Bowling Alleys: Only For the Young, Rich and Bored-Trendy.

3:34 AM Friday, November 19, 1999

orange girl   18593 bytes

Here's to my new metabolism. Today I made it all the way across town on the bus, did my errands and came back without even breaking a sweat. It's like, 95 degrees out and even the street hawkers are tying kerchiefs on their heads. Hey, I'm wearing a black shirt and I have a mild fever. Ok, it's not all metabolic, it's largely mental. I am fully at ease. I ease across the street, tapping on the hood of a car to get him to stop so I can walk in front. I can hang back in the deeply shaded, breezy section of the street to wait for my bus 'cause now I know my Hindi numbers and I don't have to ask directions. I don't race out into the street with the rest of the pack to crowd on 'cause now and I can even jump on a bus that's moving at almost full speed. I've got that same lazy walk that everyone does here, shuffling feet, floating head and swinging arms. For certain areas of town, where white people like me are SERIOUSLY HARASSED, I have that same "no eye contact" coldness that the chicks in my neighborhood in SF have from being constantly ogled by Mexican men. By "seriously harassed" I mean, having your clothing pulled on and arms grabbed by street kids, having people step right in front of you with their arms outstretched to get you to walk into their furniture shop, having junkies try to sell you hash and cocaine with the assuredness that make you think you have a "I need drugs, bad!" sign around your neck, having guys selling gigantic orange balloons make smooching noises with their lips to try to get your attention, as if you couldn't notice them, and generally having so many people yell at you to get your attention that you basically have to say to yourself, "fuck all those bastards, nobody gets my attention." ('cept maybe really cute kids and pretty women). I'm at ease.

I'm leaving for Pushkar today. I don't know if I'll be able to email. I'll still write though. The other night I wanted Brian to come with me to Superdrome to check out the scene. It's the club that supposed to sport the "youthquake" I've been hankering for. We walk up to the entrance and Brian says, "I know these people." It's Dodo, the raver king, rounding up his posse out front and he waves us past the bouncers and the line and the RS.500 entry fee. On the way in, a guy with his girlfriend comes up to me and says "Hey Dave, how are you?" I sort of recognize them. Then another guy, "Dave, my man!" Don't know who he was but I say "Hi". I realize I'm becoming "known". Being a white guy in Bombay is like being the 7 foot tall center on your high school basketball team. But by the time we're in with the club with a couple of beers in our hands the magic has worn off. I look around through the smoke machine and see a 4 lane bowling alley with neon pins, pool tables, a spiral staircase and a cute white girl a rolling joint. There are black lights everywhere so I look at the shoulder of my black shirt and sure enough: glowing white specks of dandruff. The techno music is that weak-ass shit with no samples or breakbeats. It drones on and after we wear out the introductions to the handful of Brian's acquaintances, we're just sitting there dumbly watching stuff. Looking at girl's panty lines, watching the Indian version of a b-boy bowling in his socks, wishing there was even one thing worthy of a snapshot. Should we talk to Brian's friend, "DJ Whosane?", about playing with him? Uh oh, he's the one spinning the crappy music. Ok, let's just leave.

So we head out on the street there in Haji Ali, a monstrous intersection (or chowk as they call them here) that has about 5 huge roads pouring into it. When there's a traffic jam here about 200 cars from every direction pile into the intersection and jam up and start honking. An unbelievable and exhilarating mess with 3 or 4 episodes of extreme driving idiocy going on at any moment. It's rather quiet now. It's midnight. Brian whips out his camera. There's a fat guy sleeping on a cart with his belly hanging out. Pop. He didn't wake up. There's an old guy looking on from the balcony above. Pop. Not a flinch. Seems we have the knack tonight. Brian's hiding his camera under his coat at first but then gets so busy that he throws it at me to carry. Pop the fat guy from another angle and move on. 10 more steps and there's another guy sleeping with his hand down his underwear in the crack of his ass and his head resting on the chest of his friend. Pop. Brian and I start to get giddy. I start playing art director and telling him, "Oooh get this one, yeah, from above" Pop. "Now from down low real close" Pop. We make our way down the street shooting workmen digging holes with pickaxes and boys sleeping in the cabs of delivery trucks, through Breech Candy where there is a security guard posted on the street every 30 feet, at every driveway, at every major building. We decide we're walking home and taking pictures. Half way home we finish a 36 exposure roll of TMax and throw in another one. 10 or 15 people sleeping in a pile, street dogs leg-humping a crippled guy, sleeping security guards that stumble to their feet when we approach, all our victims, but we walk silently, tight roping down the middle of the street on the thin black and white painted median strip. I can't believe that none of our subjects are waking up and sometimes I cringe at how close Brian is flashing them. Brian reminds me that guys have been "bursting crackers" in these people's face all day and night for 2 weeks now so a wimpy little camera flash isn't going to wake them up. Do ya think what we did was obnoxious? Who's to say? We were there and you weren't. We got two rolls that blow doors. It all opened up for us when we went out and made it happen instead of sitting around expecting to be entertained. Turn off your television.