Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lou Reed's Street Hassle

Lou Reed survived the seventies, something that many people didn’t expect. Judging from this performance in the early 70s in Paris, you can’t blame them. During that time he had a big hit with "Walk on the Wild Side", which is probably the coolest song to ever make it to the top of the pop charts. And on that same record, called Transformer, you can find "Perfect Day", which is just brilliantly beautiful in a very classical sense. Lou Reed did his best to get of this Glam-rock image with Berlin, a little piece of art not the be listened when depressive. And any artist who is able to release a record like Metal Machine Music, his automatically a legend in my book. Not to mention this 2006 performance at a late night show, where he keeps a straight face while a person is practising Tay-chi during his performance. An artistic expression, or is he just probing how far he can go with his audience (of dumb sheep)? Whatever his intentions may be, he is definitely one of the coolest, best and original artists out there.

Street Hassle is one of Reed's many records released in the 70s, and belongs on the top of this pile. Maybe only for a single (but very long) reason: The contrast between the noise and the beautiful.

It all kicks of with "Gimme some good times", with a dialogue between the star and a fan. It's a cynical song giving commentary on the rock 'n roll lifestyle that is expected from him. Judging from the way he performs it, he does not agree with these expectations. It sounds ugly and dirty, nothing like the rock 'n roll glossiness from his earlier records (great!) . "Dirt" has the same kind of feel to it. Here he dumps a load of crap on persons without any principles, of which one is his former manager. The instruments intentionally stumble at certain points, creating a rhythm that is pretty hard to grasp. It almost gives a bit of a free/jazzy feeling to it. Lou keeps them on track with his brilliant rant.

"We sat around the other night, me and the guys. Trying to find the right word. That would best fit and describe. You people like that. That no principle has touched, no principles baptized. How about that. They'd eat shit and say it tasted good. If there was some money in it for them".

This "Dirt" is followed by "the beautiful": "Street Hassle". It's a story about a girl who pays for a boy. They slip away and make love, high on drugs. The next morning he wakes up, and prepares himself to leave. "Neither regretted a thing".

But the next morning: "Hey, that cunts not breathing". The owner of the motel considers the boy responsible. He advises him to just slip her away. The owner doesn’t want to deal with the cops asking difficult questions. He comforts the boy by saying that it there was probably nothing that he could have done, "But when someone turns that blue. Well, its a universal truth. Then you just know that bitch will never fuck again". Why doesn’t he just lay her out on a dark street, where she`ll just be another hit 'n run? His heart crushed (cause there seemed to be some real love between the two of them), he begs and prays for his baby not to slip away.

This is all guided by a beautiful string section which continues to play the same line through out the song. The three sections of the song each have there own distinctive sound though, mainly thanks to Lou Reed's brilliant "emotionally charged" vocals. Towards the end of the song guitars are added, and it starts to get a bluesier feel to it, as the situation becomes more dire. Bruce Springsteen even joins in to say the final words about her near the end. Reed's heartbreaking plea at the end sounds incredibly real, and marks the end of the first side of this record in great style.

Side two starts with "I wanna be black". A little ditty which is impossible to release in the 21st century. Main theme is that he doesn’t want to be that ordinary boring white college student anymore, but black. For all the wrong reasons. "Real good time together" starts of as a hypnotic song. Mainly thanks to the tremolo effect on the guitars. Is this what it's like to have a real good time together with Lou?

The dirtier sound of the first two tracks on the side one is back with a vangence. "Shooting Star" is one of the songs recorded live for this album, which kind of creates an interesting contrast with the studio tracks. It's not a really memorable song though. "Leave me alone" departs from this average level by adding saxophone to it, and some very "piss-off" lyrics. It is a very straightforward song, but nice to listen to. "Wait" ends the record on a much friendlier and cleaner note. It almost sounds like an apology for the abuse of the songs preceding it. "Wait, I really wouldn't want your hate". Ok Lou, we’ll forgive you.

But only because you produced something as brilliant as Street Hassle, which has the same length as those four relatively forgettable rock `n roll tunes on side number two. Together with Dirt and Gimmie some good times, Street Hassle finishes of a first half which is pretty much perfect. Starting at I wanna be black however, Lou starts to stumble, with the last two songs bringing a bit of original listening relief. And although this does not sound too positive, for Street Hassle alone this album is worth the purchase and your time.

Friday, December 07, 2007

It's time to do `em right!

One of my best buys this year must be the first record of the B-52's.. Everybody knows them from the song "Love Shack" and maybe their performance in the Flinstones movie with John Goodman. Love shack might be a good song, but let me tell ya, this yellow cover holds a record with a lot of great tunes!

One side one, where one gem is followed by another gem, it all kicks of with Planet Claire. It DOES sound a bit like that Peter Gunn theme, but then off beat, with a touch of mystery surrounding it. Schneider kicks in with his trademark voice: "She came from planet claire. I knew she came from there. She drove a Plymouth Satellite. Faster than the speed of light." Can it get any trippier than this? I especially like the guitar-parts in this song, which later come back even better in "Dance this mess around". Ricky Wilson created these, and therefore I like his style.

52 Girls is the anthem of the b-52's, with Kate and Cindy passing by in the lyrics as the principle girls of the U.S.A. The song has an addictive quality to it, and within no time you're singing the lyrics with them. It sounds like a song that would be a great choice at any party. The same counts for "Dance this mess around", which is my favorite on this record. It starts as a slow song about a relation on the verge of destruction, where she gives you a last chance to think it over..

The next three lines are full with true emotion, which she even manages to transfer into a live performance. After that the song goes a few gears up, to the point where it is impossible to sit still. With slightly absurd lyrics containing all 16 dances, you start to notice that this band was only created for one reason: To have fun! And do you notice the guitar? It is almost out of tune, but somehow, it isn`t, and fits perfectly in the band's sound. I think this part of the B-52's early sound extinguishes itself from later hits such as "Love Shack".

You can continue dancing your mess around during "Rock Lobster", another great party song which is even crazier than the three preceeding it. Did you ever see a rock which wasn`t a rock, but a rock lobster? Or boy's in bikini's? Girls in surfboards? Bakin' potatoes, bakin' in the sun? And a Bikini Whale sneaking from up your back? Does it really matter? Nah..LET'S ROCK!

If you have still the energy, you can now flip the record over to side two. "Lava" contains some romantic tensions between the two behind the microphones (like hot lava). It's a bit heavier than the songs on side one, but still has the same weird guitar sound and style. "There's a moon in the sky (called the moon)" lets the spaced out boys and girls sing about their favorite subject besides rock lobsters. Somehow it is not as addictive and strong as the songs before it, it kind of sounds "the same" on an otherwise very original record.

"Hero Worship" has some great vocals, but just like "There's a moon in the sky" it does not really hold your attention for very long. "6060-842" is again a winner though. It's brilliant lyrics and interplay between the three vocals make it a great end to this record. "Operator, what's wrong? I dial stupid number all day long!". There is a nice note on the lower-right corner telling you that "This is an imaginary phone number and any similarities to this number are purely coincidental".

The record finishes with a version of the old Motown song "Downtown", recorded with a live audience(?) It is a great end to a very original sounding record. Especially the first four songs are a joy to listen, dance and scream to. They breath "fun" in every note of music you hear. It should work perfectly at any party. If it doesn't, you`ve got the wrong friends. You should just throw them out together with a few bottles of whiskey to let them drink themselves to death.

Ok, maybe not that extreme, but come on, this is a party record. Anyone who does not enjoy it should just lighten up a bit in life. Agreed?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Album Review: Jesca Hoop - Kismet

While reading a fellow blogger’s blog I ran into an album-cover which looked really interesting. I typed in her name in Google and found that she has been the nanny of Tom Waits’ children. Interesting to say the least. So I got my hands on her debut, called Kismet. The first song title is “Summertime”. That name kind off reminded me of Norah Jones’ Sunrise. Her sound however, is completely different from Norah Jones, or any other artist that I know off.

“Summertime” starts this record of with a very light and happy tune. A song that indeed feels like Summertime; birds flying around, the sun shining through the leafs. Just close your eyes and you would start to forget that it is only slightly above zero on the other side of that window. The next song “Seed of Wonder” has a very addictive guitar-lick in it that plays almost throughout the whole song. Around this little lick the other instruments develop constantly though. It is a very dynamic and playful song. At some moments it sounds very empty, while other sections are heavy on percussion (a bit like Byork?). According to an interview with Jesca, she wanted to hear something that was fresh and new to her ears. Here she succeeded.

“Enemy” consists of Jesca’s voice and a single acoustic guitar. She gives, just like in the other songs, a really nice flow to the lyrics. This becomes even more apparent in “Silverscreen”, in my opinion one of the best songs on this record. Her singing style is a lot different here compared to the previous song. A bit child-like, with a little accent. It feels like you are sitting in an old cinema in the 1930’s, and indeed are hoping that they’ve done “good editing”.

“Money” is the song that she dishes in its lyrics: ”Cause if you want to belong you write a sing-a-long”. After a few listens I am singing the chorus together with her. She likes to play with her music and lyrics, and together they have a very strange, but nice, chemistry. In the process she also creates her own sound. “Dreams in the hollow” is again a bit softer and more intimate. It feels like opening a small Pandora’s box, and seeing a little band performing in it. One on one with you in a dark room.

Then the album continues to a little tribute to the victims of hurricane Katrina. “Love is all we have” is again a little acoustic song. Very basic, but also very effective. It allows her voice to come more to the foreground. I especially like the creaking in the background. Like a ship getting a heavy beating on the waves of the sea. I also started to notice that she dubs her voice a lot on this album. It sounds very good, but I am curious how she supports it on her own, on stage.

“Intelligentactile 101” is just a brilliant song that floats somewhere between heaven and earth as a perfect living being. It even has a real rockin’ chorus. And it all fits together as one song! Seeing as the lyrics are about a little girl who’s still in her mother’s belly, this would be my first choice as a single including a video. Fun lyrics, it sounds highly addictive and you can even create a mosh-pit at some moments.

After this absolute highlight we go back into the mystic with “Havoc in Heaven”, which is followed by the more up-tempo and experimental “Out the back door”. You should consider the use of the word “experimental” to be relative, since this whole album is trotting on new ground most of the time (for my young and inexperienced ears at least). Together with “Love and Love again” it again has a very “old” feel to it. It sounds timeless, but she does tell on her myspace that she is influenced by music from the early 20th century.

All in all it is a very strong debut, with virtually no weak points in it. It has a great number of highlights with “Summertime”, “Seed of Wonder”, “Silverscreen”, “Money” and “Intelligentactile 101”. A lot of highlights for one little disk. It amazes me how I have only seen such a limited number of reviews of her album on the net. Even Pitchfork does not have a file on her. Maybe because this album is released under the umbrella of a major label. That does not influence my opinion on this great album. I hope to see her live soon at any stage in the Netherlands. She’ll probably win me over completely, like others did before her (PJ Harvey, Sarah Wooden).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Album Review: Desert Sessions I & II

The elusive “Desert sessions” were started in 1998 by a young strapping lad called Joshua Homme, who just left a band called Kyuss. Probably still wondering what to do next, he rounded up a number of like-minded musicians at the Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, California. Ten years later, and Josh Homme is now the front-man of a hardrock-band called the “Queens of the Stone Age”, who are both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. The first and second Desert Sessions show us the birth of this band. On an album that is almost 10 years old, out of print and pretty much forgotten. A perfect time to go back in time and argue why this is not only the best of all the Desert Sessions, but should also be an essential part of any music lover’s collection.

It all starts with a drunken and lone redneck preaching to the lord of darkness. A promotion for Man’s Ruin records it seems. But then the magic starts. A pounding drums and bass-line sets in, with an organ joining in a few seconds later. It grooves itself in your head, an echoing and wailing guitar at the lead. The first thing you notice is that there are no lyrics in this song called “Girl Boy Tom”, which in my opinion only adds to the hypnotic qualities of the music. Slowly the song fades out, announcing the arrival of “Monkey in the middle”. A song which sounds a bit tired, like standing in the same traffic jam every afternoon when you are heading back to work. Slowly we head back again to “Girl Boy Tom”.

Apparently the traffic jam has finally lifted at 7 p.m., and you are heading home at 90 miles per hour. At the time of “Cowards Way Out” you notice that you took a wrong turn, and are driving on a long straight desert road, with no other traffic for miles. Your Tom-tom tells you that in about 20 miles there will be a road that leads back to your original route. You decide to press the gas paddle, since dinner is being served at 8, and you don’t want to be late. But then the car starts to make a sound, which, strange enough, sounds like a “Robotic Lunch”. Probably a little bit of a weak point (understatement) in this, up till now, very impressive journey. But a Desert Session wouldn’t be a Desert Session if it didn’t have its little f*cked up moment in it.

Maybe you should just skip to the next track, “Johnny the Boy”, one of the two absolute highlights of this record. This track is pure groovin’ Rock ‘n Roll. The best point is at two minutes and four seconds exactly. I think they call this point a “break”, where you only hear the magnificent riff, with the rhythm section joining in soon after. This is immediately followed by the ghostly “aaaaah’s” in “Screamin’ Eagle”, the second highlight of this album. Again great riffs, which sound just like god (or the devil) intended them to be: massive. Around two minutes the song leads you to a magnificent climax, followed by a lot of groovin' you seldom hear these days in popular rock music.

The last song is “Cake (Who shit on the?)”, which is a great end to this album. Again this is a track divided in sections, just like the two preceding it. It might be a strange comparison, but this reminded me of the time-changes that lot of progressive rock bands (Pink Floyd, Genesis) used to make in there music. The song has a great 70s loose jamming feel to it. Slowly however, this trip is coming to an end. On the radio you hear that redneck preaching again, telling you not to buy any products from Man’s Ruin records. I think that speech ruined them. Luckily you still have the internet.

This enables you to get your hands on this gem, which is the most consistent of all the Desert Sessions, and the only one which has a real “album feel” to it. The album already has the groove in it, which I think can be defined as the signature sound of the Queens of the Stone Age this present day. Also, with Johnny the Boy and Screamin’ Eagle, it has two tracks which define Rock `n Roll in my dictionary. Hopefully these two tracks, and the whole album, will be discovered by a new generation when the old Desert Sessions are re-released in 2008. It deserves to be.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Let me sing you a song that has never been sung before...

2 months into jobsearch madness and I`m having an even harder time determining what I want and what I don`t want. When you start getting rejected for certain jobs you start to wonder if these kind of jobs are really meant to be for you. And your confidence. Your confidence crumbles a bit, especially concerning what you did during your past. Maybe you should have done more. Maybe you should have taken more initiative. But wait a second. I`ve been to South-Korea and India. Nobody in my family has been away from home for that long that far. I`ve met a lot of people at those two locations. Would I have been living in my university city, I might have never met these people. And that, that would be a (unforgivable..;))shame. I don`t regret anything that I have done in the past. Maybe I should have done a bit more, but the thought did not occur to me at that time. There must be some valid reasons for that, yes? So why listen to those people who ask you why you didn`t do this or that? If they have a problem with how I lived my life up till now, it is theirs, and not mine!

Job interviews are intensive on the mind...hehehe....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


It has been one month since my last message.
What happenned with me in this month?
Not much really.

After Lowlands I started writing cover-letters for job applications.
I`ve sent five now. I know, I`m only not really productive, but also a bit selective.
A large number of recruiting-companies and some real companies already approached me with the offer of a financial services job. Although my minor was in finance, I especially focused on the strange animal called stock market with those courses. Talking about investor sentiment and the efficiency of the market. That interests me, but is not my main interest. Most of my courses were related to strategic management. Determining the strategy of a company. Analysing how it can improve its processes to perform better. I know I`m young, inexperienced. Still, I would like to have a job where I start analysing the current status of an organisation.
Up till now I`ve found 5 jobs which fit that description, and for which I stand a chance. Hopefully they`ll find me interesting too.

In the meantime I`m getting a bit bored with just sitting at home. I went to Rotterdam one weekend for a reunion. I went to the cinema and had a drink with a friend in the other weekends. Played a bit on my guitar. I`m watching Deep Space 9 from the start. I`m at season 3 now.

A big change compared to my situation, say, 6 months ago.
And I`m not really enjoying it, hope I can make it change soon.



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Four days loving the Loww-life

Thursday afternoon we arrived at Biddinghuizen, Flevoland, The Netherlands to go to A campingflight to Lowlands Paradise 2007. I went with a good friend of mine, his cousin and a bunch of friends of that cousin. They were all very nice people, but I was really amazed at the amount of food and other stuff they carried with me. First law of camping: Only take what you can carry. They did not follow this rule, which lead to exhausted faces and a bit of a cranky mood on the first day. That thursday my tent was finally up at 22:00, at a little spot I found at the end of camping one. I was lucky to find some space for our group, because Camping One (of six) was becoming full very fast. We enjoyed some food, a beer and went to bed to wake up for the first official day of the experience that is Lowlands.

Friday morning it was a bit cloudy, it had even rained during the night, and we were all a bit afraid that the festival would again become a mud-fest. Around 12:00 however the clouds stopped depositing their rain, the sun broke through the clouds and it stayed that way during the next three days. Some clouds, some sun, some little drops of rain, but nothing serious.

So we went to the terrain to enjoy our first day. The first act we saw was Alamo Race Track in the Alpha. A dutch band who just finished a tour in America. They sounded solid with some good songs and a nice performance. I cannot remember anything else to note, but I guess that is a good thing in case of a dutch band. After that we went to the Rakes, which was boring. Chord-progressions which are simple, old and..well..just boring. I know those songs might sound nice, but there are so many bands that play nice songs. It's just not the thing I`m looking for in music...I`m looking for something good and unique. I found this at the next performance of My Brightest Diamond. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on the song Dragonfly. It drifts somewhere between earth and heaven, so beautiful. She put up a good performance with a nice dress and a special hair-do, although she joked that it was a failed experiment. I was soon mesmorized by her beautiful voice, and was quite suprised at the limited number of people who showed up at the Lima. You missed something people!

Then it was time for some food. Spare-ribs. Delicious. When it comes to festival-food, Lowlands has the most variation of the big three that I visited (Pinkpop, Lowlands, Werchter).

After this soulfood we went to The Eagles of Death Metal. Along the way we saw a piece of the Battles, which was impressive. A lot of detailed cut-and-paste work was going on at the stage, and I enjoyed what I saw.

I never imagined the Eagles to give a better performance than at the Effenaar last year, but they did, especially thanks to the crazy crowd in the Grolsch. Jessy Hughes looked sleazier than ever before with that long greasy hair and pink t-shirt, and made some great moves on stage. Luckily he also talked a lot less than at the Effenaar, and just played the music, which sounded loud, but good at the front of the stage. There was a bit of crowd-surfing, and a lot of jumping and some (irritating) pushing, all the elements that show that this was a good performance.

After the Eagles we went to the Basement Jaxx. Three years ago I was really impressed by their performance at Rock Werchter. Now they were closing the Bravo stage on friday. We arrived early to get a nice spot in the middle behind the stage to enjoy the show at its fullest. And it was again a great song. The thing that amazes me about the Basement Jaxx is that they wrote so many good songs that you don`t directly assosiate with their name. Where's you head at?! was of course the grand finale. Later it seemed that this little line could be heard at a long distance from the terrain. A brilliant performance, although sometimes the music felt a bit "too crowded", as if they are making too many sounds at the same time. But this was only a minor point in a perfect set.

After the music we went to the Echo to see Death Proof. Yup, Quintin Tarentino's Grindhouse movie. It was great. It reminds you why it is so great to be a man (because women are sooo beautiful), and that Kurt Russell is still alive. He, by the way, is brilliant in this movie as the psychopat who likes to lure pretty girls in his Death Proof car. It was past 3:00 when the movie ended, so we decided to hit the sleepingbag.

Saturday was a bit of a hard day. I was still a bit tired from last night, and had a bit of a hang-over. We started the day by going to Games in Concert at the Alpha stage. This was an initiative of the Metropool Orchestra and a dutch gaming-website. In short: A complete orchestra was playing the tunes of computer games. Most of the tunes were not that impressive though to hear in this way. I did not know any of the games, untill they started playing the Zelda tune, which I remember from the days when I had a Gameboy and was playing Link's Awakening. Really a feel-good moment. After that they played the famous Mario tune in a small ensemble. A great sing-a-long song, since the whole Alpha was clearing their throats.

The Rifles at the India stage disappointed just as much as the Rakes a day earlier. Just another rock band playing the usual rock songs that sound a lot like that song from the other 100 "The" bands. After three songs we left. We gave them a chance to convince us, but they did not. So we went for some food, and to the Grolsch stage for Turbonegro, a band from Scandinavia. First of all the singer as the biggest beer-belly I have ever seen. It was really hypotising me during the first songs of the set. Then you had a guy behind the keyboard/guitar who was trying his best to move around as "gay" as possible. I looked to the right of me, and saw a giant mosh-pit. I looked to the stage. I saw this guy making is moves. I looked again to my right and saw some guys dressed up in their TurboJugend jackets. Which kind of looked as intimidating as the jackets the Hells Angels wear. I wonder if those though guys noticed those dance-moves that guy was making. I still haven`t talked about the music. It was between ok and good. Hardrock like it should be, without any nuances.

After this show I had a nice chat at the Lima with a lady from near Haarlem. She asked me some interesting questions and I asked some back. Implicitly she told me to take a job that I really like (telling me about her experience), and also tried to convert me to vegetarianism. She was convincing, and nice, but not enough to let me drop my addiction to meat. During this talk Nosfell was playing in the Lima. He sounded very interesting, but we had to go to the Bravo for the second time this weekend to see Cansei de Ser Sexy. It was there were my friend left me temporarily to see Interpol . Sometimes I think it is best to just break up, even when you are only with two persons. He wins by seeing Interpol, while I win by seeing CCS. I would not have been happy at Interpol (booooring), while he was not happy at Cansei de Ser Sexy (a bit to simple/crazy for him). CSS was great. I especially looked forward to seeing the singer jumping around in her jumpsuite, and I was not disappointed. The best non-music moment was when she just struggled herself out of the crowd after a little bit of crowd-surfing and said: "Thanks for not stealing my shoes" and "Actually they are not that expensive anyway". They played a very danceable set and I really enjoyed myself although my feet were aching.

After this I went to Patrick Wolf, not knowing what to expect. Within a few seconds after he went on stage I knew what to expect: A unique show. He kind of looks like E.T. who missed his flight back home about 20 years ago, and decided to get adjusted to life on planet earth. Well. Maybe not completely, but he does look like a being from another planet; neither male nor female. I will never shave my legs by the way. He was making maximum use of the stage and jumped and moved around like crazy, during songs which sounded fresh, unique and especially good. I missed Mika, but I think Patrick Wolf surely made up for that with his stage presence and songs. After this perfermance the saturday was over. We could have watched Borat, but I was too tired and decided that it was also nice to meet up with his cousin & friends at our tents and to enjoy some beers & burgers with them.

The last day, Sunday, was the day of the hard choices and nice surprises. We went to the terrain a bit early to see a little piece of The Enemy in the India. They sounded solid. If this is going to be the next best thing according to the NME, I will approve it with less of a hassle than for instance The View. After this came Patrick Watson. From the description in the little lowlands-guide we learned that he sounde a little bit like Radiohead or Jeff Buckley. The first name I know, they second I don`t. He and his band were impressive and very musical. The songs were very nicely structured, with changes in rythm and speed. There was also a great singalong during "Man Under the Sea" where the band gathered in front of the stage to play a stripped down version of this sing. One of the best moments of my Lowlands 2007. Thank Patrick Watson!

After this we stayed for Loney, Dear, again a group from Scandinavia, but now of the sing-songwriter kind. They play beautiful songs throughout the whole set, but it took about 30 minutes before they really won me over. I think they got a bit more confidence of their ability to please the crowd during the set, something that made them relax and smile. Smiles which were reflected by the audience. The guys from Patrick Watson joined in for the last song, which made this the perfect feel-good afternoon.

After this it was time for a big stretch of Alpha stage action. First of all the Kings of Leon. They impressed my as a band, but the song from the last album miss that unique "touch" that made the first two albums special. I am afraid they will just turn into another rock band. but since they only have made three albums, the first two still dominated the set, which was great! They really rocked out at some points during the set (Spiral Staircase, Molly'd Chambers), and it was great to finally see them live.

After that I saw a piece of Sonic Youth, my friend in the mean time going to Moterhead, which I painfully decided to skip to get a nice position for the Arcade Fire. Although I did not intended to see Sonic Youth, I must say they impressed me from the hills outside the stage. It sounded raw and noisy, and I like that kind off music.

Then came Arcade Fire. I had a lot of expectation for this group. I was still waiting for that chicken-skin moment where your whole body is just in a state of extasy. It did not come. It was a very, very good performance though, but just a bit too short. I blame the festival-organisers for that. One small hour of Arcade Fire is just not enough! The song Wake Up however did almost bring me to a state of eternal happiness. The chorus is just massive. Especially when 30.000 people sing it. I also really like the look out of Regine Chassagne's eyes. It looks like they are trying to eat you up. Sadly she is already married to the frontman of the band. Do I stand a chance, be honest?

Finally I received a call from my friend. Motorhead had a pretty bad sound and so I came back to see the Arcade Fire. Whom impressed him. We met up near the left-front of the stage for Tool, the headliner and last act of the festival. I already saw them last year, but since my friend had never seen them perform I decided that it could not hurt to see them again for a second time. Tool is really a band you should see, even when you don`t like the music. Their sound is so massive that it pretty much blows you away. Especially last year at Pinkpop you could feel the bass got through your body and bones. The played a good set of songs, which again impressed me due to their complexity. I don`t think you can really call them "songs". Maybe you should call them "things". Some of them where 10 minutes long. They got commentary from a dutch music site that they were boring the crowd with their improvising. I didn`t really notice the improvising. I don`t know any of their songs actually. Still, when a band plays a tune of which I cannot follow the rhythm by drumming with my hands on my legs, you really have to give them some credit. I`m an expert at leg-drumming, and Tool amazes me with their complexity and massive sound.

At this point the festival was over. Well not really. There was still a lot of stuff going on with some DJs playing, but my feet were just to tired to really go dancing. So we went back to our tent to meet my friend's cousin & co. for a cold review of the day. I went to bed.

The next morning I woke up and realised it was all over, too soon. I packed my bag and we went back home. We lost my friend's cousin & co. along the way back home, I just didn`t feel like waiting any longer. I really enjoyed their company though, and hope that they aren`t to angry about us taking a lead over them on the way back home.

So this was Lowlands 2007. A festival without any disappointments. Maybe that is why I did not get that chicken-skin moment; the standard that this festival gave me when it came to music was just constantly very high. I did get the moment though when I relistenend "Dragonfly" from My Brightest Diamond. As long as song like this are written I will remain very happy and grateful to live on this big blue planet.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Memories and decisions...

I`m watching television, a documentary about (street) children in Manila, The Philippines. They live on the garbage of the local landfill. They search through the garbage the whole day, looking for salvageable material. Those that do not work there, the real street children, sniff some kind of chemical substance, and remain high the whole day, on the streets or even the local cemetery. The camera focuses on the face of a "high" husband of two children. They live in a tomb on the cemetery, together with his wife who is 19. That look in his eyes. It breaks your heart.

Two french priests do the best they can with their local organisation. They provide shelter, food, and for some, education. With their limited supplies they try to improve the lives of those children.

That made me remember my experiences in India. For three weeks I stayed in the field and interviewed farmers, or village-people. These are the ones that become the people you see lying under the viaducts of Jaipur, eventually, since living in the field is no option. My work there was about a project developed by the government to secure a livelihood for the people in the country-side, and to keep them from moving to the city, where their life will not be a lot better.

I saw how they lived, in those small and simple, but generally idyllic villages. It was easy to observe that a lot of development work already went in them. There I saw the children, wearing simple clothes, and relatively clean for my standards. I still find it strange how "down to earth" I was while I was there. I just played games with them, was not really surprised by the conditions in which they lived, while they are so much different from those in which I grew up. I did not find it strange. I accepted it. Maybe I realised that these children did not really have it that bad compared to those living on the streets of Jaipur, begging for money. Living in the country-side is often seen as worse than living in the city. Maybe it is easier to gather a livelihood (from the landfill) in the city, when the conditions are horrible. When there is a major drought in the country-side in Rajasthan, there is not much left on which to survive I can imagine.

One of the games I played in one of the villages, was an imitation game. While my boss was handing out some pay for the grown-up villagers, I was just being bored together with the children who started to sit in front of me, and of course, stare. So I decided to imitate. First the staring. Nothing is more fun to make one of those little ones blush. Then I started to imitate how they sat with their hands. For the first minutes they didn`t really get it, but after that the frowns started to change in smiles...and it was just having fun. Indian children however get rowdy soon, so the parents chased them away after a while, leaving me with a young bull.

All this made me realise a thing. My goal in general is to help and advice people with the expertise that I got. But do I want to do this in a business consulting job, where I help the organisations that are already wealthy (relatively speaking)? Or do I want to help the people who are really in need? Question is if I can help them? I think this is an argument often used by the western people...I want to, but I cannot. Why not? Because it demands a major sacrifice on part of your own life. You need to move, your income will not be that high, your work could be harder and proably become your life. Then again, you still need money to buy that ticket, visa, your own food. NGOs and other nonprofit-organisations are not the most wealthy.

Isn`t working for personal wealth/development very selfish? The alternative is to work for others people's wealth/development..and with it your own. Then again, the handpalm-reader in India told me that I am a selfish person. And that I will have two women in my life. On of which I will marry. So what should I do?

I`ll just go and watch Cpt. Kirk at 2:50am on BBC2. Maybe that will give me the answers I need.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The kitchen-prince

The last month felt like two weeks. India is still fresh in my mind. Or maybe just Swati's house. Maybe this is caused by the easy communication I can make with people still there. When they leave the country however, the India as I know it, will be gone.

I have been cooking with a lot of pleasure in the past two weeks. I`m starting to get the "feeling" for it and even openned the cooking-book for some experiments. Some went very well, while others were ok and edible. We`ve been eating a lot of potato's, even more meat (I`m really a carnivore) and of course other vegatables. I didn`t buy that much stuff though, because the refrigarator still had a steady supply of food which has been gathered by my parents. They really buy too much.
This tuesday they will come back, and I will again have some more time for...jobhunting.

About one week ago I had my first little ruenion with a guy (from Afghanistan) who also lived in Swati's house. We talked about the chicken house, girls, what happened after he left Swati's house and of course the future. We did this on a nice terrace in Heerlen, under the comfort of a few beers. I already got a nice invitation to come to Amsterdam, and there are also some vague plans to go to Koln to visit other ex-Swati's house members. I cannot wait!

Another thing I`m looking forward to is Lowlands. I need a festival. I need live music. I`m especially looking forward to sleeping in a tent again after such a long time. After I came back from India my priorities have kind off changed. The television has really decreased in popularity, and even the computer is having a hard time. My guitar is the only winner. Most of the time when some music is playing, I'm stopping with the stuff that I was doing, and picking up my guitar to join the music.

It's cool. But it does take up a lot of time. Time flies when you are having fun..I guess ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Another saturday night, and Close Encounters of the third kind was on television.
I dimmed the lights in the room, and sat down to watch this beautiful movie. I like science fiction. It kind of opens your mind. It dares you to dream of the "impossible". The makers of this movie relied on their imagination to come up with that unforgetable tune with which they communicate with the other lifeforms. They communicate through different tones. Luckily they didn`t speak english like the lifeforms I saw in the original series of Star Trek. I`m rediscovering those as one of the best series ever made for television.

Yesterday there was an episode where Kirk (I envy William Shatner, he kisses a new enchanting girl every episode), McCoy and Spock got kidnapped by some species. In the dark room they find a girl lying on some kind of sofa, and they assume that she has also been kidnapped. Then Kirk becomes the first subject to be "tested" by the aliens. The interogate him and hurt him incredibly with some kind of device. The aliens admire Kirks strength and give him compliments. They however do not answer the question why they are doing this. He gets dumped back, heavily injured, in the black room where his shipmates are and where the girl is.

Suddenly, the girl moves to Kirk, and with some kind of power removes his wounds. In this process she transfers them to her body, where they finally heal. She however feels the pain that he was feeling (perfect opportunity for overacting, and so it is done ;)). The aliens come in the room and announce that they need another subject, who will be subjected to even harsher threatment. McCoy uses his medical equipment to put Kirk and Spock to sleep, and thus sacrifices himself for his shipmates. The girl (who by the way does not have any vocal-chords) looks at all this with amazement.

McCoy is being tortured, close to death. Somehow Kirk and Spock manage to enter the torturing room, together with the girl, who they are trying to save. They see McCoy, and want to help him, but the aliens won`t allow it. They are testing the girl. They are testing her species. They want to see if her species is already so developed that they are willing to sacrifice their lifes for somebody they care about or love. Why do they want to do this? Their solar-system is on the verge of collapse, and they can only afford to transfer one species from their solar-system to a save distance. It was all a test. However, in testing the girl for "Empathy" the aliens lose their own sence of "Empathy". Something that Kirk makes them realise with the usual speech.

So those aliens where not simply evil. They just used the humans as test material. Maybe it was a bit un-ethical, but hey, they took a random sample and accidently Kirk and his friends passed by. There goal was actually relatively good. To test ot to learn another species to care for others of her own (and in this case) other kind. I like it when t.v. makes you think.

Back to Imagination.
I don`t like labels. Labels are created to organise things in your mind, but sadly, labels are also often associated with a lot of preconceptions. As in that famous "good" versus "evil". My opinion: What is good or evil lies in the eyes of the beholder. Labels cause your mind to be closed about something. It might be an easy solution to organise data in your head, or to remember things, but it definitely isn`t always right. Just look at the music industry. There is no other place where there are so many labels. You`ve got Indie, Pop, Rock, Hardrock, Metal, Gothic, Deathmetal, Country, Alt Country, Alternative, Disco, Trance, Dance, Alt Rock, Britpop..etcetc. The sad thing is that some artists are labeled in a certain genre and thus are expected to create that certain kind of music. If they don`t, they are getting a considerable harder time with their fans and with their record-company. Look at Bob Dylan when he started playing electric guitar, look at U2 and their Discotheque. Finally these artists use their imagination to start something new, to radically change something, but part of the audience had different expectations. U2 now returned to getting old on the same sound they invented almost 25 years ago. Dylan didn`t give a sh*t and pushed through. Luckily.

Maybe I just don`t like preconceptions. Maybe I don`t like closed minds.
But do I have an open mind?
The only thing I know is that I like to use my imagination.

They are out there. Somewhere.
She is out there. Somewhere.
You might call me mad (another label).
But without the imagination of others I could not have posted this blog.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Gut Feeling

Is not only just a feeling, but also a great song from a band called "Devo" which I just discovered. It was written by the guy who later wrote the theme of the Rugrats. Yes! THE RUGRATS! This man is obviously a genious.

But back to me. Ahum. Me. I have a gut feeling. And it is not a pleasant one. It is one like this: "I should do something, I should do something, I should do something, I should do something, I should do something, I should do something, I should do something. But what am I doing now? Ah, what I do now is also valuable and necessary, but I feel like a should do something! About what? I don`t know! I want to go looking for a job! Yes that is it! But what do I want? Do I want to find a job in the Netherlands and settle down here? Or do I want to find a job in a foreign country? But Paul, finding a job in a foreign country is a little bit more complicated, and you don`t like complications. Well, then I`ll just have to bite through it? But the money Paul? You`ll probably barely have the money to finance the trip to that possible foreign country. Well, I still have some money left, a one-way trip to any destination should not be a problem. I can buy the ticket back there.

But then you still have to find something. That something is already clearly defined in my head. Maybe I should put it on paper one of these days. I`ve got quite a lot of points. But shouldn`t you be demanding? Why settle for something you don`t like, when you can have something you do like? Why not try at least? Or scan the option of doing it?

Welcome to an average discussion inside my head. Usually ends up in, "don`t worry, it`ll come, eventually", "relax", "Why not?", "We'll see, time will tell".

Sunday, July 01, 2007

One week evaluation

I`m home for one week now. I`m starting to adjust.

The first week I went to a Genesis concert in Dusseldorf. It was an amazing concert. There were dozens of moments where I just felt like crying, because it was so beautiful, so perfect. Let me explain why I had such strong emotions. You`ve been a fan from a band for 16 years, and never you had the opportunity to see them live. From 1992 till 1998 it is basically the only group you are listening to. In 1994 one of their main members decides to quit because it was impossible for him to combine his solo and group career together with his private life. Then they get a new singer and bring out a new cd in 1998. It was well received in Europe, but in America it crashed, together with the tour. They decide to put the band to sleep. Reunion talks had been going on for years, but when Phil Collins decided to have his Farewell tours, hope decreased even further. Then in June 2006, suddenly, there is a reunion. And I got some tickets for that concert. Finally you don`t have to watch those old DVDs lying in your shelf, you can see them in person on stage.

During the concert I sang every line together with mr. Collins. I drummed on my legs. It was the first concert where I could to this for every, and really every, song. The lightshow was simple amazing. Through every song the background changed according to the mood of the music, and the stage also expanded during the show, making the lightshow even more expansive. The sound was perfect, not too loud, not too soft, and no irritating echo. Next to the mr. Collins also showed himself from his humorous side, trying to speak German to the German crowd. We also had the demonstration of the domino effect and public participation during "Throwing it all away" and "I Know what I like (In your wardrobe).

The food there was also great...I had some Salami Pizza, some french fries and most important..a real german bratwurst!

What else did I do this week...I went out for dinner thursday with a good friend of mine to Valkenburg. We went to a restaurant called La Casa. It was a spanish restaurant, so went went straight for the Tappa's section of the menu. There I ordered the Tappa's del Carne (or something like that), which basically boils down to having every different kind of meat on your plate possible. And it was really a lot. And delicious. I was the only one who finished his plate, completely. The next day the toilet had to pay a little bit for it, but I did not get sick. After the dinner we had a beer in Valkenburg (Limburg has some great places to have a beer, visit me and I`ll show you them), after which we went to my friends home to have some more cheaper beers. We chatted about stuff. I told him about the great people I met in India, he told me about his visit in Cannes, Monaco and San Remo and his job.

Besides going out for dinner I am also preparing dinner myself. I decided that I really have to get the routine of cooking, since well, I might be living on my own on a pretty short notice. I also dread to become a person living of fastfood and microwave dinners, bleh...never.

So I made boiled potatoes with brocoli and some pork-chops on one day. Worked out perfectly

Then I made some Reibe-Kuchen. Worked out perfectly.

Then I made some boiled potatoes with cucumber (in a nice sauce) and some cutlets. Again it was all perfectly spiced and it had a great taste.

Then I made some Macaroni. I learned the recipe for the special family sauce, which does not include tomato ketchup (!). Again it was delicious. I actually want to eat the complete pan, but something tells me I should not.

Last sunday and monday I also went shopping for some good music. The cds I bought are all brilliant. The new White Stripes album is probably the best one. This little disc was made with a lots of fun, and when you can hear this in the music, it is also great fun to listen too. It is perhaps a bit less subtle than their last two cds, but it is again pure rock 'n roll.

I posted a video called "No Pussy Blues" from Grinderman on my I-Like application. I love that song. Just look at his face when I sings the lines of his song. This guy (Nick Cave, Australian, you might know him) is 100% in his music when he plays his songs on stage. He just screams his lungs out in this song..out of anger and frustration. You would actually believe he really had that Blues. The song itself is raw, hard and a little bit sexy, just the way I like it. The rest of the cd is a bit less "in your face", but still very good.

The last cd I bought is from the Queens of the Stone Age. One of my family members, who also listens to a lot of music, called it a weird cd. I kinda see that as a compliment. The band is changing its sound into unknown territory. And still they sound like no other band, they sound like the Queens of the Stone Age. There are a lot of easy grooves on this record, and some pretty hard songs (without compromise) also. Again it is all a bit less pollished than the last cd, which I really like. But back to India.

Most of my stories about India have the following structure. First I start explaining them about all the extremes in India. The weather, the poverty, the life of the rich and famous, the garbage, the smell, the noise, the annoying tradesmen who always and everywhere want to sell you something. Despite of these difficulties, it is however still a great country. Why? Because of the people I met there and the house in which I lived. You can see so many temples, palaces and forts. I will forget those, that is why I made most of my pictures there. The people however, the people who lived in Suati's, Orange house and the chicken house, and the occasional friendly Indians, I will never forget. I believe that sometimes I get too "attached" to people too easily, without it really being mutual. From the outside I might seem a bit.."apathetic"..but that is just my calm outside compusure.

But if you ask me the question: Did you want to stay longer? I have to say no. I lost 15 kgs in 5 months. I practically collapsed a bit after Agra and needed a long rest before and after every bus trip I took after that. The country itself was almost destroying me in some ways. The ethical questions you ask yourself at least every week, because of what you see, hear and smell. It's hard and intensive to live there, and I really enjoyed it, but you should not stay too long.

I`ll try my best to meet at least one (non-dutch, cos there will most definitely be a dutch reunion) person again, just like I did after Korea (see the pictures from Pamplona for evidence). Promising something however is very hard, since I don`t know where the wind will blow me...said in Dylanism.

When I went away in that rickshaw on saturday morning a little tear did role down my cheek. I called that place home for 5 months, I`ve seen so many people leave, and now I am the one leaving. It might not be completely mutual for all the obvious reasons, but damn Suati's, I miss you dearly.



Monday, June 25, 2007

Back Home

Sorry for the long silence, but I was too busy with either travelling or going out with friends in India. Now I am home, I am tired and slightly disorientated. It is an incredible difference that excists between both India and the Netherlands, and only now I realize it. Tomorrow I will go to a Genesis concert, I hope my mind will be ready for that.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Rajasthan's Burning

From the Hindustan Times:

The Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan, demanding their community's inclusion in the list of scheduled tribes (ST), claimed six more lives on Thursday, taking the total death toll to 22 since the stir began three days ago.

The violence has spread to 21 of the state’s 31 districts. There were signs it could escalate further after the Meena community threatened to counter the agitating Gujjars. They warned Gujjar leaders they would act if the stir was not withdrawn by Friday.

The Meenas, the largest scheduled tribe in the state, fear that if the Gujjar's demand is met, their community's share of the benefits accruing from their ST status, would be reduced. The STs currently have 12 per cent reservations in jobs and educational institutions.

The Gujjars are at present in the OBC category.

Meanwhile, state government representatives and leaders of the Gujjar Sangharsh Samiti (GSS), which is leading the agitation, held a second round of talks in Jaipur on Thursday, which remained inconclusive. A third round of negotiations had also begun late on Thursday.

The first round had been held in Dausa on Wednesday. The GSS leaders were escorted to Jaipur under the army’s protection. Earlier, as protests continued across the state, police opened fire in eight places to check rampaging Gujjar mobs.

Four people, part of a violent crowd, were killed in Boli town of Sawai Madhopur district, 150 km east of Jaipur. Two other deaths were reported from Kotputli and Bayana. About a dozen people were injured.

Additional DGP (Law and Order) Kanhaiya Lal said that the police opened fire in Boli when a mob turned violent and surrounded a police station. “Four persons died in the incident,” he confirmed.

Defending the police action, state Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria, said: “We will do everything to maintain law and order. Counting the number of dead will not solve the problem. In the 60-year-old history of Rajasthan, did you ever see courts, government offices, records, police stations and schools burning?”

The army was called out in Kota, Sawai Madhopur, Alwar and Karauli districts to restore law and order. The Jaipur-Delhi highway was also already handed over to the army, following violence near Kotputli on Wednesday night.

Several other districts too witnessed violent clashes between the police and the Gujjars, who tried to shut down markets in reply to a bandh call given by the GSS.

By late Thursday evening, reports said that the Gujjar agitation had spread to Delhi and the National Capital Region, including Gurgaon in Haryana and Noida in Uttar Pradesh.


Personally I am not noticing any of the voilences. Only on wednesday I heard a mob chanting on the streets, that was about it. My accessways for travelling to the east have been blocked however now. I could go to the south, but in Kota (one of my stations then) there are also some riots. I think I`ll just go to the bus station on monday morning and see what drives and what does not. I`m not really disappointed since I think the Gujjar probably have a valid point in their demonstrations. I`m not really afraid of the mobs, but when I`ll be travelling I`ll be travelling in state buses. And currently the Gujjar hate the state. So the bus will burn and I`ll be in the middle of nowhere. They`ll probably offer me a cup of tea in compensation.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I predict a riot

India is a big country with more than 1 billion people, so I guess some voilence in the neighbourhood could be expected. The following article was in the dutch newspapers, and was pretty close to home (Jaipur). I looked up the english one from the bbc website:

PS: Travelling along the Jaipur-Agra road is not in my travelling plan, so don`t worry :)

Riots over Indian tribal quotas
At least seven people have been killed in violent clashes in India's Rajasthan state over the government's affirmative action plans, officials say.
Police fired on protesters from the nomadic Gujjar tribe who had blocked a key national highway near Delhi.

At least one of those killed is believed to be a policeman.

The Gujjars are demanding that they be included in an affirmative action quota which would give them access to government jobs and other benefits.

Police say they opened fire after tens of thousands of Gujjar protesters turned violent. Protesters said police shot at unarmed crowds.

'More killed'

Protesters began their action on Monday night, blocking a key highway which connects the city of Jaipur with the tourist destination of Agra where the Taj Mahal is located.

Police have confirmed only three deaths, including one of a policeman.

But witnesses and local officials in Dausa district where the violence took place say more than double than that number were killed.

A senior police officer told the BBC he suspected that at least half a dozen more people had been killed in the clashes and that protesters were holding six bodies, including those of two policemen.

"The police first tried to negotiate with the protesters," HK Dahmor, chief of administration of Dausa district, told the AFP news agency.

"When the protesters did not budge, the police tried to physically move them from the spot which sparked the clashes."

A Gujjar community leader, Avinash Badana, told India's state-run Doordarshan channel that the police had fired on "unarmed people".

Correspondents say the situation is still very tense and extra police have been rushed to the area.

The state administration is holding an emergency meeting and soldiers are being sent to the area to try to keep the peace.


The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says the Gujjars are a large and politically-influential nomadic tribe spread across north India.

They are demanding that they be categorised as an official tribe so that they may benefit from affirmative action quotas which will give them access to government jobs as well as places in state-supported schools and colleges, he says.

Our correspondent says the issue of affirmative action is a sensitive one in India with many poor communities arguing that it is the only way millions of under-privileged people can benefit from India's economic boom.

But those opposed to it say it is a cynical move by politicians to gain more votes from politically influential communities who make up a large percentage of the country's population.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Friday, May 25, 2007

Note to self: Do not read dutch newspapers

Because they will only make you very, very angry.

As usual we have a government in the Netherlands who is afraid to make any major decisions, because who knows, it might get them to lose some votes in the next election. With major decisions I mean the approval of the European constitution. For those that do not know, a majority of the dutch people voted against it in 2005 on grounds of..well...euh...I don`t now...Stupidity? Fear? Protectionism? Conservatism?

I`m pro-Europe. Really pro-Europe. I believe that without Europe the Netherlands isn`t worth anything. I mean, we are an export country, we are dependent on other economies for our survival. Many of our great multinationals would not have survived if they stayed bound to our national borders. I voted in favour the constitution. Why? Because I think Europe needs a unified set of rules to make life a bit easier for everybody. I don`t get this fear for Europe. Since when are we dutch so protective and nationalistic?

We like to think of ourselves as a very liberal nation..but that only concerns our sex, drugs and abortion policy in my opinion. On a European level we are only complaining about paying too much and losing our power. It is time for us to take a good look in the mirror. We are a nation governed by fear for what is beyond our national border, which is fed by a growing ignorance of the people. Our government only seems to support the anti-European feelings..cause will win them a few votes in the next election. Dutch politics is all about popularity, and not about what is best in the interest of the people. And by "people" I mean the people of Europe, of which the Netherlands is still a part. I hate nationalism and egoistic motives and the Netherlands seems to be full of those two lately.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Deep in Rajasthan, 250 dangerous kilometers from Jaipur, lies the village of Bundi. A city known for its beautiful palace and fort. Within the palace one can find marvelous murals and frescoes. These for instance show the Maharajah and Maharani of Bundi (the king and queen) doing their daily chores like hunting tigers, playing instruments and of course seducing each other. The fort and palace are both very impressive and really well preserved compared to the run-down major tourist attractions in Jaipur.

My two days at this place were very quiet and pleasant. Almost no other tourists besides an English couple, and I was the only one roaming in the fort on Saturday. It was big with many different small rooms, some of them decorated with the most detailed wall-paintings I have ever seen. The city itself was also very nice, with its narrow street and old city center. The people also seemed to be a lot friendlier than in other cities. They genuinely seemed to be happy to see you, and not because you carry money, but because you came here to visit their city.

The food at the hotel was also very good, and my room was cheap and nice. In general this trip only encourages me that the 2.5 week trip that I will make in Madhya Pradesh will be a great success. I`ll visit a lot of smaller, less touristic, places hopefully I`ll be treated just as well there as I was in Bundi.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Venturing into paradise.... we walked through the main gate of the City Palace complex. A beautifully decorated elephant on our left side, another to our right, to welcome us. We walked over the red carpet towards the royal garden, and past a group of lavishly dressed Indian dancers, dancing on the beats and sounds on which this country survives. The lighting was simply amazing and made the palace look even better than by normal daylight. Walls were colored a deep dark red, just as red as the carpet on which we were walking. We passed another gate and there, hearing the volume of Indian flute-music slowly increasing. What we saw, what we experienced, was the Incredible India you see advertised during the commercial breaks of CNN or Discovery.

You stepped into a dream, and what did you see. You saw a beautiful and large lawn, as big as a soccer field. On two sides there were hundreds (yes hundreds) of those typical chef-cook hats. Next to that dozens of waiters were walking around, offering you drinks or exclusive Indian (and Chinese)vegetarian delicacies. A few hours before this wedding I stated that the Indian cuisine bored my too death, here I was proven wrong. Those chef cook hats were of course the cooks themselves, preparing the 400 (no, this is not a typing error) different dishes. Hundreds of people were letting their taste-buds have a night of a life-time, accompanied by a live-band which was centered around a (probably highly) skilled flute-player.

At the center of this fest was a stage, with two chairs on it. After half an hour the bride and groom emerged, both wearing the most beautiful traditional Indian dresses you can imagine. They were getting married. All the people in the palace-garden were invited directly or indirectly. Including us. He seemed a bit out of place, a bit nervous. She looked tired, perhaps because her Sari (Indian dress) carried a lot of gold. Pictures were taken with almost all the guests at the wedding, including us.

The food was delicious, although your's truly avoided the usual Indian dishes, and went directly for the very special Indian food (things I had never seen on my plate before), Chinese food, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and of course a piece of pizza.
A few hours later and a great experience later it was time to leave this dream.

We slowly went outside, over the red carpet, through the gates, and then suddenly we were outside again. The smell of garbage came back to our noses, the stray dogs were again seen patrolling their territory. In the corner a rickshaw driver was lying on his cycle rickshaw, trying to get some rest. Out of the fantasy, and back to reality.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Already more than one week in the past, but let me give you a description of this little town.

Deep in Rajasthan, near a small lake, created by no one else but the gods themselves, lies Pushkar. It only has about 10,000 inhabitants, which is not that much. These 10,000 inhabitants are however focused on one thing; tourism. Or in other words; the money in your wallet.

It is a place were people force you to have a Pushkar-passport. This is a little red string of cloth that you have to bind around your right wrist, after going through some rituals at the lake. This of course involves paying the one that does the ritual, a nice amount of rupees, since this is of course a holy place where money makes the gods very, very pleased. I thought greed was something to detest, but these fake-priests really push you to the edge to do this ritual. Luckily I`m an experienced Jaipurian who knows how to say no, and how to keep it no. Then you also have the small child beggars, who get send out by their mothers every morning to get some money from the white-man's sympathy. I don`t mind them asking me for money. But sometimes they are so persistent, you really want to beat them off of you. Literally. Because they don`t mind holding your arm or pulling the sleeve of your shirt.

My tactic this weekend was to do the same thing to them. Ask them 1000 times for 50 rupees. Pull their sleeves aggressively and consistently. Ask them for biscuits. They get a confused and scared long on their face, and finally decide to leave this crazy tourist alone. It might sound a bit harsh, since they could actually be poor children, but why don`t they ask the Indian people in this town for money? Why is it always the white tourist that is being harassed? It smells fishy, and so I just walk on.

Of course there are also good things about the tourist doom-town of Pushkar. I really enjoyed sitting at the lake-side, drinking a nice mango-lassy, and just chilling. Then suddenly you notice a 60 year old hippy (Pushkar was a hippy-paradise a few decades ago) dancing around near the lake in some sort of a..purple..haze. It is really nice to see somebody so happy, floating around in space and time, near a lake, not worrying about his surroundings. Then again, it is also a bit sad, cause he was pretty much having fun on his own. Maybe he should have moved on. Later we also saw a young Italian girl visiting her (grand) father at this place. He was again completely Indianised with nice long white hair, and of course a beard in the same color. She, I guess, was happy to see her family again and talk to him.

Also nice the next day was the climbing of one of the hills in Pushkar, to have a perfect view of the sunrise. We got up at 4:30 to walk to the top of the hill, which was a pretty tough climb. around 5:30 we arrived there, and were able to witness the beautiful sunrise. After that we went back down. The girls went shopping (although they did not buy a lot) while me and another guy went relaxing at the hard rock cafe (which was playing Hindi music). For the first time in India I fell asleep at a cafe, and it was brilliant. Never did I feel so relaxed in India..and it happened in Pushkar. Although the city might be as tourist orientated as can be, it is still possible to find some peace here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Laptop alive, Paul gives a high five

Well, it seemed it was just my Li-ion battery that was blocking my whole system from starting up. I removed it by accident (was playing with the lock-mechanism), and decided to give me laptop another try. And there it went, past the initial screen, onto windows. Hooray!

I did not drink the special lassy by the way. Someone of our group tried it, but it had such a little effect on him that I decided to just skip it (it is no fun if it does not do anything fun). Pushkar in itself was a very nice and relaxing place, and certainly worth the visit. Even bought some more souvenirs. Slowly my collection is increasing, still need to buy a lot more though.

This weekend I am going to Bundi, if everything goes alright. It is a small city with a beautiful hillside palace. I`ll report about it when I come back.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Laptop fried, Paul cried laptop not exactly fried, it just isn`t starting up anymore. This basically means that I lost hunderds of pictures and 3 weeks of hard work. Initially I crashed when thinking about it, but now...Pictures are only snapshots, while the memory in my brain will remain. I`l just have to tell the stories, without the pictures. The three weeks of work is a major setback, since I only have 4 weeks left here. This means that I`ll have to work my ass off to make something of this report. I`ll try my best, but damn, why did this have to happen to me, now.

reasons for computer breakdown:

1) Yesterday there was a power cut while the laptop was plugged in. Some surge might have fried the harddisk. Strangely enough, the first thing that should be fried, the battery (the thing between your laptop and electricity-source) is still working. In fact, the whole screen even goes one. After that however there is a deadly silence. There does not seem to be communication between the rest of the computer and the hardisk. Power-cuts also happen a lot and all the time the laptop went nicely back on again after it. Good news of this option is...well..there is no good news..if it is fried it is lost.

2) Boot-sector failure. After the 100th sudden shut-down the harddisk said "f*ck-you* and decided not to boot anymore. Good news of this option is that I can just plug it in on another computer as a slave-disk and hope that I can retrieve the data. Bad news is that it might be hard to find te stuff I need for doing that in India. It's pretty unusual stuff.

3) CMOS battery empty. Although this should not be happening in general (since batteries should last for years), this is also an option. If this battery is empty then the communication between all the components of my laptop simply stops, which might explain why my harddrive is not working anymore. The good news is that when the battery is replaced by laptop will be working again. The bad news is it will not be working again untill I`m back in the Netherlands, since opening a laptop is something I don`t want to do by myself.



Friday, May 04, 2007

Killer mutant monkeys invading from Darjeeling!

Aah! Today I`m going to Pushkar!
Hippie paradise since you cannot smoke drugs there but are allowed to drink them (and to expand your universe consequently). They call it bhang-lassy. I`m might try it, carefully of course. It is said to cause some hallucinations...wouldn`t be my first here in India since the burning sun and temperatures can make your brain boil easily.

Speaking about hallucinations, yesterday I again had to explain myself why I did not smoke soft-drugs while I`m at the festival-fields. Maybe that is because I just really hate smoking. Maybe I`m already with my head in the clouds enough without that stuff? Maybe I just don`t need it to have fun or to enjoy myself? Why do something when you don`t need or don`t have any desire for it? And why do you end up with the label "a bore" when you don`t smoke it? So cliche..just like the drug itself actually. A bit of a cheap thrill in my opinion….?

I don`t know..what I do know is that a good thrill is when you put up a song and can play every note perfectly together with it on your guitar, with perfect timing and no hick-ups. Or when you start improvising and actually end up with with quite a good little tune. You actually achieved something and feel great…sharp and fresh.

And now I hear you thinking: "but you are going to drink that Bhang-lassy, fool!". Well. It is actually strange to find such a completely legal drink at a place were drugs and alcohol are prohibited. It is unique to Pushkar, and I`ll only end up drinking it once. It does not kill my lungs should I get addicted to it. And not everybody has tasted it in the Netherlands, so it still has some originality-points to it. And so it basically it ends up to this: I take my own path and my own path is my own..and I don`t need to explain my unreasonable reasoning to you!

Monday, April 30, 2007

PSVuuuh Oleeh Oleeh!

So the people from above the rivers must feel pretty much f*cked now. Good!
After the winterstop PSV started to stumble a bit, and started to loose its 13 point lead it had before the winter-stop. I was checking the nos soccerpaper online and last week saw that suddenly they were in third place. People were writing them off. I still believed in it. AZ are to arrogant to win a championship (I`m pointing at you van Gaal), and Ajax, Ajax always comes a few centimeters short from getting a victory in the last few years.

So everybody will say it is undeserved: They did not play the best few, they did not score the most goals, their style was not an attacking one..blahblahblah. The superior quality of the defensive line, the calculated passing from the midfield and the killer instinct up front make PSV a lot better than all the other teams in the Dutch division. AZ does not know what defending is while Ajax always tries to do it a little bit too fancy.

So I am in a great mood, and going to have a great time tonight!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Lessons learned in India

Your stay in India can be so much more pleasant if you take a more relaxed stance towards things. Basically, by obtaining the relaxed mindset of an average Indian person you walk through daily life without the constant irritations. Just walk on. Don`t be too relaxed however, but also don`t be too harsh. Keep your guard up, but don`t let it be too strong. Negotiate friendly with a smile and most of the time you will get something very close to what you want. I noticed that saying the prices in Hindi always cracks their little nationalistic hearts…so sweet..hehehe. Oww..and always maintain your composure. It impresses them more when you stay calm under all circumstances, it earns you respect. Anger is a sign of weakness.

One flew from the...

Let me tell you a story about a man. That man went to Bharatpur, a small city about 200 kilometers from Jaipur. There he went, all excited, to visit Keoladeo Birth Sanctuary. Before he went there he read all kinds of bad press that the place was dry, just a shadow of its former glory, and that it was not worth visiting anymore. All that was just a bunch of crap!

This place was magnificent, for several reasons. First of all there was nobody there, finally I was at a place that is supposed to be peaceful, and actually was peacefull to. I probably was one of the 4 or 5 foreigners visiting that place, and I really enjoyed it. Finally some rest in a weekend-trip, an escape from the busy city life that covers so many of the other tourist destinations. The second point that made this park great was the lack of motorised vehicles. God bless the authorities to keep these tin cans of noise and pollution out of a beautiful park. The last thing were I want to be when watching wildlife, is in a noisy and uncomfortable jeep packed with a pack of other tourists. This time I just rented a big. And no, there was no rickshaw-wallah driving it for me, I was using my own legs! Most of the Indians were probably pretty amazed to see a western tourist drive a bicycle with 43 degrees in the afternoon, but hey, maybe I`m not like that lazy bunch of “developed” people. Besides that, I like a bit of exercise, and the occasional “looking up of your physical borders”. And so I did. I saw wildlife, in silence, very close. I`ve seen jackals crossing the path, I`ve seen at least 4 different species of deer (all pretty impressive), I`ve seen ducks, peacocks, and a freight of small and big birds. And all from a close distance, and in peace. Although the park itself might be at a critical point in its time (the water level is kept at a acceptable level by using pumps), it was still a unique experience and one I won`t forget soon. This was day 1 of my stay. I stayed at a hotel called the Jungle Lodge. It was a nice place with an even nicer garden and hosts.

The next day I went back to mass-tourism in India: I went to Fatehpur Sikri. I took the bus, since I hate trains in India (too many people crammed in the sleeper department, no nice views, a lack of escape routes). Although the bus might be a bit less saver, and maybe a bit more uncomfortable thanks to the heat, I like it. I sitting with the Indian lower-middle class next to me, and just travelling through the country like they are doing. Fatehpur Sikri is a place were about 500 years ago, an eccentric Indian Sultan called Akbar, tried to set up his new capital. He did so succesfully, only to notice after a few years that the place was so dry that it could not sustain itself. It was thus abandoned. Like all thinks in India it must have layed in ruins for some time, untill a team of English archeolegists decided to restore it. And a nice job they did. The palace itself is a bit alienating if you have seen other structures in India. Hinduist architecture is mixed with European, Muslim and Budist styles, to create a whole new style for itself. It was a nice place to visit, although the tourist guides (touts) were quite annoying. “No sir, this building is very big and you will not see everything when you go alone. You will not know the story behind the building. And no sir, your book has a description maybe but it is not precise.” I just said that there is no story behind the building (got the arrogant laughing reaction; so predictable) and that I want to guide myself through it. Guides just rush through the whole structure, and I don`t like following them, I like to determine my own route and pace.

There was also a large Mosque-Palace complex, where I again felt very guilthy. A boy working for the place wanted to guide be through the complex, saying he was doing it for free, and I did not believe him. Eventually I let him guide me through the complex, with constantly the idea in the back of my mind that he would ask for rupees. I was a bit harsh on him all the time, just listening to him and not asking too many questions or showing too much interest. The place was beautiful and interesting though. At the end, he said:”Well sir, this is the end of the tour, thank you for visiting and have a good time”. No question about money, maybe he did expect it, but he did not push it. He was thus a true gentleman. Damn. My distrust against people surrounding tourist monuments made me so cold that I did not threat this boy (who was only practicing his English) nicely.

Friday, April 20, 2007

While my guitar gently weeps...

...since she misses me so much, and I miss her even more. ;)
What I want to do with my guitar, where I want to be this summer, and what I want to see:

(Controllable noise at its best..I love this band)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Almost weekend..

Tomorrow night I will go to a goodbye party (with lots of booze and Americans). Saturday morning I want to wake up at 5:00 am. Does it seem logical? Does it fit?
We`ll see. I know that I want to be on the bus to Bharatpur at 6:00am, to be arriving there at 10:30am. I`ll find my hotel around 11:30am. And go to the bird sanctuary around 1:00pm. I`ll probably be going alone by the way. The other guys in my house have to work on saturday, and most of the girls in the house just had a busy weekend and are looking for a rest. Not that I really mind though. I just want to escape from Jaipur for two days, and see how I will survive in the Indian wilderness on my own. You see..I`m probably going to travel three weeks by myself, so this is a good rehearsal. Including other people in my trip would also sabotage my style of travelling: No planning, no schedule, no reservations. I just want to go there and improvise, make it up along the way. If I feel like doing this, I want to do this, if I however feel like doing that, I will do that.

Today I also checked my bank-balance. It is doing ok. Still have to buy a big number of souvenirs though. Already made a list of things I could give to certain people, and also know where I will probably find the souvenirs. Instead of buying the cheap-touristic junk in the Pink-City, I`m going to aim for souvenirs with a bit more quality. These are of course a little bit more expensive, but still cheap as hell. Of course, I could buy the very cheap stuff, but it literally falls apart while you wear it. How often I have seen the ladies of the house with broken camel-leather slippers, and how often I have seen the tread and needle to fix clothes gone bad.

Monday, April 16, 2007

There is a man...

There is a man in one of the streets close to our home. He owns a little shop. It is an electronics shop. He repairs all kinds of electronic equipment like radio's. He is a man of advanced age. He's got a bald head, about 55 years old. Is face is like that of that famous Italian soccer-referee, Collina. Every time I pass the shop he is sitting in front of his counter, looking at the people passing by. In front of him is a little self-made contraption. It has two lightbulbs in it. One is just a normal light-bulb, but the other is very deep red. The red lightbulb almost has the same shape as his head. It seems to be his billboard: "Come here if you have any issue regarding electronical stuff". And everyday I pass his shop, and everyday he is there. For how long has he been sitting there? I don`t know, one thing I do know is that I want to make a picture of him and his bulb.

Bye toilet, hello world!

After spending more time on the toilet than ever before, I`m finally cured from my "buikgriep"..or Gastroenteritis in English.

Monday it started with a throat-ache and a heavy head. That night I had a dinner with two colleges, so I decided just to go. After the dinner, which felt very bad in my stomach, I collapsed mentally. My head was on fire, my stomach felt noxious, and I felt like I really needed some sleep. So I lay myself in bed 1,5 hours later. I`m sure that my head never felt so hot as it did then. It was glowing. The next morning I still had the fever, and a stomach going mad. Seems something had to leave my body. In the Netherlands everything would just go out in one go, but in India, in India, things take time, including the disposing food out of your body. Massive amounts of air, combined with little waste, were produced by my the following days. Really..the sounds that I sometimes made..unbelievable.
From friday on the fever was gone, my stomach however needed another 3 days to get back to its normal self. Even now I occasionaly have small pains..but not so serious that I have to run to the toilet to decrease the (air) pressure.

All in all..I`m happy that my body made itself healthy again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

To be a tourist, or not to be a tourist?

I`m facing an ethical dilemma..for the last two weekends.
Of course, I want to see sights in India..but do I want to go to the all too obvious major tourist sights..and cramp this sightseeing in a mere weekend?

The answer is a

I would love to go to Udiapur this weekend, but the train-trip takes 12 hours, this would mean that I have to leave at Friday night, would arrive at Saturday morning, would spend one night there, and would have to go back on Sunday-afternoon to be back in time to go to work on monday. Of course, I could skip work, but that would cut in my 3 free days a month supply. Maybe I should not care for my NGO or work so much, but damnit..I do. I care for my work, want to make it as good as possible, and want to follow the rules of the game that are stipulated out for me. And even if I stayed until monday afternoon..would it honour the place? I don`t want to run through the sights; running from monument to monument, and always having to check the time when the last train leaves. Besides that..on monday or tuesday I would be completely exhausted..and since my current state (fever, sore throat, headache) isn`t that good, it might not be the best thing to do.

And then again, what are sights? Another temple? Another palace? Another lake? Up till now, the things I have seen are nice..but do they make India? I think that life itself, and the people involved in it, in Jaipur and Shahabad, is what makes my stay in India special. Life in India is eating chapattis, playing real-life Frogger when crossing roads (I`m already at level 56 and still not game over!). It is negotiating with rickshaw-drivers over a mere 10 rupees. It is experiencing 25 degrees Celsius at an early morning in April. It is cricket everywhere..even in the streets of the Pink City Jaipur. It is seeing birds of prey flying right over your head while they are hunting for small birds or rats. It is enjoying a late night beer on the roof-terrace. It is seeing a 10-man marching band being cramped into a little rickshaw. It is experiencing the dozens of near crash situations while riding the state buses. It is seeing the house-servants being completely obsessed by strange India soap-operas. It is having a shower (or bath) with just a large bucket of water and a small bucket to poor it over you. It is having to flush your toilet manually. It is walking on the straight railway and seeing the light of the train in the distance. It is passing by enormous bulls when you walk along the street in your neighbourhood. It is hearing a spoiled cow moaning because she wants her food now, while she is crashing in into the gate of the house where she is normally fed. It is seeing a small squirrel challenging a much larger bird over its territory. It is getting some coconut peaces from some children and having a small cow sneakishly eat it from your left hand.

People sometimes tend to forget that normal life itself here is already very special by is the people you meet everyday that create the atmosphere and the character of a country named India. You don`t have to travel hundreds of kilometers to see it, you just have to step out of your door.

Of course..I would love to see some sights..but in general I am trying to avoid the bigger touristy places..because a moment of rest while on the streets is almost impossible there. And rest is what I need. I`m also actually planning to go to Udaipur in my three week maybe it is better for me to stay in Jaipur...or do something else.

So this weekend I might be going to Bharatpur (it all depends on how I feel) is a small city, about 4,5 hours by bus from Jaipur (much better than 10-12 hours!). It should have a nice fort..and a bird-sanctuary. The bird-sanctuary however suffered enormously thanks to horrible government policy (and bureaucratics) and is only a shadow of what it used to be. It`ll still be nice to see some other wildlife there..and I can actually drive around on a bike in the park. The place will at least not be that crowded..and hopefully peaceful. And it will again be a great lesson in how India's government is destroying the last few natural beauties that are left.

I also want to go to Bundi. Bundi is a town, about 5 hours from Jaipur by bus. According to my guide-book it is a beautiful and again peaceful place to visit..with a mountain castle and a very historic city centre. Maybe that is also one of the reasons why I am always in doubt about going to far away and bigger destinations; I am looking for rest and clean air..while bigger places often lack these two things.

Shahabad report

At Shahabad I wrote some nice stories in the dark evenings and early mornings, here is a nice overview of them!

Day 1: Arrived with Martine at Shahabad for my three week stay. I’m hoping that I will get some work done in these three weeks, and I believe that the initial signs are good. The questions I have are good, ordered and rated. Since a lot of them are closed it will be no problem in my opinion to have a decently successful interview. Translation however will remain a major issue, and I’ll have to see if somebody can arrange it today.

Day 2: Here I am, 2 p.m.. waiting for the two people who can help me on my assignment. Don’t know where they are or what they are doing, so I am bored. In my opinion I finished all what I can do now, so there is nothing left. There is no computer free (and also no Acrobat Reader) which means that working on my introduction is also impossible.

Day 4: …And still no significant business done. Seem mr Tiwari was right; It is going to be difficult. Maybe I should see this as an ultimate test of “things take time in India”. I would love to start screaming and pounding on doors and walls to speed things up. But deep inside I know it would not make any difference and would only agitate the poor Indians who do not know any better. It is a clash of cultures…but still…
I would at least like to do something. Today we went to the FD office only to encounter a closed door: Nobody was home. Well…at least I had a relaxing ride on the back of a motorcycle. And so now it is 5 p.m. and the place is deserted. I kind of miss the people in Jaipur, but not yet seriously. I’ll now for sure that I’ll be hugging them a lot when I go back on the 10th of April (and that date IS fixed).
One thing that irritates me is the lack of English here. I thought that because it was an English colony, most educated Indians would speak a decent word of English. I was wrong. I have no idea why, but only 1 or 2 people here know a decent word of English. And so I constantly get it thrown at my feet that I do not know Hindi. Well…YOU DO NOT KNOW ENGLISH!. English is not my native language but still I managed to master it. Maybe it was just a wave of Indian Nationalism that destroyed English education…or maybe they are just too ***damn lazy. And yes..I know that Florine (a former trainee) knew Hindi, but I wonder how and when she learned the language. I am not Florine, I am Paul. somebody who knows that learning a language for 5 months is a pure waste of time (although temporarily rewarding), since 95% leaves your brain after two months back in your home country. If only this world would learn English…

Day 7:

The wind is blowing
The night is growing
The sun is falling
And the moon is calling
Waking up nights’ creatures
Who, with barely visible features
Are crawling towards you
And hide themselves in your shoe
So that, when you wake up in the morning
Your feet will soon be soaring
But don’t worry, the pain will go
Until the next morning or so…

Day 10:

I’m in the field, waiting for the forest department officers and some members of the Shahpuri FPC. Seems they went together to the field. And it seems that we are again left waiting. As usual.

Day 11:

Yesterday was the day I had my first interview with a member of a FPC, or any other forest related person. It was located at a forest rangers office near the village of Shahpur. We had to wait a long time, but finally the officials showed up and they brought in the locals, the people of the village of Shahpur, the Sahariya. So here I was sitting, the sun going down, against about 10 tribal people, together with my interpreter mr. Choudhary. It was getting darker and there was almost no light, but the interview was going good. We were sitting at the table, and it all went black. The answers and the atmosphere were good. I felt a bit lost as a foreigner, but again this was a very special experience…perhaps one in a life time. Beautiful and perfect that I’m in India…the 1.5 weeks of waiting are over..HOORAY!

The day of April the fifth

From Monday onwards it has been very busy. Village visits, 8 of them, in a relatively short time. I’ve been to small and large villages, nearby and distant, secluded and easy accessible. I’ve met people from the Sahariya and Bhill tribes, have been in their houses, and interviewed them. The people here are very friendly to foreigners. Although they probably don’t have enough money for anything, there has been no begging. The people are proud, strong and pure (What you see is what you get). Yesterday I was in some Sankalp villages where I interviewed women FPC members for the first time. One interview was even with a whole group of women. Without a loud man in sight they can be quite rowdy, despite their timid outward look. They have opinions about things and express them freely. I was also in a village of the Sahariya tribe and interviewed a man called Ramchid, very nice, but during the interview he looked messy and unorganised. When I asked him after the interview for a photograph, he asked my with a smile if his wife could be included in the picture, and he went back “to prepare” himself. Ten minutes later his hair was combed, he was wearing his best shirt, and he had his powerful looking wife beside him. A beautiful picture was the result. I also had a dinner with the local forest department Marshall. With him I discussed issues like the forests in the Netherlands, the landscape, and a bit about terrorism. He said that western people have a different vision, because they have not yet been close to it. A valid point. I am close to Afghanistan and Pakistan..very close. We drank some hard liquor and we had a very good non-veg dinner. A very good time indeed. Although it will of course not influence my reporting later…hehehe…



April the 9th. My stay up till now.

What can I say? 2 months passed pretty quickly, although it feels like I have been here for ages. India is a country that makes you very, very tired. At the moment of typing this message I am sitting at my work with a splendid headache and a sore throat. No idea what I have got, but it could be a pay-back of my body to me, after yesterdays intensive hike to the monkey temple. Since I don`t like the rickshaws here, I decided to walk from Ajmeri gate, all the way to Galtha, a 2 hour walk. Along the way however I got stopped by no less than 3 indians who wanted to talk to me. One was an art student, one owned a medical shop and one worked at a jewelry manufacturer. Since I am pretty polite, I just went through the complete conversation and did not walk away halfway, or cut them off very suddenly. A 2 hours walk to the temple thus became a lot longer. At the temple I saw humans splashing in water, and monkeys doing exactly the same. Quite an amusing sight, and again you notice that monkeys and humans are alike. After enjoying the piece and quiet of the temple, and enjoying the view of monkeys swimming, I went back to the Pink City. Once there, I again was stopped twice by a person I met earlier that day, and some kind of guy that wanted to let me write a letter in dutch to a loved one in the Netherlands. And so I did write the dutch letter to him, and he wanted to do something in return: He brought me to “a very cheap” jewelry shop or manufacturer. In retrospect they were not that cheap, and even with my own untrained jewelry eyes I could still see that some were damaged and not worth a rupee. So I said politely that I was very tired (which I was) and that I was in no mood to buy anything today..I just wanted to go home. So they let me go, and I said goodbye to the man for whom I wrote the letter.