My foot-sweat or any skin that may have shed onto the chappal. It was time to use my insect repellent. I now spray that on my feet and chappal before I leave the house and not many land on me after. At night, they buzz onto your face, hoping to get a few slurps of the natural oil on your skin. Sometimes they’re so fucking aggressive! Flying like kamikaze pilots, right into your face! There’s not many in our little room thing. It’s separate from the other houses. And it’s upstairs too so less insects and not many flies cos we keep the doors and windows shut. You get a few flies but if they keep bothering us, we (me or mum) catch them in jars and let them out outside. There was quite a few the other day so we decided to fumigate the room.

A few days later, my mum tells me “god is coming to our house tmr morning. I’ve invited god to come at 8am.” I don’t like to argue with her materialistic views of god so I just agree to it. It’s a 2 day ceremony for me and her starting at 8am for about an hour and a maraj carries it out. I had no idea what it was for! Felt like a marriage at one point! The next day mum said it’s a ritual that brings good fortunes to the family. I’m gonna start playing the lottery from now on. The maraj also said he does astrology readings! That was cool so I gave him my birth date and time. I look fwd to that! I like that kinda stuff.

On the 2nd day, near the end of the ceremony, one of those kamikaze flies jumped into the holy milk. The maraj picked it out with his fingers. The fly lived btw. And at the end the milk was passed around the room for everyone to drink a tiny bit. I was like “WHAT”. I whispered to mum that I’m not having any. As I was about to get up and leave as it was finished, my cousin says wait u haven’t had the milk yet! I’m like SHIT. I told her I don’t want it cos a fly fell in it and she smiled and gave this “u weirdo” look. I wanted to shout to everyone “A FUCKIN FLY FELL IN IT MAN!!!!! A FUCKIN FLY!” I asked mum if she had any and she said she didn’t want to but had to, so took a tiny bit. Haha. I think she felt too ashamed to refuse it in front of everyone. She wouldn’t have had any if the room wasn’t full of ppl.

A few days ago, my cousin (Ramesh) and a few of his friends invited me to go with them to this farm house in the evening, his friends place. He said there’s a meeting going on, and then they just drink, n eat n chat, and there’s a swimming pool there (not in use at the moment tho). So I went along, thinking I might enjoy.

It’s a huge piece of land. Some farms. Some buildings. Some were enjoying the customary whiskey + water. How sick that must taste. And this hairy beast of a topless man was starting to make the food. I decided there and then that I’m not gonna eat there. There probably wasn’t much I was allowed anyway, unless I ate curry on its own as I’m not a big fan of rice either (strange I know). They tend to eat a lot of moong beans here (kichari) and that’s a food to avoid for me.

The meeting was about to start, so we all was led upstairs. It was a bare house, I think it was being newly built. It was starting to get dark outside. The windows were all wide open so I was a bit aware that insects would start to flock to the light in the room. Anyway, they sat n started talking about plans of this Rotary Club thing they have started. I couldn’t understand much of it. It lasted an hour and a half, while the dude who owns the land was almost shouting. Guji’s have gotta be the loudest bunch of ppl on earth. I started insect spotting…. Saw all sorts of weird stuff flying around in the room. Stuff id never ever seen before. I remained calm tho as I sat there cross legged on the floor. As long as they don’t touch me I’m alright. I saw 2 little lizards come in through the window too. I dunno what they’re called in English, we call them “Andhi-chi-chi”, tried spelling it the best I can. They’re cute little lizards.

Then suddenly I feel something land on me near my shoulder, my face screws up in fear as I turn my head left to see a big spider on me, I start flicking my hand like mad at it to swat it off me and it falls a couple of foot ahead of me. GOD. It just fucking jumped out of nowhere! It was quite a big black thing, with white spots on it! AND THE FUCKER CAN JUMP. I composed myself. Keeping one eye on it. Then a minute later it fucking jumps towards me again! AND I HOPPED BACKWARDS A FEW STEPS ALONG THE FLOOR WHILST STILL ON MY ARSE (we were sitting on the floor). And the dude near me, who knew my fear of these things, flicked it away, and some ppl laughed. Bastids! Thankfully the meeting finished soon after and I was dropped off home as they were about to eat.

I have no idea why I’m so scared of the little shits. I know they do fuck all. But something just overrides all that like instinct. Like when you touch something too hot and your hand just automatically comes off of it without your conscious control. Actually I do have an idea of why. I remember my mum used to discipline me by telling me a spider is coming if I don’t behave etc. It probably started then.

Ppl here love nature. Sitting on a farm or on a large piece of natural land. I can see the beauty in it too, but before I do, my mind is focused on all the insects that u get. It doesn’t seem to bother these ppl one bit that there are 2 or 3 beasts crawling on their neck.

We had a little frog in the kitchen the other day. It was so funny seeing it jump up n down. My mums so scared of them, and rats.

Earlier today we went into town (Bhuj, 10 miles away) for some shopping. I needed a poo, so my aunt took me to her brother’s shop which was nearby and asked him if I can use the loo, he said yes. Then my aunt said they’re British, they prefer the sitting down loo’s not the hole in the ground ones, so he said he’d get someone to drop me to his relatives house nearby. Some guy came out the shop and I got on a scooter with him… *cue mission impossible theme*… we rode about 10 fucking mins! Must have travelled about 2 miles just to use the toilet, going thru tiny little aisles n bumpy roads, swerving around the numerous cows, buffalo’s and dogs. Did the business n another 2 miles n 10 mins to get back *mission impossible theme ends*. All that just to poo! Haha.

There’s a huge tree here nearby that houses literally hundreds of bats. Its quite amazing. During the day they all sleep on the branches upside down. Occasionally screaming when disturbed by another bat. At dusk, they all flock slowly somewhere in bunches. I don’t know where. Its quite a sight. I need to get some photo’s of it.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I've felt what I think were 2 teeny earthquakes. I was wondering if it really was a quake or a big truck that drove past but there’s always trucks going by and I don’t feel a thing and my cousin confirmed that there are often little tremors. Felt quite amazing. I’ve always wanted to feel one. Nothing too major obviously.

Earlier in the week we thought we had a bit of a family scandal. My mum wanted to check our bank accounts here, cos our dodgy cousin here (Haresh) has access to the accounts, he deposits our rent money in it and withdraws money in case repairs are needed on our house here that we rent out to ppl. And my mum don’t trust him one bit. He, and his mum, have a history of thieving, often from their own relatives. On checking the accounts, we noticed 300’000 rupees (~3600 pounds) was taken out in total over the last year. And a few months ago 200’000 was put back in. And we weren’t told of all of this so we suspected he took it out and when he heard we were coming to India, tried to pay some back. So for a day my mum was screwing thinking “I knew it, I knew it”. But we spoke to our uncle in the UK and he said its all ok and it was for some major roof repairs they did on our house. We were still not sure about the money that was put back in, but Haresh explained it was cos they took extra out to cover repairs on other houses too which they then paid for back into our account or something like that.

My mum wants to restrict access to our accounts cos she cant keep track of all these withdrawals in different accounts. Esp as some of ppl able to access it are thieves. But she was told by my uncle n my dad in the UK not to restrict it. She was so pissed off about that, and told me to just spend spend spend if I wanted. “Rather we spend it than them spend our money”. Never heard my mum say that ever about money before. She’s famous for being a scrooge. But here she is saying spend as much as I want of the money we have in our India accounts! It’s a shame I’m not a huge fan of gold or id get a whole load of jewellery! I dunno what else I can buy! I’ve already done my biggest purchase in laser eye surgery. Cant get any big stuff cos of limited space in suitcase. I’m gonna see if I can get some computer components if they’re cheaper here.

Less than 2 weeks left here in the village, then a final week in Ahmedabad to do some final shopping. Insect season and the peak of the monsoon is approaching so it’s a good time to leave. The weather is horrid in Mumbai with ppl dying in the floods. And also the recent train bombings! Luckily our flight is from Ahmedabad, where there is also heavy rain but not as bad as Mumbai. Cant wait!

Btw, not surprisingly, Word didn’t recognize the word “Ahmedabad”. And it had suggestions… so I right-clicked it out of curiosity to see what alternatives it suggests… it had the one suggestion… “HEADBAND” heh.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Well I never made it to that Naturotherapy health place in mandvi. Cos it was shit! All the ppl we told about it, they said i'm gonna love it and how luxurious it is and how they been there and they loved it. I was getting excited! But we visited it, and its so bare! And cos its summer, insects everywhere!! One telly for the whole place cos tv’s go against their principle of going back to nature. Its in the middle of nowhere so u cant go out unless u enjoy walking on empty land apart from plant life and trees, which Indians here probably enjoy. But to me, I don’t see the beauty in the land, I see land full of huge scary looking insects.

There's not so many here in the village, apparently cos its actually too hot for them to come out seeing as its regularly 38-40 C. but there's loads in that place cos of the vegetation n plant life there. We also spoke to some ppl and they also said its not the right treatment for my condition. They’d shove me on some minimal diet for a month or two, i'm already well underweight! I dunno what there is to do in that place, ppl were just sitting around do F-all and enjoying it. Indians are able to do that. Us city ppl need things to do! When I look outside window of my room here, I see ppl sitting outside doing absolutely nothing for a whole day. Sitting in silence for most of it, just staring at ppl. HOW DO THEY DO IT DAY AFTER DAY. At first I didn’t mind it for a few days, a chance to chill out, but after a week or so its just mind numbing.

We’ve had some mad rain here on the odd occasion too. For an hour or two each time. Really heavy rain, and they have no guttering on the roads so the roads literally become rivers with water about half a foot high. Motorbikes can't drive through it, but other vehicles still do very slowly.

This is after the rain had stopped. It was higher than this before. Those scooters engines turned off cos the engine must have got wet. Stranded! They had to move their scooters along Flinstones style.

I thought the village would have moved on since i last came here 8 years ago, and i was told that it has but we still get regular power cuts. Mostly due to rain. So damn annoying especially in this heat & humidity, as you need the ceiling fans on 24/7 or the AC on coupla hours a day. And whenever it rains they cut the power to the village. How wrong is that. Few days back they had some work planned in the power station or something, and they cut the power from 9am-7pm! And today it rained for about 2 hours yet they left the power off for about 4 hours after!! The reason they cut it is for safety apparently cos a lot of the cheap houses in this village are an electrical hazard when it rains.

I took some pics of the crazy rain and the road which looked like a river during the rain which I’ll put up here when I get back to London which is gonna be sooner than planned woo hoo! We’re looking to come back on the 6th of Aug. 4 more weeks at this village while I try some homeopathic treatment then back to Ahmedabad (its nice there!) for the final week.

Cos my diet is so restricted, and the variety of food in this village is so small, I'm eating the same two or three curries everyday, getting so bored of it. My mum cooks my food now cos she decided my aunts are far too dirty with their hygiene. The amount of times we’ve found insects in the food is disgusting. I'm sure i've eaten insect body parts many times. The occasional mouse in the kitchen. Flies sitting on clean cutlery. But I just gotta ignore it or I'm not gonna like the food at all.

We went to some friends house to eat, and cos it was so hot, sweat was dripping of their face into the food while they were cooking. They were also wiping the sweat off their face with their hands and carrying on cooking with those same hands. Tasty! But what can ya do. U cant starve. Its not unhygienic for them and any suggestion that it is would probably baffle them.

We went to eat in the nearest city, Bhuj, 10 miles away, in a nice hotel restaurant called the Prince Hotel. Was impressive by Bhuj’s standards. But while we were eating, I saw a mouse run across the floor. And no-one did anything! Mice in the restaurant of one of the top hotels in the city.

Our 8 hour journey from Ahmedabad to here was supposed to have been luxurious. We were told it was in a sleeping coach with beds and AC. What we got was little bench type things in the coach with filthy cloth on it that a thousand Indians have probably sweated on after its last wash, and NO AC! Windows open all the way. If you wipe your face on something white after a open window journey in India, the white cloth/tissue turns brown.

A funny moment was when the coach stopped at a gas station for half hour, for ppl to go loo or get some food etc. This other lady went and came back and my mum asked her if the loo’s are decent, and she replied they're good. So mum decides to go…. when she comes back her face was a sight! She looked like she wanted to puke!! She said it was absolutely disgusting!!!!! And smelt soooo bad that she was heaving in there. And she says out loud what the lady said about them being good, taking the mick, which im sure the lady heard, hahaha I was cracking up. And then she goes gimme some water quick I need to rinse my mouth out cos the smell is stuck in her mouth HAHAH her face still had that puking look. I was in hysterics. She gargled some water and spat it out the window cos she could smell the toilets!!

After that she couldn’t stop moaning about everything, especially how much the cloth on her “bed” smelt.

They set up the internet for me here but its dial up so I cant use it much in the daytime cos of incoming phone calls. Its not much fun anyway surfing at 56k speed when the net is now designed to run on broadband, insanely slow. Msn messenger isn't even working and wont even reinstall so im using E-messenger and it takes like 2 mins to sign in.

My mum said to me a few hours ago she's planning a trip to this place where a famous temple is where u get blessed or something, and i have to go etc, cos its god related. I was like *sigh*. I asked how long the trip is and they said 5 hours each way, i was like WTF FORGET THAT! What if i need to shit on the way?? (cos of my condition i shit 4-5 times a day) And my cousin (Haresh) here says, with a smile, "you'll have to do it on the side of the road". haha, never in a million years. Id rather shit in my hand and throw it out the window. I told mum there's no way I'm going, so they cancelled it now. 5 hour road trip in crazy heat, do a prayer, get a blessing or whatever for a bit then another 5 hour trip back again. Crazy! Flippin religious fanatics! Its always the women that are a bit fanatical. The blokes didn't seem that bothered about the trip, only the women wanted to go.