Yesterday (and I literally mean the whole day) I spent
in Madras, achieving astonishingly little. The only thing I succeed
at in Madras is getting bitten by mosquitos, and actually doing anything
as revolutionary as travelling of few kilometres across town and looking
in half a dozen shops is apparently impossible. Things would have been
easier if, like I did previously, I took the bus. Taking buses in Madras
isn't simple or quick, but neither is anything else. Hiring you own
fuckign taxi for the entire day isn't either, so it turns out; at least
not when you have to share it with other people.
It was suggested to me that I should share a taxi with Mick (old Brummie
surfer, nice fellow). Mick had shouted down to me from his balcony the
other day to discuss this. I went up to his room, where I found out
he'd been "bitten by a fucking fish, mate". He had. He'd been
up to his waist in water, and had been stung by some kind of manta ray,
which had given him two small puncture wounds on his ankle and sent
him immediately to hospital with a paralysed leg and a lot of pain.
This had happened an hour or so ago, but he seemed to be coping. As
far as I could tell, half of the agony had come from the fact that he'd
been teaching two attractive young Swedish girls to surf at the time,
and had had to go limping out of the sea suddenly, thus losing face.
Mick had casually mentioned to me that an Australian woman would be
joining us, which meant we'd save another Rs250 on the taxi fare, as
we split it three ways. This seems like a nice economy to me. It wasn't.
Even the most money conscious person couldn't have put up with this
fucking woman with the saving of about 3.30 pounds. She looks like a
very ageing goth porn star with some of most awful fake breasts I've
ever seen, and talks as if she takes half a bottle of valium and maybe
some heroin every morning. When I'd first met her I'd wondered how she'd
stayed so pale, considering she'd been in the country for so many months.
Quickly I realised; it was because she was never out of the fucking
Mick took me to see his workshop, where a few Indians conspire to effectively
rebuild 60s and 70s Indian Lambretta scooters from scratch, which he
then intends to ship back to England. I think I want a scooter, though
my backpack is already heavy enough as it is. And I'll not dwell too
much on the pointless three hours I spent waiting for this fucking woman
after she spent five hours doing nothing instead of the maximum two
she promised (we got back to Mamallpuram at 11.30pm instead of 7.30pm).
I had an interesting conversation with a social worker and a rastafied
beggar, anyway, which almost makes up for the wasted time.
I bought a sitar. I haven't yet tried to play or tune it, but I'm pretty
certain it's a good model. I paid exactly Rs5,000, including case, extra
strings, book and a few bits and bobs. Down the road, at the popular
and overpriced Sapstwara music, they offered what seemed to be the same
model for Rs7,000, albeit with a little plastic label saying where it
was made on it. When I woke up this morning I saw my sitar, and realised
how fucking massive it is. It really is. It's going to be like carting
a double bass round the country.
Part of this is because of the bollock. In the South, more popular than
the sitar is the rather dull veena. The veena, as well as the normal
pumpkin gourd at the bottom, also has a bollock on the other end, to
aid with resonating of the strings and suchlike. Probably beause of
the popularly of the bollocked-veena, all sitars you buy in Madras seem
to be fitted with this same, incongrous bollock. And the thing seems
to weigh as much as the rest of the instrument put together, which can't
Today is my day of rest. It began with a swim, followed by a return
to my guesthouse to see a large group of Indians gathered around a man
with what seemed to be a dead, ginger mink. I'm not sure what he was
doing, or why he was scraping at the thing and giving the Indians bits
of it to smell. For some reason Mamallpuram seems to be rife with people
carrying dead things; on the bus, a lady tried to sell me two stuffed,
and very astonished-looking, squirrels, and yesterday a man with a dog
skin (head inc.) draped over his arm was wandering through the bus station.
No one seemed to be buying.