Monday, August 25, 2008

Fun and games

If anyone wonders what life was like before health and safety regulations they need come no further than Jaswantgarh (which is quite far enough from anywhere, believe me).

Our school's Independence Day function threatened to be incredibly boring. I sat through a rant from the local Hindu equivalent of Pauline Hanson, listening wistfully to Bollywood numbers blaring from the school 2 streets across.

Just when the ceremony couldn't get any worse, I was shoved unexpectedly onto stage to counter some of the bile about cow eaters who deny the bridge to Lanka and tell their children to eat quickly incase Indians come to steal their food.

Luckily, the organisers had another trick up their sleeves. I smelt petrol and then gasped when I realised what was happening. The kids had been practising all week but I'd never imagined the thing was to be set alight!

All the boredom was forgotten and our ceremony wrapped up quick enough for me to go check out the other school's performance, getting garlanded and stuck in the VIP section in the process.

Events took a similarly positive turn at a festival last night when I thought I was getting myself in for a night of chanting and ended up (in the VIP box again) witnessing 2 hours of human pyramid-pot smashing madness.

At midnight, the festival culminated with half the village's population stuffed into a temple, popping balloons, yelling, ringing bells and getting a handful of sweets to go home with. And I thought midnight mass was fun!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Now reporting from India: Oh my gourd

Due to local laws, I have now been pure veg for over three weeks. Not only have I not had meat, eggs or alcohol, I pretty much haven't eaten anything that doesn't come from this stall or an identical one opposite. My cook does his best but there's only so much taste you can get out of a bitter melon and a few spices.

I've now reached a point where I look at any animal suspiciously, from camels to beetles. The other day I put a piece of potato into my mouth and somehow the texture led me to mistake it for egg. My heart started to beat fast but, alas, as I bit in I realised it was just a trick of my meat starved mind.

I've noticed that the gypsies on the outskirts of town keep chickens and I'm making a good job of ingratiating myself into the local Muslim community. There are plenty of goats around for milk and with Eid coming up I can't imagine they're going to sacrifice a bitter melon. And I'm planning my long weekend trip. Anywhere with meat.