Saturday, June 9, 2007

a note from the Peachy Guest House

I think during some periods (including today), the only way I'm apt to continue blogging is if I now & then post, here, a copy of an email I've sent to friends. Here, at any rate, is one such. Perhaps a term should be coined for this form of email-turned-into-blog-post . . . What to call it? Otherwise, historians can wrangle out a suitable moniker. For now, the term "note" can suffice.


dear Vasu & Vidya,

I've just officially checked out of the Peachy (noonish, Friday) and am hanging out in their on-site internet cafe for a bit before moving along with my day. I may be able to go to the Indian Embassy -- it's something like half-way between here and the airport -- though in fact I think I could as easily deal with the question of Indian residency status via the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC when I'm there later in the summer. I'll see how my day evolves and whether I have enough time for this jaunt today.

You know, I forgot that I will be back here in Bangkok for one day, en route between Bombay and Beijing -- I arrive, in that itinerary, at 5:15 a.m., 6 July, and depart for Beijing not till around midnight that night. Some folks form New Zealand, this morning at breakfast, recommended to me another, newer guest house -- called in fact New Siam II -- just around the corner from the Peachy (the guy said in past years he has also stayed at the Peachy). I think I'll go take a look, and may book ahead a room for myself for 6 July.

I've been spending my morning reading the biography of Annapurna Devi -- lovely book. It makes me want to pay a visit to Raviji sometime. I had some email correspondence with his wife maybe 4 years ago, when I was working on starting my DVD venture -- and prior to that, in the 1980s, I had several contacts with Raviji (when I was making some effort to help promote his son, Shubho's renascent sitar career. Shubho was known and well-liked by music-lovers in the Los Angeles area).

Anyway, I have not even gotten on a boat-taxi yet in Bangkok, but have in mind to do so shortly . . .

much enjoying this place.

I hope that Vidya has connected with Raghav. Raghav, I think, may not realize I am only briefly staying at your house. He was talking about hiring an electrician to help with the grounding of electricity -- but that may be a bigger job than is needed in this situation. We may simply need to use one extension cord!

And I pray the computer problems can find solution, so the film work can be brought to a happy conclusion. For this purpose, it really seems best to me if I may stay on in Bangalore for the one week -- whether or not the red-tape for my "work as an American visiting" is successfully resolved. But in fact it seems nice to do both these things (film-work plus Vasu-hitech-writing-editing-work) for a week in the wonderful environs of your good home.

I tried calling you yesterday, Vasu, to get your opinion about the digital camera purchase situation. Thing is, the cost here actually isn't cheaper than in India, so far as I've been able to find. In addition, I'm concerned that if I bring in a new camera to India, they might well charge me customs -- which can be like 30% of the retail price. So in short, anyway really I've decided to buy a camera in India, not Bangkok. I'm looking at two models -- both are latest models -- of Powershot cameras by Canon. (The models are G7, and S5-IS. I'm inclining toward the latter, as it has 14x optical zoom -- very unusual among such cameras. But the G7 has some extra good format options for video.) Anyway, my camera dealer in Bhopal will give me price quotes on the phone, probably today. When in Bangalore, I can shop at places there -- and if they offer these models at a good rate, I'll prob. buy one in Bangalore TOMORROW -- so I can record our "concert" :-)

Warm greetings from far southlands,

ps -- copying Eric with this. Eric, if you get this note today (Friday), and if convenient, you could reach me on my Thai mobile -- it's [such & such] -- my flight departs tonight for Bangalore, leaving 7:30pm. Glad you'd suggested Bangkok, which I've had a good, if brief, intro to now. Inshallah, I might make this a semi-frequent place to chill out in future. Did I mention, I managed to locate the samadhi of Narayan Maharaj in Bangalore -- not all too far from my hosts' home there. The priest who cares for the place seemed a sweet and charming man -- he lives there with several children, including a couple girls who speak some English (unlike himself -- but he chants what must be pucca Sanskrit while waving the aarti tray). I was shown the exact location of the samadhi (after some mis-directions by others nearby, who pointed me to other little local tomb-shrines, including one that I sat at for 15 minutes' meditation, mistakenly thinking it to be Narayan's! -- but at last this good bearded gent who sells books at the around-the-corner Vivekananda Yoga Center managed to recollect the right location and took me down the road to where it is. There are photographs of Meher Baba and his Five Perfect Masters there, along with photos of Narayan -- whom they call, if I have this right, "Bet Narayan Maharaj" -- I'm not quite sure what the "Bet" is about, though it seems vaguely familiar in connection with him. I wonder if this is simply like saying "betta" (i.e., "dear, beloved"). But I rather think it may instead be some name or title that's geographically-based (in Maharashtra). But in short -- I'm just making guesses.

At the Peachy Guest House, yesterday, I was a bit surprised to find the check-in lady chatting in Mandarin with a man there -- so I was able to chip in 2 or 3 words. But not so surprising that Chinese has some presence & influence here. The place where I took breakfast, too, is adorned only with Chinese calligraphy and paintings.


a blog-only p.s. --
the New Siam Guest House chain also has a River Side edition (likely more pricy -- I glanced [online] at cost for a simple, one-person room at New Siam II; it's 240 Bhat (about US $8), same as at the Peachy. One might have to splurge at the River Side and pay more than $10 :-) Anyway, I'll go around the corner now and take a look...

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