giovedì, dicembre 15, 2011

Being back is nice. I don't like people enough to like India. I was actually a little sorry to leave, as pointed out before, but then I got to Singapore, and suddenly there were no goats eating people's rickshaws or malnourished three year olds begging by the side of the road or tiny, bony women weighed down by cords of wood while their husbands walk ten paces in front of them, and I could breathe without choking.

It threw me into some strange conjectures and conclusions about how a fairly non-corrupt, efficient authoritarian government is a way better deal for citizens than a corrupt, inefficient democracy. There is no way anybody could pretend or argue that a Singaporean at the bottom of the social scale has less agency than an Indian at the bottom of the social scale, and I write that as someone who's aware of the problem of maid abuse in Singapore. It comes to an idea as fundamental as there being no agency, no self-determination, no control in hunger. I've never understood the thinking of anti-democratic pinkos and fascists so well. They have a point.

Yes, yes, I know, Singapore is tiny and India has 1.2 billion people in it. But that's sort of the point, isn't it? How the fuck are you supposed to run a country with any sort of useful centralized vision or plan or goal when there are 1.2 billion people in it? What is the point of a government governing 1.2 billion people that isn't deeply cynical on the part of the people doing the governing? The country's structure of government is based on the British exploition of the Mughal exploitation. It's fucked. A minority vote in a country like that could represent a group of people as big and as diverse as Europe. It's an even more fucked system than the idea that the US could somehow, theoretically be run in a representational fashion by two parties based on the east coast, because at least in the US the individual states are in a condition to do things besides fuck up and pocket bribes. 

So yes. I've never understood the thinking of anti-democratic pinkos and fascists so well, but I still do feel it's retarded. The problem isn't democracy, but the nature of the democracy. I feel myself as I age and see more stuff getting increasingly anti-federalist, and definitely increasingly feminist . . . but more on that when I'm not on my way to a BBQ.

martedì, dicembre 13, 2011

On the way out

Well, shit. It's my last night here and despite all my whining I think I'm going to miss the place a bit. As I predicted my attitude started changing as soon I started meeting people who weren't overentitled rich men. Mind you - a bit. I'm still reasonably happy to be going. It's just so fucking dusty; a scirocco that lasts weeks and weeks. And that's on top of the stink of the traffic, and the way this city feels like it must be suspended over a sea of poo. Every time there's a hole in the ground (be it a construction site or a sinkhole, of which there are many) or even just standing water, the smell of shit is overwhelming. I can't get used to it; I don't want to.

Also - and without changing the subject, since the phenomenon is down to proximity of the city water pipes to the city sewage pipes, I'm told - I'm getting to the point where I'd kill for a fucking salad. I've followed the rules - no tap water, no ice, no uncooked food - and avoided Delhi belly with success so far. And of course, the food being Indian, it's even been pleasant. But shit, what I wouldn't give for a nice rich salad with lots of cucumber and red pepper and baby spinach and olives and sundried tomato and maybe a bit of anchovy all mashed up into a fatty dressing. Well, actually I wouldn't pay any more than $10 for one. So I guess $10.01 and up is what I wouldn't give.

Yesterday was a funny day. I went to the Red Mosque, which left me pretty cold; it was nice, but making a particular effort to dress modestly and then being swathed about anyways by the attendants and realizing on the way out that they'd done so so that they could try to hit me up for a gratuity on the way out ground my gears. Also - same problem as in Europe. I couldn't look at that fantastically beautiful monument to faith without seeing vast fucking shitloads of money that could go to helping poor people being blown on expensive wonders to the glory of God who's already perfectly glorious on his or her own merits. The more jaw-dropping they are, the more they fucking piss me off. And the Red Mosque was jaw-dropping.

Then my tuktuk driver offered to show me the Sikh temple, and I was curious, especially as everywhere else he kept trying on insisting to take me was somewhere to shop, and as much as people may consider it the duty of Westerners to blow the maximum amount of money possible whilst visiting developing countries so as to encourage their economies, I was fucking done with shopping. I don't need any more fucking shit. Jeebus. Anyways. On the way we got stopped behind a Jain procession. Twice. The same procession, twice. I don't think I've had the most streetwise tuktuk driver in the world. Oh well, it was neat. But that left me a bit cold too. I'd met a shitload of rich Jains at the conferences and was feeling cynical. That's not fair, considering that the tenets of the religion are rather lovely, but my brain just wasn't feeling fair.

Being aware of my unfairness, I was sort of prepared to be a bit fucked off by the Sikh temple too, but I wasn't, I suppose because it was around lunchtime and they were doing that Sikh thing they do of giving free vegetarian meals to anybody who wants one. It was lovely.

So all that made me wonder a little bit - the Sikh temple was ornate as any Baroque church but it wasn't fucking me off like everything else does. While I was wandering around the Red Mosque I thought a little sadly that being all fucked off about everything was really getting in the way of appreciating beautiful things like I used to when I was a aesthetically overwhelmed chickie in my 20s, wandering around Europe in disbelief at what lovely things men had made. But then in the Sikh temple, I was touched in the way I had been as that aesthetically overwhelmed chickie in her twenties. I have to spend some time mulling all this shit over, I guess.

lunedì, dicembre 12, 2011

Well, now

Jessica, you fuckcake, stop buying books.You've only got two eyes, and no fucking time. You think you're still in school, chickie?

domenica, dicembre 11, 2011

It's like everyone's blogging out loud

Now that work has slowed down and I'm starting to have a little time to myself that isn't fucked by jetlag and not having to spend all my time with overcashedup businessmen, I'm enjoying being here more. People tell me New Delhi has a reputation for capital-city-type coldness and indifference, but I guess that is either starting from a much warmer cultural base than most places, or doesn't apply to foreigners, who even in the rich and business districts are in pretty short supply.

I'd say people gape and stare a lot more than they do in Shanghai. I'm enjoying children running up and giggling and asking me where I'm from (especially when they don't ask me for money) and then telling me all about themselves, and enjoying grown women doing similar things. The men don't do that, not with me, but I expect they would if I was a dude.  I'm also guessing if I was a dude it'd happen a lot more often, since the women who start talking to me are either by themselves or with one other woman, and there aren't actually that many women on the streets by themselves or with one other women. It's still visibly a man's world here. The place offends my feminist sensibilities even more than my pinko sensibilities.

But getting back to not whining. People just sort of start talking to you here, and then tell you all about themselves. It's nice. I guess that's why hippies and people like that like India so much. I don't know - I'll ask some hippies when I get back to L--- - their enjoyment of a place with such jaw-droppingly inquitous social divisions and brtual treatment of women is something I'm finding confusing at the moment. Anyways, handbrake on the whining. Yesterday a woman who runs an NGO that does slum visits and things did that - just started talking and telling me all about herself - and that was super-interesting. I guess those sorts of NGOs are a pretty big employer here. They even have one for the street dogs in most neighborhoods doing a capture-spay-release programme.

What tourists there are - the others staying at this B'n'B, the ones I see out and about doing stuff - seem pretty wrapped up in shopping. Well, things are unbelievably fucking cheap here, especially with the rupee having gone to poo earlier this year. I just wish I needed more stuff, but that's the price of being efficient and already having done most of the Christmas shopping, and not really giving much of a fuck about clothes.

I've gone to town on the bookstores, though. They are awesome, and they are cheap. Among the ten or so books I've picked up so far, for example, one is John Berger's The Success and Failure of Picasso which A) you'd never fucking find in an Australian bookstore and B) cost $8 instead of the $20 that the online retailers'd charge. I've never had a stop button when it comes to books so that is gonna be my contribution to the local economy. That and my tuktuk driver.

I'll admit it. The idea of e-readers makes me feel deeply melancholy. But that's a conflicted whine for another day.