Friday, February 29, 2008

Hello, from Jodhpur

"A good traveler has no fixed plans,
and is not intent on arriving."

Lao Tzu

In less than a week, I have seen the imposing Gate of India in the city of Mumbai standing sentry over western oceanic coast, met a man from New Delhi who spoke perfect Malay, travelled by diesel trains for entire days and nights, lived in the Venice of the East and stood beneath the walls of its magnificent Rajput palaces, learnt that strangers are closer to home than I could have ever expected, circled the indomitable Fort of Chittogarh which on its own is as big as the historical city of Malacca and is more than twice as old, and stopped for tea in Tuesday on a Thursday evening (I'll explain later).

Right this moment, I'm writing from a cyber cafe situated right in front of the brown stone gates of the Sardar market of old Jodhpur, sprawled beneath the shadow of the massive Mehrangarh fort atop the Bhaurcheeria, the mountain of birds.

I am having the Time of my Life.

I am Fucking Cool.

Out to see the world,
k0k s3n w4i

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Little of Show and Tell

"Rich, fatty foods are like destiny: they too, shape our ends."

Author unknown

Imagine it being said with a slow, solemn voice. Put a bit of echo at the end and 3 seconds of awkward silence after that too while you're at it.

The Coolest Currency in the World

"Peace off, India!"

What other currency you know depicts a hand showing a "peace" sign on their coins, huh? I just noticed this a month ago actually, despite the fact that I have been using Indian rupees for the past two years. Talk about spending blindly, man.

I'm not sure why such a motif was chosen for their 2 rupees coins, but I am an educated man (no, honestly) and I am perfectly capable of making an educated guess. I'm thinking; is it possible that there's a good portion of India's populace, massive as it is, which isn't number literate - and by extension, is not able to recognize the standard numerals? It's a not a far stretch of the imagination really. Some people might seriously need two fingers to recognise that a particular coin says "2".

At the moment, only the 2 rupees coin are issued with that cute little hand, but perhaps the designs for the other pieces are still awaiting approval from the Indian powers-that-be. 5 rupees would naturally have an open palm on it. 1 rupee would be equally straightforward, unless the blokes at the mint got so stoned that they used the wrong finger.

I'm still wondering what they'll use for the 50 paise (0.50 rupees) coin. A finger which got half-chopped off?

I'm holding my breath.

Indian Chicken Fried Rice

Okay, this story is only funny to me - but heck, you got no choice but to listen to it anyway. Wait, you do have a choice. Damn.

Having my biological clock so screwed up that it's probably running backwards on stilts due to the recent examination screw fest, I am now completely nocturnal with my bedtime ostensibly occupying the period of day between afternoon to really late evening. So you must understand; the purveyance of food in the wee hours of after midnight can be terribly difficult, especially since most of the local eateries close their doors after 10 pm.

Hot 'n' Spicy, an (almost) 24 hours meal delivery service which I discovered only recently, had been my salvation from the Terrible Nighttime Hunger Pangs for about a month now, and their menu is adequately varied too.

Well, yesterday I made called for an order of chicken fried rice and the delivery was uncharacteristically late - it took the delivery bloke about an hour to finally reach my place. After paying him and settling down for dinner (supper? breakfast?), I discovered, to my horror (quick - faster gasp in horror), that my chicken fried rice is in fact... curly fries!

This was what I got when I ordered chicken fried rice.

I thought that the delay probably somehow caused the mess up in my order with someone else's - and the story of how that really happened probably would no doubt be a rip-roaring tale to tell. I didn't call to send it back, of course. If there's one thing you must remember in life, it's that you should never EVER piss off the people who prepare your food. Maybe I'll blog more about that someday.

I was halfway through my bag of chicken fried rice curly fries when I had this epiphany in mid-munch,

"The guy misheard me! Chicken fried rice sounds just like curly fries when said fast!"

Told you this story is not interesting already right?


A day before Phoebe left Manipal to board the big metal bird back to Malaysia, she had to take care of the tedious business of moving her stuff from her hostel room to her new apartment - and she needed boxes for that sort of thing. Sounds like an easy thing to do, eh? Well, try beggaring for some in Manipal.

We visited no less then 10 shops all over Manipal which, we had reasons to believe, have cardboard boxes of adequate sizes for Phoebe's purposes. All of them however, seemed to have the same conviction that cardboard boxes are precious commodities which under no circumstances must be given away.

A change of tact was in order, and Phoebe and I started trying to buy those cardboard boxes - rather than asking for them for free. No luck there either. Apparently, cardboard boxes are more than just precious. They are also bloody priceless.

Most shopkeepers were honest enough though, telling us that they might have need for their boxes in the near future for some yet indeterminable reason, - but some others; they lied through their teeth.

And one in particular did it with such panache (and hilarity) that I cannot get angry with him at all,

"No madam, we got no boxes here. No sirree. What is this 'boxes' creature you speak off? Truly, it must be wondrously rare beast indeed!"

I laughed myself sick as Phoebe steered me out of the general store, wondering if I was having some sort of medical condition. I showed her the picture I took but she didn't find it as funny as I did though,

"It's just sooo absurd," I said defensively. "I mean, there he was sitting, saying 'No, we don't have any boxes', and right above his head, there is a whole storeroom full of 'em!"

No doubt, it is quite within the realm of possibility that there's stuff in those boxes, but there were some on the top right which I'm quite positive were definitely empty.

"Maybe I can use plastic bags," suggested Phoebe in the end.

"No good. Those will tear even if you use a few layers, especially when you're carrying your textbooks," I said. "And trust me, when Keith L. Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy falls on your foot, it hurts like a bitch."

You can build a house using only medical textbooks with no mortar to hold them together - and it can probably withstand a gale Armageddon.

"It happened to you, is it?" she laughed.


P.S. This is totally the last post before I head for my backpacking trip, honest! *Goes off to google for step-by-step instructions on tying a bandana*

Up, up and away,
k0k s3n w4i

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Man About World

"We are the Cartoon Heroes - Uh-Oh-Oh!
We are the ones who're gonna last forever,"

Cartoon Heroes (2000) by Aqua

That line gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. For some perplexing reason, I had this sudden, uncompromising desire to listen to bubblegum pop, especially those by Aqua.

How many of you have traveled regularly about your city using a public bus service? Public buses in Malacca are many things; they are slow, late, irregular, dirty, rickety, crowded, unsafe but most of all, they are quaint. There was always this unexplainable atmosphere of quaintness riding aboard those in my city. Possibly, after many thousands of circuits through my town's narrow streets, they have absorbed much of the city's soul - and everybody knows that the soul of Malacca is one that is ancient, somnolent and has gula melaka smeared all over it. In a way, those buses are Malacca, especially those green and white Town Buses that can be spotted on every street corner and junction. It's simply not possible to imagine the ol' hometown without them.

One of the more unique yet most common sights on a Town Bus is that of a backpacking tourist poring over a guidebook or staring absentmindedly out of the buses' window at the old precolonial townhouses leaning curiously over the streets like nosey old Nyonya women. The bus conductors of the Town Bus company usually have an adequate command of the English language and are helpful enough to these aliens. Or if not, one of the passengers would customarily come to the rescue. I myself, in my time, have helped several of them to explain to the conductor where they would like to go and told them where to get off when they were there.

I have had full conversations with a few. One of them was this plump, rosy-cheeked Dutch woman who told me that the Stadhuys (you know, that red building by the river) is pronounced Staad-hoose, not Stadhoo-ees. Then there was this excitable German guy who kept taking pictures at every single semi-interesting he saw, telling me their historical significance which he had (apparently) memorised by heart, and asking for me if he was right. I remember that my bits in our dialogue consisted largely of 'Yes' and 'If you say so'.

The most memorable encounter I've had on the Town Bus was probably that one time I met a Japanese woman in her early twenties who wore a bob and spoke English with some degree of fluency. She told me that she was in KL for some business conference and having a few extra days before she have to fly back to Tokyo, she decided to come down to Malacca to do a spot of sightseeing. 'Pleases' and 'thank yous' dotted her speech like little punctuations of ornamental courtesy, more out of grace than of formality. At our stop in front of the Mahkota Parade mall, she asked me ever so nicely to give her directions to the A Famosa fort gate. I gallantly offered to walk her there instead. What can I say? I'm a bloody knight at heart.

There at the foot of St Paul Hill, she enlisted the help of a passerby and insisted that I pose for a picture with her. After which, we said our farewells and to my surprise, she gave a full bow to me in gratitude. Yes, a full 90 degrees one - not one of those half-hearted nods the politer ones of us Malaysians give.

Right this moment, an eighteen years old likeness of me is lying in a photo album in somewhere in Tokyo. Boggles the mind, it does.

Now that we're on the subject of Malacca, remember this post where I was debating whether to spend my last hols in India or back home last year? Remember these pics?


Malacca Fuckit
Or Fuck It?

Well, I received an e-mail more than a week ago by a couple of blokes called Sim and Teo who flatteringly identified themselves as my 'fans', undeserving as I am. Attached to the e-mail were these photographs which they affectionately dubbed the 'Malacca... Or Fuck It. Night Version',



Considering that k0k bL0k is nothing more than a glorified online journal with hits lower than an angry, blindfolded dwarf's attempts at hitting your nads with a yoyo, receiving a fan mail is kind of a big deal, really. Thanks mates! Much appreciated. Also, thanks for reminding me that I actually do have some male readers out there. I was beginning to be worried that my blog had completely degenerated into some form of mushy chick lit.

And now, here's something of a more current nature to report,

The Great North Indian Backpacking Escapade's Master Plan. Pomp and grandiosity is my modus operandi.

It starts from Manipal, natch, and ends in Bangalore. One month, 14 cities. Bloody wicked, yes?

On a side note, Bangalore's official name is Bengaluru, an attempt the local government made to shed off the shadow of their colonial past. It sounded as if the officials merely took the old colonial name and made it sound Indian. Reminds me yesterday evening when I asked Nickson if it's possible to 'indianise' Pondicherry, a southern French settlement. His answer?

"Cherry too western d - have to change to Pondicurry." Now, every single time I see his face, I burst out in helpless laughter. Damn, I'm laughing right now too. Stupid, lame Nickson.

By the way, Pondicherry had been renamed. It's Puducherry now.

On another side note, the 'To bring' list in the Lonely Planet guidebook for India recommended oral contraceptives for lady travelers. Quite apparently, the risk of an Indian romance with an anonymous handsome stranger while traveling across the subcontinent is high enough to warrant that helpful bit of advice.

Can't go backpacking without one, no sirree.

I'm leaving in a few hours tomorrow to catch the 4 o clock train in the neighbouring town on Udupi. I will be seeing you guys on the other side of March - sooner, if the magical wonders of the Internet have permeated the northern Indian states.



Running headlong into cholera country,
k0k s3n w4i

Pondicurry XD

How come no one else finds it funny T_T?

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Indian Suburban Safari

"I like my new bunny suit,
I like my new bunny suit,
I like my new bunny suit,
When I wear it I feel cute."

So Nice So Smart (2004) by Kimya Dawson

Half the entire Juno soundtrack was composed and performed by Kimya Dawson.

I like her songs. They make me feel as if I have a friend right here with me in my room, playing the guitar and singing to me.

After months of inept effort to capture the elusive and timid squirrels which live on the tree beside my apartment on camera, I finally got a breakthrough.

Some unknown benefactor have scattered some unidentifiable squirrel snacks on a concrete slab behind my place, and I spotted a little nibbler having a picnic by itself there when I came home from lunch. Of course, it scampered off as soon as I appeared - there simply wasn't enough time for me to whip out my camera and go paparazzi on the li'l squirt.

So I did what a good paparazzo would do - I lay in wait.

Sitting motionless on the steps of my house with my camera all zoomed and focused on the concrete slab for a whole half an hour is not my idea of a thirty minutes well-spent, but impulses like this just take me occasionally. Anyhow, it's not like I think I'm some seriously pro amateur photographer or something. I mean, how can I? My "equipments" consist of a pocket-size Panasonic Lumix which can barely zoom past my nose (and the number of times I dropped it on the floor seriously didn't help either). I want a camera that looks like some sort of experimental laser weapon. Wait, scratch that. I want an experimental laser weapon more.

Here's the payoff,

"Nomh nomh nomh..."

Cautiously, it approached the snackables one little squirrel step at a time - sniffing, twitching. It saw me but since I did not even move the slightest bit at all, it must have thought that I was some strange species of garden ornament (squirrels aren't known for their smarts).

I squeezed the clicker gently. The sound of mechanical whirring ensued from within the camera as the lens readjust itself - and then a barely audible "tsk" came from the shutter. The squirrel heard these noises, evident from its nervous pause. It looked my way with its beady little eyes, a bit of lunch still held primly in its forepaws,

"Wassat noise?"

It soon lost interest and went back to its very important business of stuffing its face. Me? I just sat there and watch it feed till it finally had enough and left. I do this quite a lot, actually - this watching silently from afar thing. I like trying to guess what they are thinking . Especially cows. I mean, all they do most of the time is sit around of their fat beefy arses, chewing cuds and mooing philosophically at passerbys.

"What do you think they are thinking?" I asked Phoebs once.

"They don't think anything," she replied as-a-matter-of-factly. "They are cows."

Speaking of animals, I noticed that some sort of niche drift phenomenon had occurred here in Manipal - possibly due the fact there is simple so many stray cows roaming about the place.

One thing which I found queer was how the bovines love rooting through garbage and eating them,

I wonder how cows that eat trash taste like.

Since the cows have occupied the niche of the pestilential suburban stray critter which eats garbage - a niche usually reserved for stray dogs - the curs have moved down the ladder and took over the cats' job of climbing and walking haughtily on walls,

"Cat-Dog, to the rescue!"

Socks enjoying the hillside sunset.

And the cats?

They have taken to darting about in back-alleys and hiding in drains like rats,

Felis silvestris rattus.

It's no coincidence that the feral cats of India are some of the smallest in the world. Come to think of it, I have only ever seen two rats in my entire two years here in Manipal. Even back in Malacca, a place which is relatively cleaner and less conducive to a healthy rat population in comparison, I can see a rodent roadkill every other month.

Now that we're on the subject of cats, I found this strange kitty living at the mess hall which does not skitter off into the nearest gutter as if its tail is on fire as soon as a lumbering biped like me gets within 10 feet of it,

I call it Miss Unibrow.

Miss Unibrow is eerily friendly. Never have I encountered a stray cat that is so comfortable with humans that it would rub itself against someone's leg as soon as a pair gets within body-rubbing range.

I called Phoebs immediately and told her to meet me where I found the cat.
Unlike me, Phoebs is strictly a canine-lover. She had never touched a cat in her life before. I am a little more "bi" in this sense and I like cats almost as much as I like dogs. I thought that that would be an awesome opportunity to convert her to household pet bi-dom.

An E.T. moment.

You can tell from the picture above that she wasn't too comfortable with petting a kitty - and the cat was milking her ailurophobia for all it is worth. It kept pacing round and round Phoebs and smooshing its entire body against her, letting her tail curl over every contour and into every cranny. Phoebs was squealing in a horrified manner the whole time.

It's not often you can get a cat to lick your fingers.

The night after, Phoebs went to the mess hall herself to look for the kitty to play with - since her hostel is situated in the vicinity.

And she SMS'ed me telling that she's going tonight too.

It's nice to know that we're unwittingly changing each others' lifestyle just by being together.

Anyway, here's a few more pictures which I took ages ago but haven't the opportunity to use them in any post before,

A dicky bird perched on a lecturer's motorcycle.

It's one of those feather-brains that oscillate their ass-feathers up and down in their feather-brained mating rituals. This one was trying to impress a chick somewhere in the bushes doing that butt-flipping thing over and over again before giving up and decided that posing on a bike is cooler and would have a higher chance of attracting sex a partner - possibly along the same lines of thought as most of the male students here in Manipal. I mean, every other guy owns a bike here!

Considering the proximity of everything in this little cow village, Manipal probably produces the highest quantity of pointless air pollution in the entire Asian continent. Global warming is not a myth people!

Just look at these two water-birds,

How did I know they are water birds? The Donald Duck feet are dead give-aways.

Global warming have robbed these mother and offspring belonging to a race a butt-ugly birds of their watery habitat. When I found them, they were living at the bus-stop (the one near the public toilet) at the Tiger Circle in the middle of town.

We need to stop burning fossil fuels now, everybody. I mean, do you really want a future where balding water-birds live in all our bus-stops?

Birdie see, Birdie do.

You people should go watch that documentary presented by Al Gore on the issue. An Inconvenient Truth, it is called. Those who know me and are living in Manipal, you're welcomed to visit me to get the flick from me. Trust me, after watching it, you'll never feel the same way about using electricity or riding a gas-powered vehicle ever again.

For the rest of you, here's the a link to the torrent.

And to lighten up the mood, here's some monkeys,


It's a boy! (I think).


This post have been brought to you by Global Warming Monkeys Inc. They say, "Stop gassing and start walking or we'll pee on your cars."

Thank you for reading my shit.

Suburban wildlife photographer,
k0k s3n w4i

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lesson #16

Always order flowers a few days before St. Valentine's Day.


The florist stayed open till past closing time on St. Valentine's Day's Eve, much to the relief of the boyfriends and boyfriend-hopefuls of the small town of Manipal. Luckily, I've already filled in my order much earlier and I was only there to pick my posies up. I certainly don't fancy elbowing my way through that throng of flowerless flubs, battling nail and tooth for the last petals in the barrel. It's funny how some of the blokes even brought a female consultant to help them choose what sort of blooms they should buy.

Don't look like a "throng", you say? Well, what this picture don't show is the 15 to 20 guys perched on motorcycles parked right in front the store. They looked agitated so I bet they probably wouldn't feeling very genial towards some nut snapping their pictures.

I like this picture because the shop, with its light brightly shining out into the evening dark, really looked like some sort of beacon of hope and salvation. In a way, that's kind of true, no?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Friendship Ought to Sail Both Ways

"Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that's how dogs spend their lives."

Sue Murphy

Back when I was in the first or second form in high school, I used to go cycling about the neighborhood with this buddy of mine. To protect his identity, let us just call him Dick, okay?

One day, as we were riding past this friend's house, we met our friend's elder brother (we'll call this bloke Jet) who was standing near a big-ass monsoon drain. You know what monsoon drains are, right? They are these huge, concrete trenches about 4 or 5 feet deep and just as many feet across, dug to make sure that housing estates don't get flooded during the rainy seasons. I used to drop leaves into them when I was littler, and then pretend that they are little boats navigating through dangerous white (black) waters, narrowly avoiding perilous rocks (garbage) on its journey to the open ocean (longkangs with bigger asses).

Jet told us that there's a little puppy which somehow fell into that big-ass monsoon drain I told you about earlier, so Dick and I alighted from our bikes and peered over the edge. It was true - there was a little puppy shivering in grey-black ditch water which reached up to its little knees. It was dirty, confused, scared out of its little puppy brain and was whimpering pathetically for its mom or therapist. I stood there motionless for a bit, and wondered what could be done about it, when Dick did something wholly unexpected and perhaps, not quite out of character after all.

He picked up a pebble, and threw it at the puppy - hitting it squarely on the head. With a frightened yelp, the wretched thing ran downstream away from where we stood.

"Why the fuck did you do that for?!" I asked.

"I wasn't aiming for its head..." mumbled Dick.

I said a few more stuff which I don't recall now, but I don't doubt that they involved a lot of expletives. Then, before the pup can scamper further to deeper ass shit water, I ran and overtook it and climbed down into the drain to block its way. Then slowly (while squatting in the stinky ditchwater) , I tried to coax the puppy to come to me. Not to brag (at least, not much) but I have this knack with animals since I was very young - the secret is patience and silence, and oodles and oodles of each. I even managed to befriend stray cats before without even resorting to bribing them with nosh, and that's saying something.

There was this magnificently massive Rottweiler which belonged to Kell Ly, an old friend of mine, which spent all its time in a cage. Kell Ly warned me that it was a bad-tempered and vicious creature - isolated to condition it into a guard-beast - and told me not to get too close. Even though it was barking at me (y'know, in that muscle-headed, slobbery "duh uh" way Rottweilers do), I approached the big fella and offered my fingers for it to smell. And it licked them, its stubby tail thing a-wagging.
Elaine can vouch for this tale's veracity - I think she was present. Then there was the other time when some neighborhood boys dared me to climb into this house when the owners were out, and spend 5 minutes with the notoriously unfriendly mongrel which guarded the grounds. I did, and the other boys were freaking baffled why the dog would not attack me - it even played with me. They didn't know that it was chained in the backyards most of the time near an anthill, and large black ants with evil looking pincers took bites at it whenever they have a particularly bad day. They (the neighborhood boys, not the ants) didn't know that I was the one who regularly came by to spray the ants' nest with Shelltox (they haven't change the name to something shitty like Shieldtox yet, then) and to keep it company.

Stupid things to do, all of them. It's just that I always know if a dog means me harm or not.

Oh dear, it appears that I have digressed.

Well, the puppy eventually approached me and I hefted it aboveground and placed it by the drain's edge. As I was pulling myself up, the infernal thing licked my face and basically rubbed its cumulated, smelly, drippy drain gunk all over me. Ick. I looked like the Thing from the Swamp's leprous cousin. My shirt, pants, feet and arms were filthy - not "Damn, I smell" after a long, hard day sort of filthy but more like "Fuck, what are these life-forms growing on me?!" filthy.

My reward? This bounding, excited little soggy furball which was trying its hardest to smear more crap on me - and it'll probably leap stupidly back into the monsoon drain as soon as my back is turned. I don't remember if Dick waited for me, or he had already cycled off by the time I returned to my bike. Jet said something to me though, but I can't recall whether it was something nice or something more along the lines of "Dude, you're batshit crazy." I suspect the latter.

And I went home to shower. My grandmother asked about the clothes.

I said, "Puppy. Drain."

She didn't ask further. She knew me that way.

Anyway, on a different note and at a time closer to present,

This is Socks,

This must the the third or fourth time I've posted this picture here in my blog.

She always pull this pose whenever I walk nearby her, and it all started when I first moved into Acharya Compound and gave her tummy rubs with the sole of my shoe. No, I did not rub anywhere else. If you got any bestiality jokes, say it out now - get it out of your system. Jeez.

One month ago, after dinner, Phoebe and I loitered at this construction site because I wanted to take a few pictures. Suddenly, this juvenile stray which I did not recognise popped out of nowhere, ran to my feet and immediately got on its back,

"Poppet, this will never work between you and me."

I thought it was cute. And I thought it was bloody strange too. I did not know this dog and I certainly hadn't a fucking clue what made it suddenly come yipping to me for a tummy rub.

Two construction workers spotted Phoebs and I playing with the dog, and they approached us, each carrying a puppy in their arms for us to pet too. I wished I had the wit to snap a photo then. It was a pure Kodak moment. One of these days, I'm going to write a list of describing each picture I didn't manage to take. Gosh, I feel pissed just thinking about it.

A few days later, something even stranger and more disturbing happened,

"WTF are you trying to tell me?"

I have never seen this particular cur in Acharya Compound before. I have never befriended it. It just flipped onto its back when I walked near it.

I have seen many bloggers describe pictures with the words "There's just so many things wrong with this - I don't know where to begin to describe it." Usually, there aren't more than three - or even two - things wrong with those photographs. I can spot at least 7 wrong things in this, starting with "What the fuck are those lumps midway along its dick?"

I am in dire need of a long, long holiday.

A dog lover (in a totally wholesome way, I swear),
k0k s3n w4i