India.Ari gets lost in the ether, in the chaos

I've got things to focus on these days, important things, meaningful things. I've got to make my credit card fluctuate within a certain range, I've got to set out on an ambitious plan to accomplish something that at one point seemed remarkably ambitious but in hindsight, after accomplishing (or, quite possibly, not), will most likely seem trivial and surprisingly unsatisfying. I've got to wake up in the morning and feel like I am the man I've become, like there's a path leading somewhere and I'm on it. I've got to bullshit with the real-lifers, criticize with the cruel gang, and sympathize with the sufferers. I've got to keep in touch, get in touch, touchy-touch, and touch up. 

So, basically, what my personal forecast is telling me is that I've got to be distracted by things out of my control for sometime. Things that hold sway over future self-forecasts and therefore merit attention. Unfortunately, for us on-again-off-again lazy people, this means giving up certain "treats" such as blogging and making no money, although making money is still a distant prospect at this juncture. Also, my mental forecast has been transmitting dark clouds and fatigue for a while and may need a period of retuning and reworking before anything like coherent messages are released. Also, I'm just tired of blogging.

So I think India.ari is going on hiatus, and most likely quietus. As I've said before I'd like to keep writing about something somewhere, for some good reason. I've got some ideas, and combined with some good I might be onto something. We'll see. I'll try to keep in touch with everyone. I would love to keep in touch with everyone. Send me emails and stuff. 

And remember. Reading is FUNdamental. So keep reading. Just not my blog.


"There is a time for blogging and a time for remembering that blogs have only existed for a few years so give it a fucking break already."
-Bono, U2 or maybe that famous writer. I don't remember. 


not thinking

ok, i am back in bangkok staying at the same hostel as two weeks ago, just flew in from luang prabang, laos. laos is really nice, bucolic, chill, mellow. did many things with adam. got caught in a freak monsoon while tubing down the mekong river. lots of lighting, thought death might be near, adrenaline pumping, adam shouting, we luckily got a boat ride back in the storm and shook the driver's hand at the end then drank some crap whisky and shivered for a while.

it's that time of year in asia when everyone throws water on each other for 4 days. yesterday got soaked in the back of a tuk tuk countless times. feels good mostly. celebrating the thai new year or something. tried to read a bernard malamud book but really hated it. thought a lot about blogging but apparently can only find the motivation when traveling alone. motivation is fading as my 8-months in asia comes to a close.

not sure how life back in the states will be, but i am looking forward to it. looking forward to heat under 90. don't know what else to say right now. flew in a propellor plane for the first time in ages, have vague memory of vomiting as a child after exiting a propellor plane, and then getting the chicken pox. not sure if those were related incidents. sold my backpack to a guy on the street for 7 dollars after refusing to sell it to the street vendor for half that. the guy told me his wife was from india and then the next minute he told someone else she was from nepal. he also made us "do the deal" in an alley as if anyone would care. i hated that bag. i used to for 3 weeks and it broke 3 times...wow that guy i just mentioned just found me in this internet cafe and gave me a key to a lock that i accidentially left in the bag. and i was just about to accuse him of being a doped-up ex-hippee loser. but now i think he's cool.

life is still strange, but less so since leaving india. god am i glad to be out of that house.


wardrobe debriefing

Back with Adam, things are good. We are skipping the Grand Palace today to try and go see Wong Kar Wai's new movie instead.

In other news, am concerted that if I don't get out of Asia soon, by the time I get back to the States my wardrobe will be irredeemable. I can't seem to handle shopping in small shops while surrounded by lots of eager store clerks, my already delicate sense of style is quickly overwhelmed and I make unadvisable purchases.

Yesterday I bought a gray, short-sleeved silk shirt for nearly $30 when I had all the intentions of buying nothing. This is a funny story involving tuk tuk rides, gaudy buddhas, giant buddhas, taylored suits and with the general theme of me being slightly ripped off and slightly bored and indifferent to being slightly ripped off. But it will have to wait.

Tonight we head to Laos.


Out of India, all stamps stamped

Immediate reactions upon leaving India (and landing in Bangkok)-

-I can't seem to stop wagging my head at people-the South Indian way to acknowledge almost any action- and am having to remember that in other places than South India this motion very closely resembles no rather than yeah, sure, good, fine, of course, no problem. Almost ended up rejecting the flight meal because of this confusion.

-Immediately fell in love with Bangkok because it is NOT Chennai. Am worried this new, dumbed-down way of gauging my affinity for cities could lead to misconceptions in the long run.

-Am tempted to bargain hard for everything, which has thus far resulted in several auto drivers laughing at me as they leave me in the dust. Need to stop assuming that everyone is charging a minimum of double the going rate for everything.

-And, not too surprisingly, but with odd decisiveness, my stomach appears to be the happiest, or at least the most understanding, about being out of India. Immediately after checking into my hotel it decided to relieve itself of all existing matter, I assume in the great anticipation of eating new and more easily solidified food.

That's all for the immediate.


India.ari - India = _______

I’ve reflected, I’ve rejected, I’ve reinstated. I’ve complained, I’ve compiled, I’ve computed. I’ve misappropriated, I’ve misconstrued, I’ve misused. I’ve sinned, I’ve signed, I’ve signaled—I’ve blogged.

And eight months hence, I’ve reached a critical juncture: I can no longer entertain the masses as the blogger known as India.ari because I will no longer be in India and that would just be stupid. I know I avowed that I would be masquerading as the Jewish New Mexican in India for a whole year, with promises of a “life more interesting”, a life chock full of details worth documenting and experiences worth recounting, but things change, life happens, life doesn’t happen, time heals, and sometimes we don’t get what we want but what we need.

So, sparing the details and the ins and outs, which might be better presented over coffee and a sandwich some lazy salad day when everything feels less cumbersome, but more hazy, less immediate, but better understood (possibly), I simply ask you to take note, at least fleetingly, of the fact that in two days I will no longer be in India.

I will be something like this (if interpreted in hypothetical-blog form): Thailand.ari, Laos.ari, Portland.ari, NewMexico.ari, California.ari, PuertoRico.ari, and then…________.ari (most likely Portland.ari again, but I like to build the suspense).

So, don’t hesitate, just ask, “Will you keep blogging?”

And I respond, “I think so, at least for the next couple weeks, after that I’ll need to consider other things like creative new blog names or if my life still surpasses the interest-threshold required for me to want to think about it overtime enough to continue to write about it.”

And I continue, saying mostly to myself, “But in the meantime, let’s buck up for the ride. Let’s perk up for springtime, and let’s brush off the seat of our pants. Let’s learn from all this and remember why we came here in the first place. Let’s be appreciative and compassionate and forgiving. And forgetting.”

And, in unison, united for a brief moment, we all say, “Let’s!”

And then we all abruptly return to thinking about clever blog names and feeding ourselves and considering our relationship with this incredibly complex planet we live on and the nature of this or that, girls, jobs, money, politics, friendship…

So it goes.


On Trains

For a long time I've meant to write a blog detailing my experiences on Indian long-distance trains; to chronicle my 36-hour Chennai-Delhi (and back, another 36) business trip back in January; to document my nearly full week spent on trains since my arrival in India. But alas, time does not travel by track, it flies, and my aspirations, instead of dashing forward, have been dashed.

I even jotted down memorable train happenings in preparation--the people I sat near, the food, the toilets, the views, the noises, the smells, the "whatever...maybe I'm crazy thoughts" experienced near hour 23, the "I'm a fucking genius" epiphanies near hour 32. I even recall spending several hours on the train considering how to address this elusive train entry, probably mostly because I was pretty bored (hours 6-9 perhaps?).

I wanted to convey the odd feeling of waking up in the morning after a stop-and-go-night, a loud-horn-hot-cold-disturbing dream-night, removing your earplugs, straightening your pants, and watching village people relieve themselves by the side of the tracks as you pass by at 30 km/hr awaiting your chai and your chance to use the toilet and leave your own mark on the tracks. I wanted paint a nice picture of the routine Indians have on the train--sleep, eat, talk, reshuffle things, yell a little, drool a little--they can take a 36-hour train ride and not have anymore entertainment than the day they were born. It's quite amazing considering my step brothers get a DVD player in the back seat of the car or the hoards of ipod shufflers tuning out and waiting for the 5th subway stop to arrive. I wanted to say something about simplicity, and practicality, about sustainability and reliability. About how I always seemed to end up bunked in the middle of a Jr. High cricket team or a Middle School field trip, about the casual manner in which everyone disposes of their trash out the window, about the way little kids can stare at the white man until, until, maybe until he turns dark.

But Chennai is getting hot and at 33 C and up maybe it's hard for me to stream all these special little occurrences together when my body would rather my mind not stall on day-long train rides for too long, but rather ice cream or bagels, or mountains. So, as has become routine (similar to my routine complaining about the heat), when words fail then I resort to ill-conceived digital camera videos which offer mildly better insight with far less effort. I have to credit Adam and his fancy "audio recording" camera for this clip, and for keeping his sense of humor after waiting 3 hours for the train while immersed in a sea of Indians with rummy 500 and acetaminophen, and each other's company, as our only solace.


Blog vs. Caveman (#$*%@ vs. AARRGGHHH)

Sometimes, more times than some might think, I find myself in the midst of a histrionic cavemen impersonation with no clear idea how I arrived at such a point or how now to regain my standard solemn composure. Whether in freshman calculus, while walking down a crowded drunken street, or within the intimacy of nighttime snuggle, a barbaric snort or threatening growl can prove surprisingly satisfying. Just try it—furl your brow, push out your chin, widen your lips, flare your nostrils, and, well, meet yourself version 1.0.

These caveman expressions are only natural I tell myself. Furthermore, people even seem to enjoy them, laughing with me, or at me, or whatever. The point being everyone gets “caveman”: loud, obnoxious, uncivilized, dirty, disgusting, dumb—no ego, no superego, all id. Just plain, wholesome id sprawled over the great untamable earth, like a beautiful caveman dance being choreographed as it pans out across the plains of time, maybe a little like Capoeta.

And what represents the opposite extreme, the ultimate manifestation of the unnatural and artificial, of these caveman noises and gestures, these brutish manifestations of our, humankind’s origins, our roots and essence? I’ll tell you what: blogs. Try imitating a blog. It’s no fun. What do you even do? Write self-absorbingly about mundane things? Flesh out your day-to-day life by recording it on this digital screen-thing that doesn’t really exist anywhere. Cavemen may only exist in the past, but they also exist within us, and is there a blog inside each and every one of us?... The scary thing is there just might be.

I must admit that making caveman noises for an hour is not always as satisfying, although physically yes it is, as writing a pointless blog entry for the equivalent duration. With this under consideration, I propose we drop the contrasts and instead focus on the similarities: people are watching and judging you all the time, whether you are howling like a rabid hyena or blogging about your sister’s boyfriend’s sister (what a babe!), and this is important to remember.

If I apply for a job, can I make caveman noises in the interview? Unless I’m auditioning for that Gecko ad campaign, probably not. Can I blog about how I sometimes make caveman noises in similar real-life situations? Probably still not a good idea, but, apparently, one that can’t be ruled out.

So be careful in which contexts you open the vents through which your primitive energies may release themselves in grunts and growls. Make sure you consider, if only for a fleeting moment, the words you post in your public journal and the meaning, once strung together, which they form. Because your girlfriend, or your mother, your boss, or that person you got a picture of while they were scratching themselves—they could all be reading, carefully, between the lines, forming their opinions of you and judging your every character, judging your very character!

Which means, of course, make sure to read their blogs also—because if we can’t resolve our issues like cavemen (and we can’t, I’ve tried…), at least we can read about our issues and maybe think about how much better as a society we really are than cavemen, how advanced we are, how literate we are. Because, no, we can’t hit people with wooden mallets or drag people by their hair anymore, but we can pound keyboards.