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!