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Bodhgaya, Bihar, India

Bollywood music drifts in through the open door of my room. I put my headphones on and listen to my own music: Leonard Cohen, The Specials, The Boards of Canada.

The thing with the Buddha and his enlightenment, which I was thinking earlier today while I was supposed to be meditating, is that we only have his word for it that he became enlightened. Maybe he was lying. Is that blasphemous? I’m in the holiest place in Buddhadom, so maybe it is a bit. But Buddha is not a god. God is an illusion. He could have been mistaken. He could have honestly thought he was enlightened, like sometimes when people get stoned or they’re tripping on acid they think they’ve sussed out the meaning of life the universe and everything but then the next morning either they’ve forgotten, or realized they didn’t. But meditation is not a drug, is it? And enlightenment is different. When you’re enlightened you know it, they say. I think. I don’t really know much about Buddhism, but I think it’s okay to talk about things you don’t know much about. And stay silent about the things you do know about.

I could just stay silent altogether, post up blank pages here instead of words. But then those blank pages would be saying something. I could not have a blog at all. But I do, so I might as well use it.

I sent an email to One and One Internet just now. They’re cutting off our web server and taking a load of our money, so it was quite an angry email. I asked them if I could make our correspondence with them public. Even if they say no I will, though not on here. It might be interesting for poeple interested in those kinds of things. Or it might not. For now though, if you’re thinking of setting up a web server or having a website hosted, don’t go with 1&1. They may seem cheap, but they have hidden charges. They say they’ll charge you one thing but once they have access to your bank account they’ll bleed you dry and then if you complain they’ll say ah well, you should’ve read our terms and conditions. That’s what happened to us at least.

This site is safe because it’s free, hosted by Google. But the others, the ones with the pictures, and other peoples’ websites aren’t at the moment.

What’s that got to do with enlightenemnt?

I think I’m going to Varanassi tomorrow. I bumped into a guy I met earlier today who was trying to get me to finance his school for poor children. I was on my way to buy the train ticket and he came into the travel agents’ with me. He said he’d just seen the travel agent and he’d told him he’d got me a ticket for tomorrow rather than the day after. This is a very small town. He then really tried to pressure me to give him money for the school, saying some of the kids were sick or the teacher was sick I’m not sure. I said no. He said you have to think with your heart and give if you feel it’s the right thing to do. I wouldn’t cheat you because that would be bad karma for me. I told him I’m a westerner so I don’t think with my heart I think with my head and there’s no way I’d just hand over money to someone on the street. Also, with my head, I was remembering when I went over to his place this afternoon for a chai, before he showed me the photos of the kids and the other westerners who’d given money and how much they’d given he showed me his brand new Sony TV, with a load of cable stations, including BBC World News (has Blair resigned yet?), and what looked like a new DVD player. And he told me he didn’t earn money, he worked for free. Sometimes it’s hard not to be suspicious. I told him what his school needed was a website, something to give it a bit of authenticity, and I gave him my email address and said I’d help out in that way (though thinking about it I’m not really in a position to now) but I’d also want to see some evidence, not just that the school was authentic but that if people gave money it would get to where it ought to go. No. It’s too complicated. Too easy to scam over the internet. Even the biggest internet companies are scammers. In future I think I’ll just quote Marx: Charity just papers over the cracks in capitalism, or something. Beggars of the world unite!

Ceorge Clinton, Steppenwolf, Thelonious Monk, The White Stripes.

I think Bihar is one of the poorest states in India. Maybe the poorest. I think also the Maoists are quite strong around here. They set off some bombs in Varanassi about a month ago, or was that Islamists? Maybe that was Islamists. They did hold up a train somewhere around here not so long ago though. Not been reading the papers since I got here. In Kolkata I used to read the papers every day. The Calcutta Telegraph and the India Times.

Wesly Willis: Rock n’Roll McDonalds.

There are some things I miss about the Western world, but McDonalds is not one of them. Since I got ill on the first day here in Bodhgaya I haven’t eaten Indian food. This evening I had macaroni with cheese and tomato at the Om Restaurant, the place I’ve been going to for every meal since it seems safe, though at lunch today I was sitting at a table where I could see into the kitchen and I’m not so sure. Haven’t had meat here. I think I’m safer not eating meat for a while. But after the Tibetan special noodle soup I had for lunch I fancied a black tea and a jam donut so that’s what I ordered. The tea arrived straight away – a tea bag in a glass of hot water – but I waited five, ten, fifteen minutes for the jam donut. The waiter said it would be out in a minute. Are they making the dough in there, or has someone had to run out to the donut shop? I think they do that a lot. On Sudder Street restuarants would exchange food with one another, or go out to the local shops to buy things people had ordered. They always had more on their menus than they could store in their premises, and they would never say no to a customer, so often things would take ages to arrive, and they’d arrive in the wrong order, so you’d get your dessert before your dinner and your breakfast after your lunch. When the donut finally did arrive it was hot. Straight out of the oven. But it wasn’t a donut, it was a scone. Two, in fact. Cut in half. The waiter comes over with a pot of jam. So I suppose I miss being able to just go into a place and order a coffee and a donut. And not having to worry about hygiene standards – even though possibly I should, Western places give the impression of being cleaner. I wonder if Indians think we’re being way to prissy about cleanliness, we who use our left (arse wiping) hands when eating. I overheard a lot of toursits in the Sudder Street resturants questioning waiters over whether the ice in the drinks was made from mineral water, whether the orange juice was watered down and could I have a curry that’s not spicy please?

Being able to walk down a street without the fear o tripping over pigs. That’s another thing I miss from the west. Walking out of the guest house last night during one of the frequent power cuts I almost stepped on a load of pigs, or boars, sleeping in the road – more a mud track. A mother with babies I think. If it hadn’t been for the last minute grunt I would’ve stepped on one of them, which probably would have been quite unpleasant, for me as well as whichever one happened to be under my foot. They look like they could be quite vicious if they wanted to. They look like big pigs, who’ve been working out at the gym and probably taking steroids, and with mohican haircuts.

Nick Drake, The Red Army Choir, The Pixies, The Beach Boys, Israel Vibration and The Gladiators.