Archives for category: Travel

As I bail out of the game, here is the gift of all (or nearly all) of the ronaldthomaswest.com articles in a single page of links; beginning with stories of travels through India, then, my personal life adventures largely centered in Native America, if only because I believe this is my most under-appreciated work and deserves greater exposure. Following these accounts are things I personally find interesting, next are external links to books authored by myself and then my satire. Lastly, scroll down to find that work I most detest, the work which had inspired the satire (a sort of therapy) – to discover the real evils of geopolitics.

My Madcap Adventure (tales of a journey to India)

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 1 From Indian country to India

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 2 New Delhi, round one

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 3 On character

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 4 Into the Himalayan foothills

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 5 Sanarth & the Buddha

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 6 Varanasi part one

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 7 Varanasi part two

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 8 Varanasi part three

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 9 Katmandu

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 10 Trisuli River

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 11 Chitwan National Park

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 12 Katmandu reprise

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 13 Back to Hotel Imperial

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 14 The riots begin

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 15 To the Taj Palace Hotel

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 16 Out of Delhi!

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 17 Cairo-London-New York

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 18 Aftermath

My Madcap Adventure, Epilogue (Notes) corrections/disclaimers

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Life in Indian Country:

Life in Blackfoot Country Learning to go hungry

Keeping a Pipe On forgotten knowledge

Pipe Maker A story with a moral

The Novice A story with a moral

The Stick Game Native quantum mechanics (the witches)

The Legend of the Blackfoot Titan Mik-api

Happy the Indian Guide Indian stereotypes

Raven and Thunder Blackfoot Law of Matriarchy

Strawberry Medicine Men and a Stellar Jay

Napi in the New Age A ‘red apple’ story (satire)

Essay on Native American Humor Why I’m not politically correct

Junípero Serra On house breaking dogs (Catholic style)

The DIA and Shamanism Failed exploitation of indigenous knowledge

Native Americans and Race Race is BS to authentic Indians

Michele Bachmann & Wild Indians Satire

Apple Indians & Anthropology Anthropology as a faith-based initiative

Modern Indian Society A short history of cultural transition

Losers A Native perspective of Plato & western science

The Legacy of Russell Means ‘think twice’

New Age Homicide for $MONEY$ ‘think thrice’

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Just stuff:

Nixtamal

Condensed for the Absolutely & Truly Dense

Thomas Paine

French Peacekeepers

Raphael’s Paradox

Brownie, a Weimaraner A folk story

Original Sin is a Hate Crime Abuse of women & nature

The Gospel According to Ronald On the historical Jesus

To Forgive is a Crime To excuse the inexcusable

Ron’s Conspiracy Theory Cosmology is the conspiracy

You’ve Got Apes! European cultural mentality

A Spy in the House of the Unloved Refuting Anias Nin

A Coward Called Machismo Observations on Machismo

How I rose from the dead (40 years after)

The More Important Blessing Quotes

Mr Chan A true story of real charity

Bruno the Bear Animal stereotypes

Recreating a Hot Spring in Your Bathtub A memory of Yellowstone

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My Books (external links)

Penucquem Speaks 30 years life with Blackfeet Indians

Napi Mephisto on cross-cultural encounters

Queer Chicken Dinner refuting Jack Kerouac

Cosmos & Consciousness on reality

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The Satires

March of the Tickle Dicks pictorial

The Logic Behind The American Vote thumbnail satire

Moot Court The Donald vs Ted Cruz

Whereas the Enemy of Your Friend is Your Favorite F**K

Urolagnetics On Scientology

Junípero Serra On house breaking dogs (Catholic style)

MERGE On Chomsky’s theory

People Who Behave As Stupid As They Look Uh-huh

Who Punked the Cardinal? On Vatican Fashion

Opus Dei creavit monitor lacertae Charlie Hebdo & satire

Alfreda Bikowski & the Definition of Stupid Only at the CIA

Obama’s Speech at Queensland Parody

Liberals On multiculturalism

Obama’s Speech to Skull & Bones A parody of his UN address

Teleprompter Forget it, you don’t want to go there

Thuck Norris Rated ‘S’ for SICK (parental advisory)

Democracy Now! State secrets & the war in Liberacestan

Michele Bachmann & Wild Indians Kerouac in drag

Dick Cheney’s Rottweiler Dog butt-sniffing rituals

Maison de l’Histoire de France Fellatio, Sarkozy & French history

The Great Phuc Uuus Massacre Propaganda trained CIA lizards

Bozo’s Handcock U Speech George Bush & Tony Blair in love

My Life as a Joke Personal Ad (women only please)

The Pachuco Stare Decisis SCOTUS = SCROTUM

The Moron Bernard-Henry Lévy He truly is a moron

How Jesus Gets Kicked Out Of Heaven Naughty George Carlin

NOT My Last Tango in Paris The NSA & cyanide suppositories

Demons Anonymous Addiction to destructive fantasies

Saint Chester Prince of the Church & patron saint of boys

A Conversation With Jon Stewart Barack Obama is a White man!

Scooby Doo is Lyndon LaDouche ‘Rut a retard’

Saki & Barf: killer women of the State Department Just rude

Salinas vs Texas U.S. Supreme Court self inflicted lawyer joke

Life’s Little Surprises A devil teaches law

Happy the Indian Guide On stereotypes

Napi in the New Age A ‘red apple’ Indian story

Mother’s Day and Male Dopes Moms & cannabis

Breakfast at a Pizzaria The German ‘I hate my life’ philosophy

Our Gang rascals too big for their breeches

World Cup Scribbles Rabies & dog muzzles

English Football International competition

Sardonism Adults Playing Cowboys and Indians

The Gospel According to Ronald On the historical Jesus

The Islamic State for Dummies The K.I.S.S. principle

NATO’s Three Chihuahuas Small dog syndrome

Essay On Native American Humor ‘Napi Eats His Butt’ (Best satire)

Perverts of Western Philosophy Locke to de Sade (and more)

A Cheesey Detective Story (the short lived series)

Episode 1

Episode 2

Guest Satire:

Raghead Political satire by Bill Purkayastha

Admiral John Kirby Comedy straight out of the Pentagon

About Clowns DJ Rankin

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The NAZI Meme

Deep State I

Deep State II

Deep State III

Deep State IV

Deep State V

Deep State VI

Hillary Clinton in Four Short Paragraphs

Intelligence Agencies & Wikipedia

The CIA And Nonviolent Resistance

God’s Chosen is a Dumb Idea 

The Secret Team is The Family

Profits of War

Fear of Minor Debris

The Alpha Chronology

Reorganizing Murder Incorporated 

Square Pegs in Round Holes:

“We Tortured Some Folks”

Fear of Minor Debris

Intelligence Agencies & Wikipedia

Laura Poitras’ Myopia

Death of a MOSSAD Agent

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On Ukraine:

Denial

Stratfor Chief

Winning Ugly

Reuters & A Fixed Verdict

Kiev’s Nazis

Black Boxes, Dark Arts & Geopolitics

If Russia Were To Back Down on MH 17 ?

Elliot Higgins on MH 17

Poison Fruit Encore 1

Obama’s Ukraine

The New Great Game

USAID & Chevron

Victoria Nuland’s Wedding

Germany’s Martyrs of the Maidan

John Kerry’s neo-nazi snipers

The CIA and a Liar’s Fastrack

Dominionism’s Fingers in Kiev

The Washington Post & Double Think

The Disinformation Nation

The Ascension of The Morons

Poison Fruit Encore 2

People Who Behave As Stupid As They Look

Admiral John Kirby

Mutti, Piggies and the Minsk Peace Accord

The Intercept Takes A Dive 

The Intercept Takes A Dive Episode 2

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Related stuff:

What Do Putin’s Adviser’s Know? You can listen right here

Sergei Lavrov’s UN Speech Russia’s Foreign Minister on 27 Sept 2014

Putin’s Speech of 24 October 2014 Sane by comparison with NATO

Tactical Nuclear Weapons for Dummies Pentagon fantasies

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Arab Spring:

Overview

Egypt Round Two

Syria Part One

Syria Part Two

Syria Part Three 

Syria Part Four

The Islamic State for Dummies

NATO, God & Military Mafia

Western Democracies, Salafist Militia & Syria 

Litmus Test

Lies by Omission

Friday the 13th in Paris

The Real Intelligence on Our Leaders

Whereas the Enemy of Your Friend is Your Favorite F**K

Letter to Doctors Without Borders 

NATO’s Most Censored Story

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Other stuff:

Parting Shot On media

Throwing Stones From Glass Houses Social-political commentary

Vice and MI6

Seymour Hersh & Mythology

Machine Pistol

Fletcher Prouty and the Secret Team (Today)

Defense One Zero Hedge Drinks The Kool Aid

Médecins Sans Frontiéres

USAID in Central Africa

Reuters & A Fixed Verdict

Truth Jockeys

Why NSA Wants Your Metadata

Farewell to the Black White-Man

Boris Nemtsov

Chevron & USAID

Alfreda Bikowski & the Definition of Stupid

Paranoia of Dianne Feinstein

In the Shoes of an Insurgent

Square Pegs in Round Holes

Metadata & Panorama

Reorganizing Murder Incorporated

Votes and Vanishing Acts

Poison Fruit

The Left’s Anti-Federalist Urban Legend

CIA vs JFK

The Navy Yard Reporting Smells Wrong

MOSSAD and Jews for Jesus

“We Tortured Some Folks”

Hillary Clinton in Four Short Paragraphs

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Mojahedin-e-Khalq

Military Sock Puppets, NSA Trolls & CIA Shills

CIA & The Media

WikiLeaks & Spy Agencies

Noteworthy Information Operations

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More stuff:

Throwing Stones From Glass Houses

Why the FBI Will Never Investigate the Biggest Criminals

CIA and Public Relations

VICE & The CIA

Greek Tragedy

Winning Ugly

Truth Jockeys

Greek Hubris

How To Make Powerful Enemies In Four Short Paragraphs

People Too Stupid to Understand They’re Stupid

Holocaust & Narrative Perversion

See’s Sampler

Stupid is as Stupid Does

NATO’s Three Chihuahuas

Evil Cynics, Stooges & Dupes

Empire & Blow-back

Erik Prince & Pedophile Priests

The NSA’s Egregious Liar

Robert Seldon Lady, CIA Slime-Bag

Cheap Tricks for Jesus

The Economics of Moonshine Whiskey

Celebrating the Anti-Christ

Enlightenment: The Automated Death Machine

Napi Mephisto

Snowden & Snooping

Uncle Sam, Dominionist Puppet

Of Nukes, Courage and Cowards

Outline of a Snowden Legal Defense

Color of Law, Star Chamber, FISA & PRISM

The Greatest Criminal Endeavor

Our Vital National Interests

How to Make Powerful Enemies in Three Short Paragraphs

How to Make Powerful Enemies In a Few Paragraphs

If  The Left Are Sheep, The Right Are Fish

The (No) ‘Establishment’ Clause

North Carolina’s 2nd Secession From the Union

EXBERLINER (1)

EXBERLINER (2)

EXBERLINER (3)

EXBERLINER (4)

Post Modern Teutonic Vision

The USA vs The Teutons

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A little more about books:

GLADIO

Profits of War

Invective

David Ignatius’ Body of Lies

John Le Carre’s A Delicate Truth

Robert Littell’s The Company

No Snowflake in an Avalanche

Dirty Wars

Should I be a Spy Novelist?

To The Far Right Christian Hater

A Report to an Academy

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My blog had begun attracting readers in mid 2014, when I’d been giving it real attention for several months. This upcoming week of 21 March 2016, coinciding with withdrawing from giving ronaldthomaswest.com sustained attention, it will pass the 100,000 hits mark (it stands at 99,685 as I write this.)

Hardly some mega-phenomena but not bad either. Now, it’s just another internet archive –

*

S1

All original material copyright Ⓒ 2015 by Ronald Thomas West: For profit & mass paper media redistribution prohibited

 

Two weeks away from my (behind schedule) vanishing act, in couple of hours respite from untangling 8 years overstay in the European Union, includes surviving several assassination attempts and interior ministry order expelling me, I picked up a set of pastels and a sheet of paper and did what I had not in some 35 years; played the artist.

This is encouraging, when the maize and other crops are in, if there is inopportune weather for taking up fishing rod, I’ve found something to do; despite my neurological impairment. Pastels are forgiving media.

Drawing.jpg - 1

Paintings on wall

The little collection of impressionist paintings is beings disposed of; but will be recalled with this single, modest effort –

Ron Drawing

^ the author

The book’s conclusion “Sì! Dos grandes!!” in the local dialect translates: Yes! Both big!! The Spanish ‘huevos’ (eggs) is slang for ‘balls.’

The first reflection I have to make is, *nearly* all of the characters along on this trip who I have bashed, deserve some degree of rehabilitation. I’ll begin with ‘The Sisters’ and the fact of, whatever their flaws, they have been a consistent force for good in this world, particularly in regards to the original intent of the word ‘charity.’ These girls have, over the course of their lives, unselfishly, generously, devotedly, given of their time and energy to the underprivileged, disadvantaged and poverty stricken communities of this world, particularly in regards to the communities of both Indians; the Indians of India and the Indians of Native America, ongoing for decades. And this has been the hard work of hands on devotion, not some abstract ‘feels good’ self-congratulatory endeavor. When it comes to practical matters, feeding people, providing educational opportunities for youth, or caring for orphans, ‘The Sisters’ have been there, hands on the circumstance. I count them as among my most treasured friends, even if they never talk to me again, following this dubious literary effort; the ‘metadata’ of which I stand by. Life is paradox.

The ‘Tibetan’ was a fine, ethical and outstanding human being when I’d met him and he is a fine, ethical and outstanding human being to this day, and knows my door is ever wide open to provide him hospitality- to the end of my life. Our friendship has been very native; when years were to intervene between visits, it was as if we’d last seen each other yesterday … with warm regards.

In the initial chapters, when introducing Jasper, I made a factual mistake which Neil Oram, the English playwright and poet, was kind enough to correct in an email exchange; I’d misremembered Jasper’s mother’s acquaintance with a powerful woman. As an American, the context threw me off, and so I had incorrectly placed an Englishwoman, Jasper’s mother, in close association with a powerful, national female executive, on intimate terms with Maggie Thatcher. It was actually Indira Gandhi, a friendship no doubt stemming from Gandhi’s days at Oxford.

My impression was Socket is a good man with whom I had little communication in common or, perhaps better said, Socket’s English was such a strange mix of bizarre & colloquial expressions intertwined with counter-culture slang, whoever it had been educated him in English language should be summarily shot… unless, that is, it was the Bandit Sister had educated him; in which case her next life will be the punishment of a ramrod-straight, Victorian schoolmarm.

Old Babette was product of her time and circumstance (as we all are.) When it comes to the ‘true/false’ quiz, I lied about her (or perhaps inadvertently, maybe not) when I took the liberty of acquainting her with Imelda Marcos- on account of the facts of the corporation her personal fortune had been associated with. Need I say more? On the other hand, Old Babette being acquainted with ‘The Sisters’ more likely than not indicates she had been generous in regard to the sisters bonafide charitable work. In that case, in the larger picture of things, who am I to judge her character?

What was great about Sensible Sue was, she never made herself a pain in the ass to anyone.

Bummer John got precisely the ass-kicking he deserves; for paining everyone he was with, with his pained view of life & pained expressions.

The Montana dyke, actually a very fine person, would never admit to me she was along on this trip when I’d speak to her about it; always insisting she “was on a different trip.” Now that may have been a deliberate allusion to the differing nature of our perceptions or, my psychosis of memory is playing with me because she had been so adamant on this point, I cannot anymore be certain whether she was actually along or not. If she wished to be a psychotic ‘manifestation’ of my memory, so be it.

If anyone is missing, it must be my psyche has blacked them out.

Nine years ago, when I’d published ‘Penucquem Speaks’ and was getting a few reviews, the second review kind of pissed me off… as it compared me to another writer; that is, Hunter S. Thompson. But then, this caused me to read Thompson’s ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’ and I had a good laugh. But quite honestly, it is Mark Twain’s style had impressed and influenced me, years previous to this. I doubt there is a greater biographical work of humor in American literature than Twain’s ‘Life on the Mississippi.’ Of course I am not either writer and what I do is entirely the fault of myself.

Kids! Don’t try this at home!!

*

My Madcap Adventure Table of Contents

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

Crystal_Ball

The effects of this trip had reverberated in the core of my being for well over a month, following my return. Landed in New York, I traveled upstate and spent a week hanging out with a friend. It was a quiet scene, talking philosophy and spending time checking out the old Erie Canal. The mundane was beautiful.

Back at Helena, I was asked what I thought of the trip. By this time I knew the sisters had the then popular astrologer, Zipporah Dobbins, choose the trips date; it would be an ‘auspicious’ time. Based on this intelligence, I answered “Those girls should be jailed.”

I went to Starr School on the Blackfeet reservation, to pack up and head south for a few months, coming from the tropics into a Montana winter was not an appealing thought. I dropped by to visit Pat, my medicine man friend and he laughed at me … Native America has perhaps the darkest humor on Earth and the prevailing joke in the community was “Ron shot Mrs Gandhi.” It was a pun on the shamanic aspect of life not understood in western culture, but similar perhaps to a joke on someone who’d followed an astrologer into a disaster. Kind of like saying ‘your medicine man sucks’ relating to consulting over preparation for a journey.

Reprising a trip from over a decade earlier, when I’d driven a Volkswagen ‘bug’ to Arizona, to escape Montana’s cold, following my return from tropical Vietnam, here I was again, driving a Volkswagen bug to Arizona, to escape the Montana cold, following my return from tropical India.

It was at Agua Prieta, just on the Mexican side of the border with Arizona, I’d asked at the local grocery a simplest possible question; of a proprietor who’d probably never been beyond the borders of his native Sonora. My imperfect Spanish couldn’t find the impersonal ‘are there’ and instead I blurted out the personal ‘do you have’ .. eggs? His reply was:

Sì! Dos grandes!!”

-end-

notes to follow-

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My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

It was mid afternoon on 4 November I was free in Cairo. I was able to amend my original return ticket from India and would be able to catch a plane from Cairo to New York with a plane change at London, on the 6th. I caught a taxi to Giza and checked into a ! Swiss Chalet ! or cheesy imitation thereof, a sort of motel configuration, not too expensive. I laid down and was dead-out until I heard the muezzin calling people to prayer at daybreak, or about 12 hours. It was that kind of sleep where you offload immeasurable amounts of stress. But surrealism apparently doesn’t simply vanish but follows some trips like a con-trail. Or maybe I was just tripping, but here is what I experienced: This ‘chalet’ had a dining room and I was by now thoroughly sick of curried vegetables, the mainstay on my diet for the past six weeks. I wanted red meat. English boiled beef, fine no argument with that. Feta cheese was a treat. But here is what made the journey cartoon just keep going on; the ‘chalet’ dining room had an American ‘Old West’ theme … with waiters dressed in paper-felt cowboy hats with plastic sheriff star pinned to vest and toy revolvers holstered on their hips! This was the very outfit American parents bought for their 10 year old boys and here we were in Giza, Egypt!! I understood I wasn’t hallucinating but still .. face in my palm.

Cowboy

May I take your order?

This was the evening of 5 November. Earlier in the day, I’d been visiting the home of the taxi driver who’d fetched me from the airport and brought me to Giza, his home village. We’d had lunch with his family and he was wanting to know when I’d like to see the pyramids .. Haji Hassan El-Koly was stunned to hear a westerner state, and his daughter nearly fell on the floor laughing at his amazement .. when I’d gestured to the window and said “I see them, they’re there.” It was almost inconceivable to him I was more interested in discovering who the Egyptians of the present were, than going to some presentation or touring any archaeology site. We spent part of the afternoon discussing contemporary Egypt and regional geopolitics, as well he became curious and was asking questions about myself. El-Koly stated he would never forget me on account of my name: “Where the Sun goes down.” He probably never did forget me; I had paid him an honest fare for my trip to & around Giza and return to the Cairo airport .. but then tipped him one inferior quality counterfeit USA $100 bill, courtesy of a Guardian Angel.

Cairo_to_London

Arrival in London (L) from Egypt (R)

At Heathrow in London, I had to clear customs to walk across a street into another concourse, to catch my plane to New York. Two British counter-narcotics officers were waiting for me as I entered the second concourse, they wanted a look inside my carry on day-pack. I had a collection of perfume oils I was returning with, to give to a woman friend. Eight brown glass vials about 3 inches tall and one inch wide, probably seen in some x-ray scanner my pack had been through. Asking me questions about the movie ‘The French Connection” as they pulled out the flat box containing the vials, I merely replied ‘Not everyone’s life fits a movie script.” They sorted soon enough it was oil of musk & other scents and one of them asked “What are you West, some kind of a rat?” And then let me go. I ate a ‘drop into dead sleep over the Atlantic’ pill I HAD smuggled, just for that purpose, and woke up at JFK in New York.

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My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

On 2 November in my room at the Taj Palace, watching Indian state tv was like watching science fiction; with expressionless humanoid faces telling us not to believe “rumors of communal violence.” As I watched Rajiv light his mother’s funeral pyre on television, I could coincidentally look out the window at a column of smoke rising in the distance. Indira Gandhi’s body going up in flames or another Sikh home? There was no way for me to know, as these were simultaneous phenomena. So, what was the point of the television lie? Another trait India holds in common with the western democracies – ‘what you’re told isn’t the reality.’

Meanwhile I’d picked up a security detail shadowing me, no one believed for a New York second I was Old Babette’s grandson. It’d been better if she’d said nothing. I took care of that with fortuitous circumstance. I was sitting in a lounge in the morning when some vile looking, dowdy and incredibly wealthy (her gold and jewels hanging on her like kites tangled in utility wires) old woman decided to abandon her huge purse that appeared to be so heavy as to be filled with gold bars and leave the room. I spotted my security man across the room in a doorway, looking the other way. I walked swiftly over to him and, without mentioning the owner, I told him “There is an untended bag.” He immediately followed me into the lounge where I pointed out the purse, as it happened the old woman was returning to claim it. After, there was no further suspicions; they didn’t care who I was, other than an extra set of security eyes. No one wanted a bomb going off. A little later I frightened the ‘bejezuz’ out of myself with a stupid trick. Heading back to my room I turned the corner to see the elevator doors were beginning to close. With a sprint & leap worthy of some caped hero, I flew into the elevator as the door closed behind me: squarely into some VIP”s armed security detail! And fortunately for me, sans VIP. I wasn’t shot. If only they’d taken a photo of my face in that moment, some things are absolutely priceless. Recovering my composure in the stare of several ‘men-in-black’ security types, I simply said “Sorry” and pushed the elevator button to my level.

3 November simply dragged on in some sort of time warp that makes a day seem as though it will never end, as Indian television insisted despite rumors, there was no communal violence. Meanwhile I’d encountered an American who said a mob had boarded at a stop and killed Sikhs on the train he’d taken to Delhi.

Meanwhile Old Babette had been showering me with promises. Grateful, at least momentarily, for engineering our escape, she insisted I was going to be put up in Cairo and take a boat tour with her on the Nile, all on her dime. I listened but said nothing. Underneath, both of us knew we were absolutely incompatible personalities. That, and I recalled her brief episode of delusional belief she was a siren of eternal youth. That made me more paranoid than the rioting city we were looking to escape.

On the morning of the 4th, the Guardian Angel Sister’s Muslim travel agent manifest, to be certain Old Babette and myself made it onto the airport shuttle. For that fact, I totally forgive her for -on my departing the Hotel Imperial- passing off to me two, inferior quality, counterfeit USD$100 bills as a means of getting rid of them. On the other hand, her Bandit Sister was prone to absolutely angel moments (time to time.)

Cairo

Cairo

In our (cheap) silk kimono jackets courtesy of 1st class tickets on Japan Airline, we were among the first people out of Delhi. No sooner than we we’re in the air, Old Babette’s immense gratitude began to wane; she  was certain I wouldn’t mind a 2nd class hotel in Cairo. The truth is, other than reassurance as escort on absolutely insane taxi rides, there hadn’t been much I’d done she couldn’t have done for herself. It was the Muslim friend of the Guardian Angel Sister had made our departure possible. I don’t know if Old Babette had ‘male companion’ in mind for Egypt, but as far as I was concerned we were parting ways. As we were disembarking our plane in Cairo, her plans for us were getting reiterated and I said nothing until we’d passed through customs; her needing assistance with luggage, and myself with two carry on totality of luggage, I turned to her and said “I’ll take a rain-check” with a wave of the hand I strode away .. and the look of complete surprize-shock-amazement on her face was the last I ever saw of Old Babette.

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My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

 

Of the numerous photos of the 1984 ‘riots’ I could have chosen, of Sikhs being beaten to death, burned alive, arson of their businesses or simply bodies of children, women and men alike murdered by the mob, I decided instead to show a taste of the opulence I’d escaped to .. and is likely an accurate picture of the Gandhi family’s life; even as Rajiv was setting fire to his mother’s funeral pyre while powerless Sikh families were being burned alive in their homes:

???????????????????????????????

^ Interior of Taj Palace Hotel at New Delhi

I’d put on my day pack and shouldered my small sport duffel, the totality of my luggage, grabbed one of Old Babette’s suitcases (she had two) and escorted her out of the Hotel Imperial’s gate, past the Sikh security contingent, all armed with swords or batons, one of whose face was severely beaten. We turned right outside of the gate and walked maybe a hundred meters or so to an area where there was a taxi business. The taxi people pointed us down an alley where there were a few taxis with drivers willing to risk exiting the area and hired one to drive us to the Taj Palace Hotel … for one hundred US dollars. Working was an affront to the memory of Indira Gandhi and could get a taxi driver killed, with no safety promise made to the passengers. We made the trip with a wide-eyed, nearly panic stricken driver speeding through the empty streets of Delhi – it looked like a ghost city with scattered debris and the occasional smouldering ruin. Suddenly we breezed through an army checkpoint into the upscale area of the city where life looked like a calm calendar holiday. We arrived at the marble & brass edifice that we’d call home for the following three nights, without incident. Then, Old Babette made her first screw-up. She quite spontaneously decided to create an alibi for the character she was traveling with (that would be me) and went into an unrequested, convoluted, unconvincing explanation I was her “grandson” at check-in. Of course all this did was raise suspicions; as I bore no resemblance whatsoever to her. A medium-short, dark, muscular male with no scent of money whatsoever in his attire, in the company of a clearly wealthy, slender, taller, translucent-White woman who’d burn in the sun in less than 10 minutes without her protective hat and sunscreen. For purposes of cover, I would never bring myself to pose as her male prostitute; as well, we had separate rooms .. otherwise that might have almost been the story that fit her unnecessary, unwanted, counter-productive attempt at an alibi. In a way, we WERE using each other. But now I was marked by hotel security in a venue that was filling up with high profile guests arriving for a state funeral.

Now, things became more stupid in a blessed sort of way; We discovered there was to be an ‘inaugural’ Japan Airlines flight out of Delhi on 4 November, the day the airport would reopen for regular commercial traffic. This stroke of luck made available to us was on account of the Guardian Angel Sister who’d an Indian professional travel associate who came to see if we’d made it to our destination alive. This Muslim man, I do not recall his name, impresses me as one of the finest people I’d met on our trip. The catch was, I subsequently discovered, in order to secure tickets, we had to visit the Japan Airlines travel agency office, precisely located one city block from Hotel Imperial! Old Babette and myself had to get a taxi and retrace our route and return!! Argh!!! None of the travel businesses were overtly open but if we went to the back door of the business, we were told, we’d be allowed in to acquire plane tickets. This would be my fifth trip across the burning city in two days, if one counted destination and return separately. I told Old Babette she could either come up with a few thousand cash for myself to transact the business for us or take the ride and bring along her credit cards. She got into the taxi with me. Two wild rides & two hundred dollars in taxi fees later, we were back at the Taj Palace with a pair of first class tickets to Cairo.

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My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

Humpty_Dumpty

The term ‘surrealism’ in the common vernacular is about more than any school of art or literature. In the collective conscious of humanity, it is sometimes expressed in the vulgar tongue as ‘shit happens’ .. as when life itself becomes surreal. As surreal as my adventure might have seemed to now, suddenly it took on that psychosis that does not belong to the ego of any one individual, no matter it was both; arrogance & narcissism of the individual had initiated some few days mayhem & bedlam worthy of some South Asian ‘El Greco’ portrait. Except these inmate behaviors were exterior to the walls of the asylum. But first:

Indira Gandhi was an arrogant woman. From the time of the so-called ‘Emergency’, it was clear India is no exception to the general rule of democracy; it is the selfish ambition of the individual rises to rule, and the rights of the ‘little people’ are run over. After, when a militant Sikh separatist had taken over the Golden Temple (some would justly believe he’d been radicalized by Gandhi’s Congress party acts) she could have waited him out. Instead, this woman had her army storm the Sikh sacred temple, as Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was an affront to her ego. Her long time body guard, the Sikh Beant Singh, consequently ended her life. Then, Gandhi’s Congress party empowered a massacre of Sikhs in Delhi. This is what I’d been caught up in. These organized (by Indian Congress Party officials who’ve never been held to account) riots were from the evening of 31 October, the day Gandhi was assassinated, through the evening of 3 November, when the authorities finally began moving to have order restored. Meanwhile, thousands of Sikhs had been murdered and countless Sikh businesses and homes damaged or destroyed. The Hotel Imperial was a Sikh owned and operated business.

Delhi_4_Nov_exit

I managed to get out of Delhi (and India) on 4 November and needless to say, I am no fan of the Gandhi dy’nasty.’ Reflecting on these events is not fun but I’ll seize any black humor opportunity in the narratives that follow.

The Hotel Imperial is first of all, a walled fortress. A late colonial period construction, it was probably built with defensive features in case of rebellion. There was a large population of Sikhs in the neighborhood and this resulted in two phenomena; every Sikh in the area that could make it alive, came to Hotel Imperial for refuge … and Hotel Imperial became a point of focus for the anti-Sikh mob or what was essentially an organized pogrom. It wasn’t the Alamo, but the potential for one seemed real.

Insofar as the surrealism, imagine this: after their evening dinner, European tourists are camped in lounge chairs in the garden by the pool, with waiters serving drinks while profoundly apologizing; for the occasional Molotov cocktail that comes sailing over the wall.

The morning of 1 November, I tested the waters beyond the walls; it was quiet during the day. Walking out the gate in my western clothes, past the Sikh guard contingent, I drew looks from the Hindu mob’s sentries across the street but no one made any move to accost me. Taxi fares were over the moon. You could get rides for wads of American dollars but it was clearly dangerous. I made it to the American embassy where I gave the details of our party and asked for their assessment. They said there appeared to be no hostilities directed at westerners but frequenting any Sikh neighborhood or associated business was definitely not good. I inquired what area of the city was secure and they recommended any hotel in the ‘diplomatic enclave’ as that was the only area the army had moved to secure. Back at the Hotel Imperial, I gave my report. Old Babette wanted out. The Guardian Angel Sister was more philosophical; “Oh, I love these Sikhs, I’ll stay here.” Of course that would have nothing to do with her carpets arranged for export having been commandeered to fortify windows; where muskets that looked to have been retrieved from a colonial museum were manned from behind her precious bales.

Meanwhile, Old Babette and myself struck a deal – using her money and my experience, we’d get out.

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My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

Eight Finger Eddie’s legacy needs the whistle blown on him. Back in Katmandu, this was the man we all (the Bandit Sister buddies) were told we had to meet. This patron saint of the anti-materialist Goa commune of South India, spent his summers in Nepal, probably to escape the heat. We had a precise address of where to find him, thanks to Jasper® and his unfailing ability to tie dubious connections together throughout South Asia. Eddie was not at home, having returned to Goa something like ten days previous to our arrival at his door, or so we were informed by the very well dressed lady who came to quell the commotion in front of the gate; at a posh townhouse in a very upscale neighborhood of Nepal’s capital city. Eight Finger Eddie sounded like a name of some pool shark who’d hustled the wrong people. Anti-materialism? Enough said.

When our Katmandu days had run out after this last (aborted) misadventure, we flew back to Delhi. This departing Katmandu is where two amazing but very suspect characters, Jasper® & Socket™ (and constant aroma of ‘herbal’ chillums), drop out of our story. Jasper® is now known as ‘The Late Lord Whatever’, born an English aristocrat destined to a next life as a dope dealer running a chai shop in Almora.

At the airport, on arrival in Delhi, an Indian Army major asked my nationality. “USA” I answered. He kept staring at me, but now with a skeptical look and I stated “American.” He accepted my second answer, even if it did not seem wholly satisfactory. Back at the Hotel Imperial, I had a by this time urgent medical matter to attend to. My innumerable sins determined to leave my body by the route of my ear in the form of a fungus (initiated with my ‘cleansing’ bath in the Ganges) had to be addressed. I called the American embassy to ask who they sent their people to, for ear problems. I took this measure because the hotel’s doctor on call had prescribed antibiotics to the Canadian minister for his malaria, at the beginning of our trip. They connected me with a Sikh trained in the USA and I made an appointment.

Ear_fungus

After a couple of days in Delhi, the Bandit Sister took Sensible Sue, the Montana dyke & Bummer John south, to some baba’s ashram. The Guardian Angel Sister and Old Babette stayed in Delhi. The Tibetan headed north to Dehradun and I was supposed to catch up with him there, in a few days, after I’d resolved the sins in my ear. I’d seen the Sikh doctor and he’d used something like a tiny ball on a wire attached to a power device that made it spin. Inserting this tiny ball into my ear, he powered on the device and beat the sins out of my head. Now I was to use anti-fungal drops in my sinful ear but he wanted me back in a few days, to make certain I was clean. I never returned to the doctor or Dehradun. This was on account of the next day, Indira Gandhi was shot.

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My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

Our days at Chitwan behind us, the bus we hired to bring the group back to Katmandu broke down. The Tibetan stayed with the main group and the bus together with the Angel Sister, while the Bandit Sister, with some of the more adventurous souls, took off up the road to ‘hitch-hike’ back to Katmandu. I rather quickly strode out beyond these people and when about two hundred meters ahead of them, looking back, I saw a commuter bus blow past this crew dressed in western clothes with thumbs out, as though they did not exist. ‘Thumbs up’ likely meant to the driver of this bus ‘it’s all good.’

I’ve worn something resembling a turban exactly twice in my life; the first time in 1972 when hired as an extra; for a movie that bombed at the box office, a remake of ‘Lost Horizons.’ Oddly coincidental, this movie was supposedly set in the Himalayas (however filmed in the USA.) I’d like to believe this dubious literary venture will someday fare better.

While in Nepal, I’d purchased a long piece of brightly colored cotton cloth, a print, and wore it wrapped around my head in a manner similar to some of the locals, enhancing the native dress I’d adopted. Extending my hand, palm down, at the approaching bus, with a sort of wing-flap gesture I knew from Vietnam, the vehicle stopped for me. Climbing onto this typically jammed with people commuter bus at the rear entrance, as there was no possible space to enter at the front of the bus, I sorted the fare by deliberately producing more than it could possibly cost, an Indian twenty rupee note. Nepal was, in those days, a triple currency nation; Nepal rupees, India rupees and American dollars. The India twenty rupee note was passed, hand to hand, from the rear of the bus to the front of the bus, where it was deposited and a Nepal ten rupee note and some coins were passed, hand to hand, back to the rear of the bus and given to me. The simple people are good to, and honest with, each other. I didn’t initially know the fare but the result proved I wasn’t cheated.

Bus

^ Similar but my commuter bus was bigger

By using the India currency, it put the curious off the mark. To each language put to me by fellow passengers, I merely smiled and shook my head in the negative. Nobody asked me a question in English and clearly no one suspected I was a westerner. Normal in Nepal or India, this all took place standing at the open rear door of a bus that would see the driver jailed and company shut down, if it were to happen in the States .. there were that many people on board.

I was the first back to our hotel in Katmandu, by several hours. The Bandit Sister and the few with her wandered in next, followed by those who’d stayed with the bus, that evening. Meanwhile, Jasper® was in an ebullient mood, regaling us with stories, no doubt solo immersion in the Katmandu hashish/opium dens had lifted his spirits considerably in our absence. Or perhaps he was actually, genuinely, happy to see us. One story he told has remained etched in my memory, something one such as myself would never be prone to forget. But first: One must understand these sisters have known South Asia intimately since the 1960s. Covering India (the Guardian Angel Sister primarily), Pakistan (both sisters) and Afghanistan (the Bandit Sister primarily), among other nations, if one could reinvent Kipling’s ‘Kim’ as two 20th Century sisters who’d discovered the South Asian street life and could competently negotiate the associated intrigues of the latter era, it would be these girls. With that said, I’ve no real idea what the sisters were doing in Islamabad in December, 1971. Especially considering they were in the company of not only Jasper® & Socket™ but Kathy McNamara! As Jasper® warmed to his story of the hotel room they were together in subject to air-raid blackout during the short India-Pakistan war of 1971, he brought up the fact of former (and much reviled) United States Secretary of Defense and then World Bank President Robert McNamara’s daughter present in the involuntarily darkened room. Then, with an expression of amazement apparently undiluted over the 13 years that’d passed since; Jasper® announced and I’ll never forget this .. “And Socket™ screwed her!!”

Socket™ did not deny anything, rather looked, for the only time ever, somewhat uncomfortable. Normally, he was gathered and complacent image of cool, closely resembling another drummer anyone should recognize, that is if one were to imagine his face thinner & darker:

Socket

Who knows what method might have been employed to seduce Kathy McNamara ..  no matter circumstance .. when a daughter of one of the world’s most powerful and evil men is seduced by a village musician from Bihar, that my friends, is the stuff of legend.

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My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

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