Jigzaw pieces

Some say that the jigzaw of life can be hard to finish  sometimes.
But that is only because we are so stubborn that we try to finish a thousand piece jigzaw with three thousand pieces.

I think most of us are really aware of that.

Still, in the middle of everyday life, we sit there with pieces that doesn’t even belong to the same jigzaw, trying to force them together.

Hope is the last thing that leave us.

At the moment I sit here with a nine pieace “Bamse”-jigzaw. “Suitable for one year olds and up”, it says on the pack. I’m sitting here with the final piece in my hand.

Hesitating.

Do we really want to finish our jigzaw?
Is this what life is about, or are we perhaps slightly masochistic and just love the fact that we are living a jigzaw that can never get finished?

Maybe, the meaning of life is that we never finish it?

We’ll see if I actually get around to finish it. I’ll let you know in that case.

Travel Map

Take a look at the link below for a travel map of possible visits.

It’s not guaranteed that I will visit all of them, and there might be more added along the way, but this will give you an approximate idea of the places I’m going to:

View Reserutt in a larger map

Life in Chennai

I get up 6:30 every morning. Or, in most cases that is. I usually snooze to about 7.00.
It feels strange to get up before seven in the morning when I have nothing to do. Very strange.

All week has been like that. Good old Chennai-routines.
I put my clothes on, my slippers and make sure I have the keys with me so I will not be locked out and trudge down to the beach. Sometimes I walk and feel the warm sand follow the contours of the feet, sometimes I sit just on the shoreline, watching the sun slowly rising up and listening to the waves that come in with a powerful roar.

There is always people on the beach at seven o’clock in the morning. Lots of people.
They play cricket and football, fishermen organize their nets, prepare their boats and a mix of people walking, jogging, running, doing the morning yoga or sitting and taking it easy before they go to work.

No one goes for a swim.

Indians do not swim. And if they do, they do it with clothes on. I do not swim either. If I was meant to swim I would have been born a fish. There is just a lot of water, and sand and salt and shit. What is really wrong with taking a shower? ?
One of the reasons that no one swims here is that the water here is a bit too dangerous. It is quite scary to be in shallow water and feel the ground under your feet suddenly disappear. To feel how the powerful waves grab your feet and wants to drag you out into the ocean. Unfortunately, many who come here is not aware of this, so often one or two “tourists” drown.

The beach is also the natural meeting place and it’s nice to get here before it gets too hot. That’s why I get up so early. In Chennai, there is no nightlife. At midnight, it’s dead silent, hardly a single person moving in the streets. It is almost like a Sunday in the city of Västerås. A ghost town.
One gets tired around noon due to the heat, so I usually sleep for an hour then instead. It is reassuring to know that it does not matter if you sleep or not, because there are always plenty of time to sleep later.

Peter went home several days ago, so now it’s just me and Uma here. The wine consumption has dropped significantly since then, but a few drinks of rum slips down in the evenings.

Not much is happening in my life at the moment, but it doesn’t matter, there will be plenty of time for more adventures later…

New Pictures

Things are slow and relaxing down here in the south of India, so not much photographing the past week. These eight pictures were the only one I thought would be worthwhile uploading.

I have also updated the page so that it will be easier to look at the pictures. Clicking the first image you should be able to browse through all the pictures from there as a form of slideshow, so you don’t have to close the image and click on the next one. Do not know why it did not work before, probably a conflict in the code, but now it should be fixed.

Update – Still doesn’t seem to work the way I thought it would…

In the south of India, unlike what I noticed in Mumbai, there are thousands of temples in all corners. It gives the place a different atmosphere.

The beach in the morning

New buildnings like this one pop up all over the place. What takes 10 years in the west will be done in 1 year here in India. The economy is crazy, despite the recession.

 

This one was inspired by my couchsurfer Marcus and his fascination for abandoned buildings/factories. This is not the greatest picture, but go ahead and take a look at his photos here: http://nuke993.deviantart.com/gallery/

Swedish suicide music

 

My non-Swedish friends once called the music I listen to “Swedish suicide music”. I see what they are saying.

There is a reason why I like Thåström, Winnerbäck, Marcus Birro and so on. There is a reason that Anthony & the Johnsons is so popular in Sweden, that he started crying on stage when we saw him this summer at the Way out West festival.

That reason is not that I want to kill myself.

I was depressed one day. Though only a few hours. It was the most disgusting place I’ve been. I do not want to go there again. I feel for all the depressed people and what they have to endure.

But that was one day. One, tiny, day.

I have always seen myself as a happy and stable person, but with a fairly strong tendency to the classic Swedish melancholy.
There is beauty in melancholy.

To quote a friend. If you know how to suffer, you do not suffer.

After my last post, perhaps you wonder what really happened three years ago. The answer is that I do not know. What is that which triggers change in someone?
Perhaps it was just that there was a pent-up demand for change which found its outlet. Travelling can have that effect. India especially.

I can see the consequence of it though.
It led to the beginning of the end of a relationship. New job. Moving to Stockholm. But above all, a new way of looking at myself and my surroundings. It was the beginning of a process of change which are still going on, and unless I die again, it will continue the rest of my life. Some of you did not know me back then, so you can not see the difference. Some of you who did know me back then might not see it either.

But I notice a huge difference.

Life has been so much better since then.

 

Almost three years ago…

 

Imagine that every morning, you get to sit in the warm sand by the sea with your eyes closed, slowly sensing your face heating up by the sun rising in the east. And then, sit on the same beach and watch the sun go down twelve hours later.
There are few things that beats that.

My muscles are relaxed. My whole soul is relaxed.

When every day is full of impressions, it feels as if a lot is happening. I have not even been here for a week, yet it feels like I been gone for a month or more.

A part of me longs to go back to Sweden, another part of me never wants to return again.

It was on this same beach, that night, almost exactly three years ago that it all began.
He who was there then, will never come back, but I get a glimpse of him every now and then in the corner of my eye in the mirror sometimes.
Our image of ourselves always lags a bit behind.

I do not know everything that has happened since that night, it’s hard to get perspective when you’re in the midst of it, but in certain situations I can see how I react differently now than I used to do. I am reminded that I am not the same person anymore.

That is easy to forget.

It is easy to confuse your image with You.

When I sit in the sand and hear the waves beating against the shoreline, I sense a part of me fall off. I want it to go faster, but I know it’s useless. Life happens in it’s own pace.

There is enough Life there for everyone.

Mumbai

 

To come to India feels like colliding with a huge meter truck driving 90km per hour.

Luckily, I have been here before.
When the flames painted on the side doors hits my face, I do not panic and get on the first flight back home. I accept the hit with a silly smile and think, ‘Oh, yeah, so this was how it felt like!”

In February 2007 I came to India for the first time. If I had experienced then what I have experienced in the last two days in Mumbai, I would have turned around immediatelly.

But still, only a few hours after I arrived here, my body has already adapted to the atmosphere and how to get around was no longer a problem.
There are so many impressions.  Colors, sounds, smells, traffic and people that my brain collapses. It can’t handle all the input, it just shuts off.

I can sit on the sidewalk along the streets and drink my chai and feel calm in this sea of chaos. Feel like a part of all that is changing around me.

That is what I love about India and one of the reasons that I return here.

I land at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport early in the morning and get myself in a taxi, straight to one of the hotels I checked out in advance. Because of the change of plans, I have nothing booked. I take a chance and hope for the best. It is full.
I walk down the street and find another hotel, they have a room available, but they want too much money for it. I say this to them and they offer a place at their “sister” hotel.

Hotel Blue Bird makes the shabby bar Carmen (for you who haven’t been there, let’s just say the hotel was bad), in the south of Stockholm to feel like a first class restaurant, but I’m tired and need sleep. So I pay up.

When I wake up several hours later, I am completely disoriented. I do not know which street I’m on, where in Mumbai I am and I have nothing to eat. I feel completely alone and abandoned in one of the world’s largest cities, at a hotel where I have no plans to stay longer than necessary.

After having taken care of the necessary, breakfast, sunscreen, toilet paper, soap, indian sim card I call up Uma in Chennai. She gives me the number to her sister who lives in Bandra in Mumbai and tells me to call her.
A few hours later I am sitting in a taxi to Bandra, one of the closer suburbs it looks like on the map, but which in reality is an hour and a half away. She lets me stay in her second apartment, which she bought for use as an office.
On the way there, I learned for the first time that just because you have an address does not mean that someone will find the place. In a city that is growing by 13,000 people every day, there is no chance to know where things are, therefore, all addresses have “landmarks”. I’m going to Hill Road, Bandra, next to Good Luck Cafe, close to Pavel’s store. The taxi driver takes the wrong way three times. Meera explains directly over the phone to him so he can finally find the place. This is repeated three times during my two days in Mumbai. Often, we stop and ask someone along the way that I can show the address to, so he can then figure out where it is located and then translate into Marathi for the taxi or rickshaw driver.

I should have been in panic by now. But I just smile silly again, thinking, “I will hopefully get there eventually”, leans back and relaxes.

In the evening, I’m meeting up with Zenobia, a couch-surfer. We drink a few beers and talk a couple of hours before I gotta go home and sleep. Apart from maybe two hours in the shabby hotel room, I haven’t slept at all.
I fall asleep immediately and wakes up the day after just as disoriented as the day before. Now also my cell phone stopped working and Meera’s housekeeper who lives in the house only speaks a few words of English.
I take a taxi down to Colaba, the old part of town where I intend to go back to the Vodafone store to see what is wrong with my sim card. When I get there, they just respond “no problems, no problems”. Yes, there is a problem I reply, my phone is not working. “No problems,” the guy replies again.
I had hoped that the man from yesterday was there. A man in his 50s with a friendly smile, patiently explaining in good English how things work.
I try to explain again, that I can not send or call others, others can only reach me. The guy takes my phone and shows me it works. I have no idea why, but I am happy to leave the place, re-sending the message I tried to send earlier and receives a reply from Hitesh Mashru, a couch-surfer who offered to show me around town.

It turns out that Hitesh is only 10 minutes away, so we meet outside the Regal Cinema and starts going north. When we have walked maybe fifteen minutes he recieves a message from Nadja, yet another couch-surfer from Austria, that he had talked to. She was standing outside the Regal Cinema, so we go back and together the three of us go to the Gateway of India, looking at the Taj Hotel still under renovation since the terrorist attack in November 2008. We take a useless boatride that basically just goes straight out of the port outside the city and then go in again, but it gives us some quiet time away from the city chaos, to just sit and talk.
It turns out that Nadja arrived in Mumbai on the same day, one day after me, going on a similar journeylike me. A trip around the world in 12 months. So we sat there, two people which just started a life adventure, together with Hitesh, who wondered why he suggested this boat trip in the first place. I don’t think neither I nor Nadja cared about that.
Before I got to experience what it feels like to be crushed in an Indian commuter train, Hitesh takes us to a small local restaurant where we get to try some different kinds of strange but good dishes and desserts.

Mumbai is a city that is too large to handle. Just relax and go with the flow. Or go crazy.

Or maybe you have to be a bit crazy to be able to go with the flow in a place like this. I don’t know.