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India blog 12

April 6, 2010

Thoughts while on a bike with nobody to talk to and nothing to listen to:

I love windmills, they look cool and everything about them is good.  Nobody has ever said, “I wish that windmill wasn’t there.”

I think Indian pizza should be up there with hawaiian pizza.  Its flavored with masala spices and tastes great.  Pizza should be a bit spiced and this fits perfectly, plus you can put so many other indian delicacies on them as well.

I am scared of being mauled by a tiger.

Good Friday was and is never good.

I want a proper motorcycle and I want to take it everywhere.

I would not die if I owned one.

Day 6:  There was no jew food to be had in Kochi so I left.  I wasn’t sure if I should keep heading up the coast or go inland but there is this place called Ooty in the mountains just outside of Kerala (the state I am in) that is supposed to be beautiful and I am beginning to hate the beach.  I love the ocean but its also kind of a hassle and the same people live next to it everywhere.  They live off the ocean.  Fish.  Fishing.  Nets to catch fish.  Hooray.  OK, so I am going to Thrissur which is the next state over and is on the way to Ooty, which is too far to get to in a day.  It is Good Friday and I can see more than a few people carrying the burden of the cross down the road in the middle of nowhere and I can’t help but think that they have way further to go than Jesus did. I arrive in Thrissur in the early afternoon and I already know this is going to be bad.  I can’t find the main town and am hungry but cant find suitable (a place people would eat) food except for a KFC ripoff place.  This is the first fast food like place that I have seen so the American in me says I have to go in.  I eat the shitty food (what did I expect) and luckily one of the workers (way smarter than the ones who work at KFC in the US) knows where I am and where I am headed so I go.

The road to this place has been uneventful except for the lines of people carrying giant wooden T’s on their backs until I get to the town, which is not much to see except for the main round.  The middle of the town is a giant round road surrounding a temple and a hang out and take shits while shooting the shit and playing cards park like area.  The road only goes one way but that doesnt matter today because nobody is going anywhere.  The road is covered with a procession of “followers” behind a statuesque Jesus (with mustache of course, this is India) dead in the arms of his mother as his stepfather? looks over them and makes sure the parade float backing doesn’t fall over.  It was at this point that I knew my purpose in life but I’ll get back to that.

So Thrissur is a shithole.  The entire road/sidewalk of the whole town is half finished and strewn everywhere.  I don’t know how people could have half an infrastructure and still have time to follow God’s death parade but that’s just me.  Nothing is open.  I walk for hours looking for a place to eat dinner and eventually, somehow find a western style burger joint that is relatively cheap and nice looking with A/C inside.  This is the only good thing I found.  The place I am staying in is unbelievably dirty but it was the only place with a vacancy so I stay.  I can’t get to bed because i am being eaten alive, but eventually do, only to be awoken at 6am by a 1000 year old homeless man that wants to read my palm and apparently does it door to door at hotels.  Maybe he used to sell vacuums but this was more lucrative.  So I can’t get back to sleep so I just pack up my shit and get the hell out of there.  I was going to sight see in the morning but fuck it.

Day 7:  I am trying to find a town 100kms north of where I was but can’t.  I end up in countless residential (that shouldn’t be the word, it’s too nice) areas because so many roads are half finished and dead end at tiny towns that presumably sprung up years ago to build the road but expanded once the construction halted.  I am pissed, hot, sunburned and lost for hours.

It must be noted here how to ask an Indian for directions.  If you ask one person he will say the first thing that comes to mind, so you must ask a group of people, or a few people in an area successively if you want to get anywhere.  The other option is to ask about 4 or 5 times because after a few times the person will care that he is being asked something.  This is not a language barrier problem, this is a giving a shit problem.  It’s not even a joke (maybe it is I am not Indian).  So anyway, I give up on ever getting to this place and go east out of Kerala to Coimbatore.  One of the biggest cities in Tamil Nadu, which is pretty big.  I hate driving in the city here.  Mumbai  I might been able to deal with because of how big it is but this city is skinny.  The roads, people, cars, shops, etc. are skinny and its a bitch to get around.  Buses and trucks are huge (the only thing not skinny) and are constantly aiming for me.  The city is a maze with no signs and I even considered staying here, mostly because it is 100kms from Ooty and I have already gone 100.  But this whole getting lost ordeal and this city being a giant steaming crap tells me to keep going and stop when it gets dark or something looks promising.  This turns out to be good and bad.

I get through the throng that is Coimbatore in a way that is similar to going through a car wash without a car.  I am covered in exhaust fumes and have no hearing left from the horns.  Oh, by the way, do you remember those keychain noise maker things that had the bomb dropping sound and different sorts of siren sounds?  Well that is the sound the cars make when they are in reverse here.  Seriously, like all of them, one after the other.  Its amazing.  In Korea, some play Fur Elise and I thought it was great but this is way more funny.

Ok, so I am out on an open road again.  And the scenery changes.  Suddenly there is no more flat land, palm trees, farm land, rundown towns with nobody working just sitting.  I like the landscape I have seen but have grown a bit tired of it.  Now, things have changed.

Giant mountains, with huge trees of all sorts.  Skyrocketing shrubbery.  Boulder lined roads holding back the jungle from scooping up and devouring the passing vehicles.  Cliff faces high above as I enter a winding road from the bottom of a gorge that will only lead up into clouds.  The day has gotten better.

The road is snaking forever, it is taking much longer that the 70kms to Ooty that the sign says but it doesn’t matter because it is beautiful here.  This is the best part about this trip.  I have no idea what I am going to see, only a vague description written by a half drunk travel guide writer that is more interested in the novel that will of course be published because he is so interesting and has a lot to say about how natives are being ripped from their land but they are replacing them with a great resort that is quaint because they leave mints on the pillows but are not the Four Seasons.  Coming upon this mountainous area is stunning to me.  I didn’t even think of what I would see, or consider expectations.  I was too busy trying to avoid potholes and oncoming buses that don’t care if they are in my lane.  It’s better this way.

That is until your only mode of transportation, your ball and chain, decides to die.

The whole day the bike has been a little weird.  I have had trouble starting it a few times but chalked it up to being a really shitty old bike.  This time it didn’t start again.  And I was on a winding road, in the middle of a mountain jungle, with plenty of hungry aggressive monkeys, not near much, and it’s getting dark.  I try to stay positive and turn the bike around.  Luckily, I have been going uphill for hours and its easy to coast back down.  I get to a police check point, stop, and approach a cop.  He understands immediately and flags down a 3 wheeled tiny slow hatch truck thingy that are everywhere here, tells them to put my bike on the back and for 30 rupees, take me to the next town to get my bike fixed.

So we go, problem is that it is getting close to sunset, some places are closed, and tomorrow is Easter.  The first 2 places don’t want to fix the bike, so we have to go to a third.  The problem with this is that it is nowhere near the town, but he says he will have it done in an hour.  I have no choice so I say ok.

So he fixes it like he said, but it is dark and I don’t have a working headlight, am not near a town, and have no jacket or pants.  It is starting to get cold.  So I ask him to fix the headlight and he does.  Lucky me.  I only have 18kms to go but up o these winding roads that will take a while.  I am going slow, trying to avoid potholes and oncoming cars when a tiny monkey jumps out in front of me.  I swerve, almost fall off a cliff, which would have been cool in slow motion, but regain my control and continue.  My teeth are chattering, the jungle is starting to seem engulfing and this road will never end.  But it does.  I arrive in Ooty, freezing, and find a place for too much money.  I don’t even care that the toilet doesn’t work and there is no shower.  It is late and I go to bed.

Now I must be off because the guy next to me is looking at this website while I type on it and asking many questions.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Elayne Sawaya permalink
    April 11, 2010 3:28 pm

    HI Alex
    Been catching up on your blog. Just wanna say “You are an amazing person. I love and respect your mind, your analysis, your humor, your compassion.
    You do your family proud. BTW, I agree with everything you say—that of course doesn’t hurt.
    Have a great time in India. I have to say that having spent one month there many many moons ago–it changed me in one important way. I suddenly knew that I was a very small cog. And all the BS, that americans (no caps) tell themselves is pretty laughable. But in retrospect, you don’t need India to tell you that. You just need to travel the world. Keep Moving. You owe it to yourself.
    Be well. Be Safe. Thanks for all your observations.

    • April 15, 2010 1:17 pm

      wow, thanks so much for the accolades, I really appreciate it. I am in a yoga ashram at the moment which I will be talking about on here soon, but for right now it is the life of a yogi for me

  2. MAX EMBER permalink
    April 24, 2010 1:03 am


    I continue to be captivated by the amazing insights you share and the good humor with which you share them.

    In our world of woulda-coulda-shoulda, it is an astonishment to share, even vicariously via your website, the astounding journey you have undertaken. It is more than a journey around the globe. It is an oddyssey from boyhood to manhood.

    Thank you for allowing us — albeit from afar — to share a part of it.


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