Monday, May 28, 2007


it's coming down officially now. umbrellas - black, yellow and green, foldable and unfoldable, torn, patched and new, are all out in full strength. i'm digging too. in the far corners of my cupboards for rain gear. and there's a squish in my shoes.

cats, dogs and the odd hippo coming down. you can bet your mummy, it's the end of summer. end of summer equates the first of the annual trips to hampi. the memories in spite of our adled beyond repair brains, are flooding in. ruins bathed in evening yellow. the million goli sodas. monkey hill. sanapur. the boatman with the cool aviators. the itch. oh yes. it's back.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

a prayer for the road

all over, perfect squares of red, green, yellow and white mark themselves out against a blue sky. cheap block prints by the millions sending out prayers into the universe. riding on himalayan winds. the almost murmur of prayer flags fluttering in mountain air is a most becalming sound. second only to a pedal type sewing machine.

to get carried away in buddha country is fairly easy. a strong gale, sudden idealism, inexplicable feelings of belonging - the possibilities are infinite. faced with that, some of us weaker souls hang on. desperately to whatever we've known and most importantly - rationalism.

how for instance is this string of prayer flags here? across an impossible gorge. somebody shot the string across on an arrow? maybe the monks have a trained falcon that flew across with the string? a radio controlled plane - you know the type: petrol engine, 2 channel remote? a giant kite? between browne and me, we had a handful of watertight theories. turns out, somebody walked around the gorge with the string.

i'm a believer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

he who shuns the light

the drummers are frenzied. black lean arms blur into the still of the night. lamps flicker. incense hangs in the air. hundreds of eyes expectedly dart around. beads of sweat are wiped. and then the sound of a centuries old anklet rings the night. satan himself is in our midst. mephistophilis. quid tu moraris?

Monday, May 14, 2007

one pulli nest

taktsang - tiger's lair

a very long time ago, one tigress - standard specimen of the genus tigris, although this one could fly - decided to make the trip. from tibet to bhutan. and carried on her tawny back the precious load of saint padamasambhava or guru rinpoche. and the exact spot she chose to touch down, a 300-nugultrum-cabride away from paro is bhutan's ground zero. druk mecca.

all these centuries later, a more incredible sight does not stand. perilously perched on a 1000 ft tongue of rock, is an 8th century temple founded by guru rinpoche who chased away all the pagan spirits and introduced the way of the buddha.

up in the clouds, bhutan's middle finger to vertigo also traditionally promises the easiest channel straight up to heaven. but taktsang itself is nowhere near an easy climb. from 1000 ft above monks and raptors smirk as you begin a painful ascent. almost immediately all those years of smoking creep up on you.

thermal undies are both a good and a bad idea if you're walking up to heaven. it's cold. sure. but around every bend you break into a sweat. so you strip. and then the sweat freezes on you. ladies and gentlemen. we have a vicious cycle in our midst.

as always sheer human will triumphed over nicotine, impractical dressing and what i suspect were the beginnings of altitude sickness. to present the most spectacular holy place on this planet. gives you a big lump in your throat.

a windswept string of prayer flags arches across to the opposite hill face. in between a wooden bridge hops over a waterfall that plunges onward. giant prayer wheels churn away. a strange beautiful red bird shrills the thin mountain air. oh. oh. oh. heaven is on the near.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


went for a walk down a long and winding neural connection. turned left after a particularly stinging memory of five days spent starving. and chanced upon this huge fire. how many years ago was it?