Friday, May 30, 2008

Have a Murder Burger

"If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die."

Lord Eddard Stark
in A Game of Thrones
by George R. R. Martin

I feel compelled to warn anyone who have started reading this post of mine that it contains a series of rather disturbing photographs which may, depending on your constitution, either render you into a traumatised gibbering idiot or leave you feeling slightly bored, or anywhere in between the two - because I'm just nice that way.

While we were out trekking through the Thar desert during our brief 3 day stay in Jaisalmer, the question of vittles was one deserving of some concern because as everybody can imagine, food wasn't exactly freely available in some restaurant right behind the next dune in the middle of acres and acres of sandy nowhere. At the start of the journey, our camel guide presented us with the options of either a plain vegan meal of chapati and dhal, or a hearty dinner of also chapati and dhal but with the accompaniment of meat, glorious meat. There was no toss between the two. Mutton won, hands down.

Okay, a few of us objected to the majority opinion and choice though. Dhivya was on a strict vegetarian throughout the trip in mourning for her grandmother, so yeah - she wanted out. Two other girls followed suit but for entirely different reasons altogether.

You see, the star of our evening meal, a skinny black young goat, would be slaughtered on the spot for that purpose. I can imagine that carrying a haunch of meat on the back of a camel through the deadly Indian desert for hours on end could scarcely be beneficial for its freshness or flavour. I can imagine that the insta-kill bit could kind of cast a grim light on one's dinner plate for those in possession of delicate sensibilities.

That's the question; can you watch an animal being butchered before your eyes and then partake in the enjoyment of its flesh?

Keston, bearing our prisoner to the slaughter.

I have never in my life watched the killing of any animal I ate but I have always wished to - though not for some sick, sadistic reason, as some of you might already have started postulating. My want was birthed from my sense of responsibility. I felt as if I owe it to myself - and to the poor animals I've been devouring remorselessly all through my life - to see this through. I wanted to feel the impact of my dietary choices and witness the consequences of my preferred lifestyle. I wanted to see just how wrong it was. I wanted to see if it was wrong at all.

I am a Buddhist and I know that in Buddhism, all life is held sacred. There is no distinction between the value of a human life and that of other creatures, no matter how lowly we may think they are. The first Buddhist precept as clearly described by the Pali Canon is one in observation of the abstinence of taking life - any life at all. Eating meat quite directly causes the death of a living thing, and is an evident breach of that precept.

This is where things get dilemmatic for me. You see, I am quite the humanist as well, and I set great store by the dictations of my conscience and rationality.

The goat was held down while its neck was slit open with a rather tiny knife. It reminded me of those terrorist hostage videos. It was kicking quite violently.

Eating other animals is adherent to the natural order of things. I believe that humans are omnivorous, and I have very good reasons to think so.

One of it is that the versatility of our diet indirectly put us at the pinnacle of evolution. The success of our species depended us not being picky. Listen closely; we won't be the dominant species of this planet today had our cave ancestors been vegans. Follow the link to an old post of mine and read up.

"Come, lemme help." I actually found this picture funny. Sorry.

Another reason why I consider it natural for us to eat meat is how our sense of taste is wired. Everyone knows the four primary taste sensations of sweet, salty sour and bitter but what a lot of people isn't aware of is the fifth taste which has been common knowledge in the scientific community for the past 100 years. It's known by the unlikely name of umami, the Japanese word which can be unwieldily described in English as "meatiness" or "savouriness". This is something I learnt in a Physiology lecture in my first year in medical school. Before then, I have never even heard of this word.

So get your facts straight. There's are FIVE basic flavours. And while I'm at it, spicy isn't a flavour, as generally opined. Try rubbing chili sauce on your skin and you can feel the spiciness there too.

Umami is the basically the taste of natural amino acids, glutamic acids and glutamates common in protein rich food such as meat, cheese, broth and stock, and it is the reason why these things taste so hearty, wholesome and satisfying. The invention of MSG, or monosodium glutamate (or Ajinomoto, for those seriously scientifically retarded) is based solely on this principle. That's why it's so addictive and popular. It made everything taste meaty.

we love the taste of meat. Our brain and tongue is hardwired to enjoy it.

The deed was done. You can see how far the blood spurted on the sand.

From a moralistic point of view, I consider the consumption of meat to be divorced from ethics. It's food, quite simply put and we're programmed to like it. I applaud the initiative and commitment of vegetarians but I don't think eating animals to be wrong either. I'm only following our nature.

The only time the question of ethics even come into this at all, I think, is the treatment and slaughter of the animals we eat. I set myself vehemently against cruel practices like eating shark-fin soup (fuck barbaric New Year traditions). I saw footages of how the fishermen strung up sharks they caught, slicing their fins off and then dumping the poor creature back into the water to drown - yes, sharks drown if they can't swim. There's no way this practice can be justified in anyway. If I hear that stupid, lame-brained argument about how sharks also kill and eat human beings one more time, I swear I'll start poking holes in people with very sharp things. More sharks are killed every year either for their fins or accidentally from being trapped in fishing nets than there are fatal accidents involving sharks attack on humans.

Shit wait, cars kill waaay more humans per year than sharks. Start eating cars, dipshits.


I believe in a quick death with the animal subjected to as little pain as possible, and an efficient avoidance of wastage.

Call me unnecessarily judgmental but I consider the act of temporarily abstaining from meat just because one has to witness the slaughtering of the animal - while at other times, blissfully attacking meat like dinosaurs just because it came all cooked, garnished and unrecognisable - to have more than a shade of hypocrisy in it. What's the fucking difference? Did the beef patties that came with their Big Mac grew on burger trees? Do they think that the chicken meat from KFC was synthesised in factories?

I think people whose appetite can be affected by watching the animal being killed ought to just quit meat for good if they can't handle the consequences and responsibility of their own actions and choices.

Just a thought.


I sat through the entire process till the pitiful bleating of the goat stopped - which didn't take too long - and stayed till they have half-flayed the poor thing, carefully documenting each step of the process with my camera. I myself have personally helped to flay human bodies before in my first year in the dissection hall and I found that I am perfectly capable of rationalising that the cadavers I was working on were just hunks of meat (which is true, once you get down to it). That, however, was different because they were already dead to begin with.

The goat, on the other hand, was very recently alive and kicking, and kicking, and kicking...

I can tell you that after seeing myself through the ordeal, my view on meat changed subtly. I didn't develop an aversion to it, thankfully, but I believe that I became a little less ignorant. It's like I mastered my actions on a whole new level. I now know precisely what I'm doing every time I pop some animal's body part into my mouth. Some people just can't handle that.

One of our guides started us on an appetiser; unmarinated chopped liver dropped straight into the embers of our campfire. He let it roast for a bit while turning it intermittently with a stick so it would cook evenly. After that, he dipped his fingers straight into the heart of the fire and pulled the pieces of liver out one by one, dropping them into our hands and asking us to eat them. I really hated the taste of liver because of its texture but for some reason, the one I ate that evening seriously kicked ass. Maybe because since it was barbecued, it was felt firmer and did not have the liver-ness I abhor.

The mutton took a long time to stew and it was already very late by the time it was ready. I think that the camel guide guy didn't even add a single of grain of salt into it but in spite of that, it was actually quite good! The only catch was tat we have to eat it with our fingers. That wasn't a problem for me, though. I grew up in a governmental primary school and I eat as skillfully as any Indian or Malay with my hands.

So yeah, that's all. And I apologise to anyone (excepting shark-fin-eating-sadists) whom I have offended with this post. Given I'm not very sincere about it though but hey, at least I tried.

P.S. If you ever find yourself out there in the Thar and ordered mutton as well, don't go for barbecue or roast. Some of our classmates in another backpacking group had that and they unanimously decided that that sucked.

P.P.S. I know I damn city kid-lah. Don't laugh.

Enjoying what he eats,
k0k s3n w4i

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Nonexistence of Beauty

A desert sunrise. A Royal Ponciana in full bloom smothered in fiery flowers. A grey afternoon on the verge of rain. Stray bright rays of sun shining through the storm clouds. The fluffy white and blue heaven outside the window of an airplane. A cream-coloured puppy tugging earnestly at your shoelace. A cute girl strolling by who looked as if she's about to give you a smile, but didn't because she was shy.

We can call so many things "beautiful" and encapsulate them within that word which means so broadly yet speaks so concisely - and we cherish them for it. We love beauty and perfection and abhor the ugly and deformed. We love them because they are designed, made or born that way.

But in truth, we love them as if they are designed, made or born that way.

There is no such thing as physical or inherent beauty. Beauty is an abstract concept in our minds. We are not programmed to recognise beauty - only to consider that some things are nice to look at while some things are not. Does a dog find the sunset beautiful? Can a tom cat be enamoured by a comely young lady? What about advanced space aliens from some civilisation on the other side of the galaxy which dropped by to visit in the conceivable future? Would they deem anything we think to be beautiful to be attractive as well?

I told a friend I was walking with the other day about this - about how beauty does not exist and that it's all a matter of our human conceptions. Nothing is beautiful and all the things we've ever thought to be are just delusions of our minds.

"Stop telling me this," she said, covering her ears. "Don't spoil everything for me."

How fragile it is, our reality. A simple nudge at its perception is all it takes to shatter it completely.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Government Sanctioned Stoning

"Researchers have discovered that chocolate produces some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two but can't remember what they are."

Matt Lauer

I was exploring the marketplace outside of the Jaisalmer Fort after dinnertime when I accidentally stumbled across something that immediately called disbelief to arms. Snuggled within a small niche in the looming golden fort walls was a tiny shoppe which looked as if "seedy" was the primary concept the interior decor guy was basing his entire design on. It's dark inside and the only source of light came from a half-dead orange light bulb in a corner. There wasn't a single customer inside (which was seriously strange considering their products) - only crooked chairs and tables standing forlornly about, and looked as if they are trying to huddle together for warmth. In a smaller niche beside the entrance of that dodgy establishment was the place where the proprietor prepare his stuff, and it is considerably cheerier, better lit and has a fridge (yay).

The part that made me rub my eyes and went to take a closer look was the big painted sign in front of the shop,

Any government cool enough to do this has my vote.

That's right, it was a government authorised Bhang Shop. Like far out, dude, hur hur hur hur...

Take a look at this Wikipedia article and the picture in it. It's the same bloody place, right?

Bhang, dear people, is yet another entry in the long list of words that means happiness marijuana alongside pot, herb, grass, weed, cannabis, ganja, reefer, doodie, moon juice, Abba-Zabba, man's other best friend, bong and James Bong - and many many many many others which together adds up into the hundreds. "Bhang" specifically meant the leaf and flower of a female Cannabis sativa plant and in India, it's one holy weed. It's associated with the Lord Shiva (who is one of the coolest gods ever kowtowed to by mankind, in my opinion) and his worship. One of his epithets are actually "Lord of Bhang"! And no, he's not at all like that stoner 30-year-old jobless loser who lives in you neighborhood and is known by the local kids as the Lord of Bong. Shiva is said to be the one who discovered the awesome properties of the marijuana plant in the first place. He had since shared that knowledge with masses of the world, which became a slightly better place till it was finally outlawed in most of countries in these modern, barbaric and unenlightened times.

Am I the only one who thinks that an effective supervision program of the weed trade can be a lot more beneficial than outright prohibition?

Very respectable business card.

It's a pity that I did not try any of this awesome sounding stuff they were hawking. He tried to unload some bhang cookies onto me but at 50 rupees (about RM 3.80) apiece, I simply had to pass. After all, I was on a super-saver back-packing trip and the amount of cookies I needed to scarf to get high is enough to pay for a night's bunk in a seriously respectable hotel.

But Magic Lassi - now that goes into my big scrapbook of Life's Greatest Regrets. Every single syllable of the phrase sounds like it promise me a world of bliss, stoned ecstasy and pink baby pygmy hippopotatomushrooms. Occasionally, out of nowhere in my mind I'll hear it calling out to me in a haunting, barely perceptible voice going "Come back.... come back..."

I did try this though,

Ooh, the glasses reflect light like disco balls!

This is Bhang Tea, which was basically chai with magic sprinkles - you can see a bit of them floating on the surface of the beverage.

All I got to say is that it was a total ripoff! Firstly, at 40 rupees per glass, it was ten bloody times the price of a normal cuppa in anyplace in India. Secondly, it was no different from drinking ordinary tea! There was no high, no buzz, no sense of wellbeing or any of that 'all's awesome in the world' feeling. My companion and I both find the experience a huge let down. It's like the mountainous expectation I had for the seventh and final Potter book and found that in the end, Harry didn't freaking die - and to add insult to injury, he named his kids James, Lily and Albus fucking Severus.

After we finished our tea, the creepy shop guy showed us a small packet about two or three inches across in size filled with shriveled little brown-grey stuff which were presumably dried bhang.

"300 rupees. You can smoke it in the city or in the desert," he spoke in a rather disinterested, faraway tone belying the eternal sunshine of his potted mind "Perfectly legal. The police will not catch you."

I was severely tempted to do that but it was honestly overpriced (not that I know how pricey weed really is, of course, hahaha...) and when I actually got somewhat high from a 10 rupee experimental dip into a packet black opium paste back in Jodhpur, 300 rupees came off as plain astronomical. We passed on that as well and headed right out again to look for some back alley pusher who might charge a lot less for his holy weed.

Oh, in a related story, I had a psychiatry class recently on the mental disorders of substance abuse and the lecturer explained that a study in the UK showed that there are three types of personality when it comes to drugs and other awesome stuff that you Mom and the goverment won't let you have any - the abstinent, the experimenting and the one who gets into shit and can't dig themselves out. The abstinent personality rejects outright the use of addictive substances for fear that they might be snared. The experimenting personality is open to sampling these substances but shows no interest in making a habit out of any of them. The last category is your standard druggie who would try some, want more and screw up their lives. It is interesting that the second group, the experimenting people, is considered to be the most mentally stable of the three when it comes to substance abuse. They rarely ever get addicted to anything.

That's me. I rock, as usual.

P.S. Ran a Google search. I call dibs on the coinage of the phrase "Eternal Sunshine of the Potted Mind"!

Wants a Bhang Cake for his birthday,
k0k s3n w4i

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Weekend REM Theatre

"stop takin pikchurs of those hipposhrooms n come on9 baby"

Phoebe, in the Kok Boks

The granddaddy of all non-sequiturs.

The weekend had been - how do you say - comatose? I slept half the time catching up on all the ZZZ's I've missed through the school week. You see, I won't make time by abandoning my life little pleasures to make way for responsibilities, work and other such beasts, but they still require my attention or they threaten to eat me. Unlike the sane people who makes a choice between the two, I simply take both in without compromise or quarter, and time, time, time; where must this come from then? I can't do so many things in a day without time, can I? So I do the insensible thing and siphon what I need from my bedtime till I'm left with some tattered sleep between 3 to 5 hours in length nightly. And especially in the past week, it had been more 3 than 5. This simply resulted in overlong day naps and narcoleptic meditation space-outs at the most inappropriate of times (classes, mostly). I believe in hedonism. Life is all about the pleasure of the senses right now. Why wait for heaven if you can be happy now? I don't even know if there's really a heaven somewhere in the clouds or way out there in outer space - so yeah, I think we ought to always make the best of what we already have. Reminds me of that dog and his bone and his reflection in the river story, hmm.

On Saturday or Sunday, either in the evening or afternoon, Phoebe called me while I was deep in sleep; waking me up from an absolutely ridiculous dream. I was back in my grandmother's house in Malacca and to my surprise, it had been invaded by cute baby pygmy hippopotami. They were scampering all over the place on their short stumpy legs at high speed, bumping into things and each other. In fact, they seemed more like little dogs than hippos, and they yelped and whined too. I grabbed one and held it up, and it squirmed adorably in my hands, trying to struggle free to go back to playing with the other hippopotami. It felt kind of firm but elastic - springy, I think. Hold a button mushroom in your hand and press it, and that's exactly how it felt like. At one point the hippos ceased being like puppies and divided themselves into two factions and each declared war on the other. They all wore helmets and carried rifles and the living room was completely turned into a battlefield with mini-trenches and little explosions. SO CUTE, RIGHT? There was also a crab which was inexplicably garbed in full metal armour and was crawling slowly across the battlefield like a tank. I stood amidst all this with a camera in my hand, trying to get good pictures of these awesome pygmy hippos when Phoebe called me and woke me up.

"Aw, you called at the wrong time! I was trying to take pictures of the hippopotamushrooms!" I declared as indignantly as I could with a voice was still thick with sleep.

"You're sleeping aren't you?" Phoebs giggled. "What are hippopotamushrooms?"

It took me a moment to orientate myself and tell her about these little baby pygmy hippos which felt like button mushrooms in my dream.

"Okay, baby. Go back to sleep and continue taking pictures. Bye!"

It's so good to have a girlfriend who understand my needs. How many times have I said this already? I just can't say it enough.

In another instance about a day or two before that, I dreamt that Phoebe is pregnant and her Mom confronted me about it. It's somewhat a nightmare really on more than one level. I can't recall much detail about it but I do remember that in it, Phoeb's Mom was turning my room upside down and clicking through all the folders in my computer LOOKING FOR MY PORN STASH OF ALL BLESSED THINGS. You'd think that it's way too late for that, wouldn't you?

My third dream, which I had yesterday night was a variation of my 'Girl of My Dreams' dreams. It's strange how we can describe just how perfect the 'Girls and Boys of Our Dreams' really are but when we try to look deeper past the one-dimensional descriptions we heaped upon them like Christmas baubles, we can't see anything. We have no inkling of how they look like, what they do outside the times we see them in our dreams and what their thoughts are. They aren't real people. They are cardboard cutouts of what we wish to have and can only have when we are asleep because quite simply; they can't exist. It's only when we fell in love in real life that the faceless, substance-less mannequins of our subconscious wish fulfillments meld flawlessly into our lovers, as if that's how they have always been. It's kind of like pouring something into a beautiful, empty wine glass. Maybe that's why the ones we fell in love with always seem so perfect to us. It's because we first dream of a perfect person in our lives, and later, we fit our girlfriends and boyfriends into that vacancy. We are the ones who clothe our lovers in perfection.

So for awhile now, the Girl of My Dreams looks and talks like Phoebe but at the same time, isn't entirely Phoebe. Yesterday was different. For some reason, she turned back into that faceless, substance-less one-dimensional person I always knew ever since I started dreaming of her. She's the sweet, beautiful, cute, popular, rich, intelligent, talented, amazing person I remember who, at the same time, is just an empty wine glass; a character written just to play a role. My dream this time is voyeuristic - I was either a ghost or an invisible person following her around, watching her every move, her most private moments without her knowing. Somehow, these sort of dreams never gets erotic or kinky when I dream them - absolutely no scenes of me following her into showers or standing by while she's changing. Sex don't figure that largely in my subconsciousness, I suppose. I'm always preoccupied with stuff like reading her diary as she writes, watching her cry into her pillow after a really bad day and listening to her talking to God by her bedside before she goes to sleep. It's a frustrating sort of dream really. I kept wanting to be corporeal so I can meet her but that didn't or couldn't happen. I wanted to nurture. I wanted to protect. I wanted to care.

When I woke up this morning, I couldn't remember at all how she looks like again. I couldn't recall what she wrote in her diary, what nasty things happened to her that made her cry or what her prayers were. It's like what I said; all descriptions and no essence. Dreams, I suppose, is never about the things we see in them. The scenes and the sceneries, the stage and the props are what we made up to - I don't know - entertain ourselves? Or are they just random imageries that pops into existence incongruously without meaning or order because of the random neuronal firings during REM sleep?

I, for one, like to think that my dreams teaches me about more about myself - yes, even the one about cute baby pygmy hipposhrooms. They put me in situations that would not happen in reality. They challenge my judgments and test my sanity like some sort of systemic mental diagnostic. Maybe the reason I dream so frequently is that there's just so much more about myself I need to know. Or want to know.

Gosh, empiricism is hard work. I need some rest now.

k0k s3n w4i

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Would You Like Some Tee?

"Silence is Golden, but Duct Tape is Shiny!"


I was originally quite enthusiastic about participating in the college T-shirt designing competition again this year when it was first announced sometime last month. Somehow along the way, my enthusiasm got tired, sat down under a shady tree by the roadside and died in its sleep. I like having good ideas and I like to see them being realised. It's the work part in between the idea and the realisation that don't quite agree with me. In a perfect world, I'd have a doppelgänger who looks like me, thinks like me and perform whatever work I want done perfectly to my specifications and satisfaction. But hey, this world stinks - so I don't. And I had to design my own damn T-shirt.

Even though there was a month's worth of time for me to do the grunt works, I only started doing any actual designing about a couple of days before the deadline. That's just me; I simply can't do anything before the Last Minutes come banging on my door with pitchforks, torches, and a burning straw effigy of me. If you look up "procrastination" in a dictionary, you won't find a picture of me there. Dictionaries don't have pictures, moron. You'll find the definition of procrastination there, which is practically my life philosophy, my highest principle and my One True Faith. The only reason it didn't get around as much as Christianity, Buddhism and Nazism did was because we kept putting off spreading the good word about it.

On the night before the deadline, I messaged Inn Shan, his royal highness Prez of the Student Council, to tell him that I wasn't going to submit my entry - mainly because I didn't have an entry to submit. I only had a rough draft of the design of the shirt's front and... yeah, that's all I got. Rough draft. Front of shirt. I gave up bothering at about 10:00 pm and played Diablo II. Screw the contest, I said. The prize is going to be just one free shirt anyway, since any extra funds generated for the student council through the tee sale goes into paying for the annual Supremo Ball (OH MY GAWD, change the fucking name already! I keep thinking "Ultimate Testicle" every time I hear it!). I didn't even wear the one I designed and won last year because the quality, to be perfectly honest, was cow dung (no fault of the design, o' course). I went to bed a happy man feeling as if I'm some overworked pencil-pusher who hated his job for 20 years and had just found found the balls to fire his boss in a comical and violent outburst. It didn't quite pan out that way, really, between the Prez and I; but that's how it felt like. And it felt awesome.

Then in the next morning, my doorbell screamed holy murder at what felt like 7 or 8 o'clock (I am perpetually disoriented - I thought today is Tuesday and was wondering why this fucking week felt so bloody long). Oh wait, it was a knock on the door actually, not the doorbell but that's really beside the point. Anyway, I opened it and peered blearily into the glaring day outside, which actually blinded me for a good couple of seconds. Once the cottony wooziness wore out of my eyes, I saw Inn Shan standing there, looking a tad sheepish.

"Huh?" I'm simply not very eloquent in mornings.

"Your T-shirt design - where is it?" he said. I shot a look at his hand to see if he was holding a pistol.

"But it's not done..." I began but before I could give him one of my famous impromptu excuses on why I'm not getting stuff done, he cut me short.

"Just give me what you got."

Okay-lah, Inn Shan's a really mild bloke and is always polite, and he wasn't really as curt and acerbic as I've painted him here. It's a narrative thing, so let's ignore that and get back to the story.

So, I transfered said unfinished front design of my T-shirt into a thumb drive he brought with him (while simultaneously downloading some other contestant's submissions into my laptop) and sent him off with it. To be honest, I really didn't want to show anyone my unfinished work - I feel violated somehow every time I was made to do that. It's like someone seeing me without any clothes on. Not a good thing, I suppose you can imagine. Still, having the student council president coming in person to pick up my entry after the deadline is kind of... somewhat... cool.

Later that day, I found out that my design has won by popular vote.

Say what?

"Yes. U got most votes. I go find u nw," confirmed Inn Shan in an SMS.

I was stupefied. My rough draft of half a shirt beat everyone else's entries? I don't know what sort of java the student council members were downing that morning, but heck, I damn well want some. Please.

It turns out that I only beat the second and third placer by 2 and 3 votes respectively, and both of those entry were sent in by the same girl in my class, an artistic type who could already paint when I was still eating crayons. She submitted 3 or 5 entries I think, and I really like one of them,

That's how us medical types wear our stethoscopes.

Cool right?! There's another version of this design with a weird, nude and cute cartoon guy on the bottom left wearing a and holding up a piece paper with the letters "MBBS" on it but I like this plain one better. The other designs aren't really my cup of tee at all (Oh, look look! I made a punny!).

A junior from Batch 19, Lingghezhi, turned in an entry with a concept I seriously like but I'm guessing that the people over at the jawatangilakuasa probably didn't get it. If I'm ever going to design another tee for my medical college again, I plan to adapt his theme. Heck, maybe I'll just design it, take orders and sell them on my own. Lingghezhi himself is completely open to that idea.

Okay, enough of yakking now. Here's mine, the completed official Melaka Manipal Medical College T-shirt design of year 2008. Feel free to clap hands or wolf-whistle.

This goes in front, across the chest.

That weird 'M' right there is a stylized version of my university's logo, which my college belongs to. I actually thought this slogan up last year but I did not use it for my design then because I thought the school board would not approve. This year, I just cared less.

And this is the back, finished and polished,

"Inspired by Life" is the dorky motto of my uni. In the first draft of this design, I wrote "Inspired by Mind-Altering Substances". "Inspired by Psychosomatic Diseases" was another one I toyed with. Sigh, I knew they wouldn't fly with the Dean - but here's to hoping, eh?

After I learnt that I have won, and I was told to produce the back of the shirt over the weekend. Of course, I jumped straight into work in that distinctive fashion I always do and toiled industriously (by going to Mangalore for a day trip to watch Prince Caspian on Saturday, and beat my way from Act I to Act III in Diablo II through Sunday). I managed to squeezed in a couple of hours in the wee hours of Monday to hatch out a sketchy design to hand in to Inn Shan.

So the one that all the class representatives showed their batches on Tuesday was like, not the definitive design, haha. Look, it's funny to me, okay.

The finalized edition (above) only existed on Tuesday night, right after a couple more hours of Diablo II (damn, this old game is freaking addictive!). I remember when I showed Inn Shan the end design of the back on Wednesday morning, he asked me why I didn't just finish it over the weekend.

"You first day know me, arh?" I answered proudly. Now there's some misplaced pride for you.

Moving on, the skeleton of the design was drawn with William Blake's
The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun watercolour painting in mind and more specifically, the Red Dragon tattoo on the back of Francis Dolarhyde, the psychopathic serial killer in Thomas Harris' book. You can vaguely make out the wings, the tail, the head and one of the horns. I blunted everything to make it look heart-shaped eventually. I know I'm obsessive, and I don't need a psychiatrist either, thank you very much.

The maple leaves on top of the word "Inspired" was purely a fluke. I was testing out brushes in Photoshop - you know, idly drawing and then rubbing them off using the different brushes that came with the program just for kicks - and somehow, the random smudge I made with the maple brush just happened to turn out really nice! And I didn't even change or move or alter it in any way because I liked it so much.

Also, the maple leaves serendipitously provided me with the solution of incorporating the 'tail' of the Red Dragon without making it too obvious. I went for an organic floral design by extending the 'i' of 'Life' into a tap root, making the whole phrase appear like some growing plant, and that scored even more pseudo-symbolism points.

Oh, if you look really hard, you'll see that I've inserted a rather cute animal into it as well. I dedicate that to my girlfriend. Unfortunately, as hard as I tried, I couldn't sneak my name in somewhere. Bummersville.

Here's how the whole thing suppose to look like all printed out,



Blue was the original colour of the design, but Inn Shan preferred it in orange. I told him to see if he can negotiate with the printers make the shirts in both the colours at no extra charges - because some people have mentioned to me that they would rather have it in blue. Unlike last year, I might even get involved in the negotiations and printing process this time because (1) the previous shirt turned out to be something I won't even wipe my ass with and (2) I want the blue one too. However, that depends on whether I'm going to play Diablo II or not on the day Inn Shan goes to see the printing people.

So yeah, do you guys like this shirt? I think I'm getting better at this designing thing.

P.S. For you Manipalites, if you want to know more about the quality, printing method, the availability of the form-fitting girl style and other such boring details, head over This Post in Inn Shan's blog.

Currently a Level 27 Barbarian in Act III,
k0k s3n w4i

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Harshest Eden

"A camel looks like a horse that was planned by a committee."

Sir Alec Issigonis

"Hey thurr."

That's me there in that picture, unkempt and seconds out of bed in the wilderness of the Great Indian Desert. What you can see behind me is the flimsy fence that the camel drivers have erected around a small patch of the dune we claimed as our campsite, and yeah, that's the orange-and-black backpack which I lugged around across the subcontinent pretending to be some cool traveler type.

I think, this is the first proper mugshot I have shown you guys since I started writing about my trip. Anyhow, I only took this picture because there wasn't any mirror lying about on the sand for me to check myself with, and the camera was the next best thing. My hair was seriously growing all over the place like a Japanese pop star experiment gone wrong and to date, it was the longest I have ever let it grow unchecked. I stayed away from the barber shoppe a couple of months before the trip started - y'know, in preparation of my vacation and stuff. No, don't ask what sort of preparation that was but I can tell you that it involves a woolen cap and a bandana.

I was the first one up.

Nope, not my worm.

I'm not at all competitive by nature but I always get this strangely satisfying sense of accomplishment every time I beat everybody else around me to the punch of the morning wake-up clock. Somehow, in the minutes between that moment I sit up in bed till the second person starts to stir, the morning feels like it's all mine - privately, deeply and utterly mine alone. It feels a bit like I'm the last living person on earth and knowing that I'm not does not take anything away from it at all. I love how everything is so calm and sedate, and I love that underneath all this serenity, there's this bubbling anticipation of a high octane new day that's about to kick up and run off cackling every direction.

Because of that, I mislike tossing and turning in bed trying to go back to sleep after my sleep meter hits 'Full'. I want to drink it all up. I want mornings which only belong to me, even if for awhile. I'm not a very religious person I always say, but I like to think I'm at least spiritual, in my own little ways.

Occasionally, I get bonuses,

My worm.

This must be what? The third or fourth sunrise I wrote about?

You know how when you have too much of a good thing, and you cannot easily tell which particular occurrence of that good thing is you favourite? Take food for example; if you're a true epicurean and a sincere lover of victuals in all their shapes, sizes, colours, textures and tastes, and if you're deeply acquainted with the unique singularity of every sort of dish you have ever sampled, it's not easy at all to say definitively what you consider your favourite food. You can't simply say "this one's special" without deeper consideration because to you, they are all special.

Then one day, you taste something which leaves you, abruptly and violently, without a dust of doubt that it was the best darn thing you've ever tasted.

The sunrise I saw that morning in the dunes of the Thar was something just like that. I love just how the sky looked so mesmerizing the way the eastern amber faded into that washed out morning blue. And the camel silhouettes. Gosh, and the picture is so criminally bland compared to how excruciatingly magical it all looked stretched out all over and all around me like a cosmic-sized, stained-glass dome. I have never seen the sky so big and so close to me before.

I think a picture of any featureless landscape should be tilted.

I snapped this the day before while I was riding on a somewhat smallish dromedary named Coca-Cola (see his nose there?). You got to give me credit here; it's not easy to hold a camera steady while you're teetering what seemed like miles off the ground astride some camel's hump. The journey to the dunes from the edge of the waste took us more than four hours of Terribly Awkward Riding with only an hour respite in between when we stopped for lunch underneath a shade of a really large bush. Camel-riding is no Happy Meal at all. It's beastly hard and rattles your constitution to the bone. Contrary to what it appeared to be like, it doesn't really hurt a guy's balls (at least, not if you're sitting right) - but hey, if you're gonna sit with the full weight of your legs dangling while you're rocking back and forth in copulatory motion, there's bound to be nasty after effects. Mine, I can tell you, involved my inner thighs, and they were still sore even when I was in Darjeeling 2-and-a-half weeks later.

Trust me, if you're met with a decision of either taking a camel or a jeep safari to the middle of the Thar desert, pick the latter. You can request to ride the smelly camels for an hour or so just for kicks and to camwhore for your perfect faux Lawrence of Arabia Kodak moment. Please don't suffer on your vacation. If it feels like you're suffering, you're doing it wrong.

Frothy liquid gold. Good ol' Kingfisher beer.

We reached the dunes at about teatime, right Out There in the magnificent expanse of one of Earth's bigger sandboxes. It's a strange experience though, to be so far divorced from the great unwashed civilisation of humanity and be away from It All. I have to admit, it's a novel thing which I can really enjoy on an occasional basis so long as I get to go back to where the running indoor water and air-conditioning are eventually. Stuff like this is only fun if we've never done them before. I mean, ask any desert tribe dude. Is he living in some arid wasteland where sand gets into everything just because he likes it? No. No.

Anyhow, the feeling was somehow spoiled by this bearded, turbaned bloke hawking cold beer when we arrived there. Yes, the real shit - bloody ice cold bloody beer! This is how he makes a living, he told us and what a profitable living it is; selling precisely what dumb tourists least expected and want most at double the price when they go traipsing across some hot, sweltering desert. Anytime we ordered a frosty, he'd disappear over a sand dune and come back with the bottle clinking in his hands. I suspect that he's got a fridge stashed back there. He simply wouldn't let us follow him.

Another show-stopper was those stupid automated telemarketers which kept ringing me. In the middle of the fucking desert. Now that's saying something about the insane coverage here.


The best part of the whole excursion was when we got there and all we did was just sit around and watch the world turn the day away. That's what holidays are for, in case the human race have already forgotten it. It's not about seeing things or just going places. It's about having absolutely nothing that needs attending to in the foreseeable future, immediate or soon or later. No classes in the morrow. No assignments making a crappy little Tower of Babel in the In Box. No pushy class rep (now recently crowned student council president) coercing you to design another dumb college T-shirt. It's a special kind of moment in your life where you have no responsibilities or obligations you have to fulfill. You have only things you want to do, nothing at all that you need to do.

Neolithic night light.

We had a very special dinner after the Big Lamp in the Sky went out and I expect I'd talk about that in another post I reserved because... the thing we ate was nothing special on its own, but the circumstances of its provenance do warrant some interesting thoughts and coffee conversations. That night, we dined in front of a roaring wood fire under the most amazing night sky I have ever had the pleasure of staying out in. The stars, they were uncountably numerous, improbably luminous and like so totally numinous. I watched them appear slowly one at a time as daylight died and soon, they started popping out faster than zits on a teenager's face okay bad metaphor I know I can take them all in with my eyes. It was one of those night skies that touch you with just a taste, a hint of the inconceivable infinity of the Universe and how we're just little insignificant specks going about with our pointless specky lives on our dust-sized planet going around our dinky little star. Here and there, shooting stars gash the blackness of the fabric of space making small bright tears which were immediately darned up by an Invisible Stellar Omni-Seamstress; all within a fraction of a second.

Down below it, we listened to our guides and camel drivers sing songs in their strange undulating voices as they rapped out the beat on plastic bottles and sticks. An Australian woman with a bottle of Kingfisher in her hand joined us midway with the easy air of a seasoned traveler, and we shared our camp with her. I think there must be countless groups of foreigners out in the desert that night since the Jaisalmer camel safari is that big an attraction but no matter how hard I looked, I couldn't spot any tell-tale fire-light of their camps out in the distance. There were plenty of desert to go around.

I wish I'm rich. Not rich rich but just loaded enough to be on holiday for the rest of my life.

Oh, here's a couple more pictures for you which I really like, courtesy of Lensman Vincent,

The shorter camel driver guy has a really cissy name which I don't remember now. See, riding camels can stunt growth.

Camel Boy. There's nothing I can say to make this picture any better.

P.S. Too bad none of you could guess a simple picture which I turned upside down. Okay, one of you was on the right track, but then he thought it was a sunset by a lake.

P.P.S. My T-shirt design was selected again this year. Will write about that next.

Vows never to open his legs for camels again,
k0k s3n w4i

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Kid Kok, Purloiner of Things

"Morality is of the highest importance--but for us, not for God."

Albert Einstein

My nickname in my family, given by my grandmother, is "Sui Chai" - and it means 'bad boy' in Cantonese. Back then, I was called so much by that name that when my Dad comes back for his half-yearly vacation or during the Chinese New Year reunion when my more distant relatives return, I found myself weirded out when they actually address me by my proper name. My neighbors and my friends' parents were regularly baffled whenever they learn about my unfortunate moniker because I, you'll be surprised to know, was an especially polite little boy and I have always behaved angelically whenever I went over to anyone's house to play. A Mrs Chong once asked my grandmother why she called me "Sui Chai" when I was obviously such an exemplary child.

My grandmother looked genuinely surprised to hear that, and answered, "Well, he's a really good actor then."

Anyway, I don't think I was particularly mischievous when I was a kid but I do have an amoral streak. And if you're particularly sensitive to the small nuances and subtleties of the definitions of words, you'll know that being amoral isn't anything like being immoral at all. Someone who is immoral knows that doing something is wrong, but does it anyway. A person who is amoral has no mental concept of what is right or wrong at all (and by extension, is not able to experience guilt), and the only motivation they have for not doing anything considered socially as "bad" is the avoidance of punishment. I think all children are amoral till they reach an age when they know better.

However, I retained my childish amorality well into 11 years old and some of the stuff I did then were quite frankly... deplorable.

I lied and stole.

Being unable to feel guilt, I could lie so convincingly that if you knew the truth of any fib I was telling to you, you'd be aghast at just how composed I was when I told it. I wouldn't hesitate or stutter, nor would I give the slightest sign that anything I say was any less than the unadulterated, unsweetened fact. I embodied the Chinese saying of "lying without blinking", and at the age of 5, my lying skills were already as developed as a veteran courtroom lawyer's. I knew I had to be consistent. I knew just how outrageous or unimpressive a story has to be if I want it to sound believable. And most of all, I was totally aware of my advantage as a child and that the stupid adults would never expect me to be that good at lying. I actually prided myself on being able to manipulate several adults at the same time; adults who thought they were so much bigger and smarter than I am. The only time I was ever caught being the deceitful little bastard I was, was when another person was there to contradict me. My kiddy logic was simple: lying made nice things happen to me and let me avoid the things I did not want - hence, as I observed, lying was like so totally awesome.

Anyway, what I really want you to focus on was my unfortunate and regretful childhood kleptomanic tendencies, and I shall tell you about them through two separate incidents in which I was caught stealing.

When I was eight, I spotted a ten Ringgit bill on the bureau in my grandmother's room, and without thinking or even having any particular object in mind I wanted to buy, I pocketed and brought it to school with me - that was the single biggest amount of cash I ever stole till date. Of course, if you have ten bucks in your grubby little paws back when at an age when you did not have a concept of numbers bigger than a hundred, you'd think you're some freaking rich prick. Inexplicably, I took my new found wealth to the school bookstore and bought a jumbo box of pencil erasers - you know, the sort that had the flag of the world on them - and I distributed them amongst my classmates. For some reason, I seem to have a weird history of pathological philanthropy back when I was a kid. Anyway, my class teacher caught me playing Robin Hood and told my Mom about it - and for it, I went through the single most brutal trashing of my young life. It's one of the few instances I remember being whipped; firstly, because of its raw harshness (think seriously hysterical woman making full arc swings with a cane like she's trashing grass) and secondly, because my dad stood in the way and received just as many lashings as I did *Happy Belated Birthday, Dad*. I locked myself in my room for the rest of the day and night, crying bitterly and vowing to never ever to be so stupid as to get caught again. Yes, that's precisely what I did - I still remember those very resolutions as clearly as I do of what I had for dinner yesterday evening. I was the sort of boy who gets more defiant with adversity. Admirable attitude indeed, if for very, very wrong reasons.

So, I continued pilfering till I was eleven, till I was caught for the second time.

During the P.E. periods when we were allowed to play with the stuff they keep in the sporting equipment storeroom (hoops and plastic cones and what-nots), I developed an irrational fixation on some grapefruit-sized rubber balls. I eyed them every P.E. session, waiting for an an opportune moment to filch one for myself. You see, ever since my trashing 3 years before, I practically got stealing down to a science, and I knew bidding one's time is one of the first rules a sensible thief must remember. One day, the chance came when another boy and I were charged with putting away the equipments, and while the teacher was standing outside waiting for us to finish stacking up the stuff, I intentionally dawdled and managed to sneak one of those rubber balls into my pocket, and as I walked out of the storeroom, I angled myself in such a way that the bulge in my pants wouldn't show. Okay, "bulge in my pants" sounds so very wrong but moving on; I was able to make myself scarce when the teacher was preoccupied with locking the place up. I took a long, roundabout way back to class so I wouldn't meet any of my classmates en route. I thought I got it all figured out.

I would have got away with it had I not took out my prize when I was walking back to my classroom to look at it. I thought it was safe since the school grounds were completely deserted because all the kids were in their classes then. As luck would have it, I ran into Mrs Jaya around a corner. Mrs Jaya was a rather plump and kindly Indian woman in her early forties, and she was my class teacher back in Standard One, when I was seven but had never taught me since.

She took one look at the ball in my hand and told me to stay put - but in that same calm and serene way she always talked. I watched as she went into the faculty room and I was so nearly shitting my pants then. She's probably going to fetch Mr Chee, I thought. Mr Chee was the discipline master and the star of most of my childhood nightmares so you can pretty much imagine the state I was in at that time. I just stood there, skinny pip of a boy I was going sheet white in the face with a yellow rubber ball quivering in one tiny hand.

Mrs Jaya came back - to my great surprise - alone. She told me to follow her and I immediately thought that she must have found Mr Chee absent in the faculty lounge, and was going to lead me to wherever he was terrorizing innocent young children at that particular moment. But as it turned out, she took me back to the sports equipment storeroom, and she had only ducked into the faculty lounge for the key to its lock. She told me to put back the rubber ball into its box, and then, asked me to run along back to my classroom. Also, she said to tell whichever teacher who was teaching my class during that period that I was late because I had to help her (Mrs Jaya) carry some stuff, and she assured me she would collaborate on my tale if need be.

I remember running back to class, feeling somewhat woozy. It's as if I had just woken up from an especially nonsensical dream.

I remember Mrs Jaya so well because she is a very important person in my life. That day when she caught me stealing and did not reprimand or punish me but instead, just told me to return what I took back to where it belonged; she assumed that I felt guilty for what I did. She assumed the good in me. That was the first time anyone ever considered me as a thinking, innately scrupulous person and allowed me to reflect on my own actions critically. It's little enough but it prodded something that had laid dormant in my being ever since I existed. My conscience, I like to think, was born that day.

That was the last time I was ever caught stealing.

Thats because I never stole again.

And I really despise this quote and what it stands for,

"Morality without religion is only a kind of dead reckoning,--an endeavor to find our place on a cloudy sea by measuring the distance we have run, but without any observation of the heavenly bodies."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a twat

It is a grievous insult to humanity. It devalues our innate goodness.

P.S. Yes, this post is about religion.

P.P.S. Okay, I stole some condoms a couple of times back when I was in high school, but it's a stupid teenager thing more than it has anything to do with morality.

Grew a conscience at eleven,
k0k s3n w4i

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

There's Nothing "Mere" About Jaisalmer

"What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I actually planned to blog about something else tonight but I just don't feel like I'm up to the challenge of cranking up my brain. So, I decided instead to write another bloody travelogue - I find it less taxing on my thinking tofu. It's so much more fun for me to just sit down, select and edit a bunch of pictures, reminisce about the grand ol' time I had and then pretend that there are a whole lot of you invisible, anonymous readers out there who actually enjoy reading them but are just too shy to actually comment - than tackle something requiring more than baseline attention and sobriety. Yes, writing travelogues is like masturbation; no one wants to see me do it and I do it waaay more often than I should.

I wrote about Jodhpur in my previous post, but I didn't want to write about it as much as I want to write about Jaisalmer (which I'm going to do, in a minute). I thought about just focusing on those places I went which I really, really want to talk about instead of listing every single blooming thing I see in chronological order - and I ought to, because by the time I got around (a couple of months later) to those places I really, really, REALLY want to write about, I might have lost my enthusiasm and the urge; that spirit-of-the-moment thing. But I sincerely want to get everything down in pixels. I want to clerk it all for that someone I'll be a year or ten from now. Many years from now, I would want to reread everything I wrote down now and before, and be completely amazed at how much a stranger I am to the future me.

Anyway, Jaisalmer is another really old city in the middle of the Thar desert but unlike Jodhpur, it actually looks and feels like it really is in the middle of some sandy wasteland - and when I got off the train I took from Jodhpur for the first time, I was instantly disoriented. It seemed that I had somehow arrived at a very different part of the world stuck several centuries back. It's precisely like one of those places we read about in one of Scheherazade's Arabian Nights. The streets are narrow with rows of shops and houses scattered haphazardly just like how they would have been planned by Lewis Carroll if he was an architect, all surrounding a majestic fort which crowned the hill in the middle of the city. From the mighty fort walls to the amazing palace to the smallest hut, they were all wrought out of the same beautiful, golden sandstone which changes colour in accordance to the time of day. This is Jaisalmer, the Golden City of Rajasthan.

Anyway, I've sliced out the most memorable bits about Jaisalmer for a couple other posts because if I included everything here, this post would have been insanely massive - but still, even without the climaxes, Jaisalmer is still freaking incredible. Oh, and since I was somewhat debilitated on the day I explored the city (the headache which I staved off with opium came back with a holy vengeance), I didn't manage to take a lot of really good pictures myself - so more than half of the photographs featured in this post were taken by my other travel mates,

Picture by me.

1. Behold, a sandstone replica of the fort found in the Raj Mahal, the Royal Palace. It's intricately detailed and accurate. See that depression there which looks like a wonky ashtray? If you stand right there in the real fort, you'll see this,

Picture by Vincent.

2. The Raj Mahal, from the outside. The city of Jaisalmer faces a unique dilemma - being situated in the middle of a big damn desert, it's understandable that water was a really scarce commodity back in the old days and the only way to procure some is to hold a really big bucket up under a rainstorm. The average frequency of rainfall in these parts is once in seven years, I was told - that's mighty harsh. However, with the advent of that amazing invention called the pipe which allowed water to be delivered to the more arid regions of India, Jaisalmer suddenly found itself suffering from an overabundance of moisture. Since the foundations of the fort and palace aren't exactly built to withstand water erosion, parts of this magnificent ancient city are crumbling to pieces like a soggy biscuit.

Vincent's too.

3. This balcony on one of the highest points in the Raj Mahal overlooking, the endless blistering Thar Desert, the city around and in the fort. Yes, it's a living fort - a phrase which meant that the same folks who settled in the fort when it was built about a thousand years ago are still living in it. It's not like those deserted, half-broken rock piles you keep seeing in those National Geographic specials which nowadays, boasts only of a population of about a dozen crusty old archaeologists. This is one of the biggest selling points of Jaisalmer. Stalls selling leather, silk, ornaments, jewelry and other such stuff clogged the narrow arteries of the fort and wherever you go, you'll see that the merchants have laid all their garishly coloured wares out in the sun hoping to catch your eye and to part a little weight from your wallet - almost exactly how it was centuries ago back when the city was an important trading post for the camel caravans which passed here on their way from Central Asia, Persia, Arabia, Africa and the West into India. Little has changed.

Anyhow, its biggest attraction also proved to be its biggest problem. To sustain the population, great amounts of water have to be supplied to the city fort - and that led to the gradual but inexorable destruction of this wonderful monument. Oh, I mentioned that already, didn't I?


4. As you can see above, the streets within the fort are so claustrophobic that it's quite impossible for even three people to walk abreast comfortably at parts. It's a crazy fun place to explore and sightsee - almost every single pillar, wall, window, doorways, roof and stairs were painfully and lovingly sculpted. It's quite an experience to get a place to stay within the walls of the fort, I understand, but I would advice anyone who wants to go there to get a room outside the fort. The high amount of tourist load would only hasten the destruction of the rich historical heritage which brought visitors here in the first place. I know that there are always kiasu dicks who don't give a shit about that so long as they get to enjoy themselves whilst whatever they came to see is still standing but honestly, it doesn't subtract anything from the wonderment of Jaisalmer if you stay outside the fort (which would probably be cheaper too) and walk into the damn place when you want to see it.

Okay, I admit I stayed inside the fort too but I didn't know about the water fatigue problem prior to arriving there. You, on the other hand, have no excuse now, haha!

Vincent's (again).

5. One of the corridors winding through the Raj Mahal. The palace, and the rest of the fort, was constructed in such a way that it is exposed enough to allow a genial circulation of air through it while being thoroughly protected from the deadly desert sun and sand which, as you can imagine, is lying about all around in very generous quantities.


6. I ripped this picture off Nickson's blog and just so you know, he visited Jaisalmer about a year before I did. I only included this picture here because not a single person in my group remembered to get a good street shot - and also, this photograph was what made me wanted see the city so much. Delicate carvings covered almost every available surface, begging a beholder to wonder just how much work was put into building all this. It's so unreal, dude. You gotta be there and walk through the streets yourself to get how it felt like.

This picture is mine, naturally.

7. PIGEONHOLE! I spotted this high up in an alleyway outside my guesthouse in the morning. A round feather ball of a Fat Pigeon looking disapprovingly at the pedestrians walking below, and a beautiful Missus Pigeon with a fluorescent green breast peering curiously over Fat Pigeon's shoulder.

Vincent took it, but for the record, it took a lot of photoshopping work to salvage it.

8. For those who love dead animal skin, you're in luck! Jaisalmer is renowned for leather-craft and they aren't particularly pricey either. Shoes, belts, hat, knapsacks, handbags, wallets; they have it all and more! Patrick bought a gay sling pouch to put his water bottle in and I myself got a leather bound notebook which looks really quaint with a camel and floral motifs embossed all over it. It's for my sister actually, because I don't use leather products on principle. Anyhow, I think it's okay to make stuff out of the skin of animals that we eat (like cows, goats and err, camels) because... well, you already killed the poor thing so let's not waste whatever you can't chew with your teeth. It's the usage of the fur and skin of animals which don't taste very good are endangered that gets me riled.

Not mine. Vince's, I think.

9. After all the peddlers and stalls have closed for the day inside the fort, it's great to head out to the outer city to continue shopping. Like Jodhpur, there is no shortage of good bargains and the competition between shopkeepers is outright blatant. I remember one leather merchant pulling me aside and telling me that the owner of the leather shop beside his is "pukka", "puddha" or something to that effect. He explained to me that it meant "someone who fucks dogs" and that his rival is a lying, cheating, conniving bastard of a man. You should check out the looks they shoot each other. Priceless shit. Oh, and try asking any shopkeeper whether he owns any other shop because chances are, he also runs the boutique, jewelry store and the cyber cafe in that same street. And the leather shop opposite his might very well belong to his brother in law or something too, so go range far and wide for the best prices.

Mine. I found it. Off Google.

10. This is a picture I wish and wish I took myself. I actually past by this sign four times while riding on a jeep to and from the train station and the outskirts. The first time I saw it I went "What The Sweet Fuck" and had a picture in my mind of dead children bobbing about in a massive brewing tank alternating with images of little kids getting drunk off some liquor marketed specifically to them by some ugly, balding paedophile who has a paunch and a disturbingly moist lower lip which he kept licking. It took me about a couple of days later for it to hit me that it really was a (seriously hilarious) misspelling of "chilled beer". Yeah, I know I was slow. It's that rebound headache I had after the opium from Jodhpur wore off. You know, I bet that many, many tourist have already pointed that typo out to the wine-seller, and he's only keeping it that way so people would keep coming in to tell him about it - and maybe, pop a frosty while they are at it.

The real fun started on the second day in Jaisalmer when we took a ride out of town to... hey, where's the fun if I tell you? I don't think I will now. I'll just leave this picture as a clue so you can try to guess it for yourself if you ran out of newspaper crossword puzzles to do,

I damn well took this picture.

Coming up in the next travel post, people. I think I'll lay off the vacation storytelling for a bit so I can write about something I've been meaning to for the past couple of days. So, till then.

Will stop for child beer,
k0k s3n w4i