Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Posted by Posted by Nav A at 7:57 PM


Sunday, January 6, 2008

A middle aged man, probably British, looked a little disturbed on the platform number 1 of Margao train station in Goa. I exchanged greetings and asked if everything was ok, something that one can do to a stranger in India. I learned that he was refused to be on a train because his ticket was not valid for some reason and he had paid online for it. He tried arguing with the officials and asked them if he can pay a fine to stay on the train. He was asked to get out at Margao and get the next train. Gregory Roberts mentions in 'Shantaram' that it is not possible to win in India and the only thing one can do is 'be' and survive it. Too bad that I didn’t read 'Shantaram' till the second month of my journey in the country.

My first train ride from Amritsar to Bombay was painful, scary and yet a lot of fun. I slept on the floor between the doors in second-class sleeper coach. Putting my backpack on the ground and then sitting on the floor of the train took a lot of courage. But once I was there comfortably lying on my sleeping bag, I received plenty of smiles. Everybody going to the washroom looked at me wave and said hi. It was acceptance of a weird sort. The next time I was traveling overnight, it didn’t bother me at all, as a matter of fact I had a friend from New Zealand sleep next to me on the floor, attracting more attention.

The officials on board act like they are not there. Totally isolated from the conversations, troubles and questions of the passengers they zoom in and out of the coaches like administrative zombies. I offered them money when my seat was still in waiting status and was too lazy to keep one eye open for the luggage. Talking to them for a few minutes, I would get a special rate for the bribe. There seems to be so many loopholes in the reservation system and the ticketing process but like a huge wild animal the Indian railway runs through the jungles of the nation, making the so very diverse cultures and states look coherent.

There is no personal space in the world’s seventh largest country. In one coach there can be as many as 10 times the seats. From Madurai to Chennai, there was absolutely no space left for any one to move. When there are so many of us in one congested place, I guess it is some sort of natural thing for the relationships to get established. I became son to so many, brother to so many, uncle to so many and stranger to no one in that little area around me. It is totally normal to be offered food. It is totally up to you if you want it. It is totally normal for one to grab the magazine or comic that you have in your handbag. It is totally ok to photograph anyone there as well. Something that I was super excited about.

People can choose to complaint and be uncomfortable in this overwhelming presence of smells, sounds and people. They can be frustrated from the beggars and eunuchs asking for money. And several other reasons can be found wrong in the system worth for fighting. I think these very reasons for a resistance should be rather used as an excuse for no resistance. More over the phenomenon that is India will crush any such confidence that sees a different way. If you stay, sit and submit to India... its people, and its ways will simulate you to feel a whole new eco-system of cultures and values. These ways are most definitely are far grander than me, any outsider and that British man that I met on the platform number 1 of Margao train station.

Posted by Posted by Nav A at 5:58 PM


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hey everyone! Aarthy here..

Nav disappeared for a bit of time. He arrived safely in Nepal, only to be too lazy to write a blog or contact anyone properly for that matter. Also his writing device (zee laptop) had a bit of a tumble...

Where is he now? October 9th, he is safely in Amritsar, Punjab.

Yes people, he is IN INDIA! Currently with parents, he will be soon branching off from his home town and travelling around India.

Not sure of his route as of yet, he doesn't have a real plan (no one ever should).

So when he comes back, we can hear his stories while beating him with a slipper for forgetting us!


Posted by Posted by Nav A at 2:20 PM


Friday, September 14, 2007


Heylo i dont have much to say. i have done loads of little shopping for the cold trip to Lhasa. Printed some photos for the monks in the school. It seems like i will be coming here again to Changoo Gompa. The meditative methods are amazing. It is a very life changing experience... even if one doesn't adopt any practice, one definately gets a new frame of reference which i think is very permanent.

Mk i am ready to leave Yushu now. But to come back.

Talk to you from Lhasa .

Posted by Posted by Nav A at 6:26 AM


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It feels like the whole monastry knows me. The scenery is incredible. Yesterday was just a ride around the down. I took some pics. At dinner last night, it was an extraordinary assembly of some great people (Australia, Wales, England, Spain, and France). We all pooled our ipod songs on Scott's (the Aussie guy) 500 GB external hard drive through my laptop that is using linux. Now we all have huge collections.

A lot of soccer, photos and relaxation.

1. Jonathan on his bike
2. Naughty little kid close to the down
3. My favourite kid in Jonny's class
4. Jonathan and Kamaginchi
5. Yak taking it easy
6. Post soccer celebrations
7. Me on stupa








Posted by Posted by Nav A at 7:14 PM


Monday, September 10, 2007


The bus arrived at Yushu, (or Jaykendu in Tibetan) about three hours earlier than expected. It was pitch black darknes and no one else in the city except the taxi driver. He had a small van in which he drove me to Changu Gompa, the monastry where I will be staying for 7 days. The ride was bumpy and nothing was visible. I found the gate of the monastry, only to hear several dogs running towards me. I had heard the stories of the ferocious Tibetan mastiffs. I fumbled with the door to find the knobs or handles so that I can close it. That one instant was very long and extremely scary. At least three dogs were barking at me from the inside. There was no light to figure out anything sensible. I had both my bags on my back, with I dont know how deep of a trench two steps behind me. After standing there for an hour I was losing my patience. My body was hurting. The dogs had stopped barking continously, and would bark for few seconds each time I would make a noise moving my hands on the door knobs or when I would change the position of my feet. Finally I thought that I should call for someone. "Hello Hello Hello!," I said pretty loudly. The dogs went crazy. No one came out till five minutes when a monk inside turned the light on. The dogs were silent, I took the courage and opened the door and asked for Jonathan.

Jonathan had been teaching English in this monastry since the last two months. He has made a pretty good relationship not only with the people, but also the place and its altitude. They say that he had rough start in this Gompa because of altitude sickness. he was on oxygen. His room is tidy and big. I will be spending the next month with him travelling to lhasa and beyond. I am glad that he is a very experience traveller and knows how to make decisions.

I went to the English class where there were about 15 monks. Little kids with sparkle in their eyes. Except two, their english was very poor. After their lesson it was decided that they will be going to a swimming class today, they were all super excited about this.


Scott is a 30 year old australian, and has been travelling the world since he was in his twenties. He is a very cool character who is volunteering in this monastary with some other interesting people. They made me breakfast and we had nice conversation. I look forward to talk to the other people in the monastry, they all seem very cool.

Jonathan had planned something really big for the day. We both went along with a Lama from the monastry to buy a motorcyle for me. It is a small machine that i got with a supposed-to-be 150 CC engine. It sounds slightly funny. The name of the company doesnt matter because it is hypothetical No-name Chinese brand. It cost be about CAD 550. A new bike for 550. It was exciting. We plan to goto lhasa on our bikes from Yushu which is about 1200 km of dirt road. I also have Canadian license plates to put on them in order to bring them in nepal. However their are many variables for that to happen. Right now I am enjoying my new black coloured bike that also says TASHIDELE ('Hello' in Tibetan).

On our bikes we ride through one of the most beautiful valleys. The mountains are huge with no trees. A carpet of beautiful shade of green grass covers them all. Their folds make them look like a huge frozen blanket. The road is running parallel to a river. The water is running fast and is of a cyan colour. it is one of the most incredible rides. The swimming pool was about a 20 minutes ride in the middle of absolutely nowhere. The roof of the pool hall was made of fibre glass, and the walls were made up of thick glass so that there was a green house effect. Because of the intense heat inside, the water felt amazing. All the monk kids were already in there and they were having the times of their lives. No one knew swimming. For the next few hours I had loads of fun teaching the boys to dive straight. Some of them picked it very well.

I was supposed to attend a lama-debate in a temple nearby. It was to start at 7. It started at 9. I had a broken body from the bus ride the night before and all the swimming. It was sad that I had to leave. The pitch black night was chilling and not very welcoming. It is going to be like this for the next month.

Posted by Posted by Nav A at 12:32 AM


Sunday, September 9, 2007


I am complaining about over packing. (refer to the highlighted area)

Interestingly... I don't have any toothpaste in my overload. So, I packed up everything in the morning and left my hotel to brush my teeth. I don't have a word for toothpaste in Chinese.
For some reason all the shopkeepers are unable to understand my brilliant acting of brushing teeth and applying paste. All of them are pointing towards a bucket of water in front of the shops and inviting me to brush there. Finally i find the toothpaste in a small shop. The restaurant owner who has agreed to give me a vegetarian diet asked me to brush in front the shop. So here I was brushing my teeth in Xining's busiest road. Suddenly people are looking at me. Almost all of them. A few more moments there and there would have been a traffic jam. But Xining went on smoothly. I am now sitting inside the restaurant.

Yesterday when the train arrived in Xining, {X pronounced as the 'su' in measure} I was surprised. The image of Xining was a small beat-up town where people just come to goto lhasa. I am glad I was wrong. A beautiful looking highway connects Xining to Lanzhou, another important city. Then the city has a very wide canal-like-looking-yellow-water river that runs fast. There are several tall buildings. The people do not look like the way they did in Beijing. There was a small laughable-western-standards fashion show going on where Tibetan models are walking promoting clothes from a nearby store.

My friend had told me that Xining was a Xit city. I am enjoying this place probably because I had no to low expectations. The most incredible thing was the pool arena. Between the river and the bus there was a place of the size of a basketball court, where laid about 40 pool tables. All occupied. And did I mention it was open air.


I took a motorcylce taxi, and the guy zoomed and swooped through the busy traffic to the halal restaurant that I heard about. On the way there I saw millions of muslim men and women in their peculiar white hats and black scarves respectively.

The restaurant is in front of a huge mosque and a muslim community center. All the businesses on the road are operated by the white capped men and black scarved women. AM I IN CHINA? I tried to go in the mosque and am asked 10 yuans being a foreigner. I quickly refuse, being cheap.


There are also many poorer bhuddhist monks. Many of them with the revolving stick things. I had not seen any monks in Beijing. Since now I'm in a more remote area I am seeing a different China. Aa per my researchless analysis, muslims were the fastest to shoot up after religion was legalised. Bhuddists never could live without their buddhist lifestyles, so they always were there.

Later in the night I met with half a dozen roaches in my room. Because there was no English involved in the conversation I was having with the hotel manager, things got frustrating. A group of local kids who were staying in the hotel for some sorta party {15 of them in one room} jumped in one by one in the argument. All took my side out of sympathy. The hotel was forced to pay me 5 yuans back [score] they invited me to their rooms and treated me very well. only one girl could speak a little english. I had an amazing time with them playing cards. After a game of their choice, I taught them poker. They picked it up very well.


In a few hours I will be on a long ride to Yushu on bus. I will finish my breakfast and head out.

Posted by Posted by Nav A at 1:25 PM