Tag Archives: India

Jogging the globe

Jogging is a go-to escape for me whenever I feel down or stressed. Feeling the power of my body, the forward momentum, the fresh – or polluted – outside air… it all adds up to an increase in perspective and personal power.

I almost always make a point to bring my sneakers with me (Asics loyalty forever!) wherever I am. If I feel anxious or out of place, a good jog around my new temporary home immediately gives me a greater sense of connection with my surroundings. These are some of the special places where I’ve pounded the pavement, dirt, cobblestone, and grass over the past year. Smiles n’s sweat…

This is not Huay Tung Tao but another beautiful area outside Chiang Mai. There are really so many lovely spots here...

This is not Huay Tung Tao but another beautiful area outside Chiang Mai. There are really so many lovely spots here…

Chiang Mai. The route around the moat is straightforward enough (hello, I am a square) that it is literally impossible to lose your way. Quite opposite to the twisty sois that lie inside the old city. The city is polluted, hot, sticky. I drive out to Huay Tung Tao lake for car-less, noise-less jogging. Fresh air fills my lungs, natural beauty all around the long ring. Paradise.

Surreal scenery + sunshine = happy times

Surreal scenery + sunshine = happy times

Hampi, southern India. Surreal scenery with giant boulders and expansive fluorescent-green rice paddies surrounding from all angles. Quadrophenia soundtrack in headphones, high heeled sneakers not so much. I’m One, love reign o’er me… Fantastical, yes please. Where am I?

Along the Arabian Sea side

Along the Arabian Sea side, Dahab

I run along the edge of the Arabian Sea in Dahab, Egypt – one of the ways I gain space from the shopkeepers constantly hounding me to buy things, and the general sexual harassment. Turning left out of my guesthouse, the hard paved strip, lined with restaurants, hurts my knees. Finally hit the beach with soft sand beneath my soles. I frequently forget to leave before 5pm at high tide. Dash through the water, soak my socks and shoes, grinning with glee. A quick glance out across the water shows small, precise patches of bright turquoise green standing out among the navy liquid canvas. Further on, the orange desert cliffs become the backdrop, as the odd camel or two trudges along with dog and herder in tow.

Don't run on the cobblestone!

Don’t run on the cobblestone!

Prague is a city I cannot live in long-term for several reasons. A simple one is because it’s sidewalks are covered in cobble-stone. A runner’s nightmare, if they have bad joints and bones. I manage a few spurts along the riverside, entirely idyllic what with the swans floating by, sun setting against the old bridges, lovers strolling along holding hands. Europe, you are too much! A week of this and my knees are shot to the point where I physically can’t walk for a day. My shoes are also gobbled by the cobble.

In Kampala, they say if you drive straight, you're drunk (because there are so many potholes scattered along the roads)...

In Kampala, they say if you drive straight, you’re drunk (because there are so many potholes scattered along the roads)…

Crazy Kampala, Uganda. Cars here, motorcycles there, goats to this side and that, men shouting “muzungu! how are you!”, dogs lying, furniture selling, bananas on heads, lorries whizzing, bicycles rolling, food carts cooking. I wonder if I am the only silly white person to run along these city streets in the heat, in the pollution, the yells, the traffic dodging. Seeing another muzungu jogging by – much faster than I – proves that at least I am not alone. I love the feeling, sun on skin, pounding pavement, headphones in ears. Fuck yes.  Sweat drips, lungs constrict, nostrils flare at the gasoline exhaled by the always passing boda bodas.

And I think… I love to run.



From north to south, this was my India experience!

From north to south, this was my India experience!

Last year I spent 5 weeks in parts of northern India and 3 months in the south, on separate trips. It was cold, hot, tiring, amazing, frustrating, and incredible.

Polar-opposite extremes abound in this colourful, crazy country!

Three cheers

When I left my job, my home in Chiang Mai, when I packed it all up, stored it away at friends’ abodes, sold whatever was left, I felt light, free and flying. At some point my seemingly small amount of stuff (really, all I have is what I have with me) started to seem monstrous. My suitcase, yoga mat, backpack, shoulder bag became burdensome.

Three days of transportation, my time of dread during travel. My indecisiveness over where I’d end up won over my desire to go light. I’ve been carting around more luggage than is anywhere near acceptable to hip-hop ‘round India, let alone Egypt. My desire for no commitment extended to not wanting to wed any particular airport.

Debit card malfunction. Lickity split Western Union is indeed uber-speedy with the cash. No harm, just a bit of a stressed am for chilled-out, weed-cloaked, aloo gobi-laden Hampi. Plane ticket purchased with fresh-off-the-press Rupees. Pyramids win over surfing in Sri, doubling back to CM or booking it to Europe. The mayhem of Cairo, beaches of Dahab and the Pyramids of oh-what’s-it-called Giza are officially on the agenda. The calendar is colourful with blue and yellow skies and sand.

If I’ve learned anything from this experience, of quitting my job, leaving the people and place I loved dearly, jumping into palm trees of another sort, headed with absolutely no direction, not even a suitcase-leaving-at-the-airport direction, it’s that I’ll be okay, I’ll be fine. No, I’ll be better than fine, that’s just it. I’ll be damned near leaping off the bed excited for my next destination, thoughts spinning from one end of my brain to the other with art projects, colours flying around my heart, inside my lungs, arms energetically unfolding outward, gently curving inward expressing my self with my dance; eyes exploding with determination, gut panging with fear of going to yet another place unknown, untested, unguaranteed, and with pride and passion for the exact same reasons.

The path, she is right. Three cheers! Here’s to a fantastic 2013 and living your heart with all the grace in the world.

An ill-fated rant (Or: Happy Festivus!)

Sim cards. 3G. India. No.

I don’t even know if I have it in me to write about this. Anger might arise from deep within and hurl itself into the letters I’m typing right now.

I am finding it frustrating in India! I admit! I am. I am. I totally am.

I’m working online here and it truly is how I’m earning my way to pay for this trip. Thus, internet connection = important.

First of all, the word dongle should never have been invented. Who in their right mind thought that was a good name for what should be all intents and purposes be solely referred to as an aircard? My refusal to use the d-word is just the start of the complicated and almost always fruitless talks I get into with the 3G sim card vendors here.


Nope, I don’t have it in me. I don’t even have the energy to vent about this.

I’m spent. I am choosing to let this go. I let this go. Breathe.


That is all the grievance I have in me to air right now. Frank Costanza, I’ll try to do better next time.

Thank you and good night. Try the dal.

PS: Happy Festivus. My favourite holiday of the year because I can relate to it the most. Jesus who? Fuck you!

PPS: Believe it or not, George isn’t at home.. (Seinfeld, you are missing dearly from my existence. 1990’s, come back. All I want for Festivus is youuuu!!)

Golden 80’s

The raini was a poised and intelligent octogenarian, whose fine bones were obscured by thick librarian’s glasses, which perched heavily on her nose and gave her expression a rather owlish gleam.

Another excerpt from Dalrymple’s Nine Lives, p. 94

I can only aspire that I too will one day become a poised and intelligent octogenarian with an owlish gleam.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012: The Perennial Lates

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So. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Yeah. Um.


That’s pretty much what the opening was. An unimpressive series of hesitations with the title of the event paraded on signs. Paraded is too active a word. Pictured. M.I.A performed. She is small and vibrant. I think she was a tad tired, though. I can imagine, I’m tired too! Don’t get me up on stage needing to placate a hundred fans who just sat through 4 (yes, four) hours of listening to the Indian heads of committees and chairs of this and that drone on and on.. and on.. and the drummers who were awesome for the first hour and then kept playing for another two and everyone’s ears turned to mush. I remember actually thinking, I’m so happy to not be on stage right now and not have the responsibility of needing to entertain people. I think her music is super-rad (if I may take the liberty that is rightly mine to sound like a teenaged relic from the eighties). It was indeed cool to see her live, for free at that. The sound system – does this go without saying since we’re in India? – was horrific. Atrocious. Her mic wasn’t turned up at all, while the rest of sound –live dj spinning, computer beats – was blaring. It was an experience, a tiring and colourful one. Got to take pictures from right up close too(!). Happy I saw the show. The officially biennale inauguration I could’ve done without.

So, yeah, they –the biennale- got a major act, good on them. But good on her too, since she gets to exhibit. Which of course I missed. Other people were on top of it but somehow I managed to slack off on this. I couldn’t find it! Maybe because there were no maps of the venus. Oh, right. Take your time, India and artists, take your time. No rush, no pressure. No one’s really here yet anyway, except, well, the people who made the effort to show up on time. (Otherwise known as: Us idiots. What were we thinking?!)

The opening was a cacophony of nothingness. Yes, the sound of nothing happening was that incredibly loud. To me, anyway. There were no waste-baskets (to be expected, but still, come on!) on the grounds. Typically Indian, the inauguration consisted of the Indian heads of committees all up on stage sitting in their chairs, going up to the podium one at a time to ramble on about whatever. (I say this as a person who is interested in art and the festival.) The chief minister was 30 minutes late, of course. Half the people sitting on the chairs on the stage were talking away on their cell phones, audibly, while audaciously/hilariously covering their mouths with their hands, as if this making their rudeness less conspicuous rather than more. Oh, but never mind: Half the Indian audience was babbling away on their phones too. Hysterical. Like an SNL routine: Live from Kochi! Dear Hanuman.

In the next few days following the opening night of auspicious 12-12-12: No buzz, no energy. There were a few talks happening, no exhibitions that I saw were actually set up. Now, I could’ve missed ones that were. I did not get around to everywhere. Muziris might’ve been banging. Fort Kochi, however, was very, very sleepy. My guess is that in a few weeks’ time, the place with jumping with energy, very cool shit will be happening. Momentum and press will be gained, things will roll and there will definitely be tons of stuff worth experiencing. I’m just disappointed that I came at the start, nap-time. I didn’t know. I mean, this could’ve been the one time the Perennial Lates of the world – India and artists – pulled their shit together and got it rocking on time, on schedule. But I guess that wouldn’t be very rocking, would it. Slow build, fashionably late.

Well, I’ll be in Hampi, or maybe another country by the time it gets cooking, by the time licks start flying off fingers, so I will settle with some resignation for a free concert, good dates and cinnamon-spiced coffee. (Vasco’s cafe. Yes please, you are so good.) Not too shabby I know, but for an art-lover, a tad on the disappointing side.

Concession: Around Saturday and Sunday, things started happening, things to see-experience. Slow, yes, an amble not a roll. But still. Review of the opening photography exhibition to come. (Hint: I liked it!!)

Paint me a picture

Rain was coming down in sheets, and we were sitting looking out on to the downpour from the veranda of Mr Krishnamurthy’s house. Men in white lungis bicycled past, their right hand on the handlebars and their left holding up an umbrella. Rickshaws sluiced through the flooded streets, their wheels cutting wakes through the ankle-deep water, like motorboats on a canal.

Excerpt from travel writer extraordinaire William Dalrymple’s Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, p. 176