Floaters

For those with a weak stomach – what the fuck are you doing here? Piss off back to World of Britney.

Today’s post is brought to you by the letters S, H, I and T and the number two. I encountered the world’s most amazing turd today. A floater amongst floaters. The King of Poop.

Impressed yet? You will be. I am only upset it wasn’t one of mine.

My stomach’s been dodgy for a few days, though I hasten to point out that I don’t blame the South Asian cuisine. I think it’s just one of those things that’s happened, like a cold or something.

Anyway. Poop.

As things are starting to work properly again in the belly department, I’m finally passing solids again. Yay me. However, as I’m getting used to it all again I was caught short in a hotel and made my excuses.

Awaiting me in the loo was a huge log, snapped in two and obscuring any view of the water on which it was suspended. Eugh.

Instinct (and a desperation to loosen my bowels) took hold and I flushed, dropped my kex and sat down. Blessed relief followed. Quite a lot of it. Then a strain and some more. Those bumpy rickshaws are a very unpleasant way to travel when you need to drop a log.

My puckered starfish could pucker no more so I wiped, flushed, stood up and… caught out of the corner of my eye the self-same jobbie that had been there when I’d entered the stall. Still sat there, still bobbing gently, still in two pieces. I swear it must have been made from brown polystyrene beads or something.

It is only now that I wish I’d taken a photo, but that wouldn’t have given proof of it’s survivability.

Truly a wonder of the modern faecal age.

Beggars belief

This is related to a lot of what I’ve seen in recent weeks while travelling around India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In a word: poverty. And to expand on that, various peoples’ ways of dealing with it.

Sri Lanka, to be honest, wasn’t so bad. There were some beggars around, but they were few and far between. I’d say no more, possibly less, than you’d see in an average day in an average British city.

India, however, is swarming with them. And they’re tenacious. You can’t walk around Mumbai, for instance, without having some young girl with a baby in her arms poking you and asking for money or food for the baby. Frankly, I’d rather hand her a load of condoms and a lecture on birth control. At least they’re more direct in India. Back in the UK the usual procedure is to get pregnant so you can claim more income support and get up the ladder for free housing. In India it’s simply “I have a baby – give me money”. One girl in Bangalore simply stood in front of me saying “babybabybabaybabybaby…”

Bangledesh seems outwardly to be more affluent, at least insofar as there are less beggars on the street than in India. Also, the roads are better, power supplies seem more reliable and so on. There are more better-dressed people on the streets. Whether it’s all image or what, I don’t know. Still, the beggars are tenacious. They won’t take “no” from a tourist at all. You get looks of disbelief, disdain and disgust if you refuse them money. Worse is if you give them food and they look at you as if you’re insane. Which is when you take it back off them.

My problem is that I can’t help everyone. So instead I choose to help no-one. I don’t know if this is the right choice, but it’s the one I’ve gone for. If I happen to have, say, a half-eaten packet of crisps on me when a small child asks for them then fine. If it gets me a smile then it’s worth it. But I just won’t hand money over. Ever.

Trust me, seeing some of these people who are asking makes it difficult. They obviously live in utter poverty. They’re dirty, they look unhealthy, a huge number are crippled or disabled, even many of the rickshaw-wallahs can’t read. But in Bangladesh, a mainly Muslim society, they care for their own. These people get fed by others who do have money. Both in India and Bangledesh you see locals handing over coins regularly to these folk – and that’s heartening.

But does it excuse me from not handing over my own money?

I suppose I can look at it one way. I’ve bought food and paid for accommodation in places where I’ve seen the staff handing money over to beggars. So I suppose it’s a “trickle-down” thing. Or am I just trying to make excuses up for my lack of generosity?

On the flip side, we were talking to Caroline – another British traveller – on the train from Varanasi last week. She’d had words with a flower seller by the waterfront who’d tried to charge her 10Rp for flowers she knew were only worth 5Rp. The conversation went along the lines of:

“Why is this 10 Rupees?”

“Because you have more money.”

“Why do you think I have more money?”

“Because you’re white.”

It took a little more wheedling to get it out of the guy, but that was the answer. If you’re in India and you’re white then you’re richer than a local.

Last time I looked, the guy who owns Kingfisher Airlines (and Kingfisher Beer and several other industries) is Indian. And he’s got a hell of a lot more money than I have.

Basically, I do want to help some of these people. Some can get knotted – they’re professional beggers. I have sympathy for those in a situation that’s not of their own making and which they simply can’t get out of. But I have no time whatsoever for people who won’t help themselves. That’s why I’m happy to spend time and effort with the kids from Blue Dragon or similar charities. They’re all there because they want to improve themselves, to get out of a hole that fate has dumped them into.

But how do you pick who to help and who not? As it stands, my aid is going to have to be to spend my tourist dollar in these countries and let it filter down to those who need it. I’m glad to see that, in certain areas, it does seem to happen.

Nukes

It’s funny how conversations wander in various directions. Hans and I started waffling about the Americans not bombing India yet – surprising given how many Muslims there are here, and each one a potential terrorist in Yankee eyes. And how come the US is allowed to get all high and mighty, telling everyone what to do when it’s the only western nation with a) the death sentence and b) a publicly acknowledged torture camp which breaches every human rights agreement the US has signed up to, but is exempt because of it’s geographic location?

They also say who can and who can’t have nuclear weapons. The UK are allowed them as we’re their buddies.

The French kind of are allowed them. They’re in the NATO, but on the other hand they won’t use them against the Taliban so they might as well not have them.

India can’t have them because they’d make shitty ones that broke.

North Korea can’t have them because their leader’s a fucking nutcase.

Russia aren’t allowed them any more as they’re too poor. And the handful of Russians left who could afford them would rather spend the money buying football clubs and pissing us all off that way instead.

Thinking about it, you can annoy a whole hell of a lot more people but buying up and bankrolling a previously middle-of-the-road football club than you could launching a nuke. After all, a nuke’s a one-shot / all over thing. It’s like setting off a single firework at 3am. You’ll wake the neighbours, make a dog bark but it’s all forgotten about in ten minutes.

But buying a football club… that’s like setting up a constant stream of rockets up one after the other from 11pm till it’s time to get up for work in the morning. And you’re not just pissing off the neighbourhood – everyone in Europe not in a blue shirt hates Chelsea right now and has done for two years now.

The other upside is that buying a football club is environmentally sound and fully bio-degradeable. The half-life of a Premiership striker is around 8 years – 5 for Michael Owen as he’s so injury-prone, but 8 as an average. Once their finished, you can recycle them as pundits on TV or just let them fade away. Nukes, on the other hand, have to be transported all the way to Australia and buried in the outback where they make kangaroos glow in the dark for generations.

Let’s pretend

The US is apparently to end warrantless wiretapping brought in after 11/9 to help “stop terrorism”. May I just say:

Bullshit.

What they’ll do is take away the public face of it and still continue to do it. I’m no paranoia fiend, but let’s be honest – if they want to look at something, they’ll do it and not give a fuck about your civil rights.

You know, why do I get the feeling I’ll be turned back at the border when I try to visit later this year? Read about it here first… once I get out of jail!

Bush = cunt (again)

Hey, I’ve not had a rail against this money-grabbing parasite for a while so here we go.

First off, he’s given the OK to oil drilling in Alaska despite it being in an area heavily populated by rare wildlife. This from a president who refused to sign up to Kyoto and help reduce pollution, emissions and – to do so – oil use. Who’s daddy, coincidentally, is on the board of a whacking big oil firm. Conflict of interest? Well, it doesn’t conflict when you can go ahead and do what the fuck you want.

Next, he’s sending another 20,000 troops to Iraq. Hans has asked where he’s getting them from. Shake ‘n’ bake “instant soldier” packs? Or, more likely, the ghettos filled with poor black families who’s children can’t get work anywhere else due to the US education system being in a shambles? My money’s on the latter, for some reason. The blacks won’t vote for him, so they may as well be shipped to the middle east and shot by ragheads – then it’s the foreigner’s fault.

He has stood up and said he’ll accept responsibility for any errors in the handling of Iraq. Very big of him, since the whole world blames him for the whole fucking mess anyway.

Oh, and the US denies any bombing of Somalia. Except the ones on Monday. Because Al Quaida are in Somalia, so that’s OK. Actually, it’s likely because Muslims are in Somalia and as we all know – courtesy of the US scaremongering machine – all Muslims are terrorist sympathisers. I’m just glad I got out of Bradford before Bushy-boy added that one to his “to bomb” list.

Conclusion: Bush=fucktard trying to cram as many little games and money-making scheme into his final few months in office as he possibly can.