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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stories I haven't shared


In the past few weeks several people have enquired about the lack of posts, more specifically—the lack of posts on India and Sri Lanka. I thought I had shared enough, but I guess I was wrong. I also haven't had much of a writing spirit in me. Sometimes it just pours out and other times(like the past couple months), I am as dry as the Sahara. But in the spirit of sharing, here you go...

After leaving the fresh hell that was Delhi and Jaipur, I wondered what new agony would await me upon my arrival in Agra. I was miserable, hot and tired. At this point, I just wanted to see the Taj Mahal and get the hell out of dodge.

The train pulled into Agra station, the doors opened and there he was waiting, right outside my carriage. His name was Babloo. He was a short, sprightly young man. He stood there, in 30°C weather, in a long sleeve dress shirt and slacks. This seemed to be the young Indian man dress code. He held a sign with my name, smiled and said "Rhodesia? Welcome to Agra!", in his heavily accented English. At that moment, a calm came over me and I knew I would be taken care of. I trusted him immediately.

I was escorted to my hotel, where I showered and put on my Taj Mahal outfit (a white and rust coloured salwar kameez that I had purchased in Chennai). On the ride there, I got to know Babloo. He explained that he had been in the travel industry for twelve years (he was only twenty-three). He told me of his family and life in Uttar Pradesh. There was something about his energy that I knew I could trust and that he would protect me.

We arrived at the complex and went through a thorough security screening, where a female guard pulled out my pepper spray and asked me what it was. I told her it was dog spray. She gave me the side eye, handed it back to me and I went in. The moment we reached the archway and I caught my first glimpse of her, I was overwhelmed with unexpected emotion. I had seen the Taj Mahal in photos and documentaries countless times, but to lay eyes on her...I asked Babloo to give me a minute. I just stood there staring for a long while. A hardened traveller, who has seen it all, might find my awe of the monument pedestrian, but for me it was simply unforgettable.

It was a Sunday, the sun was blazing down and it was extremely crowded. We walked around the perimeter, I touched the marble, ogled and took countless pictures. There were many people staring at me, but I didn't care. A few people yelled out random countries at me " Kenya, Nigeria, West Indies!" I paid them no mind. A man in his 20's with his girlfriend and family saw me and was urging his girlfriend to take a picture with me, like I was a monkey in a zoo. She didn't want to and I told him no. He gave me look a that said "how dare you say no to me!" He urged on, Babloo interjected on my behalf and spoke to him in Hindi. The guy pulled in close to Babloo, whispered something in his ear, smiled and patted him on the back, then walked away. I didn't have to understand Hindi to know that what he said to him was of a sexual nature. Babloo was visibly upset as we walked towards the line up. He wouldn't tell me what the man had said. He just shook his head and said " these people they don't understand. I work with tourists. They don't understand it is rude!"

We stood in the line up for a glimpse of the mausoleum (the only part that is open to visitors). You're herded in like cattle, given one minute to take pictures and then ushered out. We stayed on the grounds for a while, chatting. Babloo, my protector, would block people as they tried to photograph me or get in my personal space. I knew without him my experience would have been a lot more frantic and unpleasant. After the Taj we wandered for a bit. I then went back to my hotel, had dinner and marvelled at the day's events.

The next day Babloo was absent. It was just me and my driver (whose name I can't recall). He was a nice young man, mildly handsome but had a mouth full of teeth the colour of tar from chewing tobacco— which(to my delight) he indulged in on several occasions throughout the day. I was taken to Fatehpur Sikri to marvel at more Mughal architecture. For two hours, I wandered through the site and met a bus load of Indian tourists from Kerala, who were incredibly sweet and inquistive.

I had several hours to kill before my train left, so my driver dropped me off at Babloo's office, right in the centre of busling Agra. It was the size of a small walk-in closet and adorned with maps and posters of India. He had a small desk, on which he managed to fit a computer, hard drive, modum, antenae, papers and countless wires.  I sat on a tiny wooden bench,which could barley hold my rotund ass but would end up seating two of us.

I would spend the next five hours, just hanging out with Babloo and his dear friend Harish, in a shoebox. My suitcase was just outside the office and I was paranoid about someone walking by and swiping it. Several shady characters came by and spoke to Babloo, some stayed for a while, but when he sensed my uneasiness, he sent them away. My solo female traveller mind said" WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING!" Hanging out in a plaza in the middle of Agra with two dudes and less than desirable characters strolling by. My instinct told me I was safe. I knew I could trust Babloo. He was also two inches shorter and 80lbs lighter than me. Harish was as sweet as apple pie, didn't have functioning legs and walked with his arms. I relaxed but my spidy sense was always alert. We added each other to Facebook, shared pictures of our friends, discussed Bollywood stars.

Harish went home and Babloo took me to the train station in an auto-rickshaw. We said our goodbyes and I gave him a big hug, which from all the peering eyes, I knew was inappropriate. I headed back to Delhi and another ten days of travel. Agra and Babloo were the turning point of that trip. It started off great and then it went to shit. But then, you get off a train, someone holds up a sign with your name and smiles at you and all is well again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another asinine conversation with my brother

ME: National Geographic has a program about the Amazon. Look up "the English monkey" also known as the Uakari. Also look up the Harpy eagle.

BRO: Ahhh! The backyard of my formative years.


We are originally from a country that borders Brazil and shares a minute portion of the Amazon, but we lived nowhere near it.

ME: Ummmmm...So you grew up in the Amazon basin? Where the fuck was I?

BRO: I don't want to get caught up in the adoption drama. Ask mom of your whereabouts.

ME: Oh, I will! So you lived off the land with the Amerindians? Do you even know how to start a fire?

BRO: I would rather not get into it. I could start a fire with my bare hands. My native name is "Redda fire".

ME: It's probably because your hands are dry and ashy. It's as if turds are flying out of your mouth.

BRO: My hands convey manliness, while at the same time, worthy of a dove.

ME: Words escape me... So, you were a fire starting hunter as a toddler? Perhaps we should go back to the Amazon basin and relive your formative years. There is another one at 10 if you're interested in watching.

BRO: I was a prodigy of sorts. I would love to retrace my formative years. What channel?

ME: It's quite easy to return to a vivid imagination. Channel 250.

BRO: Nice jaguar.

ME: Yes indeed. We are kindred spirits.

BRO: Yeah, OK.

ME: Actually I think I maybe closer to the sloth. Slow moving, they hide in the trees and come down once a week to defecate.

BRO: Really, once a week? You defecate 3 times daily. Are we really going to see sloths shagging?

ME: Ewwwwwwwww. That must take like 12 hrs.

BRO: It must. I have some fond memories of the Amazon delta.

ME: Wow. Do those include shooting poisonous  blow darts at howler monkeys and then eating their brains?

BRO: I never partook in the eating of monkey meat.


ME: Because you were never there!

BRO: Whatever.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

VERITAS

This happened quite a while ago and most of my friends already know this story. When it happened, I decided it wouldn't be appropriate to share. But... I recently remembered that I have never really been appropriate, so I am sharing it now.

Most of you will remember Edelweiss from here and here. A few people inquired about what happened to him because it seemed like we had a good rapport—some chemistry even.

Edelweiss studies eastern medicine and I decided to go for an acupuncture session at his house. That was the last time I saw him...

I arrived at his Victorian style residence and immediately had second thoughts. The lawn was unkempt, the paint on the front door was peeling, and I swore a black cat walked by and glared at me. He answered the door all bright-eyed and bushy tailed in a white lab coat. We walked upstairs to the top floor where he led me to a room with a massage table. He was very officious about the whole thing and made me fill out forms about my ailments, liability, blah, blah, blah. I thoroughly filled out the forms and he instructed me to disrobe when he left the room. I did so and lay under the paper thin white sheet. He returned and sat on a chair across from me, in his white lab coat, studying my forms. He then started with a line of questioning that was...just read on. (Please insert Austrian accent in Edelweiss' lines.)

Edelweiss:You put that you suffer from back pain. What caused this?


Me:A car accident a few years ago.


Edelweiss:You also put that you have menstrual cramps.


Me:Yes.


Edelweiss:How many days is your period? How intense are your cramps?


Me:I don't know 5 days... My cramps are quite intense (starting to feel extremely uncomfortable at this point)


Edelweiss: Ok. Are there clots? And what colour is the blood?

Do you want a f**kin sample? It was at this point I knew I would never bone Edelweiss. EVER! If I had a penis it would have gone flaccid, curled up inside of me and become a vagina. I know he was doing his job, but the combination of the white lab coat, Austrian accent, period questions and the fact that I was lying half naked under a thin sheet was just too much for me.

I flipped over onto my stomach and as he tucked the sheet into my underwear he made a sound like "hmmm" or something to that effect. I think my choice of undergarment surprised him. I wore thongs with a bow at the back...just in case I was getting poked by something other than needles. I KID!

 I think I had more than 30 needles in various points, all over my body. I lay there for maybe 30 minutes. He came to take them out and stood at the head of the massage table. As I looked down through the hole I couldn't help but stare at his feet. He wore black socks and flip-flops. The flip-flops were rammed into the socks creating webbed looking feet. I don't know why but this disturbed me more than anything else. We chatted for a little while afterwards but the whole episode left me with an irreversible anti-boner. Alas, I never got a sample of his wiener w├╝rstel.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

29 Dates

I almost made it to thirty. I purposely went on twenty-nine. I had an opportunity to go on a thirtieth with an ex-pat Brit in Mumbai, but my instinct told me not to. There was something shifty,underhanded and slightly sociopathic about his aura. Better to be safe than end up floating in the sewage system of a Mumbai slum.

It's embarrassing, but the main reason I negated the number 30 is because I was saving it. I wanted it to be special. In my deluded thoughts, I envisioned number thirty would be my last— la ultima. He would be the love of my life and I would never have to go on another date again—EVER! He would come riding in on a unicorn, cotton candy in one hand and a pulled pork sandwich in the other. We would frolic through the black forest discussing secular humanism and Japanese bondage. We would trek through the foothills of Kilimanjaro, tango in La Boca, explore the temples of Angkor Wat. He would tell me I look beautiful without my eyebrows on and caress my jiggly bits.

It's quite possible this man does not exist. Perhaps I am delusional for thinking that he does. But I'm ok with that. To think otherwise is far too grim and depressing...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

So I know I turned 30 two months ago....

I turned the big 3-0 two months ago. I was in India at the time and I was too busy soaking up experiences to sit in front a computer screen. This is long overdue, I know.  I remember the day it all started. I had joined the on-line dating site Plenty of Fish, at the suggestion of a friend. My first day, I received twenty messages from complete idiots. I sat there staring at my computer screen, in horror at the atrocities that flooded my inbox. I immediately composed an email to my closest friends, with my suitors messages and my thoughts attached. My two initial blog posts are those emails(read here and  here ).  I was convinced by two people to start this blog. I did it reluctantly, but  soon found that I couldn't live without it. It revived my love for the written word and it was a chance to share my pent up anger and vulgarity. When people would tell me that reading my blog made their day, I knew I had something. Some days I would wonder if anyone was reading the shite that I wrote.  I knew by the stats that they were(even if done furtively). I realised I should just write for myself. That led to some lengthy absences. Sometimes I had nothing to say or I just couldn't express it in the manner I wanted.


My tagline'I turn thirty in... I realise that procrastination, sloth, gluttony, cynicism, flatulence, and sheepishness are traits that are not desirable in a woman of a certain age. This is about my journey to become a lady of discernible character. I have compiled a list of 30 things that I need to complete before that dark day comes and my youth vanishes before my eyes.' summed up traits that I found troubling and wanted to change. I have changed...somewhat. I still procrastinate, I'm less slothy, still glutenous, astoundingly less cynical, as flatulent as the the day is long and as sheepish as a ram. I've always been a lady of discernible character, I've only realised it now.  I've learned to accept a compliment without uttering a self-deprecating reply(most of the time). I've learned how to meditate and to speak my mind. I've learned that I'm only as desirable as I see myself. I've learned that I have remarkable people in my life, who patiently put up with my lunacy.

Although I didn't complete everything on the list, I'm still going to work on it. Much like my academic career, my grade is mediocre. Somethings didn't happen because of timing, fear, self-sabotage,  and did I say fear?  Here is how I fared:

1.SMOKE A CIGAR.
In a beautiful villa, in the Dominican Republic

2.LEARN TO SWIM
I kept quiet about this one because I took two swimming lessons that were...not that great. I shall make another attempt this summer. Lesson learned: don't look for swimming instructors on Craig's list...


3.SCUBA OR SNORKEL
I went snorkeling in India, in the Arabian Sea. I stayed in the water for four minutes and returned to the boat. I don't consider this long enough to cross it off.


4.DRINK ABSINTHE
I drank absinthe and it was awesome! Read about it here. Does anyone know where I can get some more?

5.TWO MEAT FREE WEEKS
I upped the ante and went for two weeks as a vegan. It was truly a miracle that I didn't cheat once or punch someone in the face.


6.GET A COLONIC
Butt flushes are awesome! You should get one too!

7.DECREASE MY CURRENT WEIGHT BY 37.9%
I failed massively on this front. I lost about 20lbs...and then gained some of it back and then lost some more in India when I shit out half of my body weight and then I gained some of it back. I'm still working on it...


8.DANCE and maybe sing IN THE RAIN
I envisioned this happening in India, with some street children dancing behind me to Bollywood music(beyond obnoxious, I know). The only time it rained was while I was on a flight. I'll have to rethink the set up...

9.TRY ON LINE DATING
We all know what a disaster that was. I deleted my account a few weeks ago and I don't ever want to venture into on-line dating again! I would rather have fire ants crawl up my behind.


10.START A BLOG
That one was easy.


11.FORGIVE AND SPEAK UP
I have forgiven and learned to let things go, instead of harbouring feelings of ill will. I have spoken up in situations where I would have kept quiet before. I went to the other end of the spectrum in India and lost it on a few people. I think I've found a nice balance.


12.TRY ARCHERY
I took some archery classes with a friend and now I've got the aim of a middle-earth elf goddess.

13.TAKE A FENCING CLASS
I took a private fencing lesson with my former fencing instructor, in a park. I was thoroughly embarrassed when people walked by and laughed. I never went back...


14.VISIT ONE OF MY FRIENDS IN EUROPE
I unfortunately didn't have the budget for this one. Although I really miss my friends there, I have visited them previously. I was just being greedy. It's still a possibility.


15.FALL IN LOVE
I've fallen in love with myself...with a man...no.


16. GO TO INDIA
A trip with so many layers to dissect. Unlike anything else. I loved it, hated it. More to come...


17.SKY DIVE OR BUNGEE JUMP
I chickened out. I shall make another attempt this summer.

18.RUN A 5K 
This didn't happen due to my ankle. I also re-injured the same ankle a few months ago. I am now aiming for a 10k in October. Wish me luck...


19.GO SAILING
I went sailing on a catamaran(a Tamil word BTW), in the Arabian sea. I learned about close reach, beam reach and broad reach, jibing and tacking...only to forget what they meant a few days later. Even though the technical aspect didn't stick with me, the experience was unforgettable.


20.RIDE ON THE BACK OF A MOTORCYCLE
Read about it here. It happened a couple times after that as well. It's a very freeing feeling, riding on dirt roads through the Goan country side.

 21. IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
Animals hate me. They always have. I became friends with my camel Raja and I didn't run from the rabid stray dogs that are in abundance in Goa. I have improved relations with certain species in the animal kingdom. Cats and I...are still on rough terms. They creep me the f#@k out. I won't cross it off until I'm friends with my feline enemy.


22.STOP USING CHEMICAL RELAXER
I kinda crossed this one off because I kinda almost made it...I lasted about 8 months without using chemical relaxer. On my return from India, I gave into the creamy crack...It was the longest I lasted without it in my life. I'm going to attempt to ween myself off once again. 

23.PERFECT THE ART OF MAKING ROTI
I had a few lessons from my not so patience mother. My efforts turned out pretty good. I'm not sure I can make them with out her breathing down my neck and barking instructions...


24.GO HIKING OR CAMPING
My first time camping was in the Thar desert in India. How can I beat that? It was also my first time being offered oral sex in the desert. Read here.


25.BE MORE SOCIAL
I have always been a bit anti-social. It's just my nature. My 29th year saw a social increase of about 15% not including my dates. It's an improvement.


26.JOIN A MAS CAMP WITH MY FRIENDS FOR CARIBANA 2010
At first I was petrified. In the end I loved it! I'll be participating again this year.


27.LEARN TO MEDITATE
For the past seven months, I've been meditating every day for at least 15-20 minutes, sometimes longer. I'm comfortable crossing this one off the list. I really do find it helpful. Surprisingly, I didn't meditate once in India(although I could have used it on several occasions.)


28.KARAOKE
I had refused to do karaoke before this. In case you forgot how magical it was here you go ...


29.GO ON 30 DATES
I went on 29. This will get it's very own special post, where I will explain why I haven't gone on a 30th.

30. RIDE A BIKE
This is truly embarrassing...I had two separate people try and teach me, to no avail. I still cannot ride a bike...There are pictures of me on a girl's ten speed bike, with a pink helmet and goggles that will never see the light of day. I shall make another attempt in the next few weeks.


Thank-you for reading my gibberish and I hope you continue to do so. This is not the end. I still have work to do.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rhodesia's tips for the solo female traveller

I'm no expert, but I have travelled alone a  few times, for four to five week periods. Travelling solo requires an astute awareness of your surroundings and razor sharp instinct—especially as a woman. People will often question why a woman would travel alone. The answer is simple: BECAUSE I F**KIN WANT TO! I have been followed, mistaken for a prostitute(and no I wasn't scantily clad), scammed, etc. Here are some tips that may be helpful if you're a woman considering travelling unaccompanied:

-Trust your instinct and if you have horrible instincts, trust NO ONE
-Carry pepper spray
-Carry a pen knife
-Carry a sharpened pencil or fine point pen(for writing/sketching/stabbing)
-If you notice someone following you talk loudly to yourself about your herpes flare-up
-Develop a death stare or what I call my "I'll shank you" face.
-Even if you are petrified and want to shard your pants, SHOW NO WEAKNESS, use your death stare and rely on a tight anal sphincter!
-Do not let strange men buy you drinks unless they are hot and have long tongues
-Do not get intoxicated
-Don't give out too much personal information(I often make up stories about myself)
-Carry a cell phone and text your location
-Sharpen your upper canines with a metal nail file and strengthen your jaw muscles with a kettlebell
-Have fun

I hope this doesn't deter anyone. Happy travels!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What did I do on my 30th birthday?

A few people have asked. So here it is...

I went to the beach. I met an expat. We played Frisbee. I drank coconut water and lassis and beer. 6 hours spent on the beach. She invited me for dinner. I called and couldn't get a hold of her. I went to dinner by myself. I had an amazing meal of giant prawns. The owner of the restaurant showed me his tents(which I fell in love with and spent 3 days in). I walked in pitch black darkness back to my accommodation, through a field of empty bamboo shacks, then some bush and I almost ran into a cow. Pepper spray for protection, massive lighter for luminescence . One of the only times I was truly scared. I didn't want to die on my birthday. I made it back. I was invited to a trance party. By the time they knocked on my door, I was happy were I was and told them I would stay in. I locked my door, took off my clothes and spent the rest of my birthday dancing to Bollywood music videos in my birthday suit.