Posts Tagged: Humans Outside New York

Humans Outside New York XXII

When I’m drivin’ in my car
And that man comes on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
I can’t get no, oh no, no, no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say’

Satisfaction’ – The Rolling Stones


Entartete Kunst II

Modern art says Thank You, Bangkok.


Humans Outside New York XXI

This morning, while I was having breakfast, I watched a wasted, middle aged sex worker cough up her last customer’s effluent into the unforgiving street. I’m in Pattaya, possibly the ugliest, nastiest, most unfriendly, most cut throat and depressingly exploitative place I have ever been to…and I have been to a few horrible places in this life.
The resident and visiting Farang and Thais are uniformly nasty and the whole city stinks of rip-offs, abuse and tragedy.
Forget all the bla-bla about the place being a family destination. It’s a gigantic, tired whorehouse, a sex factory for old men without love, for emotional cripples and viagra-popping criminals from around the world, who should all be dead but are somehow clinging on to what can’t really be called life.
That’s a celebration of sorts of course, and places like Pattaya must exist somewhere other than just in our psyche, if for no other reason than to tell us clearly that there’s no hope for us. Pattaya is an American creation, a side-effect of our once desperate fight against the evils of communism, but it’s wholeheartedly Thai, because the Thais in charge of the place simply don’t care about anything other than making money, no matter now debased the method.
And while there’s nothing to look at, there’s plenty to see.
From morning to morning, a haze of mediocracy hangs above the city, an insipid film of average – best reflected in the prevalence of Hitler T-Shirts and other Nazi memorabilia in the city’s markets, the minute, dirty beach populated by hustlers, the overpriced restaurants selling Thai food that tastes like garbage, the piss awful cover bands on Walking Street that churn out uninspired, hollow rock standards to hundreds of drunken degenerates, the mean, beady eyes of white men that poke out of decrepit sports bars and follow passers-by like persistent venereal diseases, the incredible cacophony of terrible tattoos displayed on wilting flesh, and the thousands of burnt out and beaten women along the riverfront who are waiting to open their legs, mouths and asses for less than 50 bucks.

Welcome to Thailand, amigos. It’s a lot to swallow.


I Fall On My Knees Every Sunday II

A very happy holiday from The Borneo Angels on The Devil’s Road.

2016 may well be remembered as the last year in which reality made any kind of sense.
Unless of course, you blindly follow The Devil’s Road.


Humans Outside New York XIX


A local sex worker gets her work gear fixed by a cobbler in Kathmandu.


Humans Outside New York XVIII

You say Rolls I say Royce
You say God give me a choice
You say Lord I say Christ
I don’t believe in Peter Pan
Frankenstein or Superman
All I wanna do is

Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle

‘Bicycle Race’ – Queen


Humans Outside New York XVII


A soldier in Rakhine State, where the Tatmadaw, Burma’s feared military, in silent collusion with Buddhist freedom icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, kills and rapes Rohingya, a Muslim minority.


Humans Outside New York XVI

Jayalalithaa Jayaraman, former actress, illustrious state minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of the AIDMK party passed away today. For her 68th birthday, her sixt-eight most devoted followers had her face tattooed on their arms. The tradition harks back to the turbulent politics in the state in the 1970s. These three gentlemen in the photograph also have tattoos of MGR, Jayalalithaa’s predecessor, applied during a mass ceremony in 1977. India never disappoints.

INDIA // July 2016

Humans Outside New York XV

You gotta thrill my soul, all right
Roll, roll, roll, roll and thrill my soul

“Roadhouse Blues” – The Doors



Humans Outside New York XIV

Spiritually refreshing to see a ghost doing a Gary Oldman impression inside Angkor Wat amidst thousands of selfie stick wielding, golf visor wearing Chinese package tourists, digitally overfed suburban backpackers in $2 elephant pants, Buddhist monks from around the region armed with tablets and pretending to meditate, and American physics teachers looking to use their moral guidance to help underage girls grow up.


Humans Outside New York XIII

“I met these black coal kids in a port along the Thai-Burmese border. I asked them for a light, then a picture. They agreed to both, posed and smiled, all except the small one who was afraid. Then they all climbed onto the back of the old blue truck stacked to the sky with bags of coal and they were gone. Except for the small one, who stood, left behind, in a puddle.”


Humans Outside New York XII

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?


Punk Never Die

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

The Ballad of East and West – Rudyard Kipling, as seen from a hairdresser’s in Mawlamyine.


Humans Outside New York XI

“You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talking… you talking to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to? Oh yeah? OK.” – Travis Bickle


Humans Outside New York X

Too sexy for his shirt


Humans Outside New York IX

The Beauty and the Beast.

Part of the efforts by Thailand’s military to bring happiness to the people.


Humans Outside New York VIII

If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m you man,
You win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me

– The Ace of Spades, Motörhead


Humans Outside New York VII

Stairway from heaven.

Two street vendors, barely protected from wind, sun and rain, but not from the fumes of traffic and the hazards of city life.


Humans Outside New York VI

Malay girls engage in shallow hedonistic pleasures.


Humans Outside New York V

Public bench, private pain.

Bangkok, where one is never alone, can be the loneliest place in the world.

THAILAND //  2016

Humans Outside New York IV

God loves the poor.

This Desia Kondh woman is sitting on the floor of a catholic church made of mud in the back of beyond of Odisha, clapping along to the psalms, waiting for Jesus to free her from large scale mining businesses taking her land, proselytizing missionaries taking her beliefs, the Hindu majority dictating their fashion and a hostile government taking her identity. The Desia Kondh women believe that face tattoos serve as identity markers in the afterlife. This woman’s younger sisters have been talked out of the tradition by god men and the authorities. They’ve been told that they won’t need their markers once they have reached the footstool of the Almighty, that a headscarf will make them respectable, and that they won’t get a job in the market economy with chess boards on their cheeks.


Humans Outside New York III

A European success story.

A ‘Légion étrangère’, a former soldier of the Foreign legion, who fought in the Balkans, is back home in Strasbourg and lives on the streets. Damaged and without government support, his life has been a classy affair since he risked his life for kin and country.

And his handmade tattoos tell his story – a simple biro served as machine, the ink was made from the burnt rubber from the sole of a shoe.Some time ago he used a bottle of sky (French slang for whisky) and a lit cigar to erase the tattoos which reminded him of a war that  turned out to be ugly and a woman no longer there. He has three dots inside a triangle inked between his eyes. It’s a mark of French street culture and means ‘Mort aux vaches’, which translates as ‘Kill the Pigs’.

In the daytime, the legionnaire drinks and begs in front of a church which does nothing for his welfare. At night he sleeps rough in the woods.

He wants to die in Strasbourg to be buried next to his family.


Humans Outside New York II

Every inch of wall, floor and ceiling space of Helga’s Folly is covered in paintings, frescoes, murals, photographs, mirrors, sculptures, giant candles and antiques and resonates with the spent souls of past bohemian visitors, including Gandhi and Paula Yates, though not at the same time. There’s an evident obsession with  death and whimsy visible in the décor, and the 20th century in all its terrible beauty, as perceived by the old moneyed classes, dominates the off-kilter ambience. A definite highlight is an encounter with proprietress Helga De Silva, who makes an appearance every now and then, dressed to the nines like Count Dracula.

If you are looking for conventional accommodation, don’t stay here.


Humans Outside New York

“Yet, that was where it happened, in the palace of the widows on the shores of the Ganges in the oldest living city in the world, the city which was already old when the Buddha was young, Kasi Benares Varanasi, City of Divine Light, home of the Prophetic Book, the horoscope of horoscopes, in which every life, past present future, is already recorded. The goddess Ganga streamed down to earth through Shiva’s hair… Benares, the shrine to Shiva-the-god, was where I was brought by hero-Shiva to face my fate.”
Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie (1981)

Benares, 7pm. Every evening, locals and visitors gather on the city’s main ghat on the banks of the river Ganges to witness the Ganga Aati prayer ceremony. The air is heavy with thick smoke from clay cups burning ghee and the smell of burning human flesh that drifts down from Manikarnika Ghat, a hundred meters down river. A naga sadhu, a Hindu ascetic, his body and dreadlocks covered in ash taken from the dead, sits on a platform, blessing passers-by, asking for money, smoking a chillum filled with bhang, low quality marijuana that keeps you high through the night.

We sit on the stairs and enjoy an esoteric experience. A man wearing a earring in the shape of a cross, his emaciated head crowned by a purple turban, introduces himself, “I burn dead bodies for twenty-five years”.

Without anyone asking, he tells his story, the way he’s told it a million times. His far away stare, his monotonous tone and his golden earring hypnotize us. “This is where Shiva’s mother was burned and since then the fires have been burning. The bodies are cleaned with seven oils. This place was not built for human beings. 250 to 300 hundred bodies are burnt here every day. Lepers, monks and children are not burnt. The chest and the pelvis don’t burn.”

He wants money to pay for sacred wood that poor people can’t afford. The wood has special characteristics – it kills the smell of burning flesh, it continues to burn, even when it rains. It costs between 250 and 900 rupees a kilo. Next, he wants money for old peoples’ hospices. Spiritual blackmail is next – if we give him money we will have good karma, I ask him if it possible to buy karma. He says no, but karma is better if you give money. Then of course, he has a wife and four children, two boys and two girls, and we should help. Mostly though he urges us to contribute to his opium fund, as his need for the precious stuff gradually reveals itself in his eyes.

On the way through the old city we pass a cheap guesthouse with Om signs painted on its purple walls. In the city’s narrow alleys, dogs, cows, men, women and children go to sleep. The sacred fire has been burning for 4000 years, the drug dealers are still out to offer us Chinese opium, LSD and beer, all in one breath. “Which country?” the most brazen one says demands. “Gundaland”, my companian replies. “I’m from Mafialand, we can do business together,” the drug dealer replies fiercely.

The Ganges, the country’s holy river in the eyes of its Hindu majority, is so outrageously polluted, it looks like black treacle in the night. But by morning pilgrims will happily bathe in it, drink its putrid waters and swim-race behind the wooden colored boats.

A kid sits on a horse on the other, barren side of the river.



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