Friday, July 04, 2008

A Bit of the English in the Mountains

"Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs."

Mark Twain


During the course of these past few days, I half-wrote several posts - all of which I binned because I felt dissatisfied with them. I am my harshest critic and I am the only person I trust to completely disregard my own feelings. I want to improve, to write better but being my own editor has very definite limits. All I can do is tell myself that I suck while being unable to actually give myself pointers or instructions for the obvious reasons that I am me, and my faults are mine.

It's not that I've ran out of ideas or things I want to talk about. I have a limitless supply of those in my mind because I'm just own of those annoying smart-asses who just happen to have an opinion on every conceivable subject in this world and the next and are bursting to let everyone know what it is, whether everyone wants to or not. Just say something. Anything. I'll always have something to say back. Gosh, I just don't know when to shut the fuck up, I can tell you. I always thought that that's the most annoying thing about me, and I always leave conversations kicking myself in the ass for talking way too much.

But put me in front of a computer, in front of a blinking insertion point on a word-processing interface, I'll just stare blankly at it for about 15 minutes before realising that I'm suppose to, y'know, write something. I'm really not good at this sort of thing. I worry too much about how each of my line sounds like (I wish I'm that anal about my grammar, but my girlfriend has that covered) and I have the attention span of a goldfish - which is to say I don't focus very... OOH LOOK, PONIES!

It's during these moments I would simply give up in disgust and do something mindless and relaxing - like write a travelogue. I kind of like writing these because I know none of you actually reads them. No pressure, see?

Good thing I still have so much to talk about,

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1. This is Shimla. You got two seconds to guess what is missing from this picture. Times up. There's no cars. It's a big-ass street with no cars on it. Okay, there's that blue truck in the left but let's just pretend not to see it. Do you know why there's a scarcity of vehicles in Shimla? I bet you don't so I'm going to tell you. Wait, maybe I won't after all. In order to make you read all my other captions in this post, I'm going to hide the answer somewhere - randomly.

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2. The interesting thing about Shimla is that it used to be the capital of India in the summer months during the rule of the British Raj. Apparently, these fat, white colonists couldn't stand the heat of the season and decided to just shift their entire administrative centre up north into the hills every time the south started to cook. I seriously wish my own college has that sort of mobility too but no matter - I'm returning to Malaysia FOREVER in September, haven't you heard? Anyway, that is why Shimla looks like an English town - albeit one full of Indians. There's no more white people here because Gandhi killed all of them.

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3. This is the Town Hall. I can tell you loads about its history but I'm sure you don't want to hear anything like that at all. So, I'll just tell you how I managed to take a night scenery photograph like this right here without a tripod or placing Josephine's camera on any nearby parked cars (not that there's any car in the town in the first place); I simply held it up with my own two hands. Yeah, just like that. Damn steady, right? Now you try it at below 10°Celcius and tell me steady your hands are.

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4. Here's another reason to visit Shimla. I mean, you've no idea just how people in India love to spit every-bloody-where. Just walk through any street and count the number of phlegm-splats you see on the way. And then there are those who chew betel nuts so their spit is bright red. Just look at any public trash can - they are practically covered in the dried red mucoid gunk of the people who suck at aiming (presumably the same folks who can't pee straight). Anyhow, when you've lived in India as long as I have, you'd stop caring about people spitting in public. The bigger problem is people pissing and shitting in public - and there's no 'No Urinating or Defecating' signs in Shimla. Maybe they consider faeces to be litter here, I don't know.

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5. This is the reason why any vehicle running on internal combustion engines aren't allowed in Shimla. They smoke, obviously. This is seriously my kind of town. Back when I was in secondary school, I used to have these daydreams of myself leading some sort of brutal revolution against smokers for polluting the air us non-smokers breathe and exposing us to the same detrimental health consequences they suck willingly into their own lungs. I always felt very righteous about this and I often imagined elaborate scenes where my anti-cigarette crusading brothers and I violently lynching anybody we find on the streets with a fag. So satisfying. Nowadays, I don't really give a damn. I noticed that 70% of the people I see in the Medicine Ward are there because of some lung disease caused directly by smoking. Seeing that about 70% of my income next time as a doctor will come from these wheezing, struggling-like-hell-to-take-a-single-breath patients, I say "Puff on, mate." Pay the tobacco companies first, then pay me.

Anyway, that's not really the reason why there aren't cars in Shimla. I was just shitting you.

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6. The Christ Church. It reminds me of the Christ Church we have in Malacca. It also reminds me of ice-cream, for some reason.

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7. At night, after they have turned on the spotlights, the Christ Church is transformed into... a cooler ice-cream? I just can't get over how much it makes me want to reach out for a tub of good ol-fashed vanilla. Please tell me, is there anyone else out there who also think that it looks like an elaborate sundae? This is really unsettling me.

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8. There's a certain Jakhu Temple built at the top of a hill at the edge of the town of Shimla, and it is dedicated to Hanuman, the Monkey God in the Ramayana who led an army of monkeys to fight the Demon King Ravana. There's a big signboard at the bottom of the hill that said if you can reach the top within an hour, you are fitter than fit (because you're only just fit if you take an hour and a half). Dhivya and I made the 'fitter than fit' mark and I actually reached a few minutes earlier than Dhivya! I beat Dhivya Stronglegs! Dhivya the Tennis Murderator! Dhivya the Amazon Queen of the Court! Anyone who knows me knows that I loathe physical competition of any kind and my Body Mass Index is stuck solidly in the overweight percentile (for shame). Josephine and Joon Keat took two hours, haha. Gandalf the White up there could have beaten them with one colostomy bag tied behind his back.

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9. And the view from up there ain't half bad.

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10. One of Hanuman's young recruits in his monkey army - the temple grounds were absolutely crawling with them and it's pretty hard for me to get this close to a baby for a picture. One actually snatched Dhivya's spectacles right off her nose and skedaddled with it. It was lucky that Joon Keat managed to "persuade" our simian thief into giving it up. Ask Dhivya to show it to you sometimes; they have teeth marks on them. This is why there are big ass sticks for hire at the bottom of the hill. And no, the monkeys aren't the reason why cars aren't allowed in Shimla, as amusing as that thought may be.

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11. Scruffy li'l puppy which was bullied by the monkeys. It's quite funny really - Hanuman's homies got it surrounded and when one of them tapped the puppy on its back, the pup would swing around in surprise. Then another monkey would approach the pup's back and do the same thing, and the puppy would turn again. The poor puppy was positively spinning around on the spot trying to snap at his instigators but they were always too quick for it. This proves beyond reasonable doubt that monkeys and humans are related.

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12. Here's another picture of the same puppy just because I feel like it. It's my blog. My rules.

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13. Awhile later, a pack of mongrels descended like holy fury upon the troop of monkeys for daring to mess with one of their young 'uns. One of them has the most terrifying eyes I've ever seen on a dog. It's BLUE, almost pinpoint, swimming in a big pool of white. Other than that, it's just like every other lovable stray I have met on this entire trip. Can you imagine this bitch running towards you in some dark, deserted alley in the middle of the night? The heart attack would kill you first.

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14. I've been to the quaintest little Indian coffee house imaginable in Shimla, and it's called... Indian Coffee House! Just sitting in there will take you decades back when local Indians were made to dress up in full traditional garb to serve java to portly English aristocrats who were too wussy to sweat out the Indian summer heat in the plains. And I know what you're thinking; that's one heckuva long menu board and that's one heckuva headpiece he's wearing.

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15. The Indian Coffee House also serves the most delicious Mutton Noodle in the entire universe. I swear that if I ever return to Shimla, it would be because of that damn awesome noodles. Penang Char Kuey Teow can kiss my ass.

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16. Never in my life could I imagine a train station this spotless in India. It's like some sort of real life paradox. Several holes were ripped in the time space continuum just because the Shimla Railway Station exists.

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17. The Bahá'í wuz here, yo.

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18. OMG, it's an authentic something-th century steam engine! See, this is how I write when I didn't bother to do the research.

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19. This is definitely the longest I have ever let my hair grow out in my entire life, and I had to sort prop it up with a scarf so it doesn't cover my eyes and annoy the shit out of me. Oh, I got that scarf from Amritsar, actually - I had to cover my head before entering to see the Golden Temple of the Sikhs there. Whoa, I'm like some groovy traveler guy now. Even some dirty bit of cloth I wound around my head has a cool back-story. Now, where's my funky yak bone bracelet I got from a Tibetan shaman for saving his grandmother from the evil clutches of internet addiction and global uncontrolled consumerism?

Anyway, from the (improbable) Shimla Railway Station, I went on the most amazing train ride of my life. I'd have included the insanely scenic pictures of that leg of the journey in this post but it's 2 bloody o'clock in the morning here and I am starting to hate being awake.



P.S. I lied by the way. The reason why cars aren't allowed in Shimla is really because they smoke. The municipal council don't want their air to be polluted, it being a prime holiday spot and all that.




Fitter than fit,
k0k s3n w4i

2 comments:

gaL said...

seriously no car at all? Dan healthy la the ppl thr. And no wonder u're fitter than fit! haha.

And not to forget, even though the mutton mee doesn't look nice, i trust you! :) craving for one rite now.

sinye said...

wah..i see my dog in ur blog..hhahaha..
btw,my dog's name is cookie..adorable and cute!!!!!!