Posts Tagged ‘Andaman Islands’

Searching for Context… through facial hair…

A ubiquity throughout most of India, The Mustache is a point of pride for many. While taking a lot of these pictures, I’d ask the gentlemen specifically if I could have a picture of their mustache, and the answer was always the same:  “Of course! Give me a moment…” at which point the man would give a little spit-and-twist, or maybe just a quick pat-down to make sure no stray whiskers would sully his photograph. I myself resolved to grow one, and stopped shaving my upper lip even before leaving Sri Lanka.  In Kolkata, a month or so later, after giving me a shave, a barber asked if I would like it dyed. I took this as a sign.  I chopped the silly thing off in Sikkim, where mustaches are apparently out of style anyway…

 

Pondi

Pondicherry — brothers in arms. we drank brandy & waters with these guys in a park. it was a Sunday. good times.

Pondy

Pondicherry — seriously. don’t touch the SL.

Pondy

if there is any justice in the world, this man is paid extra for maintaining such an authoritarian upper lip

Hampi

Hampi — a marvelous couple

Vizak, I think...

Somewhere in Orissa — This guy was part of a three-man-band who played from the back of a very well-decorated pick-up truck. it was crowded.

the other half of the truck. happy fellows…

on a random train ride into West Bengal…

Varanasi– this fellow made very good beetroot cutlets. yum.

also in Varanasi, about 20m from the burning ghats. these guys were on vacation… at the burning ghats. go figure.

Agra — these guys have the esteemed post of guarding the impossibly polluted River Yamuna, which borders the Taj Mahal. this might explain why the fellow on the right is aiming his rifle at his own torso…

Haridwar — off the ghats of the Ganga, for thirty rupees, one of these mustachioed barbers will shave your head, showing your devotion

Haridwar — on the ghats, just before the sunset Puja. I liked this guy. his son was also very happy to chat with me about fire and bindis and Vishnu and all types of other Hindu stuff

Rishikesh — not technically a mustache but he gets an Honorable Mention anyway for being so awesome

Neil Island — this man makes an excellent biryani. this picture was taken about four days before Adam Yauch passed away

Delhi — where most street vendors are better dressed and styled than your average US senator. this man is making chole bhature. it was very good.

Delhi — another fine street vendor, near the Gateway to India

Darjeeling — a diminutive hotelier and yours truly. immediately before this photo was taken, I made the guy a huge whiskey & soda, of “sipping strength”, and he just straight chugged the whole thing… which is almost as common a sight as a mustache here

High Scores — The Best of the Best

Radnahagar, Havelock Island — Friendliest ‘Stache Award… this guy was AWESOME. he was the only nice fellow working at this guesthouse (if you can even call it that – my hut is in the background ), and we’d sit around and drink rum and shoot at cans balanced on fenceposts. he never wore a shirt was eternally smiling.

don’t even act like you wouldn’t buy cookies from this man

Kolkata — this guy wins my Well Polished Dali Award.  he ran one of the rat-infested hotels that line Sudder Street, but he himself was immaculate

Varanasi —  Best Mustache to Personality Award. a fine example of mustache wizardry. this man was quite possibly insane, or maybe just had one too many bhang lassis…

Delhi — this man comes in first – barely – for Best Raj. he was the doorman at a Chinese-owned pub in Defense Colony, a rich neighborhood in South Delhi filled with expats and ambassadors and other upper-class Indians

side shot. he was proud, really proud… and that’s why he’s such a winner

Port Blair, South Andaman — Best Raj, Second Place. it was early and I had just spent 18 hours on planes and buses and I literally ran after this man on his bicycle to ask for a picture

Delhi — Best Henna. This man sells chai on a patch of sidewalk just south of New Delhi Railway Station. he was stern and bent and moody, but his answer to “may I please take a picture of your mustache?” was the same as everyone else’s:  “yes, of course.”

Beach Five, Havelock Island — Best Facial Hair to Ear Hair Ratio Award. he was also a real sweetheart; he’d let us borrow his bong all the time, provided we brought it back clean and full. I learned his name no less than six different times and still can’t remember it

Elephant Beach, Havelock — Honorable Mention, “Toronto to Tel Aviv” ‘Stache Award. Daniel is one of the coolest sumbitches I ever met. we went spearfishing together that day. as you can see, he’s pretty damn good at that. the Trevally he’s holding was about seven kilos, and the groupers and mackerel hanging from it’s snout were quite tasty as well.

So there you have it… a good use of bandwidth, no?

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spit something

Posted: May 27, 2012 in travel
Tags: , , ,

I was stuck all alone in a place called Rishikesh
days full of sun, holy water bathing my flesh
looking for solace and peace with a few French and Croatians
a place of many minds, the wealth of knowledge and nations
but the trash burned bright, near the rivers and streams
followed me to my sleep, started polluting my dreams
smells and thousand-yard stares I could no longer bear
I had no time for the ship, caught a flight to Port Blair
met a kid from the bay, a smart lad, thoughts abound
diesel smoke and palm leaves in the air all around
rusty ferries, bustle, hustle, big trucks, concrete docks
we made a stink in the ticket office and went straight for Havelock

“you look like Americans”, she said with a grin
a couple jokers, sweaty and thirsty, tongue tasted like tin
“nah, we came from Bangalore” we said through lips pursed real thin
she put the lighter to her hash, and I un-stuck some skins
we moved from Seven to Five to Neil, Little Andaman for him
then about a week later we met back up again
Green Valleys and Sunrises, Orients and Pelicans
Israelis, Dutch, Danes, Germans, British, Russians all thought we were kin
everyone had their niche, reverie and relief,
making drinks and grilling fish ten feet from the beach
hammocks slung low and tied fast, when it rained overhead
we’d chill out, write, draw, read, drink indoors instead
Swapan, Daniel and the Danes always kept us well fed
catching Grouper, Trevelly and Mackerel as long as my leg
ten, twelve, fifteen people, couldn’t finish them through
we ate the cheeks anyway, and then let the drinks flow
Old Monks, Bagpipers, skinny chicks named Romanov
danced around limes, pineapples, and coconuts full with love
starting fires with petrol and palms night after night
watching the sun rise over Lawrence, dark skies turned to light
smoking spliffs rolled reverse, smiling big through red eyes
hey, lets go for a swim, hell, it’s only half-five
funny thing about these islands, same time zone as India
so the sun sets before six, as we twist up more Indica

so I got stuck again, beach magnetic, valleys green
chose to ignore time, unlike part of our team
last night with full crew, time for some to start anew
house music, dancing and beer, “damn, it’s like ’98 in here!”
same night, much later, I saw through lies and indigence
saw a chance for us to dance a different experience
called him out on his violence, his ego, his anger
I spoke light and cracked jokes, things got stranger and stranger
just another drunk hothead acting all big, talking shit
he grabbed a bottle, I said “do it” and then, well, I got hit
I didn’t hit back, break his neck or even get mad
see, me, I’m a man, and stupid violence makes me sad
but I was selfish too, wanted to watch his lies to fall apart
so I called the pigs, gave a statement, let them sort it out
next day, big surprise, nothing happens, he caught a break
his boss felt real bad about it, so he paid me off in tuna steak
sociology gone wrong, an experiment full of losers
no antagonists to this chapter, same old haters and boozers

wandering around, head full of confusion, fear, focus and spite
I found a puppy in the dirt who didn’t look too alright
took him back to my hut, washed green pus from his fur
“flies have been at him”, I said, but the vet didn’t stir
pup laid there all still, fan above was all “whirrrrrr”
“his condition is serious”, yeah, no shit, you old cur
“bring him back in four days, for antibodies and meds”
“in four days he’ll be dead, why not today, my friend?”
pinched his flesh and then said “he’s too weak” with a frown
“Then I’ll come back tomorrow”, and he shrugged, turned around
handed me some B-Complex in an empty pint bottle of Old Crown

so weak and so thin, he was so close to death,
first two days flip-flopping, I almost put him to rest
then his eyes opened again, just a little, made a crest
bought a babies bottle and some milk, thought “shit, I’ll give it my best”
everyone was down to help, though just five of us left
made rags like diapers, next to my bed was his nest
back and forth to the vet, rid in my basket like Toto
got healthy, got cuter, people liked to take photos
of him and his progress, turning back into a dog
eating ommelettes, fish and chicken, getting fat like a hog
but with my permit running out, I had to get gone
had one last fire, swimming, glowing and singin’ songs
time is short and goals are long, fire turning to embers
twenty-eight nights in one place, ain’t been so still since December
pup was looking good, treated all like a prince
we’d take him swimming by hand, then give him a nice rinse
propped up on his throne, he still couldn’t quite walk
“get up you lazy dog!” we’d joke and we’d talk
my second extension went well but I had to sail out
go north for a bit, try to adventure about
pup was good but still, not quite on his feet
so I asked around a bit, found a guy named Manjeet
runs a cafe on beach three, sells pastries and internet
likes to give the dogs brownies and treats them like pets
felt bad leaving him there but gotta get back up to pace
cause it’s hard to sit still for that long in one place
even though puppies and beaches light up my face
and I ain’t exactly looking forward to getting back to the race
Manjeet asked the pup’s name, as I held him up one last time
so I said “call him Prince” and spit this one last rhyme
“Time to go, young prince, yeah, I’ll miss you too
cause now it’s India for me and brownies for you
and if I make it back to this place called Havelock
I hope I see you around, hope we can go for a walk”