Wednesday, 5 October 2011

well, well, well...kollywood and beyond

well, well, well, where to begin?

we ended up staying until the 12th and on our last night in mallapurum i planned to spoil ourselves with a ridiculously expensive fresh lobster overlooking the ocean... jon returned home with xav from the beach with a twinkle in his eye....uh oh i thought to myself.

jon  had been approached by some talent scouts for a bollywood ( i later told jon it was kollywood the tamil nadu speciality) movie; they were offering to pay us both 1000 rupees, free taxi ride to chennai ( where we needed to be the next day ) accommodation for the night, acting in background for a kollywood movie with no talking.

 jon was practiaclly throthing at the mouth... seeing the money, free ride to chennai, acting in indian movie -- an experience.

 i saw... rape, pilage and kidnap!!

the man seemed very nice and knowing at times i am a bit too cautious i put the ball in jons court after making him see my side of the experience and telling jon to ask for ID jon came back after about 15 mins to tell me they had gone-- i breathed a sigh of relief and said everything happens for a reason...
 jon also said our friend morgan knew the guys as he came often and informed jon they the tourist always had a good time and more importantly always returned!!! great news for me.. anyway they were gone and we both put our trust in everything happens for a reason and said if we see them it was meant to be and forgot about it... we walked down to the locals main drag to get some fried rice and should be coming up the road but the scout..... a wave of worry swept over me.

after talking to the guy some more we ended up making a compromise instead of being kidnapped and seperated that night... our taxi would pick us up the next morning at 630 am and drive us to the set after stopping to get us breaky.

 well sure enough we stopped for breaky and were driven the 90 minutes there without hassle.

 we were than met by the scout, some indian actors and three other tourists... my fear settled further. we were taken to breakfast at a resturant across the road then taken back to the studio...

jon and i looked at each other as we entered the room no bigger then a living room first thinking the boys in here from 9 til 4 pm... then quickly turned to thoughts of what type of movie we were actually making exactly???? porn sprang to mind.

we then spent the rest of the day-- wearing horrible westerner asian style clothes, jon got a suit, pretending to talk on mobile phones and use laptops, have makeup put on... yes even jon.. and were pleasantly surprised by the whole experience... if not a little repetitive..

jon and i were used the most as we were actually white westerners and the other 3 were students from chennai two from some country bordering india and a black man from kenya.... jon thought it was his acting ability and i just laughed as he enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame.

we received everything we were promised and the usual indian more... the kids were included, even though that wasn't discussed, we weren't in a kollywood film but an ad for  " i love a mobile" we weren't in the background but very mush the foregournd and no talking but low and behold just as they were wrapping it up they said one last thing.... stare at the camera and say i like a mobile... even xavie did it... so keep your eyes peeled for our 15 minutes of fame.

we were than paid 2500 rupees about 60 au $ and invited back for a good part in a kollywood movie... as promised they dropped us at the train station..

we then had to entertain ourselves for 5 hours before our train arrived  at 1130 at night.
 we ate and walked and ate and walked  sat and watched and sat and watched the unchanging board, walked and ate then went outside and watched the kids fall asleep on some baggage trolleys while jon and i kept entertained by watching the rats scurry beneath our sleeping children.

30 minutes before our train was due to depart i went to check the board... everything that had been on it had disappeared i went back to tell jon the negotiator who went forth to find out what was going on first he came back saying it had been delayed an hour... crap well at least the boys were asleep... so an hour later he went back to check .. the board still emptyand returned to say the board had been delayed indefinately.. as we sat there contemplating what this actually translated to in indian english we watched another hour slide... jon then went back and found out it was due around 530 am  jon made the call to move us to an airconditioned waiting hall.. we washed the boys down with a wet cloth as they slept, put them in clean clothes and made beds for them on the floor jon and i then took turns having a shower.. attached to the ac hall changed our clothes ... i then laid down and had 2 hours sleep and awoke at 230 am to find jon gone and the ac hall packed with indians sleeping on the floor, walls, and seats.. when i looked outside the platforms and waiting areas were all the same shoulder to shoulder people carpeting the railway floor all people whose train had been delayed indefiantely.

i then sat awake for 2 hours worrying about jon, who finally came back to say they had made an emergency train we had to take so we could meet up with our train ... we grabbed our gbags carried the boys asleep and found ourselves some nice comfy sleeper beds and ALL got some sleep until we had to swap trains...

 a train coming in beofre ours had either had a head on or derailed... people had died though we don't actually know what happened but we are here we are safe and everything happens for a reason. we then awoke to change trains and went back to sleep.... 

we then spent the next 3 days and nights looking out the window, sleeping eating, setting up beds and packing them away , entertaining the boys, going to the toilet and showering with make shift showers( Bottles) in them and sleeping some more...  the boys have ,thankfully, gotten very good at long stints of travel and were, for the most part, good boys.

we then arrived at our destination and having met a nepalese uni student "runner" followed him as he offered to get us to the border we were then quickly ushered into a jeep and for 150 rupees each ( roughly $3au ) were driven to the india- nepal border along with the 9 other locals ( going home) who had been crammed in around us we then spent the next 2 hours with our arms around strangers and sweating profusely...

runner then negiotiated rickshaws to take us from the jeep stop to the border 1 km away.. we then lost runner through thr\e traffic as we had to stop to get our passports stamped and then walk through the border ( without visa's or checks) to the visa office on the nepali side.. i then played with the boys for an hour while jon had an adventure of his own trying to get to an atm 4 kms away to get the money out to pay.
the visa application went with no hitches and was sorted within 10 minutes for all of us... hooray a month in nepal.

on a mission to get to kathmandu we then quickly scoffed lunch and got on a very ornately indian bus with mirrors, coloured panelling and light up shrine and spent the next 12 hours sleeping upright , sleeping on the floor, watchig indian bollywood sagas with main character dave ( it was the only english word, so really made more of an impact then it shouldve) having toilet breaks on the side of the road ( yes even me.. though it was a challenge trying to do it in between the break of passing headlights my nice white westerner bottom would've really made a stir if caught in the oncoming cars spotlight) and watching the extra locals try and make themselves comfortable as theyre piled in and packed in around us....

 however through the moonlight and as all of us slept, i watched the stunning countryside, reveal itself to me ... an astronomically clear sky, a round glowing moon whose gaze followed down the sturdy jagged cliffs, further down into the cool depths of a pristine gurgling river... nepal... this is the type of country side we love... we love nature, prisine nature.

this thought along with the reason behind making this journey ( meeting beloved friends) the sight of my three boys sleeping soundly on a bus packed shoulder to shoulder with nepali locals going home.... this thought made me happy to my soul... this is living...

and somewhere between my appreciation and  letting my eyes drink in my surroundings... i drifted off to sleep.....

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Mamallapuram--the place of jons desires

after taking a 3 hour bus sitting on a tractor tyre with king asleep on my lap we arrived at mamallapuram.

after getting a rickshaw to the shore temple jon again thought he'd found the wrong place... we walked around the temple.... jon couldn't remember any of it...

we have however been here for 3 days now not wanting to rush our trip at this stage yet although we only have 8 sleeps till having to be in nepal.

jon found a great place with a big clean room, large bathroom and great undercover terrace ( which until an hour ago was all ours) that looks out over the ocean.
xavie found himself a rock carver freind and has been spending his days learning the finer art of carving..

jon has since discovered it was the same guy he had carved with while he was here and the guy morgan fully remembered the design of jons's pretty amazing out of all the carvers ( and they are shoulder to shoulder) xavie picked the same guy... everything happens for a reason!!!

yesterday jon met a nice lady named butma who invited us around fro chai...after going and hanging out for a bit in her home... kitchen outside, rooms detached from each other and no beds...though had a westerner toilet) offered to take us to the markets( so we get local prices) and cook us lunch....too good to refuse and saving some money dear to our jons heart... 2 hours later we went backand did just that....

we spent 200 r on 7 big fish ( fresh though swarming with flies) she than took us to the supermarket to buy flour, rice and some vegetables... then took us back to her house while she prepared lunch( i chipped in and cut the vegatables with a ridiculously blunt knife against my thumb)....jon captured a great moment of me hot, bothered, struggling and flipping the bird.

we then ate on the floor of their bedroom, come tv room, come dining room in the sweltering heat ( no windows small door and electricity out so no fan, smack bang in the middle of the hottest part of the day.)

butma than served the boys first ( who only ate the rice) jon and i ate the fish. i quickly scoffed mine and luckily soon after king triped and fell... and thankfully was due for asleep so cried giving me my way out....

i sacrificed jon ( who had gotten us into this "opportunity too good to miss" and split for our nice cool room with fan and cold shower. the dash all the more urgent as i tired holding down my fish as i pictured it's fins, tail and eyes one exploded jelly one all over it's face and the other one intact eyeball swinging form it's tendon as i flipped the fish over......argh fresh produce how i love you so.

jon returned an hour later having bought and shared a beer with butmas husband bringing with him nay stories.

1) mr butma as a small boy went with his friend to the temple elephant for a blessing little did he know his friend had put needles in the bananas before feeding them to the elephant... he went on to say he knew nothing about it until his friend told him after...he goes on to say elephants have very good memories...they then went back 10 years later as 15 year olds and the elephant picked up his friend and set him under his foot and squashed him to death...finishing with " they have very good brains/ memories"

2) mr butma explained he used tom ake some money by being a tour guide.. one time he took some russians around india  and somehow they ended up meeting a man who ran a mongoose vs cobra fight and ended up drinking with him and spending the night... mr butma had never seen a man get on so well with a mongoose the mongoose was very well trained and tame like a pet the man slept with him and cuddled him etc..... they had a big night drinking... during the night mr butma was awoken by a hair curling scream but went back to sleep... in the morning he awoke to find the cobra fighter was discovered and assumed the cobra man had gotten an erection during the night and the mongoose had mistaken it for the cobra and bitten it off.... the men too enubriated had not reacted and so the cobra man bled to death.

3) butma's son in law had died of cancer 4 months ago and then after being teased the wife ( butma's daughter) had covered herself in kerosene and commited suicide by setting herself alight right in the room where we sat and ate lunch...leaving her daughter behind... this story was horrible and i'm sure true but i found it very ironic when after all our meals and cooking etc they asked for 100 r to buy more kerosene.

needless to say after being told all the stories ending in death we paid the 100r without question.

after having our entire day consumed with stories, heat, scams and food... i washed my hands of the whole affair.... jon however returned the next morning for breakfast the next morning.. to "get his monies worth"

NB they were a lovely family, who obviously had had hardship both in the past present and future, we did not take the scam to heart... fed ourselves and another family, had locally cooked food, ate in "authentic" premises and heard a few good stories for free.

today we hired bikes ( bicycles) and went and saw the town's carvings, swam at the beach, had an afternoon nap, helped some goats reach their much desired high up leaves, had banana pancakes and chai for dessert, went and donated to a gig to raise money for the destitue called "jam for bread" ( which i was particularly taken with) did some bartering, watched pony rides on the beach( where the handler actually lets go of the horse entirely and smacks it on the bum as it takes off... and you get to watch as the person holds on for grim death), realized we had been away for 2 months and we still didn't feel like rushing home... and spoke to a white old hippie from cyprus who recalled realizing yesterday the worst thing he had to worry about in india was losing his spliff ( which he later discovered he'd put in his newspaper) this sentiment is true, though not about the spliff.. we are worrying about nothing... enjoying food, people, life and more importantly each other....


Love the boys and banksia

kovalam continues

we ended up staying 2 more nights in kovalam beach, unable to let go of the beautiful spot we had nabbed ourselves.

we were sad to leave but we have a huge distance to travel and unfavourable travel devices on which to cross it.

after an overnight train from trivandrum to pondicherry.... where we had to fight to maintain ourwindow seats, plump and pread ourselves subtly to enusre people weren't sittting on our laps or resting on our shoulders.... from 4 pm till 5.30 am the next day we had our bodies squashed and shoulders slept on.

as more and more people piled on at each stop our spaces got smaller and smaller,the boys were exiled to the baggage racks and we spent the next 13 hours too worried to go to the toilet for fear of losing our seat. the boys though were set up above the crowds with our sleeping bags and pillows and had a very restful night.

jon and i watched as the man and lady respectively had a restful night sleep on our shoulders. as we thanked the lord fr having held on to our window seats as we gasped for fresh air before resting back to cop putird mouthfuls of curry poo breath for our resting neighbours. which was worse then the occassional whiff for the toilet.

after a very long night....we had to wake the kids and i just managed to get off with king and the rest of the baggage as the train was pulling out.....only to find we were one stop...approx 40 minutes off from our destination.

arghhh...anyway we had some chai...all of us and asked around and were taken by rickshaw to the door of the bus we needed just as it was pulling pondicherry... we all slept the 30 minutes there hooray pondicherry.

we then got a rickshaw to the sea( through the french quater) only to find this was not the place jon had so cherished and be underwhelmed with the french quarter....we made our way bags and all pulled out our blanket and pillows and had a relaxing time in the shady government park let the kids play and got our bearings.

we then walked all the way back to wehere we had been dropped originally by the rickshaw and found ourselves a beautiful clean big room with verandah at the new guest house ashram for 200 r a night...

after having a huge late lunch we hit the showers and went to bed and slept from 5pm till the next day.

we have awoken today planning a quick tour of pondi by rickshaw then bus to mamallapuram the place of which jon had actually longed.

we went and visited the church of the immaculate conception...( xavie said some prayers) visited the botanical gardens which are awesome...well would've been... then got hot and bothered trying to get to auroville but ended up at the bus stand and found ourselves on the bus to mamallapuram.

kovalam beach

we ended staying in kovalam beach for something like 6 days it was awesome xavo made himself a 9 year old friend name ramesh... jon booked us into a beach front hotel with balcony overlooking beach and promenade and we lived it up for i think 4 days... we had also been trying to organise the next leg of the tour n.e to pondicherry and chennai but due to holidays and people coming to kovalam the train out are full? this didn't make much sense but gave us an excuse to stay longer so we didn't push it too much.

an indian man came up to us today while we were on the beach making a sand castle and pushed through the viewing paviolion of people to ask us what was happening? i said with what? he said with the crowd... to which i casually replied we seem to attract this size crowd where ever we go...... yes thanks to our golden children we go nowhere without many paparazzi and tribes of locals following us.
 the boys have definately passed the point of obliging photographers and even bribes will not get them to be picked up or cuddled....
we feel bad for the locals but if they could see how often our children were man handled perhaps they'd be a little more sympathetic.... we are now becoming tougher and saying no to the frequent pleads for photo photo and are very protective of our boys who cannot go more then two steps without being grabbed, pinched or squeezed.


 i sit here alone the sun has just set behind the low lying cloud on the horizon.
 it has been the first sunset I have actually seen since being was spectacular!!!

for about 15 mins i could see no colours other than a thick beautiful golden haze i could see black silhouettes of 100's of locals frollicking in the shallows of the ocean and more lining thye edges of the sand.

the sun then quickly sank below the clouds on the horizon and the colours began to come back to life.
i looked down towards the headland and saw the masses of rosk began to move...they were actually masses of indians all standing shoulder to shoulder watching the sun go down..

i thought it is such a beautiful culture where pleasure is found in the simple things like sunsets, holding hands with friends (( yes even men and men) watching children play, running hand in hand from knee high waves ( yes even men and men).

we are here in  our second night at the waterfront room...king's asleep, xav's watching cartoons and jons downstairs at the internet cafe uploading photos....... i suppose such is life!!!!


Love the boys and banksia

Sunday, 4 September 2011