Archive | October 2009

An Englishman in a strange land (2)

Camcorder check, camera check, laptop check, webcam check,

Two days to go before the flight and I am packing the last few items. My suitcase seems surprisingly empty. True I haven’t packed any thick woollen jumpers or warm overcoats, but surely my medium sized suitcase should be a bit more fuller. I have a varied complement of ultra cool ‘touristy’ summer clothes, my jogging attire, swimming kit and various toiletries.

I am now having feelings of guilt for not buying a smaller case. The next size down was £30 cheaper. Perhaps I Should have bought that one instead!?

Then all of a sudden I was asked to pack in some recently purchased female clothes to be used as gifts for various individuals in India.

Damn, I thought, should have bought a bigger case! My once half empty anorexic suitcase was now bulging at the seams. If it was human it would most definitely be referred to as a ‘fat bastard’.

But then I saw my wife’s suitcase. Mine was size medium but hers was large. Very large. And it was bursting at the seams. How she has managed to pack so much in to this suitcase is truly one of the great mysteries of the universe!

If her suitcase was human then no adjective within the annals of the Post Norman dictionary could possibly explain it. So I have shown a pictorial comparison below.

 

My Suitcase

My Suitcase

My Wifes Suitcase

My Wifes Suitcase

It then dawned on me that being the man, i would no doubt be carrying this mother of all suitcases. This suddenly filled me with dread. Not because of the weight issue.  I am a fit and healthy individual so this would be no problem.
The problem lies in the very affeminate nature of the flower designs which cover the entire  suitcase. Carrying this around people would no doubt assume that the case belongs to me and by implication question my sexual orientation!!
This wouldnt really be a problem elsewhere, but India is famous for its Eunuchs, or ‘gay boys’ as they more commonly called, and the last thing i want is unwarranted attention from one of these individuals. They very rarely take no for an answer.
Wait a minute! I havent even arrived in India yet and already i’m talking about being molested by a over sexed Eunuch. Clearly the nerves are getting to me. But the real question is why is this trip making me so nervous?
I have backpacked alone in the rugged Northern Californian wilderness, come virtually face to face with bears and Cougers, spent a night in a haunted house, and in all these endevours, nerves were definitely absent.
Yet, a simple two week holiday, and i’m actually nervous. I need to watch some happy, nice  films about India.
But again this means that i would need to do something that i swore never to do. Watch a Bollywood film!!!
On second thoughts, being molested by a grotesque, smelly Eunuch is preferable to watching a Bollywood film!!!
Untill the next time, over and out.

An Englishman in a strange land (1)

It had to happen. After many years of putting it off, i have finally bitten the bullet and succumed to pressure. There is no turning back now. Monies have been paid, documents have been readied and injections have been had.

What you may think have i gotten my self in to?

Well, i am finally visiting the birthplace of my Parents and my cultural homeland. The far away, alien place known as INDIA!!

Let me explain. I have always been fascinated by science and technology and indeed have always been drawn to it. Be it the first Home computer, the first DVD player or the first High difinition TV, they were quickly added to my ‘must own asap’ list.

Star Trek, Star Wars and the like were staple viewing fodder during my youth and the future was always the place i would most like to visit.

India however, represented the antithesis of that. A mainly agricultural developing counry where even electricity wasnt availablle in a lot of areas. India was also a highly religious country, with 82% being Hindu. Other religions include Sikhism, Islam, christianity, Jainism, Budhism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. I, on the other hand wasnt even a believer. Science was my true religion. This was indeed a classic case of being a chalk in a land of cheese.

India therefore had nothing in common with me and vice versa. I had no intention of ever visiting this ‘alien’ foreign land.

So what changed, i hear you say, why have you changed your mind?

Well, as i am getting older i appear to be having this ‘longing’ to understand a bit more about my heritage, and also my parents life in India. Seeing where my father went to school and grew up is something i’m particularly looking forward to. I will be travelling with my entire family so we will no doubt have a bit of fun along the way. My brothers and sister last went a couple of years ago and have been an immeasurable source of advice.

The first two days will be in Delihi where we will undoubtedly see a few of the landmarks, with the Taj Mahal being the highlight. Then we will endure an eight hour train journey to the northern Indian state of Punjab. The words ‘train Journey’ and ‘India’ immediately conjurs up images of hourdes of travellers pertched precariously on the tops of the train carriages holding on for dear life. Certainly hope i wont be one of them!!

The internal situation is probably no better with wooden seats and a hole in the floor acting as a solitary toilet. But this is my ignorant pre-concieved ideas. The fact may be nothing like the above and thankfully we have booked ‘business’ class. What exactly that means in india i have no idea.

I fly out in five days time and the clocks ticking… There is no turning back now.

Stay tuned for Daily updates.

My friend, the rock star.

 

Every community has their own little eccentric character, someone who behaves and lives outside the general norms of society. Sometimes they are beset with mental problems and other times they are cursed by some kind of addiction that appears to have taken over their lives (normally an over reliance on alcohol).

 But they will always stop and talk to you. Invariably the conversation will always lead to stories about how they were the first to land on the moon or they had travelled to all four corners of the world before they were 18 years of age. Tall stories that clearly bear no semblance to reality, yet each tale being more impressive than the one previous.

This then brings me to my own eccentric character. This individual I had known for about 5 years. He lived about six houses away from me and I would see him walk past clutching cans of lager as if his life depended on it.

His appearance wasn’t the norm either. For someone who was the near side of fifty he possessed an extra long head of died black hair which ran down over his forehead and from the back was resting on his shoulders. His attire would be more at home on a teenage Goth. Alcohol had certainly taken its toll on him and his speech was somewhat slurred, but he had a very polite and gentle demeanour.

Recently he began telling me that he is in fact a member of a rock band and his band are currently touring in the States, but due to ill health, he was unable to go. This rock band he says, were massive in the 1970s and 80s, and they still have enough fans to ensure that their touring diary is full. He even played guitar with Ozzie Osborne and worked closely with the founder of Iron Maiden.

I would listen to his story and think to myself that this ‘alternate’ reality is probably all that this poor soul has. His own life probably consists of nothing more than consuming copious amounts of alcohol and trying to survive each day as it comes.

Then one day he gave me the name of his band. UFO. I had never heard of such a group and in my mind I regarded it as a fictitious name, part of his ‘alternate’ reality. His name was Peter Way and again I had never heard of a famous Pete Way.

“Check on Google” he would say, in a manner that would suggest he was still enjoying his drink too much.  “Type in Pete Way and I’ll pop up”.  Again I didn’t take him that seriously.

Then one night I was surfing away and I’m not sure why but my friend popped in to my head. I quickly loaded up Google and within the search bar I type in Peter Way and UFO.

The next 30 minutes was an emotional cocktail of disbelief and embarrassment. Everything he had said to me was absolutely true. UFO was one of the biggest bands on the rock scene and Peter Way was one its original members. Checking out his fan site he did indeed play guitar for Ozzie Osborne.

Watching him perform on stage on YouTube was a revelation. He still looks the same, although too much drink and drugs has reduced his speech to a milder version of that of Ozzie Osborne.

UFO are touring in the states at the moment and on their official website there is a mention for Peter Way who is unable to attend due to ill health. Peter tells me that he is no longer doing drugs.

I felt a tinge of embarrassment for immediately dismissing his tales. I don’t treat him any different now, but whenever he starts talking about his days as a rock star and the adventures he had had, my ears certainly prick up and I listen intently, lapping up every word he says.

Pete way having some fun!

Pete Way having some fun!

Take a look at Peters official website here

and the UFO website here