Sunday, November 15, 2009

rishikesh. yep. rishikesh...

yes! spirituality! benny is in the house!!! we arrived to rishikesh in the dim lighting setting of
a moonsoon afternoon. upon our dis-embarkation form the bus we were immidiately approached
by a very spiritual riskha driver who offered to take us to a very spiritual guest house with
very spiritual guides to help us find our way.
after 15 minutes of driving we arrived to a guest house. which didn't look very different from
the 30+ guest houses i've seen so far but was obviously much more spiritual since it cost about 30%
more than the prices i was used to. (spirituality, like everything else, has it's price).

And so after incisive searching I finally found a place after looking up a message i got online from a friend. When we arrived at the guest house the rickshaw driver apparently knew The landlady, which left me a bit perplexed since he took us to 5 other expensive places before and told us he doesn’t know other good cheap places. He also took the liberty of sitting in our new room and not leaving until he got a tip (“no, no, not 30… I want 80…”)

Settling in and paying didi for the first night (a price we later discovered was higher than she offered to other travelers, surprise, surprise…) we went out to explore rishikesh. Home to the mighty ganga river, a multitude of temples and other stuff that doesn’t matter.

First day of arrival we performed our first sacrilege by going to the biggest temple and

playing with the thousands of gods (hi fiving, skirt lifting, arguing using foul language), a photo of D Honoring the mighty god of construction is included.

After surrendering ourselves to a puja ceremony (and surrendering 50 rupees each in the process) we got lost in the infinite rooms and corridors of that 7 story building, waking up a homeless guy, sleeping in one of the deserted rooms intended for the gods, in the process.

He asked us for some money but being homeless and probably hungry he was no match for our superior walking away speed (another homeless person out-smarted! Ha ha!).

After hours on end we finally found our way out of there and set our steps toward the bridge which they say connects the touristy part of the city we stayed in, to the more authentic one on the other of the river. Although we never really crossed that bridge we did see it and the monkeys collecting passing tolls from the hands and bags of un-careful Indians and tourists crossing it.

Now… this is something most people don’t know but around 467 BC the monkeys used to run a ferry on the river (long before the bridge was built) and they used to charge a sex toll for

crossing. You could have sex with 1 monkey to cross in economy monkey class boat or have sex With 5-7 of them to go first class by monkey catapult.

All true… but don’t Google it, it’s a well kept secret and no information about it can be found anywhere (except on the secret monkey intranet).

Moving on, on the way back from the bridge we stopped in a massage parlor that looked pretty decent and got an appointment for the next day. The lady inside (who looked pretty good by all standards) assured us with smiles and winks that she had been studying kerla massage techniques for 4 years back south in her home town (retrospective note: lying seducing bitch!).

The next day we came in for a massage. Got covered in oil (I do mean “covered”, completely) and for one hour had hands sliding over our bodies (D who was treated by the lady we talked to the day before even got his wee wee oiled!, I was in the hands of an old lady and thankfully mine was left un-touched). After the endeavor we asked about the massage course (and were given a 60% discount, as a former salesman I should have known something is fishy, discounts which are “just for you” usually are).

Next day arriving at the establishment we saw this “she devil” sitting at her desk with a “massage for dummies” book, now get this: prior to explaining anything to us, she consulted the book (imagine going to a history course in uni and having you professor looking at a book to remind himself what year world war 2 started…). After our first lesson we came out very frustrated, we actually understood about eurovedic massage less than we did before the useless waste of time that con called a lesson. We spent the following hours letting our anger boil inside of us for falling into her trap, 3 hours and 4 cups of coffee later we came back there and cancelled the rest of the course.

IF she would have come to visit us and drink with us at our guest house as she promised she would when we met and IF she would do something kinky with at least one of us, as she implied she would by touching my friend’s penis and by opening the shower door when I asked for soap. We might have let it slide… Be that as it may, she never came and nothing happened and we felt cheated and angry.

Still in a course attending frenzy I enlisted to yet another massage course instead.

This one promised no discounts but had an instructor that actually knew what he was doing without consulting a guide book (also I got this cool certificate I can hang on my wall now).

Same night we also met a Swedish and an English girl who made our stay that much more pleasant (no, you perverts! nothing happened!).

My first subject was my friend D (cause nothing brings heterosexual travelling partners closer than a foot massage…) and the instructor was wearing training pants and everything was fine, We agreed to do the back the next day. That night an English girl whom we’ll name A arrived at our guest house and not wanting to keep massaging my hairy friend I offered her to be the subject of my next lesson, she was somewhat reluctant but agreed once I re-assured her it’s a back massage and she has nothing to worry about. Next day we walk into the massage room with Ramzy (a-la instructor) and at this point he informed me we’ll do the front today encouraging A to lie on her back and take her shirt off. That same Ramzy who seemed fine with doing the massage with pants on just yesterday took them off and replaced them with a loin cloth created from a towel while displaying his tanga underwear clad package.

Needless to say I felt awkward but A kept her cool, probably because, unlike me, she didn’t know it can be done with the instructor’s pants still on. The whole affair felt weird and A left after an hour despite my pleads to use her as a training subject for a while longer (she did say I was pretty good though and left her e-mail before leaving, so I guess it’s ok, right?).

Next day I managed to convince the blond Swedish girl to be my massage subject, this time it really was a back massage… surprisingly Ramzy decided to leave his pants on this time, for reasons which are beyond my understanding (surely the blond Swedish girl was worth the traditional pants off ritual…), and that was all.

I graduated the massage academy summa cum laude and received my well deserved certificate (which of course came with an offer to buy over priced massage oils…).

That night (or maybe it was the night before? Fuck it… you wouldn’t know the difference anyway ) me and the swedish girl went to buy beer at the local kiosk owned by Danish.

We were invited to sit down and join him for a smoke, when all of a sudden, 3 hours passed. Looking back I can remember talking business about running a kiosk, smoking a few joints and laughing my ass off about a product which, by it’s package, now comes with more “grung” (or some other non-existing ingredient…) which obviously makes it better since the “grung” word was written inside an exploding frame thingie…

Going back to our rooms we found Rickey who was stalking the girls room, he talked about he’s

Life, showed us some passive aggressiveness and was generally fucked by an india\drug over dose. Next day we packed our bags and got a rickshaw to the train station. Got on the train when it already started moving (again…) and I found myself back in delhi…

dharamshala -2 the revenge.

"this time i will do more than smoke and drink mint tea!" that was my promise
to myself prior to coming back for a second visit in dharamshala. and i would repeat it
like a mantra to anyone who'd listen! (no one did...)
For you see... the last time i was here, in this magical home of banished tebetians and the dalai lama (some 4 months before) i spent most of my time i
n a horizontal position inhaling and exhaling...
This time though, is going to be different! i'm going to ggo places! (coffee place - Mcloud gange),
change my way of thinking (nothing good in these parenthesis... made you look...), drink more alcohol (this one worked just as i planned it) and maybe even meet my soul mate... (i was so close... and then i introduced myself...) but most importantly, i WILL do some courses!
first 5 days were spent mainly moving between the movie room and the outside chairs in the israli
restaurant... (lazyness - 1 self fulfillment - 0)
and then... a godsend! a friend from singapore is doing a yoga course! i can join him! teras of joy went down my cheek as i contemplated the happiness of actu
ally doing a course in dharamshala... i knew i can count on his serious attitude to make it happen.
the next day 10 AM i was at the yoga place, wearing my only wide pair of pants, and my sandals
which were just used for 10 days of trekking. as a result my sandals aquired this rather distinctive and disgusting scent... one which i became aware of once i took of my sandals and
realized that they smell, and as a consequence so do my feet... th
is has put my in an awkward position, in which i have to divide my attention between the teachings of master yogi and the need to keep my feet on the ground so the smell doesn't bother the other students while they're
trying to do the "manstrating frog in a lotus" position.
2 hours of closing my eyes to relax and opening them again every 10 seconds to look at other
participants to know what the hell i'm supposed to do (the yogi had a quiet melodic whisper-like
kind off sexy utterly un-understandable voice) it was over.
i said thank you and promised to come back, i never saw him again...
now... you people have no idea how hard it is to wake up at 9 PM after a night of hard drinking
that ends at 3... and to wake up to do yoga... of all things...
maybe some of you have an idea
, but tou wouldn't go to yoga either so get off my back!
In order to save my soul from damnation allah has sent a messanger to me, telling me about
a painting class that was taught in the afternoon. "Finally!" i thought. something i can do
while intoxicated and still feel like i'm being creative or productive or other "-ive"s....

It was a chilly tuesday (or any other day) when i came into Krishna's shop.
(a l
a art teacher and seller of stoned baba paintings extra-ordinaire) he ushered me in and
seated me on the floor next to the canvas, took a brush and painted an outline of a sun, then, he put the brush in my hands and told me to... fill the outline it using the yellow paint.
i thought "ok, this is probably a test, i will have to prove my steady hand with the brush and
then he will get me on my way to creating my first kandinsky" i finished coloring the sun thingie
(just mildly going out of line...). krishna looked at it, took my brush again and added border outlines on the top and bottom and on the saides, and said to me:
"not color these lines with this coloe, don't go out of line". apparantly the sun wasn't enough and
he needed more assurences. so i did as i was told.
and let me tell you! i was like a devil with a coloring book! i filled those outlines like there was no tomorrow! upward strokes, downward strokes, even side strokes! any 5 years old would look
at me with shock and awe! as it were, the swiss girl who was sitting next to me looked at me like
i was a retarded elephant. (and you know the kind of looks they get...)
after 2 hours of relentless (and expert) coloring efforts i was sent back home to let the color dry.
arriving the next day for my coloring class i discovered krishna is not there and was informed
by his neighbour shop keeper that he is a bit sick and should come back any minute.
i sat in the nearbye coffee shop and waited to be called upon. after 15 minutes i tried again and was told by the same neighbour that he was just there and (in order to preserve the culture i guess..) said he'll be back in one hour, of course i can there an hour later to be told by the neghbour yet again that he thinks that my class might be cancelled for today
... (you don't say, sherlock...) so the next day, to get back at krishna i didn't come to the class. (except for the vengence there was the thing of me waking up too late and having a scary
craving for breakfast and some sofa chilling time).
Since i had only 2 days left prior to my scheduled departure to rishikesh i had to complete the painting ASAP. and so the following 2 days i worked for 4 hours every time when on the last day
i kept coloring untill i had 1 hour left to the bus. at this point krishna took away the brush from me and helped me finish painting the palm tree trunks and most of the leaves... (i did 1... he did the other 56...). i ran out of there to pack and we had to catch a taxi to chase down our bus and we cought it midway towards the next town (after the taxi driver nearly killed us and blew his
horn at the bus for 5 minutes).
despite everything i was happy and pleased with myself. ever since i have been carrying this canvas with a painting of palms over a sunset which was colored almost entirely by myslef!

if any of you devoted readers have a sketch you'd like colored proffesionaly, please supply me with the colors, instructions and 10 hours of work, and i swear, I will give you the best coloring money can buy! (prices may vary upon size of canvas, coloring time is a constant.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

ladies and gents, please welcome : leh and kashmir!!

ahh!!! woooo!! we love you leh and kashmir!
i want to have your baby!!! i'm your biggest fan!!

ok, ok... everyone keep cool. don't get over excited, it's bad for business...
let me tell you all about it and then you can make a calculated wise un-impulssive decision.
i was in manali for 2 days when i made contact with "a" with whom i used to travel and she told
me to get to leh as soon as possible. and so i did...
after 3 days in manali i took the night bus to leh.
there are 2 options for this ride.
A) take the ride straight, 18 hours of driving persuming there are no other cars on the road, no debris or snow falling from the snowy mountains surrounding the road, no harsh weather conditions and perferably the mini bus has no passengers.

B) the the ride with a sleep over in a tent village, bringing the total of on the road time to 30+ hours.
being in a hurry to reach leh, i chose option A.

2 AM. i am driven to a junction and waiting for the mini-van. the mini van arrives, i am seated
next to a french girl who again informs me she get's motion sickness and might throw up on me on the way... (why does this keep happening to me?!?!).
we start going. this ride is considered to be one of the most dangerous in the world (second highest motorable road in the world) but i decided it's not going to stop me! and so every 5 minutes i could see a rock to split my head on, a cliff to break my legs from, a puddle of muddy snow to help our mini van slide towards oblivion...
after wrecking my nerves on different kinds of deaths during about 16 hours of driving we
stopped for "30" minutes in the tent site so the driver could drink chai, powder their noses and freshen up in general.
2 hours later we understood something is not quite right. asking the drivers of our mini van and a few other we realized that they have decided to rebel and spend the night in the camp despite
our agreement... can't say i'm angry, that's probably what kept us alive.
well... again we were given 2 choices:
A) sleep in the tent with blankets and a heating oven.
B) sleep in the van.
the place is about 5000 meters high, so it get's very close to freez
ing temperatures at night.
and I, am an idiot, so i didn't think about that before choosing option B since i'm a cheap idiot as well as just a stupid one... paying 2$ for a mattress just seemed like too much to me when i can
have unlimited space in a van instead.
it all came down to one iraeli idiot (me!) and one italien idiot (what's his name?!) shivering in a van that's getting closer and closer to sub zero temperatures as the night progresses.
having all those empty seats around me didn't help at all and after 5 hours of shivering and 15 minutes of crying like a 13 yrs old pregnant girl dawn finally came and the sun saved me from certain death by hypothermia...
a few hours later we were in leh. it took me 20 minutes to find "A", my contact here, and it took her 20 minutes after i found her to convince me to come to an organize
d trip to kashmir.
i was left with 2 days in leh. i had to do something special so i got on this bycycle trip that goes on
the highest motorable road in the world (kardun la pass). and again... i didn't realize how cold 5000+ meters above sea level could be. so i didn't take any gloves with me. and so 2 minutes
after mounting the bike i was off it blowing hot air on my hands so i don't have to cut them off when i'm finished. (it also seemed like a good idea to retain feeling in the fingers holding the breaks when going down a cliff road surrounded by trucks...). the only way to really save my hands was using the amazing heating power of my testicles, i mean really, it's like magic.
your entire body could be freezing but your balls are just the right temperature!
(next time someone you love gets a cold, like grandma, just take those balls and put them on her
temples, you'll see the cold goes away in seconds, i did it twice, i should know).
sunday morning i find myself confronted with "T" the leader of the organize trip and i see this bunch of people and realize i'll have to spend an isolate week with them and i've never seen them before...
a 22 gypsy impersonator, a 23 yrs old crazy "i miss my boy friend" , 59 yrs old " i'm just as hip as you kids" mother, her 24 yrs old "i don't smoke hash, i'm naturally high" daughter my friend "A" with her "how much do you owe me" motto and our guide and his wife. our guide was the type that would turn any sentance into something dirty and sex related (anal, oral, beastial, sci-fi... anything!) his wife was just trying to cope with him by smoking enough drugs and rolling joint's in a frenzy that would honor any amsterdam coffee shop proffesional.
he took her to a trekking honey moon making her wealk miles upon miles, so no wonder she just
wanted to rest and toke up most of the time...
and so, this company with a few othe individuals who might (but probably won't) be mentioned later on set out to phal gam from leh.
we stopped in a town called cargil on the way. nothing, there's absolutely nothing there except
the feeling of being an infidel. which is no fun, trust me...
we stayed one night and moved on to the picturesque town of phal-gam. a town located a little to the east of srinagar, on the banks of a river, garbage on the streets, guest house hustlers hunting for tourists, a guy offering clean shaves using a butter knife sitting on the pavement with a mirror shard... you get the picture.
our guest house was a little off the main streets and so it looked completely different, located on
the banks of a small river, well attended flora, around the clock tea and water...
anyway, it was good.
we had tons of garas between us and got high periodically. one of the hardest questions i had to face when not climbing a mountain or eating inside a tent was "who should bring munchies?!".
i'm a practical guy... so when i'm hungry, i go and get something to eat, but i was stoned out of
my head most of the time, which encouraged me to find other solutions, like harrasing one of the
non smokers to go and bring us some chips using phrases like "wouldn't any one want something to chew on?" (for which i would immediately get a response from our guide "what? like a penis?
hahahaha...) or like going to sleep hungry and cranky...
after our initial week we were offered to prolong the experience and go on a glacier mountain trek. being an adventurous moron i said yes... and so on our 8th day we set out to the glacier trek. first day we went to sleep next to a river. next deay we were pushed awake by "T" who told us the weather is not so good so we better get going early. now...
it may come as a surprise to you... (it certainly was to me...) but glaciers are essentially huge chunks (like... really huge... 5 miles huge) of ice, and as such they need extremely low tempertures to stay just that... huge chunks of ice. i was wearing my short sleeve t-shirt, and had my rain coat tied to my backpack. after crossing 2 rivers and going up one hill a slow drip starte to descend on us, cooling our bodies and making it easier for us to keep walking.
5 minutes later the drip turned into light rain, making our bodies slip from the mud on the boulders and grass on the hill side. 10 minutes later mother nature came at us with all she had!
it was pouring buckets, we were forced to hide wet to our bones (or was it our bone marrows?)
under a tiny rock with a smiling goat herding kid. (probably warmed up by our suffering...)
we used our "hands on testicles" trick until we felt comfortable enough to keep walking...
we moved on... our local guide "RAMZAN" (probably a result of selective breeding between a volcano and an aircraft carrier) who didn't feel the rain or any of our collective suffering just kept repeating the mantra "yesss it is right over hill, not vorry, come, come..." i started suspecting he's trying to kill us and in a desperate move tried to clap my heels together while
whispering "there's no place like home", obviously nothing happened except for me slipping and
grabbing a ledge of ice just in time before sliding off to the half frozen river some 200 meters down. also getting the last dry part of my t-shirt completely wet and seeing the grim reaper on one of the hill tops smiling at me.
finally we arrived at the glacier... which looked - tam tam tam tam tam - just like any other mountain!!! only more slippery... the visibility was shit, we got there and guess what, once we were half way back the weather and visibility actually started to get better. kashmir screwed me over again... we got back, ate the rest of out lunch potatoes and went back to our guest house.
two days later we were on our way to dharamshala.

2 posts in one day!!! yeah!!! try and stop me now fuckers!! (i'm kidding, your not all fuckers, and... mom, dad, if your reading this... your definitely not fuckers, ok? sorry for the language)