“The Nepali Bee & Bird Show”

India Travel Diary 13 –  From Siliguri to Kashi Toppu Wildlife Sanctuary

 Wednesday, March 13th 1991

This morning got up and took the bus to Siliguri, from there after a blue turban candle lit lunch in a Punjabi beer hall we taxied to the frontier of Nepal.

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On the border of Nepal and India

And with  a slow  deliberate promptness made it through Indian customs then crossed the one kilometer bridge and then through Nepali customs, we made our way to a tree lined avenue where we found the bank and did our currency change while Sabubu was schmoozed by the clerks.

Itahari, Nepal

Afterwards we went off to get our tickets for the bus, Nepal has these old coffin like buses with bars on the window, no escape for the disenchanted and a test of mental strength for the claustrophobic.  The insides are upholstered with velvet, shag carpets, bangles, bells, portraits of Krishna, altars with burning incense. We head to Ithari,  a crossroad dustbin which we reached after 150 kilometers in body numbing five hours, we arrived at night and were able to get some semi decent accommodations at the Nepal Lodge, with Elvis Rajna Ali Presley as the inn keeper. We tried to find some food in the fly infested town but wound up back at the lodge, retiring to grumbly tummies, I wondered how many grumbly tummies were out there tonight.

Thursday March 14th 1991

Kashi Toppu Wildlife Sanctuary, Nepal.

We got up early, around 7 AM to get a bus, we went out into the square where all the buses were lined up, people walking around, and are waiting for a bus to Kashi Toppu Wildlife Preserve. We got an omelette and veg pakora, two teas, and four pieces of toast with jam for 85C US. Well well well, in the north things are very different, buses break down with stunning regularity but prices are cheap.

Well our bus broke down somewhere a half hour out of town, as the driver and his sidekick decided what to do, as we found out we were waiting  for a replacement part or another bus. So here we were by the roadside, we decided to try and hitchhike and behold we got  whisked away in a large pale green embassador with all the disembarked passengers of the bus looking on in surprise. It was like a movie unfolding,  the driver and navigator were military men in the front seat, and we sat in the back with  Mohan Krishna Kharel, a lawyer. They took us to within miles of our destination to the local police station, chatting about life in Canada and sharing insights about Nepal. As we pulled into the small town a large bee came in a window and all the occupants started to panic, and no matter how I reassured them I honestly thought everyone was going to jump out of the moving car. When we got into town everyone bailed and I got a bee out of the car without harming it, it’s an agreement I have with the bee kingdom to serve and protect all bees in their daily travail.. Many heartfelt thanks were exchanged for the bee extraction service and we thanked them for the comfortable ride.

At the police station we had a lengthy conversation with the chief of police who was more interested in our travels and in Sabu. Our questions about the reserve and our search for the warden at the reserve seemed to be of no interest to them. We left unsatisfied and back out in the heat of the day as we started down the dusty main road until we came to a crossroad with a sign pointing down a dirt road for the two kilometer walk to the Wardens house. On the way we met the assistant warden who told us that the warden was in Kathmandu but to go  on ahead to the office and that he would be with us in a few hours.

Sabu mentioned on how, when we were in Darjeeling that the Head Lama of the Orgyen Kunzang Chökhorling Monastery wasn’t there, but in Bombay and that is why we didn’t get an answer at the door. We are always searching for patterns of events or numerical events to give us clues at what might be coming along or taking place. Coincidence or not?

Well the  OKC Lama is in Mumbai, and the Warden in Kathmandu, and as we have just learned, the Living Goddess will soon make a public appearance in Kathmandu and decided to put that on our itinerary. So we waited in the office, played games, sketched, ate peanut butter, then finally Jan, a Swedish bird watcher arrived and introduced himself and gave us the heads up on what was going on.

He took us on as students and we booked our bird watching times for the next few days.  Soon after a group of people showed up, villagers, it seems some local farmer got pissed off with the game preserves champion elephant’s rampage in the farmers fields, so he had chopped off it’s penis with a machete. Now the elephant went on a rampage and disappeared into the underbrush. They think the elephant could be as far a sixty miles away. It will probably bleed to death, so a search party was being organized to go and get it. To many tigers out there for me to go and look for it, besides we soon would have our own beasts to tend with.

We were shown our room, though it was suppose to be a room, it really did look more like a stable with two impromptu cots set up, a small bench and a candle.  When we got the candles on we realized the room was inhabited by these huge cockroaches , Sabu and I each had our own cot, we played magnetic chess under Sabu’s mosquito net. We put on a kraftwerk tape in order to chill out a bit, and we started seeing more of the large roaches, so on the way back to my cot I decided to thump a few with my shoe. Well, they all started flying around the room and I barely got back under my net in time to witness them assaulting my net revealing large pincers. I hadn’t realized just how nasty these things looked as they continued to hurl themselves on my net. Very uneasy night of sleeping with all clothes on, even a hat.  Tomorrow it is bird watching at dawn with Jan, and swimming in the Ganga tributary.

Friday, March 15th 1991

Up at the crack of dawn and much to our surprise all the bugs had gone as we readied for our bird watching lessons with Jan the birdman of Septa Kosi Camp. We saw over thirty varieties of birds, some river eagles, egrets, a kingfisher that was viridian green with a red beak and orange head. But best of all  we saw a Bee Eater from ten feet away, using a scope, we enjoyed such incredible detail. Then a  thunderstorm chased us back to camp for breakfast of eggs and toast and chai. We did our laundry, and went back out to do some more bird watching till seven when dindin was served. Dahl bat and rice, I already am tired of this food and it has just begun.

Rose RInged Parakeet

Rose Ringed Parakeet

Black and white Kingfisher

Black and white Kingfisher

Open Billed Heron

Open Billed Heron

Egret

Egret

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Indian Darter

Indian Darter

 

Blue Tailed Bee Eater

Blue Tailed Bee Eater

Drongo

Drongo

Other birds we saw was drongos, cuckoos, ospreys, parakeets, open billed heron, black white kingfisher, Indian darter, then we stayed outdoors to stretch out on a bridge over a gurgling stream and did some star gazing. We went home to settle in for dream until a curious George in the window, woke us up and I had to chase him away.

 

 

Stopping by Ghoom Monastery for butter tea & tsampa

India Travel Diary 12 Darjeeling 

Saturday March 9th 1991

Darjeeling, West Bengal

Well until now we had this dream like high regard for Tibetans, because we hadn’t met the inn keeper of the Hotel Tara who turned out to be a complete A-hole when we had the audacity to mention his place was dirty and how we froze all night. He went ballistic on us with a tirade of Tibetan which we couldn’t understand but got the message as he shoved us out of his hotel.

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Napo near Observation Hill, Darjeeling

We were able to get another room at the Prestige, a bit more upscale, then we did a shopping spree in Darjeeling, hats, and a cool rat boy brand knife, tea cookies, and chatahs to keep the cool night air off our shoulders, just simple things to have to make ourselves feel good. We followed that up with a meal at a Tibetan restaurant, and we discovered the momo pie and soup. A young girl gave us our Tibetan lessons, and upon returning to the Prestige, the ole Tibetan grandmother had a good laugh at Sabagee’s seventy rupee hat. Cold night, huddled tight in a spoonish sleep praying for sunrise.

Sunday, March 10th 1991

Tomorrow is the annual march marking the thirty second year of exile for HH the Dalai Lama and marks the beginning of the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese. We got up before sunrise and went to get a view of Mount Kapunchanga at sunrise; its peek is twenty three thousand feet. We then went onto Ghoom via a backroad and we stoped at the Aloobari Monastery, but nobody home and so the monkey and the tiger continued onto Ghoom. There by the railway station I found an eagle feather as this nineteen year old monk named Thapkhe, came up along the road to show us the way to the Guru Shakya Monastery. At first he was reserved as he led us up the steps behind a house, with some women washing laundry on the steps and others hanging it out to dry. Then we continued through the gates into a courtyard and as I came up I tripped and fell, and a young boy monk asked, “Where are you going? And I answered, “Yes, where am I going? Sabu and the monk, Thapkhe laughed as I looked up from the ground in the monastary courtyard. A group of young boys ran out and we were lead to the main part of the temple, one old lone monk sat at the back with a cymbal and twirly drum doing a rampant beat while he recited his prayers from a long horizontal prayer book, as he flipped pages he never missed a beat he looked over and smiled. Thapkhe showed us all the various altars and murals painted eighty years earlier. We then made an offering and were ready to leave when the monk in prayer motioned Thapkhe to have us sit and have some butter tea and bread. A very typical food eaten by the monks, especially when they travel, both items are easy to make under most severe conditions and are sustaining and nutritious.

Tsampa and Butter Tea

Tsampa and Butter Tea

The butter tea was a bit salty, nothing I could easily gulp down, it leaves you smacking your lips, I guess it’s Tibetan lip gloss for the harsh sunlight at these high altitudes. We told them of our journey and they told us of the monastery life for young boys and the education system, parents who cannot afford to educate or care for there boys send them off to monastaries. All of this went on while the lone monk resumed his prayer, then without loosing a beat, in his prayer he said goodbye to us. We walked out and Sabu took a photo of me in front of the Monastery.

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Thapkhe and young students at Ghoom Monastery, Darjeeling

We made our way over the hill past a Gurka Military Outpost and stopped in the local graveyard. We decided to stop to rest in the sunlight; we found a spot away from the gravestones on the side of a hill and laid down to rest. I fell asleep and when I awoke I had something in my hand. When I examined it closely I realized it was a human finger bone, I only recognized it because I use to have a fossilized finger bone in my bones and stones collection. I laid it down and realized I had been lying on a grave.I didn’t remember my dream but remember it being very peaceful sleep. Slowly in the late afternoon the fog descended, hiding all the snow capped mountains. At this time of year the fog descends from sunrise to ten thirty or so, then returns at sundown for a few hours. In the evening I drew while Sabubu did her meditation.

Tuesday March 12th 1991

We got up at six to catch the sunrise at Observatory Hill were we met Tony and Linda, he was from London and she was from Wisconsin. They had completed the eight day trek to the base camp of Mount Everest. They looked very thin and rough, obviously spent from the trip we went for breakfast together and exchanged information about Nepal and the does and don’ts. We then separated ways, we stopped at the homeopath for remedies then home for washing clothing and sewing a package for the GPO; all along we have been creating care packages of things we don’t want to carry with us and shipping them by sea post. You had to get some cotton, a sewing needle and some strong thread. You start by putting your things in a small box and then wrapping it in brown paper, after which you wrap in cotton and sew together. Then at the post office you can use the large brush with the ink pot to write out your street address. We used the return address part to fill in with an alternate address in Canada, just in case it didn’t make it to the first address. Went to GPO to drop off our package where the post office agent melts red wax onto the threaded areas and impresses the local postal seal into the wax. We then do a short prayer for safe journey bidding it farewell an safe journey for three months in the hull of a ship, through time to ourselves on the other side of the world in the future. The agent respectfully watches patiently as we do our parting prayers.

Then went to the other side of the mountain for clothing drying in the tall grass and letter writing, sketching and sleeping in the sunlite. Later we did the rupe exchange on the BM for extra cash. In the evening we went for a typical Nepali meal, a pungent non exotic, non Indian meal with basic dahl and rice, on the way home at Observation Hill we were treated to a pan, by the pan man. It was a cool blustery night as we watched him make it, taking a beetle leaf and smearing it with tar like goo, then laying lines of spices and beetle nut shavings, then looking up and smiling and putting other mystery ingredients none of which I could identify. It took a lot of chewing and struggling not to have it pop out of my mouth out onto the street. After twenty minutes of hard chewing I was still trying to break it down, I don’t think my teeth could benefit from the continued use of pan. It was interesting and enjoyable but nothing I would go searching for. In the afternoon we went to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute to get maps and information on treks, we also bought some badges.

Next to it was a zoo, the sad Darjeeling zoo, a large cartoon like iron bar cage held a Siberian tiger. His head was as big as my torso, I was mesmerized by his size and power and it lay there panting. I walked up slowly taking care and stood a few feet behind it’s head. He yawed and the size of his mouth and his incredible fangs made me step back. As it yaned and leaned back looking at me, in it’s eyes I realized he was extremely pissed off and probably would have loved demonstrating his frustration on me. We also saw the sad manic depressed pacing back and forth psychotic leopard, the sleepy moping timber wolf, the brain dead monkey, and the eagle that had no equilibrium and was either about to fall over. Then he would fall on his side and roll around the cage and suddenly would pop up only to go through more swaying sea sick rolling onto getting up again. All zoos suck and I really don’t see the point of any of it, it reminds me of the crying gorilla at the Bronx Zoo that sat in his cage sobbing and refusing to make eye contact. Went home to draw and paint, write and sleep, tomorrow it’s doubling back to Siliguri then on to Kakatrabitra, Nepal the site of a wildlife preserve.

“Card Cheats and Dusty Museums of Kolkata”

India Travel Diary 11,  from Kolkata to Darjeeling

Wednesday March 6th, 1991

Some days have gone by, we have been able to see a lot of the city, and avoid one out of control riot where many people are trampled and killed. It is astonishing that something so noisy and chaotic can be so self contained and happening just blocks from where you are wandering.

Yesterday we spent the day buying our tickets at the Sealdah Train Station for our trip to Darjeeling and buying art supplies. We found these little watercolor boxes for a five rupees along with some great brushes, we are settling into making small paintings to while away the hours, we also have a lot of various games to pass the time when on trains, though most of the time we are dealing with the million top questions asked of westies when traveling third class or no class what so ever.

Another detail about the deadly demonstration was at BBD Bag, we could barely hear it from inside the reservation office, people went about their business seemingly unaware of the happenings nearby. Sabu was burnt out and tired but fortunate for us a friendly old train station attendant guided us away from the problem the chaos and back to our Kolkata .

Back stairwell the Indian Museum,of Natural History, Kolkata

We walked along the hot Medan which is a rat river after sundown; so we were told by a local, the one positive side is the exhaust free green belt back from the Birla Planetarium Museum. We also went to the Indian Museum of Natural History on Nehru Road. It is an old time colonial style museum with many artifacts decomposing or sitting under an inch of dust, just the way I like my museums dusty and forgotten. A lot of the artifacts were in crates or on skids, because of ongoing renovation, I got a great picture of Kali Ma cut from black basalt sitting on a wood skid and bound with large ropes.

More about pann splatters, the main staircases of the museum of Natural History all have the corner’s panned. For those not acquainted with pann, it is this mix of betel nut and other spices and herbs all mixed together and held by a betel leaf. The package looks like a three sided pyramid, you push the entire thing into your mouth, usually it tests the limits of the size of your gaping mouth as you shove it into your face. You start to chew and continue to chew and chew until it breaks down into a tasty crunchy glop, it causes you to want to spit, and many people seem to think that the corners of semi public spaces is the perfect place to let go a rich alizarin crimson red gob of pann juice with a smattering of solids and the occasional leafy bit highlight of green, thus the term Sabu and I have coined “ pann your corners” although this term isn’t officially recognized in India or anywhere else.

We got some great pics of artifacts, we saw a mutation display, with two headed goats, calves, deformed human babies, and a perfect child in a large beaker, all of which float in formaldehyde, but where do they keep the soul I wondered? Oh right, it’s onwards into the next life. We entered one room in the art gallery section, all we could see was a large plexi oval bubble on the wall at far end of a fourty foot room, as we approached we realized it was a painting on a grain of rice of a man.

What you can do with a grain of rice! The plexi lens enlarged it to a few inches so you could see the detail. Impressive what people can do when they have the time and little distraction.

Thursday March 7th 1991

Got up at six thirty am and went to the market to get some cardamom and milk for Sabagi’s stomach, as we left two beggars, the one pulling the wagon was partially disfigured and a few missing digits, while the one in the wagon was a quadriplegic with the most amazing smile. When he looked at me he appeared hovering on a silk rug held up by golden light. I emptied my pockets of all the coins I had which turned out to be a fistful of coins. Up until now I had been dolling out the one rupee coins one at a time with a daily average of ten coins, but now considering changing it to one jackpot giveaway of whatever coins I have in my pocket at that moment. There is a lot of coin management here, it’s sort of that pirate theme of gold bullion in a sac, except its most of it coinage is aluminum. I held the wagon pullers stumpy hand for a moment, sent some good energy both exploded in joy and we went off to the market with the idea of attempting to make a salad.

Buying our salad fixings

Went to visit Kalighat Temple (Kali Temple) in Kolkata and hung out with kids feeding them oranges and peanut butter sandwiches and playing street games, they took us to visit Mother Teresa’s Mission. A nun came to the door and said Mother Teresa was resting and to come back later in the day. However, we were never able to find our way back for the visit.

Mother Teresa's Mission in Kolkata

Mother Teresa’s Mission in Kolkata

Took more photos that might appear normal now but will look somewhat odd later. The photos are of women, children and pigs vying for anything nutritional in garbage strewn in the street and in two brimming yellow dumpsters. We finally reached the market, got our supplies and returned to the hot hell room. All the leafy greens had to be washed in our iodine filtered water so the process of creating a salad took us most of the evening.

The day before we had realized that a portion of our airline tickets where missing, and we would need them to book our flights back to norde America. I remembered advice about bureaucracy, “most of the time the truth isn’t good enough, you have to make it an interesting story”. There bored I guess and the same old mishaps have been dealt with so many times that they probably have an unfavorable response in the form of a Policy. So you need to make it unusual, and out in left field. We went to the Cathay Pacific office to tell them of our dilemma, that we had discovered the return portion of our tickets missing and we needed to have new tickets issued.

We didn’t want to tell them that they had been ripped out by the boarding pass clerk in Hong Kong, so we told them they had been stolen. They told us that they needed a police report in order to issue new tickets, so we went off to the police station to fill out a report on the theft of our precious tickets. We were brought into a large room with several desks, large windows to one side, and a jail cell with a few tired looking criminal types. From their jail cell perspective, we were the afternoon entertainment, not to mention the young blond western girl they could oogle.

The police officer told them to settle down, and he had sit us at the chief detectives desk. On it was a old thirty eight, just sitting there next to a ledger like book. We got our water colors out, realizing it might be a long wait, I always have been able to read quickly upside down text so we had a good laugh over the arrest records in the open ledger on the desk. Most of them were for cheating at cards, or fighting for cheating at cards, or card cheat brawls.

When the detective entered, he put the gun in his top drawer and closed the arrest book. He then got a sheet of paper out, and chai was brought for everyone. We explained that our airline tickets had been stolen and we were reporting it, only thing we never expected we would have to describe the crime, I guess we figured it happened while we were sleeping. The detective wanted a location so we told him it happened at the Birla Planetarium, and then he wanted a description of the person. At this point the inmates in the cell had started helping us out with the description of the fellow. The detective was absolutely absent from the entire experience, we thanked the inmates, the detective had us sign the report, he gave us a receipt and forty minutes later we left laughing and wondering what had just happened. Then we scuttled back to Cathay Pacific to pick up tickets for home, home on the range.

Had to hurry back to our hothell to pack and rush to catch the seven pm train from Sealdah Train Station. We got there at five by cab with two policeman in the front seat telling us not to be foolish in Kali, cuz’ of the crime outside the station. We sat trying to contain our laughter thinking back on the card fighting criminals. Outside the station we got a picture of a bicycle rickshaw graveyard. We were taking an overnight train. In the station a group of kids were following us.

Sealdah Station, Kolkata

Abandoned rickshaws and bicycles at Selda Station, Kolkata

Abandoned rickshaws and bicycles at Selda Station, Kolkata

We took pictures of them, made peanut butter sandwiches that went over better than the first time we tried. The first time we offered a peanut butter sandwich to a woman begging for food, she did the classic Babbu and held her pinched fingers to her mouth and she threw the sandwich at us. So the kids ate, at one point the kindly Indian business man came along to hit the children with his briefcase and chased them away. He used his briefcase on one of the young girls, when we yelled at him to stop and what was his problem for doing so, he got very angry at us and started cursing us then stomped away.

We decided it was train time and a long journey north to Siliguri, the last incident had really put a horrible sad note on the end of our Kolkata journey. It took so long to leave the city, it’s circumference is two hundred and sixteen kilometers. The train rolled past houses, huts, all manner of enclosures with people and their cooking fires, the air was thick and black, and smelled of every imaginable substance from kerosene, coal, , cow dung, mixed with the smell of decay and shit. Dim lights rising, dimming and disappearing through the pollution of the early evening.

Friday, March 8th, 1991

Siliguri, West Bengal

We arrived in the am to transfer to the Darjeeling Toy Train that is also blue like the Toy train in Ooty. The train takes you to Siliguri Junction and we bused the rest of the way. The bus broke down twice, and we got there exhausted, it was cool and drizzling. The entire train ride is six or seven hours, and after the train to Siliguri, We thought the bus easier, didn’t turn out that way .

On the toy train I got to ride in the engine. We ended up at the broken down Hotel Tara freezing in the high elevation night air, we huddled away under the covers till the next day, truly burnt out from our trip on the overnight second class ride and the unending bus ride up the mountain passes.

 

“India Diary ONE Minute Flashback”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfdQbKTYaPw

A one minute flashback of India

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Doing my watercolor “Song of LIfe” at Harishchandra Ghat in Varnasi, India

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Why I Hate Post-Internet Art

Napo B:

a very compelling argument, the only time post should be used is when posting a comment or when your at the races. What ever happened to the post renaissance, I blame post impressionism for all this name calling, we are still in the internet and making proto-internet art.

Originally posted on :

I really don’t like “post-internet art.” I don’t like the term and I don’t like the art that’s presented under its banner. Lots of people tell me that they don’t like it, either.

Whether people like it, or hate it, or feel indifferent, it seems like they all know what “post-internet” means but they can’t articulate it. The vagueness of post-internet, paired with the assumption that everyone knows what it means, is one of the most aggravating things about it. “I know it when I see it”—like porn, right? And it’s not a bad analogy, because post-internet art does to art what porn does to sex.

But let’s try to define it anyway.

I first came across “post-internet” when it was the title of the blog that Gene McHugh kept in 2009 and 2010. The use of “post-internet” as a label wasn’t common then—no one besides Marisa Olson really used…

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Sex Pet, Release, Pause, Explode

Sex Pet

Sex Pet

Sometimes she would call

On the fist of texted love

Slow message ooze talking

All about wrestle and roll

A kind of love bombing

Energy gathering and particle smashing

Light transmissions in the silent dark

Bridge proposals for two solitudes

As they sank beneath the blissfull waves

Between her trees and to  their nest

Pulled in by her laughter’s  hungry growls

Darting words and tap dancing fingers

They rocked the craddle of civilization

Lovers tale wet wild and uninterrupted

They disappear into passions limitless scale

Behind muffled howls and giggles

Until time and mercy can only settle this

She reaches and pulls him up to safety

They release pause and explode

 

 

NaPoWriMo 2014 – 02

NIGHT STALKING HONEY BEES

 

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Johnny’s Obsession

Bun walking, window shopping
Tune grinding, trap wishing
Passion machine in sloth time
Slow ride into the torrential rain forest
Honey doctrine for tunnel visionaries
Depositing at the bone bank house of prayer
Slow stow away attitudes takes him out
Fluid legends slipping from the moonlight
Night stalking in this mindless cul de sac
End this juggling of inspiration and damnation

  • NaPoWriMo  01