Posts Tagged: India

Humans Outside New York XX

A very determined Hijra in Madurai, the most common term for trans women in India and Pakistan.

“All men are liars, said Roberta Muldoon, who knew this was true because she had once been a man.”

‘The World According to Garp’  – John Irving

INDIA // JULY 2016

The Walls Are Screaming VIII

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let’s drink to the uncounted heads
Let’s think of the wavering millions
Who need leading but get gamblers instead
Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
Empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray suited grafters
A choice of cancer or polio

INDIA // JULY 2016

The Walls Are Screaming VI

“Every positive value has its price in negative terms… the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.”
– Pablo Picasso

INDIA // MAY 2016

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


I Fall On My Knees Every Sunday

So Mother Teresa has become a saint. She sure was no saint in life. She spent years tricking the most vulnerable, desperate people into Christianity, made millions of dollars of donations disappear, vocally hated democracy, and hung out with or pledged sympathy to a long list of dictators and crooks around the world including Bebe Dòk (Jean-Claude Duvalier) in Haiti, Enver Hoxha in Albania, Robert Maxwell, the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement and the Argentine Military Junta. In southern India she languishes in hundreds of vitrines on street corners, looking like an atrophied sex worker. She probably ate the sick looking baby she is holding in her arms here seconds after I turned my head.

INDIA // JULY 2016

Love in the Age of Intolerance III

Train, train, comin’ down, down the line
Train, train, comin’ down, down the line
Well, it’s bringin’ my baby ’cause she’s mine, all mine
She’s mine, all mine

‘Mystery Train’ – Elvis Presley

INDIA // JULY 2016

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 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

“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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