(Pictures at https://picasaweb.google.com/109837841352688899289)
I’ve said this before, everything comes from us and so is drawn to us by what we think and is magnified by how we feel. I also think I have been looked after all along and even more so these last few days. I wondered if they have been exasperated with me, I must try the patience of any nearby saints. I am all apologies, really, but I think I have been really quite ill and they know it. But today the scales fell from my eyes as far as Delhi is concerned. It started out well the rickshaw driver seemed ok, until I tipped him. Then he decided to wait for me outside the Ghandi museum even though I specifically asked him not too, then began suggesting all sorts of alternative places for me to visit on my last few hours, oh and would I come with him to visit a friends gift shop on the way to where he wanted me to go, which was not Costa Coffee which is where I had asked to go, I did a double take and just looked at him in disbelief. This was after he’d showed me his tattoo earlier of the Om symbol, Shiva, the Muslim crescent, a little Buddha, all around a little crucifix on his forearm and we’d become friends . We are all brothers he’d said. I was quite taken back. But then he became a real pain in the ass. I had just been reading that Ghandi had said, we have to love and not get angry or violent with our oppressors but that does not mean we should agree with them or let them take advantage, we should resist them whole heartedly. The rickshaw man was lucky I’d been reading these things from the very beautiful Man.
I told him, shall we say, a very firm “No” but then he began begging and whining,
“Help me brother, come to my friends shop, just to look, no need to buy, 10 minutes, then I get my petrol token” He was bang out of order. He’d been telling me about his children earlier, his job, I’d thought he was just chatting, but of course there is no ‘Just chatting here’ it really is wearing. I started to walk away in exasperation at which point he became a fine upstanding citizen again did his job and took me where I wanted to go for as decent fare. Unbelievable.
After a large coffee and more irritations, I decided to go to the Museum of fine art. Again there was the haggle with the rickshaw who dropped it down to the Indian Price again after he realized I was having no nonsense. I went in and had an altercation with the woman about bringing a “Big Bag” into the museum I’d had to locker it up and carry all my stuff around where it could be seen. I said
“Love, it’s a camera bag there is no way I’m going to get one of those paintings in there” she wasn’t smiling, mind you I wasn’t joking.
“These are my rules sir. Please obey” she asked. She did ask me and that was good enough in my book, besides she had a uniform on and I’ve always been a sucker for a lady in a uniform. I’m sorry but by then my feathers had been ruffled, my fur was raised and I was in a belligerent punk rock kind of mood. I just wanted to talk to somebody interesting who wasn’t going to hit me up for cash or lay some stupid self imposed rule on my like having to show a passport to be able to use an internet cafe. So I wandered around the museum, snarling at the paintings hoping that the masters who’d painted them would be hanging around ear wigging and could hear me. I was coming out with outrageous things like
“Look at that fat ass, Prince, ha. Over fed useless fat boy” and “That looks nothing like India, where’s all the plastic bags?” There was much worse and I have to say much funnier, but I have dear Indian friends who may not be friends if I am seen and heard slagging their National Art Gallery. There were actually quite a few things that were really great, for instance the Hungarian born ‘Amrita Sher Gil’from the 1930’s and the more recent ‘Jamini Roy’ were both wonderful, but at the time if I’d have had a spray can I’d have sprayed “The Clash” across the walls.
I went back to the Hotel a few hours later just to rest as I was still exhausted, I’d sat for a meditation while in the calm peaceful art gallery and fallen fast asleep. I woke up with a snort, blushing and sure they’d all heard me, not that it is a sin, but simply that I might have dribbled.
Instead went for something to eat at the roof top café where I’d justifiably snarled at the manager yesterday for snatching my ID out of my hand without even looking at me, he was all helpful today, but then charged me for the wifi even though I had been eating there regularly since my food poisoning. I sensed his victory and there was nothing I could say. It’s a funny old world. On the way out I thanked him for helping me with the internet connection and it was about then I think that something changed.
I had really wanted to buy some old coins of the East India Company who had outrageously printed up their own coinage during the first years of the British in India. I had missed out on some back in the city of ‘Mysore’ and had been on the look out ever since. I just happened to ask the manager on the way out if he knew where I could find some old coins, as Delhi had been a strong hold of the East India Company. I think it was because of my ‘genuine’ thanks I had offered to him as a veiled apology that low and behold he did. He pointed me up the road towards the railways station and from there was nudged along by stall holders until I found the coin sellers under New Delhi Railway Bridge. I got down at eye level with them had a look along at the different piles of decommissioned coins and chose a ‘One Anna’ Shiva, a Krishna & Parvati and 2 Kalis. I was really pleased and realized that in fact I had been saying hello to people again, they had been responding to me with smiles and laughter. How very odd, I hadn’t even thought about it. But I caught the change there and then, so I stopped in the street on the curb edge of the busy road.
“Hello Mick, how are you, where have you been? I said laughing at myself in the middle of the street in front of the sizzling stalls and Chai sellers.
“Hello there, I’m doing fine now thanks”, I answered “It’s good to be back”
Suddenly Delhi looked exotic, exciting and I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was cool, but it was cool just being there so I checked the map to see where I was as it would be my last chance for a wander. It was just getting dark. ‘Perfect’ I thought as all my directional senses kicked in. Who needs a rickshaw anyway and I was off. I crossed back over the road starting to take photos again but the cameras batteries ran out but even that I took on the chin and in retrospect realize it was a blessing, now I would have to wander and just be. As I came over the bridge a man was climbing up out of the filth below, I saw his blackened filthy hands clasp the grey once white walls slowly straining to drag himself up and over, I did a double take. I spun round and waited till his blackened filthy face rose up above the wall and just handed him some notes, not a massive amount but would feed him something that night maybe.
I was now taking the stares from people as invitations to spread a little good feeling for a change. I have to say right from the off that thee people generally in Delhi have been pretty laid back as far as hustling goes except of course for the rickshaws . But maybe there is an exam they have to pass here, like in London the cabbies have to pass the knowledge, here you have to have a real good story, there may even be exams in it.
You will have to forgive me I appear heartless, I am anything but. I am just a little worn down by it all. In fact I think perhaps I have ‘soft touch’ written all over me which is possibly why I have been plagued by bad experiences with the rickshaws. I was chatting to a young guy at Kathmandu airport as we were disembarking, him from Delhi, me from Tibet, he was disappointed that when ever he thought he was into a conversation with somebody here it turned out to be after money or to take something from him. He said and I quote
“I came here hoping to meet interesting people, to learn something about India and their religions”
I’m sorry to say that mostly except on the train journeys I have found the same. Though I have to say again that it depends on your frame of mind a lot of the time, it’s not 100%. It could be the area or city you’re in and I recalled that in the south people hustled but it was far easier going and for instance a funny fact I always remembered was whilst in Mexico I had been told that down on the coast of Veracruz the people there are more aggressive because they eat the Lizards. I recalled that they were in fact a quite intense. It could be an old wives tale but I wondered if there might be something in the water in Varanasi, in fact come to think of it there most certainly was and is something in the water there. What I’m saying is, it is of course not always cut and dried, but it seems there are areas that you will be hassled and seemingly just for the hell of it. I have even wondered if I had karmic debts to pay in certain parts of India, but hey, I digress, I was in Delhi and I had caught the wind, filled my sails again and I was very happy to be there.
I think Delhi maybe heard me faintly through the noise the grime the chaos the sights and smells everything coming at you from all angles. I had the Kali coin in my hand. I was polishing it, rubbing and turning it. I put a part of my mind into, it absorbed me and so I was able to look out from it without disturbing the world around me so to speak. I seemed to have simply slowed down my vibe was a secret and so was I, I could feel it. I think I wandered into an area I really shouldn’t have been after dark unless I had business and or cash. I sensed the change in the air but it was as if I was invisible, nobody seemed to see me, not a comment, hardly a glance, nothing. Kali was helping, I got it and I was ‘in’ my element. I was in the dark unlit red light area, though there wasn’t a red light to be seen. There were battered worn out faded door frames of pink and pastel blue set in-between filthy shops and filthy black walls. Dank worn out stairwells with spit stained walls polished at shoulder height with the stream of traffic that had passed through there, they led up to what looked like anything but heaven.
There were a group of young men going into a doorway all glassy eyed, waxy complexions and hypnotized, some of them looked genuinely afraid. I passed through them and stopped at the next doorway curious and looked in and up the stairs towards the dazzling light bulb hanging on a wire at the very top of the 3 flights. Young girls and a few older women were sat at positions on the stairs, the pecking order. They called for me to come up. I honestly blushed waved and said
“Not tonight ladies, but thanks”
I was an exotic species there, I was a catch, I was in demand once I had become visible, once I stood still. So I moved along again not to quickly and felt for Kali put my invisible cloak back on then cut into the old lanes behind the brothels. At one end of the lane was an ancient Mosque and I noticed later when I returned back through the street that the Hindus had put their lights on at the other end of too. Funny really, all crammed into the same neighborhood. If only I could have found a church I would have felt complete. I have always thought that brothels are a confessional, it’s where men come clean about who they are and what they need and the woman listen to the poor things, give out their blessing and send them away lighter, it’s a pity its all so corrupted, dark and stigmatized and sexuality ends up like this. But that is a whole other subject, if you want to chat drop me a line I’m all ears.
Old Delhi was a revelation, I kept Kali busy in my hand as I looked into the shop fronts of the teeming streets, It wasn’t a surprise as such, it is what I have become used too and I use that word liberally, I am not used to it, I am awed by the creativity that is apparent within those narrow streets that I knew sprawled for miles in either direction towards the river. If you want something it would be there to buy, Debenhams Old Delhi style, dust, dirt, life, death, luxury and despair all rolled out, all passed by, all stepped over, all fought over, and all displayed for all to see. It was incredible. I side stepped rickshaws, bull drawn carts and motorbikes and wove through the oncoming stream of veils, head scarves, long flowing shirts and skull caps, keeping a close but cool eye on where I was, making a mental note of the brick seller, the bakers, or the dog eared book shop or even the large badly built shrine with its black and orange gods that somebody had created and which had probably become sanctified simply because it was there on that narrow congested corner collecting dust on its badly painted gloss blue fencing and its 7 dangling brass bells.
I would like to stress here that I have been to quite a number of Indian Cities now. Delhi is certainly the cleanest I have seen. But being in those old streets of Old Delhi and the Paraganj area which could be left to rot and in fact there is plenty of rot to be seen, but I found in actual fact that there were ‘attempts’ to clean up the streets, I had watched the road sweepers below from above at the hotel, I could see the piles of rubble swept into neat piles which many a greedy cows sensitive lips would investigate before the rickshaw carts came along and scrape it up. It wasn’t clean but it was definitely cleaner. I realized that I had missed out with Delhi. There In the old streets I was free to walk, free to smile, free to say hello no obligation. I wasn’t foolish, but I no longer looked on the unfamiliar sights as threatening, I looked on them simply as people all trying to get by. I again broke many a long hard stare from an old man or group of men into smiles by a simple courteous wave and ‘Namaste’ it felt good and I felt happier by it.
I had a feeling those last few days that I was being treated, I have had a very light and dark relationship with the old woman. At times I honestly couldn’t stand her ancient rotten smell and her bad manners and at others I have been charmed by some of her stories, her creativity and many of her dependants. It felt like I was able to wish her well before I left and I had really wanted too, she was treating me well that night and I remembered how I felt when I had first landed and set out to cross her, when I saw the Elephant, the teeming streets and the Temples, felt the energy, I felt it again as I made my way back through the dark labyrinth of streets, Kali and I, at our leisure and at ease.