This might seem a little gross to you all, but I think it is interesting. I have noticed recently that my body odor is different here in the US than it was during my travels. It is especially noticeable here in LA. Contrary to what you might suppose, underarm odor is much stronger and bad smelling here than it ever was in India. I am trying to determine the cause, I think it could be any of the following:
– Meat? I eat a LOT more meat here than I ever did on my travels. This is especially true of beef. Aside from the bad karma, perhaps whatever is in the beef is seeping out of me.
– Coffee? I never really drank coffee in India, only chai (which is tea based).
– Climate? You may remember that I complained on many occasions about how hot and humid it was, I was always sweating like a pig. Perhaps the constant sweating removed toxins and bacteria faster resulting in less smell.
– Internal water level? Also because of the climate, I was constantly drinking water, tons of it. I drink way less here. Perhaps it concentrates my sweat.
– Capitalist stress? I am joking a little here, but perhaps the environment and my mental / emotional response to it is changing my body chemistry in a way that comes out smelling bad.
But I just spent the last two days showing my friend Jaume around LA. Since Jaume had never been to LA, we did a few silly touristy things like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a tour of Grauman’s Chinese Theater and a visit to Rodeo Drive. We also went down to Laguna for something called The Pageant of Monsters (a kind of haunted house with pretensions). We also spent a fair amount of time just hanging out in the apartment.
By funny coincidence two of the amazing people I met in the past year (Jaume from Mumbai and Jeff from KL) are both going to be in LA in the next few days. It will be interesting to see them here in another place and time. Will they be different, or will I? Will the fact of being back in this (my?) culture and surroundings make our interactions different? The answers to these questions are always both yes and no. Why do I even bother to pose them? I guess because I find fascination in our changing natures through time and place.
I have realized a few things since coming back to the US that involve the “stickiness” of what I have learned over the past year. Some lessons, once learned, will stay with you for all time. But others need tending to like a plant, or they will wither. A way of being and a presence is a precious and somewhat fragile thing if not looked after. It needs constant practice to keep it real.
A little fun with Google maps and Picasaweb…
View Larger Map
Update: If, like my mother, you find it too tedious to click through the map, you can always click here to visit the photo album sans map.
Apparently there are fires in SoCal. Other than an ever-so-slight stinging in my eyes and hysterical calls from friends and family, I was unaware of this fact. LA is a really big place. You can drive for hours without crossing it all.
I had a strange dream last night. I was in some group setting, a day was passing normally and I found out from my doctor that I only had that day to live, that I would die by morning. A lot of the rest of the dream was very mundane, interacting with people but not letting on that I was going to die. At the same time, I kept checking myself for any sign that I was about to die. I kept concentrating on what the sensations were in my body, thinking here and there that I was about to detect an oncoming heart failure or stopping of breath. And the more I searched within myself, the more elusive the feeling of passing or death became. Time kept passing and I felt the doctor had to have been correct in his prognosis, and yet I wasn’t dying. I realized that I was spending a lot of time held in this strange moment of the anticipation of death. I wasn’t anxious or afraid, but neither was I completely calm or centered. As I waited (and waited) for Godot, I eventually woke up.
My friend Dustin and I decided to go take in a movie yesterday at the wonderful Arclight. (This is LA after all, one has to see films whenever possible.) So as I perused the schedule, I noticed “The Darjeeling Limited” was playing and thought it would be great to see a film set in India. I was curious about the representation of India through Western eyes and also what it might stir up in me having just returned. The movie itself and its plot were sweet and somewhat humorous, but not a whole lot else. The “setting” was a complete mess, and not at all in the real Indian sense. I am sure that I found the environment far more distracting that the typical viewer, but there were so many things they got wrong about India (or even the “idea” of India). From the perfect American accent of the conductor on the train, to his girlfriend’s breezy Western sexuality, to the unreal mix of religions and regions, to the train itself, everything was out of whack. If this was the representation the filmmakers wanted for India, there was certainly no reason to go on location. One has the impression that they dreamed up their “vision” of what India is or was, and then went to India to make it fit, realities be damned.
The one good idea that the film tries to portray is that the journey is the destination, and one’s steps to enlightenment come not just from the preplanned visits to “holy” places, but more importantly from noticing and being part of the chaos of life (and death) swirling about us.
Last night my old roommate and landlady (Jose and Sally) took me out to a belated birthday dinner at a super swell restaurant called The Penthouse (on the 18th floor of the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica). The food was fantastic, especially the Kobe beef steak and the bread pudding. As the name and location imply, the view was spectacular. The three of us shared stories of the past year, and good feelings were all around as we were leaving (the delicious bottle of Gigondas probably didn’t hurt). So we decided to extend the fun with a trip to a local gay bar called the Roosterfish. There I was chatted up by a 40 year old who looked as if he were 19. Seriously. It was either the best damn lighting in the world, he has a very expensive plastic surgeon or he is drinking someone’s blood.
So I left the house this morning, the weather was beautiful and I was without a car. A perfect excuse to go on a lovely, leisurely walk down Doheny, along Santa Monica, down La Cienega to the Beverly Center and back. It was quite an amazing experience to have the entire sidewalk to myself, but this is LA after all and pedestrians are about as rare as unicorns.
Along the way I stopped in all manner of coffee shop and boutique, at ease and chatting with anyone and everyone. Being that this entire walk is within the confines of West Hollywood, it was all pretty gay. (WeHo, as it is known, has one of the highest concentrations of gay people in the world.) So it was a little surprising that I was asked two very ungay questions, one at the coffee shop and one on the street passing a parking lot. The first was “Are there any sports bars around here?” and the second was “Do you know what model Porche that is?”
I pondered the deeper significance of these as I made my way back to the apartment (ahem, townhouse, sorry Dallas). It was then that I felt that familiar call that leads me to the restroom once or twice a day. After finishing and getting up to flush I noticed to my horror that there was a great deal of what looked like blood in the bowl. I panicked for a moment or two about colon cancer until I remembered that I had ordered a beet salad the night before. Whew.
And you were worried about what I would be doing with all my free time…
Perhaps “drunk instant messaging” would be a more apt title. Over the past week (for some inexplicable reason) I have had not one, not two, but three guys who I have met at various places in my travels start long involved conversations over IM about their love lives and desirability. One went out of his way to tell me that he feels nothing these days when he is rejected by the object of his affection, another asking if he should pursue a guy he is interested in, and a third obsessing about aging and his looks. What all three of these guys have in common (it seems to me) is that they are looking for some love fulfillment outside themselves. Why I have the taint of the Oracle at Delphi is beyond me, but perhaps I should start a new career as the gay “Dear Abby”(“Dear Gabby”?).