To Goa

The best way to travel in India is by far to take the train. It usually takes a lot of time, but it is the most comfortable way, especially if you are in the sleeper coach. Not even the car is as comfortable.

Just like in Sweden.

Indian railways is the worlds biggest employer. 1.2 million employees I think I have heard somewhere.

The only thing that is a bit tricky is to get on the train in time. Often it only stops for a few minutes and all the trains are loooong, so that finding the right coach in can be a bit stressful.
When you are on the train, it keeps on going forever. Hampi to Goa takes about eight hours. A fast train in Sweden would probably make it in less than two. If it get there at all that is.

And then you have to get off at the right station of course, that is always a challenge.

In Margao in Goa you can easily spot the portuguese heritage. It’s almost like being in a different country, which in many ways it is too.
Many things are different here, more adjusted to tourism, less traffic, world famous beaches and easy to get alcohol.
I take the bus to Panaji. Change to a bus to Mapusa and then change again to a bus to Arambol, the northernmost beach in Goa. More remote than most of the other popular places in the state.

Totally I travel for thirteen hours. To transport myself about 350 kilometres.
Despite this I notice that everything just moves on. I am completely relaxed, nothing bothers me or stresses me out.
To find the correct bus, sweating like hell in the crowded buses, listening to Indian pop music from someones lousy cellphone, carrying a huge backpack and at the same time not had a proper meal for the entire journey doesn’t bother me at all. All is well, I am enjoying to see the world.

Two hours later i walk out on the beach with my backpack, throw myself down in  the closest chair I find and get a cold Kingfisher.

To sit there and drink a cold beer on the beach, watching the sunset is wonderful. This is probably the closest you can get to paradise in India.

I sleep the first night in a hut on the beach. It is quite lousy and has neither toilet or shower inside, but it is cheap. It will do well as a temporary place to sleep and drop my backpack while I explore the area.
The day after I started looking for a new place to stay. I walk towards that area.

I find a room that is large, has a clean bathroom and a wonderful terrace facing the sun and just next to the water. Everything that the hut didn’t have. I manage to haggle it down to about €4 a night. The most expensive place so far if you don’t count the hotel in Mumbai I never stayed in. I don’t really think I can find anything better for this price.

Gorillaz

A few weeks back I noticed that Gorillaz has released a new album. Plastic Beach. Thank you for Spotify and the ability to download musick to play offline in this country where internet is not too reliable.

Gorillaz has always puzzled me.

Somehow they are undefinable. When you think they have a sound, the next track sounds completely different, I’m not sure you can say they have a sound and sometimes I’m not even sure I like their stuff.
Today it’s more and more common that artists mix different styles of music. As if the postmodern has finally arrived in the creative process of making music and slowly break down the limiting barriers that is created by music categorization.
Thanks to the internet and services such as Spotify this kind of music can more easily find a broad audience without tv and radio channels having the power  to streamline everything in their constant ambition to place everything in boxes of easily digestible entertainment. Then, bands like Gorillaz can gain a wider audience and at the same time break the rules of album composition (although there are many bands and artists more experimental than Gorillaz).

Experimental bands has of course always been there in the peripheri of the mass of music that exists, like the main artery of innovation that eventually finds it’s way in to the mainstream and with it brings constant change. Today though, it is so much more available than before. Without the Internet, I don’t think I can sit in Tasty’s Café in the middle of nowhere in India and go through an order form where you can “order” cd’s and mp3’s (completely illegal of course) and in this form find albums by Aphex Twin. (If you want to, you can also order Swedish stuff like Abba, Ace of Base and Roxette, but that is somehow more logical).

Creativity is often uncomfortable. It should be a bit of pain involved listening to something new, because if it doesn’t hurt a little, then we have already heard it before, our brains are already conditioned with it, and then it is not really new, but a mere repetition of something old in a new shiny cover. I believe that once I heard that Björk said that she very seldom listen to an album twice, because she doesn’t want to live in the past.
That kind of extremes is perhaps not necessary to be innovative, but anyhow, there will often be conflict when you are living on the edge to the new. I’m not talking about physical pain in that sense, but rather a form of mental resistance that takes place when the map in our brain is rewritten. That kind of resistance I assume is often there, at least until we have made it a habit to always see the new, and maybe that is why it is so easy to get stuck in the old and comfortable?
Maybe that is why the amount of easily digestible entertainment has increased in proportion to the stress levels in society?

It is only when this kind of mental resistance disappears or is broken through that you start liking a country such as India. Everyone who comes home and do not like India has made one simple mistake. They didn’t stay long enough to allow that resistance to go away.

In Hampi

I am now in Hampi, in the remains of what was once considered to be one of the worlds most beautiful cities, with over half a million people living here in the 1500s. Today only about 2500 people live here, and most of them are in one way or another involved in the tourism business present.

The whole South India is full of temples, and after a while you start to feel that have you seen one, you have seen them all. This is of course true, but if you put dozens of temples in different sizes together with enormous palaceruins in a place like this with its giant boulders and hills you can’t stop from being amazed. The atmosphere here is hard to describe, but it really feels like being transported 600 years back in time to the might empire of Vijayanagara.

I have been surprisingly busy since I got here. Except from seeing the larger part of the 26 square km area of old temples and palaces together with Uma and her sister Usha I have also met Kali, a couchsurfer who lives and runs the Harmony House, a charity trust to help all the children in the town that would otherwise be forced out to beg from all the western tourists who come here.
Together with four other volunteers we have helped out as much as possible with everything from cleaning, fixing things and helping the kids with homework and playing with them.

Every morning some of us has also been practicing Yoga in one of the most beautiful places imaginable together with our teacher, Mr. Yogananda. With our faces towards the rising sun we place our mats on the roof of one of the old temples situated in a remote area surrounded by banana trees.

In Hampi

 

Bangalore Trainstation

 

This tuesday I left the doing of nothing in peaceful Thiruvannamalai that had become a daily routine in my life here in India and headed for Bangalore in a shared taxi with a German lady that was on her way north to Pune.
Having arrived in Bangalore and back in some kind of metropolis, I stayed at Uma’s sister Usha’s place. Uma was already there, having arrived the same day from the south where she had been, working.

Bangalore is, so far, the city in India where there has actually been some sense of order present, something I didn’t even feel in Indias richest city Mumbai. It reminds me of a normal city in the west.
The city is one of the IT hubs in the country and all major brands you can think of, are present here.
This has made the city very rich and modern but has also created a few interesting side-effects. In it’s striving to be the Silicon Valley of India they have basically copied their American sister, sprouting enormous glascovered office buildings that swallows thousands of workers.
But in India, the investment and quality in air conditioning and comfortability is not the same as in America. Which has led to overheated offices with bad air and sick workers as a consequence. All the glas buildings in the city is also reflecting the scorching hot sun, increasing the average temperature by several degrees. A problem that the Bay area in California doens’t have given that it is often cloudy and a constant breeze there.

In our constant striving for success it is often seen to be a shortcut to copy the already successful, but it is equally easy to forget that these strategies has to be adjusted to the local situations in order to be as efficient. Maybe it will work ok, or even well, but it’s not going to make you the most successful. To be the best you must be innovative and see the current situation as it is and then intuitively adjust to it. Copying you are already stuck in past glory.

Despite eating at a very nice restaurant in the evening, I had the oppurtunity to familiarize myself with the Bangalore Belly, with high fever and body ache joining in. So, my full second day in Bangalore I spent in bed.
I also managed to catch the current fever of IPL, the Indian Premiere League of Cricket, taking place. When Bangalore Royal Challengers are playing, the city is empty and silent, and now when I know the rules of this strange game, it got quite exciting.

On the evening of the second day, when I had gotten fairly well again, we took a taxi down to the trainstation for an overnighter to Hampi, the remains of the old capital of the once glorious empire of Vijayanagar (1336-1556 A.D.), full of enormous temples and monuments spread out in the surrounding area. This is where I am at the moment, recuperating from my illness and traveling.

Not much here…

 

Nothing really happens here. The only form of entertainment there is here is when the local monkey family has their daily judo practice. Incredibly entertaining and fascinating creatures, If I manage to film them you’ll see how much fun you can have in rural India :)

Other than that, you will have to be satisfied with some pictures: