Monthly Archive for August, 2009

Ram Giri & The Chillum Train Affair

A short piece on the attitudes & advantages of sadhu chillum-smoking & railway travel in India in the 1960s …. perhaps slightly tongue-in-cheek.

Ram Giri - Eye of the Chillum

Ram Giri – Eye of the Chillum

Early Indian summer 1968. Delhi is getting hot & although Bombay & Goa are no cooler, it seems time to make a move.

Maybe we had outstayed our welcome somewhere. It may have been that summer when an Ashram on the Modi estate at Modinagar was lent to Ram Giri as a foreign-baba centre; didn’t last long – within a month we were all kicked out – too many hippies invited off the Delhi streets; no discipline & too much uncontrolled drug taking.

The Nagas like their rituals ….. not spur-of-the-moment hippy experimenting. Word got around quick & Modinagar finished. No money ……

So Ram Giri, Acid Michael & I decided to take the long slow sleeper train to Bombay ….. and to travel ticketless in third class, acceptable in those days. Third class was the poorest of the poor accommodation, hard benches, crammed luggage racks, overflowing toilets, as many passengers on the roof as inside.  Nobody would mind crazy Westerners travelling without tickets in third.

But third was full, no way of climbing on board; Delhi station crammed, bustling, hotter than hot. Things looked bad.

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Precursors – Alastair Morrison – Part I

NOTE ED: If you can not view the Quicktime video above, CLICK HERE.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

In memoriam Alastair Morrison, born Peking, 25th August 1915, died Canberra, 4th August 2009.

(video courtesy Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, thanks to Dr Claire Roberts)
(poem copyright the estate of Dylan Thomas).

If you cannot view the video – please install Apple Quicktime Here.

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David Tomory – Seasons of Writing

Dave Tomory - London July 2009.

Dave Tomory - London July 2009.

On Friday (24/07/2009) afternoon I interviewed the writer Dave Tomory, author of  A Season in Heaven: True Tales from the Road to Kathmandu – to find out why he wrote the book and whether he had any tips for me with this web site.

As a diligent historian Dave counselled me to read Studs Terkel and work on strict plot lines.  Study oral history and be disciplined. He seemed to be enjoying himself.

Here he is with Rudyard Kipling on the wall behind him.

“I told them, I don’t need your real name, but I do want your real story”.

Podcast Dave Tomory interview (15 minutes 10mB .mp3):

 

Download here:


links:

A Season in Heaven

Remembering the Hippie Trail

Wikipedia – Studs Terkel

Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression

Studs Terkel Dot Org

Sadly – Studs Terkel died 31 October 2008.

Oral History Society (UK)

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Idiots! In the Land of the Gods!

Perhaps this site should be subtitled “Idiots in the Land of the Gods” along the lines of Dostoevsky’s Prince Myshkin and others of that venerable lineage of literary lunatics. The Idiot - Fyodor Dostoevsky

The innocent; the obsessed; the intoxicated; the stoned; the lovers of life; the runners from reality; the addicted; the self-important; the self-styled; the gurus; the shishyas; the chelas; the ticket-less; the visa-less.

The ones who threw their money away every evening so they’d start each day with nothing; the ones who walked barefoot from Europe to India, without passports, detouring around every border post on foot.

Those who hired horses and became Afghan tribesmen for the duration, bought the horse in Kandahar and sold it on the Khyber Pass for a small profit.

The ones who walked from Kathmandu to Thyangboche monastery past the base of Mount Everest and became wood-block printers until the rainy season drove them back. Thyangboche Monastery c1964.

Barefoot babas; naked nagas; on the ice to Badrinath & Kedarnath shivering intoxicated in rude blankets and chillum smoke.

How to tell their stories; how to listen to them? What will be lost and what should be retained?

Credits:

Fyodor Dostoevsky – The Idiot

Thyangboche Monastery – FAO

Links:

Wikipedia – Thyangboche Monastery

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Sorting the Gallery

Added some Kumbha Mela 2001 photographs.   Would like to know who is in them?

Cleaned up the display of images, hid the searchable  keywords and generally improved the user experience.

Still need a header image – something bright and flowery. Maybe I’ll chopshop the opium poppy image.

Poppy Flowers

Poppy Flowers

What do you think?

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