That Time I Got Pickpocketed in Nepal and Yelled a Man into Submission

I’ve been nervous to post, honestly, since a random “motivational rant” went viral. I feel compelled to post specific things, now… but why? Are we going to pretend I can keep focused on a single topic for more than a few minutes? We cannot, because… cat.

For the record, though, I have been working on a handful of super crazy fucking awesome derby posts which I’ll post in the near future.

In the meantime, I’ll post what I want.

Anyhoo, random story time with pictures! OMGYES!

So, one time, I lived in Kathmandu (Nepal, not Missouri) for three months. It’s a really great place. Kind of like India, but not quite… which often works out in their favor. High five, Nepal! About two months in, I had made a Canadian friend and we often wandered around the city together. We were both living in an area called Boudhanath, which is nice, but insanely touristy because the stupa there is a pilgrimage point both for devout Buddhists, and, moreover, Westerners.

Boudhanath Stupa

Tharlam Guesthouse and Monastery

Aside from the Boudhanath Stupa, there are loads of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries all around, including the one I was living at, Tharlam Monastery. Before you go thinking thoughts: nope. Atheist. They have a nice, affordable guesthouse with a gate and locked doors at night. And tiny frogs that would come out after dark and swarm the alley… I miss those tiny frogs. But I digress, for ADD requires such.

One day, Canadian-buddy and I were hanging around and could hear music and little ladyfingers going off, which is a fairly regular thing in South Asia. There was a small gathering just outside the stupa gates and people dressed as dancing Lakhey (which I believe are Nepal-specific rakshas/demons) were dancing with a small band nearby. The audience was silent, just watching, but Canadian-buddy and I were all “FUCKYESOK!”

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I handed her my neon-green camera and she juked through the crowd. Periodically, I would see her hand come up and snap a photo. Soon, I noticed several people in the crowd watching her hand with my shiny camera click-click-clicking. “WRIST STRAP!” I shouted, and she slid the sad little wrist strap over her wrist, continuing to pop up amongst the locals.

After a few minutes, the music stopped, the Lakhey dancers collected donations, and everyone kind of hung around. We were going somewhere, though. Somewhere else… I dunno, we needed a taxi, for sure, though. I had this bag strapped across my chest which had thin wire mesh running throughout, in case of someone trying to cut it open or off of me. It locked all over and had clips and whatevers so you could secure your things. It also had two PET bottle pockets that did not lock, obviously. In the front, I kept water, and in the back, my room key and my crappy South Asian cell phone.

We stood at the edge of the crowd and I put my camera back in the main compartment, checked my shitty cell phone, then dropped it in the back pocket of my bag. We debated which way on the street to take for a moment, then stepped away. I felt resistance on my bag for just a second and turned around. A young Nepali man stood there beaming a crazy big smile. I squinted at him with my grumpy Western face, then took a few steps… wait. I checked all through my pockets over and over and, what? My cell phone was gone. But… the man was still right there. He even watched me search my things from ten feet away. Why he did not take advantage of the crowd is beyond me.

I walked up to him. Most people I encountered in Kathmandu, especially in the tourist areas, spoke English (at least to a degree). “Give me my cell phone,” I said calmly. He cocked his head, still smiling, as if he didn’t understand. I repeated myself, and he began to speak Nepali, which, I’ll tell you now, I don’t. So, I did what any irrational person would do.

SLEAZER SMASH!

SLEAZER SMASH!

I began to shout at him, inching closer to him with every yell. I am 5’9″, which is a fair bit taller than average in South Asia, and I remember feeling guilt for using this against him. He mostly smiled and said quick sentences in his native tongue. I made hand gestures, indicating what I was looking for, until I was full on in my ref voice. He flagged out his pockets to show me he had nothing. He showed me his own shitty cell phone. I continued to shout at him, all the while thinking “this is not the best plan you’ve had, Sleazer.”

Men came around him, close to him, staring at me with furrowed brows. I shouted “CORA! CORA!” and pointed to the man, hoping for just once, Sanskrit and Nepali would just fucking line up. My friend was standing quite a bit away, looking at me with a completely reasonable “what the fuck” on her face. As the men around the smiling guy looked more and more angry, I thought I was about to get jumped. It was just a $20 cell phone, and it was a prepaid account… I should probably not do battle with a legion of tiny foreigners…

But then, one of the men quietly said something and after a pause, the smiling dickbag produced my phone from some mysterious place on his person. The cops didn’t care a moment later, when one of them finally sauntered by. Whatever.

I was just expecting a call from my Brahmin friend later that day so we could, ironically, continue to recite Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.

I have no way to end this story, so… here’s a ram that busted ass out of a shrine I was standing next to one day.

HAY! GET OFF MY LAWN OK!

Posted in random stuff about South Asia, Super Random | Leave a comment

Hooray! I Figured Something Out!

I am not super sure what it is I figured out, but as of right this minute, I have some weird mashup of plug-ins that is making my posts pop up on FaceBook on my profile and on a page I made, so people could click  “follow” and not be having to follow whatever nonsense on my personal profile. I mean, if you’re into that, cool.

I’m super tired, and un-ironically, it’s, um. Well, you know. It’s late by Tuesday-standards. So, instead of finding a neat pic, Imma dig through the bunch I already have.

I feels.

I feels.

Here’s the page’s plug, and I’ll be adding stuff to things soon:

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Sending Your Zeebies Away

You probably know, if you’re reading this and know who I am, that I am a supporter of “Team Zeeb.” I love all derby people, sure, but I’ve put the majority of my time in as a referee or NSO. I support them hard. Sometimes it’s tough, like now, when I am up to my gills in real lifery, but I try to give my emotional support, buy their do-dads for fundraising (which are always quite fancy), and do whatever to see that zeeby smile.

baby Zebra

SMILE OK

That’s why Imma post on this from my point of view: Go West, Derby Refs!

Let me give you the short version, before I unleash with all my words: three refs trying to go from New England to the Mid-West to officiate a tournament, road trip-style. Donating to their cause is flexible (give as much or little as you like) and if you choose one of their “perks” you can get anything from a social media shout out to personal zebra party time (I actually rather fancy the hand-drawn comic by one of the refs, but I am cool like that. Broke, but cool). Donations cover cost of travel and “being there” expenses.

All the words:
If you are a skater and have been to a tournament, there’s a fair chance you went with your league. If you went with your league, there’s a fair chance your dues and funds from fundraisers, tickets sales, and merch went into paying for your trip. If your league goes, and some of your officials applied, they likely got to come with you (but with certain stipulations, such as “four people to a car; three must be skaters; referees don’t count as skaters,” etc.).

AIN'T NO PACK OK!

AIN’T NO PACK OK!

So, while they got to go, there is the limitation of the application (which is determined by the tournament people) and of space and funding. Hell, sometimes they pay the whole thing out of pocket, depending on the circumstances.

Without refs, though, you don’t have a bout, right? Well, with more tournaments popping up and friendships being created in the heat of the bout, more refs are wanting to travel further with the idea of officiating and good times in mind.

 

Before we go any further, let my give you both sides of the “official at a tournament” coin:

  • images1

    YAYAYAYAY!

    Good times! Hell yes! Look at us! LOOK WHERE WE ARE! I got a patch! OMG, yes! We are outside of our city, state, and league, gaining experience with new people and new leagues, who use new strategies, and help us become better refs! We will take this knowledge backwith us, and it will benefit our home leagues, and it will be non-stop high-fivery! Time to network the shit out of this! Oh! I need to update my ref resume (which is seriously a resume we keep of every bout we officiate for use on future applications)! Hey, I know them from FaceBook! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!

  • Holy crap: I am officiating every other bout. I want to watch the bouts I’m not working… but I have to throw off my jersey so I am not confused with an on-duty official… am I nervous? Maybe I’m hyper. I got this. Holy shit, is that So-and-so? This is amazing. Ten minutes until I get to warm up… Had to get up so early (because even if I am not officiating the first bout, we show solidarity by showing up at the same time). Whose hand am I shaking? They don’t have their number on… can’t recognize them without a helmet and a number… Smile. It’s cool. Fuck! Is that a muffin? Is it for me? I am taking that muffin. This is now my muffin. Hisssssss HISSSSSSSSSSSSS my muffinnnnnnnn.

These days, referees are in such high demand and of such low quantity that we literally band together and will often travel out of pocket (unless the league makes an offer, which is usually “you can crash at a house and we will try to get you a few bucks for gas;” zeebs don’t have reciprocal contracts, like leagues do). We are known by our reputation and our resumes. Once the officials are selected for tournaments, there are even fewer, and their schedules can easily become quite hectic from the get-go. This is not a complaint; we do it to ourselves because we love to do it!

Zebras..

Mantis and Jezebel day-napping

Believe you me, it’s exciting as shit. Something I noticed at ref camp last year, though, is that without skaters… usually, we all kinda just go to sleep. I consider it a graceful bow out. You know how you whine when I don’t make the afterparty? Girl, I wanted to be there, but my brain is passed out and if my body hits the couch, it is sure to follow suit.

_49486574_zebra2_pa

Sleazer napped in a field. True story.

It’s not uncommon for the refs to get in on some of the party action, but if you ever participate in sending a unit of zebras to a place, I will tell you now: they will try their damnedest to get an appropriate amount of sleep. No one likes to officiate on wonk-brain, just like no one wants an official with wonk-brain.

zebra-in-tanzania_11974_600x450

Workin’

Officials essentially travel around to gain experience. It’s like a research trip. You see the magical unicorn players (I saw Quadzilla at MRDA and inside I was jumping up and down screaming “unicorn! Beautiful unicorn!” while I was outwardly chill. Gotta jam time, unicorn. Gotta jam time), you feel the excitement, you are part of the experience, and you’re taking home something great for your league: your experience.

 

There are GREAT times, but the real satisfaction is in networking and doing a great job.

We love derby, just in a strange and different way than the skaters. Wouldn’t you like three more people to come give you zeeb love? If you’re not going to that tournament, wouldn’t you love to send a zeebie to provide love for your friends?

I just love this.

Posted in Derby | 2 Comments

Derby Unicorns

Do you know who designed the flier for your last bout? Or who made up the program? Or who booked the venue, arranged the ticket sales, updated the website, put your name on the IBRF (do you know what the IBRF is?), advertised your debut on the radio, put up fliers, took down those fliers, arranged interviews with the local campus, announced your bout, refereed your team, took down stats for paperwork (which means your league can remain WFTDA), put together your gift packet, made contact for your travel bout, or arranged your NSOs?

If you answered “yes” to the above, please enjoy this faery-kitten and move along:

adorable-kitten-dressed_large

Did you answer “no?”

Find them. Be one of them. At least know who they are, because they made this happen for you.

Did some mysterious derby unicorns train up the new girls, gather equipment for beginners, arrange everything down to the bucket of temporary tattoos in your locker room, put your headshot on something, make all those awards, or take that picture you are using as your header pic on FaceBook? The scoreboard doesn’t magically update itself, does it? The stats are manufactured out of thin air, right? Where did these mystical beasties come from? KNOW.

Join the secret legion of unicorns.

Thank them. They’re your league-mate, or an injured skater who still wants to be a part of this machine, or a derby widow, or a new girl, or a superfan. Without you telling them that their efforts are appreciated, they will fade away. It is apparently much easier to say “you’re doing it wrong” than it is to just say “thank you!”

Everyone loves love and about zero* people like to have someone screaming in their face.

If you deign to complain about anything on your league, literally anything, let me tell you a secret: you can change it. That’s the magic of “grass-roots:” as long as you’re being reasonable and put your time in, things can be just as you imagined. It’s a “we,” not a “them;” an “ours” not a “theirs.”

Roller derby is a machine and it has lots of parts. Machines only work when all of those parts function in unison. It is a team sport in every imaginable aspect. It’s not smoke and mirrors; it’s people doing things for the greater good. What is a grass-roots movement without participation? Woodstock ’99, that’s what (it was a terrible time, children).

If you don’t like something and you don’t actually know the amount of absolutely time-consuming effort that went into training for a position, designing something, arranging something, then probably don’t write a scathing email or talk mad shit.  You don’t know what you’re talking about and you are shitting on someone who decided to take their own spare time and use it for you. It’s not just someone knowing about a secret button and pressing it and out pops your bout; it’s loads of people foregoing sleep, obsessing over details, and trying to make something perfect for you out of love.

Find out how that thing works, get involved, help out, make polite suggestions, ask questions, get in there, be a part of it. This is your sport. This is your league. This is our hobby. Make it wonderful out of love for your sport and your league. It is all about you, but you are part of us. Let’s make it awesome together.

*rough estimate

 

Posted in Alright!, Derby | 22 Comments

Grad School for a Narcissist

I am referring to myself. Actually, I usually call myself a “self-loathing narcissist,” because I alternate between an inflated ego and hating myself. Most of the latter is this regret for not just being a normal person with a boring plan and a dreadful life. I honestly think things would have been easier, and I cannot tell if I would have been happier. I don’t think I would have been, but I also don’t think I would have to face the strange problems I have gotten myself into in the name of “doing what I want.”

The benefits of studying a long-forgotten area in a rarely attended field are numerous. To many people, you seem mysterious; so few people are doing it, it’s like a playground and you are in control of the fort and the monkey bars; funding may be reduced, but your projects are so strange and neglected, people want to see you succeed; and you get to do something that truly excites you. You are a unicorn and people just want to watch you be a sweet, one-horned horse galloping around, biting faeries out of the air and spitting rainbows, or whatever unicorns are supposed to do. According to my research, chances are that’s what they did, and I’m the academic here, right?

On the other hand, you have to create your space. You have to try to work yourself into a home department and make it work. You have to vie for spots which should be easily open to you, as they have been neglected for decades, until you apply for them and people suddenly realize how neat it would be to work on that same project, even if they have not spent the time you have honing the necessary skills (read: they have no fucking clue). Your work may seem uninteresting to many, just as it may seem the opposite to others. Some people don’t even like unicorns. It’s a sad reality we must all face.

In my first semester of grad school, I was in a theories course that mainly dealt with pre-modern and modern in an area that I have little knowledge about. I was one of two students not studying this area and this period, or close to it, and the other student could, at the very least, easily relate his area, as it was a predecessor, to an extent. I often had little I wanted to say in class, for as much as I like blank stares and dismissal by those who are quick to do so when they don’t understand the “other,” I preferred to wall flower. Finally, it came down to the professors calling on me, asking my opinions on the book we were reviewing that week.

This particular week, about halfway through the semester in a course filled with my entering cohort and a few outside students, I pointed out that I thought the text was weak for not including my area. I talked about how it would have been beneficial to do so, and after being cut off several times, gave up. They wanted me to talk, but hoped I would say something that relates to their research. I can’t, just as they can’t do the same for me. I never understood why some professors are so against learning something new… but I have been told there are many who are embarrassed by ignorance, and will show it by being fairly rude. In fact, the professor who was always quick to cut me off ended the class period by saying “This book is actually quite good and worthwhile, if you’re not all ‘ooo I study esoteric nonsense.'” The last bit was in a high-pitched, simpering voice.

Quickly, as a joke, I said “That doesn’t even sound like me,” but even as the words were leaving my mouth, I realized, it was meant to sound like me.

He back-peddled feverishly, but did not apologize. I started to panic inside. I do study esoteric nonsense, but it’s better than trying to add in a slight variation on some overused concept to an over-saturated field. My research is important, it just addresses things which are interesting or important to a smaller group (at least in this country). Really, though which progresses academia: bringing something new and strange to the table, or recycling tired data and arguments?

I have always enjoyed the position of the “other.” I don’t go looking for the strange or the radical, by any means, but there’s something wonderful about forgotten, mysterious things that intrigues me. It’s lucky that I feel this way, as when I publish, if anyone ever writes on the topic again, they will have to cite my name. For others in their comfortable fields, they will just cross their fingers. Do I sound like a jackass? I prefer narcissist. I will drown staring longingly at my mind’s reflection in a pool of esoteric nonsense, and I will love it.

My academic career, on the whole, has dealt with professors like this. They are, in fact, rare, I should point out and for each one of them, there are five supportive and wonderful professors. They love unicorns, as they are simply unicorns with offices, while the former are just some dang ol’ horses.

It’s one thing to essentially be told you are wasting time or your pursuits are “eh” at best while an undergrad, and quite another as a grad student. As an undergrad, you do things like join clubs and honors societies, go to fun events on campus, make crafty things at the student center, play recreational sports, and date. There is a lot of frolicking and laughing and FaceBook photos that you wished you weren’t tagged in. As a grad student, you have to worry about comprehensive exams, reading several books a week, writing an original thesis (which will be a smallish book), keeping office hours, and having money. This is not to say undergrad is not challenging, it just seemed like… I had all the time in the world, then.

While grad school has all but crushed the raging ego I once had and reduced me to someone who almost wishes they would fail, just so they could whine and cry and bemoan fate while working a perfectly good 40-hour-a-week job, returning home to watch sitcoms and eat dinner in front of the TV, it has also added to the prestige of having a rather long CV (academic resume). I love talking about the things I’ve done, but, since now they are almost all focused and outside of reality, my audience is fairly limited.

Since I’ve become a grad student, I’ve essentially quit drinking and I’ve been on… less than a dozen dates (over nearly three years, spread out over four guys). The club I belong to is formal and we vote on things… and have to state our name and department every time we speak. This semester, I am out from full-time derby, as I have too much to do and hardly have time for open skate. I don’t know how to meet people now, because hanging out on a Saturday night is rare and discussion doesn’t seem to happen like it did when I was 18. When people ask what classes I’m taking, they just say “oh…” in response, as the titles all sound like crazy talk (though the content is fun). I spend breaks doing research instead of seeing other people, which means when I do finally see other people, I am like a stupid dog… all “hey hey hey hey!”

In doing what I want, I have essentially cut myself off from the outside world. You hear about the ivory tower in academia, I’m sure, but I suppose their should be one for the grad students as well. A chert tower, perhaps, or granite. How anyone supposes a tower could be built of ivory in the first place is beyond me… poaching laws and all. Anyway, the way I currently imagine my tower is quite tall with no entrance or exit, and a single window from which I watch the world pass me by.

Even in this imaginary scenario, my hair is quite short.

Rapunzel reference. I’m out!

Posted in Super Random | Leave a comment

Holy Shit! Pope Washes Feet!

Guys, I have to tell you something: I’m Atheist. It doesn’t mean I’m an asshole. I actually love religions. About as biased as I get is “I like this one better, because some of the gods fly around on flowers and glow.” I think we can all agree, that is pretty neat.

I don’t find it as amazing as apparently the rest of the planet that Pope Francis washed two teen-aged, Muslim prisoners’ feet. I would actually rather know how the girls felt, as it would be more interesting to me. Were they pressured into accepting this blessing? Did they feel comfortable having a) a very old man wash and kiss their feet, b) the leader of another religion do so? Did they care at all?

I completely understand the Catholic message and why everyone is like “holy shit! This is the best!” But… have you considered maybe it’s not the best? Maybe it’s not some acceptance of women? Maybe it’s a political “hey, look over here!” Weren’t we just whining that the Monsanto Protection Act was signed in, while all of us were changing our FaceBook profile pics and paying attention to SCOTA?

My curiosity, however, has been seen as “pigeonholing an entire religion,” that is to say, I have been accused of lumping all Muslims into a group of people who probably view getting your feet washed as an act of allocating sacred time (read your Eliade, kids) in another religious order, uh, kinda weird. I didn’t say he was wrong to do it, but I see it more of a “check it out” rather than respecting of other faiths, which is something we need to look into, especially in America.

Actually, let me summarize sacred time for you, so you can get the whole view I am standing around in (and you’ll want to buy that book, I’m sure): it’s the idea that by recreating events from religious texts, one can be outside the vulgar time and space we occupy, and enjoy a supernatural reality outside this plane.

So, when the Pope washes anyone’s feet, he’s recreating Jesus’ washing of his apostle’s feet, putting himself and the washed person outside of this reality. It’s symbolic, yes, but there is a reason for specific symbolic acts, especially those which recreate a supposed reality which makes their role one of, let’s say, the divine, making it a truly religious experience by harnessing the power of recreating a momentous occasion according to his doctrine.

But not by the Muslim doctrine.

That’s kinda why it is always men who have their feet washed. The apostles were male, so to recreate this with any accuracy, the targets must be male. So, the really amazing thing is that the Pope has diverged from the ancient event by recreating sacred time with people of a different sex. You essentially knew that, though. That’s why everyone is either up in arms or thrilled to death. I’ve just said it according to religious theory.

Now… I wonder if you can recreate sacred time if you do change something held so dear… Can you fail to create sacred time or space by switching something for something else? Hell. It’s a can of worms, but the fact is, I am just a thinker. It doesn’t change my view. It’s just interesting and my overarching goal in life is to be interested.

I am not going to pigeonhole a damned thing here, because I have other shit to do. I will very simply state that Muslims only have Allah. They do not see anything before him, so to the point they do not even have images. It is probably viewed as strange, at best, but I am curious, and my curiosity was met with derision. Cool.

I just think it’s a bit strange of all the women on the planet, he picked teenagers in prison of a different faith. If you Google around… you won’t find anything on their point of view. They’re not people in this sacred time, they are objects. Objects don’t have voices. Prisons usually, you know, dictate what is going to happen for the day.

“But the Pope isn’t a religious leader, he’s a world leader,” my devout colleague told me yesterday. He is only a world leader in nations willing to subscribe to the idea that he holds divine power or, at the very least, have a large Christian contingency. Sure, the Pope weighs in on politics in Europe and the West, but he has nothing going on in Asia, really. I suppose it depends on how you view the world. Then, I would think about Western concepts of the world and its people for hours on end… Not to disprove anyone, but, just, you know, to think.

Think of something in a different light. It’s interesting. But, you know, it will make you a hack.

Posted in Super Random | 4 Comments

Community Service?

Earlier this year, nominations were supposed to go out for people who did things more than to simply further their career, aka “community service.” I thought about my life. What do I do? A lot. For whom? Well, depends on how you look at it.

Last year, I had thought about volunteering at the local no-kill shelter after my best cat died. This place has “cat apartments,” which is a building filled with rooms of kitties put together based on their personalities or something like that. Feral cats with feral cats; cats who need to lose weight with other chunkies (called “The Biggest Loser Room”); cats who like other cats together; cats who are bitchy apart; and so on.

I get too busy, though. Sure, lame cop out, but I didn’t want to volunteer for something when my schedule changes literally three times a year. So, I kept thinking. Do I do anything for the community?

Oh! I do. Here is the letter I submitted (with omissions) and, though I never heard back and maybe my application was laughable (this was written after not sleeping for 52 hours, so, yeah, I do get a bit busy), I believe it. Mostly because I am usually correct, so why would I be wrong, now?

For nearly three years, I have been an active member of a women’s flat track roller derby league[]. Even though roller derby became most popular in the 1960s for providing fast-paced, brutal entertainment, which was often staged, that version of the sport is considered dead. During the early 2000s, women across the country began grass-roots movements to bring roller derby back from its 30-year hiatus as a true competitive sport without all the crowd-pandering antics, and an emphasis on female empowerment. While it may sound strange to claim one has served the community via a team sport, there is a lot more to modern roller derby than most people know.

Roller derby has become the fastest growing sport in the United States and, alongside its development, a unique community formed. It has become so popular because it offers several exceptional benefits to the players and the community.  As mentioned before, there is a strong emphasis on female empowerment in every aspect. Roller derby players come from all walks of life and the [local] league has a fairly typical amalgam of undergraduate and graduate students, professors, nurses, bankers, retail saleswomen, stay-at-home-moms, and anything in between.

Roller derby inspires people, especially young women, to exercise, exert themselves, set and achieve short and long-term goals, and work in a team atmosphere. These activities are not necessarily something women find good outlets for on a regular basis, let alone one outlet that can provide so many different benefits. Obviously, as a sport, roller derby involves rigorous physical exercise, but as a league, it also offers the benefits of community, which fosters friendship and emotional support. In this community, women in so many walks of life have found companionship and encouragement, as well as a sense of physical accomplishment through simple exercise and participation in a team sport, which often involves traveling to bouts and tournaments, as well as winning awards. The roller derby community is an anomaly in the world of team sports, as skaters adopt pseudonyms and often an on-track persona to coincide with it. This may seem strange to some, but in doing so, women may find strength in their derby persona, which begins to manifest in their daily lives.

Aside from the overarching benefits roller derby provides many communities, [our league] is a 501 C3 not-for-profit organization and has participated in raising money and awareness for local women’s shelters in the past. As a not-for-profit, each member pays dues based on their position in the league, which makes each skater a partial owner. Each skater is also an active participant in running the league and is part of one of the many committees that work together to organize events. By being a partial owner and organizer of the league, members are inspired to do their best to ensure its success, which offers its own sense of accomplishment. Members of [our league] have also been given opportunities that would not be available otherwise, which not only gives the league and its members a feeling of pride, but also [aids the community in some area one might not suspect, such as tourism and education]. A few examples are [league members] being featured in [a local magazine], which is available at many tourism offices around town; being cast in [] a film sponsored by [the university], which was part of the final project of a film studies class and allowed students the opportunity to work on a live set, alongside a small, professional film crew to gain hands-on experience; and the extremely common example of being interviewed, photographed, or recorded as part of journalism student’s project for class.

I joined the [the league] as an official in April 2010, as I was looking for an active community outside of work and school, as well as a fun way to exercise. For two and a half seasons, I served as the Head Non-Skating Official (NSO) and organized the paperwork and people necessary to run home bouts. For nearly the same amount of time, I skated as a referee at home and away bouts. This position requires that I not only monitor the bouts and make sure the skaters are following the rules, but also that I pay close attention to the actions of the skaters for their own safety. For two years, I served as the Vice President, which is a highly involved position, requiring that I vote even on the smallest of matters, but also working on interpersonal relationships between the skaters when problems arose.

Though these positions may sound detached, every aspect of roller derby has a personal level. Serving as Head NSO has certainly been my most involved and rewarding position with the league, but I have also enjoyed the opportunity to mentor new skaters on technique and often will stop my drills to do so. In the same vein, I have actively encouraged new referees in their pursuits, as it is likely the hardest position to get used to or perform in derby, or most any sport.

[I am aware that I sound extremely egotistical in the following paragraphs; this is supposed to be an essay about me, though, and most of it addresses the “yay” of derby, so excuse me while I toot the fuck out of my own horn; I am actually quite gracious to have had this experience] As the Head NSO, I successfully resurrected one of the most integral parts of public bouts, which also sounds like the least fun: paperwork. Prior to taking this position, the league had not had an Head NSO for several seasons, and skaters who were mostly untrained in NSO duties with little concern for the officials were often reluctantly put in the position of organizing the sixteen people required (recently, the required number has dropped because of a change in the ruleset). I found that it wasn’t necessarily the position an NSO assigned that caused people to not volunteer; it was the isolated nature, as the NSO would not be in the throng of cheering fans or excited skaters, but quietly off to the side, performing essential duties. The NSOs were often put into positions with little guidance and no one to look to.

With this in mind, I made sure that every bout I organized involved appropriate recognition, encouragement, and training of the NSOs for every bout. This mission began with silly notes recruiting volunteers for the positions, offering high fives and funny, yet impossible, rewards for those who helped out. Over the years, I found humor and appreciation built a solid base of volunteers for the positions. Most of the volunteers are new skaters who barely know anyone and are just getting used to the atmosphere of roller derby.

Because of this, I made sure to pay special attention to these volunteers, encouraging them to do their best and reassuring them that, even if they made an error, doing their best was perfect in my eyes. While the reward of knowing I was helping people find their place in roller derby, I must admit that taking this stance was the cause of me spending many long nights searching for corrections to errors, but it was worth it. Over time, I found new ways to support these volunteers by creating a special, handmade award for the best NSO each season (which was an award that had never been given in our league, though the skaters are eligible every bout, as well as at the yearly awards ceremony) and trinkets during special occasions, as well as offering a clinic specifically for our own NSOs, as many of them cannot afford the national clinics.

Aside from the experiences of being in trained and elected positions to help further the league, there is a very personal aspect to roller derby, which has appealed to me more than anything else: watching other women discover something inside themselves that they didn’t realize was there. I have watched shy women find themselves; body-conscious women realize their beauty; women from emotionally unstable backgrounds find solid ground; and women with low self-esteem realize their worth.

This is not to say roller derby is a band of misfits, by any means, but there is something amazing about witnessing women striving towards a better self together, no matter their life or background. Due to the popularity of women’s roller derby and the advent of junior roller derby leagues, younger and younger women are becoming motivated towards these same positive and healthy ends. No matter the age, though, roller derby is a positive aspect of many women’s lives, even in a college town in the middle of [BFE], and I have been honored to be a part of this league, as well as these women’s lives.

 

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DA-45 Trucks for Laser Plates

If you know me and have looked at my skates, you might have noticed my awesome Laser plates. You probably thought “dummmmmmb. Magnesium is the way to go,” but I thought back “whatever. Mining that shit is a complete bitch.” And it is. Prepare for the discontinuation of magnesium plates, kids. You know how hard it is to mine nylon?

It’s not. It’s not even mined. Eat it.

  • Are they light? Yup.
  • Are they durable? Oh, my, yes.
  • Are they awesome? Yup!
  • Are the expensive? Yeah 🙁 You can get the plate alone for cheaper and skip the step of having nylon trucks laying around, though.

Laser was the first ever nylon plate. They look bulky, but really aren’t. Due to their thickness/size, I have no fear that I will break them (while doing anything normal). My skates are often lighter than many of my friends’ with fancy moon metal plates and what have you. They don’t have or require pivot cups, and there is a metal shunt inside the toe stop which allows you to adjust it with an allen wrench and your fingers, rather than loosening/tightening a nut.

They also come with nylon trucks, which might not be exactly what a derby skater is looking for. At WFTDA Ref Camp 2012, I saw two or three other refs wearing the nylon trucks, though I had read about them breaking in derby play (I believe on Skatelog).

The nylon trucks come in a single or double action and, unless you managed to find a set of Ultimate II (metal) trucks from back in the day, you really don’t have options for a metal truck. Worse, and something many of you haven’t understood when I have said it, is that the Ultimate II truck is a single action.

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Above are a few shots of the Ultimate II single action trucks. These are off Ultimate II plates, which were made in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The metal is fairly soft and I’ve dinged them up and managed to even gouge a bit out without a lot of effort. Even so, they’ve held up through three years of my skating, and I don’t know how many years the previous owner used them. They also have 7mm axles (which means it will not be simple for you to trade wheels with friends without removing the bearings and putting in your own; it also limits your bearing choices to a degree).

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Modern derby trucks? Double action (see how you have two bushings? That means double action. Don’t know what a bushing is? That’s why god invented Google).

I have been skating on Laser Hard Noses with Ultimate IIs for almost three years. I modified my bushing set up based on lengthy discussions at the Skatelog forums and got them to act as much like double action trucks as I could. It really did make a difference, and I love doing things myself, so I can know all the things about the expensive objects I own.

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I used two 85A Sure-Grip Super Cushion cones to mimic the hourglass shaped bushings, which were once popular, cutting them down and edging them slightly to fit in the cap/truck, then about half a 93A cone inverted underneath. If you want more info on the technical aspects of this and some examples of similar setups, look into the “Cone Head” sections of Skatelog.

But, now… now Pitchit from Derby Supply has made my life happy. Derby Supply has, from what I can tell, the only DA-45 truck in existence that will fit a Laser plate. Costing about $30 more than would a regular DA-45 truck, these bad boys have a modified pivot pin which will fit into, not damage, and not snap off in Laser plates. They will even install them for free.

I opted to install them myself, because I am bullheaded and hate for my life to be in any way easy.

The set comes with four kingpins, four trucks (with 8mm axles, which are standard when it comes to derby), eight Sure-Grip Super Cushion barrels (purple 85A), eight bushing caps, and eight nuts (two sizes).

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(kingpins not shown here, as I had already installed them on my plates)

Things you should know if you go the self-installation route: you need a metric allen wrench (I believe it’s a 4.5mm) to thread the kingpins into the plate. You will notice your kingpins have two sets of threads (and if you’ve played with most modern kingpins, this will be familiar). They are threaded opposite themselves, so one you have screwed it into the plate, you can adjust the bolts around the trucks without accidentally loosening the kingpin from the actual plate. You want to get the kingpin in as far as possible, which may mean employing what I call “man hands.” Yes, yes, yes, I am an independent woman and amazing and whatnot, but I have a weakened dominate hand from a rugby injury/surgery and will fully pouty face at a guy to get him to do this for me.

BTW, thanks, Jason 🙂

The larger, thinner nut which screws on first (i.e., on the threaded side that is going into your truck… and when I was doing this photo shoot, I fully forgot to put it on… sorry!) Once the kingpin is set up, you are ready to mount the actual trucks.

First, the wide cap, then your top bushing, truck, bottom bushing (they come with Sure Grip Super Cushion barrels, purple 85A, but I use a yellow 79A barrel on top and an 85A cone on the bottom; it’s a preference thing), cap, and a smaller/thicker nut.

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There is a small, adjustable nut on the pivot pin which allows you to adjust to your own preference and after you have all this set up, you just treat it like any other truck. Tighten if you feel too wobbly, loosen if you feel to constrained.

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The difference for me was fucking astonishing. After taking some laps and making some adjustments (I keep a pretty loose truck), I was amazed at the agility and responsiveness. Remember the first time you loosened your trucks and your brain said “son of a bitch! Cross overs are so much easier now!” That is how I felt about everything. It was like having new feet that were pre-trained. Some of the things I could do with ease using my previous set up were like reflexes with the new trucks. Mohawks, turning around, cuts, cross overs. It’s like flying.

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One of my friends relayed to me that many people are changing over from the 45 degree angled trucks because they felt it made their stance “too high.” Again, this is a preference thing. I did notice I felt a bit higher, but I have also been skating on low, single action trucks, made essentially of pot metal, manufactured in the late-70s-early-80s. There’s going to be a difference. My advice: uh, get lower. When is “getting lower” not good advice, though, right?

Bottom line: if you love/have Lasers and want metal double action trucks, this is perfect. You will not regret this for a moment. Derby Supply will install them for free if you like, and, if you live in the lower 48 states, free shipping! I love free shipping.

Unnecessary Disclaimer: Derby Supply is run by two gentleman skaters, Pitchit and Mr. Awesome, both of whom are lovely individuals and are highly involved in the derby community. There is no overarching corporation and there is no guessing if they know what they are talking about; they do. They didn’t ask me to write this, nor did they give me anything for doing so. I bought these trucks, I love them, I’m telling you about them.

My stats, for reference:

  • 5’9″, high-end middle weight
  • Position: Outside Pack Ref (2.5 years)/Rec Skater (3 years)/Aspiring Blocker (if grad school ever calms down)
  • Skate setup: p1060372 Antik AR-1, Laser Hardnose, DA-45 trucks, Sure-Grip Super Cushions (79A barrel, 85A cone), Bones Reds (photos here show some borrowed Bones Swiss), Heartless Breakers/Stalkers (94A/88A), leather moldable “Muzzles” (discontinued), Gumdrop (not ball) stops, waxed hockey laces

 

Posted in Alright!, Derby, Junk I Think You Should Know | Leave a comment

About This Blog

A thousand times I have thought to keep a blog, but I have never had a single direction that I wished to take it. I have owned this domain for years for that purpose, and finally, I’m like “fuck it.” It started off as a (ridiculously detailed) daily journal of what 33 days in India was like for a tattooed, strange, white woman traveling alone. Now, I will add to it things I feel like writing and categorize them, if anyone is actually looking for a certain thing.

I do what I want.

Subscription problem update: It took way longer than necessary for me to figure this all out (thanks for the confusing instructions, plugin authors). If you want to subscribe to this thing, “like” the FB page (to the right) right and magically links to new posts will appear in your news feed (it posts to your feed, and does not pretend to be you and ask people if they want to play Bubble Orgy or Animal Farm, I promise).

Posted in Junk I Think You Should Know | Leave a comment

Day 33: Mathura/Delhi- The Day I Don’t Get Ripped Off

I called the front desk early this morning and asked them to get me a cab to Delhi. I didn’t want to chance any strange things with the train and figured the taxi would get me there sooner and more comfortably. My flight to the USA leaves at 6:30am tomorrow, so I wanted to make sure I had ample time to get my things together (I could have two full sized suitcases on the way back at 23kg/50lbs each, for example, but currently had one), relax, and get in any last minute whatevers for this trip.

I was told a taxi would be there at 9:30 and would cost 3000Rs, which was 500-1000 less than I was seeing online, so that’s cool. About 9:45, I called the desk to find out why he wasn’t there, yet, to find he had been waiting. I went down, paid the remainder of my hotel bill, and had them write out proper receipts for everything, including the taxi. They added 250Rs in case of tolls, etc. and told me I should put down 2250Rs in advance, so I did. I almost gave them the whole balance, but I am glad that I did not. Only one person at this hotel speaks English well, and another well enough. The taxi driver? Not a lot of English. I gave them the hotel address for Delhi, and a landmark: near the New Delhi Railway Station.

We loaded up my stuff and started off through Mathura. A few blocks later, he stopped in front of another hotel and a man joined us. I recognized this as “me paying for someone else to get a free ride somewhere.” If I’m paying $50 to go a few hours distance, I really don’t feel like having a free loader on. I’m not sure if that makes me a dick, but, in my head, it does not. I began trying to ask the driver who this was and why he was here. Finally, he pointed and said “my friend.” I tried to explain why this was not ok, but ended up phoning the hotel, instead. At first, I got a woman. I had never seen a woman, so I thought maybe I was calling a cell phone (business cards often have multiple numbers going to homes, cells, and the actual business). She assured me repeatedly that she was fine to talk to and wouldn’t just turn me over to the guy who had booked the taxi. She didn’t understand, though, and kept telling me booking me a taxi was no problem… finally, I got flustered and she turned me over to one of the guys… the one that speaks English well enough. He also told me it was no problem to book a taxi, but I finally got my point across: I just left in a taxi and we picked up a non-paying passenger.

I handed the phone to the driver and they had a short conversation. The driver turned to me and pointed to the man next to him. “Problem?” he asked. “YES!” I said. They had a short conversation, and we dropped him off a few blocks away. I curled up in my seat using my lumpy suitcase as a pillow and sort of dozed as we went through the rest of the city. A short while later, we stopped at a gas station. I remembered someone once telling me if you hire a car and they ask you to pay the gas, you have to, but I know that’s not true. I paid all I was going to pay, so I continued to doze.

The door opened and the driver leaned in. “500Rs, madam,” he said to me. I declined and he politely argued for a moment, telling me he had to buy gas. I explained that I was told it was a flat 3000Rs and I had paid extra for tolls, knowing there wouldn’t be 250Rs worth of tolls on this two hour drive. He had a conversation with the pump attendant for a while, and I phoned the hotel, again. The man that spoke English well took my call and told me I absolutely would not pay more and should not pay for the gas. I gave the phone to the driver, they spoke for a few minutes, then he handed me the phone, again.

I sat in the back of the car while the driver had various conversations with various people, then returned. He got in and so did another man. He pointed to him and said “500Rs.” I asked if that guy was going to Delhi, and he said “yes, 500Rs.” I tried to explain that if halfway there, it only cost 500Rs, then it was ridiculous that I paid 3250Rs for the entire trip. He either didn’t understand or didn’t care, so I called the hotel again. Immediately, the man wanted to speak to the driver, and there was a lot of “ji ji ji,” which means “sir,” then we dropped this man off a few blocks away.

What the fuck, dude? I know it’s not $50 in the USA to drive two hours round trip, and I know with that money in hand, I wouldn’t need to pick up people to dissipate the cost. Just… stop.

It took over three hours to get to Delhi, when it should have taken two or less. When we were getting to an area that I sort of recognized, I began looking for the Delhi hotel’s phone number online to try and get us there directly. He kept stopping to ask people where the New Delhi Railway was, and I finally showed him the address. He then asked for the receipt. I think if the receipt had not had the address to the hotel on it, he would have dropped me off at the railway, since I hadn’t fallen for all the crazy stupid bullshit he tried to pull before. That was what his face said.

He kept stopping places to ask people where to go or asking people in traffic. I finally had the hotel on the line and he talked to the man for a few minutes, then handed me the phone. A few seconds later, the man called back and asked to speak to the driver so he could give him directions… This went on for an hour or so. It was infuriating. Much like the time I was in Delhi earlier this week, the driver didn’t believe the writing or my pronunciation and was butchering the name of the hotel, which made things more confusing than locals politely giving directions to a place they didn’t know.

I finally made it, though, and paid him the final 1000Rs. No tip for you, ass. I hadn’t eaten all day, so when I was shown to my awesome room, I immediately ordered food and wolfed it down while looking over the nearest markets. I needed a suitcase, first of all, and everything after that was just extra. I opted to go to a market that Lonely Planet claimed was about middle class and had lots of bobbles.

I took a rickshaw so I wouldn’t get lost. There were only a few hours of daylight left. The market was similar to others. Many of the same stall repeating down the road and few, if any, Westerners. There were several suitcase stalls, so I knew this wouldn’t be a big deal. The first one I stopped at, I pointed to the size I wanted and the man grabbed one that had a strip of fabric reading “POLO” all around the perimeter. I knew it wasn’t Polo, and so did he. He tried to convince me that 3000Rs was reasonable and wouldn’t budge when I offered 1000Rs. Both were ludicrous.

He told me the Polo one was imported and got down another suitcase, exactly the same in design, but with no Polo logo. The badges were the same, the zippers, interior, straps, handle, everything the same, but the color and the brand. He said that one was made locally. I was already exasperated. I bought a two-piece luggage set with proper 360 degree turning wheels and good stitching from Walmart for $40 before I left. I wouldn’t pay almost $60 for this crap. I kept telling him it wasn’t Polo and I knew it was the same, but by the time he was willing to negotiate, I was leaving.

A few stalls only had small bags, though they tried to rope me in, but I wouldn’t be convinced that a handbag was better than a full sized suitcase. I stopped at another stall and the man asked what I was looking for. I pointed to the size I wanted and he invited me in. Once I was in the stall, which was about 6x6x7′ with a hole leading into the next stall, he set two suitcases in front of me. The way things were arranged, I was then trapped in the stall, as one wall had stacks of bags, the other had the “door” with the salesman from the next stall standing in it trying to help this sale, and the man in front of me with the two suitcases. He wanted 3600Rs for a suitcase and I immediately declined, wanting to go to another place rather than argue the price.

He would not let me out, though. He would not move. I repeatedly declined and told him to let me out, but he was rambling about how amazing these really shoddy suitcases were, while the man in the hole to the next stall chimed in rapidly, blocking the doorway. Finally, I moved the guy from the hole by gently pressing him to the side and kicking my way through a pile of empty plastic bags. He started grabbing my arms and my clothes and they both kept demanding I stay. I turned and shouted at the one who had a hold on my arm, ripping it from his hand. “DO NOT TOUCH ME!” I shouted, really angry.

They continued to try and negotiate! Unbelievable!

A few doors down, I paused at another suitcase booth, but as soon as I heard the price, I started to walk away. They were shouting at me and following me and I was still so upset by being grabbed, that I just shouted “BAS!” A Sikh at a nearby booth laughed.

There was a strip of jewelry stores and I had tried a few in the other cities to try and find this type of jade mined in India for my friend. I went in one, where the man tried to convince me a completely different stone was just the same. I went in another to be told I was looking for a “beggar’s stone” and no jewelry shop worth their salt would have it. So, having walked half the market, I decided I would just get a suitcase and leave.

I stopped at the stand closest to the entrance. When he tried to give me the Polo bag spiel, I told him that I didn’t care about name brands and just wanted any case. Cheap. I pointed to a burgundy case that had two raised dolphins on it and the words “MY DOLPHIN.” There.

He grabbed a different case and started to demonstrate the exact same things his colleagues had, but I declined. I want the My Dolphin case. He got it down and started to open it, but quickly shut it. I later found this was because the lining had the repeating POLO pattern on it, and it’s hard to make the case that Polo manufactured this thing. I talked him down to 600Rs from 2500Rs and grabbed a rickshaw to the hotel.

Now, talking him down was easier than the others, obviously. When I had him at 1500, he kept saying his price was 900 and that he wouldn’t make one rupee profit if he went lower. Never believe this. He did not take a 400Rs hit, nor was the quality of the bag over the $11 or so I shelled out for it. It had three stationary wheels on the back and was quite cheaply made. It had dolphins on it and that is all I really cared about.

I tossed the bag on my bed and went downstairs. At the front desk, a young man from Afghanistan was having trouble plugging his laptop in. India has the same plugs as the Middle East and parts of Europe, except they have a pointless ground, as well. If you don’t have the ground, though, your plug will almost always fall out. I took him to my room and gave him one of my unused plug adapters. They cost something like $0.60 and I had only used one the entire trip, as I had brought a small surge protecting powerstrip. He was nice and kept saying he wanted to stay in touch and how he hoped I would go to Afghanistan one day. I kind of hope I don’t, but I don’t know a lot about the country.

A lot of people invite me to visit their country. This guy, the creepy tour guide, the Burmese nun (who also lives in Singapore part of the year), and so on. I told him I was leaving around 4am and he seemed put off, but offered to escort me through town if I had “trouble” in the city. Nothing I can’t handle, and I couldn’t tell if any part of this was a come-on, so I declined. It might sound a little paranoid to think all nice guys are hitting on me, but I have been told a woman traveling alone looks “strange,” and so many “helpful” guys on this trip were a little too helpful, so better safe than sorry.

The man that runs the hotel told me the other market was a two minute walk, to I made my way to it. It was more like five and was a long stretch of the same several shops, with a few odds and ends scattered throughout. Loads of Westerners were around, though, so I knew from the Lonely Planet description, I was there. It was supposed to have been the place for backpackers to go.

I wandered down the street, deciding to browse one side, then the other. A tall, thin man tried to hassle me into his shop and I repeatedly explained I was going up and down the sides. He said I should just take his card, so I followed him into the shop, and once in, he was just like “well, you’re already here, so shop!” No, dude. The guy at the counter understood. I took their card and went back out. A young man from a touring agency struck up conversation with me and I went for his card only to find he was trying to invite me to his country. He showed me pictures of somewhere quite beautiful, but when I repeated I was leaving at 4am, his boss dismissed us.

I went in a few shops. One of them was to try and find that jade, again. No one I had spoken to had known what I meant. They would say they did, then show me all the wrong stones. It’s called “bloodstone,” and is a green jade with red specks and marks through it. Everyone tried to show me red or black stones or shaped glass or whatever. Two shops in Varanasi, one in Agra, and several here.

This is awesome:

 

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I finally found a shop with loads of beads and stones. The old man that ran the shop came in and I told him I was having no luck with bloodstone. He immediately rattled of the description. I was so excited! “I’m a gemologist,” he informed me. I had seen a few degrees on the walls of these jewelry and trinket shops claiming other people were, but I didn’t care. This dude knew what I wanted.

I wanted two small, same-shaped stones, but he had maybe 40 differently shaped stones, some carved into the vague shape of hearts, others meant to set into jewelry. The best ones were meant to be set in men’s rings, but were about 400Rs for one small stone, which was… shaped for a ring. The concept of “faceting” has escaped some jewelers here. Faceting is for fancy, clear, usually precious stones to show the beauty of the stone, right? You’ve seen the cuts. However, they will cut jades, jaspers, glass, agates, and other things that don’t need faceted like this… these jades (or jaspers, as he called them) were no exception. I liked the stones, just not the cuts.

I selected several different cuts and variations along with a large ball of the stone. I got them quite cheap, though, if the guy at the fancy store was right, it should be something like 10Rs for any stone, and I was paying about 80 per. Whatever. My friend had given me money in advance AND she’s awesome, so why not? They are quite lovely in their variations.

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After this, I pretty much had all the things I had intended to buy in India: a suitcase and these stones. So, I went to various shops and bought trinkets and little things here and there. I found myself at the shop I had taken the card from and talked to the guy running it. He was quite nice. Probably my age, apparently a piercer, and just… nice. It was refreshing. We talked for a while, then he showed me some body jewelry. It was strange, though, because I have 00g plugs in my ears that you can see through, and he showed me the fake ones… the 18g ones that make it look like you have 00g… and the ones he thought were 00 were probably a 2. I have encountered this problem before in India…

I ended up just buying a small, cute nose pin and left out. I bought a small wooden statue at one stand. It was Krna, but had no flute in his hands. When I asked him for one, as many shops have ornate flutes separate for some reason, he left for a moment, and returned with a clipped off plastic toothpick. He produced a second one, shorter in length. I didn’t even care. I thought I had the two flutes with the baby Krsna, so I took it and left.

This is a shop made wholly of my nightmares:

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As I was exiting the market, a man asked if I wanted to see coats. I had tried repeatedly to buy a coat, as it’s quite cold at times here, especially in my room, but never found one under $100. His were 600Rs or… $11. And they weren’t bad! The first one I tried on was really nice with lined sleeves and body with a detachable hood. It was this burnt… brown, though. The others weren’t the same quality, though, so I took it.

I got a bit lost on the way to my hotel. It was a bit after dusk and people were wandering. Or men, I should say. Just men. They had empty pints and were filling off of one, pissing on things, getting cabs, talking. It was a bit seedy, though, and I had been asked if I wanted to buy hash just a few blocks away (if you want to stop this crap, just shout “I DO NOT WANT HASH!” and they disappear quickly; it’s not legal in South Asia, no matter what they tell you). I backtracked and found my way to the hotel. I asked for a cab at 4am, ordered room service, and went up to upload photos and distribute my things across my bags.

Here is the strange, fake-Vegas neighborhood I’m in:

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I ended up staying up way too late… 4am taxi… not a fan.

I uploaded this quite late, but this is the demon fruit I got on the street at Mathura with a piece of newspaper containing spices… I don’t have a clever photo finish. Sorry.

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Oh, wait. More pictures from the Mathura train station— Krsna ruining a giant stork’s day:

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and… about to club something with a red bull…

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Posted in India, Mathura, New Delhi | Leave a comment