Monday, June 30, 2008

Memoirs of a Student Council Designer Bitch

"Behind every successful man stands a surprised mother-in-law."

Hubert Humphrey

In my life, I have not attended a single official ball or prom of any institute I've ever studied in. Back in my days in Taylor's College, my entire class boycotted the college prom in favour of a private party at Prego's in Westin because we felt that the Student Council overcharged for the tickets (and also we didn't like the hotel they were hosting the damned thing). We did alright, I think - we even have some people from other classes present at our mini-prom. Yes, I know we are damn cool people and you wish you were in our clique - no need to say it out loud.

Here in Manipal, I have already skipped the previous two Supremo Balls because... look, I'm not going to pay good money to attend something called the Supremo Ball, okay? I think I've mentioned this like about a million times already (and at least twice in this very blog). I can imagine how it was first conceived; some Student Council President of yore decided that our young college ought to have its own black tie affair and he thought it'd be neat if he's the guy who instated it. I said "guy" because he's obviously a dude. No girl with a normal level of testosterone would consider the the name Supremo with any seriousness.

The scenario probably went like this; The college clown said 'I know! Let's call it Supremo!' and struck a cheesy pose for laughs. Student Council committee members laughed. Then Prez went 'Okay, enough horsing around. Any real suggestions?' and he was met with twiddling thumbs, blank stares and awkward silence. A pen dropped and clattered noisily on the table because the moron twirling it was a noob. Then finally, someone piped up and go 'Y'know, Supremo isn't that bad, really. Let us just run with that till there is someone from the future batches of this college who is smart enough to think of something cooler join our brain-dead Student Council.'

How about Monsoon Ball? I mean, it's always held during the monsoon season anyway (probably because that same Student Council Prez thought it'd be awesome to see the girls who took hours to do their hair and makeup and months to design their ball dresses get soaked by the vicious monsoon downpours - something which I'd very much like to see too). After all, they got away with naming the Winter Ball after a season too. Or hey, what about Julian Ball, after the month it's customarily held in? Julian Ball has a nice ring to it.

Perhaps, we can do what Inti College did - they named theirs IntiBall, after their college's name! Since we're in Manipal, we can call ours ManiBall! Hey, it even sounds like Manipal!

Okay, I'll admit that the lack of hard consonants in Mani made it sound kind of weird - not to mention that it made me laugh every time I said it out loud. Also, 'air mani' means semen in Malay. Brings a wholy different meaning to the word Ball, eh?

Well, as I was saying, I skipped the previous two Supremo Balls (haha, Ultimate Testicles), even in spite of the fact that I had a free pass to get into the second one last year - a sort of token of appreciation from the Student Council of the time not only because I designed the the college T-shirt (the sales from which helped to fund the ball), but the ball ticket as well,

Last year's Supremo ball ticket.

What seriously ticked me off was the fact that the free ticket to last year's Supremo Ball excluded a pass to the buffet table - something which was explicitly explained by the Student Council representative who gave said ticket to me. I took that as a personal insult, actually, which was why I politely declined to appear. Even if I did go, what would I do there? Play with my dick while everyone eat? Maybe if they have assigned a hot Student Councilwoman to play with my dick for me while I watch everyone eat, I might have seen things differently. But no, they did not. So I played with my own dick at home So fuck that.

A batchmate of mine also designed some pretty nice college T-shirts but he never submitted any of them, choosing instead to sell them on his own and keep the earnings for himself. I toyed with that idea too earlier this year but I thought that it would seriously hurt that avenue of profit for the Student Council if there were two rogue students working independently in the T-shirt business. After all, how many college T-shirts can the student body buy anyway? Demand is a finite creature.

And what would the official college T-shirt look like when every single person who knows how to use Photoshop declines to be the Student Council's designer bitch? Yes, there is an estimated grand total of three students who actually know how to use Photoshop to design stuff in Melaka Manipal Medical College - a sad poverty of techno-talent, I agree. To be perfectly honest, I'm a rank amateur of Photoshop myself but yet I have won the Supremo College T-shirt Designing Competition twice already. So here's a lesson to everyone who have ever participated in this contest; it doesn't matter how mad your art skillz are. Nine out of ten times, some talentless prick who spent a couple of hours on his computer is going to shoot all your sweat and effort down like a duck. Has anyone seen the 2006 T-shirt? That crappy one which served my ass on a platter? I learnt my lesson right then and put away my crayons.

Not wanting to sabotage the official T-shirt sales because I'm just that stuffed full of moral fibres (prevents conscience constipation, they do), I submitted my own T-shirt design this year to the Student Council again. It was also done out of man-love for my good friend and ex-roomie, Inn Shan, the current Prez. According to the sales statistics, if I have sold the T-shirt on my own, I would have been able to replace my dearly departed digital camera twice over with a model twice as good, and still have enough money left over to throw at each Student Council member until they die. If the bank doesn't have that much change, I can throw one of my brand new digital cameras instead and still kill one of them.

Anyway, to Inn Shan's credit, he promised me a real ball ticket this time, one with buffet privileges and all so nobody needs to play with my dick. Or maybe it's just that the Student Councilwoman who was assigned that job decided that she would rather pay for my ticket than play with my dick - we may never know the truth now.

However, this time I did decline to design the ball ticket, and told Inn Shan he should look for someone else to do that. Truth be told, I'm sort of busy these days, but I did tell him that I would help out if any photoshopping work needs to be done on whatever ticket design he managed to glean from whichever student who agrees to do it because I'm just really nice that way.

Some Batch 20 girl (I said girl because boys really suck at drawing stuff) was nice enough to sacrifice her time to do one but unfortunately, she did it the old fashioned way. Yeap, poster colour and black and silver pens,

Her design.

When I saw it, a wave of nostalgia hit me and I went, "Hey, I used to do it this way too!" I do sincerely think it's very nice. Stop pointing that Sarcasm-o-meter at me! I really do mean that.

There's that obvious problem of contrast though - It's pretty hard to read the words, especially the theme of the ball; Red Carpet (find it if you can). And the fleur had one foot firmly in the realm of overkill.

I was approached with this by Inn Shan to "do something about it". At first, I imagine that I could clean it up with Photoshop or something but I soon realised that I couldn't make the words more readable without significantly altering the colour scheme (even then, the result wouldn't be very much better). It's either that or reworking the fundamental design. Anyway it's really not my style to modify anyone's work because I hate it when people do that to mine. I call that art rape - and I certainly won't perpetrate art rape on a fellow artist.

So I borrowed a single element, the fleur, from her ticket and and built a whole new design around that,

This year's Supremo Ball ticket.

Just so everyone knows, there's no "Create Work of Art" button in Photoshop which can instantly pop out a finished product. I had to draw using my hand first in the back of my sketchbook Obstetrics notebook (I always buy plain, unruled notebooks so I can doodle during classes) before taking a picture of it with a digital camera and refining it in my laptop. Besides, it's really crazy hard trying to draw something using a mouse, whichever one of the two kinds you use.

It's certainly harder to do than last year's design because there's no repeating patterns in it. Excepting the letters and number, everything was painstakingly drawn by me. And get this; the clock, its hands and the décor around it were done completely using a mouse because I only thought it up halfway through working on it and couldn't be bothered to sketch it out on paper first and then borrowing Josephine's camera (again) to turn it into a JPEG.

And, I'm quite pleased with how I managed to incorporate the date and time of the ball into my design. The only flaw was that the time is really 6.30 pm instead of the 6.23(?) pm shown there but superimposing the hands didn't look very nice. So what the hey? Artistic license coming through!

Anyway, everyone's still going to arrive after 7 o'clock like they did last year. It's not like the designated time actually means anything to them. Assholes.

You might notice that the overall effect of the design is quite emo, which was not an accident, by the way. It's because Phoebe can't attend the ball with me since she'll still be in Salem at the time. You can also factor in the fact that I was listening to an infinite loop of My Chemical Romance songs on my mp3 player when I was working on it - which also explains why the spilt wine looked so much like a torrent of blood (that was no accident either).

Sigh, this will be the first official ball I'm attending in my life - and my girlfriend can't come with me.

So sad.

P.S. So can I get some feedbacks on my design? I worked pretty hard on it.

Official Designer Bitch for the Student Council,
k0k s3n w4i

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Manali, a Winter Vacation Story

"Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow."

Jeff Valdez

Welcome to Manali, India.

I have never seen snow before in my entire life till I visited Manali and even though it was the start of the spring thaw at the time, the magic of discovery was not lost on me. I arrived at 4.00 am in the morning from Dharamsala after a cramped 12 hours public bus transit through the mountainous Himachal Pradesh countryside to an unlighted and deserted bus station. The temperature was tottering at a balmy 4 °Celsius and it was the first time my cold-resisting superpowers failed me in the entire trip. I had to break out the groovy biker gloves which I had the foresight to purchase in Amritsar. They weren't very snug, I admit, but at least I'd look cool while I slowly freeze to death.

Imagine a town surrounded by Alpine mountain ranges and you'll have a good idea what it's like to be there. The landscape is so removed from what I'm used to in India that there are moments when I completely forgot where I was. This is another stop I insisted on making against the apathy of the whole group during the planning phase of our trip and damn, I so make the best calls ever. Yet another reason to always pay attention to everything I have to say because I am just smart like that.

Anyhow, talk is pointless so here's some photographs with some captions,


1. Old Manali is less than half an hour's walk away from the newer bit of town and the cabins that the indigenous people live in are really something else - they probably looked very much the same a few centuries ago, I think. That's a peach blossom tree in the middle, by the way. So China, right?


2. We seriously need to cultivate a tropical hybrid and grow them all over Malaysia.


3. I spotted this adorable little girl standing outside one of those cabins and I felt that I just had to get a picture of her. She was so shy that she simply stood frozen on the spot without moving at all, even when Josephine and Dhivya tried to camwhore with her. Just that blank chubby stare throughout. Creepy. But cute. But creepy.


4. This is the roof of an ancient, pagoda-shaped stone and wood mandir dedicated to Hadimba in a clearing of a nearby pine forest and it is reputed to be more than 450 years old. Many devotees were already queuing outside the place when I got there just so they can enter for a few seconds to pay their respect to the deity it was designated to. It took me awhile but I got in too and received a handful of prasad from the priest inside. A massive stone shelf laid over a hollow containing a shrine and an assortment of relics took up most of the room inside leaving only a few feet of standing room for visitors so only two person can enter at a time.


5. This amazing picture is Vincent's pièce de résistance. It was taken in a cedar wood forest set aside as a nature reserve. It's notable that he was using a digital camera so far down on the digital camera evolution tree that any self-respecting amateur photographer would be embarrassed to be seen with it today. This proves once and for all that skills and talent trump expensive hardware any old day.


6. Incidentally, the picture ended up as a two-pages spread in an issue of the Better Photography magazine. Vincent probably masturbates to this now.


7. This is the distinctively oriental Chopsticks restaurant which has a menu which that ranged from Tibetan to Chinese to even Japanese fare! (I'd stick with the Tibetan and Chinese stuff If I'm you though).


8. Manali is a truly ace tourist destination. In our entire trip through northern India, we have yet to come across another place which has eats as good as the ones we got in Manali. I mean, the cuisine in every other part of India seems to be inflexibly Indian. Yeah, I know I'm in India but it's very, very easy to get sick of the ol' beans, lentils, onions, curry and wheat-and-rice stuff routine every meal is built on (and I've already spent more than two years in India, mind you). The top local specialty of Manali is the Himachal Trout (not in picture) which every self-respecting establishment here serves. I'm not a big fan of fishes but I certainly love this one. I had one every dinner.


9. And speaking of local specialties, there's the Himachal fruit wine, made from the bountiful produce of the local orchards, which always merits a try. Flavours ranged from apple to peach to kiwi to even ginger! You can like, have a different one every time you eat! And since the alcohol content is piddling enough that even a particularly strong beer can punch its light out, you can go nuts tasting every flavour. Mine here is pear. Love the bouquet.


10. I also visited a certain Johnson's Bar which happened to be under renovation at the time, so one of their suites have been converted into a temporary dining place. It's so freaking cool. They have like a swanky sofa set, a proper homey dining table, a huge-ass plama TV, a mini bar in the corner with an attending bartender who actually discusses cocktail mixing techniques with this savvy sounding British woman (so you know he gives a shit about how he does his job) and a roaring fireplace. I think Johnson's Bar should just stop bothering about the renovation works and just run with this - I can't recall a better place I've ever eaten in.


11. I found a proper Baskin Robbins tucked away in a corner somewhere. I think the best time to eat ice-cream when the temperature is hovering just about zero because they melt so slowly then, and you can really take your time with them.


12. Then we hit the slopes in Solang Valley. Check out Dhivya in her clown-coloured skiing outfit on the right.


13. Manali is the de facto winter sports capital of India and you can get all the usual suspects; skiing, tobogganing, ice-slides, snowmobile rides - you know the drill - and it's also the home to the weirdest extreme sport in the world. It's called yak-skiing and it involves a skier waiting at the bottom of a slope holding onto a rope attached to pulley system, with the other end attached to a yak at the top. The skier then shake and put down a bucket of nuts, and the yak would then charge downhill to get at them, tugging the skier uphill at a breakneck speed. I guess its invented because they have no ski-lifts here. It sucked that the slope we went to didn't have yak-skiing, but there's still yak-riding though.


14. And there's paragliding too! Only Dhivya and I tried it out because I think the rest are scared shitless at the thought of it, especially since this activity was suspended for several years sometime ago due to the record-breaking death accident rate. Besides, paragliding through a narrow mountain valley covered with pointy pine trees isn't exactly a reassuring thought too. When I was at the top of the hill waiting for my turn to take off, I saw several epic wipe outs (and by wipe outs I mean that they hovered for a second and then crashed right into the face of the slope, to the horror of the folks that were going next). It's in the speed of the run, I guess, and I think that most of the tourists chickened out right at the last bit when they approach the edge and slowed down when they were supposed to run even faster. I mean, have you ever try to run off a cliff? It's not easy, okay. I ran like mad and made an almighty leap at the end - and I flew! It's the most glorious sensation ever, being suspended in mid air and gliding through the snow-capped mountains. Every time I made a sharp turn, there's always this short sickening sensation in my stomach fearing that my wings would crumple up and I would fall right out of the sky and plummet right down, killing myself and some poor yak below. But that didn't subtract one whit from the fun and thrill. And I was not suffering in the picture, okay. I was just bracing for the landing impact. No, really.


15. There were a lot of lupine-looking dogs lopping about in the snow and they have the sweetest dispositions ever. All they want to do is read their heads on your knees and get a petting from you. It always makes my day when a dog does that. People who doesn't like dogs don't know what they are missing, I tell you. And that goes to people who prefer those annoying yapping rats they pass off as dogs these days too.

Right now, all I can do is sit here in front of my crummy laptop reminiscing about all the good times I had in March. I want to go traveling again! Those people who say that they need a holiday more than ever after their vacations aren't doing it right. I can't wait for August when I get to go to the Southern Indian hill stations with Phoebs. It's going to be grand. I'll infect Phoebe with the travel bug too and maybe then we can spend all our money next time going places instead of having kids.


Love Manali, hate kids,
k0k s3n w4i

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kok Blok Dojo

Ugh, I wanted to write a proper post tonight but I simply couldn't do it. Something nasty got me. I woke up this morning with a deadly case of sore throat which I guess I must have picked up from one of those snivelling brats in the paediatric ward the day before. Kishan shone a pen-torch down my gob and he told me that my tonsils were positively raging. By this evening, the infection had gone all systemic on me and escalated into a full blown upper respiratory tract killer - tender sinuses, teeth-ache (from my sinuses, I suppose), fever, a nose that runs like Watson Nyambek, and an evil grandmother bitch of a headache. Leaking from your nostrils is called rhinorrhoea by the way, and I'm only telling you that because I want to make my blog more educational.

On the bright side, the sore throat's gone, thanks to my own ministration of hot ginger tea (ahhh...) and Coca-Cola. I know it's irrational but I always take Coke for sore throats. I figured that something potent enough to wash toilet bowls can certainly take on a few puny bacteria. If nothing else, it tastes awesome.

What really bugs me is that I've taken ill at a most inconvenient time. I have a ball ticket to design, 10 Obstetric case sheets to copy write by Friday, and an end posting-examination on that same day.

I wish Phoebe is here to nurse me back to health.

Anyway, I was going through my blog's stats today from the computer at the nurse's station outside the antenatal ward (that's where they put mothers who are about to deliver) and I realised that most of my visitors come from Google using the keywords; kok blok. I ran the same search and I found that aside from my blog, there are a whole bunch of links leading to miscellaneous websites featuring a "Kok Blok Dojo" t-shirt. Intrigued, I clicked on one of them and I saw these,



The tagline which accompanied this shirt is "I got my black belt at the Kok Blok Dojo and now all my buddies want to kick my ass! whats the deal!?"

Yeah, I'm fully aware of my blog name's unfortunate connotations but I assure you that I have never partook in the effort of blocking anyone's cock. Far from that, actually. But hey, if you ever need to get a birthday present for your girlfriend's interfering cock-blocking best friend, you can always order one from the Crack Smoking Shirts website. [The remainder of this paragraph has been ixnayed by the author due to a sudden attack of conscience, and also because his headache is better now and he feels less mean]

Edit: Yesterday night was the worst night. My illness peaked at about 3.00 am with the inclusion of symptoms like pain all over my face and a throbbing ache in my left shoulder. Once again, I triumphed over some stupid disease. I haven't taken any medication or seen any doctor for years now. What doesn't kill me makes me cockier.

P.S. Can someone tell me what the chinese words say? My fever and headache took away my chinese reading skillz.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The First Boyfriend Syndrome

"Where are the hopes?
Where are the dreams?
My Cinderella story scene?"

The Best Damn Thing (2007) by Avril Lavigne

I find that a lot of girls who have never been in a relationship with a guy before to have very unrealistic ideas about what sort of animal a boyfriend should be. I blame the fairy stories which their parents read them when they were little, the crappy dramas they watched on the telly daily and the generic romantic comedies which Hollywood rolls out every other week to appeal to dickless movie-goers who forced their boyfriends, who unfortunately have dicks, to watch with them (probably thinking that their men would pick up a thing or twelve from those impossibly suave and cute douchebags who play the male leads in these drivels). So from an age when a girl is still wearing diapers to about the time they go through their first breakup, the Dogma is consistently hammered into them by all these media. I call it the Dogma because it is the indisputable standard-operating-procedures which all girls seem to think all relationships ought to follow in order for it to be successful - at least, what the girls consider to be a success anyway.

So what is this Dogma anyway? The short answer is that it's a belief system which involves the expectation of a boyfriend to be.... oh, I dunno, perfect? The long answer is; he is never thoughtless, always has time for his girlfriend, knows precisely the way to act on any given occasion (particularly PMS) and says the most appropriate stuff at all the right times - which means that a guy has to be able to read minds, given the fact that girls are almost never straightforward about the things they want. Case in point; when a guy asks a girl if there's something wrong, the answer is usually "nothing" and if the poor bloke takes her word for it and continues blasting zombies on his Playstation 3, oh boy is he fucked. I really don't need to elaborate on this. If you've ever read one of those stupid, retarded, rainbow-fonted e-mails circulating about which details a list of things a guy should do for a girl, you pretty much know what I'm talking about already.

Most boyfriends are thickheaded, insensitive morons, which is just another way of saying that they are male. I'm sorry to report that they lack the ability to cause orgasms in women with their every action and every word like those romcom guys because they simply don't come with a script already built in (sorry to quash that misconception ladies but there it is). They are humans too and have their own needs and wants, and the instincts which determine how they act in every situation is wildly different from what the female sensibility expects. When a girl fails to distinguish a real live guy from the fictitious, one-dimensional ones before she gets into her first relationship, she'll almost always definitely suffer from The First Boyfriend Syndrome.

Of course, the one who actually suffers is the first boyfriend himself. For the sake of argument, I'll use a fictional couple to explain it. Let's call them, um, Sue and James.

Sue has this preformed idea in her head of exactly what her boyfriend's going to be like and how he's going to show his love to her. Throughout her childhood, she had thought up elaborate fantasies of how her first love's going to be; how he confesses, how their first date's going to pan out - y'know all the usual clichéd etceteras and their whiny distant relatives. So you see, there is already a boyfriend sized hole in her life long before she actually has a boyfriend.

Along came James and Sue hooked up with him. Well, James is shaped like James and there is no way he can fit into Sue's boyfriend hole model of a perfect boyfriend. He has a life aside the one he shares with Sue, his own pastimes, aspirations and friends. He has a personality - one which is far from perfect (but who does aside from chick-flick douchebags anyway?). Sue was dismayed but heck, she isn't going to let some half-assed guy mess up her first love fantasies without putting up an epic fight. Arguably, she can ditch James and get a better edition but she knows that that isn't a valid reason for breaking up with anyone. More importantly, the very act of splitting up with James would totally fuck up her happy ending in the first place. She has had high hopes for this and as first loves go, everyone in one thinks that they are going to last forever, to cherish and to hold till death do us apart and split us asunder and all that jazz. That's the dilemma: Sue's not happy with James. Sue can't break up. So Sue proceeds to fit reality into her fairytale Dogma.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is The First Boyfriend Syndrome.

The first and prime sign of a girl succumbing to the Syndrome is her perfectionist obsession with how her relationship ought to be like and (especially) how outsiders see it. She insists on comparing her own relationship with all the couples she knows. A simple way of putting it would be to say that she wants other people to envy her and her relationship with her boyfriend. She felt that she must, at the very least, put up an enviable front for everyone to see. This is when the relationship becomes more important than her boyfriend and the love itself. A girl once told me how men need to be trained using Pavlovian conditioning, just like dogs. Say if he doesn't give her flowers every other week, she'll throw a hissy-fit (cue the "What's wrong, baby?" and "Nothing!" dialogue here). The well-meaning, clueless boyfriend would then try his best to find out precisely what "Nothing!" means and after much pain, she would reveal that it's because he hasn't been giving her flowers lately and she thinks that he doesn't love her anymore. When the boyfriend finally goes out to get her a bouquet of dismembered botanical reproductive organs posies, she'd quickly react with great delight (or more likely, remains pissed off anyway because he didn't do it on his own volition). Through this regiment of positive and negative reinforcements, a guy would soon be conditioned to intentionally buy her flowers on a regular basis for no particular reason at all, just to stave off the dreaded psycho girlfriend phase.

That's just an example, by the way. A girl can conceivably apply the same formula to anything she wants her boyfriend to do. She can make him talk to her in a specific way in front of her friends, have him perform preordained rigid rituals which gives an illusion of thoughtfulness to onlookers or even (I'm speaking from experience, this) stop him from slouching when he stands or walks just because she thinks that it looks ugly. Yeap, you bet that the perfect boyfriend she 's been dreaming of has perfect posture. I agree that there's a certain level of performance which can rightfully be expected from all guys by their girlfriends but think, where is the line? At which point should a girl stop manipulating her boyfriend's free will? At which point does a boyfriend cease to be a real person and become just a shoddy Pygmalion project with etiquette prostheses glued on? More than that, does she love him for who he truly is? And most of all, is he happy?

Is she?

This is the danger a lot of girls can run into in their first relationship - the preference of a fantasy over the real thing. In their dream of an amazing, flawless, scripted first romance, they lost sight of what love is really all about. It's selfish and mean. And it hurts.

This is why a lot of first loves don't work out. They stop working when the guy goes, "Fuck it, I'm ditching this shit."

And somewhat related, how many girls actually care about what a guy wants, instead of just giving him what they think he ought to want and then expect him to give them what they think they want? Mull on that a little for me, will you?

P.S. Girls who suffer from The First Boyfriend Syndrome share some eerily similar traits with Bridezillas; brides so obsessed with her wedding as her perfect day that she disregards the feelings of the family, bridesmaids and even her groom in her quest for the perfect wedding. There are some really good horror stories about bridezillas in this site HERE.

P.P.S. Not every girl will suffer from this. My first girlfriend was pretty delusion-free. There's a First Girlfriend Syndrome for guys too but that's another post (if I feel like writing it, that is).

Was first boyfriend twice,
k0k s3n w4i

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Camera's Super Drowning Skills

The last thing my camera saw before plummeting to its watery doom.

Can you see a delicate, almost invisible orb web strung right over the pristine water in the photograph? That's what I was trying to snap. It's simply mind-boggling how a spider managed to suspend the blessed thing just inches above the running stream from the odd bits of stream rocks which jutted out of the water surface. I had to balance myself precariously on two slick boulders about 4 feet apart, and lean right over the web to take it.

Not one of my better ideas, this.

Murphy's Law got the jump on me right after I hit the clicker. My left foot slipped a couple of inches and the brief panic of almost-falling loosened my grip on my camera, and it fell like a bitch.

Now, it is the most expensive memory card reader in the world.

Bye Cam. It's been swell hanging out with you, buddy. And fret not, for you shall be replaced by someone cooler and better than you.

P.S. This happened at the Bhagsu waterfall in Dharamsala. It's as if my camera went 'I've seen everything there is to see - so I shall go die now'. The pictures in the remainder of my North Indian travelogues will come from the cameras of my travel mates - a lot of which was also taken by me anyway.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Chinese are Evil

"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral."

Paolo Freire

The reason I have delayed in the posting of this particular write-up... well, it isn't just a singular 'reason' per se. It's a multi-headed hydra of 'excuses' really and it had taken me the better part of the month lopping off and cauterizing each neck stump of the beast decisively. Chief of these pernicious hydra heads told me repeatedly that I simply don't know enough to speak with any authority on the subject, told me that I have not seen both sides of the arguments to make a moral choice of it and told and told and told me that however loud I shout here on my little soapbox, nobody would really give a shit. I don't want to mar my own credibility. I don't want to look like some clueless lunatic screaming at the top of his hoarse voice in favour of some populist propaganda. See? The heads just bloody keep growing.

I spent hours reading innumerable articles in order to be better equipped to speak but more importantly, I need to affirm to myself that the stance I've chosen to take on this issue is in perfect alignment with my own conscience. I don't think I am wrong in saying that a lot of Malaysian bloggers merely pick an issue and then pick a side which has the coolest people in it, and then proceed to parrot their adopted sentiments as if they have arrived at them by the strength of their own reasons (a birth defect in the democratic machinery of Malaysia, but that's another post).

Before I launch into my spiel on the debate I got on my hand here, there's just three more things I want to say.

Firstly, this post isn't about our beloved negara, or whatever social ills we all know about which still prevails (so if you want to bail out of reading, now's a good time).

Secondly, I want everyone to remember that my blog has always been nothing more than a glorified diary and notebook, and I am entitled to be as passionate and as biased as I please (I'm not a newspaper, though the impartiality of said medium in our country is a matter up for debate, really).

And thirdly, the Chinese are fucking bastards.

A Beijing Olympics 2008 countdown board I saw in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala.

I have been aware of the Tibetan issue for quite awhile now, even before I visited the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala in the north of India. What got me informed about it was an episode of The Simpsons where they show the people of the Chinatown district in Springfield beating up Tibetans in Tibettown. I still remembered what Lisa said about that,

"I love Chinatown, but I wish they'd stop picking on Tibettown"

The know-it-all in me was immediately compelled to find anything available on the internet to read on the subject. After arming myself with a pedestrian knowledge of the Free Tibet movement, I filed the whole thing in this dinky little shelf at the back of my head for future reference. I am not a big fan of international politics and my interest in human rights is limited only to those which are mine.

But actually being there in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama and the thousands of Tibetan refugees which were forced to run away from their homeland because of the illegitimate military occupation of Tibet by China - which is heckuva lot of bullshit euphemism saying "China invaded Tibet unprovoked and killed 600,000 nice Tibetan people" - totally affected me in a way I did not expect it to. It begs the question of when China is going to start looking at other tiny countries around it and suddenly decide that they too belong to their big happy Communist family. Malaysia isn't that far off, both geographically and historically, by the way.

More fundamentally, it begs the question of the whereabouts of true justice, when all the countries in the world stood by and let it happen without actually doing anything substantial to fix it. It's like everyone's watching a playground bully beating a defenseless shrimp of a kid bloody, and all they are doing is fucking looking on disapprovingly at the act. Big fucking help.

My mind was made up when I saw a documentary in the Tibet Museum in Dharamsala which showed clips of Chinese soldiers beating unarmed, peaceful Buddhist monks into bloody pulps. Those were the most powerful images I have ever seen in my life. The world shouldn't suffer such horrifying injustices.

One of the many Free Tibet posters pasted everywhere in Dharamsala. That's a real bug, by the way.

The crimes which the Chinese perpetrated on the poor Tibetan people are just too numerous to list here and if you truly give a damn, I'm sure it wouldn't be hard at all for anyone to poke around the web for it. They admitted to kidnapping and holding the Panchen Lama, the second highest spiritual leader of Tibet and the world's youngest political prisoner, and installed a propagandist puppet in his place. They opened fire right into a demonstration consisting of monks and nuns which supported the Dalai Lama. They captured innocent Tibetans for keeping pictures of the Dalai Lama, tried them for treason and imprisoned them without evidence. They demolished countless temples, some centuries old in an effort to oust the spiritual heart of the Tibetan people. They are practically performing a cultural genocide of Tibetan heritage, destroying their freedom to religion, to speak and to a life that all human beings deserve.

I won't elaborate on all that, but just let me draw your attention to just one more facet of this big ugly reality which disturbed me immensely - the crass destruction of the natural beauty of Tibet which is like no other in the world by the People's Fucking Republic of Fucking China.

The environment in Tibet is a fragile thing which flourished over the slow millions of years in the Tibetan Plateau and considering the altitude and dryness of the land, the insult to its balance can cripple it for good. Major rivers which originate from Tibet feed into South Asia, affecting the millions of lives which depend on them as a water source. The Tibetan Plateau also influences atmospheric circulation and jet stream wind patterns over Asia and, according to scientists, may be related to the destabilisation of weather patterns over the northern hemisphere. And what are the pig-headed, under-educated, money-pinching Chinese industrialists pricks doing about all this? They continue rape-mining and deforesting these virgin lands at an unprecedented rate.

To top it off, they are dumping an indeterminate quantity of nuclear waste into the Plateau everyday and even had the nuts to admit it! Tibetans are dying of radiation poisoning due to contaminated ground water and reports of birth defects in both newborn children and animals come out of the region in a constant stream of woe. Taking this along with everything else the Chinese did, it's hard not to imagine just how wretched a people the Tibetans are.

And through it all, the Dalai Lama continuously and consistently insisted on a peaceful opposition of China's regime. He isn't a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for nothing, I can tell you.
I am not privy to how the OIC functions and I don't know why they selected Beijing to be the host to the August 2008 Olympics. To me, this just mocks everything the Olympics stand for.

I am downright embarrassed of admitting to a common ancestry with these sort of scums of mankind. Don't get me wrong - I am a big fan Chinese history, art and language but the China today is a greed-empowered monstrosity with no regards to humanity or the earth. All it does is eat everything it sees and when it has consumed all there is within itself, it reaches out with its slimy appendages and grabs at things which don't rightfully belong to it. It is a primitive and disgusting creature, highly effective at obliterating everything which is not profitable to itself. It has neither conscience nor reason.

I took quite a bit of my time out to research and write about the Tibetan plight and I did it because I actually care about the human condition. I've met a lot of Tibetans in my travel and they all strike me as a really amiable and peaceable people, and what happened (and is happening) to them is just wrong. I sincerely felt that and I wanted to tell as many people as I can about it.

I want to tell you "This is wrong. This is what's wrong with the world right now."

And I sincerely hope you can listen.

A YouTube video of Chinese soldiers beating up peaceful monk protestors (the last part is truly heart-breaking).
The Students for a Free Tibet homepage which is a good place to get started on your reading (if you intend to do any, that is).
China admits to nuclear waste in Tibetan Plateau.
State of Tibet's environment.

P.S. If you believe in human rights, please help spread the word. Remember that we are first and foremost, a citizen of the world. "Washing one's hand of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral."

Human too,
k0k s3n w4i

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Virginity Sucks

"It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue."


Back on the trip in March, during one of the 12 hours plus train rides we endured between the cities we made our stops, talking was the most logical way for us to spend our surplus time, and if you've ever traveled with anyone for any length of time, you'd find yourself spontaneously loosening up before too long - even if you weren't very close to them to begin with. You want to get to know a person beneath the obvious? Invite them along on your vacation, get trapped with them for a whole day in a moving train carriage and prod a little. Every human being, I find, is a full bag waiting to spill. Everybody wants to be heard.

One recurrent conversational topic was about love and relationships, something we all can identify with (regardless of whether we have it or we don't) . Somehow after a few hours, the topic morphed into one centering on virginity and what each of us thought of it. Unsurprisingly, views were schismatic - and are basically polarized into two camps. One is for it, and the other thinks that it's better to be done and over with.

One guy thinks that virginity is paramount and said that he will only marry a virgin - or to put it in his own words; "I like my presents unopened." I won't bother listing out his reasons and arguments here because (1) I am sure everyone knows what they are, and (2) I won't be able to reiterate them with much conviction because I - well, I have a differing opinion on the subject. So I'll only talk about what I think.

I think virginity is bothersome, pointless and meaningless.

I was a bit surprised by myself when I said those words in that train carriage chug-chugging in the evening through the Indian countryside because prior to that moment, my vocal views on virginity was one of conservative conformation. I'm Asian. Sex outside of wedlock is evil and immoral. Blah and blah and blah. It's funny how one's mind can change so drastically without one noticing until that mind starts speaking again.

I remember a friend, a girl, told me that she lost her virginity to her boyfriend, after holding out and denying it for many, many years to all her previous boyfriends. What she said about that was this,

"I used to think that virginity is something very, very precious, and must be protected no matter what until the day I get married. It's only after I lost it that I see just how worthless it is."

Those words rattled in my head a lot till it came as a sudden revelation to me that virginity is (or will be) just like my sixteenth birthday. I don't know why it was significant but everyone seems to think it is in some ineffable way. No one seems to give much thought to all the other teen years. Why not fourteen or fifteen or seventeen? Why bloody sixteen? I remember looking forward to my own sixteenth birthday, being all excited and anticipatory of some magical transformation of my sixteen years old person or some secret knowledge which would be telepathically telegraphed into my sixteen years old mind - or something! I don't know what. No one ever specified that. And when my sixteenth birthday finally came for real, I felt just the same as I was before I was sixteen. Nothing changed the least bit at all.

Like what I said in that train carriage about virginity that evening,

"Virginity is a lot like a person's sixteenth birthday. It seems like a big deal before you reach it. But once you're there... Meh."

I think that the concept of virginity - especially of female virginity - is terribly unjust. It is used as a standard marker of a girl's virtuosity or purity. If an unmarried woman is virgin, she's clean, good and loved by God but if she's not, she's some promiscuous skank who is dirty and used. I find that that standard leaves much to be desired. Say if a virginal girl is raped, what does it say about her morals? Is she still virtuous or pure? A lot of people would say that her virtuousity is unsullied because she never had sex till it was forced upon her, but is no longer pure because she had been violated. I find that incredibly insensitive and degrading, and this is precisely the sort of thinking that puts so much stigma on the women who have undergone such an horrifying experience - as if they haven't been punished enough just for being a victim.

Some would even consider a virgin who was raped to be neither virtuous nor pure! No shit! They still stone rape victims to death in some parts of the world.

Anyhow, I agree that rape really have no bearing on this discussion, but it does reflect a bit of just how most people view women, including the women themselves.

Discounting that, what about those who have willingly given up their virginity premaritally to a person they thought they love or used to love? Can we consider them to be promiscuous or loose (no puns intended)? Again, most guys do. I used to be just like that. I used to like my "presents" unopened too. I used to think that girls who gave up or would give up their virginity before marriage are sluts. It isn't until recently that I started to realise that if a person have truly loved a girl before, he would never ever think a her as a "present" - an object, a thing. I think all guys are guilty of this, at least for some part of their lives. Anytime the loss of virginity is mentioned in the same sentence as "dirty" or "used"; that's objectification in action. That's a failure to see a woman as a real living, breathing person - one who is capable of making mistakes at some point in their past.

Heck, I don't think I even consider that a "mistake" on the women's part. A woman's body should be her own and however she wishes to express her love, and that shouldn't have any bearing at all on any relationships she gets into afterwards. A lot of guys will disagree with me, with variations of the same old chauvinistic arguments which demean women. I believe I am above that now. In case anyone starts running with scissors with just a gist of what I'm aiming to impart here, I would like to say that I'm not preaching promiscuity or infidelity here. I believe that wanton or unprotected sex with multiple partners is bad and I advocate sticking with the one you love as long as you can. All I'm saying is that virginity need not be such a big damn deal.

So in summary, let me just say that I don't give a fuck whether the person I'm marrying next time is a virgin or not. But if she is - well, more power to her!

P.S. On a related note, some guys think that it is their prerogative to control what their girlfriends wear on the pretext that it's to
"protect" her. To a certain extent, it can be true but the tales I heard of some guys going as far as to only let their girlfriends wear formless T-shirts and pants - that's just another form of reducing a girl to the level of property. I think it's perfectly fine for a guy to dislike their girlfriend dressing in revealing clothes, but he ought not think that he has the right to prevent her from doing it. Or as a wise person (me) always say, "Just let her wear the clothes she like now, before she's too old to wear them."

P.P.S. There's this T-shirt quote I read once that goes,
"Virginity is a disease, and I'm the doctor."

P.P.P.S. So, a show of hands if anyone wants to hear my thoughts on abortion, homosexuality and slightly burnt food?

Pro sex,
k0k s3n w4i

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My First Time

"And you, maybe you'll remember me,
What I gave is yours to keep"

White Houses by Vanessa Carlton

I remember vividly our primordial MSN conversations, peppered with cute yellow emoticons & mainly childish curiosity on my part. Those hypothetical questions you used to ask & I loved to answer. Those daily messages you used to send, asking me out for dinner so we both wouldn't have to eat alone. We didn't have lengthy conversations on MSN, but I think I mentioned to you once how i've never received flowers before & I always wanted to know what it felt like.

I like listening to your thoughts too. The way you express your opinions & tell me things while I munch & listen. And how I can share my love for books with you without being thought of as some lifeless anti-social recluse. With you, it always feels like i'm more myself than I am with anyone else. With you i'm always comfortable in my own skin.

You never tell me stray puppies & dogs are icky & I shouldn't touch them. You care about them just as much as i do & you understand that they deserve their equal share of lovin'. Long walks with you are never exhausting because you're company makes it all worthwhile.

That night when you walked me home & I had tears streaming down my face, I told you the answer you wanted to hear. All these thoughts came flooding into me & I knew then that you gave me a glimpse of all the things I wanted & could have. And all I had to do was just reach out & take it. With you, happiness is never far away.

You asked me once, how I knew I loved you then.

I think it was when these came knocking on my door & you touched me in a place no one ever did before.


Missing him,

Sunday, June 08, 2008

My Favourite Place in the Whole Wide World

"A vacation is like love - anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort, and remembered with nostalgia."

Author unknown

My old English tuition teacher, Auntie June, used to tell a story about how she once gave the essay topic "My Favourite Place" to a class as an assignment and one boy handed in a piece describing how his favourite place in the whole wide world is on top of his girlfriend. He retold a vivid account of how he enjoys fondling, kissing and sucking on her breasts, nibbling her ears, breathing in the scent of her hair, leaving red lustful hickeys on her neck... well, I'm sure you got the colourful picture by now.

I remember being very impressed. Before listening to Auntie June's little story, writing is just these stupid boring chores English teachers set me to do to test how well I can perform up to their Education Board approved standards of grammar, spelling and the ability to string a few stupid words together. It's unimaginative. It's brain dead.

I'm not ashamed to say that a third-rate, pubescence-fueled work of erotica (not even discounting that it was probably intended as a joke, anyway) changed my opinion of that. Words can be compelling and shocking. Words can change the way someone look at things forever. Words can be ridiculously, ridiculously powerful. Take the "My Favourite Place" porno essay for example - it's going to shine out from the tens of thousands of generic takes on that same topic an SPM examiner is going to mark in her lifetime. And that examiner is going to share it with all her colleagues, friends and students - and if luck would have it, with an impressionable young boy like me as well who'd do more have a good chuckle about it.

I think right now, I have the same topic as that guy had; "My Favourite Place". Unlike he, I am not privileged with the allowance of an open interpretation of said topic. I have a specific thing to write about in mind already and no matter how I wrestle it, I don't think I am capable of penning it in a way which is witty, forceful or memorable. Heck, I don't think I can even make it remotely interesting to read.

You see, this is going to be another travelogue, and it's going to be about a place which I love the most in the whole wide world,

McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala.

The reason why it is so hard to write about is because there isn't anything obviously special about it. I kept telling people (over and over again) ever since I got back from McLeod Ganj how much I love the place and that one day, I will must return there - but no matter how hard I think, I can't really say why. I can't really tell you what it has that another place elsewhere does not have better.

I remember arriving in the darkest hours in the morning from Amritsar in a minivan we hired and immediately bunking down in an inn till late in the afternoon because we were all so bushed from the journey. Well, everyone else did. I stayed up and waited for an hour for daybreak to come because I couldn't sleep. I seem to have a knack in being the odd guy out.

At about 6.00 am, I ventured out of the Cherryton Cottage and the Chocolate Log and found myself in mood which quite resembled disappointment. McLeod Ganj looked almost ordinary. The streets and the buildings were commonplace and wouldn't look at all weird even if they were plonked into the middle of a Malaysian suburb. Maybe it's because till then, my vacation till then had me exploring places that looked like this, this and this.

Then, I walked into a stretch out road which wasn't completely surrounded by foliage, shops and houses and I saw this,

The moment I fell in love with Dharamsala.

My first thought was, "How did I get up here?!"

You see, I was asleep throughout the ride and I did not notice our ascent. Nothing I read about Dharamsala gave me an idea at all what to expect and my initial mental picture of the town of McLeod Ganj was, to put it bluntly, 'near sea-level'.

So imagine yourself walking through some bland porridge everytown which looks as if the only chance it can become a vacation hot spot is if an UFO crash-landed smack dab in the middle of the market place - and suddenly find that you're 7000 feet above sea-level and are surrounded by the Himalayan mountain range which looms majestically all around you. It was the awesomest kind of surprise there is.

The view from the other side of town. It was a really, really small darling little town.

Tibetan prayer flags strung outside the Tsulagkhang, the Dalai Lama's temple.

Scampering about on the streets that same morning was some very friendly and painfully cute strays which looked better groomed than the dogs some people own.

I mean, look at this little fella,

So posh.

And this dopey big pup,

I wonder why some stray dogs in mountainous regions look so well-fed and healthy - and massive.

The Tibetans are known to be great environmentalists and animal lovers. Maybe it has something to do with their almost-innate adherence to the teachings of Buddhism, it figuring a big part of their lives. I mean, their state leader is the Dalai Lama and arguably, the current one is one of the greatest humanitarians the world have seen this century. And I'm not saying this because I'm a Buddhist myself. I'm a Theravadin, and if you know what that means, you'd know that what I believe in is intrinsically different from what the Tibetan people practice.

I heard that the Dalai Lama personally meets every single refugee who makes it to Dharamsala from the now China-controlled Tibet.

Triplets! Gosh, people here really like dogs. I can certainly identify with that.

As you can imagine, the people here is some of the nicest you'd ever met. Unlike in the other parts of India I've been to, I felt that I didn't really need to be worried of being ripped off here. The prices quoted to me always felt reasonable, instead of the usual "highway robbery specials" that I'm faced with elsewhere that always made me gasp in disbelief (audibly). That's really how a vacation should be like. I know how some people just love the thrill of beating down some merchant's bluff and bragging about it afterwards, but that's just not for me. And if you're like me, you'd love Dharamsala too.

Besides, you won't feel very proud of yourself even if you bargained successfully against refugees whose homeland was invaded by the Evil Chinese.

A Tibetan woman with a gold tooth demonstrating her knitting skillz outside her shop.

You can't throw a stone in any direction without hitting a maroon-robed monk or nun in McLeod Ganj.

I'd talk more about the depressing subject of the Tibetan exile and my views on it in another post but now, I want to focus of the happy bits. Like food!

There is seriously no short of good eats in McLeod Ganj and they range anywhere from traditional Tibetan fares and hawker food like the ubiquitous momo to pizzas and pastas to even Japanese, Thai and Korean cuisine! For someone like me who've had Indian food and faux-Chinese food which taste Indian for the past 6 months, I thought that I have died and gone to food nirvana.

The Japanese vegan restaurant Lung Ta (a name which means 'wind horse' and had religious connotations) is an especial traveler favourite, and it has my vote. And surprisingly, it is managed by a bona fide Japanese family who I imagine fell in love with Dharamsala and decided to live there for good. That's a common occurrence hereabouts. The nice lady who runs the Cherryton Cottage and Chocolate Log, for example, used to be an literature lecturer at some university before she quit her day job and settled in McLeod Ganj too to open her own backpacker's inn and cafe. There's just this prevailing sense of peace, wholesomeness and harmony in the place which just makes you walk around with a happy, contented silly smile on your face all day long.

I got sidetracked there. Back to the food we go!

I had my first onigiri ever there. 10 points to whomever spotted it in this picture first.

Vegan udon.

And imagine eating all that in a place like this. I want to go back there now :(

One of the waitresses in Lung Ta , a pony-tailed Japanese girl who I imagine to be in her early twenties, is quite possibly one of the most beautiful women I've ever met. When she was taking our order, she bent forward and rested her arms on our table in an 'unintentionally provocative way' (how's that for euphemism?). Poor Joon Keat who was sitting face to face with her instantly lost his ability to speak and his will to live, and couldn't even stutter out what he wanted.

Regrettably, I don't have a picture of her to show you guys. So if you want to see her for yourself, you know where to find her.

Also, I wouldn't even know that there's an authentic Korean restaurant in McLeod Ganj if the nice lady who ran Cherryton Cottage didn't put me in the wise about it. It's practically criminal of the Lonely Planet Guide of India for not listing it!

Ramen! Ramen!

Some chicken dish which took an hour to prepare, and was worth every bloody minute of the wait.

Anyhow, I didn't sink all of my time just prancing about town. On the second day, I took a short hike up a rocky trail to the Bhagsu waterfall with Joon Keat.

A very round monkey I spotted on the hike.

There's this really interesting thing which happened on the way and I doubt anyone would seriously believe me. At the leg of the hike where the trail started to run uphill, we came to a small little outpost housing a temple and several shops, and I met a strange spotty stray there which came sniffing after me, but in a solemn, restrained manner - unlike the slobbery, overbearing friendliness I usually get. As a joke, I demanded that it to lead the way to the waterfall.

And it did just that. It trotted a few steps ahead of us and every few seconds, it would look back at us as if to see if we're really following it. And when it reaches a bend or a turning, it would just stand there patiently waiting for us to catch up to it!

I'm seriously not bullshitting you.

Halfway up, another stray - a bigger black one - joined the spotted dog and they both played guide to us,

Looking to see if Joon Keat is following around a corner.

And yes, they actually did lead us up the right path to the waterfall!

The rock pool of the Bhagsu waterfall.

The waterfall itself isn't particularly big or impressive, but the water is as clear as polished crystal. It was fed exclusively by snowmelt and I could see every pebble in the pool's bottom. I took off my shoes to stand in the shallow rock pool but I couldn't stay in it for more than a few seconds at a time before I had to leap out of the burning cold to rub some life into my toes.

Unlike most waterfalls I've been to, Bhagsu does receive a lot of visitors and on that particular morning, the only other people we saw was a couple of Indian rocker guys who have just finished their morning dip (it's a medical miracle they survived it). After they left, we had it all to ourselves for the rest of the time we were there. It's a very serene piece of real estate there, up in the Himalaya range. It's perpetually shaded, being a cul-de-sac surrounded by the rocky mountains and it is comfortably chilly even in the noons. If you're into meditation or yoga, you'd want to sit there all day long. If dipping your pimply legs into the icy pond and then immediately pulling them out while squealing like a schoolgirl is your thing, you'd want to sit there all day long too.

Joon Keat doling out Tiger biscuits as reward for out intrepid canine cicerones. See the shop behind him? I really like how the whole thing was built by just stacking flat mountain rocks without any mortar. So quaint.

I'm wondering if the dogs regularly lead backpackers up to the waterfall in exchange for a bit of whatever lunches they usually bring with them. The dogs actually lazed about waiting for us to finish with whatever human business us humans came to do and then led us down the trail again.

We actually met a group of hikers coming down from the mountains with four dogs in tow!

A bird shaped bush I saw from the waterfall.

Joon Keat's Lassie moment.

Aside the fact that the spotted dog either understood English, or in a freaky coincidence, decided in its doggy mind to do the thing I asked it to do, it also stares into the distant a lot, as if it's enjoying the scenery. You can see in the picture above that Joon Keat actually managed to sidle up close beside the pup to camwhore with it while it continued staring absentmindedly at some faraway thing or other.

And while I'm at it, Joon Keat is one big man-whore, I tell you,

A shrine-like niche built along the trekking trail in which countless camwhores have posed in various positions of deep meditation and furtive masturbation.

It's a shame that soon after we arrived back in McLeod Ganj, we had to leave the place. We only planned to spend two days there because from what we could find out about Dharamsala, there isn't really much to see there at all. There's about a dozen other hikes I wished I could have gone on, including one to the Dal Lake and another two-day return trek through boulder fields and rhododendron forests to Triund, but I would have to chalk them up into the next trip I plan to make there.

I was the architect of the routes and stops we make throughout the whole North Indian backpacking escapade and this is clearly a BIG oversight on my part. Part of me wish that I have cut out Agra and the Taj Mahal and put the big fat waste of time I spent there into Dharamsala (I'll elaborate on that in my Agra post). I ought to have done more research and reading into it instead of just dismissing it as "a nice place to see Tibetan culture and nothing much else". And would you believe that it was originally planned as a day stop? I feel like knifing myself.

There's just something about falling in love with a place that's almost like falling in love with a girl. I can try give reasons and make excuses for it, but they won't really explain why. I always liked the phrase "there's just something about her" because it doesn't narrow what I feel about a person down to a few piddling criteria that just cheapens my love for that someone.

Dharamsala isn't superlative when you pit it against all the other places I've been to. Some might actually find the town to be quite gray and dull. There's no big, impressive monuments there to gawk at. There's no local history of interest there that extend further back than the last century. Sure, it has a bit of awesome landscape but so do the hundreds of other towns and cities that were built along the sprawling Himalayan mountain range.

But I'm in love with that place and I felt happy being there.

And that's all that matters, right?


P.S. I took a rock out of the pool and brought it back with me. It's now a paperweight on my desk. One day, I hope to put it back.

Found a place he wants to die in,
k0k s3n w4i