All Posts Filed in ‘Asia

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Samos, Greece

Paying the bill in the hotel today the woman went through the things I’d eaten or drunk then started saying two and a half hours internet, three hours internet etc.. They had wifi access and I’d been sitting there with my laptop, assuming it was free, not realizing they were noting down how long I was sitting there and charging me for it. There were signs saying internet 3 euros per hour by the computers, but when there’s wifi that’s usually free, except when some charging thing comes up on the screen and you have to put in a credit card number. I mentioned it to them but I still paid it.

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Ephesus Museum. Selçuk, Turkey

American woman talking to museum warden:

– I like Turkish people. So would you describe yourself as a European? I’ve been to other countries in Europe and they don’t like us much. The French don’t like us, but in Turkey the people are so friendly. Your Ataturk was a great man, he really brought your country into the modern age, and look at you now: a developed country that’s neither muslim nor christian…

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Selçuk, Turkey

This is a small town near to the ruins of Ephesus, the capital of the Eastern part of the Roman empire. I have been told to procure photos of the site so that they may be entered into a database.

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Istanbul, Turkey

Sitting on the sea wall where the Bosphorus meets the Sea of Marmara. It’s Ramadan though it doesn’t seem to be as strictly observed here as in Morocco, the other islamic country I’ve been to during Ramadan. There, in Casablanca, I was stopped by a couple of policemen who had spotted me taking a swig from a bottle of water. Though they weren’t so bothered when they realized I wasn’t Moroccan, they still told me it was forbidden. In the more touristy places, such as Marrakech, some cafes were open during the day for tourists, but I only ever saw one Moroccan breaking Ramadan and that was a guy with no fingers, just stumps, with a tiny hand-rolled cigarette wedged between two of his stumps. I only noticed it because a group of kids were standing in front of the bench on which he was sitting, tormenting him.

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From Triund to Venus via the tenth dimension

There are dense toxic gases and bacteria the size of buses, but apart from that, unless you’re able to see in the tenth dimension, there’s not much on Venus. Some call it the ninth dimension, some the eleventh, some the first, some say it isn’t a dimension at all. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, except to the Venusians for whom it’s very definitely the tenth dimension, and they get quite offended if you suggest it isn’t.

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With some Venusians in the Milky Way cafe

the fire on Triund that many people (who may all have been the same person) were sitting around

Up on Triund there are not enough memories to fill the time that passed. I was awake the whole night. I may have slept an hour, but certainly no more than that. A trippy hippy danced around saying we are all organic gardeners, we are all one, we are all one organic gardener.

At the time there were three of us. Four including him. Twenty or thirty around the fire, and maybe a hundred scattered across Triund in caves and shepherds’ huts and chai shops.

In the present tense a woman asks an old man the time. She points to the spot on her wrist where a watch would be but isn’t. He doesn’t understand. He isn’t wearing a watch. But he must understand because he goes over to the clock above the counter and peers at it. It’s a quarter past eight.

I didn’t sleep at all the night before I went to Triund. Someone said that’d be because of the full moon, but how could it be? I was in my bed, the curtains were drawn. I couldn’t see the moon. We’re eighty percent water, she said, and the moon causes the tides so think what effect it must have on us. I couldn’t think of an effect, but I couldn’t think of a good argument to refute what she was saying so I said nothing, but I think the reason I didn’t sleep that night had more to do with other things. There are always other things. Many of them.

On Triund people sat around a fire and talked, played bongo drums and didgeridoos, twirled fire through the night. Other things happened, but my memory has forgotten them. Mostly things didn’t happen. It was a night when many things could have happened but didn’t. The moon crossed the sky smiling at all of the things which weren’t happening. When Venus rose behind one of the mountains the ones who were still awake thought this was highly significant. The moon and Venus in the same night! At first they thought it was a light on the mountain, then Jupiter, then Venus, but a Venus that was moving across the sky more quickly than anything else.

Some of the memories I have of this night are false. They’re screen memories, placed there by the Venusians. The Venusians are not actually from Venus, not the Venus that we know as Venus. There was no physical abduction. It’s all done in the mind. It might just as well be a dream. No, on second thoughts perhaps it was physical.

Those with mundane lives are more likely to be abducted. People whose lives are full of events, people who are rushing from one place to another and back again don’t interest the Venusians. They can’t tune into those kinds of minds. They’re too noisy. A quiet mind with few thoughts but many beliefs is the kind they like the most.

A fork would be nice. The palak paneer and plain rice I ordered has arrived, but with just a spoon. No fork. I’m not going to ask for a fork. I never ask for things. I always accept what I’m given. The palak paneer is good, but eating with a spoon reminds me of when I was about a year old, sitting in a highchair and being force fed some disgusting baby food puree that looked like it had been eaten several times before.

The train disappears into the tunnel.

If you empty your mind of all thoughts, not just the trivial thoughts but the serious ones as well, then you will be able to follow the Venusians into the tenth dimension. How can you follow someone into the tenth dimension? That’s like following someone into the third dimension, or into time. But the tenth dimension is different, and sometimes they say things that aren’t exactly true because if they told us the truth we wouldn’t understand it. They tell us they’re from Venus because they think that’ll be easier for us to comprehend, like a parent telling a child that their Christmas presents come from a fat man with a white beard.

Venus is a tenth dimensional portal.

If there are inconsistencies it’s because I’m making this up as I go along. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not true. Truth and untruth are illusions anyway, say the Venusians. Like reality and unreality. Just projections of your overly thinking mind.

Does the set of all sets which do not contain themselves contain itself?

I could make up another story, one about me sitting in the Milky Way cafe, with its hand drawn menu. I could write about the menu, and the food, and the other people in here, and the music that’s playing – it was Phil Collins earlier, and no matter how much I told myself it was just an illusion it was still painful. The Venusians are very fond of Phil Collins. They see him as one of their own. We are all one. We are all Phil Collins. His band, Genesis, took its name from one of the Venusian’s first publications. They are responsible for most of the Earth’s religious texts. Not that they were trying to control us. They were just having a laugh. That’s how they put it. They wanted to see what would happen. Like a child pulling the legs off a spider.

There’s a wooden sculpture of a moose mounted on the wall of the Milky Way cafe. It’s not life size. It’s more the size of a bird, and it looks a bit like a bird, with leaves for ears and branches growing out of its neck. That could be what it is. I don’t know if they have mooses (meese?) here. But they could have sculptures without having the real thing. You can make a sculpture of anything if you want to. Go ahead. It doesn’t have to resemble something in the real world (which isn’t real anyway). It could resemble something on Venus, but only if you think there is something on Venus.

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McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

There are rumours that the Dalai Lama arrives today. Although this is supposed to be his home he doesn’t seem to spend much time here. People say he’s just coming to destroy a mandala, and then he’ll be off again.

His movements are supposed to be posted on www.tibet.com but I can’t find where.

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The last chai shop before Triund

Walking up to Triund at the last chai shop before the top a guy in uniform with a gun (police or army, I’m not sure which) and someone in a checked shirt stop. Namaste. You are from which country? asks the plain clothes one. England. Let me see your passport. I don’t have my passport on me but I show him my driving licence. Two guys walk past and they are asked the same question but their English isn’t good and they don’t answer, they just keep walking.

At the top I’m told there are a number of police hanging around, but I don’t see them. They have asked a number of people to leave but most people have just ignored them and are still there. Apparently there was an article in the newspaper saying there was going to be an illegal trance party up on Triund so the police want to put a stop to it. But there are no sound systems up there, and the only electricity comes from the car batteries the chai shops have to power their radios and portable CD players. Some people are saying they were just after some baksheesh. I don’t know if they took any. They didn’t ask me for anything.

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McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

The moon is almost full. It’s hanging over the hills in the East, above Triund. The seas are clearly visible: three dark patches. If I squint I can see a face that’s either happy or angry, but not really.

I’ve ordered French onion soup and Veg. Mushroom Curry Rice. I’m in Dharamkot. This is the Israeli occupied part of McLeod Ganj. Israelis here outnumber all other nationalities, including Indians. At least that’s how it seems if you go to any of the cafes and restaurants. Many signs and menus are written in Hebrew.

I don’t know why there are so many Israelis here. In Kolkata there were many Japanese. On Koh Pangan (Thailand) there were a lot of English, and in the area I was staying a lot of Germans as well. It feels a bit like a new kind of colonialism, though I don’t think the travellers doing their yoga and reiki classes and meditation retreats playing drums and didgeredoos and smoking chillum see much resemblance between themselves and the Raj, but I’m sitting at a table being waited on by Indians and getting annoyed because they don’t get the concept of a starter and a main course and bring my French onion soup and Veg. Mushroom Curry Rice at the same time, but I don’t say anything. Some people would but I never do. I just don’t go back to the places I don’t like. That has an effect. Ordering French onion soup has an effect. The places which only serve Indian food around here don’t do very good business. The most popular restaurant in Dharamkot is Israeli owned and run and serves Israeli food. I don’t think there are any places here that only serve Indian food. They all have Italian sections on their menus, Israeli sections, most offer continental breakfasts and there are many adverts for German bakeries – anywhere that serves a cinnamon roll calls itself a German bakery.

Maybe it’s a good thing that so many young Israelis come here. If they settle here rather than on Palestinian land that must be a good thing, unless they start kicking out the Indians and claiming they were here first.

Wealthy foreigners don’t need to kick anyone out physically though. They can do it with their money, and probably without realizing what they’re doing. Sunil, the guy in the chai shop on Triund, was complaining about how this town had changed, how prices had gone up, which must mean many locals can’t afford to live in the town where they grew up. Some may get rich off the tourist trade, but some won’t. Sunil was saying he used to walk through Bhagsu and he could stop and chat to people for two or three hours, having a smoke with them, but now they’re all rushing about saying they haven’t got time. He used to be able to get a taxi for 7 Rupees but now the same journey costs 200 Rupees. That was six years ago.

Things change.