This Journal Cost Me Sixty Dollars

1:38 PM Monday, March 13, 2000

I decided to make the first thing I wrote the title. After having a little talk with my man Ronald Lance, I'm sitting down to write. I had to ask one of the men that work for him what his name was 'cause I forgot it. Like I always do. I had ask it because I had to write it because the guy is nice *and* cool. Nice for totally workin' it and arranging all my travels for the next few days and cool because he just is. He speaks perfect Hindi I've heard. He's advised not to go outside on Holi here in Varanasi. "It is a day for the hooligans." he says. The guy who gave me Ronald's name couldn't say it out loud 'cause his mouth was filled with beetelnut juice (actually spit). His pathetic attempt of gargle-speak came out "Rugug". I couldn't understand him so he got a pen and paper and wrote it out. That's the second time in an hour that I've tried to talk to a man only to find him drowning in the red juice. The mouth of your average Indian male is probably the grossest place on earth.

A Video:
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Varanasi Paan Spitters

1:24 min
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Ronald doesn't chew, I'm guessing. I've put him on a pedestal. I love hearing him trash-talk the Indians. He's describing me on the phone right now to the railway reservations people: "Primmer, Mister D, Male, 31, medium tall, USA, 07413028." That, while I sit in his guesthouse under the light that spills down through the metals grates in the center of the building. It's standard hot-region Hindu architecture he tells me. It belonged to a joint Hindu family for about 100 years and he leased it about 20 years ago. He stops his description to briefly compare the ruling RSS political party to the Nazis. They even wear brown shorts. He's turned my opinion of the festival of Holi around. I thought it would be cool to see the little kids throwing paint on each other but he says everyone's just whacked out on bhang and vandalizing and "practicing lawlessness". I can't get a taxi out of town on that day 'cause no driver will dare go out for fear of having a rock thrown at them. He says, and is backed up by the locals and my personal experience, that Varanasi is a dirty place. "Dirty" isn't the way I'd describe it however. Dirty implies that something was once "clean". I don't think this place ever was. For example, you don't describe a garbage dump as "dirty". It makes the word lose all meaning. Nobody cleans the streets like they do in Bombay. All Indians throw shit in the street but in most places they sweep it up into piles and somebody comes by and picks it up. Varanasi is dirty like a hippie crash pad. It's as if everyone is too spaced-out to care. Maybe they're in love with the garbage. In the part of town I'm in, the old center of the city near the river, the streets are all 6 feet wide. It makes the trash and cow shit problem worse because it's like a whole 60 foot wide Indian street's trash squished Star Wars-style into your face. Ok, enough of the anecdotes from the acerbic guest house owner named Ronald. I think he's gay. I'm not going to give away my location. I'm in Varanasi-Benares-whatever-the-hell-you-call-it.

Right now there's a blonde French girl shoveling a milk shake into her mouth, Hindi chatter from the staff, 3 different Hindi-pop songs coming out of 3 different stereos. Hell, I don't know it it's worth describing a stupid guesthouse in Varanasi but it's where I'm sitting right now. I took a walk around looking for a place to sit down and write but there wasn't one. Hell, I can find a place to sit down just about anywhere on Manhattan's lower East-side - that's how easy to please I am. But I couldn't find a place in about 20 minutes walking around here. So I came back and sat in the guesthouse with all the accursed travelers. My plan was to write about the shit that men put in their mouth here. Fucking nasty. Imagine if over half the population chain-smoked, but instead of buying cigs by the pack, they bought individually wrapped cigarettes on the side of the road every time they got a craving. The men here buy these little condom-sized packs of spices and nuts and herbs and weird shit and dump them in their mouth. They cost about Rs. 2 a piece and those boys I was with in Pushkar used to spend about 50 bucks a day on them: rip it open, pour in mouth, toss it on the ground, chew, salivate, spit a few times, walk 50 feet, stop, dig for or bum change off your friend, buy another packet, repeat until you've walked all the way across town. I've had a few versions of the stuff. It's all not worth wasting money or the waste products it generates. To fucking Hell with the little foil packs of mouth stimulants! To HELL!