Friday, December 5, 2008

Don't Be Such A Melancholy Bitch At 10am

I wake up to rain. The padlock on my window rusts a little faster. Perhaps one day it will rust through and I might open the anti-theft bars to let in the 7 story tree that I stare at each day.

The rain continues. The rain slows. The rain nearly stops and I know that if I look out my window and down to the street I'll see all the pollution it has picked up making sick little rivers. The construction sounds start again. It's 10:16am.

My friend, the tree outside the window, is looking fresh and clean. There are clustered buds of will-be flowers growing between the leaves. It will bloom for the Spring festival, perhaps in yellow or red.

But I've never seen bees here. All the hummingbirds are kept in cages.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


In a world of land walkers
where depths are greater than heights
"Because it's there"
keeps lashing me forward
I find myself again in the
heart of the middle of nowhere
Yangshuo County
counting out the last hour of being 23
the second consecutive birthday abroad
beside the best broad of my life
surrounded by the dog-eared pages
of climbing guides
and accounted memories
staring into the past
and reading about the future
yet I'm not the first here
I am one of the many few
that find this way in life
this path that doesn't end
yet isn't finished

I hear the click of karabiners
and the shuffle of rope bags
and try to squint far enough ahead
to see past the leaders

I've never heard a rock-drill
so I think about buying one
a battery, spare bits
and a pint of Guinness
I think about sharp edges
shallow pockets
and a desperate gaston
I produce a short film in my mind
and title it
The One That Wouldn't Go
wonder why we wish we could
but never do
I feel my palms sweat
and crack my knuckles
to remind myself that tendons are
stronger than bone
that if you pull hard enough
eventually the skeleton of doubt
will break
and rake my fingers through
a month's beard growth
the rest is in the first step forward
and these soles aren't yet worn through

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Where The Fuck Were You?

You missed it. You stayed at home. You don't have an excuse as to why you weren't there to cut through the thick clouds of cigarette smoke and anxiety. Frank Booth mashed electro-noise rock and we found the only answer to the tightening in our chests was to move closer. Our tympanum collapsed and stayed marked with the creases you find in recycled tinfoil and can never iron out.

Justice Yeldham took the stage and pressed his face against glass. Pushed until it broke, pushed until blood coloured his beard, pushed until we pushed back and the moment collapsed as he smashed the last pane over his head.

Then silence.

Then applause and we jumped and we hollered. We were cowboys' children with no manners and proud for the ringing in our ears.

We've been waiting to ask you, "where the fuck have you been?"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Soundtrack To Another Country

It's quite possible that everything I've done has been done so as to be cut up into scenes. These scenes could then be rearranged to fit with a soundtrack. Preferably something French. I've always felt the French were more emotionally endowed. Maybe I mean The Europeans. I guess I mean Scandinavians.

There was this one scene the other day. I was sitting in an office with glass walls which really made me conscious of my chronic nose-picking habit. When I though Chronic I think I may have made a mistake in language. There are books about this. They call it Manifestation. So I thought Chronic and I Manifested something else. Somewhere in my brain some neurons sparked to life at the same time I thought Chronic and they said Eye Thing.

I got Eye Thing for the first time in India and I thought Hot Compress. This helped me to Un-Manifest, which is in and of itself also Manifest. Manifest and Compress worked together and I got better. This time, this time with my finger up my nose, Eye Thing latched onto Self-Conscious and together they got red and swollen and sore. I didn't swear. Well I did, in my brain, but I don't think anyone was listening, at least not Eye Thing. Self-Conscious might have heard though. Actually, I'm pretty sure he did.

Right now, right while I'm writing this but not right while you're reading this, I'm sitting at home watching The L Word. I didn't leave the apartment today because Self-Conscious needed some one-on-one time. Instead I spent the day doing everyone's laundry. It was just my roommates' so I don't mean EVERYONE, but there weren't enough hangers. It took me a long time and I forgot to cook them dinner and now, right now, they feel like Everyone.

In the fragile time between hanging and switching and folding and hanging Everyone's laundry I paused The L Word. This made the time less fragile. This made me feel Different. Not different as in, wow this is completely new, different as in wow this is the me I keep trying to find. I lost Different somewhere back home and I thought that maybe he went travelling so I went travelling, too. Now Different and I are living in China. We even share a bed.

With The L Word not there to converse with Self-Conscious Different got a little bigger. Different really wanted to Be. Who wouldn't? I opened a chat window on the internet and worked with Different to talk to a friend in Norway. Her name is Line. Some people read that and think it's like a line you draw on a piece of paper. I, Different and I, both feel that we shouldn't let people think that. So don't think that. Think leenah instead. You probably feel a little bit more worldly now. Me, too.

I told Lina about a band that will be playing here soon. We agreed that Shining was pretty good. They have a really different sound. Some people call them jazz or heavy metal or electro. I think they sound like a soundtrack. I even have a good idea about a scene or two they would work well with.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In Brief

I haven't written about my individual travel experiences for some time now as they seem to have all coalesced into one homogeneous learning experience. I look back now, not on highlights, but rather on the process of becoming something new, something rooted not where my feet meet the ground, but rather where my life meets experience. I look back now and no longer try to dissect who or what got me here.

Sometimes though, the important experiences draw an obvious connection to their end result. As simple as 70 metres of rope between my harness and a new friend's belay device.

The world is our testpiece.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Manali Weather Report

There are words that we haven't discovered yet
words which archaeologist are still excavating
one of these words is Manali
And the reason I hadn't discovered Manali and the northern (though still sub-Kashmiri) province of Himanchal Pradesh is because I'm a huge idiot for spending too much time in the southern beaches of Goa. Don't, simply don't bother with any part of India but Himanchal Pradesh. There's no point. You're wasting your time, and here's a testament as to why:

After finally succumbing to the heat of Hampi (52 C during the day as you may recall) and acknowledging that I couldn't climb sun baked granite any longer I started my ascent through India. I proposed a quick stop back in Palolem to visit some wanderlusting Norwegians and a rogue Iranian or two before heading north. "Quick stop" quickly turned into "1 week bender" involving a random "4 chicken slaughter" plus "1 drunken palm tree ascent" to steal "5 coconuts." A little wild with the quotation marks there, sorry.

Eventually though I did manage to extricate myself from the beach and the binge and start my epic B-line journey to Himanchal Pradesh and the foothills of the Himalayas. On the way though, a brief stop in Rishikesh, the world capital of yoga and one of the holiest cities in India was due...if only to visit yet another Norwegian, Christian the film student.

Lucky me, I picked up a bit of food-poisoning/hacking-chest-caught-action on the way though. I don't think that it was the 15 hour connection from Madgaon to Mumbai that did it, but it may have been the street food in Mumbai, the dodgy hotel in Mumbai, the 26 hour connection from Mumbai to Delhi, the "sleeping" on the floor of the second class waiting room in the New Delhi Station, the dodgy meal on the train from Delhi to Haridwar, or the train itself and it's overclocked AC. Not sure really.

Rishikesh (through the sickness and surprising heat) wasn't really my scene. I was all geared for relaxing in mountains and seeing a few babas and sadhus kicking about, but what I got was a full on assault of beggars and angry Hindus. Not cool. I don't get it though, most people seem to really love Rishikesh, but it could be that my sick lungs just couldn't take the constant assault of Charas smoke. Perhaps I was just too jaded to really appreciate the magic of the Gangas and I've really crossed off one of the most magical places in India. I don't really know. Hindsight aside, the sack of antibiotics, pain killers, hydrating salts and bowel stabilisers that I picked up from the doctor next to our Ashram cum Guesthouse did put me back in the mood to shoulder my bag again.

So, onward bound, I hopped through a grueling set of connections (including a 2km hike with all my gear, Djembe included) to catch the 3pm overnight (17 hour) public bus from Deradhun (just outside Rishikesh) to Manali. Most people opt for the easy and cheap availability of sleeping pills and/or raw Valium from a local Chemist to get them through a journey like this, but I've never been one for superfluous medicines...I'm tough like that. Tough though I am, I am also a bit of a hypocrite at times and currently have a pocketful of tablets for the next such overnight public bus. May that journey never come.

"Manali" though, that's the topic of this particular blog, and while some people may think that Manali is something you can contract from going barefoot into public bathrooms, I knew it to be the place where three English climbers (whom I had met in Hampi) had been developing some sick bouldering on previously unclimbed rock. It was also the opportunity to escape the manic honking and constant heckling of Charas dealers and shoe polishers of the rest of India.

Refering back to my "steadfast" and "conservative" view on pharmaceuticals wherein I did not take the Valium, I got to enjoy all 17 hours of overnight public bus ride sharing my tiny alloted space with my rucksack, drum and daypack. Cozy though that description may sound, it was more like a drop-in course with a carnival contortionist on speed. And so, from my contorted position I watched as the sun came up to bring life to the villages, rivers, cedars, oaks, rotadehndrons, cherry orchards, wheat fields, wild ganja and of course the snowy peaks of the Himalayas themselves. Completely in awe of my surroundings, I silently congratulated myself for making a good travel decision. I unfolded myself somewhat to pull out my jacket and socks, as I suddenly realised that the temperature was approximately 30 degrees lower than it had been in Rishikesh. It was all feeling a bit like home.

On having abandoned travel guides in the last few months I find that the biggest shortcoming in my travels is arriving at a new place completely disoriented and without even the slightest idea of the layout of my new surroundings. Arriving in Manali was no different, and all I knew of the place was that there was an "Old Manali" and a "New Manali" and that I had just been dropped off in New Manali and that my English climbing friends where in Old Manali and that the ammounts being offered for rickshaws to Old Manali were simply preposterous. I decided to walk. With my gear strapped to my back I was soon directed, and indeed led, by a friendly local carpenter who spoke no more English than the word "Old" as in "Old Manali" which is quite conveniently exactly where he was headed.

After a series of misdirections, largely my own fault, I was having trouble locating my friends and stopped for a chai in hopes that my sleep deprived brain would collect itself fo a few moments and I could remember where the climbers where staying. I noticed that the Dhaba I stopped at, in all its delapitated glory, made fresh momos (the Himalayan version of Gyoza) and I made a point to return later that day for lunch. Eventually the milky, sugary goodness did help me to remember something that sounded like, "anand" which was incidently the name of the guesthouse where my friends were staying. After another kilometre of uphill trudging (and no less than 5 early morning offers for Charas) I did find my friends and sat down, sleepless and unshowered to start immediately discussing the climbing plans for the day.

In the two weeks that the English crew (Richard, Andy and Luke) had been in Manali they had discovered some three or four epic boulders within short walking distance, each offering up at least 5 routes per face, ranging from balancy slab problems to full power, overhanging and almost surreal mixes of slopers, crimps and dynos. It was as though the monkey god Hanuman had designed a little climbing heaven and covered it all in moss and lychen, not to be discovered for many thousands of years. And indeed, it was that moss and lychen that had restricted the climbers to having discovered only a few boulders in the time they had been in Manali, as it just didn't seem logical to spend time cleaning off a single route boulder when a buffet of routes could be cleaned off on any of the larger ones.

A couple of days after arriving and having explored the established rocks, I spent some time alone in search of a new rock to clean and managed to expose a mean granite problem (which remains unsent and inasmuch unnamed) within a few minutes of leaving our initial climbing area, while a family of curious monkeys watched from the bushes. It was the first problem I had pioneered in the area and I at once felt a sense of pride mixed with just a bit of shame for having alterted the natural settings by rasping the moss from the rock. Perhaps the monkeys were simply looking on in discust. Nevertheless, I spent a good couple of minutes happily suspended on the double sloper dead-hang which I assume constitutes the crux of the initial traverse on this boulder. Hanuman's little climbing arena was fast becoming my Shambala.

For the next two weeks the four of us (which eventually became the eight of us as we were joined by fellow Hampi climbers and a couple of tree surgeons) climbed hard, ate momos, enjoyed the natural hotspings in the nearby rival town of Veshisht, and contemplated trekking up to the top ridges of the Valley in search of the distant sillhouettes of boulders we could just make out on the horizon. While other travellers disapeared for days into thick clouds of Israeli chillum produced charas smoke (not that we were particularly adverse to the activity) and bargained over treks into Kashmir, we found ourselves in the serenity of the gogeous montain views and the seemingly unending boulders.

In Manali I at last aquiesced to the fact that I'm a mountain man, not the beach seeking traveller I once thought I was. I finally succumbed to Indian food poisoning and spent a day in bed for a reason other than being hungover. And I learned that the English colloquialism, "innit" is interchangable with the Canadian equivalent, "eh."

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Hampi Times

I made it! I friggin' made it to Hampi at last!

After two years of drooling over the idea of climbing in Hampi, I've finally arrived. Though, perhaps I came a little late in the season as the average daily temperature is now floating somewhere around 1,009,863 degrees Kelvin. It's rough, and the granite is vicious on the finger tips but I wouldn't trade this for any other boulder I've met so far.

Though I came here for strictly the climbing I've (as traveling randomness will always do) found countless other reasons to stay. For one, I can easily manage a day here on no more than 10 dollars. That, in itself, is enough of a reason to spend a month here. But there's more! Colourful characters are abound in this place; not the least of which is Petrol Baba, a Hindu holy man notorious for his wild consumption of petrol to get high when there aren't enough foreigners to donate hash to him. Last time I saw him he was sporting a mean leg wound (no doubt as a result of some petroleum bender) and was happily borrowing my camera to take some candid shots of my Swiss friend, Dominik and myself climbing a new problem. He also had me pose for a few shots, pointing off in the distance to Monkey Temple, his old pension. His new temple, the Sun Temple is much more humble, and I imagine that it is his new post after he was excommunicated from Monkey Temple for simply being too damn crazy.

Today he invited us up to Monkey Temple for the "annual Baba reunion" where we would be welcome to join countless Chillums (Indian hash pipes that require a certain dexterity to smoke) and probably some completely inane discussion of Shiva's return to this physical plane (I've had a few such Baba times).

More importantly though is the rock here. Sweet mother of Ganesh these rocks are mad! Everything here is stable granite boulders, some big, some small and most of them precariously perched atop one another. My poor fingertips and toe knuckles have had their share of the composite crystal and I'm afraid that I'll have to take a day or two off. Too bad there's no way that will ever happen, as I've just made plans to solo a 20 metre tower/chimney/dodgyfest and camp on the top for two days with Dominik before he heads off to Kathmandu. We'll need alot of sandwiches, I think...

In the off hours (the "on hours" are 6am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm, when the temperature drops enough to actually step out of the shade) we all post up in Shanthi Guesthouse make our way through the epic menu. So far I've managed to sample the entire Indian menu...twice. Next up is Israeli cuisine, and then perhaps Mexican. Why they have Mexican options on the menu, I really don't know...although I did meet on Mexican here.

Welcome David, the holistic Mexican healer from Arizona. Just the other day he introduced me to some inane crystal health reading machines (which you can make yourself by wrapping a copper wire around a quartz crystal and arbitrarily connecting it to an array of dials, lights and switches). I'm pretty sure that I saw one of these on the South Park episode about Scientology...

He did however, make me up a mean batch of colloidal silver and spash some lavender oil on my newest climbing wounds. For this I am thankful...for the 2 hour conversation I entertained about space-time-travel-retro-brain-wave-energy-healing with him, I am not.

So yeah, come to Hampi...the monkeys don't bite, but the buffalo that chased us for half a kilometre because she wanted to gore our crash pad and forced us to speed climb a rock to hide in safety may be a small deterrent for some n00b travelers.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Short Tale Of Interesting Folk

I sincerely apologise for the blatant lack of effort I've been putting into this blog. I'm a douchepickle, I know, but please understand that at a topical level, Iran was very dull, polluted and generally uninviting. For these reasons I have been really struggling to put together an entry about why I did actually enjoy my time there so much. Was it drinking illegally homemade wine in a ski lift? Was it haggling over a carpet after a few too many tokes? Or was it hand drums in the desert? I'm not really sure yet, and that's why this post has absolutely nothing to do with Iran.

Rather, this is about India, and a fellow named Duncan.

Walking back to my beach hut at about 1am the other night, I came across a not-so-unusual gathering of hippies around a bonfire, setting up djembes and poy. Why not join them, I thought, there's bound to be someone worth talking to at this gathering. And indeed, after exhausting my interest in a pair of rather ambitious 19 year-old Swedish guys (working in an orphanage outside of Pune, India, but on vacation for a few days here in Goa), my conversation turned to the attention of Duncan.

The rudimentary details of travel conversation where gone through, valiantly seeking something that could ignite some alternate topic, and we found it, right at the question, "so where are you from?"

Duncan, as it was revealed, had once lived in The States, but had been somehow deported and stripped of his citizenship after being caught with some 30kg of marijuana. Hard to argue, "personal use" with that quantity or drugs, I'm sure. He had moved to Bombay at the time, and with nothing in his pockets, lived on the streets for the last 3 years...or so...he had kind of lost count.

Being given the gift of street-life and the meditative state is can sometimes bring in the everyday quest for a few rupees to survive on, Duncan's mind had spend numerous hours contemplating peaceful and soul-fulfilling topics like, "vendetta," "guerrilla militia," and "pornography racketeering". But as much as he was telling me about this, he was still remaining quite cryptic about the whole process. Fortunately, he was one of those people ruled by their ego...perhaps even a bit of a narcissist, and I took advantage of this to learn more.

From what I could discern (not that there was a language barrier...he speaks perfect English...I just found this all a little overwhelming) this is his plan:

After feeling a bit of regret for burning his Indian passport and only source of indisputable identification, Duncan decided to take it out of "The Man" but convincing a sizable force of armed militants to "pledge their lives to [him]" under the pretext that "it's for the good of mankind". He would then station these outside an unspecified embassy for which his has a list of relevant officials which may or may not be able to supply him with a diplomatic passport. Once he found the one with this capacity he would enter a game of blackmail, which is apparently much easier to do that I had ever truth I was feeling a little enlightened, to encourage a trade for said passport.

I know that there was more to his plan after getting the passport...and I'm pretty sure it involved porn, but at this time I was still trying to process the feasibility of Duncan's plan in relation and/or contrast to just how crazy he was/was not. I walked home that night sorting the variable out in my head...but I needed to talk to him again to really get it going.

A few days later I headed into the jungle to a place called Banyan Tree. It's a hippie hideout managed by some old Italian expat who has apparently reached enlightenment. Mostly I just think he's baked out of his gourd all day on cheap local hash...but having been up there for 4 years I do have to give him some credit. I knew that Duncan was staying up near the tree, and trudged in, braving the wall of mosquitoes I walked into to meet with him.

After a kilometre or so of hiking I heard a distant, "hello, Kaare, come in!" and somewhere down the hill toward the river was Duncan, in his remarkably comfortable tree nook he had established for himself. This time there was a mud covered Swedish hippie with a didgeridoo made of PVC piping sitting around to join the conversation, and together we grilled Duncan on his plans:

Swedish Guy (Anton): So, do you carry that sleeping mat with you everywhere? Why don't you just leave it here where you sleep?
Ducan: Well, I'm a little bit worried about theft, but also it's rifle simulation. I know that there are dark times ahead, so i just need to get in the mindset of always carrying my rifle with me, you know?
Kaare: Is that an old keyboard in your backpack?
Duncan: Oh yeah man, it's just like how the old Samurais would train with wooden swords that they carried everywhere. I always keep a broken keyboard with me so that I can just meditate with it and be in the that when it's time I'll be able to just hack right in, yeah?

...and so on...

Duncan also shared a crumpled old picture of his computer setup at home in The US which involved some 15 monitors. Apparently, by doing a combination of LSD and MDMA, Duncan (who goes by the hanger, "Zero Cool" by the way) was able to attain the same state of mind as those who invented our modern ideas of hardware and software and just dive in to any part of the hacker's realm he desired. This, of course, was because it was college kids on LSD that invented computers. Of course.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


We walked under a moon
painfully bright
leaving footsteps where before
there were none
only the
we knew to have long frozen to death
and here we stopped
made fire
under a rock spire where
1000s of years ago
Christians made their homes
straight into stone
we drank wine
and were at peace with this world

Saturday, January 5, 2008

this is not poetry

I stepped outside a little bit late
so me and my Chesterfield
watched the city lights
burn away the smog
while the rooftops
and smokestacks set into the night