Saturday, February 14, 2004


Ack, I am still vibrating from all the scooter-driving [your lewd comment here]. Today I met the girls and The Real Hanuman (who is from Hawaii and looks like / loves the minkey god and uses his western name) for Indian breakfast at Green Leaf. The Bald Tattoed guy from NYC was also there and after some time Lino showed his shaved, beautifully-shaped head. What a storyteller. And an imp to boot.....Afterwards the four of us (Miss Y, Bindi, H and I) headed up Chamundi HIll on scooters (you're sposed to walk up but, um, I'm still recovering). We stopped at the giant Nandi (Shiva's mount, a bull) and did a puja (gave rupees, got holy water and kum-kum powder and walked around the giant stone bull clockwise three times). Then we went to see the Cyber Saddu (renuncient or holy man) in his cave. He had an altar of many gods including of course Shiva (The Destroyer, with the trident and Ganges river flowing from his hair). There was a cushion on the ceiling of the very low doorway where people bump their heads, which seemed to impress most of his visitors. There were also a couple of resident western chicks in another alcove making chai and doing who knows what else. One of them was from San Francisco (of course) and the other was pregnant and I thought, Saddhu's baby. BAD LADY for thinking that. The Saddhu had wonderful long matted beard and hair and great eyes and a pot belly, and offered us chai and prasad (sweets) but no weed, as has been rumored (good thing since I'm a big pot prude). Then he took a cell phone call while we sat on the side -- the cave was a little stinky, underneath the heavy incense -- and watched Indian people come in. It was a treat to be in the audience, instead of the unwilling performance artist. And let me tell you, not all of the natives knew what to do either. He kept handing them what looked like water softener pellets and some knew what to do w/ them, others didn't. (I guess you just eat it -- I heard him tell someone it's sacre, or sugar). At one point a bevy of thin, pint-size girls in matching khaki uniforms and hair piled up the same way came in and they seemed reverent but *really* confused. They didn't stay long.

Afterwards we went up to the top of the hill and instead of going to the temple of Chamundi (an avatar of Parvati or wife of Shiva. who kicked some demon ass) we went to the Godly Musuem, where a woman in a white sari explained the entire exhibition, which was too out-there to describe in mere words. Suffice to say we are all going to hell, and then heaven will come here, and it's all very colorful.

Against my better judgment we eschewed the temple and scooted to Lalith Mahal, the fancy palace / hotel with the pool and restaurant with the Rs 200 ($4) thalis (thalis or meals are usually Rs 15 to Rs 30, at least at the places I frequent). It turned out the only thing they had to eat was an Rs 350 Valentine's Day buffet that included Indian dishes and British leftovers such as shepherd's pie and vegetables au gratin. At least there was live INDIAN music.....Strange experience and the bill was a heartstopper -- my food budget for the week. We checked out the pool and many westerners were there. Not my scene. Or Bindi's, thank Durga....

We scrammed and popped by Prashanth's CD / VCD store, Reggea [sic] n Raga. He was there with two of his buddies, plotting to go to the next showing of Phone Booth. We piggybacked on their trip but when we got to the theater they were missing a reel (surprise! It's INDIA!) and we had no backup plan (a byproduct of living in the moment, every moment). We drove to some other theaters -- me on the scooter trying to follow Prashanth, who had three guys on his really fast motorcycle in heavy traffic, trying to elude the cops (you can only have three on a two wheeler if one member is your kid). After losing them a few times we ended up together at a Kannada film called Dhum (pronounced "dumb") at Lakshmi Talkies [band name alert]. It lived up to its name and featured a tough hero from a small village, with rolled-up sleeves with a score to settle (his gesture was to keep checking the sword he kept down the back of his shirt). The women were overweight, which was awesome, and most of the men wore dhotis, were fat and had moustaches. Love Kannada fil-ums. The dance sequences were unusual and fun (so were the costumes) and the music was great. There was too much talking, however, and the plot was muddled. Lots of death and suicide and fighting, then CUT to dancing at a water park. A great time was had by all but one member (P's friend,who left at halftime because he thought it sucked).

That said, can I just say how many westerners we run into who are afraid to go to the movies here? Their eyes get soooo big when we tell them we're going to the movies. I remember my last trip, it was so hard to find someone to drag along. You don't go alone, that's for sure. But HELLO! It's a movie. TRY IT SOMETIME. It sure beats the tailor for entertainment value. And you might actually learn a thing or two about the local culture.

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