India 3 – Karnataka

‘Fucking??’ asks a guy who’d followed me from the spot where his friends where loading a truck with sugar cane.

Chrystal Clear Mirrors

I had asked the way and he thought my eyes were asking for his penis. Understandable. So I agree. Sex with a complete stranger never even talked to will be a dream finally fulfilled! ‘Yes,’ is my answer and I briskly jump off my bicycle to park it against an old rusty truck. I point towards the spot behind the truck, ‘we can do it here’, my body trembling with emotion. The guy rapidly is gone. Maybe he did not expect this quick of an approval? I would have kicked his balls up to his throat. Cycling in India makes one aggressive and good for him he did not have to ingest all the accumulated anger (like the Iranian guy who had!)

Peacefull FieldsWorking Hard

A little bit earlier a guy standing in the middle of the road, away from the high amount of sexy nakedness revealed by tourists in Hampi, asked me to marry him. The first time this happened in India, I was stricken by surprise, and I could only laugh. Now being back in Hampi, it does feel remarkable good. I select a spot carefully chosen, and first ask whether there are many tourists, as I like to have it quiet: ‘There are a few people, and some Israeli’s,’ is what the guy from Shanthi Guest House replies.

DSC_0413 (2)Baby Moves

And then I am in heaven: I have a medium sized cheap (€1.75) room right in the rice paddies. In front of my room is a kind of wooden hammock, I have evening visits from a family of frogs who love to dive in my dish filled with water, a private frog swimming pool. There’s a dog who becomes my friend, especially when I feed him and there is a vicious male monkey on the porch now and then. There are little chipmunks, smartly crawling upside down and bats will fly over and under them when the darkness sets in. The usual little salamander visits me and a cockroach decides to join in as well. The sound of crickets is never ending and that’s a big contrast with having been on the road 6 days continuously.

Of course, in such a touristy place everything is more expensive (except lodging), food being incredible tasty along the road, is here a lot less good, but for the very well prepared ‘vegetable sizzler’ and eat it almost every evening. This dish costs more than the workers daily income, and they work continuously, earning €1.30 a day.

‘Do you have fruit juice?’ I ask

‘Yes, I have Coca Cola,’ is his answer

Sisters

While I never would have thought to enjoy Hampi so much it dawns on me this was just what I needed! I even rent a scooter (and conclude the bicycle is more for me). I cuddle with a baby calf, drink chai with the men from a temple. I drive 60 kilometer an hour and let the wind kiss my cheeks. I join in to play music with the monks. I am in wonder about the play of rocks scattered by Mother Nature around Hampi. Spontaneous children jump in front of the camera or are shy and slowly opening up, their parents lovingly watching them. The intense look of a bearded man. The smell of sudden rain. ‘Prins’ the dog who opens the door with his shiny nose while I am undressing. The smell of incense. Monkeys are sliding through the world as if it’s a fairground. The green brightness of the rice fields and coconut groves. An old man leaning on his stick. Or just the simple, strong taste of something like a slice of onion makes my senses flare high up. The smell from harvesting of hay. The multicolored splash of India, the orange in devotional, the European copy-cat trying to equalize. The full moon who watches over me is only ten minutes bright and clear before she dives into the heated atmosphere. Drinking chai with locals who let me be. And once again being overwhelmed by temples! Not wanting to go to Hampi but being here, almost not to recognize the town anymore, and certainly not able to get away from it.

Festival in HampiHampi

India got me again. Fully and strongly gripped

I really enjoy India now. I can see each day why I always loved her but having cycled through a few countries now I know what I love most. And that is what I miss most. Desert. The seemingly emptiness of the Nature, the endless stretches where you are not disturbed by anything. Only you and your fading thoughts. Those parts of the world where people live as nature, and accept you right away. Where being able to live in that Nature, whether it be forest or mountains or jungle, is simple and without questioning. I notice strongly how much I miss Nature.

DSC_0810DSC_0789DSC_0803Another deserved Rest

The Elastic Movement of the Monkey

The next day I am overwhelmed by a festival. A huge wooden structure on enormous wooden wheels is slowly being pulled by ropes and countless sweating screaming men. People from all surrounding and far away villages and settlements have come. Suddenly all the foreigners with a camera have transformed to international celebrity photographers and we can click till our hearts, or SD cards, are satisfied. Monkeys are content too: bananas and coconuts swirl through the air, towards the wooden structure. I am sure this brings good luck or something, but not if one such coconut hits your head. The monkeys don’t mind, their little tiny bodies are making super bouncy movements when youngsters throw bananas at them. It’s pure bullying, but for once I don’t mind and can only laugh, out loud! Those nasty red-faced monkeys and elegant black-faced ones are so greedy they prefer being hit instead of seeking cover, and their dances are grasping and greedy. Their hands are gathering as much food as possible, their cheeks are exploding, while their arms try to protect their faces. In every way a human being. Meanwhile the grand elephant who is taken out, slowly walks through the crowds, thousands and thousands of people. Nothing disturbs him. I wonder how he feels. All this craziness, the colored powder on colored clothes, the expressions, the pushing and shoving. And most remarkable: not one who touch me.

Than, having stayed about 8 days. I tear myself loose from Hampi and jump into the hectic of Indian roads. Cycling in India is dissonance and no quietness…

Off I am.

Some more Mantainance

My precious chai drink moments of celebrated rest

On such day, having my periods, a glorious hazy headache spinning around in my head, not completely fresh after having slept a decent night and in a very small town, things can be difficult for me. All I really want is drinking a chai without being disturbed with crowds watching me, questioning me. Upon reaching the hotel, a simple, open restaurant, I get to sit behind a large refrigerator, in the hope to get some privacy. What I have forgotten is that I cycled through to get here thus everyone knows I am here, plus my bicycle stands in the front of the hotel. After I have gone through the first series of photographs posing with fathers and their offspring, I have to deal with people coming to stand in front of me, watching me. After having asked to leave me alone, they’ll come back.

‘Cindy, you can’t shove people away in a restaurant, even though they don’t order but just sit to watch you. You are in a public place. Gosh! When are you gonna learn this woman?!’ says the little, very protective and utmost guarding angel on my right shoulder (she has shifted from left to right since cycling in India), and so I give in. But I have to keep watching my bicycle as men and children like to finger it to such an extend that I start to feel an unnatural compassion for my bicycle, I start to see her as a body without arm nor legs. I start to see her as my child! People fling around with her, they touch it and they even lift her up. My precious Shanti, she is completely depended on me. ‘HEEEE, STOP IT!’ I scream to the men lifting her up. I don’t like people touching other people belongings without asking (in India this is a joke). Then, when I want to pay for my breakfast of idli and chai I am asked three times more the real price. Having been to India over 15 times now, I don’t flick my eyes, leave the exact amount on the counter and leave. I wave my audience good-bye and they’ll wave back…

Dare Devil Woman!Young CoupleEqually devote

Later on this whole scene happens again, but with a perquisite: a man standing right in front of me, giving me his suburb burp. Perhaps it is me who send out the wrong signal. Time to hit a lodge. Being a woman in her monthly period, dealing with headache and a salt deficiency needs only one thing: stalled behind curtains! Oh, I long for Yemen or Afghanistan, where curtains rules… and I am serious about this. All this anti-segregation where men obviously can not handle it makes me crazy.

Work on the BicycleI can see beauty

Being on a bicycle change the scene a 100%

Having been, as said before, to India so often, cycling through this huge country is quite another experience. I choose routes very off the touristy grid and am not bothered by touts. I try to see the country through new eyes which makes it even more overwhelming, perhaps that’s also adding to the reason I am completely exhausted at each end of the day. More than in any other country. Here, the people still live like a 100 years ago: carts being pulled by mighty bullocks, their horns colored in pink or bright green, a little copper adornment on top of it. Cows wear necklaces too, wooden beats or Indian flag colored plastic beads.

What a bone structure!HampifullWHy me?

The nerves are wide open, so much is coming in each day. And was I warned quite a few times about how dangerous India is (there are many rapes, and gang rapes, going on where foreigners are involved, also cyclists who are camping), I know myself and I know India. Rapes are happening each day in each country but I am surprised that not yet anyone has bothered me as happened in Iran. Not once. Nor am I touched, not even in a rammed festival crowd in Hampi. A place full of half-naked women who, logically, send out the wrong signal.

Good Old HampiInbetween TracksI do fit

The only thing I am not doing is camping, and since I was never a big fan of cycling in the dark, I am, well before darkness set in, safe and sound in a lodge, or a bar cum restaurant where they often serve fried fish. People are not as inviting as in Iran, not a fraction of it. I have to find lines on the map, small and white or yellow, to end the day in dirty, local lodges, but I do feel safe. And if I don’t I barricade the door with my bed.

Rocky View

I came to India to see Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole. That was the first saved star on the Google map. But Badami would be too close to Hampi and having had a rest of about 8 days already I wanted to move on. But I also wanted to see Badami! And to make a decision, I decided to trow a ‘coin’, an old Coca Cola lid pressed deep in the sand doubled a my coin. It helped me: it said ‘no’, and so I skipped it, cycling past at only 25 kilometers.

ArtyDSC_0408 (2)

The monkey

I can watch pigs with intense curiosity. Especially the very small ones, they are so small you could, if you would grab them -I have to suppress myself from doing- hold them in one hand. It is utmost cute to see them wading through the sewer dirt, having the time of their young life, splashing around like the stinking filth they joyfully roll themselves in is pure mud. So I watch them pigs, standing on the pavement, losing track of time and the knowledge how ridiculous it is I am doing. But perhaps it is not so ridiculous as I think, because what I am doing is what happens to me every day. Every day I am that little baby pig rolling around in the streets.

Monkey DSC_1060 DSC_1039

In Jevargi, a village on an intersection I am a sheer monkey. A man stand in front of the table I have sat down, he act like he is reading the newspaper but looks at me continuously. Another man too, but he bends over the table to have a better look each time he passes. A couple of kids playing absentminded are tapped on their shoulder to have a look at me ‘see, a monkey,’ which they are not interested in. Bless their innocence. I ask him why he is looking at me so much. He says he doesn’t understand English but soon he start reading the newspaper at another table. Meanwhile two women from the kitchen watch me half hidden from behind a curtain, to see how a monkey is eating. People who doesn’t pay attention to me I praise highly, because they must have sensitiveness, or just better things to do.

Then a girl comes begging. I give nothing, as I don’t want to support begging for children. Children should be in school, although it is summer holiday. By giving them money, her parents will keep benefiting an unhealthy upbringing, if that ever dawns on them. The men standing around me all give the girl some coins. Are they showing what is going on, in order to follow suit? I start explaining why I give nothing, albeit no one speaks English. I try to make clear that the girl should be in school, and otherwise, that she is able to work, since she has got two healthy looking hands as well as two able legs. By then, the girl has gone and the men have start their conversation about the ‘Amrican’ and ‘bicycle’. To whom am I talking? To a monkey?

DSC_1112DSC_1027DSC_0999

I think the girl is from a very poor family who bakes stones. Cycling East, from Bijapur towards Bidar, stone factories are plenty. Most simple by just a heap of well laid stones where inside fire is baking the stones. Donkeys are used for carrying the fresh stones and men are poking in the holes to keep the fire going. Around the stone factories -they hardly can be called a factory as there is no structure whatsoever that indicates a building- are always little girls walking with their tiny brothers and sisters. Their hair matted and their clothes oiled from dirt, out to the village to collect money. Sure I feel for them, as I feel for all the poor souls, and while cycling I start to think deeper about this subject. What is poverty?

Without going into details -we are in India- I remember reading an article in Armenia about this subject. It was a newspaper wrapped around the bread. They wrote that poverty is lack of necessary nutritious food, lack of social interaction -internet and television too- insufficient housing, and poor health-care. Quite often I get to see faces, men driving the tractor, who look like they are dying. Their expression is without words, blank and empty. Their faces bony. No turning around to see me up front, nor being surprised it’s a woman. Perhaps asking himself what’s the reason for living, struggling on his fields, in the heat, for his daily meager meal. Then I ask myself: but what’s a life worth? Is money always that important to keep a life alive?

DSC_0971

The sadhu walking

The sadhu’s, a religious ascetic or holy person who’s solely dedicated to achieving liberation, the fourth and final stage of life, through meditation and contemplation. Becoming a sadhu is quite a decision as it is not only very difficult, you need to have the desire to achieve something by leaving the world, thus cutting familial, societal and earthly attachments. I’ve past two, they were walking steadily in the heat of the day, much less wind than I am producing. Their few belongings tightened by a cord on their shoulder. The next day I pass the same man I turn around and wave at him. His voice is deep and powerful when he replied with ‘hello’. A shiver goes through my body, he might not be a sadhu, a mere pilgrim perhaps, but a deep sense overwhelms me.

Klein12-002Klein12-001Klein12

I am deeply interested in those men, as well as in the men who dress and act like women -they are a separate sect too- usually seen in trains and wedding party’s, where I am not often these days. One day, I meet such a man/woman. Oh gosh, and I have so many questions and I would like to sit with him/her and talk and ask and find out and capture her/him but she/he doesn’t speak English. Only usher me to move on, ‘aunti, go,’ is what she/he says with harsh but friendly hand movements. These man/woman are so used to talk through their hand movements, always making the persons with whom they deal with feeling ashamed, trying to unload their pockets from their money. That is their work. This time I meet her/him in his/her own village, a very small one where another archeological site is. From a distance I can see that this woman coming towards me is a fearless one. No woman in India walks like a man nor have this proud, daring and provocative glare in her eyes. Coming close I see that she is a he, and completely accepted in this village.

The delicacy of transformations

Cycling on in Karnataka I see clearly a shift in dress and head styles. The men are wearing a lot of dhoti’s, Ghandi’s way of dressing, where with one blank piece of cloth a man wraps a dress cum trouser around his, usually skinny leathery legs. One leg is having a very short piece of cloth while the other leg is covered till the ankle. I try to find out why and I think it’s easier to mouth the bicycle or tractor. Men start to wear amazingly colorful turbans and I find out it’s a small tribe in Madhya Pradesh doing this. I seem to be in the heart of cotton business, fields and bags and truck loads full of this white puffy growing. A lot is lost through transportation and the road is lined with whiteness.

PalmgroovyFestivityHigh up Monkey templeNap TimeBoulder Park

A forty degree in the room and 44 degrees around late afternoon. Sweat is streaming down my face as soon as I get to a halt, one reason why I keep moving. I don’t have to stop for peeing anymore as the need is gone. Guess I need to drink more. And I cycle on some more…

Rastafari?Love of a FamilyDeep!Cheeky Little One

 

The month of April 2014

9 responses to “India 3 – Karnataka

  1. Hoi Cin, Ik hoor wel eens dat het vertalen van zo’n lang Engels stuk van je weblog voor een aantal mensen maakt dat ze niet aan je artikel toekomen. Het vraagt zeker veel tijd om het ook in het Nederlands te sturen? Prachtige foto’s weer. Ik ben aan het lezen nog niet toegekomen; dat vraagt tijd.

    Ik vond het erg gezellig dat jullie op de koffie kwamen en we samen naar Well Dunn zijn gegaan. Fijn dat jullie dat ook vonden. De houding van je moeder wat betreft haar ziekte is nog erg hoopvol en ze heeft nog vertrouwen dat ze nog een tijdje bij ons kan zijn. Bewonderenswaardig!. Ik weet niet hoe ik zou zijn in haar situatie. Voor jou ook erg moeilijk. Wanneer komt Charlotte terug? Die zal het ook erg moeilijk krijgen. Hopelijk kunnen jullie dan samen erover praten en elkaar steunen. Sterkte ermee Cin.

    X Marijke

    Like

    • Hoi Marijke,

      Vertalen in het Nederlands doe ik niet. Het is al zoveel werk om het in het Engels te doen, dat ik heb gekozen voor één taal. Weet je dat de meeste mensen die het lazen in het Nederlands toch nooit commentaar geven, en het dan ook zo beperkt gelezen wordt: alleen door Nederlanders, dat ik in het Engels verder ben gegaan.

      Foto’s vertellen ook veel hé : ) het schrijven is iets dat ik toch eigenlijk vooral voor mezelf doe en Engels is gewoon beter voor mij zelf dan. Niet altijd beter in ‘schoolkundig’ opzicht trouwens ; )

      Charlotte komt over twee weken thuis, denk ik.
      Henrik morgen. Weet nog niet wat ik ga doen trouwens. Australië lonkt zo! Als ik naar Australië ga, zit India er misschien weer in : )

      Ja, wij vonden het inderdaad leuk bij Well Dunn. Goede band! Leuke mensen!

      Liefs Cin

      Like

  2. THX Cin! En alweer zo’n prachtige foto’s!
    Het beste voor je mama, ik denk vaak aan haart.
    Liefs, Rita
    (ben in sept. in Tanzania)

    Like

    • Hoi Rita, fijn dat je er van genoten hebt. Ik heb eigenlijk teveel goede foto’s van India! Weet niet waar ik ze kwijt moet?

      Jouw verslag heb ik nog steeds niet hoor. Raar hè? Of ben je er nog niet aan toegekomen misschien?

      Ik denk ook veel aan ma.. maar goed dat ik hier ben : ) Liefs Cin

      Like

      • Australië… da’s behoorlijk ver!
        Verslagjes heb ik direct gestuurd naar nieuw adres, zal het nog eens proberen.

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      • Ja… maar Australia ligt wel op de route India naar Mongolië. Al wat er tussen zit heb ik ‘al gezien’ en trekt me niet zo voor op de fiets. Mongolië via China zit er nu niet in omdat ik dan weer in de winter arriveer. Dus sja…. Na lang wikken en wegen kwam ik hierop uit. Maar ja, zie waar ik nu ben 😉

        Like

  3. Bijzonder verslag en prachtige foto’s. Ik ‘proef’ India in Iedere zin.
    Ik hoop dat je het project van de RLEK in de toekomst nog eens kan gaan bezoeken. Dharmender kijkt er ook naar uit.

    Like

    • Ik ga me binnenkort eens inlezen over het visa van India. Schijnt dat je persoonlijk moet aanvragen in Den Haag?! Dat lijkt me sterk hoor! Als het makkelijk te regelen is kan ik wellicht met een tussenstop in India naar Australië. Eerst even wachten wat ma gaat doen…

      Het volgende verslag zit ik er weer helemaal in, de liefde voor India spat er dan vanaf. Maar fietsen? Nee, liever niet meer!

      Liefs Cin

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