Wednesday, January 31, 2007

One dollar...

The first is the first of the first of you.
The second and the third are zero two,

The last is the first of the last of you.

Now tell me please who are you?

This is an exerpt from a book entitled, Lahore - A Sentimental Journey written by Pran Neville. It is his account of growing up in Lahore in the 1930's and 40's.

One dollar goes to anyone who can tell me the answer... all the clues are in front of you.


I'm white, I'm round
But I'm not always around.

Sometimes I'm half
Sometimes I'm whole
Sometimes a slice of me is all you'll know.

Sometime I'm light
Sometimes I'm dark
Sometimes I'm both.

Everyone wants to walk on me
But only a happy few every have.

What am I?


I'm sometimes white,
Although sometimes I'm black.
I take you there,
But never bring you back.
What am I?


With pointed fangs it sits in wait,
With piercing force its doles out fate,
Over bloodless victims proclaiming its might,
Eternally joining in a single bite.
What am I?


I never was, am always to be,
No one ever saw me, nor ever will
And yet I am the confidence of all
To live and breath on this terrestrial ball.
What am I?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

So fresh and so clean, clean...

I have existed in a world only known to me. By this I mean that I have never allowed or entertained my family into my life. I shut them out of my life to save them from disappointment. At a very young age I recall hearing the word 'disappointed' coming from my parent's mouths with more frequency than should have been ;) So I opted to save them from the facts of my life. Only a few years ago did I make a conscious effort to share my life with my parents and family. It started when my mother and father showed interest in my artistic nature, they exhibited pride and a minute amount of support. Baby steps, then full stride and then a few steps backwards, forwards and you have yourself a dance! This was a beginning.

This blog recounting some of my (mis)adventures and displaying all the pictures that I have taken has been an amazing tool to use to allow my family to see just who I am. Yes, it's true... your son, your brother, your uncle, your cousin and whatever titles I might have... is very different. I have finally accepted it and have to give some insight to my family and friends about who I am. I am one hundred person certain that upon arrival (if & when) 'back home' that the interrogations will begin. As will it be in Pakistan but in a very different approach, the concern will be less but they will wonder when I'll ever cut my hair - soon, very soon ;)

The brothers are the ones who used to scare me the most. Hearing 'disappointed' from their mouths was the knife stabbed and twisted to maximize the pain. I just remember looking up to these 'gods' in my world as a child. Every little brother looks up to their older siblings and want to be made in the same likeness. The likeness to be had was from our father. We each have an amazing strength in one of our father's many traits. Salman, my oldest brother has a work ethic and business acumen that I am in awe of. He's always been the solid brother of the three. Gibran and I share many a jester quality, the showman in us. I've joked around with my mother about why Gibran and I are so similar and Salman is completely different - I used to ask if she had an affair ;) Of course this is absolutely in jest and was understood to be, there is no denying we are from the same block of which we are chips off of. Gibran and I have had an amazing relationship and from what I've noticed any of us Wakil's can push buttons and make one an other's blood boil... family talent.

Salman had left when I was about five years old and so I spent my better part of my child hood with Gibran. As far as brothers go he was the coolest one to have. I can recall countless hours spent in the backyard with the vehicle of the month that was being upgraded, restored, washed, you name it. I was free labour, he must have loved having me around. I'll strike that last bit from the record, we got along as long as I wasn't doing anything wrong ;) I made my mistakes mostly at his expense but lessons learned. Since Gibran is older there is this rule of conduct of minors towards their seniors in our culture - shut up and respect your elders, you're always wrong and they are always right. I do recall hearing my dad yell a few times at us for disputing to begin with. His yell always ruled the land like a lion declaring the obvious, he was king of the jungle.

And me, well I got the passion for life from my father. These travels have allowed me to open up in so many facets of my life that have been dormant; I grew a backbone, I grew an appreciation for my other life and a desire to merge the two - I grew.. I had been a very impressionable child, teenager and young adult and allowed myself to be swayed easily by those whom I had respect for. I made a lot of choices based not on what I wanted but what I thought would be met by approving eyes. Hadn't yet developed the courage. I didn't have the courage in me to travel like this before. It's sad for me that I have had eleven years to tackle fears and venture off to seek out the true booty in life - life experience, the most valuable education.

p.s. Salman & Gibran: It may seem like I am just wandering about without the clues to the mystery of life but I assure you that there is method in my madness. Can't wait to share with you as it unfolds. I love you two... you have no idea!

The fight on terrorism...

After reading through the Hindustan Times I come across an announcement in the paper:

Let's Fight Terror Together


- By clothes unsuited for the time of year e.g. wearing a coat or jacket in the summer
- A person trying to blend with his surroundings by his dress and behaviour, though he doesn't belong to the group
- Anything protruding unnaturally under his clothings as these could be arms or explosives

- Number plate looks 'improved' or mismatched (different front and back plates)
- A vehicle parked suspiciously for a prolonged period of time in a central place or in a no-parking area.
- The vehicle's rear part sags noticeably.

- Call 100 at once, and give as many details aspossible about the suspect or vehicle.
- While giving information to the police on telephone number 100, try to keep an eye on the suspect or vehicle from a safe distance. Wait for the arrival of the police force.

- Leave the site immediately, move to an open space or a protected area
- Avoid as best you can, proximity to tall buildings, glass windows and vehicles. Obey police instructions.

- If police have not arrived yet, call 100 immediately. Follow instructions of police and rescue teams.
- Do not form or join a crowd
- Leave the area immediately, there may be additional explosives planted around
- Make way for the rescue vehicles
- Observe your surroundings and report to the police immediately for any suspect or additional explosive charges.

- If you have any information that may help in apprehending suspects or locate a vehicle involved, report to the police

Delhi Police. Citizens First


I haven't felt so uneasy being in India. As a Canadian I have accepted people for people and don't differentiate by color, race or religion - just see people. Growing up in Saskatchewan in the Paris of the Prairies, Saskatoon, I was exposed to a certain level of racism. I was different, I had curly black hair, dark skin and a funny name. I got my fill of ignorant racist comments but nothing to the extent that I have recently been experiencing here in Delhi.

I have an expired visa for India, a new visa for Pakistan (the third in my passport) and I'm a Canadian that would be sent straight to the little room with the swinging light in the middle of the table swaying back and forth.

Let's just say I haven't seen a lot of Delhi since being here.

It's like buttar...

Yesterday in the Hindustan Times on the front page was none other than my main man Shahid Buttar. He recently completed a tour in Pakistan and India.

The project was named Shanti Salaam ( The project assembled artists, educators, musicians and human rights activists from around the region with the goal of exploring intercultural understanding and build solutions to violence both across and within borders through 1.) conscious poetry; 2.) public speaking engagements; 3.) street diplomacy; 4.) independent journalism, including the compilation of a documentary; and 5.) interactive workshops.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Call for entries...

I am opening up the doors to my creative talents. If any one needs anything creatively manifested then please do not hesitate to contact me.

I have a few weeks of down time visiting with family in Pakistan and require some funds to fuel my campaign. My campaign is to return to Mumbai and continue with some employment opportunities as well as developing some business relationships in Delhi. Too many things occurring and they will unfold as they should. So I am asking the universe and your wallets to support me in my endevours to push forward.

Yes, hello friend. You like something?! I have special price for you friend... totally first class yaar.

Seat of the pants flying...

I have just returned from an exciting thrills and frills road trip to Jaipur in the deserts of Rajastan. I was hosted by two amazing individuals: Akshay Radia (Delhi) and Shahid Buttar (Washington, DC). They are both artistically inclined on a microphone and were going to the Jaipur Heritage International Festival and invited me along.

The adventure started off on a great note at around 10:30pm on Saturday evening. Trying to maneuver out of Delhi city we were met by a wedding procession. Shahid mentioned he had joined the dancing at a previous wedding in India and so I gave it half a moment of thought and jumped out of the truck. We both went over and started dancing with the carts filled with horns that act as speakers and usually announce loudly and distorted that a wedding had occurred or was about to. There were two towering elephants blocking the road with a couple of camels mixed in with all the hijra (men who dress as women and are thought to be auspicious on wedding occasions). The kids joined us in our little celebration and in moments smiles appeared on the moments ago stunned faces. It was the perfect randomness that blessed the adventure.

We finally arrived in Jaipur close to half two in the morning. The only information about this festival was that it was at Mann Industries, a factory in some industrial area. It took us another two hours to randomly narrow down the location of said industries. In between we found a heavily populated area where there were people sleeping on the streets. It was dreadfully cold out and Akshay and Shahid had one hundred blankets they brought to give out to people, not quite the people they were intended for or perhaps exactly whom they were for. We would occasionally wake up the odd person here or there as we were laying blankets over them and once realizing what was going on did they relax into a stunned look with the faintest evidence of a smile. It was a warming experience that I will never forget. Just imagine waking up a frail old man in the middle of sleep, randomly slapping his hand on the ground to locate his glasses. Puts them on and magnifies his eyes and fills the lens with his pupils. He sits up and begins adorning a smile with his nod of appreciation and approval.

Our mission was to still find this Mann Industries. After finding out that anyone we stopped not only didn't know where Mann Industries was but tried offering their services as a tour guide. We weren't hiring, so kept on. Accidentally came across someone in another industrial area in town and he informed us that is was right by the main railway station where we stopped for chai and some nourishment. The information was procured to the whereabouts of said industries. We came up to the entrance of it as the railway barricade was lowered and was informed that it would be lowered for twenty minutes. Our destination lay only over ten sets of railway tracks and down a shady dirt path to a light. We decided to trek over the treacherous train tracks and check the Mann Industries. Three miniature men were guarding the gates and handed us a map with the location of the festival. A full out underground event with a map point - truly an adventure. These were obviously the desert soirée's I've heard about. Half an hour late and shivering over a fire we had the evenings performances described with sayings like "110%" or in reference to one particular group as "totally f#$%ing awesome" in the freshest of fresh Indian accent. The second night of the three day festival was apparently a celebration.

I had my first bath I've had in months. So many months I won't even bother trying to recall - too long. Got a five star pampering that I fully took advantage of. I soaked in bubble bath and was told stories and fables of India by Zia Moheddin - I knew that audiobook would come in handy one day. I had a white fuzzy robe and matching slippers. It was nice... I like...

Shahid was to depart for Paris that evening from Delhi so we made it out of Jaipur during the sunset. I never was able to see the Pink City from an elevation and see all the houses and buildings hued in harmony. We were on the phone with airlines and the states trying to make some in-case-shit-happens phone calls. Shahid's flight was at 1am and we were cutting it very close. So after finding the options slim to none the speed of the vehicle began to increase. Thing were packed, chai was drunk and goodbyes exchanged. The adventure of this road trip was great success.

Everyone got home safely. Now back to trying to get back to getting out of India...

*image stolen from Sam Stearman

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Run for the border...

I have been in Delhi for the past few days running around like a rat in a maze. Go do this, go do that, talk to them... and the usual response: Next! I have been thwarted from embassy to embassy to foreign affairs offices with no results. My Indian visa has expired as of yesterday and now I am an illegal alien. My options were to leave yesterday (without a visa to any other country) or to book an airline ticket and have a confirmed exit date.

The other tourists in the office overheard my pleas to gain an exit visa and they offered comforting support and advise. Many of them have had friends or family have their visas expire and had to pay a fine to leave India. Some payed some bakshish (the phrase for bribes here) to the customs officials to look the other way. My options are limited. I was considering making a run for the border but that might be a risk I cannot afford. With possibilities like 'return to Delhi' or possible deportation I've opted to try one more time at acquiring an exit visa.

I have to provide confirmed travel proof of leaving India before they will grant me the exit visa. So this means I have to get a ticket booked and somehow have it faxed to me where I have no possibility of receiving a fax. It's great fun. So for now, I am stuck in Delhi and disliking a better part of it.

The only up side is that I have good people whom I keep company with and are fabulously Canadian. Last night I went to my first movie in India, something I've been waiting for for sometime. The seats were really narrow, obviously ergonomically designed for the small Indian in mind. The seats swivelled to allow for a relaxed position if you like having your knees kissing the bottom of your chin.

I am absolutely freezing in Delhi and can't manage to keep warm. I was wearing four layers of clothing yesterday morning and still my teeth were chattering. After being in the south and having such a simple existence, this Delhi business is not up my alley. It's by far the trendiest and flakiest place I've been in India. It's very odd to see sheep obey so obediently to Page 3's and city publications instructing where to eat or where to shop or even what to wear. It's nothing new coming from the consumerist lands of North America, but the following is devout here. I prefer the real India of small villages and cities.

There is a small experiment I conduct while I travel and that is simply to smile and say hello to people. The inner child is only a smile away with Indians - you smile at them and their eyes light up. This is not the case in Delhi. Yesterday I counted how many responses I received... out of a staggering 54 smiles and hello's I only received 14 smiles and 3 hello's back. It's just very odd to experience one side and then see the other side. I love India and from the bumper stickers... India is Great! But I just want to get out of here and be with family. The sanctuary of family is something I am truly missing.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Indian Tour...

The Indian Tour is coming to a close. Everyday I meet the people whom I shared journeys, tears and frustrations with. I traveled from Nepal to Benares with a beautiful man named Itzak - he just appeared out of thin air today. It seems that everyone keeps getting drawn to this fabulous land, or beach rather of Om. Everyone is closing out their one year tour or are off to Thailand, Sri Lanka and other various lands undiscovered.

I am slowly slowly trying to motivate myself to make the journey north to Pakistan. My visa expires the 17th of January and is no longer creeping but coming with brute full fast power. I have to make pit stops in Mapusa (Northern Goa) and then off to Mumbai, shuttling off to Delhi with a quick refuel in Chandigarh. After Chandigarh I will be heading to Amritsar to catch a bus across the border to Pakistan. The fabulous part of all of this is that my mother will be flying to Pakistan on the 19th. I will be surrounded by motherly love (and a great deal of concern and question periods) and family. The amount of support given by family in Pakistan through emails and phone calls has been overwhelming and unexpected. I thought for sure that my whole family thought I had lost my mind and joined a cult (which are both truths ;)

So here I am...
Rooted in an upright stance...

STD, PCO, ISD, Baum Chandigarh...

Still in the fabulous area of Gokarna surrounded by Masala Chai Philosophers, European hippies that have never gone back, molecular and genetic biologists and a stack of familiar faces from the Andaman Islands. What once was a doomed looking recovery has turned out to be a fantastical gathering of traveling companions and reflections.

During one of the famed discussion periods the topic of my accident came up. The significance of all that was represented on that lucky December day was analyzed. Why was it that the other two riders made it through and the bulls hit me? The fact that the bulls were fighting to begin with on the road I was traveling upon was also in question. What did all this represent - it all happened for a reason? That reason was the mission of this particular discussion.

A consensus was met with the Hindu significance of the cow as the basis. The cow is a sacred animal in India. There is a law that exists here that if you kill a cow you can serve eleven years in prison. Cows mingle with the crowd here at Om Beach, not to mention the rest of India. They have the right of way all the way.

Nandi, the bull, is Shiva's vehicle. In order to create one must destroy and that is on Shiva's broad greyish-blue (with a pinch of lavender) shoulders. Shiva gives and Shiva takes. So getting back to the story of my renaissance, the two bulls (representing the creating and destroying aspects of Shiva) fighting for which one was to prevail and claim their pride and rule. In a world of duality, both of them need to exist to represent the whole. I thankfully accept the message which was hand delivered.

Something in me needed to be destroyed to allow room for something to be created. Boiled down to the bare elements, what remained in the pot was quite black - an ego. Watching my wounds heal I've learned a great deal about my ego. The ego was the raw flesh that existed in place of my skin, that protective layer that shields me from bacteria and infections was removed to bare my vulnerability. I had been caring for the wounds but lo and behold in India it is extremely difficult to shield away infections.

Losing sight of what is precious and dear in this world comes with great pain and loss. I lost sight of this and allowed something in me to grow and permit me to forget. As a result, I had to learn the lesson the hard way as I have often found myself doing in the past.

My hired help...

Since my camera has expired I have hired help. I have an official photographer by the name of Natalia Agote Urquia from Spain. She sounds very British but is lie. I had to have some record of this majestic location. I will be uploading these images in the coming days. I just wanted to give thanks to a swimmingly splendid specimen of what it is to travel by yourself and never being by your self.

*italics (voice of Borat)

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