Monday, March 31, 2008

close portrait tests

i have been trying to get closer with my holga. the closest focus is 3 feet. so i basically twisted the lens off the body of the camera and held it in place with my hand and guesstimated the distance. they were shot on some crazy b&w fuji acros 100iso speed i picked up in india. does the closeness make it more effective or are the regular ones more effective.

these were also taken in dharamsala about 2 hors before news broke of the trouble in tibet.


too many. got home at 6am last night....


this is a guy in white on a super white background i thought it looked interesting. any thoughts about the whiteness of it?

Sunday, March 30, 2008


here is one for today a xinjiang guy from hotan...


yesterdays holga....

Friday, March 28, 2008


here's a new one stories of shenanigans will resume once i recover from said shenanigans

Thursday, March 27, 2008


here is the latest. tonight was a bejing nioght and it was rough so no definition.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


here is my 2nd or maybe 3rd holga per day. anyone interested in these. lets here some thoughts.

anyways this waas shot in the summer on my trip to guilin. this was on kodak 400tmx i have no idea what i am doing with b&w ( or color for that matter) but this is the area that all those classic chinese landscape painting were done or inspired to be done.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

holga 001

so here is the first of a new holga photo everyday. i would love to get some feedback on what people dig and what they don't about the photos. i will also try and give the story behind the photos and maybe somehow fill some gaps or something.

this photo was taken in kashgar on a weekday. i was already in kashgar a week but had not attend the sunday market and did a reconnaissance mission over to check it out. the fabled sunday market in kashgar where in history was the crossroads of the east and the west where people from the roman empire china and india all converged to trade shit. anyways there was also a temple close by so i walked past the market up a road a few kilometers and by this futuristic piece of urban planning that was very chinese communist meets le courbusier I met this man and his friend selling melons ( already posted photo of said friend holding melon ).

Monday, March 24, 2008

holga a day

so i took a lot of pictures in india and still have a ton of undeveloped pictures from my 3 months wandering around china. i just dropped off 20 rolls that should be ready wednesday. my current goal is in addition to wacky stories of my adventures is to also post a holga picture everyday. i am going to start with an old photo from my mongolia adventure from 2 years ago. i bought my holga camera right before the trip and this is kind how i started to dig holgas and also inspired my to leave my job and do nothing but play with my holga.

back in beijing now

so i am back and i am still tired.... i cant tell you what it feels like to get back to a familiar environment with a soft bed after india. anyways return to beijing stories to come.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

st patricks day tibetan style

Still here in dharamsala. the town seems quiet today but there is still a lot of work that remains to be done. Some of the tibetans are on a hunger strike. hunger strikes dont really suite me and i asked myself what can I do to help free tibet. Then the answer came to me... me and sweet-T can hold a free tibet st patricks day drink-a-thon.

I have even changed our an slogan and updated the banner. I think it has a nice ring to it.

Tibetans in Exile

So after kashmir i came back to dharamsala which is the home of Tibetan community in exile. Including the dalai lama.

Anyways i was here before and there was the march getting ready to coincide with the anniversary of the tibetan resistance movement in the 1950's the marchers were all arrested 15 km after they started. i don't think anyone here really noticed it was only about a 100 people and they were being held in a hotel.

But because of the anniversary up rises started all over tibet and things have obviously gone bad.

I will tell it from my observations here. I arrived was on a bus all day arrived took a nap went to an internet cafe and was writing the last blog post and then all the monks came to the internet cafes to watch videos on youtube and read news. they all scattered i went to this place called nirvana cafe for a burrito and to get the skinny on what is going on. The cafe runs talks and plays videos and is owned by americans supportive of the tibetan cause. The cafe was empty except for one of the american owners and she told me everyone was at the monastery. you could here a rally at the monastery. The whole community went there for a candle light vigil and information. There is a lot of emotion but it is all very peaceful here.

The next day all tibetan business were closed and the tibetans have been marching with flags chanting free tibet. In front of the main monastery there is also a group of tibetans on a hunger strike.

The tibetan business are all closed and today was declared tibetan flag day and more marches happened. the numbers are growing amongst the marchers and they are all carrying flags and distributing news updates and flyer's. The media is here but again its all very pacefull.

I will say though that there are a lot of young here that are definitely pissed off and on the extreme and do not follow the dalai lamas peacefull middle path plan.

We are not sure what the news like is in the rest of the world but do know youtube was blocked in china and not quite sure what the scene is like back there.

It all very amazing to be here and see this going on and how things changed so quickly and the entire exile community has come together. The young tibetans were definitely rallying here since last week but most people weren't so involved and a monk said to me the world would be a lot less complicated there were no young people. then when the shit hit the fan in tibet things started to get a little crazy here and everyone is now on the boycott the olympic free tibet path.

I have read many countries are thinking of boycotting the olympics, the dalai lama has said he is not for boycotting the olympics and is trying to tell his people to use peaceful means to protest. Unfortunately things have become violent back in tibet and it seems like it has taken this violence to bring the worlds awareness back to the tibetan cause. Only time will tell what happens.

If anyone has any interesting info they can give us or some perspective of what the news and people views are like back in the US it would be great to hear your comments. A lot of the people here are uging the foreigners to spread the word and are also curious as to what the rest of the people in the world are seeing and what they are thinking. tibet is in a bubble and this place is pretty remote as well so it would be great to here the outside worlds perspective as opposed to what is just in the media.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

back from kashmir with my tail between my legs!

(picture not mine.. it's just for drama)
So i took the 11:30pm train that actualy left at 12:30am to jammu. it arrived at around 6:30am and i went straight to the enquiry booth to inquire about where the bus station is. The enquiry guy asked me where I wanted to go I told him srinagar. he said "why do you want to go there? do oyu know there is an ethnic war going on right now" I shrugged like a dumb white boy and said "i dunno" he frowned at me and said there is a bus office next door.

I have heard about the war ( who hasn't ) but that was years ago and there haven't been much news lately. On top of that this is supposedly the most beautiful place in india and a different culture that is more central asian, it has dal lake with its famous floating houseboats.... most of all i have been intruiged ever since i saw this in the micheal palin himilaya travel show. how oftern does one get a chance to go a place so remote and exotic like kashmir or cambodia or tibet.... well if your me i guess all the time ;-)

So i go next door and the guy are way too excited when i roll. they start asking my which class of houseboat i want normal or deluxe and if i want to take a helicopter ride. in their eyes they just hit the jackpot. I ask about the bus they say no buses and that i have to hire a private jeep it was 750r ( roughly $20 ). my guide book says the deluxe bus cost 200. they tell me no buses there is a bus strike. this is the 1 millionth time ive heard this strike scam. I ask if i go to the bus station there will be no buses. he wags his head side to side and repeats no buses. i cannot understand this side to side head wagging. it seems like whenever indian men lie they wag their heads. i am guessing they would make terible poker players. anyways i just turn around and walk out he said yes yes private buses you want private bus i arrange for you 400 rupees. i know i cant trust this guy so i walk out.

the thing is in india i have come to realize you cannot take any private tourist anything because its all a rippoff to put you in a pinch where you have to pay more or else they fuck you. on the way to dharamsala me and sweet-t took a private sleeper bus which was 650 ruppees ($15 a fucking lot for a bus). after an hour of waiting and a 30 minute bus across town to a seperate bus they tried to stick us in the same bed that would not have worked in any stretch of the imagination. we said no we paid for two beads. the wagging started then they said ok " no problem different beds 500 rupees extra". we had a ticket with 2 different bed numbers on it. i said no we bought 2 bed he wagged his head and said "no seperate beds. 500 rupees 2 beds no problem". i said look at ticket ( which was in his hand ) he wagged his head and said no ticket. i said 2 beds he wagged and said "no problem 2 beds 500 rupees." i got threatening told him to look at the ticket. he gave it to me I then showed him on the ticket 2 diffferent beds. he wagged and said "no". then said "no problem 400 rupees". i guess since now we provided clear evidence we were not in a single tiny bus bed he would give us a 100r discount for fucking us over. we said fuck it and just got into 2 different beds and gave him nothing he didn't dare ask for money. he didn't aproach us again but he could have easily left us in the side of the road. so lessoned learned always take public transportation..... or so i thought until later.

so back to the main story i decide to go to the public bus station. i went back next door to the enquiry counter and ask where the bus station is he said walk outside and take rickshaw no more than 6 rupees i ask how far he says 3-4 km (too far to walk). i walk outside it is dark and just turning light outside. and i started to notice the train is surrounded by massive concrete pylons and razor wire...hmmm. i go outside 15 jeep drivers flock to me "srinagar srinagar srinagar". i ask how much 750r....uh-huh... then a little more razorwire( and by razorwire i mean big 3 foot diameter coils of razor wire ) then 20-30 rickshaw drivers flock to me "where do you want to go?" i say bus station "150 rupees" i say 10 rupees they say . i pull the old say i will walk then walk away to drive the price down they say "very far 15km ok 80 rupees". i say 20 then tell me how i am a rich man from a rich country i show them the holes in my pants and my ripped shoes. one says you have no money and frowns and laughs then they realize no jackpot for them the bartering stops they tell me to walk and point me in the right direction. i walk through more razor wire figure once i leave the area of the train station i can get a regular rickshaw driver who wont scamm me as much. a bus suddenly stops he asks bus station. how much 5 rupees... ah my luck is suddenly turning around.

we arrive at the bus station it looked like what a bus station in bosnia must look like. there were little bunkers of little boulders surrounded by razor wire containg soildiers with machine guns. i get mobbed by a dozen more jeeps who want 750 rupees for the journey one wants 300 but it was too cheap for a private 6 hour jeep ride and he was smiling so big i can only imagine what kind of scams he was ready to throw at me. i then go to the enquiry booth no body was there. i was then led in many directions by many touts all wanting to sell me crazy expensive tickets to places i never heard of and definately dont want to go. then finally find a bus to srinagar for 8pm that night arriving 10am the next day 260r. but he doesn't want to sell me the ticket. saying to manny problems for foreigner too many checkpoints. i didn't reall want to wait until 8pm either.

Then an i am sitting on my backpack on the street corner figuring i will wait for someone to get to the enquiry booth. An old man approached me and said what I was doing. i sadi i was trying to go to srinagar. he said "my friend i assure you its not good for you to go there why dont you go someplace else like manali or dharamsala". i thought yeah dharamsala. in my head floated visons of the laughig dalai llama, burritos, chocolate balls, apple tarts , beastie boys music, hot showers, cheap rooms, nice weather... and the biggest deciding factor was there are no scary people who look like osama with machine guns in dharamsala.

He helped me track down bus times and magically enough the only bus before it got dark and scarier was to dharamsala 8:30 am and it was 8am just then . the world seems to be fitting together magically like mixing peanut butter and chocalate.

so i am back in dhramsala. and it is way cooler than i remember. mostly because all the hippie americans are gone on their march.... actually all 100 got arrested and are being detained in a hotel "while authorities investigate the charges of threatening the "peace and tranquility" of the region." ( what kind of protest is 100 people in china that is a smaller than the line for...well anything )

actually to be politically correct the march was on the anniversary date of the resistance movement and tibet is very crazy right now. there are posters going up all overtown and the internet places are packed with watching clips on you tube...seriously. here is an article:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Tank of Nectar

So I left dharamsala and decided to roll back through punjab to get to kashmir. it is kind of the long way but there was no direct way to srinagar and all methods would involve spending a night in one of those sketchy railroad junctions towns. so i decided to roll back through amritsar and take the over night train and then switch to the 6am bus to srinagar. which is the heart of kashmir.

The thing is even though it is my 2nd time here the weather is nicer and i had this idea to take portraits of sikh's. they are great. the punjabis are big dudes and the colorful traditional head wraps combined with modern clothing and sunglasses make them ideal for serious portraiture with a $5 plastic toy camera.

So anyways i have burned through all but 2 rolls or film which i am saving for kashmir. then that is it no more kodak 400vc. cant get it in china so my holga career my be going B&W for a while.... which might be a good thing.

anyways this time i actually stayed in the free dorms they have for pilgrims. the have a separate dorm for wayward foreign backpackers and its been way cooler staying in the temple and having the free meals with the pilgrims. overall everyone has been way cool the guards dont like me and carry big scary spears but i have met a lot of foreign sikhs as well a lot from england that are of punjabi origin who come here with there parents its funny their headress has reebok logos ( its a cricket thing i guess )

But 1 interesting sikh i met was a white dude from england. i was walking along taking pictures and a white guy in his late 40's with big beard curly mustache and traditional clothes and carry a staff came up to me and we started talking about medium format photography. we went to a cafe and had a few lime sodas and started chatting. it was interesting because he was an art director for music videos and we talked a bit about art design photography and quoting movies it was all very normal until i realized he is all sikh'ed out. So i asked him "so whats with the whole sikh thing?"

then he told me his story and was really on the line. he told me he was living in london doing art direction for music videos and was all coked up and popping E way too much. he said all the drugs and partying was getting to him. he partying on a beach in thailand and said he tried to kill himself. then he told me for years he was an atheist and he would love to pick apart peoples beliefs to their faces. (a i must attest he was really really clever) anyways his failed suicide he suddenly believed in god but didn't believe it was a christian god so he started doing some research on religions and found sikhism was the one that agreed with him the most and wasn't able to pick it apart. he then went on to tell me he got way into it and even though the old clothes are kooky he digs it and helps him get in the spirit. he also has started studying punjabi and has moved in with a punjabi family to help this along. he also told me about sikhism all over the world and the underground sikhs in china. and then he went on to tell me about a separate wealthy cult of amercian sikhs in the american south west. he told me they are very cultish and come here for the golden temple but don't mix with other sikhs. 2 are currently sitting at computers next to me. they stand out because they also wear classic traditional robes but only white with matching white headdress. they dont want to talk with me either.

anyways the conversation it was all very honest and even though it sounds crazy it was hard to think this guy was nuts because the way he handled himself. he was way more legit than all the white people with bald heads in dharamsala moaning about the plight. even though the sikhs and punjabis have suffered as much. there is a very dark history in india one that i was never aware of.

Also last night in the dorm I met another american who wasn't all sikh'd out but he did have the beard and mustache he was coming through from pakistan after spending 2 months there teaching rock climbing. he looked kinda sikhish and knew a lot about it and spoke punjabi. we all went to the golden temple for the closing of the book ceremony and he explained it all with out revealing he was a sikh. so i asked him... "uh dude, are you a sik?" he said his parents were and he grew up as a sikh but wasn't a very traditional follower. he even went to some kind of boarding school in india. wild. i never asked him if he was from the same rich skh american yoga cult but i suspect he might have been. anyways he was way cool and i took his portrait and hung out with him for a while this morning.

all in all amritsar has been on my list of favorite place in india and the sikhs are pretty cool even though they are big dudes who carry knives.

I am now going to take a bus over to the pakistani birder to watch the closing ceremony again then at 11:30pm i jump the night train to kashmir.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Wheres the beef?

So after about 4 days in dharamsala i am going to be going back to punjab tomorrow and swing back through armritsar on the way to kashmir.

Regardless of all the hippies I have really enjoyed my time in dharamsala. i have basically been spending my days relaxing and reading and wandering around the many paths in the mountains the monks made as shortcuts so they dint have to take the bus.

I have also been hanging out with a lot of monks. the monks here are way hipper than the ones in tibet. they all pimp cool sneakers wear sunglasses and have cool cell phones. its a trip seeing them chill out between classes and drink mountain dew. they are all ready to talk to foreigners and start preaching but the funny thing is when they discover is can speak the devils language ( chinese ) they tend to feel more comfortable chatting with me in chinese about mundane shit instead of stumbling in english about the whole political thing.

its kind of strange i was afraid at first to tell any tibetans i live in beijing. but once i tell them that fact we speak some chinese they ask if i have been to llasa i say yes and tell them about other tibetan areas besides the main place everyone goes they dig that. in october i was in xia he and langmusi in sichuan and I have met a lot of monks from those areas. when they hear this then they become my new best friends.

its kind of like you met someone abroad and they say oh yes i have been to new york or la. your reaction would be yeah whatever so has every other tourist. but these places are really tiny remote so its like someone saying they have visited america you ask where and they name your hometown. they dig that and i sense they feel more comfortable and stop preaching and start having normal conversations... which is where the good stuff happens.

most of the conversations revolve around how sucky indian food is and how there is no meat. they don't like the quality of meat here and the indians don't eat beef and the cows are holy so they have beef in the monastery but its kinda on the down low. the funny thing is i am also just realizing the chinese i know is beijingaling and kinda thick like a new york accent in america i have also realized i tend to swear in chinese more than i do in english. i said some naughty stuff and stopped myself thinking i offended the monks they just howled laughing. monks are definitely a funny bunch.

they also dig san francisco they all want to go to a monastary there it is a choice position to be placed for obvious reasons. i told them i spent a year living there and they just kept asking me questions about the golden gate bridge and beaches. it kinda dawned on me they escaped from sichuan though tibet into nepal and then into india they have never seen the ocean and i imagine the golden gate bridge is kinda of a romantic notion to them.

Friday, March 7, 2008

check your head!

so i am here in the exiled Tibetan community.

It's a really pretty area and its good to get here and chill a bit after the craziness of most of india. But excuse my cynicism this place is full of stupid hippies.

I know the whole concept of tibet is romantic and how they are cool because they are so peaceful and devote themselves to buddhism could anyone not dig the dalai llama but after having been to the real Tibet and having lived in china travelled a bit and read a few books on the subject this place is FUCKED! ( i am afraid to even type this here from here i just caught a happy go lucky monk reading this over my shoulder as i type it )

anyways this place is very much like one of those world pavilion things in Disney's Epcot center. this is what Disney imagineers would make Tibet look like. Its funny all the Tibetans here wear Free Tibet t-shirts and say "tashi delay" and smile all the time the cafes are full monks sitting around tables laughing drinking mountain dew's ( no they actually appear to dig the the dew ).

Although llasa is one of those magical cities like Agra or Beijing it is a tourist destination and doesn't acurately represent the Tibetan community as a whole. MY strongest impressions of the Tibetans from backpacking around Tibet were scary fucking looking Tibetans with big knives cruising around on motorcycles in packs. not that they are bad people or trouble but they are kinda scary in their natural habitat and don't really resembled their peace loving brethren in the touristy areas.

I know there are a lot of good things here like monasteries and schools for the Tibetan children. But the thing one notices most is the tourism and all the white upper middle class hippies. actually right now there is a planned march from dharamsala to delhi then onto tibet in order to free tibet. I know the intentions are good but this is the manafesto from the website and it is just plain ignorance.

In the spirit of the 1959 Uprising and in memory of all the courageous Tibetans who sacrificed their lives for Tibet’s independence and continue to resist China's tyrannical rule, we declare the commencement of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement.

The Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement is a global movement of Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet taking control of our political destiny by engaging in direct action to end China’s illegal and brutal occupation of our country. Through unified and strategic campaigns we will seize the Olympic spotlight and shine it on China’s shameful repression inside Tibet, thereby denying China the international acceptance and approval it so fervently desires.

We call on Tibetans inside Tibet to continue to fight Chinese domination and we pledge our unwavering support for your continued courageous resistance. We call on Tibetans in exile and supporters in the free world to take every opportunity to protest China’s Olympic Games and support the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom. We call on Tibetans everywhere to support the return march of Tibetan patriots to our homeland, Tibet.

As we move forward with our movement we, the Tibetan People, commit ourselves whole-heartedly to this effort and demand that the Chinese government immediately:

1. Remove all obstacles to the unconditional return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and his rightful place as leader of the Tibetan people. The Dalai Lama is revered by Tibetans as our sole and undisputed leader. In recent years, Tibetans inside Tibet have repeatedly called for the Dalai Lama’s return for which many have been persecuted and still languish in prison.

2. Begin dismantling the colonial occupation of Tibet. Chinese colonial rule along with the transfer of Chinese into Tibet is marginalizing the Tibetan population and reducing us to a minority in our own country. The very survival of the Tibetan people and nation, represented by our language, religion, culture and traditions, is gravely threatened.

3. Release all Tibetan political prisoners from any form of detention and restore human rights to the Tibetan population. Thousands of Tibetans – including the young Panchen Lama Gendun Chokyi Nyima, Chadrel Rinpoche, Lobsang Tenzin, Trulku Tenzin Delek, Bangri Rinpoche, Dolma Kyab, Rungye A’drak, and Adruk Lopo – are being persecuted for the peaceful expression of their religious and political beliefs and all Tibetans living inside Tibet are systematically denied their basic human rights.

The Tibetan People also demand that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) immediately:

1. Cancel the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and never again consider China as a potential host country of the Olympic Games until Tibet is free.† The Chinese government is committing cultural genocide in Tibet and does not deserve the honour of hosting such an internationally celebrated event.

first off don't take this too seriously just ranting here after listening to many overheard conversations from hippies. it really all comes down to a matter of perspective.

first off before the chinese got there they were fucked. the population was divided between a wealthy religious aristocracy and poor nomads there existed no infrastructure or contact with the rest of the world. even though it appears romantice in movies the lives of the tibetans wasn't all that good to begin with. as far as the oppression the chinese dont discriminate when it comes to torture they torture and execute their own in equal numbers. its not like they are just picking on the tibetans. as far as becoming independent once again even the dalai lama himself gave up on the idea complete Independence long ago. if the chinese met these demands today and just gave it all back the tibeteans would be FUCKED. t would like us giving the state of montana to a bunch of drunken native american black jack dealers.

has anyone asked how tibet would be able to economically sustain themselves??? nepal can't do it and they have way more natural resources than tibet and the geography of tibet is the equivilent of the moon. the only real way to get goods in and out are by train and other infrastructure built by the evil chinese. as far as placing the dalai lama as a leader of the a country??? i am sure he doesn't want that job. the only other country i can think of that was run by a religous leader was when the taliban but mohammed omar in charge of afghanistan and we all know how that turned out. i guess the pope kinda runs the vatican but... ( enter child molestation comment here )

the other funny thing is none of these hippies have ever actually been to tibet??? thats like visitng Spanish Harlem and thinking you understand the plight of all the Spaniards back in Spain .

when i am asked to join the march to tibet to help the cause i keep telling people that i am already all booked up with the march to free xinjiang. the common response is "who?". huh? how come nobody knows about xiniang?

for those who follow the blog xinjiang is the area of china i visited in october. it is the OTHER chinese autonomous region of oppressed people. the big difference is they are muslim and they have OIL and other resources needed to sustain themselves independently but dont have the support of the beastie boys... oh and george bush says they are terrorists. I am actually stealing the beastie boys comments from a great article on about xinjiang that david tanner recently forwarded me on

Dispatches from China's Wild West. - By Joshua Kucera

anyways i like Tibetans i think they are just as cool as the beastie boys. but a long time a person much wiser than me once told me "as you get older you learn to stop fighting the battles you can't win". i thought that was the stupidest thing i have ever heard but there are definitely a lot more positive things people can be doing with their time beside trying to free a people by sleeping in a $50 night hotel and hanging out all day sipping cappuccinos.

Can't these hippies just stay at home and protest the fact that the USA is also busy liberating other ancient cultures of highly religous people at this very moment.

Anyways I think this whole Free Tibet movement is a big conspiricy and probably all run by the Chinese government anyways as a diversionary tactic to keep the worlds attention away from all the other wrong doings going on right now like the chinese involvement in darfur. oh well i am sure they will get a protest march in 50 years after its too late as well.

anyways as far as these peoples boycott of the olympics is concerned they can can go fuck themselves. they better not fuck shit up i got ping pong and basketball tickets for 2008!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


So after a 27 hour train ride from Calcutta to Dehli i arrived around 11ish to the white boy travel ghetto to meet up with tommy. He was arriving before me so he was going to get us a room and we arranged to meet up at a classy establishment called the gem bar for a refreshing reunion beverage. seeing as i was 3 hours or so late sweet-T was already 4 double whiskeys into it. ( probably trying to drink away the memories happened in his days at the "meditation retreat")

we had a few refreshing beverages and swapped a few stories. It has only been a month since we split up but after bangladesh it felt like a year has passed.

today i took care of my visa... i think! anyways i went to the visa office dropped off my visa application and after a veggie burger at an indian McDonald's I then made some changes to my plan. i am heading to dharamsala with sweet-T tomorrow by bus. it is an 12+ hour train ride and should be interesting.

Dharamsala is where the dali llama fled to when he escaped from india and is home to the many exiled Tibetans who fled from china. it should be interesting. sweet-t heading there to attend another "meditation class" as in order to find his "center". so i will be han solo again soon after we arrive.

after that i am not sure what to do with what little time i have left. my options are at this point head up to the tense region of kashmir or back to dehli then a 27 hour train over to the hills of darjeeling. its funny but i am completely broke and as cliche as it sounds it is very true that it is only when you have nothing that your free to do anything.

as most of you already realize india is so big and diverse it would take years to see and experience it all.

indian coffee house

So on my last day in kolkata i wandered around aimlessly looking to kill time until my train left for dehli. a friend of mine sumita recommended i check out the indian coffee house it is a notorious communist hangout near the university campus. I don't drink coffee there but I decided to go and check it out. it is hard to describe. it is a very large room with an upstairs balcony. it is just jam packed with people drinking coffee. the options are hot or cold coffee and omelette's.

It wasn't much but definitely was one of those special places. it made me think of what san francisco must have been like before it got to hip for its own good.

this place was just bare bones but was very special. next time your in calcutta you should definitely got there!

(i borrowed a photo off the internet to show you)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

calcutta to dehli.

sooo I road the rocket back which was very cool and eye opening at the same time. it cruised VERY SLOWLY through the waterways down south. The rocket passed through ground zero of where the last cyclone hit bangladesh a few months back. palm trees were growing horizontally and there were ships...not boats but large ship the kind that are made of metal broken on land a few hundred meters from the edge of the river.

I also met a few interesting people along the journey. one was an american named john who was working with an NGO to help rebuild schools and villages. he was a very cool guy and only in bangladesh a month so it was good to have someone to talk to and swap crazy bangladesh experiences with. He tried to persuade me to get off the boat with him and volunteer with him at the site but i had to decline because my visa was expiring soon.... that and i am a lazy bastard.
another was a deshy german educated PhD energy consultant ( was riding 1st class ). we talked about a great many topics. I was surprised that i actually was able to take part because of the vast number of books on india i have read recently. i would like to claim that it is because i am intelligent or something but the reality is with no booze and DVD player I have been spending my nights reading until the valiums take hold. I have been reading the only books thats are available in english which are usually biographies and noble prize winning literature type things and swapping books along the way. ( its pretty awesome i actually swapped Musharraf's autobiography for Gandhi's... whooda thunk it? )

I also met a Japanese guy who went to Bangladesh soley because pakistan issues visas there and he was on the pakistan into china route i have been thinking of taking. he was kinda prickly but he did provide me with a solution on how to get into pakistan. if all goes well i might be repeating this trip next winter and getting back into china through the heart of darkness.

then i took the uneventfully train trip back to kolkata.

it is funny coming back into india from bangladesh is akin to returning to the states from Tijuana. it will be the same level when i return to china. i imagine if one was to return to the US from b'desh it would cause instant shock. a trip room b'desh directly to singapore would kill someone instantly.

anyways event hough there is still v\just vegetables the food in india is soo incredible after bangladesh. i honestly cannot stress this enough. food here is now an amazing experience.

now i just have to get to Dehli to meet up with sweet-T briefly before he heads off to another "meditation retreat" and i struggle to aquire a new chinese visa.....and by medition retreat i really mean dirty sex cult.