Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's Just Me Now

"I am a man who would fight for your honour,
I'll be the hero you're dreaming of,
We'll live forever, knowing together,
That we did it all for the glory of love.

Glory Of Love by Peter Cetera

Who will sing this song with me now?

It's been barely an hour after he's left. And here I am sobbing at a 17-inch laptop screen like a lost little child with nowhere to go. I never realized I could feel so alone till the moment I helped him heave his heavy suitcase aboard the bus & watched forlornly as it rumbled away. This time unfortunately, I wasn't onboard. "Please don't go," I whispered to no one in particular. But I guess it was too late. It's just me now, I thought to myself.

I don't know how my feet found their way back to my room. But I knew as I sat on the bed, I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep. Not with this alien sense of emptiness encroaching upon me. Every little thing reminds me of him. The empty space at the corner where his luggage used to be, his toothpaste on the table, the smell of his hair on my pillow & his Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I don't know how I'll ever be able to finish that book without crying.

I long for his voice & his fake complaints. The way he never fails to make me laugh or giggle with everything he says. I miss our dice games too. But I guess its just me now... holding on to fragments & slivers of memories of you.

You've asked me twice, "What was your favourite part of the trip?"
"The animals," I always replied.
But in reality, you are my favourite part of the trip, baby. You've given me the best birthday present ever. Thank you :)

Wants to walk again,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Where I Belong

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal:

16th of August, 2008

The cab drove away, leaving me standing with a large black hard case on my left, a smaller black canvas bag on my right, a black laptop bag riding on my back, and a black messenger bag swinging from my shoulder in front of the bright, neon-lighted entrance of the Mangalore Central. There is this eddying pool of emotion somewhere deep in my stomach that made me feel restless, glad and accomplished, all at the same time. There's no reason why it should be, but it felt just like coming home.

For a few seconds, I just stood there savouring that something in the air. Was it the possibilities? The sense of destination? Whatever it was, it was satisfying. Then I walked, dragging the dead inertia of the past two-and-a-half years with me. This is too much baggage, I thought to myself, and I wasn't just thinking of my circus of black bags.

I love going to a railway station with a ticket clutched in my hand. It gives me purpose, tells me that I'm going somewhere. It's not like getting into a car or sitting in an airport terminal. There is something intrinsically realistic and sensible about trains. There are tracks - and you don't go off them.

I was hungry and tired. I was hungry because I skipped dinner - packing up the last vestiges of my life in Manipal at the better part of the day. I was tired because I only slept for two hours the night before and the one hour I took at 2:00 pm didn't even begin to compensate it. There was a paper on Paediatrics, Medical Ethics and Palliative Medicine I had to study for. Fast forward to 8:00 pm, eight hours later, in front of the neon-lighted Mangalore Central, I was at my absolute limit and my mind was swimming.

But I was there. I was back at where I belonged. On track.

The first order of things was to get my hunger fixed. I bought a tin foil dinner box from the railway catering kitchen which had a big E.B. scribbled on the top of it. It stood for Egg Biryani; spiced rice, sautéed onions and two whole boiled eggs to call my own. I found a seat between two Indian men who looked as if they were waiting for something other than the train, erected a little barricade with my bags in front of me and tucked in with gusto. Now that's a word I have not used in a long, long time; gusto. I need a lot more gusto in my life.


At 9:00 pm, the 6628 West Coast Express pulled into the station and came to rest groaning beside Platform 1. I found my berth in the S2 Sleeping Car, an auspicious number 7.

At 9:30 pm, the view outside the window started to move and I was confused for a minute before I realised that the train was pulling out of the station. It had something to do with my mind flickering like a computer running on too few overworked processors, I guess. Time to stop writing and get that fixed too, I think. Come 10:00 am tomorrow, I'll be in Salem where Phoebe's waiting for me.

Today is the first of my last days in India.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Cutest Little Girl I Have Ever Met

"I am fond of children - except boys."

Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll is the nom de plume of Charles Dodgson who wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. He also likes photographing little girls naked in his free time. What a creepy, creepy man.

The Darjeeling Toy Train.

This is the last entry from my North Indian travelogue series of posts but don't be afraid (or alternatively, be very, very afraid), I am embarking on yet another backpacking trip in the morrow and will return When September Comes to tell you all about it.

Before I proceed, I just want to make this as clear as I can; I hate children. Can't stand 'em. They are dirty, sticky, rude, cruel, mean-spirited, selfish little buggers who talk too loudly, scream too shrilly, and have absolutely nil sense of etiquette and decorum. I have no idea why so many kids like me but I suspect it has something to do with their inherent evilness which compels them to bug whichever person in any given room who least want to be bugged by them. There are several instances in which they damn near ruined my vacation for me - like that Himalayan Zoo episode. Kids shouldn't be allowed in zoos, if you ask me. Or in amusement parks. Or on board planes...

I recommend just caging the lot of them till their 'ickle spirits are broken. Maybe then they would stop running around screaming like their tiny asses are on fire.

Then occasionally, on a bright sunny day when you least expect it, a little kid comes along and just... gets through to you, you know what I mean?

Meet Arjunita.

It all started when I asked the little girl sitting opposite me on the Darjeeling Toy Train for her name because she kept looking at me shyly, and looking away every time I met her eyes.

She immediately launched into a practiced recitation in an Indian dialect; "Blah, blah blah, ARJUNITA, blah, blah, yada, yada." It doesn't matter which dialect it was because I don't know any of them. Then immediately afterwards, as if embarrassed by her loud declaration, she started staring at her own knees, glancing up coyly to see if I would approve of her name.

"English. Speak English," chastised her mother who was sitting beside her.

"I no speak English," she piped up instantly, making a seamless transformation from demureness into outright cheek. "I Bangla!"

And that won me over completely.

This is the best photograph I took on the whole trip. Just a little girl on a train, loving every minute of it. Whatever happened to our own simple childlike wonderment of the world around? How did we lose it?

Arjunita was a really delightful subject to photograph. I have never met a little girl half as expressive as she was in all my time before,

1. "Grrr."
2. "Hi hi hi..."
3. "Pffft!"
4. "AHHH!!!"

1. Disapproving grandmuvver
2. Marionette
3. Ballerina

1. ... and it gets downright bizarre, sometimes
2. "Come in, Mission Control! Send in Mecha support! I repeat; WE NEED THE FRIGGIN' MECHAS"
3. Doing The Rock's eyebrow thing
4. "Tis' true, I'm born laik dis."

Some time in the middle of our ride, she took my bead bracelet and proclaimed proudly that she was going to perform "MAJIK!" on it. Methodically, she asked her mother and then her father to blow on them before placing it behind her. And ta-daa! She waved both her empty little palms in my face as if she had just performed the most miraculous feat in the world, and everyone clapped and cheered - even the passengers sitting on the other side of our car. Everyone found themselves inadvertently drawn to the impossibly charismatic preschooler.

After she brought the bracelet back from her err, personal nether dimension, she refused to hand it over, declaring that she wanted to perform another "MAJIK!". She got her parents to blow on it in turn again and... she repeated the whole act, pound for pound and part for part.

And she did it again. And again and again and again... I guess what they say about kids under a certain age is true - they simply won't tire of the same game no matter how many times they play it.

At about the sixth or seventh time she announced "MAJIK!" to her entire audience on the train, her mother chided her, saying that "Uncle is bored" (what? moi, uncle?!) and asked her to perform a different magic trick.

"NO NO! SAME MAJIK!!!" she refused theatrically. Some guy sitting five seats away snorted in laughter. You simply don't negotiate with the maestro.

Her father finally decided to take matters into his own hands at the ninth encore and spirited the bracelet away from behind her while she was busy showing everyone her empty hands. And in the prestige segment of her act... OHNOES, WHERE DID IT GO? She stood up and examined her seat closely, searching earnestly for any sign of thaumaturgic malfunction while her dad stealthily passed the bracelet back to me over her head.

She squealed when I reproduced the mysterious missing bracelet and snatched it right out of my hands possessively. You don't mess with her props.

"SAME MAJIK!" says Arjunita obstinately. She simply couldn't understand why her mom and dad wouldn't consent to blow on the bracelet anymore.

"I very strong!" *kisses biceps*

According to her mother, Arjunita's talents weren't just limited to the art of repetitive prestidigitation. She took tae-kwando lessons as well.

She showed me, natch,

"Kachu Tenshin AMAGURIKEN!!!"

I'm not kidding you when I tell you that the little girl can really pack a punch. I never knew that kids can hit that hard. And it actually hurt when she twisted my thumb!

"Trust me - your thumb can point in the opposite direction of where your index finger's pointing, LOL."

I couldn't keep up with her at all. She was relentless, tireless and totally hyper. After spending a few hours entertaining her kiddy whims, I found that I simply couldn't go on anymore. So I feigned dozing off (but I finally dozed off for real because I was just that exhausted).

Joon Keat, who was sitting beside me, apparently took over the job of playing with the kid while I was cutting Z's. When I woke up goodness knows how many hours later, I found that both Joon Keat and Arjunita were on the verge of doing something dastardly to my hair.

I never did find out what they were planning though.

Before Arjunita and her parents got off the train at Kurseong, she borrowed her mother's camera phone and snapped a picture of me - me, that weird Chinese Uncle on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway who couldn't understand half the things she said; who spent hours playing stupid games with her and introduced the concept and pastime of camwhoring into her life. Am I tucked inside a holiday photo album or in a memory card somewhere in their home? Will she remember me a year from now? Two years from now? Ten years?

I wonder if there's a chance that she would read this post someday when she's all grown up. I have some questions which I would like to ask her then.

Like what was it that she and Joon Keat were plotting to do to me while I was sleeping, for one.

We rode the diesel engine train, not this steam one, regrettably.

Some old blokes sitting in one of the stations we passed who looked as if they have been sitting there since the time when photographs were still sepia-coloured.

The train runs right alongside the road and at times, right past shop entrances. It's easy to swipe stuff as you roll along.

... or swipe other people's underwear right off the clothesline, if you're inclined that way.

How many of you have railway tracks laid just inches from your doorsteps?

Smell the scent of freshly, slaughtered poultry as you chug-chug by.

I wonder if a truck ever rammed into the Toy Train when its driver lost control while rounding the corner.

Damn garbage spoilt this picture.

My best picture of the Toy Train, in my opinion. I wished I took it with my own camera though.

P.S. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is overrated, in my opinion. If you have a low threshold for mind mushing boredom, just take the steam train till Kurseong for a joyride. It's a lot more antique than the Kalka-Shimla Railway, and it will rock your boat if you're the right sort of enthusiast, but the Kalka-Shimla line covers kick-ass sceneries which totally blew Darjeeling out of the water.

P.P.S. Yes, I took these pictures. Except the sepia one with the steam engine. Torng Lei took that one.

P.P.P.S. Beverly will be blogging in my stead while I'm away. Play nice.

Misses childhood so damn much,
k0k s3n w4i

Friday, August 15, 2008

Darjeeling, That Town Famous for Its Tea

"Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary."
Chinese proverb

There! I always knew that there's a Chinese version of that lame apple aphorism.
Okay, readers, here's the lowdown. You guys know that I have this series of travelogues I've been writing since late March, right? It's hard to miss 'em. I've been writing them for the past four-months-and-a-half or so. And I have yet to finish them. Appalling, no doubt, to those of you who take offence at the very existence of people of my ilk in this world who like to take things easy (the horrors!) but in my defense, I did have to put a lot more effort into these posts. What I've been trying to do all along was to try to describe, as accurately as my ability to write is able, the impressions which I got when I first visited those amazing places myself. I hope to give you an honest, unfiltered vantage point of how a Malaysian student sees them all. I want everyone studying here to catch my wanderlust, to stop being so damn prejudiced about the incredibly deep culture by which this civilisation is painted and head out of their doors. Maybe then they'd stop bitching like a bunch of ninnies about how homesick they are for a change if they try less hard at hating where they are stuck at. Homesickness is a very, very alien emotion to me. Maybe it's because of the typical Asian pragmatism by which I was brought up - no one in my family ever complains of being homesick. Phoebe, I was delighted to learn, is entirely of the same mind as I am on this.

Here's the second last post of my said trip in March. This time, it's about Darjeeling, the unofficial capital of Indian Tea-dom. It might be a bit picture-heavy but look, I've got a deadline here. It's pretty crappy that I am going on another backpacking trip starting this Saturday when I haven't finish talking about the one before it.


At the Glenary's restaurant. I have no idea why Joon Keat and Patrick look so much like old lesbians here.

Our first night there was spent at Glenary's, and if there's ever such a thing as a one-stop food and beverage station, it's this place. Picture a generously windowed triple-storey shop that is a multi-cuisine restaurant upstairs, a bakery and cafe in the middle and a Hollywood-themed bar in the bottom and you'll have a pretty good idea of what sort of creature Glenary's is. I had the chicken
rashmi kebab, as per recommendation of the Good Book of Travellers Too Lazy to Do Their Own Research (the Lonely Planet) which was basically chicken meat marinated in spiced yoghurt before being baked in a tandoor oven. Damn, even the words taste good.

In the cafe below, I bought a whole bag of homemade liqueur chocolates which I planned to share with Phoebe when I got back (but unfortunately, I ate all of them that night). They also had a whole tray of chocolate bunnies on sale for the coming Easter but the salesgirl said that they wouldn't keep, so I couldn't get one for Phoebs either.

Right after that, we headed down to the pub, naturally. It's the order of things, you see; dinner, dessert and booze to top it all off. That's where I tried the Irish Coffee, my first ever encounter with a hot cocktail. Great stuff to have for the below ten of the the typical Darjeeling evening, if you ask me.

And oh, Patrick jammed,


Those instruments were just sitting around anyway. Apparently, the house band only play in the weekends so for the rest of the weeknights it's all pretty sedate hereabouts. In spite of that notice right behind Pat's left's shoulder which said,
"Only Band-members are Allowed on Stage", he got the good to go anyway. Then after a couple of songs, the real band decided to fuck it, fuck the dumb weekends only rule and played anyway,

Reminds me of the lyric's from that Fratelli's song, 'Vince the Lovable Stoner'; "... I haven't seen a pupil in his eyes for 16 days..."

Pat on bass. I know that because the bass guitar only has 4 strings. Why do I know these things?

Anyway, I could tell that the audience was pretty happy about the impromptu performance because quite a lot of them got off their seats to watch. I can only imagine just how crowded this place would be on a Saturday night.

Switch. I know you girls are creaming your panties for that hawt Darjeeling band lead guy. How typical.

What I really like about the bar is the atmosphere. It's not one of those dark, depressing joints people frequent to drown their sorrows in spirits. It has a truly cheerful soul, the sort that life-loving travelers go to exchange stories, friends getting together after work for a good boozing, and a bar owner who truly enjoys running the sort of establishment that these people go to. Just take a look at the background of this picture (and try to ignore horny Josephine who was attempting to lean as close as she could to whatzisface-generic-hot-band-guy),

I'm pretty sure that's not a bulge in his pants.

There's a canoe hanging from the ceiling along with many expensive-looking model planes and automobiles. Old movie posters and other cinematic memorabilia were put up on every wall and in every nook and corner. There's a bit of the bar-owner's personality on display in the form of cool knickknacks, ornaments or toys - the sort that they don't make anymore these days - everywhere you turn. They are an absolute joy to look at and I could just sit there for hours, swirling a glass in my hand and examining each item closely from my chair.

People who think bars and drinking are evil obviously have never been in a really good one before.

Sunrise at Tiger Hill

We got up (i.e. I banged on everyone's doors to wake them up) at about 4:30 am the next day in order to catch the sunrise at Tiger Hill, the highest point of Darjeeling. In the previous night, the fog was so thick that people walking 5 feet in front of us in the streets were just creepy silhouettes stumbling about like they were in a 2008 remake of the Night of the Living Dead. So it was agreed that we would sleep on the plan and wake up sometime at the ungodly fourth hour of the next day to see if the fog would let up. Of course, no one took that proposal seriously besides your truly (I was the only person who actually set my alarm, come to think of it). Throwing the window open at 4 am in the morning, I was totally blown away by how free of fog the city was. I was, understandably, a bit peeved that no one else bothered to wake up like I did so... yeah. Still, all of us got there on time. I had to wake the hotel tour people who were sleeping in the basement to arrange it, but amiable Tibetan hospitable folks they are, they get pissed at me not.

Uh, that's a pretty high horizon.

Sure, it doesn't look half as soul-shuddering as some of
the other sunrises we've seen, but that's just because you don't know that the sun was actually rising from behind The Himalayan mountain range. Yeah, the same one Everest's on. The main attraction here is the Khangchendzonga, the highest mountain in India and the third highest peak in the world. It's name in Tibetan means, "Big Five Peaked Snow Fortress", and for a typical fantasy junkie like me, it's as close as any earthly geologic formation comes to being freaking epic - and by epic I mean, the battle between Chinese Kung Fu mountain immortals and a bajillion ugly orcs. God, if you're taking notes, this is how you can make reality more awesome than it already is.

On a really good day, you can actually see Everest from here. For us, all we got was the massive, MASSIVE shadow of the Himalayas stretching from one end of forever to the other, looming from behind the mist. Hey, pretty darn neat on its own if you see it that way.

The town of Darjeeling is somewhere down there.

The Himalayan Zoological Park

We went to a zoo. That's about all the explanation you need here.

I don't usually do this, I swear.

A flamboyantly gay chicken.

A flamboyantly gay leopard.

A flamboyantly gay panda.

It's pretty hard to get the red panda to get this close to us for us to snap its picture. We had to wait till all the local visitors with their incredibly bratty kids to bugger off, for one. I wonder, was I like those kids too when I was young? God, if ever my own kids act that irritatingly and noisily in a zoo, I'd personally flay the living daylights out of the lot of 'em.

What people don't realise is that it's so much easier to watch the animals when they are quiet and watchful. That's what the zoo-going experience should be. We've already grabbed a bunch of wildlife and caged them up for
"study" and "conservation" - the least we can do is afford them some dignity and respect. I mean, kids will be kids (though flaying is in order), but when adults act like that, I feel like stabbing them. Everyone knows that I have very clear opinions on what is right and wrong and I was never someone who is afraid to say them, even to my own friends if I have to.

I think it's
disgusting how 20 plus year old medical students would be uncouth and barbaric enough to rattle the cages of zoo animals just so that they would react, or hiss or do whatever that animals do when they feel threatened. That's the problem with people today, I always say; Zero empathy. They won't get it till some madman comes over to their houses, bang on their windows and scare the shit out of their families - and even then, I think they still won't get it. Damn, I hate people so very much sometimes.

"Be vewy, vewy quiet."

Mad tiger prowling.

The ultimate feel-bad moment at the zoo came when I arrived at a tiny cage within which a tiger was pacing to and fro in the most agitated state I've ever seen a living thing in. I think it was put there while its proper enclosure was being cleaned or something.

Why so agitated then? It's because retarded zoo-goers kept shouting and screaming at it in order to get it to roar or lunge for photographs. There's this dangerous impulse in me to just snatch their cameras and dash them on the rocks. I was this close to losing it. I sincerely wished that the tiger could actually break down the mesh and eat a kid, so that all these bastards won't feel like they are such big fucking heroes taunting a poor, scared, caged animal.

Look at it after the crowd went away,


Looks a lot happier now, doesn't it?

Incredibly macho Tibetan wolves which would chew your balls off if you call them gay.

Of course, some of Darjeeling's best animals aren't confined in the zoo at all.
One of the more distinctive characteristics of road etiquette on the streets of Darjeeling is the hop-aboard hitchhikers. People who want to get from one part of town to the other would just jump onto the back of a passing vehicle when it slows down for a turn or at an intersection, and then leap off when they reach where they were going or when their ride makes a turn contrary to the one they want to take, only to hop on another one going their way. Drivers here are awfully tolerant of such behaviour. This explains why there is a strange absence of auto rickshaws in Darjeeling - they don't need any. In most towns and cities of India, you can't even open your eyes without seeing a couple of autos on the road at any given time.

Here's me, at the back of our minivan - and our uninvited ape-man passenger,

Are there any more doubts that we descended from the same ancestors as apes?


I always have a good opinion of towns with a healthy stray population.

I saw this gang of dogs just loitering about right outside my hotel (Tibetan Home, impossibly cosy place at an incredibly cheap price - look it up).

Joon Keat dove right in, as usual.

It's pretty much like how I judge individuals as well. If you like dogs, I tend to think of you as a nice person. And in a town where a lot of people are perfectly okay with a whole lot of docile mongrels wandering about, it speaks a lot about them, really. There's a linear relation between the number of dog lovers in any given town or city with the measure of how friendly they really are. Go plot some graphs if you don't buy that.

Another pup we saw outside a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.


Okay, I don't have any pictures to back this up but I just want to say this; Darjeeling has the highest ratio of hot women to average-looking and ugly women compared to all the other Indian cities I've been to. I think it's because of the Nepali subpopulation here. If you like women-watching, come to Darjeeling. We need more Nepali women to marry foreigners to improve the global gene pool. I mean, they are hording all the good alleles! Sharing is caring, or some shit like that.

Tea, of course

In the evening, Torng Lei, Vincent and I made our way down to the Happy Valley Tea Estate, a plantation that reputedly gives good guided tours but our stars must not have been aligned right because the day we went there was the day it dismantled its old factory and was only halfway through setting shop in a new building. I was pretty darn disappointed. All we got was some new machinery which was so new that you can still smell the newness on them, and no one was around to operate them yet. However, there was this one caretaker guy who explained to us what all the hardware actually does - but that just sucked as bad as having to learn anatomy using plastic replicas of human parts (take that IMU'ians, LOL). We did, however, get permission to get lost in their vast tea planting estate. It was pretty deserted at the time, though.

In my free time, I'm Torng Lei's shoulder angel.

There's something intrinsically relaxing about tea bushes on the hillside.

I like how they thought of planting those nice looking trees to make the landscape so picturesque.

That's the town of Darjeeling yonder. We got pretty far out.

Right before dinner, the whole bunch of us stormed the Goodricke teahouse for a small tea-tasting party. Basically, we just kept trying different types of tea till we found one we liked, and then, we trooped down over to Nathmull's Tea Room to buy those particular types for ourselves. I bought a pretty darn pricey brew for Phoebe's mom and a less-pricey White Tea, (a sort of uncured and unfermented tea) for myself. I have a rather dainty taste for the less overpowering varieties of the beverage, those that don't leave a chemical aftertaste in my mouth like most black tea does. And I also dislike adding sugar or milk when I drink them.

Nathmull's a really good store to go to no matter what kind of tea you want to buy and you can get them to package your purchase for you in these little decorative embroidered drawstring pouches that looked like they are more likely to contain jewelry than some dried plant bits - and inside they have enclosed detailed instructions on how to best brew a pot. They make pretty classy souvenirs to give to your friends and family, even if you've bought the absolute barrel bottom leaves.

Not that I did that, of course.

Vincent took this picture of a numinous cloud-break while we were out in the tea estate.

P.S. Nathmull's also has a website where you can contact them when you run out of your favourite tea and get them to FedEx you some more.

Pro-tea, anti-coffee,
k0k s3n w4i

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


"I have no quote. Po wants me to announce my presence. It is I, Beverly."


Today I want to talk about tampons.

Those delightfully small thingoes that help incredibly and successfully with nosebleeds.

I never knew what they were until my preteen years. Or in fact, quite possibly after those years. And up until a few years ago, I didn’t know exactly what they were. I always thought they were some medieval contraption – or some descendant of it. Go figure.

But at Sgang’s last sleepover, Terri told us about her newfound love for tampons. And to further prove her love for tampons, this evening she’s pronounced them man’s best creation. I, on the other hand, have different views.

It’s not to say I’m totally against them though. Let’s look at my first encounter of such creatures (and you’ll soon see why I think of them as such).


Tampons. Hmn. Should I try them? It’s not something I would cross off the list of never trying once in my lifetime. How harmful can it be? But I heard some of them have chemicals in them that can cause.. thingies. Never mind, I’ll ask the pharmacist.

I gave no thought to the gender of the pharmacist. I was either just very shameless, or very ponderous over the usefulness of tampons.


Oh no. Where are the tampons? There’re shelves of pads. There’re so many pad brands to choose from, what if I don’t know how to pick tampons? Which ones are good? Should I sms Terri now? But I don’t have credit. Never mind, I can always choose not to use them in the future. I doubt one differs GREATLY from the other. The comparisons made between tampons can’t be that different compared to the comparisons made between pads. Something like that. Does that make sense? Never mind, I’m in my head, I don’t really need to make sense. I mean, I get what I mean. Who else is in consideration? Where’s Aunty Lian See? I need help with these bags.

Oh, there’re the tampons! Ah, I don’t have to worry much about choosing. There’re only so few to choose from. Hmn... If I go to Penang, and we’re at the beach, and I’m wearing my bikini and white shorts, and I get my period... I can’t exactly wear a pad. And the first couple of days are really heavy too. How do I choose which tampons absorb best? Oh there they are! Those little teardrop marks. They aren’t so different from pads after all.

What brand is this? I’ll go ask the pharmacist if there’re any weird side effects. This is a weird brand name. Is it made of rubber?

Oh no, there’s a guy behind me! And he’s not really ugly too. What if he sees me?! Never mind, never mind, I’ll never see him again. Besides it’s normal to get periods. It’d be weird if I were .. what’s the word? Menopausal now. Is that the word? Ah, he’s asthmatic!


I told mummy what I bought. She saw the box. “What’re those, Beverly?”

“Tampons. I told you I bought them. See?”

I could tell what they looked like to her.


Gentle Glide

You tell me?


No period?? Why’m I not getting my period?? It’s been days after Penang! It was pleasant I didn’t get it then, but where’s my period? But I do notice that because of the weird length the red days normally last for the dates get pushed in between the beginning and end of the month. Well. There can’t be anything wrong with me. It’s not like I’ve had sex. Or anything.


Where is my period?!


Ah. Period! No! Tissue?? Good. Maybe I’ll try those tampons tonight. But I wonder if Aunty Lian See has a pad for later.


Right, tampons, tampons... Where are you? There you are, in my little tote bag for Penang. Right where I left you. Playtex.. Now to open this box. Ah, they come in little stick shapes! Loose packaging. They remind me of Choki Choki, the chocolate tubes. I want one right now. This packaging is cute. I wonder what it looks like? Hold on, I’ll have to read this. The wording has caught my eye. READ BEFORE USING AND SAVE THIS INFORMATION.

God forbid. What if I get a disease?!..... I can’t be bothered to read instructions now. Any potential diseases? TSS? Pharmacist lady didn’t say there were any bad side effects. What the hell is TSS? Toxic Shock Syndrome. Bla bla bla... Wear panty liners to reduce risk. Okay. Sounds scary. Read symptoms. Will know if I get it. Symptoms very obvious and abnormal to my normal health. Okay. Will notice if anything happens. *imagines disgusting green gunk around crotch area*


So how do I put this on? I don’t feel like wearing one now though. I’ll just take out that one stick and see what it feels like, and continue watching The Hottie or the Nottie. Ooh, it’s a tiny stick. It’s thicker here and smaller there. I wonder what it looks like? It must have that applicator thing Terri was talking about. Ooh, it feels like a magic stick. A magic wand! Let’s wave it about a bit. Woo, woo.

This is spastic. But it’s kinda fun. Do it again! Woo, woo. Okay little stick, I’m going to put you down now. I’ll open you up later.


Okay... the instructions. Read briefly, skim it, how hard can it be? I want to try this thing. What’s applicator tip E? What’s removal strings A? Oh that must be the string. Well it is kinda the only string dangling. Okay, that’s definitely the string. Terri said when you take it out you pull on this string. *recalls Terri waving to crotch area with thumb and index finger pressed together on right hand with blanket covering herself because Bee Bee and I felt slightly perturbed* It must be that.

What’s small tube B? Of the applicator? This is stupid. They’re both small! It must mean that smaller tube. But they’re both small! What the hell is applicator fingergrip C? With thumb and middle finger? Who cares about that now? Where’s the diagram? *flips paper* Nope. *flips paper again* Nope. Stupid thing! How can this be so hard?! Should I call Terri?? No no, she could do this herself, so can I. Box.. It’s not here!! Stupid thing!! Read again!

Place the rounded tip (E) of the tampon applicator...

No this is the Positioning section, Positioning. Skip, go back up to Before You Start and Relax. No, Relax is stupid, it’s telling me how to squat. No, sit over a toilet seat. Stand with one leg on it. No, skip that. As if I don’t know how to squat. Lemme figure out what all this B, C and E things are!!






I’m not going to call Terri. I CAN DO THIS. IT’S JUST TAMPONS.




Keep telling yourself that, Bevo. Y’know what, let’s try a different tactic. Just open the damn packet and look at it.


Oooohhhh!! Wouldja look at that? It looks so interesting! It looks like a capsule! A stringy thing, and a weird slit for an opening... What do they do?


This can’t be right. It’s too long. And it won’t slide into this barrel thing. What the hell is this supposed to do? What is the barrel? Should I call Terri now? No. This little end is sticking out. Is it supposed to do that?


Take out the damn thing and throw it away. It’s obvious it doesn’t work anymore. Experiment with one first. Can’t hurt to waste one (more).


What a waste. RM 19 for a pack of 18. Wasting.. I don’t even want to count. (It wasn’t that many la, trust me. Just one or two. Possibly still in denial. Not too sure.)


So what happens if I push.. Oh!! The cotton thing is supposed to come out! Oh, it looks like a cotton capsule. No wonder you can stick it up your nose!


Ah I got it in! Feels weird... Take out plastic thing. Pull string until you feel resistance. I feel resistance. Okay. Panty liner. Just in case. I did it!! Wow, it does feel kinda empty down there.


It’s really heavy! Time to change. Where’s the string?? Ew, I don’t want to grope in all that blood. Tissue! Yuck! It swings! Like a pendulum! Like a mouse! And it splatters too! Gross. How do I wrap this up? Will the blood leak, will it be wrappable? I managed... *frowns*


Okay. It’s comfortable and dry. But I’m not ecstatic about it as much as Terri is. Why not? My period is normally heavy. I suppose it does give me some freedom down there. And it’s not like waterlogged or anything. But it still.. it’s just really gross when you pull it out. And so messy. Eheh, maybe because I leave it in there a little longer than normal. But it’s still gross. Feels like I’m holding a dead rat. Or bait. For something bigger.

But I might use them again. Alternate and stuff.


I suppose that pretty much describes quite accurately my first encounter, thoughts and opinions on tampons. I don’t have much of an opinion on tampons besides described in that last paragraph. It's pretty okay if you're used to okay with the idea of sticking something up yourself. And it is pretty handy and makes you feel a lot drier and more comfortable in between your legs, because it doesn't feel like you're carrying a run over animal. But it's a little gross when you do take it out.

I know la, the inside of my head is quite weird. I wonder if guys now will know vaguely how it looks like. xD This has got to be one of the most in depth blog posts on tampons, if not the only one. Have you ever encountered one before? :P

Original post here.

Have something in me,

Saturday, August 09, 2008

My Bright, Sunshiney Day by the Ganges

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."

Herm Albright

What a beautiful day.

This post has no business existing. I could simply just lump everything I'm going to say here in my previous post and save you guys the trouble of coming in twice but then again, there's practically two posts there already - so yeah, here you are and here I am. I'll pick the story up from when I was at I:ba, that Thai and Japanese restaurant found in the deep urbs of the very old city of Varanasi where the crew and I had breakfast after our dawn-time cruise on the Ganges.

The folks at I:ba had a sort of promotion going on and they were giving out a chance to win a T-shirt for every 100 rupees spent there. What I meant by "a chance" is actually 16.67% - that is, we had to roll doubles on a pair of dice.

I spotted the notice they had up the moment I walked in and I immediately had this overwhelmingly strong conviction that I would win it. I can't explain it at all. It's sort of similar to the sensation I sometimes get of people looking at the back of my head, as if I could feel the heat of the stare there or something. I believe that we, humans, have a very primitive brand of prescience built into us which allows us to just see a little into the future, and I believe that it stemmed from our ability to plan ahead. I mean, we're the only species in the world which can actually worry about things that haven't happen yet so it is only natural that we evolve a certain talent to help us with our plans, right? I know, pseudoscience - but hey, it's nice to believe in these sort of bullshit.

So, the ten of us went to the counter to put our 16.67%'s to the test. I was actually first in line but I kept letting people go before me. I don't really know why I did that but it's almost like I was waiting for something to arrive. I waited till 8 of my friends have taken their turns and right before the 9th person stepped up to the plate, I cut right in and said, "My turn." That something has arrived. I could feel it in my knees and elbows.

Without ceremony I just rolled the dice. I did it almost nonchalantly, confident that no matter how I toss them, I'd still win. Look, I really, really can't explain it, okay.

And sure enough, double fours. I won.

What I won is this though,

I don't care what everyone says. Blue on brown is awesome.

It's a cheap and tired thing but you got to admit this; it makes a pretty cool souvenir. The main design flaw in it is the neckline - it's too wide. I realised that when I went to the beach with Phoebs wearing it and I got a crescent shaped sunburn on that strip of skin between my neck and my shoulder. My neck is tan enough to resist the rays but the rest of me - not so tough. This I:ba T-shirt exposes a bit of my shoulder that is usually covered with clothes.

The 10th and last person to take her turn lost as well, by the way. I was the only one who won.

After I:ba, I wanted to walk back to our inn through the riverside to see the ancient city up close, since I would probably never get another chance to do that again after we leave later in the evening. Not a single person, not even Vincent, our photography fanatic, wanted to join me. They had taken a boat ride along the Ganges and had breakfast, and that's more than enough. They want nothing more to do with the city, much less seeing it up close. Everyone wanted to take a rickshaw back immediately and sleep, hoping that the bad dream that is Varanasi would go away after they wake up.

So I set out alone with Pei Min's camera.

Holy cows in holy water.

It's when I got to the banks of the Ganges that I realised I did not have a single rupee on me. I spent the last of my money at I:ba and I have quite forgotten to borrow some in case I meet some emergency like seeing some cool souvenir which I absolutely must buy. But oh well, can't help that now, can I?

Somehow, not having any money on me turned out to be a spot of good luck after all. It's like it was ordained somewhere by some supreme governing body of the universe that that day is my day, and there's nothing anyone or anything can do to screw it up. I didn't say "God" because I am pretty sure he doesn't like me very much since I kept telling people he's not real.

The first fortunate turn of event happened as I was walking past a funeral pyre. Okay, I bet that I am the first person in the world to ever use that combination of words; "The first fortunate turn of event happened as I was walking past a funeral pyre." But moving along, I wasn't all that curious about some dead body burning on an open fire because that comes with being a medical student. When you sit in front of a cadaver for two hours a day, 5 days a week, cutting it, tracing the courses of its nerves and arteries and playing catch with its heart and brain, anything associated with the death of a human being ceases to be fascinating or morbid to you.

Suddenly, one of the cremators (there is such a word, I checked) squatting in front of the pyre gestured at me to go to him and when I did, he told me to watch the ongoing cremation, which was already halfway to well done. So I did. He explained to me how the cremation business is really a precise science. They took pride in being able to calculate the exact amount of wood required to reduce a corpse completely to ashes, just by measuring its size and weight. Neat. I didn't know that.

Halfway through, he asked me for a "donation". What "donation" really meant is that he's charging you admission to watch some poor sod burn. Varanasi has an economy system based on death, which is only natural considering that so many millions of people flock to the city to die every year owing to it's most holy city of India status and the ontological loophole in Hinduism that allows a person to instantly escape the cycle of rebirth and suffering if he dies there. It's also quite natural, if very wrong, that the people who run the burning ghats hereabouts would thought of guilting some cash out of tourists under the pretext of "local customs" and "taboos".

I'd pay if I have any money on me (after all, I paid that dick in the Taj Mahal who charged me for asking a simple question) but I didn't. I actually turned out my pockets to show the cremator that I was telling the truth and he, never having to encounter a penniless foreign tourist in his life, could only let me walk away. After all, he was the one who asked me to watch before telling me that I have to pay for it.

I win.

Some flute selling guy who saw me turn out my pockets and thus, did not bother to badger me with his wares.

There are possibilities to this 'no money' tactic, I thought to myself as I walked downriver.

Later, I sat down on the steps leading down to the water to chill and just enjoy the scenery (I had to gaze pretty far away to avoid having the bathing old people in my field of vision). This was where a stranger, out of nowhere, grabbed my hand and started squeezing it.

Yeah, you read right. Some dude just grabbed my hand. D-U-D-E. Has a moustache too.

"You had Ayurvedic massage before?" he asked conversationally.

"I have no money on me," I answered. You can't say that I purposely lead people on now, can you?

"Don't worry, just enjoy," he said, as if he was just humouring some standard tourist babble. He was doing this cool thing where he popped all my finger joints. That felt pretty good, I must admit.

"I really don't have any money on me," I repeated.

"You pay me how much you feel like paying," he replied dismissively, now kneading my wrist and arm. "Come, lie down here."

He took my sweater and satchel from me and made a makeshift pillow out of them on the steps, and set me down. I complied. It's not very smart to argue with someone who know all there is to know about joints.

That's my leg he got there. I wish he didn't look so sensuous here.

He worked me thoroughly, my head, my neck, shoulders, back, lower back, thighs, legs, feet... and even toes. I never knew you can crack your toe joints! It was really, really enjoyable in spite of my misgivings of the benefits of massage not given by some really hot chick. It would have been a lot more enjoyable if he would just stop spitting, though.

Every minute, like clockwork, he'd spit onto the steps - bright, red phlegm-gooey spit from chewing betel nuts. Also, he wouldn't stop chattering about how people would pay up to 800 rupees for his services and even very poor people would give at least 500 rupees for the purported health benefits; basically hinting as broadly and as ungracefully as he dared. That's the trick, you see. They'd tell you that you can pay however much you like and then tried to give you an idea of how much other people usually pay, so you'd think (if you're retarded, that is) that you're actually getting a pretty good deal if you're paying a bit less that that.

At one point, he furtively patted my pockets while he was at my thighs, trying to call my "no money" bluff which, of course, was not a bluff at all. I smiled to myself at the moment he realised that.

Besides riverside masseuses, there are also riverside barbers. They only know one style though.

Anyhow, since I genuinely enjoyed the massage a lot, I decided to pay him after all and having no cash on me gave me a nigh unbeatable bargaining leverage. I managed to make him shake on 100 rupees (about RM 8), which was less than half a quarter of what a standard massage centre here would charge per session. Also, he had to follow me all the way back to the place I was staying, a kilometre away, to get it.

Okay, now I feel sort of sorry for him.

But should have heard me gloat to all my other friends who was holed up at the backpackers inn about how I got a full Ayurvedic massage at 100 rupees.

Those are cow shits he's baking in the sun.

Before I wrap up this post, here's a couple more pictures which actually belongs to the previous post, but I have somehow neglected to put them up,

Torng Lei sending an offering of light and flowers downriver - or trying to set the other boat on fire depending on how you look at it.

This picture is not posed for at all, I swear. I was bargaining with the salesman on the other boat (yes, they have floating shops here) on the price of that lotus shaped lamp I had it my hand. I bought that bead bracelet in Dharamsala for fun (I don't believe in religious blings) which I hold in my hand more often than I wear it, and my right hand was simply indicating that I would only pay twenty rupees for the damn thing. And Pei Min in the back wasn't doing the Buddha Palm either. She's just saying, "I don't want any of your crap" to the peddler.

Touched all over by some dude,
k0k s3n w4i