Posted by: marthacoolcat | November 26, 2008

“One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble”

That’s a line from the musical, uh, _Chess_? We sang it in my high school choir. I wouldn’t actually know about the effects of one night in Bangkok, as I only spent the day there, arriving at 7 am and taking the bus out at 9 pm.

My dear readers, I apologize for my absence. I got a little caught up in living life instead of writing about it. Briefly, I can tell you that I am up in northern Thailand in a nice city called Chaing Mai, and I left the airport a few hours before the general strike that is holding hundreds and hundreds of people inside the airport, and I am now where near the riots in Bangkok.

In India
I really enjoyed my time at Purple Valley. Met some cool peeps, and on the last day, even though I hadn’t slept well, my instructors let me do all but three of the moves in the primary series. One shouldn’t be aspiring to such things as a yoga student, but it was cool. They told me they thought I was a yogi in a former life. I told them my Gramma Mary was a yoga instructor in the 60’s, and my godparents the Oyas taught me yoga when I was little.

Purple Valley is a lovely lovely place to spend time. Great gardens, quirky staff who I love, pool I could dive into and do laps in, a-m-a-z-i-n-g food, minutes by rickshaw or taxi to lots of great beaches. If you are thinking about a yoga holiday, I highly recommend it.

In my second week, I played a lot of scrabble and went to bed early, like a happy old person.

After the retreat ended, I changed my plans and stayed in the state of Goa instead of going to the giant megametropolis of Mumbai again. Well I had one more night there. Kjerste (pronounced Shash-key, of course, it’s Norwegian) and I went to a Hyderbad-ian Food Festival – big buffet of amazing delicious food, so good. I was grateful for these loosey-goosey, (that is totally not tight) India pants, because we totally overate, but it was all too good to turn away.

Yah, so staying in Goa. The Friday night our Purple Valley peeps got invited to Yoga Magic because a Guru named Babaji (well lots of gurus are called Babji by loving adorers, but I have no idea how to pronounce his other names) was coming to town. You have to wear white, so some shopping and some making due was required. So the other saints (yes, saints) arrived and sat on the — stage, and then the guru came and sat in the middle of the stage. He didn’t talk, he just eminated goodness and love (I think that was the idea?). We listened to devotional songs on tabala and harmonium with some really really good singers. You could have an audience with the guru after, but that meant just sitting in the same room/ tent with him and a bunch of other people. I really dug the chanting, felt totally spiritual, and I wanted to dance. Man I wish my Hari Krishna friend Radha Prema had been with me. Theologically, they have a kind of universalistic idea that all religions are about concentrating on the soul or atman. Muhamed, Jesus, Siddartha, Shiva all just concentrated on their souls and that’s how they became divine. Oh and another interesting note, the qualifications for sainthood appear to be fasting. No other acts (eg service, study, prayer, miracles) were mentio0ned. You eat one piece of fruit a day for like 9 days, and then only water for like more than a week, then you live on air for a week.

After we were all served food, a thali (mix plate of rice, papdum, naan, daal, a curry and some yoghurt, pickle, and something sweet) on a banan leaf plate. Yoga Magic seems kinda-Jain – do no harm to any living thing. We were told by the guy translating the songs that only the malarial mosquitoes are bad, the rest only take from you the bad, extra or unnecessary blood.

After the retreat, I went traveling with British Tom to Margao. Margao is the biggest city in the state, and it felt a bit like seeing the “real” India a bit more. With my western eyes, can I ever see the real India? Jean Baudrillard who baulk at the idea that there even is a real India. Well, the whitey ratio went way down. Lots of dogs, traffic, garbage, noise, heat (like 35 a lot of the time, you sweat so quickly and so much), rubble, antiquated building methods, like bent bamboo scaffolding, and machines that look like they came from the thirties. Lots of bartering, always arguing about the price of everything.

Margao. Went to the fish market, smells like room temperature fish – after ten hours. I’m a bit of a pragmatic vegetarian in India. Well I didn’t get sick in India, so I must be doing something right. We went to a Bollywood movie, _Yuvvraaj_ about a guy who wanted to marry his girlfriend, but the rich Daddy didn’t like him, said he was a bad boy not a family man (I think this is the plot of 60% of Bollywood films). The self proclaimed “Bad” Devin has to sort out his dead father’s will which all went to the austic brother. You can imagine the softening that comes from spending genuine time with a person with a disability, and so all ends happily ever after. It was all in Hindi, well, they’d use some English phrases, but the singing and dancing got across the main ideas.

They had a lovely beach there, and I even found Scrabble at one beach shack. There were men pulling in fish nets when I was wave-jumping, and I went over to watch. A stick had gotten caught in the nets, and they through it out. When I got closer, that stick turned out to be a sea snake, wriggling very close to me. I gave a little shriek and danced backwards quickly, and all the Indians watching from the shore (strange how the locals stayed out of harms way) they laughed. I have no idea how dangerous sea snakes in India are.

There’s a covered market where they sell all kinds of odd things. What do you call the opposite of an agoraphobic? Technically it means fear of the market place, but I love the market place. So many interesting things to look at, like have you ever seen a kokum? Looks like a dusty brown apple. Have you ever eaten fresh Jack fruit? all this and more can been done at the market. And it’s free.

I met a man making copper, bought myself a ring for 20 rupees (80cents) and that drew a crowd. People often stare. A woman traveling on her own is an oddity to Indians. a driver told me that Indian women could maybe travel within India, but not outside of the country without her husband.

Oh I am very proud that I took the bus in Margao, twice. One it was only us, so that’s not the “real” Indian bus experience, but they other time it was really crowded. I like the challenge of figuring out public transit in a new city. I have become an even firmer believer in public drinking water, and public transportation. I saw an ad for a water purifier, and it read” Safe water: Every mothers’ responsibility” Oooh I could spit! That should be the state’s responsibility.

Ate some amazing Indian food. Tandoori pomfret is a fish and they bring the whole fish to you. Only once did Chris, Rachel and I eat a whole fish at a Chinese place in Saskatoon. I feel proudly feline when the plate looks like a fish head, a spine and a tail when I am done eating.

I have also done The Great Paneer Tour of India. I think I ate paneer at lest once a day. They cut it bigger here. Oh goodness, I love that cheese.


  1. …is it wrong that the thing that most amazes me about this post is that you sang “One Night in Bangkok” in high school? Man, did your teachers not ever look at the lyrics of that song? Eeee.

    Loving your adventures!

  2. One night NOT in Bangkok, and the world’s your oyster (another line from the song).
    So glad you are not in the midst of chaos, but you are rather in Laos. Oooh – that rhymes and I didn’t even mean it to!

    happy trails,


  3. Mr. Fleet was cool like that. He might have been one of my teachers from whom I learned the most. He used to tell us rural (read – fewer students of colour than I have digits) students stuff like, “You are singing too white!!” “You gotta be cool, walk on the off beat”. He is the kind of teacher/ mentor/ model that might ever make me go back to high school teaching. I took vocal music from him and choir after school. He took us on trips to Boston, Chicago, New York. He was six foor like ten, with a crazy long beard. He was really really great.

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