15 November 2008

a note from denali in ahmedabad...

and second, from the book, For a Pagan Song, by Jonny Bealby, which i
found on the shelf in the ashram house and read.. a guy's account of
his journey from rajasthan thru pakistan to northern afghganistan
following the trail of some rudyard kipling characters, searching for
the last non-islamic pagan tribes of the remote northern mountains.
very well written. he went just as the taliban was about to take
power, too. this is from the first chapter, where he is on a train
across rajasthan which mysteriously stops, he sees a lot of nervous
chattering among the train officials, and the train backs up a half
mile to find the body of a guy who fell asleep in the door, then fell
out and split his head open. after a furious debate between the
conductor who says it's bad luck to bring the body on the train, and
the TC, who argues that after all he has a valid ticket to jodhpur
still in his pocket, so he ought to be entitled to use it even if he's
dead. plus, he might have a wife waiting for him. the TC wins, and
he is plunked back in a seat until jodhpur. this prompts our author
to say:

But that's India- anything can happen and usually does. As one fellow
traveler put it to me: "It's the only place on the planet where
everything that has ever happened in the history of the world is
happening every minute of every day, right under your nose." He's
right. I mean where else could I have watched a cow casually give
birth in the middle of a three-lane inner-city ring road or seen
vultures swoop to pick the flesh of recently deceased humans? Where
else could I have observed a camel wandering the streets under a
mountain of straw while being shaved by a blind man on the pavement?
And where indeed at 3 in the morning after a riotous midnight dinner
could I have abandoned my dangerously drunk taxi driver in favour of
an enourmous elephant called Rubkali with "STOP-HORN PLEASE!" painted
across her arse? Though not always pleasant, travelling here is about
ten times more intense than anywhere else I've been; a vitality

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