Friday, April 9, 2010

The Darjeeling.... Not So Limited

One of the things I really wanted to experiences in India was riding the Toy Trains of this region in and out of the mountainsides over hanging trestles, through cool tunnels, and just out into the tea farms and people so close I could actually touch them in a way that the fast trains could not. I’m tired of seeing things in blurs. I want the world real to my hands. Sometimes I feel like I never get to touch things anymore. I find myself in all these old places, my body just gravitating toward scratching the cracks between two stones in a wall, or rubbing the smooth curve of wood, or pulling my arm out of the sleeve and rubbing away soot and dust off some statue’s face or relic’s eyes. I want to look deeper into what is around me. I just want to know for certain it’s real.
I’d researched the Toy Train’s heavily, even watching Wes Anderson’s Darjeeling Limited, which is kind of a misnomer when it comes to the actual reality of the size of these old sit-down passenger trains run on coal shoveled into fiery furnace. The British first laid the tracks here to bring in supplies to their tea industry. They run through towns like Ghoom and Kurseong and Siliguri, right through village life. People will be walking on the tracks and just slowly move out of the way and plug their ears as the big train whistle sounds.
Anyway, this is a weird blog, because even though I wanted to write something real and cool, I also couldn’t help my silly side and while I was riding for hours, thinking about this old train and old styles… I decided to try and write an old school rap song in their honor. It’s awful…. But laugh along. At least I didn’t record myself performing it.
Here’s a little story I like to tell
About one mean traveler you know so well
Who went out searching for Shangri La
But ended up teaching all through India
His first stop was Delhi of the capitol sort
Saw some beggars and pickpockets at the Red Fort
Met some funky muslims who don’t eat pork
Said he had more hits that Iceland’s Bjork
They loved him like Tattoo loves Mr. Roark
He left them all stunned without retort.
Boarded a plane into the high Himalayas
A place so remote they’d never seen papayas
Snow in the hills made him dress in layers
Told the monks it’s lame to call themselves playas
He read them a book that was Norman Mailer’s
Taught them songs by Marley and the Whalers
To go to movies early just to watch the trailers
Never look in the mirror and count your failures
That Les Schwab is the place for a new set of tires
Then off he flew after lighting minds with fires
Next stop was Agra and the Taj Mahal
Met a girl there who worked in the mall
She fell for him and his inhaler Albuterol
She liked that his mother wrote letters quoting Apostle Paul
Believed his bladder was not full of gall
Thought he was cool for knowing Kids in the Hall
She said she was in love, he told her not to fall
He impersonated Porky Pig who says, “Folks, That’s All”
Left her standing there told her never to call
Knew it was better to try love than never at all.
Hit the holy city of Varanasi
More hippies here than at Haight or Ashbury
Cows in the road stopping traffic to pee
Made him think of Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby
The city made him wonder about all that should be
Why can’t a guy be a slut or floozy
Why Steve’s favorite actor is Gary Busey
Why is Boggle better than playing Yahtze
Who would learn a dance called the Watusi
He’ll come here again just to swim in the Ganges
Finally arrived up in Darjeeling
Sipped some tea made me hit the ceiling
He listened to the Beastie Boys Rhyming and Stealing
And Bob Dylan’s best album The Freewheeling
Drove though the hills that were very appealing
He thought at prayer you ought to be kneeling
Sure Ned Beatty regrets ever squealing
Met some Tibetans who were doing some healing
Rode the toy train that had him believing
That when he returns home he’ll always keep this feeling.
Of coming alive just when all was ending
That moments of zen are always there just for the taking.

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