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Waves of despair, beach of hope

I really didn’t like Varkala at first, but in the end, I made my peace. Kerala is actually nice – people live in real houses, don’t walk around in their excrement and litter, completely nice and civilised and actually reminding me of rural southern Thailand a lot. But there are no outstanding sights, just really pretty little things that shouldn’t make it a destination. Anyway, at least I saw some of it, and at that time, I needed it, a different India, just to know that there are so many things still out there.

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And then I came home to Thailand and collapsed, I don’t have an ounce of spare energy left, nothing. I’m still very sick. And still no lab results.

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This blog, this trip, this whole idea that I can function as a human being even when I don’t have a job to ground me and use me up completely – it’s ridiculous. And I should have known. Probably I knew. I don’t exist on my own. I’m nobody. Thin air.

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And I still don’t know what to do next.   IMG_5044

 

 

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Mind your mind

A mad scientist friend offers you a chip that would allow you to know what the people you’re talking to are thinking. The catch: you can’t turn it off. Do you accept the chip?

Hell, no. I would most probably commit suicide if I knew what people were really thinking while talking to me.

But I would have like to stalk some of these people, for a little while, and “pick their brains”…..

… an elderly palace guard in Yogyakarta royal palace….

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…a rickshaw driver in Yogyakarta….

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a Balinese bride, getting her elaborate wedding photos taken….

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…a lone camel driver, delivering water to the desert villages….

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…my darling, snorkelling in Pulau Rhun, Banda….

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…a guy looking into the fuming crater of Bromo volcano….

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…off-duty masseur outside a temple in Melaka….

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…guard in Angkor wat….

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…monk near Luang Prabang….

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(In the header: village women in Moni, Flores.)

 

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Fearless dragon

How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? 

I’ve been thinking about this one for a day now.

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(I’m not scared of sharks.)

I know only one specific thing, I would try scuba diving. I might die doing so, but at least I wouldn’t be panicking and kicking and screaming while it happens.

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(snorkelling, or, actually, this one is from the pier)

I would go on a boat trip around the world. I used to love boats.

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(This boat called Moana saved us after the shipwreck, I took the photo a year later.)

But actually, really…. all our little fantasies, why don’t we get rid of all those things that cause fear but should be avoidable – aggression, abuse, exploitation, bullying, mobbing, deliberately hurting people even in a mild and seemingly funny way.

There would still be enough to fear – pain, sickness, old age, death, separation.

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I’m feeling really unwell at the moment, and realise that my usual little support networks are gone. They never work from a distance. I didn’t realise how lonely I would be on the road. Even with all those conversations you get with others. There haven’t been many of those here in India.  Too low season.

Maybe I wish I didn’t have this fear of being alone – so tired of being alone. And the most fearless thing I can think of is running back to a relationship that didn’t work and won’t work, because even that would be better than being alone. So incredibly tired. Sometimes feels like I’m a hundred years old.

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In any case, just looking at these snorkelling and beach pictures, I know I’m going back to the sea, because that’s what I’ve been longing for. I wish I could go back to Raja Ampat or faraway places in Maluku without fear of a boat again. I wish I could stop being so horribly scared that I will never be able to hold down a job again. I wish I could just live with no fear of the future in this way. I was hoping travelling would make me feel better. I thought something as brutally challenging as India would make me throw away all unnecessary and cumbersome burdens, all my energy being taken up by the little everyday tasks of getting by. It worked out, in a way. But sometimes I feel like I don’t even know anymore who I actually am. This is not me, being here. And ten more days to go.

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Sorry, this is not making any sense at all, but I hope you enjoy the photos.

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(The photos were taken in Komodo national park, Indonesia.)

 

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Jodhpur blues

The tallest, most majestic, most impressive fort so far, also belonging to a Hindu royal family who did have some ties to the Mughals, sometimes fighting, sometimes intermarrying…. these walls, not surprisingly, were never taken by force, never breached by a charging elephant….

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…It has the best set-up tour and the best exhibition of royal items so far, including really exquisite miniature paintings of scenes, very well preserved, but badly lit and impossible to photograph…..

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….not my favourite fort, but there were some stunning little details again, and interesting historical background and anecdotes on the audio guide….

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….the city itself is the filthiest I’ve seen in Rajasthan, not just simply run down…. maybe even more rubbish than in Varanasi, which is such a shame…. as always, I don’t point my camera at such things, I just couldn’t spend a long time in the old city….

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…originally, Brahmins (the priest caste) painted their houses blue, but now everyone’s allowed to, it is said to repel insects…. many, many houses are in horrible repair and abandoned….

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….wish I had stayed longer up in the fort….

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I think this is my last Rajasthan fort for now, I wish there was a chance to spread them out over a year or something like that, each and every one of them has been a special treat, a jaw-dropping spectacle, but I’m having kind of an overdose now :-)

 

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Frame of mind

“If you could paint your current mood onto a canvas, what would that painting look like? What would it depict?”

It’s actually like a series of paintings, each capturing a different mood. All of them are extremely lifelike, even on closer inspection, they look like photographs ;-)

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There is this image that reflects a never-ending, lonely journey in a hostile desert environment, feeling lost, chasing mirages in the relentless sun and rippling sands.

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No hope. No nothing.

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“What the hell do you want from me?! I told you I’m on holiday.”

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“I told you I’m absolutely not going anywhere today.”

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“No, not anywhere means nowhere, not anywhere!”

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“Gonna bite ya.”

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“When you are not looking, I’m actually kind of like the king of the desert, but incessant complaining is a lot more entertaining and enjoyable.”

 

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If walls could talk

“You’ve just inherited a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside. Assuming money is no issue, what do you do with it?”

Haha, couldn’t have thought of a better prompt for the opportunity to post a few photos of Rajasthan’s majestic hill forts :-) Inasmuch as you can call them crumbling grand mansions. But why not?

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Of course, I would do up my mansion following Unesco World Heritage’s strict guidelines, open a museum, and rake in the money :-) But unfortunately, the relevant government bodies and / or royal families have beaten me to it.

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In Jaisalmer fort, I would strongly encourage the drying of laundry, especially colourful saris, off the balconies, for an enhanced photographic experience for visitors.

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I would clean up the area around the bastions and make it possible to walk around the perimeter of the fort on a nice, clean walkway for 360 degree views of the town and desert.

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Some anti-pigeon measures would be necessary, though strongly adhering to the Jain principles of not hurting any living being. You don’t want to upset the richest local community.

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Otherwise, of course, Jaisalmer fort is an endangered monument and still needs a lot of conservation work to stop it from just crumbling down the hill. I promise I would not embezzle the relevant funds.

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Now, as for Amber fort…

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I would deal with the elephant and jeep mafia, and make it easy for everyone to ascend the slope. If I’m still alive after this, I would make sure drinking water is sold inside the fort…. shouldn’t be a big deal.

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I would do some kind of treasure hunt or dress-up game for visitors. The fort is beautiful, but too deserted (it was abandoned 300 years ago, they ran out of water as well), too lifeless, too plain in a sense. It needs to be more alive somehow. I know many people would hate my ideas, but if it’s my “mansion”, I could do as I please, right? :-)

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By the way, I love the architecture here. There is a lot of Mughal (Persian) influence in the designs, but the ruling family was actually Hindu.

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The Hindus had the same segregation of males and females as the Muslims. Even the queens were nothing more than hi-so prisoners looking at the outside world through marble or sandstone lattice windows….

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…which are amazing artwork, my favourite feature of the Taj Mahal and all the other places as well. But it’s sad to think back to those days. I’m glad we’re living in different times, even in India.

(But just maybe, there is a market niche here, some rich western ladies would like to get locked up and pampered like queens for a day or two, while their husbands go on a camel safari? Should do some market research here.)

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(And I really need to add this photo of my favourite Indian so far. He was giggling and laughing and screaming with delight when he saw me.)

I’m yet to visit Jodhpur fort (I can see it outside my room), I might choose that one for my crumbling mansion. How long is the offer standing? :-)

This is my 100th post in this blog. Thank you so much to all my readers and friends who have supported and encouraged me along this journey.

Daily prompt

 

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