The More crude your expression, the more effective it will be.

I just landed in Thailand after a month and a half in India. The Indian experience is unrelenting. Landing in Mumbai, spending time in Bangalore, going to the countryside twice for some days, back to Delhi, on to Kolkata, with each city the dust, pollution, overwhelming population streaming constantly through the streets, several illnesses, and yet there is a quality there I cannot understand. It seems each and every experience comes with a punishment, yet there was, is, something so human, so unrelentingly human about the whole thing. The other day I got onto a boat on the Ganges with my pal and we settled into the back in the shade of a low roof in the back. I thought, finally, a picturesque boatride, finally something, well, comfortable.. As soon as the pole was sunk and the boat backed up, the engine was kicked on and the entire fucking boat started vibrating like an epileptic vehicle for the gods of fuckyourbody. A taxi driver took  us in one of those old Ambassadors out to the birthplace of Ramakrishna in the remote countryside, (where my lungs seemed to clear up for nearly 6 hours), was burning incense in the car and had his own little cough going. The intensity of India’s population explosion, IT explosion, automobile explosion, water shortages, construction, all of it is overbearing. Then there is the holy business. At the Ramakrishna Mission a monk scolds my friend for not showing up on time for some alleged meeting with him. Once would have been enough, but this arrogant little prig went on scolding my Indian friend, (of course he wouldn’t scold me directly as I am white…), preaching a little at us about ‘learning’ for good measure. The arrogance was staggering.  These petty power trips and the obsession with property the mission now generate runs counter to the essence of what Ramakrishna not only spoke of but lived. Thanks to the Mission Vivikananda set up dispensaries were built and free food was made available to the poor. Guess who showed up for the free medical and meals? Fucking cheap rich assholes. When the Mother was told about the overwhelming numbers of rich people she said something to the effect “That’s the real poverty,  that kind of greed.”

I digress. Thailand. The Airport is state of the art. I write this on an hour’s free wifi surrounded by attractive Thai women dressed to the nines, and a variety pack of fat, slim, tanned, pale, white westerners heading for vacation, women exposed to the bottom of their buttocks, the upper parts we wont even talk about, men swaggering around with the sex hunt vibe. After India this is like walking into an orgy of fleshy indulgence. I left India as the sole white face in the airport, on the street I was constantly stared at, boys giggling, men laughing openly calling me swami etc… a good lesson all in all. In India every opportunity is taken to light a fire, whether to get warm, cook some chai, or just get rid of some trash, plastic or otherwise. Sometimes I think just for the fuck of it somebody lights a fire because the state of things is unbearable to look at so covering it with some kind of a veil just comes naturally. Of course there is the ancient sport of public urination that has to be witnessed to be believed. My friend told me once he was in a traffic jam in the middle of Mumbai where some dude needed to take a leak so he just hopped out at his leisure and was liquifying the sidewalk.

At the Bangkok airport, tourism is the western parallel to Indian public urination. The blatant ugly arrogance of the flesh is everywhere, a bullying demand for pleasure that runs in the opposite direction of the Indian mortification of the senses. Between the two the human race is killing everything in it’s path. Western fires are lit below the belt. Paris Hilton lights a fire with an on line porn of herself, reality TV lights a fire promising fame and money to every poor sucker in ameri-(-can’tanymore), struggling to forget that the government has fucked them out of the american dream. McDonalds, KFC, Oil companies, natural gas companies are lighting fires under our asses with the flames just out of sight while the smoke of these products stones the participants with chemicals designed to feed the urge to consume more than you need, (the goal of the real american dream). Indians are running full speed to catch up to our dream. Chinese are doing the same. America holds out the promise of sex on the beach. India holds out the promise of enlightenment NOW motherfuckers and that too “effortlessly”. If you are American, you pay for the darshan of the swami maharaj and get the royal treatment, if you are Indian, you  submit out of sheer terror to the demands of the saffron clad nazis or suffer public humiliation at the hands of sexually frustrated, money grubbing holy men.

One thing is very clear to me as I continue traveling, in each ‘holy place’ I am reminded that UG Krishnamurti left nothing behind to corrupt. If you encounter that man you are forced to stand on your own or perish at the hands of the institutions of Family, Fame or Fortune. Organizations secular or holy, makes no difference, he cut them all the the core and if you have had one glimpse of what he is addressing in his own clear unmistakable way, you will find there is no wiggle room when it comes to life. “Nature only punishes, never rewards.” What is painfully obvious is that every single effort of the human being to ‘improve’ on the natural order has ended in disaster either past or pending. If you apply this to the individual life and “Go Astray”, “Get Lost”, “Throw them all OUT!”, there is a chance of living. Otherwise you are a walking ghost in the land of hand out crumbs and second class holy wannabes. UG challenged me to walk in the jungle unarmed and lose everything. The powerful force that was unleashed from him burns in various small fires, despite the ongoing promises of institutions, constantly pointing back at one thing. “All this and heaven too! You just forget it.”

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7 Responses to The More crude your expression, the more effective it will be.

  1. Moya says:

    Oh for Christ sake Louis!….stop with the great writing..go to the nearest beach and breath.

  2. peter kern says:

    Yes Louis, i had lived for more than 25 years in India and had to move out a few years back. You can not live there anymore, unless one is a total masochist, the country is a giant garbage heap and the people there just don’t care. I attached an excellent article by Sean Paul Kelley:
    If you are Indian, or of Indian descent, I must preface this post with a clear warning: you are not going to like what I have to say. My criticisms may be very hard to stomach. But consider them as the hard words and loving advice of a good friend. Someone who’s being honest with you and wants nothing from you

    These criticisms apply to all of India except Kerala and the places I didn’t visit, except that I have a feeling it applies to all of India, except as I mentioned before, Kerala.

    Lastly, before anyone accuses me of Western Cultural Imperialism, let me say this: if this is what India and Indians want, then hey, who am I to tell them differently. Take what you like and leave the rest. In the end it doesn’t really matter, as I get the sense that Indians, at least many upper class Indians, don’t seem to care and the lower classes just don’t know any better, what with Indian culture being so intense and pervasive on the sub-continent. But here goes, nonetheless.

    India is a mess. It’s that simple, but it’s also quite complicated. I’ll start with what I think are India’s four major problems –the four most preventing India from becoming a developing nation – and then move to some of the ancillary ones.

    First, pollution. In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I don’t know how cultural the filth is, but it’s really beyond anything I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and excrement are like a garbage dump.

    Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to make me physically ill. Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels churning were an all too common experience in India. Dung, be it goat, cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and defecating anywhere, in broad daylight.

    Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it. Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and far too few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how dangerous the air is for one’s health, not how good it is. People casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads.

    The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey were Trivandrum –the capital of Kerala–and Calicut. I don’t know why this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will cut into India’s productivity, if it already hasn’t. The pollution will hobble India’s growth path, if that indeed is what the country wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a country, in the small ‘c’ sense.)

    The second issue, infrastructure, can be divided into four subcategories: roads, rails and ports and the electrical grid. The electrical grid is a joke. Load shedding is all too common, everywhere in India. Wide swaths of the country spend much of the day without the electricity they actually pay for. Without regular electricity, productivity, again, falls.

    The ports are a joke. Antiquated, out of date, hardly even appropriate for the mechanized world of container ports, more in line with the days of longshoremen and the like. Roads are an equal disaster. I only saw one elevated highway that would be considered decent in Thailand, much less Western Europe or America. And I covered fully two thirds of the country during my visit.

    There are so few dual carriage way roads as to be laughable. There are no traffic laws to speak of, and if there are, they are rarely obeyed, much less enforced. A drive that should take an hour takes three. A drive that should take three takes nine. The buses are at least thirty years old, if not older.

    Everyone in India, or who travels in India raves about the railway system. Rubbish. It’s awful. Now, when I was there in 2003 and then late 2004 it was decent. But in the last five years the traffic on the rails has grown so quickly that once again, it is threatening productivity. Waiting in line just to ask a question now takes thirty minutes. Routes are routinely sold out three and four days in advance now, leaving travelers stranded with little option except to take the decrepit and dangerous buses.

    At least fifty million people use the trains a day in India. 50 million people! Not surprising that waitlists of 500 or more people are common now.
    The rails are affordable and comprehensive but they are overcrowded and what with budget airlines popping up in India like Sadhus in an ashram the middle and lowers classes are left to deal with the over utilized rails and quality suffers. No one seems to give a shit.

    Seriously, I just never have the impression that the Indian government really cares. Too interested in buying weapons from Russia, Israel and the US I guess.
    The last major problem in India is an old problem and can be divided into two parts that have been two sides of the same coin since government was invented: bureaucracy and corruption.

    It takes triplicates to register into a hotel. To get a SIM card for one’s phone is like wading into a jungle of red-tape and photocopies one is not likely to emerge from in a good mood, much less satisfied with customer service.

    Getting train tickets is a terrible ordeal, first you have to find the train number, which takes 30minutes, then you have to fill in the form, which is far from easy, then you have to wait in line to try and make a reservation, which takes 30 minutes at least and if you made a single mistake on the form back you go to the end of the queue, or what passes for a queue in India.

    The government is notoriously uninterested in the problems of the commoners, too busy fleecing the rich, or trying to get rich themselves in some way shape or form. Take the trash for example, civil rubbish collection authorities are too busy taking kickbacks from the wealthy to keep their areas clean that they don’t have the time, manpower, money or interest in doing their job.

    Rural hospitals are perennially understaffed as doctors pocket the fees the government pays them, never show up at the rural hospitals and practice in the cities instead.

    I could go on for quite some time about my perception of India and its problems, but in all seriousness, I don’t think anyone in India really cares. And that, to me, is the biggest problem. India is too conservative a society to want to change in any way.

    Mumbai, India’s financial capital is about as filthy, polluted and poor as the worst city imaginable in Vietnam, or Indonesia – and being more polluted than Medan, in Sumatra is no easy task. The biggest rats I have ever seen were in Medan!

    One would expect a certain amount of, yes; I am going to use this word, backwardness, in a country that hasn’t produced so many Nobel Laureates, nuclear physicists, imminent economists and entrepreneurs. But India has all these things and what have they brought back to India with them? Nothing.

    The rich still have their servants, the lower castes are still there to do the dirty work and so the country remains in stasis. It’s a shame. Indians and India have many wonderful things to offer the world, but I’m far from sanguine that India will amount to much in my lifetime.

    Now, have at it, call me a cultural imperialist, a spoiled child of the West and all that. But remember, I’ve been there. I’ve done it. And I’ve seen 50 other countries on this planet and none, not even Ethiopia, have as long and gargantuan a laundry list of problems as India does.

    And the bottom line is, I don’t think India really cares. Too complacent and too conservative.

  3. tys says:

    I’m heading to india tomorrow, this has been helpful to read. Cheers all x

  4. jb says:

    “The More crude your expression, the more effective it will be.”
    Did UG say that?

  5. ansjanet says:

    Been rereading all the entries and all the comments I missed. Lots of fun stuff in there! I couldn’t read the French entry on one of the posts, either, but the “user” looked to have a nefarious link in her profile, your readers might not like much at all. Then I remembered this entry and that quote seems like UG might have said it but I wasn’t certain what “voice” to give the quote so I could understand it better.

    I guess I miss the barking dogs.

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