Tuesday, February 19, 2008

>Mega Photo Fun Issue!
Fuck Avedon, this is where I get all Frank Capa/Robert Frank on your asses! Welcome to the Mega Photo Issue of Leaping Lanka.

I’m currently nibbling on stale samosas at Cafe Coffee Day in Calengute, washing them down with a windshield-wiper-blue ice drink called a Granita, which bears a striking resemblance to a blue Slurpee from 7-11. Just to keep things yogic for the idlers in Mysore glued to the blogs like bystanders at a car wreck, I’m conscientiously engaging ashwini and vajroli mudras, and a touch of mula bandha --- that’s like, three koshas, bitches --- gauging how much writing I can fit in before I have to sprint for the toilet in this, the latest round of intestinal Armageddon.

Calengute, by the way, is a little town in northern Goa that was apparently the first beach-head of the hippie invasion in the sixties, and which has subsequently become a relatively blown-out and disgusting package-tour destination for British pensioners.

Let me just say, I thought Southerners in the United States took the record for most outstanding rolls of sunburned neck-fat, but as I mentioned in a previous post, the Brits are seriously holding it down! Good work.

Snaps, Round I

Our luggage. Look at all that shit! I tried to convince the wife we should just take the clothes on our back and a Swiss army knife (or a Leatherman multi-tool, her pick), but she put her foot down and demanded “a change of clothes” and “clean underwear” and “toys for the kid” and other sundry non-essential (i.e. wussy) gear.

Judging by the fact we had a window row, this was the flight from Portland to JFK. Note that despite the blurry, or what I like to call “artistic” quality of the photo, neither Tara nor I look appreciably haggard, this despite rising at 3:30 to catch a 6 a.m. flight. Casey Palmer, at the time addressing his own jet lag, or as I call it, The Lag, was kind enough to ferry us to PDX.

We had a grizzly layover at JFK --- seven fucking hours. We mounted up, rode the subway into the City, and emerged from the tunnels into the daylight of the Village, blinking like the gnomish tourists we were. We ate pizza and risotto at a corner Italian restaurant that offered a completely gluten-free menu. Fucking fruitcake New Yorkers, they’re worse than Californians.

I don’t recall sleeping much on the 14-hour flight to Mumbai. I was too engrossed in this little game called Bookworm that was available on the monitor in the headrest of the seat in front of me. It was sort of like Scrabble plus Tetris plus a word search. Shit was crack-rock. I’m sayin’, though, they had mad kid’s shows --- Dora, Hannah Montana, the works --- and Rowan was occupied almost the entire time.

We hit Mumbai, and after an interminable time spent trying to find a hotel from the airport --- please note: book ahead --- we scored room 12 at the Ace Hotel, where we would spend the next 12 hours.

Unfortunately, none of that is revealed in this photo. What is revealed is that, despite our trials and tribulations, and the fact that at this point we’d slept perhaps 2 hours of the last 36, my wife looks fantastic.

Which reminds me, traveling with a kid is like being an adolescent all over again ‘cause you have to fucking sneak around like teenagers in order to make out. I’m a grown-ass married man! I shouldn’t have to feel like a sneak-thief when I wish to fondle what, I keep explaining to Tara, technically I own, i.e. her person.

So we arrived at 10 p.m. Friday night. The flight to Goa wasn’t until 2 the next day. Naturally, we all had a strong dose of The Lag, so everyone was wide awake at 4 a.m. Our hotel was near the airport, so there was fuck-all to do. We lapped the block once to confirm that yes, we were in India, then headed back to the room, where we spent 9 hours watching Indian TV.

The crib, in all its glory! You’d be hard-pressed to find a place more uncomfortable than this!

Bamboo furniture, minimal padding? Check.

Hard-ass marble surfaces everywhere? Check.

No screens on the windows? Check.

Top-floor placement, for maximum heat containment? Check.

Foot-long rat in the kitchen at 6 a.m.? Check.

Have I mentioned the smell of human shit that wafts through the bedroom window every hour?

I also forgot the oppressiveness of the naked glare of a fluorescent bulb, which gives our flat the charm of a police interrogation room or bomb shelter.

Perhaps my favorite amenity is our bed. It is exactly, precisely, painfully 4 feet wide by 6 feet long. I am 6-feet-2 inches tall. Lest you think my wife laughs her 5-foot-4-inch frame to sleep every night,, please take into consideration that the mattress, if it may be called that, is actually a giant sack of concrete, or perhaps a reproduction Spanish Inquisition-era torture device. This is Goa, after all, which was for a long while a Portugese colony, and I know that repro furniture is all the rage with the kids these days. If only they’d gone Eames instead of Torquemada.

Lodging in Goa is a tough call --- we could’ve spent the dough for a “resort,” but most of ‘em would’ve cost more than a month’s rent in Portland. We could drop some dough in getting some bedrolls and cushions for our place, but incentive is pretty low because we’re only here a month.

It’s easy to whinge. But it’s India, what did we fucking expect?

The ladies like to keep it lovely; this is the entrance to the bathroom, in which Rowan has observed Daddy peeing directly into the grate in the floor.

“Daddy, why are you peeing on the floor?” she asks.

It’s important to be honest with them. “Well sweetie,” I say, “it’s because I can.”

Rowan is scoping out our porch. Jesus, that is one psychedelic dress.

Rowan shows off some of her latest watercolors.

Rowan models her motorcycle helmet. The kid rides shotgun on the front of the scooter. She’s like a dog in a pickup truck --- hands on the dash, face out in the wind like the carved statue on the prow of a pirate ship, wind in her eyes, tongue no doubt out and lolling to the side. You will note the copious heaps of toys in the background, as well as the laptop, which was no doubt playing Princess Mononoke or My Neighbor Totoro or The Last Unicorn.

We’ve been frequenting this spot called the German Bakery. I will say one thing for Goa --- you can get cappucino everywhere! The food here is so off the Richter --- tofu, real croissants brushed with egg white that just flake apart in your hand, fucking salads with lettuce even. I think I’ve had Indian food once, and it’s not for lack of trying --- everything here is so geared up for tourists, it’s ridiculous. But everything is fresh made from scratch and just so tasty.

You’ll note that Tara is, in this photo, looking a wee bit fatigued at having to cater to Rowan’s every whim. The Lag, plus massive input of new stimuli, plus disruption of regular routine means that we, or should I say Tara, gets a few days of a weepy, clingy, mood swingerific child. A bit of hatching took place shortly after this photo was snapped.

A pre-yoga practice pic, snapped by Rowan! Diane Arbus, look out. Er ... anyway, Rowan hasn’t quite figured out how to get people’s heads into the frame yet. She wanted a photo of Ella the elephant and Mommy in baddha konasana.