Friday, September 6, 2013

Varkala, Pariah Dogs and the Writer

Temple Town 

Welcome to the first readers from Colombia

This entry onto Guerilla Z is a long time in the coming. The post lay stuck among the cobwebs because I had a strong feeling for this town but couldn't find a place for it as I moved into China and onwards. Varkala is the most wonderful place to be in a very tough country.

Back to comments from Nam Viet next week including Cu Chi and metaphysics.

South Cliff, Varkala

Varkala is prettier and quieter than Kovalam. Fewer people ask you for money. Varkala perhaps will also become overwhelmed in the near future like Kovalam; but hopefully not. It's a shame to be a walking bank but here in India that's what you are. The way through this hard commercial outlook is hard if not impossible. the answer in India. Visit Buddhist towns or find middle class Indians.

India. Gives a lot. Takes a lot.

Little Girl at Humugham Lake

Poor old Kovalam, compared to Varkala, it is a rather tired old thing. With ten or more motor boats cutting up it's coves, swimmers and fishermem, lumpy tourists who don't care so much for Indian food, fresh off the charter flight. A German friend from Freiburg said he felt the resort was like a 'prison', said he would not return. Lothar. I saw him in Kerala busting it out with his Alpine walking sticks. Solid fellow. Hopefully I'll see him again.

Visitors to Varkala have the Not-Yet positivity of the young and seekers of more than sun. Maybe not much more but hearts feel softer. Beach creatures are gentle and open. Positive people abound.

Sure the north Cliff has a tedious strip of restaurants. Maybe it too (like Kovalam is doomed). Maybe the cliff will stop the tide washing the spirit away. The south cliff is gentler. With a temple that as a non-Hindu you are allwed to visit. A beautiful place when they light the oil up the temple walls at night.

Red Rocks at Varkala South Beach

Varkala near the tip of India

Pariah Dogs also known as Free-ranging Urban Street Dogs.

In place of "pariah" (pariah is derived from the Tamil word paraiyar, first used in English in 1613 to refer to the lowest level of the traditional Indian caste system; in English, it is used to mean "social outcast").

They live virtually wherever cities exist and the local human population allows. Street dogs may be pets which have strayed from or are simply allowed freedom by their owners, or may never have had an owner. Street dogs may be stray purebreds, true mixed breed, or unbred landraces such as the Indian Pariah dog. Street dog overpopulation can cause problems for the societies in which they live, so campaigns to spay and neuter them them are sometimes implemented. They tend to differ from rural free-ranging dogs in their skill sets, socialisation, and ecological effects.In India, the local landrace, known as the Indian Pariah dog has been estimated to have existed for perhaps 14,000 years or more. Part of the urban population consists of mongrels or mix-breeds–descended from pure-breed dogs that have been allowed to interbreed with pariahs. Urban India has two features which create and sustain street dog populations: Large amounts of exposed garbage, which provide an abundant source of food, and a huge population of slum and street-dwellers whose way of life includes keeping the dogs as free-roaming pets. For example, Mumbai has over 16 million human residents, of whom over half are slum-dwellers. At least 500 tons of garbage remain uncollected daily. Therefore, conditions are perfect for supporting a particularly large population of stray dogs.

See below for ways to act towards unfortunate street canines: Random Acts of Kindness

A Beautiful Place
You meet nice people there in Varkala. Sure ATMs stop working for no reason, for 2 or 3 days at a time. But even that has its upsides.
One almost needs surgery to separate you from the beach and the town. Kerala at its best.
I actually had to ask advice about leaving.
'Excuse me. Do you think I should leave. I'm enjoying life here so much.'
'You should go.' They said. 'Go back to writing in Kovalam.' An Icelander. Level-headed. It was true I had my apartment in a coconut grove waiting for me. Empty. So I left. Next time I will visit Varkala properly.

It's a good place to write. And I like the south of India. I do still want to visit Ladakh and Assam. Sometime soon.

Otherwise. North India. I've probably done with it now. So hot. So poor.

Thing is this is all glamour. There are few Indians on this beach. Just some very nice Europeans. Two days before I arrived in Varkala two Indian boys had drowned here. It is really is such a dangerous place with huge waves and a deadly current if you are a weak swimmer.

Today I was talking to this American guy, Ben. He majored in political science. Just spent two and half months in Bihar working in a monastery helping poor kids. Poorest state in India. He was saying 60% of Indians earn less than a dollar a day. I know that 40% are destitute. So when you are buying soda, munching fish and mucking about in the water, plugging in your laptop, reading your Kindle Macchiato you can just take a moment. Remember them.

Curious kids. Moli's daughter in blue.

Moli cleaned my apartment once a week. Moli so shy.

Next time you visit India take a 30 minute local bus ride, anywhere and play this on your MP3. See if you write a story when you get back.

Now I look back at India, and this was my fourth visit,  I realise how heartbreaking the country is.

is. When informed people in Mumbai and Calcutta tell me that India has enough money for everyone I feel sadness. The money goes into the pockets of the few. If human life were little lights then they just go on here. Burn a little. Go out. No one any the wiser. Fireflies in the gloom.

Hello from the writer

Like rude offcuts from Cinema Paradiso, images of GuerillaZs writer on tour.

In Vazhamuttom, India

New Delhi, India

 Viet Nam

In China

Yunnan, China

In Cambodia

In Vietnam

Saigon by the Riverside

With my mother in the Himalayas India

In the Mekong Delta

On the Phnom. Cambodia

To visit GuerillaZ's sister site follow the link to Singing Bird Tea

Next Time: Viet Nam, Cu Chi and Viet Metaphysics

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